Fehmarn is a small German island lying in the western end of the Baltic sea. A bridge connects it to the mainland, Its position, just south of Denmark, means that it is well placed to receive autumn migrants coming south. The north coast is especially good for raptors and waders.
Roger White. Ken Hall and Robin Prytherch flew from Bristol to Hamburg and travelled north in a hire car to Burg auf Fehmarn which is the main town on the island.
Over the next 4 days we explored the main sites. These included Gruenebrink and Markelsdorfer Huk on the north coast, Sulsdorfer Wiek in the south and Staberhuk at the south east tip.
Raptor numbers were relatively small with just a few Honey Buzzards, Ospreys and Marsh Harriers. Sparrowhawks were watched coming in across the sea from Denmark but again the numbers were small. Four White-tailed Eagles were probably local birds. Interestingly the number of raptors passing through the famous migration site of Falsterbo north east of here at the tip of Sweden were unusually low for the time of year, so clearly we had not picked the best weekend.
However, we were more than compensated by the number and variety of waders. One or two were missed but nevertheless the count of 23 species of wader (“Limi” as the Germans call them) was impressive . We met a number of German Birders and found them invariably friendly and helpful. It was a challenge for some of them to practise their English but more of a challenge for us to practise our German! Fortunately Roger remembered most of the bird names in German so this formed a good basis for conversation!
Gruenebrink was especially productive this year because the water levels in the lagoons were ideal. The other coastal sites were relatively disappointing for shore birds whereas previously they had been very productive.
The main memories were the huge numbers of Golden Plover, good numbers of Ruff, Spotted Redshank and Wood Sandpiper, and both Little and Temminck’s Stint. A Red-necked Phalarope on
day one was joined by another the following day. The German name for this is Odinshuehnchen (Odin’s chicken). I have yet to find out the derivation of this name. A Caspian Tern was seen at 2 sites, and there were good numbers of Cranes at Sehlendorfer See on the mainland.
On the sea were Common Scoter, Eider and Red-breasted Merganser, and a single Arctic Skua strayed into one of the lagoons, chasing a tern.
Passerines were few, but Crossbills and a Red-backed Shrike were nice to see and there
were a lot of Yellow Wagtails. The inland fields, hedges and woodland were very quiet, and there were remarkably few birds in the villages. At Staberhuk, near the lighthouse there were Spotted and Pied Flycatchers and a lot of Chiffchaffs.
There were some unexpected absences, incuding Blackbird! but we counted a total of 100 species over the four days.
Full details of the sites mentioned and other sites in northern Germany will be in the forthcoming new edition of the book:
“A Birdwatching Guide to North East Germany and its Baltic coast”