A splash drops of water, a wild tumult. Just a moment ago the two male Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) had been standing side by side on the ice-plate. Now they quarrel like crazy. Diving, swimming, fluttering and finally escaping, they obviously let their aggression run wild. Most of the short but intense fights end with the fact that one of the males gets through and drives his rival away with a bite in the tail. The defeated duck flies a short distance; and after a few minutes they are together again on the ice – as if nothing had happened. Since the winter temperatures are now also noticeable in the middle of Berlin, large areas of the large ornamental pond – the Karpfenteich (i.e. carp pond) – are covered in ice in the western part of the park in Charlottenburg Palace Park. Only a small part, located in close proximity to the tributary to the river Spree, has remained an open water surface, which is the center of attraction for many waterfowl such as Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) and Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula). Goosanders (Mergus merganser) are also well represented. Even a male Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) appeared, but it looked quite pale, suggesting an escaped ornamental bird or a hybrid. Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) is standing on the shore quite close to the trails in the park. The ornamental park in the middle of the city of Berlin is a very special bird paradise. Partly natural water surfaces form a beautiful combination with the more than 100 years old thick Beeches and Oaks. For managed parks, the park has an amazing amount of old wood.
Birding parks in big cities are often surprisingly good. Berlin is a great place to combine a city trip with a birding excursion. A U-bahn ticket for the trip to Sophie-Charlotte Platz is cheap. From here it is only a short walk along Schlossstrasse to the Charlottenburg Palace. The extensive gardens here are home for many bird species, Continue reading Birding Berlin: Ducks in winter in Charlottenburg Palace→
The Spanish province of Valencia was visited in summer. One reason was to relax for a week. The second argument was to get a feel for avian delights of an area of the country normally thought of in mainstream tourism terms. As a habitual visitor to the more well-known birding destination of Andalucía and Portugal, I wasn’t expecting too much but was enjoyably surprised by the numbers and variety of Valencia’s avian inhabitants. One day I headed for the steppe habitat just outside Castilla de la Mancha. This area is blessed with an incredibly diverse range of habitats and excellent birding sites.
A stop at the tiny Bonete Municipal Cemetery en route meant we could search a small lake and a few trees, giving us great intimate views of Egyptian Vulture (Neophron pernocterus), Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica), Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula), a lonesome Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) and – best of all – a yellow-and-black male Eurasian Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus). European Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) are common in these lowland Continue reading Steppe habitat just outside Castilla de la Mancha→
Je härter der Winter, desto schwieriger ist die Futtersuche. An der Ostseeküste gilt das für die Vogelwelt besonders dann, wenn auf dem Blankensee, an den Havelseen oder gar der Ostsee das Wasser zufriert und offene Stellen selten werden. Dann überwinden die Vögel ihre natürliche Scheu und versuchen, in den Häfen auf Beutefang zu gehen. Für Fotografen ist das eine gute Gelegenheit, zu reizvollen Motiven zu kommen.
Vor einigen Jahren hatte der lang anhaltende Frost die Ostsee in eine arktische Winterlandschaft verwandelt. Viele seltene und dem Menschen gegenüber eher scheue Vogelarten hatten ihre Zurückhaltung aufgegeben und waren in den windgeschützten Häfen aufgetaucht. Dort gab es noch einige wenige eisfreie Wasserflächen, an denen die Vögel an Nahrung gelangen konnten.
Nach angenehmen Temperaturen um Weihnachten sorgten ab Sylvester Temperaturen von bis zu – 20 ° Grad Celsius für eine kältestarre Eiswüste. Zwangsweise fand sich eine vielfältige Vogelwelt in den Häfen ein. Pfeifenten (Anas penelope) und Stockenten Continue reading Harter Winter – gute Vogelaufnahmen→
As the plane gets closer to the barren island of St. Paul, the first impression is Brown und Olive-green. Later we see that there are not only brown and olive colors on the island. Metre-high waves of a dark blue sea are breaking against the rugged, rocky coast which is shimmering black. As we land, sunrays are breaking through the clouds. Enchantment in a wild landscape. The melancholic character of the open tundra is obvious. When we get off the plane in front of the hangar, it is very quiet at once. What a contrast to the noise in the machine. Only now and then we hear the melancholy flight song of Lapland Buntings (Calcarius lapponicus) or the high trill of the local race of Rock Sandpiper (Calidris ptilocnemis).
