Tag Archives: Red Kite

Junge Rohrweihe am Köder

RohrweiheEin traumhafter Hochsommermorgen mit Morgennebel über den Feldern. Die Tage im Sommer scheinen manchmal vogelleer. Doch am frühen Morgen ist die Aktivität unübersehbar.  Die Reste eines Rehs liegt gut 25 Meter vor dem tonnenförmigen Hide. Gespannt warte ich auf die Ankunft des Schreiadlers (Aquila pomarina). Diese mittelgroßen Greife sind im Osten Deutschland, vor allem in Vorpommern, eine nicht so ungewöhnliche Erscheinung. Es ist aber nicht leicht, ein Exemplar aus nächster Nähe zu fotografieren. Zuerst tut sich gar nichts. Dann aber beobachte ich einige Pferde, die den Köder ausgiebig beäugen. Sie stehen nebeneinander in „sicherer“ Entfernung und halten den Köder gut im Blick. Irgendetwas scheint faszinierend und angsteinflößend gleichzeitig zu sein. Irgendwann steht auf einmal eine junge Rohrweihe (Circus aeruginosus), die direkt auf dem Köder Platz nimmt. Nachdem sie sich versichert hat, daß außer den Continue reading Junge Rohrweihe am Köder

Greifvögel am Rehluder

MäausebussardObwohl es gerade erst dämmert, ein zarter roter Streifen am Horizont zu sehen ist, ist das Rätschen der Elstern unüberhörbar. Das Reh – ein Verkehrsopfer – liegt gut 25 Meter vor dem tonnenförmigen Hide. Angespannt warte ich auf die Ankunft des Seeadlers (Haliaeetus albicilla). Diese großen Greife sind zumindest im Osten Deutschland eine nicht ungewöhnliche Erscheinung. Trotzdem ist es nicht leicht, ein Exemplar aus nächster Nähe zu fotografieren. Zuerst aber beobachte ich ausgiebig einen Trupp mit gut 5 Elstern (Pica pica), der sich zänkisch und trotzdem erfolgreich dem gefrorenen Kadaver widmet. Irgendwann kommt auch mal ein junger Mäusebussard (Buteo buteo), der allerdings vorsichtig auf dem daneben liegenden Baumstamm Platz nimmt. Nachdem sich die tiefstehende Morgensonne anfangs durchsetzt und mit ihrem warmen Streiflicht für eine ganz besondere Lichtstimmung sorgt, zieht sich der Himmel anschließend zu. Drinnen bullert der Gasofen, draußen ist es 2° C kalt. Es fängt an mit großen Flocken zu schneien. Ein Traum wie das tote Reh immer weißer wird und sich die schwarz-weißen Vögel im dichten Schneetreiben verköstigen. Die Lage der Futterstelle und die Artenzusammensetzung ist aber auch perfekt.

Von den guten Fotografiermöglichkeiten konnte ich mir auf Continue reading Greifvögel am Rehluder

Young Whinchat on summer morning

BraunkehlchenA fresh morning. Thick layers of fog are lying over the wetlands of the Nuthe floodplain south of Berlin. The weather forecast was perfect and everywhere there were numerous motives. So I took advantage of every free minute in the morning to be outside. The meadows along the river offer a diverse habitat structure. One family of Whinchats (Saxicola rubetra) with at least 2 juveniles were seen in uncut grassland. I placed the car not far from a pole inside the meadow, hoping a young Whinchat, I had seen before, to return. After a while the recently fledged Whinchat really returned to the pole. In the first morning light, it started to preen and stretch the wings. Obviously it wanted to get rid of their youngster’s feather dress. Successful, as it seems. With a surprised look, the young Whinchat looked after the flying plume.

