Sometimes, you just need luck: A bird-loving hiker in the Alps had never seen a Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) with such a wide, white band on its lower wings. Therefore, he photographed the flying eagle. Only some time later it turned out that he had seen a Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) from the last calender year. The only third suspected wild bird in Germany since 1977, which was accepted by the german rarity commissions.
The Steppe Eagle is only recognized as a wild bird in Germany since 2005. Previous observations were always treated as refugees from captivity by the rarity commissions. Up to 2013, there are currently three German records compared to a total of 28 records for Denmark. In the past ten years alone, a Steppe Eagle has been observed eight times in Denmark.
In Western Europe, meanwhile, a flurry of extremely rare Raptors is expected. The Netherlands and northern France have seen a wave of exciting reports of large birds of prey in the past weeks. And of course the British bird watchers hope that one or the other raptor could also make it across the strait.
Belgium, northern France and the Netherlands have housed a steppe eagle in Apeldoorn in mid of May. After all, this is only the fourth Dutch report. It was therefore more than unexpected that another Steppe Eagle appeared in Middelburg, the capital of Zeeland, on May 21st. It is believed that the Steppe Eagles migrated west this spring due to longer periods of southern and eastern high pressure systems. This almost invites further speculation as to whether more birds of prey from the southern part of Europe are being drifted further north. This expectation is strengthens by the appearance of at least three Booted Eagles (Hieraaetus pennatus) in the past week – two in Belgium (one of which also came to France) and one in the Netherlands. The amazing sighting of a Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) near Torhout also fits the scheme. Another good raptor sighting could be made in the form of a Golden Eagle from Middelburg; the same day the Steppe Eagle was seen.
It will be seen whether there will be more of the warm south-eastly winds for the next weeks, which will also give central Europe the opportunity for a mega bird of prey.
Not everything that causes excitement in Western Europe is a mega rarity in Germany. The Booted Eagles, especially the specimens of the pale morph, are reported from time to time mainly from eastern Germany, including from the Saalekreis in Saxony-Anhalt.
A Bearded Vulture oder Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus), however, is always a possibility from the Alps in summertime. Ornitho.de reported a sighting for May 18th 2020 from the Stanglahnerkopf near Berchtesgaden Anyway: it remains exciting.
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