No less than 3 Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris) could be observed on April 11th, 2014 at the Grosser Feldberg just 20 km from the city center of Frankfurt / Main. After Ingo Roessler had found the species in searching for Ring Ouzel, Turdus torquatus, around the little town of Schmitten, several ornithologists had already been on the top of the mountain (approx. 800m asl) , to observe the very rare species. First, there was talk of a bird , then they were supposedly away and then there were but a total of three individuals which were staying near the radio tower at the Great Feldberg. This of course was a big sensation for the birders of the Rhine -Main region. When we arrived around 4:30 pm, the Alpine Accentor could be seen feeding in the western courtyard by the large telecommunications tower. From time to time they flew to the gutters of the radio tower and returned to the yard. Until at least 5:20 pm, 3 individuals of the Alpine Accentor could be observed in the small courtyard to the west of the large radio tower. When we came back from a small walk at 6:30 pm, they were not to be found in the western courtyard. However, they were staying in the eastern courtyard with Eurasian Blackbirds (Turdus merula) and other Thrushes. The shooting distance was sometimes only 8 meters.
Although I saw and photograph the species in eastern China, in the Daheishan in November 2007 obviously in their winter habitat, where they will not breed for sure (alone terms of altitude) evidence outside the breeding areas in Europe is surprisingly sparse. Thus, also the relevant standard work by Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“, Band 10/II „Passeriformes, Motacillidae – Prunellidae“ pp. 1142 ff mentions only the detection of a migrating bird in April 1985 in Hilpoltstein in the northern part of Bavaria. However, some kind of passage must take place through the North German -Polish lowlands, because there are records from the UK and even Helgoland.
A search for this rare bird of high alpine habitat is definitely worth on the next days, too. It should be useful to scan intensively throughout the area around the top of the Grosser Feldberg.
Even otherwise, the Taunus is interesting not only in migration times. Another interesting migrating bird is the Ring Ouzel, Turdus torquatus, which might be seen in this time of the year as well. Thus, inter alia, also as described in a blog this bird was observed in September 2012 near Riedelbach, in the beautiful Riedelbacher heath which is only 10kms distant as the bird flies. At that time, a total of 6 individuals could be seen. The Ring Ouzels, however, were very cautious and tried to avoid contact with the photographer.
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