Last weekend, you could observe heavy traffic in the skies over Frankfurt/ Germany. Although winter is not ready to lower its grip the first returning migrants already point to the imminent end of the cold season. In recent weeks, Eurasian Skylarks (Alauda arvensis), and Northern Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus), were seen already on their return. Particularly striking are currently the Common Cranes (Grus grus) flying in wedge-shaped formations over western Germany. On the 9th of march you could see at least 30 individuals over the outskirts of Kelkheim/ Main-Taunus-Kreis. The southern slopes of the Taunus are one of the pathways of the western migration corridor of these tall, slender birds before they are heading further north of the Wetterau
For the Bay of Cologne, which is 200km further north located, the long-term statistical average is between 5th and 13th of March. What this mean in terms of quantity you can see by the fact that highest count in crane observation was made by the NABU Aachen (further to the west), who observed more than 8,000 cranes in the region between that time period (5th and 13th of March in 1991).
The birds spend the winter mainly in sunny Spain or France. Their main wintering area is located in the Extremadura in western Spain. There, the cranes in the clear Mediterranean oak forests searched for the fruits of holm and cork oaks. On the way back to their breeding grounds, the cranes Germany crossed on quite a narrow corridor toward the southern shores of the Baltic sea in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
But there are even more flocks of birds expected in the coming weeks: Blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla), Continue reading Migratory birds herald spring
During the last days one adult Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) in non-breeding plumage, continues to stay near the town of Monheim in the state of North Rhine/ Westfalia in Germany at the river Rhine. The bird was first spotted on January, 09th 2013. The location “Faehre Hitdorf” is a place where a ferry crosses the river Rhine, roughly 30km south of the state capital, Dusseldorf. This gull is obviously only the 8th record for the Germany since 2002. Normally this vagrant is found not too far inland. Accordingly most records are from the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein. In his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“, Band 8/I „Charadriiformes, Stercorariidae – Laridae“ Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim mentioned 1982 only 1 record for the central part of the western palearctis from January, 13th 1968. Weather this is due to a higher observation density, due to the population growth on the eastern coast of the USA (see e.g. “Recent Changes in the Ring-Billed Gull Population and Biology in the Laurentian Great Lakes” by James P. Ludwig in “The Auk” Vol. 91, No. 3 (Jul., 1974) or due to a change in the migration pattern is not clear. Interesting is, that between 1973 (first record) and 1980 there were – in contrast – 37 recorded observations in Great Britain.
The conservation status of the Ring-billed Gull by IUCN is “Least Concern”. After having suffered heavy losses due to hunting and habitat loss, Ring-billed Gulls once again thrive across the United States and southern Canada—so numerous in some places that they are considered pests. This species was nearly wiped out by human persecution and development between 1850 and 1920. The populations fell dramatically when humans persecuted the gulls on their nesting grounds and killed them for feathers to decorate hats. By the early 1900s many breeding Continue reading Ring-billed Gull – a vagrant at the Faehre Hitdorf / Germany