Tag Archives: Great Bustard

Extremadura, a paradise for birders

WiesenweiheThe steppes and extensive dehesas of Caceres and Trujillo are famous for their steppe bird life. Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus), Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus), Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni), Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax), Great Bustard (Otis tarda), Eurasian Thick-knee (Burhinus oedicnemus), Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (Pterocles alchata), Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis), Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyana) and Calandra Lark (Melanocorypha calandra) share the fruits of the holm oak with the black Iberian domestic pigs. Many birds that have rarely or completely disappeared in the rest of Europe can still be observed very well in this almost deserted area.

The Extremadura in southwestern Spain has always been a magical attraction for nature lovers. Nowhere else in Europe you can find a higher biodiversity of plants and especially birds. A particularly large number of birds of prey circle in the thermals above the mountain ranges and plains, which are covered with evergreen oak and cork oaks and are particularly reminiscent of the African savannah in summer. Over 80,000 Common Crane (Grus grus) spend the winter Continue reading Extremadura, a paradise for birders

Steppe habitat just outside Castilla de la Mancha

The Spanish province of Valencia was visited in summer. One reason was to relax for a week. The second argument was to get a feel for avian delights of an area of the country normally thought of in mainstream tourism terms. As a habitual visitor to the more well-known birding destination of Andalucía and Portugal, I wasn’t expecting too much but was enjoyably surprised by the numbers and variety of Valencia’s avian inhabitants. One day I headed for the steppe habitat just outside Castilla de la Mancha. This area is blessed with an incredibly diverse range of habitats and excellent birding sites.

A stop at the tiny Bonete Municipal Cemetery en route meant we could search a small lake and a few trees, giving us great intimate views of Egyptian Vulture (Neophron pernocterus), Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica), Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula), a lonesome Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) and – best of all – a yellow-and-black male Eurasian Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus). European Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) are common in these lowland Continue reading Steppe habitat just outside Castilla de la Mancha

Kornweihe (Circus cyaneus) im Flug

KornweiheEine wunderbare Flugaufnahme einer weiblichen Kornweihe ist mein persönliches  Foto dieser Woche. In einer auffallenden Pose zeigt das Bild alle Oberseitenmerkmale dieses tollen und nicht immer leicht aufzuspürenden Greifvogels. Allein eine solche Beobachtung hätte diesen Tag zu einem besonderen Birder-Tag gemacht.

Das Bild zeigt eine weibliche Kornweihe im zeitigen Frühjahr über einem Stoppelfeld im Morgenlicht kreisend. Die Aufnahme ist gut belichtet und befindet sich vor einem unauffälligen strukturierten Hintergrund, der den Vogel in einer typischen Situation in seinem Überwinterungsgebiet zeigt. Dies ist eine schöne Aufnahme, die ein bisschen auch dadurch wirkt, daß der sich der ganze Vogel im langsamen Nahrungsflug in Richtung Kamera gedreht hat.

Das besondere Foto wurde mit einem 600-mm-Objektiv an einer Canon EOS 5 D Mark III aufgenommen. Die Aufnahme erfolgte mit 1/640 Sekunde, f4,0 bei ISO 400.

Ein schönes Gebiet, um im Winter Kornweihen zu beobachten ist neben den Belziger Landschaftswiesen in der Planeaue westlich von Bad Belzig das Havelländische Luch bei Buckow. Buckow befindet sich westlich von Berlin. Das Havelländische Luch stellt eine einzigartige Niederungslandschaft dar. Landläufig bekannt als das beste Gebiet Deutschlands um Großtrappen zu beobachten, stellt dieses Gebiet im Winter Überwinterungshabitate vor allem für Greife zur Continue reading Kornweihe (Circus cyaneus) im Flug

Birding around Berlin: Rough-legged buzzards on wintering grounds

Rauhfußbussard Breeding in the tundra zone of northern Europe, As holarctic guest bird Rough-legged Buzzards (Buteo lagopus) are encountered in Central Europe especially in the winter months. Rough-legged buzzards leave their high northern breeding areas by the end of September / early October. In increasing numbers they migrate in the central European region especially the North German / Polish lowlands a short while late. It is a striking accumulation of north-northeastern sightings observed for this Buteo-Buzzard. For Germany most reports came from North Friesland last year. But Brandenburg counties follow on the step. They are namely Prignitz, Havelland, Dahme-Spreewald and Uckermark.

During the winter months most Rough-legged Buzzards can be observed by mid-November and then especially in December to mid-February. With nearly 3,000 observations in 2014 (through mid-December) this species is not really rare in Germany. A comparable experience you do observe with the distribution of winter Hen (or Northern) Harrier (Circus cyaneus).  Again, you will find Continue reading Birding around Berlin: Rough-legged buzzards on wintering grounds

Photo Project: Dancing Great Bustard in Germany

Grosstrappe, männlichDancing Great Bustard (Otis tarda) at dawn. That must be a great photo project. The courtship is an incredible spectacle. The male Great Bustard transforms himself into a large, white ball of feathers. To do so, he turns the brown, patterned flight feathers out so that the white underside and the white feathers of the elbow face upwards. Than the tail flips up to the back and shows only the white down feathers. On a morning in mid March everything seems perfect. After a period of bad weather, it had cleared the day before and the weather forecast had announced freezing temperatures. When I left early in the morning, the sky was filled with stars. Not a cloud covered the sky and of the temperatures were in the minus degrees – as promised. One of the areas for the Great Bustard is a good half hour away from the my home town. The morning sun had cast a strip on the eastern horizon Continue reading Photo Project: Dancing Great Bustard in Germany

