Tag Archives: Lissotriton vulgaris

Grey Heron fighting with a Common Newt

GraureiherThe Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) flies elegantly on the wetland in the middle of the agricultural landscape of the Lower (Niederer) Fläming. Carefully the bird secures to all sides before it starts on the muddy shore with the search for food. Although at the beginning it just stands silently on the edge and obviously lets the whole scenery work on it in contemplation. For a long time, I look at the Grey Heron and its feeding site from a hide. Then I return my eyes to the lonely Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus), who has been scared off by the Grey Heron and is looking for food on the opposite bank. The wader gets then society in the form of a Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) as well.

After a while, the Grey Heron apparently managed to convince himself of the lack of space. After some settling in, he walks along the shore; the other birds (the Common Snipe and the Green Sandpiper) are on the lookout. The proximity of the good 5 times as big heron is obviously suspect for them. Suddenly I hear a loud splash in the water. The Grey Heron has captured swimming a Smooth Newt (Lissotriton vulgaris).  Smooth Newt, also known as the Common Newt is a species of amphibian, the most common one in Germany. The Heron brings the Smooth Newt ashore and chews extensively on the newt. I am surprised that the Grey Heron does not swallow the Smooth Newt directly down. But the Newt probably does not taste that well. At some point the Grey Heron leaves the Smooth Newt fall on the land and returns – clearly disgusted – back Continue reading Grey Heron fighting with a Common Newt

Birding in the city of Bucharest – Vacaresti wetland

Whiskered Tern feeding young with fishIn the South-Western corner of the capital of Romania, near and alongside the Dâmboviţa River, one of the nature jewels of Bucharest can be found. Park the car on the sidewalk and quickly you can see the first Whiskered Tern already, which fly croaking from the river and disappear behind you. Often the bird is carrying a small fish in its beak. Parallel to the city road there is a high dam which does not seem to promise too much. But then – if you stand on the dam – you will see a wide swampy landscape with only a few scattered willows. Otherwise, a lot of open water and almost no people. This is surprising, because right next door some pretty looking apartment buildings had been built in the last years. This is Vacaresti!
Soon you will hear the first Great Reed Warbler. A real bonus bird is the abundant Eurasian Golden Oriole. The Orioles you can hear all the time when you are walking on one of the paths that cross through the area. The paths – mainly trampled by anglers – pass the many ponds very closely. Thus keep a little distance, so the birds will not flush before you see them. If you keep quiet, you will see many birds – especially waders, ducks and herons. Last time, I had a female Common Pochard, right in the first pond. Whiskered Terns breed in the area and can be seen – as documented in the Gallery (here) – very closely feeding the youngsters.
The Vacaresti area was a development project of the ancient communist regime. Actually, planned as reservoir (flood protection and urban recreation area), this plan was abandoned after 1989 and the Vacaresti lake was created in its present form. Today, after more than 20 years, the area is a very interesting case of a natural ecological succession in an urban area. The area is approximately 155 hetares and is now home to a self-sustaining ecosystem with grasslands, lakes, temporary pools, puddles and partly an extensive reed beds. The area is home to many species of plants and animals and some of them are nor very common species. A team of botanists of the Botanical Garden Bucharest has identified two major plant communities: the Danube (Danubian) community and a community of settlement areas (anthropic community). Me, Cristian Mihai, have intensively studied the area visiting it many times in roughly 4 years (between 2007-2011) and identified more than Continue reading Birding in the city of Bucharest – Vacaresti wetland