Barren tundra-covered hills dominate the landscape of the Pribilof Islands. But these island also host the largest seabird colony in the Northern Hemisphere with 98 percent of the world population of Red-legged Kittiwake (Rissa brevirostris). In addition, the strongest breeding colony Continue reading Passerine vagrants on St. Paul – Pribilof Islands→
Gambell, a small village on the north-western tip of the remote St. Lawrence Island is an outstanding outpost not only for North American Birders. A short trip with only a few days with High Lonesome yielded all sorts of good birds, both Asian and North American origin.
During a 6-day trip guided by the tour operator High Lonesome a group of mainly US-birders was amazed by the impressive but regular bird migration along the shore of the island to the Bering Sea further north. An almost as important feature was the possibility to catch-up with maybe the best vagrants sightings of the spring 2016.
There had been some very good Asian species this spring. Far outstanding was the Pintail Snipe (Gallinago stenura), which was finally only identified by checking the images shot and discussing sighting and sound impressions in the group. First reviews from experts for ID-confirmations turned out to be positive.
The snipe was flushed at close distance in the so-called Far Boneyard, flew low and a very short distance on first flush and then flew farther and higher on second flush, always from dry ground, although bird flew high it circled back around, we were not able to flush it a third time the bird called once, not particularly sharp like Common/Wilson’s but also not particularly wheezy (fairly short and quiet call). The images of the bird show a coloration very Continue reading Pintail Snipe on a remote US-Island in the northern Pacific/ Alaska→
Die kleine Saab-Propellermaschine ist schon seit gut einer Stunde über dem unendlichen nördlichen Pazifik unterwegs als in weiter Ferne ein brauner Streif Inseln im windgepeitschten Meer der Beringsee auftauchen. Das sind die Pribilofs. Wir steuern St. Paul an. Der Flug hat immerhin gut 3 Stunden mit Unterbrechung in einem verlassenen Nest gedauert. Braun ist die vorherrschende Farbe, die man beim Anflug auf St. Paul wahrnimmt. Mit Platz 2A hatte ich einen der vorderen Plätze ergattert und kann ganz gut auch den Rucksack unter dem Vordersitz unterbringen. Die Gepäckafubewahrung oberhalb der Sitze ist nämlich extrem schmal. Das sollte man als Fotograf beachten. Die Maschine hat schon ein paar Jährchen auf dem Buckel. Als die Turbo-Props am Flughafen von Anchorage angeschmissen wurden, denkt man, das kann doch nicht wahr sein. Es werden Oropax verteilt. Das Getöse der Maschinen wird man nur 3 Stunden lang nicht los.
Als wir näherkommen, sehen wir, daß es nicht nur braune Farbe auf der Insel gibt. Meterhohe Wellen aus einem dunkelblauen Meer brechen gegen die schroffe, felsige schwarzschimmernde Küste. Als wir landen, brechen auf einmal Sonnenstrahlen durch die Wolkendecke. Sie verzaubern ruckzuck die wilde Landschaft. Der melancholische Charakter der offenen Tundra ist offenkundig. Als wir aus dem Flugzeug vor dem Hangar aussteigen, ist es auf einmal ganz ruhig. Was für ein Kontrast zu dem Lärm in der Maschine. Nur ab und zu erklingt der melancholische Fluggesang der Spornammer (Calcarius lapponicus) oder die hohen Triller der Beringstrandläufer (Calidris ptilocnemis).
Already several sites for nature protection with excellent birding ops in Brandenburg has been presented. One of these sites is a protected nature area in the Havellaendisches Luch or the Guelper See. If you have spare time between two tourist attractions in Germany´s sprawling capital Berlin you might be interested as a birdwatcher to know, where you can find good places to enjoy fresh air and relax with birding for typical European birds. Berlin, the capital of Germany is a top tourist destination and easy to reach by air or car. So the city is a great place to combine a city trip with a birding excursion.
One of these sites is a National Park in Oder valley (Polish: Odra). The Oder is a river in Central Europe which rises in the Czech Republic and ultimately flows into the Szczecin Lagoon of the Baltic Sea. The National Park Lower Oder protects a flood plain, the last still intact in large parts of the estuary of Central Europe with its adjacent slopes, mixed deciduous forests and dry grasslands.
