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Germany May 2010 (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
Hangelsberg - Germany
12 May – 25 May 2010

We stayed for ten days in a village near Berlin. We were based in a log cabin with a huge garden in the German Forests so it’s more of an extended garden report than a trip report.
Also if people staying in Berlin on business want to get out into the countryside using public transport this might be of use. But only if they want to go to Hangelsberg, a village some 30 miles from Berlin - 30 minutes on the S-Bahn, a really neat double decker train.
This time we also have to go to the funeral of a German mate, Norbert Thilo, a lifelong expert in local bird lore. What he didn’t know wasn’t worth knowing and I used to love listening to his obvious love of birds and helpful tips. He will be sorely missed as will his funny emails telling me what was going on in the German birding scene.
We usually come once a year to visit the wife’s relatives and immerse ourselves in the brilliant variety of birds around here - most of them quite rare to England. As I type this I am surrounded by bird song in the huge garden and the surrounding forest and see over a period of 10 days lots of different birds like Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Redstart and hear the curious barking sound of the Hooded Crow. Jays are everywhere as are Starlings who are pushing out other native birds by using their nest holes. Once I saw a stunningly plumaged Black Restart perched on the garden fence. As well as a nesting Spotted Flycatcher we regularly see a Pied Flycatcher on its way to a neighbours garden. The hysterical alarm notes of a Great Tit make me look up and I actually catch a cat up a tree with its paw in the hole of the nest box. Alois, the landlord from whom we rent the cabin said he is thinking of putting wire around it to stop the Pine Martin getting in! Greenfinch, Wagtail and Blue Tit all whizz past at waist height with food for their young and a Blackbird collects mud from a puddle for its nest. There are a lot of Nuthatches here all feeding their young and we quickly become familiar with their call. Being in the forest it is very quiet here with nothing to do except listen to birdsong, trying to differentiate between Black Woodpecker and Raven which can sound very similar. If you look up you’ll often see a Common Buzzard. The forests though are strangely empty of birds and you have to have patience. Along the paths you get to know the song of the Wood Warbler. It sings from halfway up a tree where you can see them trilling away. Getting a photo can be frustrating as they sing, hop to another branch, sing again and carry on the process circling round a central point. I have never seen so many Hawfinches as this year but we hardly hear or see any Crested Tit or funnily enough Dunnock. We were lucky enough to see all the woodpeckers including Lesser Spotted Woodpecker several times. We have heard and seen Wryneck here so we cycle around the village trying to find it but without any luck. But there are Siskin jangling heartily away and behind the hot dog stand along the river a River Warbler! From the water meadows along the river Spree we can hear Cranes trumpeting and the Orioles beautiful fluting call. This time we even see them a couple of times. We go for a walk there every day. Nightingales sing from every bush. I keep forgetting to listen out for three hesitant sips that precede the call of the Thrush Nightingale. We have 4 Great Reed Warblers along our stretch of the river all competing with each other. I remember hearing that the Corncrake used to drive crofters mad with their calling and listening to this lot I can quite understand it. You wouldn’t get much sleep if you camped out here in this racket. Sitting for a while on a log and we eventually see a Cuckoo and a Black Kite. But there doesn’t seem to be the numbers of Buzzards and Kites as in previous years, possibly it’s too wet. There are terrible floods in neighbouring Poland and people have died. Later they declare a flood emergency in the State of Brandenburg too where we are. While England basks and sizzles in sunshine we are socked in under a perpetual cloud happily searching away for birds.
We make two trips over the border just an hours drive away. One to the Betonka which is a spectacular sight, all under water as far as the eye can see. The Odra flows into the Spree which itself is saturated and it has nowhere to go so it bursts its banks. Last time we saw Ruff in breeding plumage all along the betonka. It was a fantastic sight, something I had always wanted to see. Still we do see 4 different Terns, Greenshank, Gargany and my favourite, White Tailed Eagle. On another trip to the Pumping station we have more luck. Again it is flooded on one side of the causeway, but at least we can walk around a bit. The noise from the frogs is deafening as if their team is at Wembley and they have just scored a goal. Then just as suddenly it goes quiet again. We also see a large herd of wild horses splashing their way through knee high water trying to get to some better grazing. Among the birds we see are a single Hoopoe and two Red Necked Grebes nesting on what used to be pasture. To add to the bucolic atmosphere Greylag Geese and Cranes fly in lines overhead. Then a large raptor flies slowly overhead. I try to get some photos when I should have been paying more attention to its plumage. Judging by its long wings, black colour and long fingered appearance I reckon it’s a Lesser Spotted Eagle. It doesn’t hang around so I am not able to make out is upper parts or other marks.
In a Berlin Bookshop we find something even rarer, a German site guide book. By Christopher Moning, it’s ridiculously expensive at 30 Euros and its all in German. But I reckon I will get my moneys worth out of it. Its worth buying even for non German speakers as its maps are so clear. Using sat-nav you shouldn’t have any problems getting to the different locations and once there each site has 5 -10 different paths marked out. We tried a few places round the Berliner ring road. The first, Gülper Lake we found to be practically devoid of birds. This was a surprise because we had read that it was one of the most important staging posts in Northern Germany as well as a very important breeding area. The next, Rietzer See was much better but you do need a scope. The Lake itself was great with loads of Black necked Grebes, a few Red necked Grebes, Gadwalls, and Goldeneye. We went on several walks marked out in our book but everything seemed to be quiet when along one hedge lined path I came face to face with a Long Eared Owl. We watched each other for a while unable to move until he just flapped away.
Garlitz proved to be the best but if you come here make sure to fill up with petrol first. We thought we would be clever and save money by filling up after the ring road but we hardly saw any petrol stations. With sat-nav we easily pulled up right next to the first tower hide. Opening up the windows we were greeted by the amazing sight of 10 Great Bustard parading in front of us. It was a breathtaking sight. They were in exactly the same place as a few years ago when we saw them last. One male and nine females. We also saw two exiles in the distance. We opened up our flask and had a celebration cup of PG Tips and spent some time just watching them. We were told that they were on their third clutch of eggs, all of which were taken from them and put in the wired off area which was also visible as part of their breeding programme. Later the day just got better and we managed to see Hen and Marsh Harrier and what we were pretty sure was a Monties , as well as Hobby.
I had a great time here and despite the prospect of rogue volcanoes and baggage handler strikes in Berlin on the way back it had been a brilliant trip.

