Schleswig Holstein 4 to 7 February 2016

A long weekend exploratory trip by Roger and Christine White to a part of the North Sea coast of Schleswig Holstein that was not visited in November 2015. It was mostly wet and windy, but milder than usual for February. Here are some of the highlights.

P1010735After the evening flight from Bristol to Hamburg (BMI) we travelled north to Tönning which is an attractive old harbour town on the River Eider. This was the base for the next 3 nights. Nearby, and just inland from the North Sea is Katinger Watt, a large wetland reserve. Among the wildfowl were 5 Smew (4 drakes) and a raft of Goldeneye. There is a large barrier across the mouth of the Eider as it P1010664enters the North Sea. The tide was low and on the extensive mud were Shelduck and Curlew. The first geese in any numbers were found on the coast just north of St Peter-Ording. Several hundred Barnacle Geese with a few Greylags were feeding in the wet meadows. The beach and the dunes here are a protected site for breeding waders, especially for Ringed and Kentish Plover.

The village of Bergenhusen to the east of Tönning is known as the Stork Village. Most of the nests were on the roofs of old thatched houses. Sometimes a few White Storks remain for the winter but we did not find any. The rough fields and marshes in the P1000281surrounding lowland are protected areas for breeding waders, the most threatened being Black-tailed Godwit. In some meadows nearby was a flock of 70+ Whooper Swan together with a mixed flock of geese. These were mainly Greylags but in addition were, Barnacles, White-fronts and a few Bean Geese. Next stop at The P1010721polder areas around Beltringharder Koog, north of Husum was where goose flocks were now in thousands, and Brent Goose was added to the list. There is a large observation tower here. Suddenly P1010718there were huge numbers P1000259of geese, duck and waders – mainly Curlew, Grey and Golden Plover – in the air. A search for the cause quickly revealed a juvenile White-tailed Eagle flapping slowly north.

The tide was high during a short visit to the Eider barrier. Little was seen out to sea but a Short-eared Owl flapped slowly along the shore and settled briefly on a rock before continuing south. Speicher Koog is another coastal reserve extensive rough ground, marshes and open water. there was little to find either on the sea or inland on this wet , blustery day, but it was nice to see a Rough-legged Buzzard which we disturbed from the side of the road.
A final stop at St. Margarethen on the way to the airport where there was yet another flock of Barnacle Geese.

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