The area south of Berlin has a lot to offer in terms of nature. In addition to the natural richness this is a legacy of the division of Germany, which has prevented the city´s spread after the end of the 2nd World War like in no other city. This means, that even today you often have to pass the city limits only in order to stand in the middle of nature. One of these areas is the Continue reading Young Whinchat on summer morning

Display flights of European Honey-buzzards

WespenbussardSpring is the best time to observe a flying or circling European Honey-buzzard (Pernis apivorus) on their breeding grounds. Now is Display time! Since the breeding birds arrive until the middle of May in the breeding area, bird watchers and bird photographers have to hurry-up to take pictures of European Honey-buzzards. This is because oviposition falls on the brink of May/ June. At the end of June / beginning of July, the youngs appear and at to the beginning of August fledging starts.

There are two periods of activity for the adult European Honey-buzzards: display and post-fledging. Display takes place in Germany from mid of May till early June. There is a time lag between spring migration observations and display flights. It seems, that on first arrival in early May the birds are rather lazy perhaps feeding and resting after the long migration. The lazy flight with long periods of effortless floating, interspersed with the very occasional stall or spell of active flapping, occurs over their breeding areas at this time. This can be misinterpreted as migration flight. In this time very impressive and repeated display flights – “butterfly display” – is brief and in rainy springs may not be conspicuous. In “butterfly mode” the European Honey-buzzard shakes its wings above back in rapid succession, usually six or seven times.

A good description you will find here. The author mentions, that Continue reading Display flights of European Honey-buzzards

Wespenbussardbeobachtung im Flug

WespenbussardDer Wespenbussardzug ist ein beeindruckendes Schauspiel. Der interessierte Beobachter wird normalerweise schon viel Zeit, Geld und Reisestrecke investiert haben, um eine gute Beobachtungsstelle – wie z.B. die Insel Fehmarn im September – zu erreichen. Da stellt man dann häufig fest, daß Greife doch sehr weit entfernt vorbeiziehen und/oder das Wetter einen Schönwetterflug in hohen Luftschichten ermöglicht, der die Wespenbussarde (Pernis apivorus) hoch am Himmel erscheinen läßt. Die Silhouette und der Flugeindruck sind dann die einzigen Anhaltspunkte bei der Bestimmung. Die in der Fotogalerie gezeigte hohe Variabilität der Federkleider machen die richtige Identifikation auch nicht leichter. Dabei soll dieser kleine Blog helfen.

Der erfahrene Beobachter des Wespenbussardzugs scheint sich in der Identifikation auf die Kombination verschiedener Flugmerkmale anderer Greife zu verlassen. Beim Wespenbussard (Pernis apivorus) sind zum einen Flugmerkmale in der Art von Milanen (Milvus sp.) mit Merkmalen der Gattung Buteo (allgemein: Bussarde) zu nenne. Hier stellt sich also die Frage: Was genau sollte man sich ansehen, wenn man Charakteristika von Milanen oder/ und von Bussarden abgleicht? Daher die Frage: Fliegt er in der Art von Milanen oder in der Art der Bussarde?

So weisen Wespenbussarde einen recht langen Schwanz auf, Continue reading Wespenbussardbeobachtung im Flug

Pallid Harrier: First-summer individual in post-juvenile moult in Havelland

SteppenweiheDescribed in old literature as a rare vagrant, the Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) is much less rare in NW Europe nowadays. It is not yet clear, whether this is due to the numbers of birders in the field, increasing knowledge of the immature and adult female plumage, migrations watchpoints or due to a change in the migration patterns of this bird species. At least on the coast and in the eastern parts of Germany Pallid Harriers can be regarded as scarce migrants now. Visiting the Havellaendische Luch at Buckow – 50 km west of Berlin – very interesting observations of a hunting immature Pallid Harrier could be made. The lowlands of the Havellaendische Luch are an unique area of meadows and fields. Actually known as the top territory in Germany to observe Great Bustards (Otis tarda), it is a perfect habitat for raptors as well. Different species of flying predators such as Red Kite (Milvus milvus), Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Montagu’s Harriers (Circus pygargus), Western marsh-harrier (Circus aeruginosus) and Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) visit the area Continue reading Pallid Harrier: First-summer individual in post-juvenile moult in Havelland

