Northeast Germany 18-25 April 2010
Birding trip report -  John van der Woude -
The three of us (Nollie, André and I) could not fly to Spain due to the Icelandic ash cloud, so we changed our destination at the last moment and drove into Germany. A reconnaissance of Northeast Germany seemed appropiate enough, after our previous trips in this corner of Europe. We knew we were too early for some true summer birds, but on the other hand we would have late winter birds and, more importantly, more raptors in the air and woodpeckers in the trees. Indeed, we saw displaying White-tailed and Lesser Spotted Eagles, and saw all the possible woodpeckers. Cranes were everywhere (as were Roedeer by the way, altogether we saw some 400 of them). White-tailed Eagle was a common sight, we saw about 30 of them. We did a wide semi-circle around Berlin, and also squeezed in two Polish sites just across the border.

The trip was fully based on the recently published birding guide for NE Germany (Vögel beobachten in Ostdeutschland; Wagner and Moning 2009, Franckh-Kosmos Verlag). This splendid book with clear maps and numbered stake-outs brought us to several good birding sites we had not heard of before. Driving straight to these sites was facilitated by our Garmin nüvi car navigator. Accommodation and eating out were generally easy, and, like in most parts of Germany, not expensive. As can be seen on the photos, the weather was good, although rather cold in the middle of the week.

The species list at the bottom of this page reflects the transitional time of year indeed, with some winter birds still lingering on, while the summer birds had not yet all arrived. Also, the photos below show that the trees were a bit less far into spring than what we normally see in Holland in the third week of April. At, see also my 2001, 2007 and 2009 reports of the lower Warta valley in Poland (site 9 on the map below), all from later in the season.

A = Berlin
1 = Drömling woodlands and meadows
2 = Elbe floodplain opposite Tangermünde
3 = Havelländisches Luch (Great Bustard area)
4 = Gülper See and surrounding wetlands
5 = Müritz national park (lakes, forests)
6 = Feldberger hill area (Lesser Spotted Eagle area); plus Serrahn forest & lake
7 = lower Oder valley
8 = Oder riverine woodland (partly in Poland)
9 = lower Warta valley (Poland)
10 = Belziger meadows
(map taken from Google Maps; go there for a more detailed topography)

The Drömling is a mosaic of rough pastures and woodland. At this time, it had few special birds, but anyway produced a good start for the trip list.

Red Kite was often seen on this trip.

Along the Elbe river opposite Tangermünde. Here we saw one of the few Great Egret of the trip.

N of Garlitz in the Havelländische Luch is the best Great Bustard area of Germany. In the hide, we spoke with somebody who knows all about the history of this project. The present population was bred from eggs taken from some remaining Great Bustards elsewhere in NE Germany. So, in a broader geographical sense, it is still an original population, and this is free-living, self-supporting and not being fed. 
The males were displaying often (evening of 18 April). The photo below (taken from the northern of the two hides) gives an impression of the extense of the meadows of this reserve. In the centre, a fluffed up male tries to impress a female to the left.

The valley of the small Havel river near Schollene/Parey, south of Gülpe (part of site 4 on map above). Here we saw the first groups of Cranes, which we had nearly the whole trip. Also Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, and a Black Stork migrated overhead:

The Grosser Graben Niederung S of Gülpe is a wonderful wetland where two White-tailed Eagles were chasing hundreds of Shovelers. Another immature one was upsetting Greylag Geese as it made several (unsuccessful) attempts to take one. We also saw a few pairs of Red-necked Grebe. Snipe was often seen and heard in display flight. The photo is taken from a large hide, from where we discovered several Garganey, like the pair below.

The Gülper See from the hide along the South shore. From here we spotted some birds like Smew, Little Gull and Black Tern. The North shore looks more promising with a marshy vegetation. The photo below shows this northern shore from the back side. Here we had Savi's Warbler, Water Rail, Osprey.

Beavers had clearly been present near the North shore of the Gülper See.

Wet meadow N of the Gülper See. A great view, but it contained very few birds (some Greenshank though).

