Beginning of October is the best time to observe migratory birds near a hill called Tötschberg or Toetschberg in the Eifel. It was still twilight when I arrived at the Bürvenicher Berg which is opposite to the Tötschberg, located at about 246m above sea level. In front of me the expanse of the Zülpicher Börde, which begins to rise here towards the Eifel Mountains.
The morning started with a group of 3 Red Kites (Milvus milvus), which wanted to make a rush in active flight over the rising hills. The morning dragged on with many migratory observations, among others Song Thrushes (Turdus philomelos) and Mistle Thrushes (Turdus viscivorus). What was special was the arrival of a young female Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), which circled elegantly over the field and then settled in a dry elderberry tip. This was not at all approved by a pair of Common Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus), which then vehemently attacked the young Goshawk.
Striking were the many Eurasian Skylarks (Alauda arvensis), which called their typical contact sounds in flight. The Larks could be observed from afar in the east and then made a lap of honor on the mountain. This was often used to fly back and forth. There were repeated flight maneuvers and interactions between individual specimens, which seemed to show a certain fun factor.
The Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) was by far the most common migrating bird species in the study period, followed by other species such as Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus), Skylark, Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), White Wagtail (Motacilla alba), Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis), Song Thrush and Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla). The Eurasian Robin (Erithacus rubecula) was also very common, but stayed a lot in the sloe thickets and could not easily be assigned to the migration.
The Tötschberg at the south-eastern end of the Zülpicher Börde is a very valuable place both geologically and biologically. Hedges, fields and meadows alternate nicely here. Industrial agriculture has not yet fully taken over the scepter. A beautiful nature reserve, where you can stand freely on a meadow on the edge of an escarpement. On one side a sloe and hawthorn hedge, on the other the vastness of the landscape. The cooling towers of the lignite-fired power stations in the distance are striking, and are now and then replaced by a cluster of wind turbines.
Both the Tötschberg and the Bürvenicher Berg lie between Bürvenich (city of Zülpich) and Floisdorf (city of Mechernich). The Tötschberg gives the nature reserve its name. However, it is forested and therefore less suitable for observing bird migration. The Bürvenicher Berg is much better for this.
Both the Tötschberg and the Bürvenicher Berg can really compete with the Stockert in quality of migratory movement. The Stockert is a little further south, located near the village of Eschweiler and Bad Münstereifel. The geographical location on the Stockert means that the bird migration, which takes place on a broad front during the day, ends in a terrain funnel in the fall migration and the birds are therefore concentrated in a relatively small area. The situation on the Tötschberg is characterized by the fact that you can look far over the country and the rise in altitude of the Eifel Mountains is continuously but noticeable, which has an influence on the altitude of the migrating birds passing in.
You can observe from different points and follow the migration. Zülpich is not far from the mighty city of Cologne in the west of Germany. With car you can manage the distance in roughly less than 1 hour. The best way to park the car is coming from Zülpich-Bürvenich or Mechernich-Floisdorf, above the Achemer mill in the direction of Berg. About 100 meters behind an information board on the Nature Reserve Tötschberg, a dirt road goes right up to the lookout point.
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