Pick of the German Week 01/2000........Birding and Environment in Germany - Barnacle Goose massacre....what brings the Waxwings South

The Red Kite Milvus milvus
German Bird of the Year 2000


PICK OF THE GERMAN WEEK 01/2000 News from the GermanBirdNet GermanBirdNet and other sources...

*Happy New Year*



The shooting of 71 Barnacle Geese (Branta leucopsis) in the Oste Estuary last year has been denounced by the nature protection organisation NABU. It demands a complete hunting ban in all known resting areas during the overwintering period. The regional NABU group appeals to the province of Lower Saxony to transfer its own hunting areas under political control and restrict hunting rights accordingly. The disturbances to the bird flocks caused by hunting lead to considerable energy loss. The restoration of this energy loss on the short and cold winter days is extremely difficult and the return trip to the breeding grounds in Siberia is begun in a severely weakened state. Such disturbance through hunting should be banned completely. This has been incorporated in a joint position paper by the German Hunt Protection Society and NABU. "The Barnacle Geese (Branta leucopsis) breeding population in Siberia is threatened and is therefore afforded special protection. Hunting of these birds is strictly forbidden. The incident in the Oste Estuary is a blatant offence against hunting law and prosecution must follow", in the words of the NABU Regional Manager Olaf Tschimpke. Almost all the Siberian Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis) population overwinter on the German and Dutch North Sea coast. "It is important to the stability of the population that the birds return fit from their overwintering areas:" Original texts and other press statement are @ Press Reports

After note: According to statements by some of the hunters local landowners have received verbal permission from the regional authorities to shoot White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons). As background - A study on crop damage by geese over a 2 year period on behalf of the Ministry for the Countryside and Environment has now been completed (summary also at ministry report ) .

Only a small numbers of farmers had obvious crop damage - in the areas where the Barnacle Geese concentrate - and none at all in the main White-fronted Goose areas. As a result the ministry approved a compensation programme this winter only for the areas of verifiable crop damage. The other farmers also want a share of the spoils and have formed an anti-goose front. Hmmm!


This will take place from 17th to 19th March 2000 at the 'Institut für Vogelforschung' - "Vogelwarte Helgoland" in Wilhelmshaven. The agenda is already available @ Conference Agenda Further queries E-mail (Subject: Seabird Conference)


(from suggestions made by Peter H. Barthel in GBN) A straightforward listing of sightings of this winter's possibly most popular bird has a limited and temporary interest and lends little to our information on the species. Despite the healthy numbers reported, claims of an 'invasion' are premature (although plenty of snow and a sharp drop in the temperature could dramatically matters ......) As the Waxwing is relatively tame perhaps the following points could be noted and collated, which I used in my notes many years ago when I ringed large numbers of the species (See the relevant literature for other useful pointers.).

1. What percentage of the flocks consists of young birds? The difference in markings on the primaries - adult bird with, juveniles 1st W. without white 'v-angles' (see 'Collins p. 255). The presence or absence of young birds can provide a possible reason for the increased sightings: lack of food in Scandinavia and/or very good breeding success?

2. In which order of preference is the food (rowan, privet, apples, mistletoe etc., ) taken. Is privet ignored when apples are available – or the reverse? Minimal botanical knowledge is required here.

3. On sunny days how many insects are taken - particularly flying insects in flycatcher fashion?

4. Where do the Waxwings roost? Mostly in groups of pines? Do several groups from a larger area roost in the same place?

5. Do the birds travel on by day - or as some of the literature will have it - also by night?

6. Do the birds also consume gravel (Gastrolithen) in order to better crush berries with hard husks? There is no mention of this in the literature. I often observed, several years ago, how the birds took up gravel or small stones from cemetery paths. Later, at the roosts, the sight and sound of these stones falling from high up in the trees were clearly noticeable.

7. Is there evidence that the alcohol content of the fermented berries has an effect on the birds? The Waxwing has an enormous liver, and Prinzinger states that birds cannot get drunk. Nevertheless, there are believable reports of 'staggering' Waxwings.

Just a few suggestions to make the sightings more interesting than a pure numerical record. I wish you all lots of fun with your further observations of this pretty winter visitor, previously regarded as a bringer of bad luck.

BIRD(S) of the WEEK

Loons (Gavia) and Grebes (Podiceps) continue to dominate the GermanBirdnet in the new year: Eagle Owls (Bubo bubo) are now actively displaying at the start of the new breeding season. A fuller report next week.


For my own convenience (for the weekly GermanBirdNet European report 'DAS BESTE') I have now collated all current reports @ 'Das Beste' Don't be put off by the German headings. All the new reports are in English and, thanks to BabelBird - see below (Thank you Stefan Tewinkel) - also in German, with scientific names, and mostly include the language of the host country. For those with reading difficulties (was illiterate) all you need to do is learn the flags of Europe! Suggestions and criticism to David Conlin . Go easy on the style. I'm not a computer professional and almost ;-) (1943) too old to learn.


~ worth another mention for those who missed it the first time – an invaluable bird translation guide (whole texts and websites) - from Rainer Jahn and Stefan Tewinkel from Bavarian Birds: * whole texts and websites @ Babelbird * for those who would only like to translate single bird names - Babelbirdy *further information to the program can be found in the helpfile Gets 4 **** from me!

David Conlin GermanBirdNet Berlin Office Home Mobile: +49 172 394 6671 Ô-Ô Best Of Europe Reports

Selected Birding Links

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Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Excellent British & European Birder Site (and worldwide): Where to...; Links; Trip Reports; Chat; and ...

The senior German nature protection society

GermanBirdNet Website

Good site for rare bird news (daily), books, videos & CD

BOA - Berlin Ornithologische Arbeitsgemeinschaft

Cats for Birders!

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