Migration season starts in Germany right now. One of the best places to see especially the early fall migrants – the waders – is the old sewage farm in the north of Muenster, called Rieselfelder Munster. Early morning, 6:30 am. Still dawn. Haze over the water and I am watching through a well located hide here on the edge of the best lagoon, called E1. Waders are my main interest, but I would not complain, if an early Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana) or Continue reading Moorhen chases Snipe at Rieselfelder Munster→
Based on a message in Ornitho.de in the beginning of May I when visited the Schiersteiner water works in the vicinity of Wiesbaden in the Rheingau region. This area is about 50 km west from the Frankfurt city center. A singing Reed Warbler had been seen. Maybe a nice photo opportunity. Shortyl after arrival at least one individual of an intensively singing Great Reed-Warbler was found . The individual was singing all the time – as shown in the photo. It showed-up repeatedly on the high stalks ends of last year’s reeds in a water pond called “the Lagoon”. The water body is easily detected from the flood dike. The shooting Continue reading Observations of a Great Reed-Warbler in the Rhine Valley→
The nature reserve Kuehkopf-Knoblochsaue (in German: Naturschutzgebiet or NSG Kühkopf-Knoblochsaue) is one of the best sites of riparian forest along the river Rhine. The reserve is the largest protected area in Hesse, with 2,369 hectares. It is located on the right bank of the upper Rhine. Towns nearby are Leeheim, Erfelden, Stockstadt and Biebesheim all roughly 60km south of Frankfurt/ Main. The NSG comprises an artificial puncture of the former Rhine floodplain. It is characterized by islands, riparian woods and meadows. Additional features are open water areas, oxbows, mud fields, reed-beds, floodplain meadows and soft wood forest (willows and poplars) and hard wood forest (including oak and elm). The area has a bird list of about 250 species. Approx. 120 species of birds breed here.
After a message on Ornitho.de I decided to visit the sewage farms in the north of Muenster. A Green-winged Teal, a close relative of our European Teal (Anas carolinensis) was said to stay for a few days already in Muenster. The duck was in the area of an old abandoned sewage farm. The species has been seen since at least the 16th of March on the pond named E1. From the Rhine -Ruhr region, the sewage farm is easy to reach and the sewage ponds – the Rieselfelder Muenster – are famous to reveal rarities especially in the spring season. The area is a real birding hotspot. First, there was nothing to see but the sheer numbers of ducks. Gadwalls (Anas strepera), Continue reading Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis) near Muenster/ North Rhine-Westphalia→
Now that winter has proceeded quite well some good birds show up on “stupid” spots like recreation areas and parks. In a series of blogs Bird-lens has already described some excellent spots like the Langener Waldseento observe birds, but this spot came to my awareness the first time. This was due to the fact that a female Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca) showed up on a abundant gravel spit near Offenbach-Rumpenheim, just 10 km east of the city of Frankfurt. The location is called the “Schultheisweiher”. Normally the Ferruginous Duck is looking for the companionship of Aythya – ducks like Common Pochard (Aythya ferina) and Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula). The Ferruginous Duck was discovered on the 31st of January 2013 on the Schultheisweiher is there now for more than 1 week.
The photo was shot yesterday when the sun came out after heavy clouds and snow showers distracted a visit on the previous days. The female Ferruginous Duck could be seen next to at least 22 Common Pochard (Aythya ferina) and approx. 50 Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) on the north-western corner of the lake. The female Ferruginous Duck could be seen first only sleeping, then preening the plumage and finally swimming and even diving.
To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western palearctic. Trips to remote places to capture images of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. This nice image is only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Pictures Shop” very soon. Just give me a message, if I could serve you with an image needed.
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 sites to stretch your legs, enjoy fresh air and enjoy birding for typical european birds. One of these places – only 10 minutes away from the Frankfurt Airport – are the Langener Waldseen. These artificial lakes are situated just 2 km east of the runway and are a highly frequented recreation area with an oper-air swimming area. But wintertime is quiet and goods birds – including some vagrants – can be seen on the most western lake. This lake is still an active gravel spit, thus access especially for the best site is more or less tolerated and cannot be guaranteed.
Good birds to be seen on the lake in wintertime here on a regular basis are Canada Goose (Branta canadensis), Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis), Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus), Gadwall(Anas strepera), Common Pochard (Aythya ferina), Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) and Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula). At the beginning of December 2012 there was an influx of cold temperatures in Germany. Shortly after a Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellate), Smew (Mergellus albellus) , Common Merganser (Mergus merganser ) and a male Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) as well as up to 10 Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca) showed up. The woods hold all 6 species of continental woodpeckers (incl. Black, Middle-spotted and Grey-faced Woodpecker) and vast numbers of Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes ) and Bramblings (Fringilla montifringilla) in the winter. Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) are often heard and sometimes seen in the canopy of the many pine trees. For the last winters 1 Great Grey (Northern) Shrike (Lanius excubitor) used the area as a wintering ground. I have seen large flocks of Common Crane moving overhead in late October from this site.