Bird List:

1. Great crested Grebe
2. Red necked Grebe
3. Black necked Grebe
4. Cormorant
5. Grey Heron
6. White Stork
7. Mute Swan
8. Greylag
9. Shelduck
10. Gadwall
11. Garganey
12. Shoveler
13. Mallard
14. Pochard
15. Tufted Duck
16. Goldeneye
17. Lesser spotted Eagle
18. Black Kite
19. Red Kite
20. Marsh Harrier
21. Common Buzzard
22. Osprey
23. White tailed Eagle
24. Montague’s Harrier
25. Hen Harrier
26. Kestrel
27. Hobby
28. Pheasant
29. Moorhen
30. Coot
31. Crane
32. Great Bustard
33. Lapwing
34. Greenshank
35. Black headed Gull
36. Common Tern
37. Black Tern
38. White winged Tern
39. Whiskered Tern
40. Stock Dove
41. Wood Pigeon
42. Collared Dove
43. Cuckoo
44. Long eared Owl
45. Swift
46. Hoopoe
47. Kingfisher
48. Black Woodpecker
49. Green Woodpecker
50. Great spotted Woodpecker
51. Middle spotted Woodpecker
52. Lesser spotted Woodpecker
53. Skylark
54. Woodlark
55. Sand Martin
56. Swallow
57. House Martin
58. Tree Pipit
59. Pied Wagtail
60. Yellow Wagtail
61. Wren
62. Robin
63. Nightingale
64. Thrush Nightingale
65. Redstart
66. Black Redstart
67. Whinchat
68. Stonechat
69. Wheatear
70. Song Thrush
71. Fieldfare
72. Blackbird
73. Blackcap
74. Lesser Whitethroat
75. Whitethroat
76. Sedge Warbler
77. Grasshopper Warbler
78. Garden Warbler
79. River Warbler
80. Savis Warbler
81. Reed Warbler
82. Great Reed Warbler
83. Icterine Warbler
84. Willow Warbler
85. Wood Warbler
86. Chiffchaff
87. Spotted Flycatcher
88. Pied Flycatcher
89. Great Tit
90. Blue Tit
91. Crested Tit
92. Marsh Tit
93. Willow Tit
94. Long tailed Tit
95. Nuthatch
96. Short toed Treecreeper
97. Red backed Shrike
98. Magpie
99. Jay
100. Jackdaw
101. Crow
102. Hooded Crow
103. Raven
104. Starling
105. Golden Oriole
106. House Sparrow
107. Tree Sparrow
108. Chaffinch
109. Linnet
110. Goldfinch
111. Greenfinch
112. Siskin
113. Hawfinch
114. Reed Bunting
115. Yellowhammer
116. Corn Bunting


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den mather

Well-known member
Great trip report - so many lovely birds fitted in to a family holiday is very impressive and we didn't know G Bustards were so close - we went to Extremadura in Nov a couple of times to see them. When the Newcastle ferry went to Hamburg we would sometimes take the Berlin route down to Cz and must have cruised past fairly close! It's definitely improving now in Czech Rep where we have family visits but it seems the density of birds is greater in your neck of the woods. And our chance of seeing a LSEagle is small since they have ceased to breed in our area (Sumava). We do have a very high density of breeding sea eagles and if you really want to work at it you can find 9 or 10 owl species and 9 woodies + wryneck. I wondered how many owls and woodies you have in your area? We only started to discover this fairly recently when we took a cd player with us and went in early April. It was actually great fun to venture into the woods after dark a make silly noises and even more fun when owls appeared and made them back at us.
Anyway, thanks again for a lovely insight into a little known area.


Well-known member
Hello Savi,

thank You for the report.

I lived some years ago in this area.
It is possible to see about 100 different birds on one day in this area.

This year it was could in Germany in spring time and is cold again now.
So we had loon until 2 weeks ago in the lakes, which changed already there color and looked very nice.
It is an observation which is normally not possible in Germany.

Best regards


Well-known member
Hi Den
its definetly a bonus having family in the area. Also you get to bird areas that you would
normally never dream of going.Yes the Bustards are really handsome looking birds and it was a close up view.Have you heard the English ones have hatched for the second year running? Fingers crossed there.10 Owls and Peckers is pretty amazing.I think you would have to go to the eastern side for Poland for that.The peckers we have are the ones mentioned plus I was told Grey Headed WP but I have never seen them.I think probably southern Germany is better for Owls.Do you have Tengmalms owl wheere you are? That would be a great tick !
If you pass nearby on your way though its definetly worth a detour
best wishes
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