Birding around Frankfurt – Mittlere Horloffaue/ Wetterau

Common CraneFrankfurt is the financial capital of Germany. It is well known although the city limits inhabit only roughly 600,000 people. But the greater Frankfurt area of course is much more populated. If you are on business in Frankfurt and have some spare time between two meetings and you are a birdwatcher, you might be interested to know, where you can find good places to walk a bit and enjoy birding for typical european birds.

One of these sites is the countryside around the area south of the town “Hungen” less than 30km south-east of Giessen.  The nature reserve is located in the Medium Horloffaue. The next villages are Trais- Horloff and Utphe.

The reserve includes open water mostly with shallow water levels, reeds, marshes and mud banks and residues of softwood floodplain forest. It has also created a lot of extensively used agricultural area with hedges and shrubs. The area is an important stopover for migratory birds, Common Crane (Grus grus), among others, and is also a breeding area of ​​national importance.

East / south-east of the Untere Knappensee, the area called Kuhweide is characterized by wet meadows, reeds and shrubs. The area is especially interesting during migration for waders, geese and ducks. Great Egret (Casmerodius albus) can be almost the whole year round. Wintering birds include Whooper Swans (Cygnus cygnus) and Greater White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons). In the wider area of Frankfurt this reserve is only comparable to the Kuehkopf-Knoblochsaue nature reserve.

A wonderful view over the Kuhweide you can hve from observation post on the slope of an old castle hill. During the migration of the cranes disturbances should be avoided. Please observe only from the observation point above the “Kuhweide” already mentioned. (see the information and map).

In the beginning of Novermber only 3 Common Cranes (Grus grus), but about 50 Wigeon (Anas penelope), about 300 Teal (Anas crecca), 4 Shoveler (Anas clypeata), 4 Great Egret (Casmerodius albus), 2 White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) and a maximum of 80 Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus ) could be observed.

The area also famous for the occurrence of rarities such as White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata) and White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus) with some regularity.


By public transportation: Take the bus to Utphe (eg from bus station Hungen or Woelfersheim). Only runs weekdays.

By car: Take the A45 to the exit Woelfersheim (southeast of Giessen), then on the B455 towards Hungerford to Utphe. In Utphe turn right on the side street “On Heegweg”, up to a small parking lot at the edge of the nature reserve.

There are other places in the nearer surroundings but access is a bit tricky. Please contact via the contact form if I can give further directions or even guide you!


  1. I am interested in birding around Frankfurt during the summer. Maybe a weekend trip arriving on a friday and returning back to Ireland on a Monday. What. Would you be able to guide us, what birds we be able to look for . Can you advise on where to stay. We would be landing at Hahn airport. Please give an idea of how much it would cost.

    many Thanks

    geoff hunt

  2. Johannes — Thanks for the great tips. I ended up visiting the Palmengarten, which is a manicured but nicely laid-out and pleasant city park.

    There I saw a number of good birds including the European Serin, Long-tailed Tit, White Wagtail, European Robin, Blue Tit, among others. So many thanks.

    I was quite annoyed that everything is cash everywhere, which I never seem to have on me. (I recently spent a week in Iceland and everything is payable by card.) The Palmengarten is about 10-15 minutes walk from an ATM, so bring cash with you…

    Many thanks, Martin (Brussels)

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