Observation site for spring migration on the river Oder

SchwanzmeiseAfter having presented protected nature areas in the Havellaendisches Luch or the Guelper See, a recent blog was dealing with the Oder valley in general and The National Park Lower Oder especially. The National Park protects a flood plain, the last still intact in large parts of the estuary of Central Europe.

A rainy, cloudy Sunday led me to the river Oder. Having refueled with gasoline and a Breakfast from a gas station I decided going to Criewener polder south of Schwedt. Criewen is a small village only 3 km south of the industrial city of Schwedt and roughly 100km north-east of Berlin. The car I parked just in front the bridge on the western side channel of the Oder. I grabbed the tripod, spotting scope and the Canon 4.0 / 400 DO from the car. So I walked up to a bench not far from the crossing between the entry road from the village of Criewen and the dike. Here you really an impressive view over the whole polder with riparian woods and wide meadows. Now, beginning of April the area was still flooded and quite wet in wide parts. April demonstrated spring time with pleasant temperatures, a pleasant southern wind and usually sunshine. The first weekend provided a significant boost in migratory birds. Especially thrushes – including the first Ring Ouzels (Turdus torquatus) were increasingly encountered on their traditional resting places. The first Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) and Savi’s Warbler (Locustella luscinioides) could be heard.

In between the meadows shallow water bodies existed, which were extensively used especially by the ducks. From my location on the bench right on the trafficable dyke I could observe a flock of the eastern subspecies of Long-tailed Tits, the White-headed Long-tailed Tits (Aegithalos caudatus caudatus) and the first Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) – a male – of the year. The Chiffchaffs (Phylloscopus collybita) and the Eurasian Treecreepers (Certhia familiaris) were very active in the riparian forest behind the bench. They fed intensively, which should indeed be related to the excellent food conditions due to much deadwood in the forest patches. From the dike you could have a beautiful look on the wet meadows lying below. Behind you can see the gentle hills of the Oder slopes. In the wet grass Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) and Thrushes were around.

While Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) flew again and again noisily from the forest patches to the meadows, some Song Thrushes (Turdus philomelos) in the bushes on the eastern, the wet, side of the dike could be seen. Strikingly, I found that a flock of around 9 Redwings (Turdus iliacus) strawling on the short grass. Normally I saw them mostly associated with Song Thrushes in lower numbers in middle strata of bushes and small woods and never seen solo so exposed on a meadow. The concrete way were easy to walk – but without rubber boots you had to turn without seeing the river itself. Again and again I stop and enjoyed the view over this great inundated river landscape with lush green meadows and brown reed beds. It was cloudy and from time to time it was drizzling from thick clouds. That may be a good thing. In sunshine the polder is certainly awash walkers and cyclists. What might happen in sunshine could already be seen if you pay attention to the cycle traffic on the dike on that cool and rainy day.

In the meadows not only Meadow Pipit but also at least 1 White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) and 2 individuals of the Western Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava) could be seen.

Overall, the results for this 2-day trip to the Oder valley were really remarkable. In total, I was able to observe 63 species, which, given the latecomers outstanding (peak of migration is only 1 month later), is surprisingly good.

An excursion to the area to the North-East of Berlin is always rewarding. Especially during fall migration it is possible to see thousands of Common Cranes (Grus grus). During trips to the area encounters with Beaver and Eurasian Otter are possible, too.

Already several sites for nature protection in Brandenburg has been presented. The River Oder valley is only one of these sites is. If you have spare time between two tourist attractions in Germany´s sprawling capital 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.

There are already many airlines which use the Airport of Berlin. An alternative is to take a flight to Frankfurt/ Main, the international hub for Germany, and drive with a rented car in roughly half a day to Berlin and enjoy the landscape while almost flying over the autobahn.

Access to the reserve is not difficult. There are other places in the nearer surroundings where access is a bit tricky. Please contact via the contact form if I can give further directions or even guide you!

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