Fehmarn 1 to 5 September 2017

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.

                 The point at Staberhuk

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

             Protected beach at Gruenebrink

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

       A few of the thousands of Golden Plover

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.

Roger White

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”



North East Germany 29 June to 2 July

This was a very short weekend visit to look at some of the polders, and the Bee-eater sites. The weather was terrible initialy with torrential rain for the first 2 days.

No birdwatching was possible in the Lower Oder National Park. Only a singing Thrush Nightingale at Teerofen bridge was recorded. Further north there was little improvement, but on 1 July it was possible to look at some of the Mecklenburg polders. There were good numbers of Whiskered and Black Terns around at Menzlin and Klotzow polders but all their nests had been washed out.  Black-necked Grebes had suffered similarly.  Great Reed Warblers were singing well and there were the usual Bearded Tits. There were good views of White-tailed Eagles. At Kamp polder there was


Menzlin Polder

a nice collection of waders, with small groups of Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Redshank and Snipe and a large flock of Lapwing.  Also here were some Cranes and several hundred Greylags.

This is the second year that Bee-eaters have bred in this part of Germany.  The main site has been well publicised on German websites, there has been a lot of disturbance from Birders and Photographers, and information is now being witheld. There are several disused sand quarries north of Anklam and these are the places that attract them. At the main site there were at least 6 active holes with birds feeding young.


A brief visit to Galenbecker See on the way back to the airport was rewarded by a Golden Oriole and a singing Marsh Warbler.

Baltic coast of Schleswig Holstein 22 to 25 April 2016

This was a short visit by Roger and Christine White to see some of the sites on and around the Baltic coast that had not been visited in November 2015.

April in North Germany is often not very productive as far as bird numbers and variety are concerned. In April, many of the migrants have yet to arrive, and most of the winter visitors have departed.

 We based ourselves at Großenbrode, a seaside holiday resort on the Baltic coast just south of the island of Fehmarn. Visits made included GP1010753raswarder peninsula at Heiligenhafen,  Sehlendorfer See, Oldenburger Bruch, Barkauer See, Neustadt, the coast near Grömitz, and Rupersdorfer See at Lübeck.

Graswarder is a unique narrow peninsula with a sandy shore on tP1010765he Baltic side and salt marsh on the ‘inland side.’ It is a NABU protected site, where breeding species include Common Gull, Little, Common, Arctic and Sandwich Tern, Avocet, Redshank. A tall hide gives views over the reserve. Sehlendorfer See is a wetland west of Heiligenhafen close to Lütjenburg. Viewing is better than at Graswarder and there is a good observation platform from where breeding Avocets, and a Common Tern platform can be viewed.White-tailed Eagles breed nearby.


Oldenburger Bruch, is a flat, wet valley through which a small waterway, Oldenburger Graben flows into the north sea. In later spring and summer there will be good numbers of birds, including Red-backed Shrike and wetland warblers. Barkauer See, south of Eutin,  was well worth a visit. Bluethroats were singing and there were several warblers, including Reed and Savi’s. Cranes were calling and Marsh Harriers were overhead.

Rupersdorfer See at Lübeck was full of duck, mainly Shoveler and Gadwall. Also Goosander, Egyptian Goose, Black-necked Grebe, Great Egret and a White-tailed Eagle, being chased by a Raven.

All these and other sites will be included in the next book describing bird sites in NW Germany.

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.

Schleswig Holstein 13 to 15 November 2015

This was a weekend visit by Roger White, Robin Prytherch, Ken Hall and Chris Adams to the northern part of Schleswig Holstein up to the Danish Border.  As can be seen from the photos the weather was generally dull and there was a fair bit of rain. We flew from Bristol to Hamburg where we picked up a car and drove to Gelting which is on the Baltic coast near Kappeln. This is a commentary on the main sites visited on the Baltic and North Sea coasts.

Geltinger Birk is a large peninsula with muddy shores, marshland, some woodland and a large lake with islands. A single Waxwing was at the car park P1010512near the mill. On the large lagoon and the adjacent shore were large numbers of waterfowl, which included Greylag Geese, Eider, Scaup, Red-breasted Merganser, Wigeon, Shoveler and Pintail. On the eastern side of the P1010528peninsula were more EiderCommon Scoter, Mergansers, Goldeneye and good numbers of Barnacle and White-fronted Geese on the wet meadows. Lapwings were the only waders.

Schlei Fiord is best viewed from the north shore, and it is possible to walk towards the spit of land that encloses the large lagoon. Duck on the water included Goldeneye and Merganser. There were Barnacle and Greylag Geese and a very large flock of Golden Plover on the muddy shore.