Überwinterungen von Rotmilanen

Red KiteBei einem Besuch des Havelländische Luchs konnten sehr interessante Beobachtungen von Greifvögeln, vor allem jagenden Kornweihen gemacht werden. Schon eine Weile waren mindestens 2 weibliche Kornweihen (Circus cyaneus) beim niedrigen Nahrungsflug über den Äckern und Weiden zu beobachten. Ein im schaukelnden Flug an einem Wäldchen vorbei ziehender Greif paßte aber nicht ganz in das Kornweihen-Schema. Wie sich beim Blick durch das Fernglas herausstellte, flog ein Roter Milan oder Rotmilan (Milvus milvus) bei Temperaturen um 0° und Hochnebel über die morgendliche Niederung.

Regelmäßige Überwinterungen von Rotmilanen sind inzwischen aus allen Ländern mit bedeutenden Brutvorkommen bekannt. Auch da macht das Havelland bei Nennhausen keine Ausnahme. So wurde ein schwebender Rotmilan noch Continue reading Überwinterungen von Rotmilanen

Joined hunting with Hen Harrier

KornweiheThe lowlands of the Havellaendische Luch at Buckow – 50 km west of Berlin – as an unique area of meadows and fields. Actually known as the top territory in Germany to observe Great Bustards (Otis tarda), it is a perfect winter habitats, especially for wintering raptors as well. Different species of flying predators such as Red Kite (Milvus milvus), Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus), Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo), Rough-legged Buzzard (Buteo lagopus), Merlin (Falco columbarius) and sometimes a Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) use the high diversity of the meadows , pastures and fields around to pick up their food. The White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) is a feeding guest, too. Unlike the species mentioned above, he does not keep up with mice but tries to chase the many Geese grazing in the area. Unfortunately, he also attacks some of the precious Great Bustards (Otis tarda).

While visiting the Havelländische lynx very interesting observations of hunting Northern Harriers chasing songbirds Continue reading Joined hunting with Hen Harrier

Birding around Berlin: The Guelper See

SaatgansBerlin might not sound like a birdwatcher’s paradise but the capital of Germany offers surprisingly good birding. Berlin is already a top tourist destination. But it is a great place to combine a city trip with a birding excursion, too. Many airlines use the Airport of Berlin, but it is possible to take a flight to Frankfurt/ Main as well and drive with a rented car in roughly half a day.

If you have spare time between two tourist attractions and are a birdwatcher, you might be interested to know, where you can find good places to bird for typical European birds. One of these sites to mention is the lake of Guelper See in the west of the State of Brandenburg. The small village of Guelpe, south of the Continue reading Birding around Berlin: The Guelper See

Birding around Berlin: Great Bustards in Brandenburg

GrosstrappeBerlin, the capital of Germany is a top tourist destination. Berlin might not sound like a birdwatcher’s paradise but, Berlin offers surprisingly good birding. So the city is a great place to combine a city trip with a birding excursion. If you have spare time between two tourist attractions, if you are fed-up with the museum visits in crowdy downtown Berlin, have enjoyed nightlife extensively and are a birdwatcher, you might be interested to know, where you can find good places to enjoy fresh air and relax with birding for typical European birds.

One of these sites is a protected nature area in the Havellaendisches Luch between the towns of Continue reading Birding around Berlin: Great Bustards in Brandenburg

Lake Neusiedl: Rare birds in June

HaubenlercheThe Neusiedler See and the area to the east of the lake the “Seewinkel” is an internationally important breeding, resting and wintering ground for many bird species and is home to some large populations of bird species that are rare in other parts of Europe. Especially the numerous so-called “Lacken” are characteristic of the Seewinkel. “Lacken” are salty pans and ponds. Shallow standing waters with increased salinity, which regularly dry out in Continue reading Lake Neusiedl: Rare birds in June

Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax) photography in Extremadura

Littel Bustard male in displayThe sun is still high in the sky, although it is almost 6:00 pm. As far as the eye can see : steppe, interrupted now and then by eroded rocks . Above the ground , the air shimmers . In the car there is indescribable heat. After last year’s winter precipitation had failed in the Extremadura, everything looks withered. And yet it teems with soil insects, especially grasshoppers. It let the routes appear in a green. Dark- gray colour. Again and again Continue reading Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax) photography in Extremadura

Dupontlerche (Chersophilus duponti) im Steppengebiet von Belchite

DupontlercheDiese seltene Lerche hatte ich ja schon Mitte Mai 2002 in Las Almoladeras im Naturpark Cabo de Gata in südlichen Spanien gesehen. Die Dupontlerche (Chersophilus duponti) ist wahrscheinlich eine der am intensivsten gesuchten Vogelarten der Westpaläarktis. Zumindest dann, wenn man zur Vogelbeobachtung in Spanien unterwegs ist. Jetzt – 12 Jahre später wolle ich auf einem Kurztrip nach Nordspanien wieder die Beobachtung dieser Lerche verbuchen können.

Mein Ziel sind diesmal die Las Estepas de Belchite, ein Trockengebiet parallel zum Ebro. Besonders von Interesse ist erstens das sogenannte Refugio de Fauna Silvestre de la Lomaza de Belchite und zweitens das La Reserva Ornitologica Continue reading Dupontlerche (Chersophilus duponti) im Steppengebiet von Belchite