It has been thanks to reintroduction campaigns in recent decades that the Taunus today belongs to one of the most densely populated regions of Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo) in Germany. Often the quarries inhabited by the great night-hunters are only a few kilometers apart. The owls do not only colonize the large abandoned mining areas, but also small, long-overgrown quarries and even active mining areas, where they work directly on the breeding wall. A hatchery is usually not much more than a hollow under an overhang, which at least protects something from rain. The trough is practically not padded and barely cleared of stones. As soon as the young owls hatch, the trough visibly gets dirty through food and dung residues. In quarries you can see the traces of the Eurasian Eagle-Owl not infrequently on the remains of plucking. Remnants of plucking can range from hedgehog blankets, half pigeons, pigeon feathers, crow feathers to washed out casts.
After a few weeks, the place is covered with dirt, plucking remnants and vermin, so that one smells the nest from a few meters away rather than sees. If the young birds are still constantly warmed by their parents in the first few weeks, the old Eurasian Eagle-Owls come later only to deliver the prey and then retire somewhere in the rock face or on a nearby tree. At the age of about six weeks, the offspring leaves the eyrie and begins to climb around in the quarry. Although the young birds still stay together for the time being, they Continue reading Birding around Frankfurt Airport – finding Eurasian Eagle-Owls in Taunus hills→
Gelegentlich fahre ich eine einsame Landstraße entlang an der direkt neben der Straße eine nur im hinteren Teil bewirtschaftete Kiesgrube zu finden ist. Die Grube liegt in einer flachen, landwirtschaftlich genutzten Gegend. Landschaftliche Schönheit erschließt sich nur dem Kenner. Viele Spaziergänger oder Jogger kommen daher hier nicht vorbei. Als ich zufällig mal mit dem Wagen vorbei komme und neben einer Böschung parke, fliegen wenige Meter entfernt Uferschwalben (Riparia riparia) ihre Brutröhren an. Sie stören sich an dem Fahrzeug nicht Continue reading Uferschwalben in Nistwand→
Occasionally, I drive a lonely country road along. Right beside the road a gravel pit, excavated only in the back part, can be found. The mine is located in a flat agricultural area. Scenic beauty is only revealed to the connoisseur . Many walkers or joggers therefore do not pass by. Once, I passed by with the car and parked next to an embankment. Flying Bank Swallows or Sand Martins (Riparia riparia) could be seen on and near their breeding tubes only a few meters away. They did not felt bothered Continue reading A gravel pit: home for Sand Martins→
There are not too many foreign birdwatchers coming to the middle of Germany for just birding. But Frankfurt Airport (FRA) is the gateway to continental Europe. Many airlines use the Airport as a hub for connecting flights all over the world. If you have spare time between two flight and you are a birdwatcher, you might be interested to know, where you can find good places to stretch your legs, enjoy fresh air and enjoy birding for typical european birds. One of these places is only 15 minutes away from the Frankfurt Airport. This is the Schwanheimer Duene (Dunes of Schwanheim) located in a southern outskirt of Frankfurt. In so far, the area is more or less the same distance than the Langener Waldseen. But whereas these lakes, situated just 2 km east of the runway of Frankfurt AP, are a highly frequented recreation area in summertime, the Schwanheimer Duene is especially good in spring and summer. Thus an excellent alternative to the Langener Waldseen which are very productive in wintertime.
The Schwanheimer Duene is one of the few inland dunes in Europe. It was established after the last ice age of sands that have been blown out of the riverbed of the River Main. Then, a forest grew on it. In the last century farmers cleared the forest and put on cherry meadows. Several dry periods ended these attempts in the second half of the 19th Century. The dune devasted and started to wander. Between 1882 and 1890 the dune moved aground to its present location.
Frankfurt Airport (FRA) is the gateway to continental Europe. Many airlines use the airport as a hub for connecting flights all over the world. If you have spare time between two flight and you are a birdwatcher, you might be interested to know, where you can find good sites to stretch your legs, enjoy fresh air and enjoy birding for typical european birds. One of these places – only 10 minutes away from the Frankfurt Airport – are the Langener Waldseen. These artificial lakes are situated just 2 km east of the runway and are a highly frequented recreation area with an oper-air swimming area. But wintertime is quiet and goods birds – including some vagrants – can be seen on the most western lake. This lake is still an active gravel spit, thus access especially for the best site is more or less tolerated and cannot be guaranteed.
Good birds to be seen on the lake in wintertime here on a regular basis are Canada Goose (Branta canadensis), Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis), Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus), Gadwall(Anas strepera), Common Pochard (Aythya ferina), Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) and Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula). At the beginning of December 2012 there was an influx of cold temperatures in Germany. Shortly after a Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellate), Smew (Mergellus albellus) , Common Merganser (Mergus merganser ) and a male Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) as well as up to 10 Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca) showed up. The woods hold all 6 species of continental woodpeckers (incl. Black, Middle-spotted and Grey-faced Woodpecker) and vast numbers of Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes ) and Bramblings (Fringilla montifringilla) in the winter. Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) are often heard and sometimes seen in the canopy of the many pine trees. For the last winters 1 Great Grey (Northern) Shrike (Lanius excubitor) used the area as a wintering ground. I have seen large flocks of Common Crane moving overhead in late October from this site.