Migration of the Common Crane (Grus grus) has started. Thousands of these birds, also known as “birds of luck”, can currently be observed in Brandenburg on their way to the southern wintering sites under distinctive and loud trumpet calls. The unforgettable nature experience is offered in September and October every year. With their legendary trumpet calls, thousands of Common Cranes fly in the blue sky, circling in the thermal, fly to their resting sites in Brandenburg. All of this is done to prepare for the long onward flight tot he south. During the day, the birds can mainly be observed on the feeding areas on harvested corn fields. But the evening flight to the rest areas is particularly impressive.
The loud trumpet calls make the heads of visitors and residents of Brandenburg go up by themselves. The Common Crane breeds in good numbers in Brandenburg. But so far not in western Germany. The Common Crane is a pure migrant there. Now the migration has started via Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse towards their wintering quarters in southern France and Spain.
While observing the bird migration on the Bürvenicher Berg at the edge of the Eifel, I could see a young Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) flying elegantly low over a field. Striking were the size and the flight pattern on top, which was determined by a brown color and the rather broad, curved wings at the rear edge. A powerful bird that then perched in a dry elderberry tip. Immediately a male of a pair of Eurasian Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus), which had been sitting on its perch significantly further down the slope, started calling. The young female hawk was not impressed by this. Thereupon the young Goshawk was vehemently attacked first by the male, then also by the female Eurasian Kestrel. Above all, the male of the Kestrel rose regularly in the morning sky, then hit the edge of the forest with the elderberry with flung wings, caught himself in the fall less than 3 meters above the Goshawk and circled around and in close contact the bare branches of the bush. The young female Goshawk did recognize that it was the subject of the attacks, regularly turned her head in the direction of the attacker, then sometimes up in the sky. All in all, however, she remained extremely unimpressed and did not let her morning perch scare her away.
Der Waldwasserläufer befindet sich in Deutschland am Rand des süd-westlichen Verbreitungsgebiets. Bekannt ist sein Brutvorkommen in der Uckermark. Ich wollte aber auch mal Meldungen von Waldwasserläufern in der Brutzeit deutlich weiter südlich, nämlich im Spreewald, nachgehen.
Ausgesucht wurde eine abwechslungsreiche leicht hügelige Kiefernlandschaft am Ostrand des Spreewalds, die abgelegen und daher relativ ungestört ist.
Am 6.4. gegen 7:15 – also 45 Min. nach Sonnenaufgang – war der Waldwasserläufer das 1. Mal zu hören und kurz zu sehen. Zwischen umgestürzten Baumstämmen eines unter Wasser gesetzten ehemaligen Birkengrundes waren die Waldwasserläufer nur kurz zu sehen. Die Rufe eines Balzflugs, nur leise und zurückhaltend, waren weit im Innern des überschwemmten Gebiets zu hören. Erst 1 Stunde später konnten die ersten richtigen Balzflüge des Waldwasserläufers vor dem blauen Himmel gesehen werden. Diese waren dann auch mit mehr und lauteren Flugrufen verbunden. Mittags flogen am Nordende des Überschwemmungsgebiets 2 Exemplare vom Uferrand auf.
Ein wunderbares Portrait eines Sperber (Accipiter nisus), der frontal auf einem morschen Ast leicht aufgeplustert sitzt, ist mein persönliches Foto dieser Woche. Das reizende Portrait dieses schlanken männlichen Sperbers hat sogar einen leicht komischen Einschlag. Der Sperber scheint vor sich hin zu dösen; von dem aggressive-furiosen Gesichtsausdrucken anderer Fotos ist diese Aufnahme weit entfernt. Anders als so viele Sperber- Bilder in diesen Tagen war dies keine Aufnahme, die durch das Küchenfenster aufgenommen wurde. Diese Aufnahme wurde im Dezember aus einem Versteck im Osten Ungarns geschossen. Das Versteck liegt in der Nähe der Stadt Debrecen in einem wunderschönen alten Eichenwald. Vor dem Hide ist ein Trinkbecken aufgestellt und eine gut beschickte Futterstelle zog Spechte und einige Singvögel an, hauptsächlich Meisen. In diesem Jahr war es ein schneearmer Winter. Die Temperaturen und die Farben der gefallenen Blätter erzeugten ein Gefühl des Herbstes. Hervorragende Bedingungen zum Fotografieren. Das Versteck ist mit einem speziellen Fotoglas versehen. Damit sitzt man als Fotograf einerseits mittendrin und doch unsichtbar für die Vögel, die extrem nah herankommen. Die Qualität des Fotos, das durch das Schießen Continue reading Sperber – Männchen im Portrait→
The mountain meadows in the Vosges are very attractive in summer time. Beside birds of the alpine zone one sees some interesting plants like Yellow Gentian (Gentiana lutea), Mountain arnica (Arnica montana), Alpine Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla alpina), Mountain Pansy (Viola lutea). Northern Wheatears (Oenanthe oenanthe), Meadow Pipits (Anthus pratensis) and Skylarks (Alauda arvensis) are certainly the most common species of birds, but some rare bird species live in the cliffs and boulder fields as well. If you are lucky, you may spot the Common Rock Thrush or Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis) or other “high mountain species” such as Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris).
