The wide meadows oft he Elbe south of Wittenberg in Saxony-Anhalt is a special bird protection area. By far not as populated as the lower Rhine valley, it favors many migrating and breeding bird species. Spring is spectacular. A familiar “neigh” is in the air. The meadows are mainly characterized by the distinctive calls of the Common Cranes (Grus grus) or the calls of the Taiga Bean-Geese (Anser fabalis) and Greater White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons) high in the blue sky, but this gentle, melodious trill clearly indicates the Black Kite (Milvus migrans ). Hearing the Black Kite is one thing. But to find the Black Kite is not that easy. Then I discover a Black Kite high in a poplar tree on the edge of the wide floodplain. When I stop the car and get out, the bird flies away and shows very nicely the tail, which is not as notched compared to the Red Kite (Milvus milvus), which had already arrived on ist breeding ground the week before.
For many people, bird migration is synonymous with the masses of birds that move over us in a more or less orderly manner. But this form of bird migration is more the exception than the rule for us. Many species migrate secretly and quite quietly. Our warblers such as the Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin), the Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) or the Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca), the Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita), the Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) or the Reed warblers such as the Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) migrate individually at night. During the day they rest mostly hidden in forests, bushes or reeds. Conspicuous Continue reading The first returnees from migration: the Black Kite
If you have seen the movie “The Big Year” from 2011, you probably remember the search for the Pink-footed Goose which Jack Black pursued together with Owen Wilson and Steve Martin as keen birders. The Big Year is a story about three singularly obsessed men who compete to see who will be the “best birder in the world” by spotting the most species in a year. To win a “big year,” as the endeavor is called, a participant should expect to identify more than 700 species. Consequently the Pink-footed Goose ist a Must! Jack Black misses the bird in High Island, Texas and then again in Boston; before he finally saw Pink-footed Goose bathing on a mountain top in Colorado on a warm spring day in December. The scriptwriter probably – in my opinion – used in the movie the Pink-footed Goose (Anser brachyrhynchus) because of its “funny” name. Difficult for European goose watchers to assess, but sightings of the Pink-footed Geese in Texas and Colorado are rather unlikely.
The Pink-footed Goose nests in Iceland, Spitsbergen and Greenland and can be seen in the UK and the Netherlands in winter. Otherwise one is dependent on chance observations also in Central Europe. Continue reading The Big Year & the Pink-footed Goose
Pomarine Jaegers (Stercorarius pomarinus) are high-arctic gulls, which spend most of the non-breeding season offshore in the Atlantic. Thus, a Pomarine Jaeger is a very unusual sighting in Germany, especially for inland states like Brandenburg. End of September a Pomarine Jaeger was seen on the Gülper See.
The Gülper See (lake) in the Havelaue west of Rhinow is always worth a visit. However, it was a small sensation when a Pomarine Jaeger was observed on September 26th and 27th, 2019 – and thus before the storm depression Mortimer. The immature Pomarine Jaeger of the dark morphe was first observed resting on the water. In the further course the bird was photographed very nicely in flight and on the meadow opposite the lakeshore. More often it was parasitic to Caspian Gulls (Larus cachinnans). Whether it was very successful, remained open. Later, she was at least with a large perch ashore, which the Jaeger “bit by bit” cranked.
The next day the Pomarine Jaeger was last seen and photographed swimming on the lake. A short time later the bird was observed in a vigorous battle with a Caspian Gull on the water surface. This Continue reading Pomarine Jaeger deep in hinterland in Germany
Humans have always been fascinated by the elegant birds. Their calls ring in the autumn the beginning of winter and announce its early end in early spring. a wintry tour led to the resting place of more than 100 birds in the Rambower Moor in Prignitz district in Brandenburg.
South-east of the picturesque village Rambow in western Brandenburg the view opens into a wide plain. Reeds and shallow waters can be seen from afar. In between are tall grey figures in the wintry sun. They are Common Cranes (Grus grus) resting here in the middle of winter. They stand out wonderfully from the gold-yellow of the reeds behind them. The birds can already be seen at a great distance. In Rambower Moor, up to 1500 cranes will gather for a nightly rest in March. Of course, it is much less now. Maybe it is still too early in the day and too sunny. In good weathers Common Cranes spend more time on corn fields and come later to their resting place in the moor.
Actually, they should now be in their winter quarters in Spain and France. But winter does not seem so grim that it would be worth the Continue reading Cranes in the moor
Die Havelaue westlich von Hohennauen – nördlich von Rathenow – ist eine weite Ebene des norddeutschen Tieflandes. Bei Temperaturen um 0° liegt die Landschaft unter einer dicken Hochnebeldecke. Die Luft ist feucht-kalt und das Land liegt still. Die ergiebigen Regenfälle der vergangenen Tage haben die Wiesen überschwemmt. Teils liegen Wiesen und Weiden unter einer brüchigen Eisdecke. Träge fließt die Havel im Hintergrund. Ende Januar konnten direkt von der Straße nach Parey gut 50 Saatgänse (Anser fabalis) gesehen werden. Offensichtlich kamen sie zur Nahrungssuche auf die Felder und Wiesen. Die bevorzugten Übernachtungsplätze müssen wohl die Polder beim Grützer Bogen und Continue reading Waldsaatgänse im Havelland
Bean Geese on their wintering grounds near Berlin. The Havelaue west of Hohennauen – north of Rathenow – is a vast plain of the North German lowlands. In January, the landscape was – at temperatures around 0 ° Celsius – under a thick blanket of foggy clouds. The air was humid and cold, and the country is very quiet. Abundant rains in recent days have flooded the meadows. Some parts of the meadows and pastures are under a thin layer of crumbling ice. The river Havel flows in the background.
End of January some 100 Geese, mainly Bean Geese (Anser fabalis) could be seen not far from the road from Hohennauen to Parey. Obviously, the geese came in search of food to the fields and meadows. The preferred resting grounds must surely be in the polder Continue reading Taiga Bean Goose in Havelland near Berlin
Berlin 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
In the Friedländer Große Wiese especially south of Mariawerth but also north of Heinrichswalde 3,000 Bean Goose (Anser fabalis) could be seen in only about 2 hours in the early morning good of an early Novermber day. Obviously they flew up from the nature reserve “Galenbecker lake” which is right to the south. The preferred nighttime roost have probably been one of the polder at Heinrichswalde and the large flooded polder south- east of Fleethof. Fleethof itself is about 10km west of Heinrichswalde. Anyway, flocks of geese calling loud flew at 7:30 across the polder dikes to the north. Later I went to the so-called Friedlaender Große Wiese – a large meadow area. The Friedlaender Große Wiese is very accessible by paved and partly concreted driveway lanes without access restrictions. As I passed some harvested corn fields especially south of Mariawerth , I was lucky enough to see Bean Goose together with Common Cranes (Grus grus) in these fields. Since this flat area – a former alkaline fen- is far away from densely populated areas, there is less interference by joggers or dogwalkers than in the south-western part of Germany. Insofar the geese can enjoy normally quite a calm day to feed. So the situation is quite different from that which was described in the blog “Cranes & Geese in winter.” The good numbers of geese on the harvested corn fields not so far away from the road were amazing. I went pretty much all the roads and paths along the vast meadows. I kept seeing large groups of geese, which were very inconspicuous on the seemingly empty, harvested maize fields. They can camouflage very well. Sometimes only when geese fly in, you will pay attention to the flocks of geese.
Among the observed geese were also Continue reading Taiga Bean Goose in Vorpommern (Pomerania)