Birding Berlin: Ducks in winter in Charlottenburg Palace

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, including Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) and Middle-spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius). Indeed the Schlosspark Charlottenburg is well known for the fact that a successful search for the Northern Goshawk is quite reliable here. The bird, which used to hunt across the field in the forest and out of the forest, is moving more and more toward cities. Berlin is the city with the highest Northern Goshawk -density per hectare in the world. There are reported 100 breeding pairs. The reason of the “urbanization” is probably the protection against human persecution and the good food base e.g. viewed with the resident Rock Pigeon (Columba livia). Birdwatching aside, the palace is worth a visit for anyone with time in Berlin. Construction of the palace was started at the end of the 17th century and it was built for Sophie Charlotte, wife of Frederick III the King of Brandenburg. It was built in the baroque style and burned to the ground during World War II. So what you see today is a reconstruction. The interior contains an art gallery but the garden is open to all without any charge. The main gardens are behind the palace as approached from the Sophie-Charlotte Platz station and are very attractive. The area nearest the palace is formal with lawns and structured hedges whilst the more distant parts are a little wilder with tall trees and ornamental lakes, a nice artificial landscape with ponds.

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 like this one to capture images not only of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. The nice image of the blog is only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Picture Shop” very soon. Just give me a message, if could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.

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