Old oaks just S of the hamlet Speck in the Müritz national park. Here we ticked several of the forest and woodland birds of the species list, like Wood Warbler, Brambling, Mistle Thrush, Pied Flycatcher and Middle Spotted Woodpecker (great view). The trail to these famous old oaks is not clearly marked inside the hamlet, but just take the narrow trail which starts at the bus stop and goes along a playground.

Just W of the Specker See (lake), as seen from the tall hide built across the cycle track (photo below). Even here, we saw one of the several Black Woodpeckers of the trip. Across the Specker lake (photo below left) we briefly saw Red-crested Pochard. 
We rented bicycles at the NP office of Federow, which also has a great webcam display of an Osprey nest in an electricity pole. Opposite the NP office, the Bunte Kuh lodge has a nice café-restaurant.

On our way to the Feldberger hill area we passed by the Serrahn forest and lake, where again a tall hide gives a good view of the Scandinavian-like habitat, with, of course, Cranes. Also Marsh Harrier and the usual Osprey.

In the Feldberger hill area, we posted ourselves where, according to the birdfinding guide, Lesser Spotted Eagle can be seen, and we got them very soon indeed. Two were circling around above the forest for quite a while, giving good scope views. Also Great Grey Shrike at the promised stake-out a bit further North.

Hooded Crow is of course one of the most typical birds of NE Germany, as it only breeds East of the Elbe river (in theory). However, here in the Feldberger hill area, we also saw a lone Carrion Crow, far East of the Elbe!

Still in the Feldberger hill area, we had some nice forest flowers as well: Chrysosplenium (Goudveil) and a soil cover of Anemone nemorosa (Bosanemoon).

The lower Oder valley just South of Schwedt, with Pintails, Great Egret and White-tailed Eagle, and the only Oystercatchers of the trip. We had hoped to get accommodation at Schwedt or surroundings, but everything was fully booked because, reportedly, some 2000 technicians were temporarily working here to refurbish a refinery. The other side of the valley is Poland, and the photo below shows the low hills rising up immediately from the floodplain.

A bit further South is a slightly more wooded part of the Oder valley ('Oderbruch'). Here we visited the Polish side, while walking a disused railway track/bridge, with Lesser Spotted Woodpecker closeby.

The Oderbruch from East of Stara Rudnica, with Goosander and Wood Sandpiper. Along this Polish road we also saw Wryneck, at a farm.

Penduline Tit along the dike of the Sophientaler Polder, at the German side of the Oderbruch, a few km SE of Kienitz. Here also our only Grey-headed Woodpecker, and Great Reed Warbler plus a group of (Tundra) Bean Goose. An interesting species mix!

Sophientaler Polder near Kienz, as seen from the dike with the Penduline Tit (photo above). One of the sites we would certainly like to visit once more.

In the area of the lower Warta valley a few km into Poland, at the small Czernowy canal. Hoopoe, Wryneck and Thrush Nightingale. See also our July 2009 report of this area: there, the 7th photo from below appears to have been taken at exactly the same place as now. For River Warbler we were too early now. On the other hand, we had a prolonged singing Thrush Nightingale, and you can listen to it here in stereo (22 MB).
This time, we 'did' this area across the Polish border in just one long day, from our hotel in Seelow, the recommendable Waldhotel (with Hawfinch at the parking lot and Nightingale in the garden). The hotel is only a 20 minutes drive from this lower Warta area, which starts right at the border, along road 22 towards Slonsk.

The eastern of the two tracks from Slonsk into the central part of the reserve was, as expected, still under water. As always, a good point for White-tailed Eagle, although by now that was a common bird for us, after all the ones we had seen in Germany already. See the detailed photo map in the 2009 report - this is the road marked as 'I Most' there.

A a few kms upstream along the lower Warta there was still a lot of water in the floodplains.

In the wet meadows of these floodplains, we saw several groups of Ruff. Often there were some 'display quarrels'. Here, we also had several small groups of Wood Sandpiper, and some Great Egret.

The reed marsh east of Kolczyn, as seen from the river dike. We heard Bearded Tit, Great Bittern and later in the afternoon also Little Crake. In the woodland border which is visible in the background we had Great Grey Shrike.