Immature Steppenweihe im Havelländischen Luch

Steppenweihe_A9T0831Eine immature Steppenweihe (Circus macrourus) wird schon seit einigen Tagen – vielleicht schon seit dem 14. Mai – aus dem Havelländischen Luch auf ornitho.de gemeldet. Bei einem Besuch des Turms bei Buckow, mitten im Havelländischen Luch, konnten heute an Pfingstmontag sehr interessante Beobachtungen von einem jagendem Exemplar, wohl ein Männchen im 2. Kalenderkleid, über einen längeren Zeitraum gemacht werden. Im Flug waren wie schon bei den Beobachtungen an den Vortagen die hell durchscheinenden Handschwingen-Spitzen, die helle Hinterkante der inneren Handschwingen, die dunkle Unterseite der Armschwinge, die helle, nur leicht gestreifte Brust- und Bauchpartie und vor allem der kontrastreich abgesetzte, durchgängig helle Kragen sehr einprägsam.

Wie schon bei der vorherigen Beobachtung dieses Irrgastes aus dem Osten der Paläarktis – vom Schröcker Feld bei Weimar – mußte man sich eine Weile gedulden. Die Weihe startete das erste Mal kurz vor 10:00 (9:55) am Zaun des Trappengeheges und bestrich auf den Jagdflügen Continue reading Immature Steppenweihe im Havelländischen Luch

Joined hunting with Hen Harrier

KornweiheThe lowlands of the Havellaendische Luch at Buckow – 50 km west of Berlin – as an unique area of meadows and fields. Actually known as the top territory in Germany to observe Great Bustards (Otis tarda), it is a perfect winter habitats, especially for wintering raptors as well. Different species of flying predators such as Red Kite (Milvus milvus), Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus), Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo), Rough-legged Buzzard (Buteo lagopus), Merlin (Falco columbarius) and sometimes a Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) use the high diversity of the meadows , pastures and fields around to pick up their food. The White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) is a feeding guest, too. Unlike the species mentioned above, he does not keep up with mice but tries to chase the many Geese grazing in the area. Unfortunately, he also attacks some of the precious Great Bustards (Otis tarda).

While visiting the Havelländische lynx very interesting observations of hunting Northern Harriers chasing songbirds Continue reading Joined hunting with Hen Harrier

Mäuse halten Rotmilane im Sommerquartier

Roter MilanEin traumhafter Spätherbstmorgen. In der Nacht hat es Temperaturen unter 0° Grad gegeben. Reif bedeckt im Schatten der Bäume noch Blätter und Grashalme. Nur leichte Schleierwolken sind am Himmel zu sehen. Die Sonne scheint mit ihrem milchigen Novemberlicht. Der Ausflug in eine ausgedehnte Niederung war schon sehr erfolgreich. Dieses Gebiet stellt im Winter ein bedeutendes Überwinterungshabitat vor allem für Greifvögel dar. Verschiedene Arten von fliegenden Beutegreifern wie Kornweihe (Circus cyaneus), Mäusebussard (Buteo buteo), Rauhfußbussard (Buteo lagopus), Merlin (Falco columbarius) nutzen die Vielfalt der Wiesen, Weiden und Äcker um hier auf Jagd zu gehen. Bei einem Besuch des in Brandenburg Luch genannten Gebietes konnte aber auch eine interessante Spätbeobachtung eines ansonsten nur von Frühjahr bis Herbst vorkommenden Greifvogel gemacht werden. Ein einzelner Roter Milan (Milvus milvus) jagte Continue reading Mäuse halten Rotmilane im Sommerquartier

Merlin im Fiener Bruch – Brandenburg

MerlinAls holarktischer Brutvogel ist der Merlin (Falco columbarius) in ausreichender Zahl nur im Winterhalbjahr in Mitteleuropa anzutreffen. Vor allem im Oktober und bis Mitte November kommen dazu Durchzügler, die den kleinsten einheimischen Falken auch für ortsansässige Ornithologen erlebbar und beobachtbar machen.