The scratching sound is unmistakable. Not necessarily the nature lover would consider this as singing. But that’s exactly what it is. With that, the Northern Wheatear is defending his territory. Although the Wheatear is not afraid to present itself openly, it is not so easy to spot the small, black and white colored bird on one of the boulders.
A beautiful autumn day. Indian Summer, as written in the books. This time it is to go to the Eifel to hill Stockert south of Euskirchen where bird migration at day can be observed. It was still dark when I arrived. The first bird whispers were heard already . It was mainly chickadees whose calls were audible. Then it went very quick. Within minutes, the bushes were full. Of course, especially Great Tit (Parus major) and Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus ) were seen in the sloe (or Blackthorn), Prunus spinosa, and rosehip, Rosa canina, bushes. A wonderful contrast to the blue and red fruits that hung plentiful on the branches everywhere. Migration unrest obviously hit two species of tits too that are usually not associated with the open countryside but with conifers in the forests. There were some Coal Tits (Periparus ater) and Crested Tit (Lophophanes cristatus), which rested for a while on the branches of a sloe . Only short – about 2 minutes – then they were gone again.
When photographing it was obvious to see that migration is in full swing. Singing and other territorial habits were rare and restricted to the earliest morning. This early morning on a sunny day (but quite cold in the first hours) was a real pleasure – also from the point of ornithology. In addition Continue reading Bird migration at the Stockert in the Eifel hills→
During a short trip with sunny weather and quite clear sky but a cold wind in the morning of March 26th through the upper Taunus near Bad Soden I experienced many migrating birds among them approx. 50 Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) and more than a 100 Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs). Remarkable in the sighting of the Chaffinches was the gender relationship which was very much in favor of the males – all in beautiful breeding plumage.
Remarkable with the Song Thrushes were the sheer numbers observed. They tried to conceal among dry grass or clods to take food. All this was complicated by the tight chokes for wind, which the thrushes also tried to avoid. Eventually, using the car as a moving hide, a smaller flock of Song Thrushes could be seen in perfect light showing their typical arrow-markings on the belly.
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.
…. A pre-adult Thick-billed Lark (Ramphocoris clotbey) was the next mornings highlight. After spending the night not too far away from the town of Boumalne, I started the day already at dawn. Behind the village, the road winds back to a plateau. Because I missed the turnoff, I drove on and finally stopped in an area that looked very promising due to its rocky, stony surface. First I saw the otherwise ubiquitous Thekla Lark (Galerida theklae). When I was taking photos, I realized a movement underneath my car. This discovery came out as a real winner: a juvenile Thick-billed Lark (Ramphocoris clotbey), which I had never seen photographed so far. Great! Some shots, then the bird disappeared.
Despite this success soon I had to realize that this was not the described direction to move further south to the sandy desert to see more larks and other desert specialists.
So I had to go back and focus myself strictly to the mileage-data in the reports and the road signs – or what I regarded as road signs. Than I started to ask the people on the road for a place called Ikniouin, a destination said to be in the wider environment. But the Bedouin, I ask, were not very helpful. They merely wanted to smoke something. Finally I decided to simply take the next driveway and follow the direction of my GPS. Driving in this stony flat desert Continue reading Looking for larks in Morocco, PART II→
Bird Lens is proud to show some excellent images of the birds shot from a hide in Hungary in December in the gallery of the pictures shop. The hide is located in the eastern part of Hungary in a superb old oak forest. The hide has a drinking pool in front of the window of the hide and a feeder attracted woodpeckers and some passerine birds, mainly tits. That year, it was a winter poor in snow. The temperatures and the colors of the fallen leaves created a feeling of fall or even late indian summer. Excellent conditions to photograph on 2 days from inside the hide. Besides the birds who showed up were Continue reading New Bird Images in Picture Shop→
Images of birds for science & public; Western Palaearctic & the World