P1010542The whole of the North Sea coast from Husum to the Danish border is flat with a long dyke, behind which are the polders (Koogs), a lot of which are preserved wetlands, with marsh, reedbeds and extensive stretches of open water.  We looked at Rickelsbüller Koog, Hauke Haien Koog and Beltringharger Koog. As weP1010540ll as huge numbers of geese, and a lot of duck,  there were large flocks of waders. The highlights included 20,000 + Barnacles, Whooper and Bewick Swans, Pink-footed and Brent Geese, Smew, and enormous wader flocks coming inland on the rising tide, mostly Dunlin, Grey and Golden Plover, Oystercatchers, Avocets. On the salt marsh were small flocks of Twite.

The reported Gyr Falcon was not seen but there were several Hen Harriers, and close view of Rough-legged Buzzard

On the return P1010562journey to Hamburg during further stops on the Baltic coast we added , Slavonian and Red-necked Grebe, Goosander, more Smew, Long-tailed Duck and a Short-eared Owl which flew in from the sea.

The total of 88 species in 3 days was a lot more than expected.  Further information on this and on other trips can be obtained from Roger on roger.white4@virgin.net

Brandenburg 15 to 18 October 2013

This is an abbreviated report of a Bristol Ornithological Club visit

Monday 15 October
A group of 12  flew from Bristol to Berlin, arriving  1615 pm local time. Picked up a 9 seater Ford minibus and 4 seat Citroen estate). After some delays due to roadworks we arrived at Semlin at 1930. 7.30 pm.  Supper at the Bauenstübchen restaurant.

Tuesday 16 October
Left at 8.30 am and headed towards Buckow, stopping on the way at a Black and Middle Spotted Woodpecker site near Nennhausen. P1000520Were unlucky with these but had Marsh Tits, Goldcrest, Short-toed Treecreeper, and Nuthatches +. At Buckow there was a small group of Great Bustards in a rape field near the road. A ringtail Harrier and a flock of Corn Bunting were seen well on the way to the main hide. From the hide were. A special sighting here was our first White-tailed Eagle flying with 3 Red Kites. East of Buckow was another group of 34 female Bustards, again in a rape field. just north of Barnewitz. 14 males were then found at another site near the village of Haage, Red Kites here and a small flock of Golden Plover flew by.Germany October 2013 027

A lot of Cranes in the fields on the way to Linum. Drove down to the Fischerei and walked around the ponds Great Egrets +, and a variety of duck inc Gadwall, Pochard, and Wigeon and Shoveler. A Black Woodpecker flew over and a Merlin was seen from the first hide. In the distance 2 White-tailed Eagles were sitting in a tree. Chiffchaff, Siskins and a single Redpoll were added. Bearded Tits were both seen and heard and a Penduline tit nest was found and photographed. Also Willow Tit here. At the sluice we watched the arrival of the Cranes, and finally tore Germany October 2013 065ourselves away from this spectacular sight at 1830. Yesterday’s count had been over 90,000 !P1000549

Wednesday 17 October
Left hotel at 8.30 am. Tree Sparrows, Siskins and Marsh Tits on a feeder near the hotel. The first geese were near Parey.9.15 am travelled west from here towards Parey – a group of Whitefronts and a single Barnacle. A stop on the road to Gülpe was very rewarding. A flock of Fieldfare and a Yellow Hammer here but best of all were good views of two flying Rough-legged Buzzard. Not much at the hide but a Kingfisher flashed by. From the hide were plenty of duck and geese. During the walk through the trees there was a frustratingly elusive group of small birds which included Tree creeper and Crested Tit. Good views off shore of Bean Geese. Red Squirrel seen.

Germany October 2013 079Moved on across the border into Saxony Anhalt and paused at the hide just north of Jederitz. Great Egrets, White-tailed Eagle and 2 Hen Harriers here. The weather was now poor, and raining by the time we reached Havelberg. A pair of Black Redstarts on the Church completed our visit. On the way back, an Eagle passed across the front of the bus and landed in a field. A flock of mainly Whitefronts near the road included a single Barnacle. The species count had gone up to 80.

Thursday 18 October

Left at 8.30  Stopped at a lake near Netzen on the way to the airport.  Bearded Tits heard. On the lake amongst the many Shoveler were a couple of redhead Smew and a Whooper swan. A lot of geese around – Whitefront, Bean andGreylags. Two WT Eagle sightings and a Marsh Harrier did a fly past. Left here at 1.15 pm for the return flight to Bristol.

Total species count was 83.

Ones that we missed
As expected there was no Moorhen or Dunnock. We ought to have seen Goshawk and Great Grey Shrike, and Hawfinch is always a possibility. A bit surprising not to find Bramblings. The high water level at Gülper See meant that waders were in short supply.