In dem Zusammenhang soll erwähnt werden, daß die nähere und weitere Umgebung von Berlin auch ein Paradies für Vogelbeobachter ist. Einer dieser Gebiete um Berlin ist der Fiener Bruch bei Continue reading Merlin im Fiener Bruch – Brandenburg

Birding around Berlin – Reckahner Teiche

KrickenteBerlin, the capital of Germany is a top tourist destination. Many airlines use the Airport of Berlin, but it is possible to take a flight to Frankfurt/ Main as well and drive with a rented car in roughly half a day. If you have spare time between two tourist attractions, are fed-up with the museum in crowdy downtown Berlin, have enjoyed nightlife extensively and are a birdwatcher, you might be interested to know, where you can find good places to enjoy fresh air and relax with birding for typical European birds. One of these sites Continue reading Birding around Berlin – Reckahner Teiche

Birding around Frankfurt Airport – NSG Lampertheimer Altrhein

Schwarzer MilanFrankfurt Airport (FRA) is the gateway to continental Europe. Many airlines use the Airport as a hub for connecting flights all over the world. If you have some more spare time but only 2 hours between two flights, you might be interested to know, where you can find good places to stretch your legs, enjoy fresh air and enjoy birding for typical European birds.

One of these sites is the best riparian forest 60 km south of Frankfurt, called Kuhkopf or in German Kuehkopf. The nature reserve (in German: Naturschutzgebiet or NSG Kuehkopf-Knoblochsaue) is the largest in Hesse, with Continue reading Birding around Frankfurt Airport – NSG Lampertheimer Altrhein

Pallid Harrier on the Schroecker Feld north of Frankfurt/ M

SteppenweiheAt least since Saturday, July 19, 2014, a plateau east of Marburg, the Schroecker Feld, is home to a male Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) on. The Schroecker Feld near Marburg is roughly 100km distant from downtown Frankfurt/ Main. This Pallid Harrier male has very pale grey upperparts and is white below. In flight, the distinctive black wing tips can be seen. Young male Pallid Harrier look not so bright white, in the earliest stages, they have coloration similar to the female. This individual seemed very light, almost white, but had – as is recognizable in the photo of the flying male Pallid Harrier – some darker wash on the upper wings. Therefore the ornithologists unanimously call the bird a male in the third calendar year (autumn).

The bird stayed in the area on the following weekend. It was observed among corn fields and harvested fields in a specific area (N 8 ° 51’26 .39 “E / 50 ° 46’40 .46”) which is shown on the detailed maps as Ebsdorfergrund. The Pallid Harrier could usually be seen hovering for a short while in the evenings, sometimes until dark on / above the roost. The most of the day, however, the bird kept hidden. Continue reading Pallid Harrier on the Schroecker Feld north of Frankfurt/ M

Steppenweihe – Weihentreff auf dem Schröcker Feld bei Marburg

SteppenweiheSeit mindestens Samstag, den 19. Juli 2014, hält sich auf dem Plateau östlich von Marburg, das Schröcker Feld genannt wird, eine männliche Steppenweihe (Circus macrourus) auf. Die Weihe wirkte sehr hell, fast weiß, hatte aber – wie auf dem Foto des fliegenden Männchens der Steppenweihe erkennbar – einen schmutzigen Anflug auf Continue reading Steppenweihe – Weihentreff auf dem Schröcker Feld bei Marburg

Bearded Tits south of Berlin

Bartmeise, Although the capital of Germany, Berlin has a lot to offer in terms of nature, too. In addition to the natural richness this is a legacy of the division of Germany, which has prevented the city´s spread after the end of the 2nd World War like in no other city. This means, that even today you often have to pass the city limits only in order to stand in the middle of nature. One of these areas is the Nature Park “Lowlands of Nuthe and Nieplitz”. The small rivers Nuthe and Nieplitz are located south-west of Berlin and form Continue reading Bearded Tits south of Berlin

Birding around Frankfurt Airport – Kuehkopf-Knoblochsaue

Eurasian Golden-Oriole, maleFrankfurt Airport (FRA) is the gateway to continental Europe. Many airlines use the Airport as a hub for connecting flights all over the world. If you have spare time between two flight and you are a birdwatcher, you might be interested to know, where you can find good places to stretch your legs, enjoy fresh air and enjoy birding for typical european birds.