In the Belziger meadows SW of Berlin we saw some displaying Great Bustards in the distance, and closer by this meeting of Hares.

The Belziger meadows was our last site and it produced two nice trip ticks: Little Owl (note the 180 degrees turned head) and a singing Ortolan Bunting.

Species list
The second column shows (most of the) the sites of the more remarkable species. For nice species that we saw practically everywhere, like White Stork and Red Kite, no site has been given.

Abbreviations of the sites:

Elbe = Elbe floodplain opposite Tangermünde
HavL = Havelländisches Luch (Great Bustard area)
GlpS = Gülper See and surrounding wetlands
Mur = Müritz national park (lakes, forests)
Fldb = Feldberger hill area (Lesser Spotted Eagle area); plus Serrahn forest & lake
Oder = lower Oder valley, and Oder riverine woodland
Wart = lower Warta valley (Poland)
Belz = Belziger meadows
(W-Dld) = sightings in Western Germany only
              Dodaars  HavL Wart                 Little Grebe               Tachybaptus ruficollis
                 Fuut                            Great Crested Grebe        Podiceps cristatus
         Roodhalsfuut  GlpS Oder Wart            Red-necked Grebe           Podiceps grisegena
         Geoorde Fuut  GlpS                      Black-necked Grebe         Podiceps nigricollis
          Aalscholver                            Cormorant                  Phalacrocorax carbo sin.

             Roerdomp  GlpS Wart                 Bittern                    Botaurus stellaris
   Grote Zilverreiger  Elbe Oder Wart            Great White Egret          Casmerodius albus
        Blauwe Reiger                            Grey Heron                 Ardea cinerea
      Zwarte Ooievaar  GlpS                      Black Stork                Ciconia nigra
             Ooievaar                            White Stork                Ciconia ciconia

         Knobbelzwaan                            Mute Swan                  Cygnus olor
      Toendrarietgans  Oder                      Tundra Bean Goose          Anser serrirostris
          Grauwe Gans                            Greylag Goose              Anser anser
             Nijlgans  Belz                      Egyptian Goose             Alopochen aegyptiaca
             Bergeend                            Shelduck                   Tadorna tadorna

               Smient                            Wigeon                     Anas penelope
             Krakeend                            Gadwall                    Anas strepera
         Wintertaling                            Teal                       Anas crecca
           Wilde Eend                            Mallard                    Anas platyrhynchos
           Pijlstaart  GlpS Oder Wart            Pintail                    Anas acuta

          Zomertaling  GlpS Fldb Oder Wart       Garganey                   Anas querquedula
             Slobeend  GlpS! Wart                Shoveler                   Anas clypeata
            Krooneend  Mur                       Red-crested Pochard        Netta rufina
            Tafeleend  Mur Wart                  Pochard                    Aythya ferina
             Kuifeend                            Tufted Duck                Aythya fuligula

           Brilduiker  Mur Oder Wart             Goldeneye                  Bucephala clangula
             Nonnetje  GlpS Oder                 Smew                       Mergellus albellus
        Grote Zaagbek  Oder                      Goosander                  Mergus merganser
          Zwarte Wouw                            Black Kite                 Milvus migrans
            Rode Wouw                            Red Kite                   Milvus milvus

             Zeearend  GlpS Mur Fldb Oder Wart   White-tailed Eagle         Haliaeetus albicilla
    Bruine Kiekendief  Serr Oder Wart            Marsh Harrier              Circus aeruginosus
                Havik  Oder                      Goshawk                    Accipiter gentilis
              Sperwer  W-Dld                     Sparrowhawk                Accipiter nisus
              Buizerd                            Buzzard                    Buteo buteo

        Schreeuwarend  Fldb                      Lesser Spotted Eagle       Aquila pomarina
             Visarend  GlpS Mur Serr Oder Wart   Osprey                     Pandion haliaetus
            Torenvalk                            Kestrel                    Falco tinnunculus
             Boomvalk  GlpS                      Hobby                      Falco subbuteo
               Fazant                            Pheasant                   Phasianus colchicus

