Tag Archives: Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker

Woodpeckers as indicators of natural forest ecosystems

WeißrückenspechtCentral Europe is an old cultural landscape in which practically no area has been able to preserve its natural state. The far-reaching anthropogenic changes also affect the remaining type of forest strongly, that it is not known exactly what they look like under natural conditions. Largely unchanged forests can only be found on small remaining areas in some higher mountains and in the far east of Central Europe. Naturally, around 95% of Germany’s area would be covered with forest. The European beech or Common Beech (Fagus sylvatica) would probably occupy around 70% of the country’s area as the predominant tree species in western Germany. Due to their specific diet and the associated high degree of specialization, woodpeckers are particularly suitable as indicators for near-natural forest ecosystems. From this, the anthropogenic changes in the forests can be derived. The wealth of woodpecker species in Europe reflects quite well the strength of human influence on the originally forested landscapes. In almost all European countries, the clade of woodpeckers would probably be represented with 7 to 8 species if there would be still larger natural forest areas. The sensitivity of the woodpecker to habitat changes and thus its suitability as an ecological indicator increases with the degree of specialization and ranges from the “habitat generalist” Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) to the highly endangered White-backed Woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos) and Three-toed Woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus).

Several studies, among others in the Bialowieza forest show that the White-backed Woodpecker is the most sensitive species of woodpeckers. It can only find optimal conditions in strictly Continue reading Woodpeckers as indicators of natural forest ecosystems

Lammergeier at Mount Olymp/ Macedonia

BartgeierThe rush of wind through feathers is the only sound to break the silence as a huge bird glided by just a few meters from a crack high in the mountains around Mount Olymp. A Lammergeier or Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) soars above the mountains, scavenging for a meal. It is the only species of bird that cracks open bones to feast on the marrow inside. Lammergeiers are able lifting large carcasses to great heights. Then they drop them onto the rocks below to break up the bones and access the marrow. Smaller bones are swallowed whole.

Like other mountainous areas of Greece, Mt Olympus has a fine selection of raptors and these include Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus), Eurasian Griffon (Gyps fulvus), Cinereous Vulture or Eurasian Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus), Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus), Levant Sparrowhawk (Accipiter brevipes), Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)  and Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus). A national park in the eastern part of the Olympus Mountains of northern Thessaly includes some of the most dramatic scenery in the whole of Greece and is popular with hikers as well as birders. Lammergeiers were regularly seen until a few years ago and they were thought to be no longer permanently resident in the area.

But this year, an adult Lammergeier has been seen and photographed on the 6th April in Mt. Olympus by Thomas Nikolopoulos. The Lammergeier in flight appeared with a Golden Eagle on the grey sky.  This is the first observation of an adult plumage bearded vulture since several years.

Two years ago, though, a 2nd-3rd calendar year bird was observed. Lammergeiers do occur in Crete, where the population is stable, at around 7 pairs. In the Alps the population has been increasing Continue reading Lammergeier at Mount Olymp/ Macedonia

Dreizehenspecht am Feldberg im Hochschwarzwald

DreizehenspechtNur wenige 100 Meter entfernt vom Trubel an der Piste und dem kahlen „Gipfel“ des Feldbergs gibt es einige Pfade, die kaum von Wanderern frequentiert sind und außerdem mitten durch eine einmalige Gebirgswelt führen: Mannshoher Eisenhut (Aconitum napellus), üppige Trollblumen (Trollius europaeus), Geflecktes Knabenkraut (Dactylorhiza maculata), und Scheuchzers Glockenblume (Campanula scheuchzeri) stehen direkt am Weg. Oben in der Fichte singt vielleicht eine selbstzufriedene Ringdrossel (Turdus torquatus) und mit ein wenig Glück sieht man einen Dreizehenspecht (Picoides tridactylus) an einer toten Kiefer, die ihm die wichtigen Großkäfer im verrottenden Baum liefert. Dieser Vogel, lange Zeit im Schwarzwald verschollen, eroberte aber in den letzten Jahren verlorenes Territorium zurück. Der Specht stochert meist gelassen in dem dichten Geflecht aus Flechten, Rinde und totem Holz nach Spinnen und Käfern. Das wirklich erstaunliche an diesem Vogel ist seine geringe Fluchtdistanz. Ich habe schon Dreizehenspechte aus vier Metern Entfernung beobachten können. Besonders gerne fotografiere ich im Bannwald. Unter den vom Borkenkäfer gemeuchelten Fichten kommt schon wieder die Buchenverjüngung hervor, von der Morgensonne effektvoll in Szene gesetzt. Die knorrigen und bizarren Baumformen, Continue reading Dreizehenspecht am Feldberg im Hochschwarzwald