One of these sites is the best riparian forest 60 km south of Frankfurt, called Kuhkopf or in Continue reading Birding around Frankfurt Airport – Kuehkopf-Knoblochsaue

Golden Eagle at the Laguna de Gallocanta/ Spain

Going for Laguna de Gallocanta, this lake on 1,000 m asl in the middle of Northern Spain, seems to be good for impressive numbers of wintering birds as well as Steinadlerfor surprises. Some years ago, there has been observations of a Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis). Actually, I wanted to watch and photograph Common Cranes (Grus grus) on their resting and wintering grounds. These birds breed in Germany, Fennoscandia and the Baltic States, and then take a western migration route through Europe to wintering areas. It is estimated that the total number of birds that migrate along the western route count up to 70,000 individuals. Most of them 50,000-60,000 wintering in Spain. The rest of Continue reading Golden Eagle at the Laguna de Gallocanta/ Spain

Seeadler am Luder – diesmal an der Ostsee

White-tailed EagleHide – Fotografie nun auch am Darss? Seeadler (Haliaeetus albicilla) sind nun ja zumindest im Osten Deutschland eine vertraute Erscheinung geworden. Trotzdem ist es nicht leicht, ein Exemplar aus nächster Nähe zu fotografieren. Wenn man in Europa – so wie im Blog vom November 2013 beschrieben – wilde Seeadler fotografieren möchte gibt es vielleicht keinen besseren Ort als das norwegische Fischerdorf Lauvsnes in der Nähe von Flatanger in der Provinz Nord-Tröndelag, 200 Kilometer nordwestlich von Trondheim. Hier in der Mitte Norwegens hat es Ole Martin Dahle geschafft, das Vertrauen einiger Seeadler zu gewinnen. Schon seit einigen Jahren bietet er mit seinem Unternehmen Norway Nature Bootstouren an, bei denen man den Seeadlern beim Beutefang zuschauen kann. Kann da ein deutscher Standort mithalten?

Ja und Nein. Die Umstände sind völlig andere – und die Ergebnisse auch. Dafür aber nicht minder attraktiv und sehenswert. Wie das Titelbild zeigt, ist die intensive Interaktion der Rabenvögel und der Seeadler sehr schön und ausdauernd zu beobachten.

Das Fischland und der Darß sind berühmte Continue reading Seeadler am Luder – diesmal an der Ostsee

Red Kites in North Rhine-Westphalia

Red Kite in flightThe Red Kite (Milvus milvus) is a character bird of well structured landscapes with woods and forests in Central Europe. Approximately 65% ​​of the world’s population of the Red Kite (Milvus milvus) is found in Germany. Since the late 1970s, the population is declining. In the lowlands even a large-scale retreat is observed. In recent years, although a positive population development was found again, due to which the Red Kite was released from the Red List. However, it is discussed whether the downgrading of the red kite in a lower risk category compared to the red list of 1999 is not likely due to an altered system of criteria as to an change in the situation of the environment. This applies especially to the Red List in North Rhine-Westphalia. Future intensification of agriculture and the increasing use of wind energy (many red kites crash on wind turbines) probably will further put pressure on the population of the kite.

Foraging on agricultural land with a mosaic of meadows and fields is preferred. The nest, however, is found in small woods, in light wood stocks and the forest edges of larger forests. Red Kites are pretty faithful of their territory and use old nests often over many years. Typical is the lively, rocking flight of the Red Kite with a hanging hand and quite a deeply forked tail. He looks much bigger and heavier than a Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) though he is only slightly larger with a body length of 60-70 cm. Perhaps because of the hanging wings he appears more massive. The Red Kite is also called “Gabelweihe” in german because of the forked tail.

