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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.
Which reminds to write the post about finches ...

And this post is quite a big one!


Fringillidae:

Photo 1: Fringilla coelebs (German: Buchfink, English: chaffinch) – A very common (forest) bird and a regular to the (winter) feeder (since I've written this on my computer, I have seen chaffinches both at the summer feeder as well as in the vinyards). Its call is ubiquitous. Its summertime Prachtkleid is definitely magnificent! As an interesting aside note, some years back there were some chaffinches with papillomavirus.

Photo 2: Carduelis carduelis (German: Stieglitz or Distelfink, English: goldfinch) – The goldfinch seems to be a typical inhabitant of in-between zones, in this case the orchards between woods and vinyards. It likes to frequent rather high trees, especially birch. A very sociable bird. Strangely enough, I have yet to see it at the bird feeder. Unfortunately, its namesake plant – Distelfink, “thistle finch” – is often seen as a weed and hence removed. Its other German name Stieglitz is onomatopoeic and refers to its chatty call “Stiegelitt! Stiegelitt!”

Photo 3: Chloris chloris (German: Grünfink or Grünling, English: European greenfinch) – One of the larger finches. It used to be more frequent (in “my patch”) in earlier years.

Photos 4 & 5: Pyrrhula pyrrhula (German: Gimpel or Dompfaff, English: Eurasian bullfinch) – This flamboyant fellow seems to live a very seclusive life. I have only seen it very few times. Funnily enough, it is frequently the “model” for German wild bird feed packaging!

Photo 6: Coccothraustes coccothraustes (German: Kernbeißer, English: hawfinch) – The aforementioned elusiveness goes for the hawfinch. Pictured on almost every mix of wild bird feed but hard to spot. I saw my first one only this year!

Photo 7: Acanthis cannabina (German: Bluthänfling, English: common linnet) – Very common along the Haardrand. I like to call it the “vinyard sparrow” because there are no sparrows in the vinyards -- at least in "my patch".

Photo 8: Serinus serinus (German: Girlitz, English: European serin) – A very vocal finch. Likes to perch on antennas or high trees. Some say the serin sounds like a rusty bike chain in dire need of some oil.
 

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Passeridae:

Photo 1: Passer domesticus (German: Haussperling, often simply called Spatz; English: house sparrow) – One of the most common birds around. They occupy the bird feeders all year long. Numberswise, it belongs to the top 5 song birds in Germans, though allegedly the population has suffered in recent years. Usually seen around human dwellings. I have yet to see Passer montanus (German: Feldsperling, English: Eurasian tree sparrow) in “my patch”.


Sturnidae:

Photo 2: Sturnus vulgaris (German: Star, English: European starling) – Not one to arrive alone at the party. You can see them at the bird feeder, perched on trees at the forest's edge, scavenging the vinyards … They are considered by some as a pest, especially during harvest time. For many years, there was a concoction that would fire three “shots” every 15 minutes during September and October in order to scare away starlings. The starlings are still there, though …
 

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I can't help you with most species as I haven't birded in that area. But for citril finch the Feldberg area and especially the area around the "Todtnauer Hütte" are supposed to be good. Should be a 2-2.5 hour drive from Stuttgart or Baden-Baden.
 
I can't help you with most species as I haven't birded in that area. But for citril finch the Feldberg area and especially the area around the "Todtnauer Hütte" are supposed to be good. Should be a 2-2.5 hour drive from Stuttgart or Baden-Baden.
Thanks David , appreciate your help
 
A little April 2022 update:

Photo 1: My first Milvus migrans (black kite, German: Schwarzmilan) in my Haardtrand patch.

Photo 2: Two red kites.

By the end of last week, most migratory birds which I have already listed had returned (though a -- rather rusty -- common nightingale could, as almost always, only be heard). I know some birder friends of mine have already spotted northern wheatear and Eurasian hoopoe in the area. It will not be long before red-backed shrike and Eurasian golden oriole will have returned.

Last weekend I was also fortunate enough to particpate in a bird song excursion, including of course lots of birdwatching, led by a decades-long expert in the field (and it was allegedly his last public excursion, so I can consider myself lucky -- I had always read about his excursions in the newspaper but that was before I got more seriously interested in birding). It was not exactly along the Haardrand, though, but a bit further into the Palatinate Forest. There, I heard and spotted my first European pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca, German: Trauerschnäpper) and wood warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix, German: Waldblaubsänger)!
 