             Waterral  GlpS Wart                 Water Rail                 Rallus aquaticus
      Klein Waterhoen  Wart                      Little Crake               Porzana parva
            Waterhoen                            Moorhen                    Gallinula chloropus
             Meerkoet                            Coot                       Fulica atra
           Kraanvogel  GlpS Mur Serr Oder Wart   Crane                      Grus grus

           Grote Trap  HavL Belz                 Great Bustard              Otis tarda
          Scholekster  Oder                      Oystercatcher              Haematopus ostralegus
               Kievit                            Lapwing                    Vanellus vanellus
             Kemphaan  GlpS Oder Wart            Ruff                       Philomachus pugnax
            Watersnip  GlpS Serr                 Snipe                      Gallinago gallinago

               Grutto  GlpS                      Black-tailed Godwit        Limosa limosa
            Regenwulp  Oder                      Whimbrel                   Numenius phaeopus
                 Wulp  Serr Wart                 Curlew                     Numenius arquata
        Zwarte Ruiter  Wart                      Spotted Redshank           Tringa erythropus
             Tureluur                            Redshank                   Tringa totanus

      Groenpootruiter  Oder Wart                 Greenshank                 Tringa nebularia
               Witgat  Wart                      Green Sandpiper            Tringa ochropus
            Bosruiter  Oder Wart                 Wood Sandpiper             Tringa glareola
        Zwartkopmeeuw  GlpS                      Mediterranean Gull         Larus melanocephalus
           Dwergmeeuw  GlpS Wart                 Little Gull                Larus minutus

             Kokmeeuw                            Black-headed Gull          Larus ridibundus
           Stormmeeuw  Wart                      Common Gull                Larus canus
Zilvermeeuw/Pont. Mw   Wart                      Herring/Caspian Gull       Larus argentatus/cach.
              Visdief  Oder                      Common Tern                Sterna hirundo
         Zwarte Stern  GlpS Wart                 Black Tern                 Chlidonias niger

            Holenduif  Oder                      Stock dove                 Columba oenas
             Houtduif                            Wood Pigeon                Columba palumbus
        Turkse tortel                            Collared Dove              Streptopelia decaocto
             Steenuil  Belz                      Little Owl                 Athene noctua
               Bosuil  Mur                       Tawny Owl                  Strix aluco

                  Hop  Wart                      Hoopoe                     Upupa epops
            Draaihals  Oder Wart                 Wryneck                    Jynx torquilla
       Grijskopspecht  Oder                      Grey-headed Woodpecker     Picus canus
        Groene Specht                            Green Woodpecker           Picus viridis
        Zwarte Specht  Mur Oder Wart             Black Woodpecker           Dryocopus martius

   Grote Bonte Specht                            Great Spotted Woodpecker   Dendrocopos major
Middelste Bonte Specht Mur                       Middle Spotted Woodpecker  Dendrocopos medius
  Kleine Bonte Specht  GlpS Mur                  Lesser Spotted Woodpecker  Dendrocopos minor
        Boomleeuwerik  Mur Wart  Belz            Wood Lark                  Lullula arborea
        Veldleeuwerik                            Sky Lark                   Alauda arvensis

         Boerenzwaluw                            Barn Swallow               Hirundo rustica
           Huiszwaluw  Oder                      House Martin               Delichon urbicum
           Boompieper  Serr Belz                 Tree Pipit                 Anthus trivialis
           Graspieper                            Meadow Pipit               Anthus pratensis
      Gele Kwikstaart                            Yellow Wagtail             Motacilla flava

     Witte Kwikstaart                            White Wagtail              Motacilla alba
         Winterkoning                            Wren                       Troglodytes troglodytes
             Heggemus                            Dunnock                    Prunella modularis
            Roodborst                            Robin                      Erithacus rubecula
   Noordse Nachtegaal  Wart                      Thrush Nightingale         Luscinia luscinia

           Nachtegaal  Oder                      Nightingale                Luscinia megarhynchos
    Zwarte Roodstaart                            Black Redstart             Phoenicurus ochruros
 Gekraagde Roodstaart                            Redstart                   Phoenicurus phoenicurus
               Paapje  Wart Belz                 Whinchat                   Saxicola rubetra
               Tapuit  Drml                      Wheatear                   Oenanthe oenanthe