Since about 65% of the world’s population if the Red Kite occurs in Germany, the geman state of North Rhine-Westphalia also has a special responsibility for the protection of species. The total population is estimated at 420-510 breeding pairs. In North Rhine-Westphalia, the Red Kite mainly breeds in the Weserbergland, the mountains along the river Weser, the Sauerland and in the Eifel. To the many Kites over the sky of the area of Blomberg – which is within the Weserbergland – the “Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Rotmilanfreunde Lippe” Continue reading Red Kites in North Rhine-Westphalia

Red Kites in flight with buzzards over corn fields

Red Kite low over fieldsThe last days in May were stormy days in the Vogelsberg on the edge of the Wetterau. At least 8 Red Kites (Milvus milvus) flew over 3 various nearby maize fields along with at least 25 Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) and two Black Kites (Milvus migrans). The were flying in the upwinds very easily. Obviously they liked the windy weather with some sunshine and than dark clouds of thunderstorm very much. Such a large assembly of birds of prey, especially Red Kites in such a small area I had not seen before. From time to time, the raptors landed and caught a – not determinable – small prey and sit down among the green stalks. After a while, even a White Stork, Ciconia ciconia, appeared and searched the field for food. A great picture. The Red Kites are said to be convicted robbers to other birds by attacking them to leave their food. But this could not be observed. Certainly one hour the kites could be seen circling low over the green rows of corn field. Some individuals of the Red Kites were only 15 meters from the small country road near Ulfa away. Once the car stopped, they flew on a little further and then circled over the field.

Red Kites reach a size of 70 cm and a wingspan of about 160 cm. The breeding range of the Red Kites is limited to Central Europe in light deciduous and mixed forests of the lower mountains. Only part of the population Continue reading Red Kites in flight with buzzards over corn fields

Vagrant European Roller near Tuebingen in Germany

Eurasian RollerDuring the last week a European (Eurasian) Roller, Coracias garrulous, could be seen south of Wurmlingen a suburb of Rottenburg am Neckar southwest of Tuebingen. The bird stayed for almost one week in a flat area of meadows and agricultural fields with the name Suelcher Field (Sülcher Feld). The roller was observed the first time on Friday, May, 10th of 2013 by Stefan Hecht. The bird was quite mobile but usually stayed in several dedicated locations in the Suelcher field. Often it was observed sitting on the power lines and also in a special bush where this images could be shot on May, 13th 2013.  The last observations could be made on May, 15th.  Some observers saw the bird hunting insects both from the ground and in the air and then consuming it on one of its preferred perches.

In his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“, Band 9 „Columbiformes – Piciformes“ Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim mentioned that until the 1980s, this colorful birds still bred in some parts of Brandenburg, especially in the Lausitz and in the Letzlinger Heide near Magedburg. The last breeding bird for the western part of the country was reported from 1965 when one of the adults was shot dead near Dettingen an der Teck (near Nuertingen) which is roughly 50 km as the bird flies from the location of the recent observation. The last observation of a vagrant bird twittered via the german Club-300 was from Continue reading Vagrant European Roller near Tuebingen in Germany

Birding around Frankfurt Airport – Wagbachniederung:

Purple HeronFrankfurt Airport (FRA) is the gateway to continental Europe. Many airlines use the Airport as a hub for connecting flights all over the world. If you are coming from Frankfurt Airport and heading down to the south for e.g. Munich or Stuttgart or the Black Forest, you might consider to squeeze in a morning of birding you might have a look at the wagbachniederung. Here you can walk, enjoy some fresh air and enjoy birding for typical european birds.

One of these sites is the best riparin woods 110 km south of Frankfurt, called The “Wagbachniederung” . This location is situated on the right bank of the Rhine at Waghaeusel southeast of Speyer between Mannheim and Karlsruhe. The Wagbachniederung was formerly a loop of the Rhine, which was separated from the main Continue reading Birding around Frankfurt Airport – Wagbachniederung:

Common Buzzard at the bait in wintertime

Common BuzzardTo observe and photograph Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) at the bait in wintertime in good numbers  – sometimes 8 individuals on one occasion. Is this possilbe right in the center of a heavy industrialized country like Germany? Yes, it is!

The valley of the river „Leine“ and the surrounding hills called “Leinebergland” is not famous of being one of Germany´s birding hot spots. But in wintertime the charming countryside between the cities of Hildesheim to the east and Hameln to the west is invaded by keen birdwatchers and bird photographers to shoot images of Common Buzzards and other excellent birds on a winter feeding site.