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And should anyone be interested in more in-depth information on the Haardtrand and its birds, here's a little reading list in chronological order:

Rosl Rößner, Hans-Wolfgang Helb, Annalena Schotthöfer & Oliver Röller, Vögel in Rheinland-Pfalz - beobachten und erkennen (Neustadt an der Weinstraße 2013).
-> This 341 page compendium lists the 150 most common birds (based on numbers from the highly recommended citizen science project https://artenfinder.rlp.de/) in Rhineland-Palatinate with short texts, photographs, information on when to see them during the year, as well as giving hints on the respective easy-to-confuse species. Its publisher is the POLLICHIA Verein für Naturforschung, Naturschutz und Umweltbildung e.V., a regional nature research, conservation, and education association.

Christian Dietzen et al., Die Vogelwelt von Rheinland-Pfalz Vols. 1-4.2 (Mainz 2015-2018).
-> This 5 volume masterpiece is almost everything the avid avifaunist can wish for: written by experts in the field, it provides information on the different habitats of Rhineland-Palatine -- from the Hunsrück "Mittelgebirge" to the Haardtrand to the Rhine Valley, among others -- as well as in-depth portraits of its birds, including graphs on distribution, seasonal sightings, numbers in the past decades, and so on, illustrated with beautiful photos of birds, eggs, etc.. I do not if there is another comparable publication for any of the remaining 15 federal states of Germany. Its publisher is the Gesellschaft für Naturschutz und Ornithologie Rheinland-Pfalz e.V. (GNOR), the Rhineland-Palatinate Association for Nature Conservation and Ornithology. One can tell that this is a work of labor and of love!

Michael Geiger (ed.), Die Landschaften um Bad Dürkheim. Ein Geo-Führer (Landau 2016).
-> This is a guide to the different landscapes around Bad Dürkheim, a small town right in the heart of the Haardtrand, describing different habitats, geology, climate, et cetera. It gives a cursory overview and does not go in depth when it comes to animals or plant species, but that is also not the aim of this volume. Unfortunately, it seems to be sold out.

Dieter Raudszus, Die Vogelwelt im Raum Bad Dürkheim im Wandel der Zeit 1922-2021 (Neustadt an der Weinstraße 2021).
-> Also published by the POLLICHIA, its author is a longtime member of this association and has even been awared the "Bundesverdienstkreuz" (Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany) for his decades-long work in researching birds as well as teaching the public about them, for example via excursions. In this over 200 pages long compendium, Mr. Raudszus at first shortly introduces the specifics of the Palatinate Forest and the Haardtrand before presenting portraits of 156 birds species found in and around Bad Dürkheim in the past 100 years. His motivation to do so was the work of local ornithologist Friedrich Zumstein, who had published his works on the local avifauna a century ago. Mr. Raudszus nicely shows how the landscape and the "bird world" has changed in that time, with some species having become extinct or at least highly threatened and others having turned from newcomers locals, for example the European bee eater.
 
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Some more firsts, now May 2022:

- Jynx torquilla (Eurasian wryneck, German: "Wendehals"). Hearing it, I at first mistook it for Falco tinnunculus before I spotted it. When I spotted another one, I had a camera with me but was not quick enough.

- Sylvia borin (garden warbler, German: "Gartengrasmücke"). Like the other typical warblers, it is a very seclusive but outspoken flying fellow.

- Coleus monedula (Eurasian jackdaw, German: "Dohle"). I've seen them in cities elsewhere but not out in the fields.
 
You have to believe me, but this is Bubo bubo (Eurasian eagle-owl, German: "Uhu" -- nomen est omen!) on top of the tree. We saw and heard it several times in the past two months -- I wish taking a photo with the lightning of a thunderstorm in the background that one time had worked!

We regularly hear Bubo bubo during the fall and there are some confirmed and unconfirmed breedings close by.
 

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[...]


Ardeidae:

Photo 2: Ardea cinerea (German: Graureiher or Fischreiher, English: grey heron)

[...]

Shame on me to not have spend a few more words on the grey heron. It is such a ubiquitous bird to see in Germany, not only close to water (wherein it stalks fish or amphibiae) but also on agricultural fields (where it stalks mice and maybe other rodents too). The Graureiher is the very epitome of stoic to me: many times I've seen a grey heron standing motionless in a small body of flowing water, maybe "perched" on a stone, in minus Celcius degrees weather, often dripping wet from rain or even snow, patientily waiting to make the next kill.
 

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