           Beflijster  (Ankum W-Dld)             Ring Ouzel                 Turdus torquatus
                Merel                            Blackbird                  Turdus merula
           Kramsvogel  Fldb Wart                 Fieldfare                  Turdus pilaris
          Zanglijster                            Song Thrush                Turdus philomelos
            Koperwiek  GlpS Mur                  Redwing                    Turdus iliacus

        Grote Lijster  Mur Belz                  Mistle Thrush              Turdus viscivorus
                 Snor  GlpS Mur Wart             Savi's Warbler             Locustella luscin.
           Rietzanger  GlpS Oder                 Sedge Warbler              Acrocephalus schoen.
      Kleine Karekiet  Belz                      Reed Warbler               Acrocephalus scirp.
       Grote Karekiet  Oder                      Great Reed Warbler         Acrocephalus arund.

         Braamsluiper                            Lesser Whitethroat         Sylvia curruca
              Grasmus  Wart                      Whitethroat                Sylvia communis
             Zwartkop                            Blackcap                   Sylvia atricapilla
              Fluiter  Mur                       Wood Warbler               Phylloscopus sibilatrix
             Tjiftjaf                            Chiffchaff                 Phylloscopus collybita

                Fitis                            Willow Warbler             Phylloscopus trochilus
             Goudhaan  Mur                       Goldcrest                  Regulus regulus
         Vuurgoudhaan  (Ankum W-Dld)             Firecrest                  Regulus ignicapilla
  Bonte Vliegenvanger  Mur                       Pied Flycatcher            Ficedula hypoleuca
             Baardman  Wart                      Bearded Tit                Panurus biarmicus

           Staartmees                            Long-tailed Tit            Aegithalos caudatus
             Glanskop                            Marsh Tit                  Parus palustris
               Matkop  GlpS Wart                 Willow Tit                 Parus montanus
             Kuifmees  Mur                       Crested Tit                Parus cristatus
          Zwarte Mees                            Coal Tit                   Parus ater

           Pimpelmees                            Blue Tit                   Parus caeruleus
             Koolmees                            Great Tit                  Parus major
           Boomklever                            Nuthatch                   Sitta europaea
          Boomkruiper                            Short-toed Treecreeper     Certhia brachydactyla
           Buidelmees  Oder Wart                 Penduline Tit              Remiz pendulinus

           Klapekster  Fldb Wart                 Great Grey Shrike          Lanius excubitor
                 Gaai                            Jay                        Garrulus glandarius
               Ekster                            Magpie                     Pica pica
                 Kauw                            Jackdaw                    Corvus monedula
                 Roek                            Rook                       Corvus frugilegus

         Zwarte Kraai  Fldb!                     Carrion Crow               Corvus corone
          Bonte Kraai                            Hooded Crow                Corvus cornix
                 Raaf                            Raven                      Corvus corax
              Spreeuw                            Starling                   Sturnus vulgaris
              Huismus                            House Sparrow              Passer domesticus

              Ringmus                            Tree Sparrow               Passer montanus
                 Vink                            Chaffinch                  Fringilla coelebs
                 Keep  Mur Serr                  Brambling                  Fringilla montifring.
     Europese Kanarie                            Serin                      Serinus serinus
            Groenling                            Greenfinch                 Chloris chloris

               Putter                            Goldfinch                  Carduelis carduelis
                 Sijs  Mur                       Siskin                     Carduelis spinus
                 Kneu                            Linnet                     Carduelis cannabina
             Kruisbek  Mur                       Crossbill                  Loxia curvirostra
             Goudvink  Mur                       Bullfinch                  Pyrrhula pyrrhula

            Appelvink  Mur Oder Belz             Hawfinch                   Coccothraustes coccot.
             Geelgors                            Yellowhammer               Emberiza citrinella
             Ortolaan  Belz                      Ortolan Bunting            Emberiza hortulana
             Rietgors                            Reed Bunting               Emberiza schoeniclus
          Grauwe Gors  Havl Wart                 Corn Bunting               Emberiza calandra