Having been spend one day on invitation of Wolf-Dieter Peest has been very productive – as you can see in the gallery. Wolf-Dieter offers Wildlife Workshops but also the chance to sit in one (or more) of his hides located on ponds, small streams or at the border of agricultural fields. The Leinebergland 30 km south of the city of Hannover, with its many gravel pits, is a paradise for nature photographers. In the early 70s many gravel mining pits were built along the line between Hanover and Göttingen. Having exploited these areas, the remaining ponds and lakes are now on the way back to nature again and offer a new habitat to a huge number of animal and plant species. Many of these ponds are real paradises for nature lovers and the nature- of course. A description of the locations written in german, you will find here!
Wolf-Dieter managed to lease a good number of attractive properties over the last 15 years. There are ideal conditions for a photographic passion Continue reading Common Buzzard at the bait in wintertime

Great Grey Shrike, Lanius excubitor in the Hochtaunus near Frankfurt

Northern ShrikeDuring a short trip to a hiking site near my hometown in the Hochtaunus just 25km from downtown Frankfurt I could observe a beautiful Great Grey Shrike, Lanius excubitor. This Northern Shrike could be seen in perfect light in the afternoon of the 20th of February in an area called Viehweide (cattle pasture) northwest of the small village Schloßborn near both to the highest peak of the Taunus, the Grosser Feldberg, and the fashionable town of Koenigstein im Taunus.

The bird was already observed by Eleonore Gothe on the 18th of February.

This was my first sighting for this winter in the Taunus. One of the last Great Grey Shrikes I could see was on Helgoland in the Suedhafen area last October.

In his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“, Band 13/II „Passeriformes, Sittidae – Laniidae“ Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim mentioned that migration of the Great Grey Shrike, Lanius excubitor, (also called Northern Shrike), back to breeding grounds has been reported between mid of February until beginning of April with peaks in March. In so far the observation could still fit for a wintering ground observation or a sighting during migration.

Remarkably otherwise there were 8 Ravens (Corvus corax) and at least 5 Red Kites (Milvus milvus). Although Red Kites breed in the Taunus and these Kites seem to stay and feed in the area, they will probably go further north in the near future. The german Birdnet is full with migration counts of Red Kites – sometimes in good numbers (as 37 individuals migrating in north-eastern direction in the Landkreis Waldeck-Frankenberg in northern Hesse).
Moreover, 8 Eurasian Buzzards (Buteo buteo) could be seen. Very interesting to see 5 Common Buzzard with 2 Kites trying to Continue reading Great Grey Shrike, Lanius excubitor in the Hochtaunus near Frankfurt

Birding around Frankfurt Airport: Bad Soden

Frankfurt Airport (FRA) is the gateway to continental Europe. Many airlines use the Airport as a hub for connecting flights all over the world. If you have spare time between two flight and you are a birdwatcher, you might be interested to know, where you can find good places to stretch your legs, enjoy fresh air and enjoy birding for typical european birds.

One of these sites is the hilly countryside around Bad Soden. The state (Bundesland) of Hessen still supports a comparatively large number of mixed orchard meadows where the Little Owl (Athene noctua) is a relatively common bird. After North-Rhine Westphalia, Hessen has the largest Little Owl population in Germany.

Bad Soden is located on the southern slope of the Taunus mountains, 15 km north-west of Frankfurt and 20 kilometers northeast of Wiesbaden and 10km south of the highest summit of the Taunus, the Grosser Feldberg. Although a wealthy suburb of the city of Frankfurt a high percentage of the area (15%) is forested. The altitude ranges between 130 m above sea level (asl) and 385 m asl.

The landscape of the so-called Vordertaunus is very scenic and host some excellent birds, which are quite hard to see in other more northern parts of Germany as e.g. European Honey-buzzard(Pernis apivorus), Red Kite (Milvus milvus), Stock Pigeon (Columba oenas), Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus), Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo), Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor ), Middle Spotted Continue reading Birding around Frankfurt Airport: Bad Soden