Birding around Berlin: The Guelper See

SaatgansBerlin might not sound like a birdwatcher’s paradise but the capital of Germany offers surprisingly good birding. Berlin is already a top tourist destination. But it is a great place to combine a city trip with a birding excursion, too. 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 and are a birdwatcher, you might be interested to know, where you can find good places to bird for typical European birds. One of these sites to mention is the lake of Guelper See in the west of the State of Brandenburg. The small village of Guelpe, south of the extensive lake, lies roughly 95 km west of Berlin city train terminal.

40-50,000 Bean-Goose (Anser fabalis) and Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) occur here in the winter. Starting from end of October the geese are completed by good numbers of Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus) and Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus). The lake is a good site for wintering ducks like Gadwall (Anas strepera), Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope), Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos),Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata), Northern Pintail (Anas acuta), Common Teal (Anas crecca), Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula), Smew (Mergellus albellus), Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) and Common Merganser (Mergus merganser). The lowland meadows and fields around the lake are a wintering ground for raptors (White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus), Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus), Merlin (Falco columbarius)) and for the migrating Common Cranes (Grus grus) and waders. Common Cranes stop as they migrate through in spring and in the autumn. The Guelper See is one of the largest resting posts for Cranes. Especially in the evening you might observe the flights when the Cranes come in to roost in the middle of the shallow lake or in the ponds and reedbeds nearby. The migration of the Cranes is best observed from September until November.

One of the special birds of Brandenburg is the Great Bustard (Otis tarda). Brandenburg hosts the only breeding population of the Great Bustard in Germany. There is a small remnant population of about 100 birds in protected areas in the Havellaendisches Luch between the towns of Nauen and the town of Rathenow to the west of Berlin. This is not far from the Guelper See. Bustards and other birds can be watched from tower hides.

Access to the highly recommended southern lake shore is not difficult. Please see the map.

14715, Deutschland

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


  1. Hi! I am new to the bird-world. Have lived in Berlin for several years and never realized that Brandenburg has so many wonderful places for bird-watching. I am planning a day trip for my husbands birthday and had planned to go to Schweldt, to the Lower Oder National Park, on the Polish border. But after reading this article I am second guessing the decision. If you had one day, to get out in Brandenburg and do some bird watching, what would you do? We have a car and a lot of enthusiasm! Thanks!

    1. Hi Bre,
      did you read this article ( )? If you had only one day, to get out from Berlin to Brandenburg and do some bird watching, I would recommend in this time of the year the Havellaendisches Luch. But Berlin offers surprisingly good birding as well. The Havellaendisches Luch is located between the towns of Nauen and the town of Rathenow approx. 70 km west of Berlin centre. The best option is to go for the village “Garlitz” and try one of the tow tower hides. There survives a small remnant population of the Great Bustard of about 100 birds. They can be watched from tow tower hides, which are nicely located right in the middle of the agricultural land. From there it is only 1 hour drive to Guelper See as well. But as Brandenburg hosts the only breeding populations of the Great Bustard in Germany, my first choice would be the Havellaendisches Luch.

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