Pick of the German Week 05/2000........EIDER DUCKS die in the Wadden Sea....GRUS GRUS flies in...Bird of the Year RED KITE is back...

The Red Kite Milvus milvus
German Bird of the Year 2000


News from the GermanBirdNet

and other sources...


For those who may not be up to date with the scandal over party finances in Germany, the President of the German Parliament announced today (15 Feb 2000) a preliminary fine of 41 Million Deutschmarks for the German Conservative Party CDU, which had illegally transferred large sums into Swiss bank accounts and later smuggled them back into Germany in briefcases, or declared them as bequests from rich jewish families abroad (sic) who wished to remain anonymous. 'Bimbes' was ex-Chancellor Helmuth Kohl's word for the cash which he distributed to the loyal party faithful in order to keep them in line. Now to the BIRDS!

One of the Swiss (or Liechstenstein) bank accounts was curiously named 'Zaunkoenig' or Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes). The chairperson of the Schleswig-Holstein nature protection organisation NABU has now made an interesting suggestion. As the fines or confiscated sums cannot be used for parliamentary purposes perhaps the name Wren has a hidden meaning and reflects the wish of the thrifty conservatives, should the funds not be available for 'wheel-oiling' in the constituencies. And what better a cause than environmental and nature protection? It could also do much for the current election campaign of the conservatives in the northern province by countering the poor image they have in some quarters for calling for the abolition of the new environmental tax. One most worthy recipient would of course be the NABU, which also represents Birdlife International in Europe. The NABU chairperson Hermann Schultz has called upon the Parliamentary President to consider this as a serious suggestion for the allocation of at least part of the funds. (And there is probably more to come. DC)


Since at least December of last year the increasing number of finds of dead Eider (Somateria mollissima) ducks in the Dutch and Lower Saxony Wadden Sea have caused concern to environmentalists in both countries. A prime cause is considered to be the scarcity of mussels, a major part of the Eider's diet, caused in some part by overharvesting of mussel beds. The Eider have increasingly turned to other food sources such as small crabs, which are apparently more contaminated by heavy metals and other human rubbish tipped into the North Sea. Indeed the intensive practices of commercial enterprises in an area of considerable environmental importance to Europe has been a source of concern to environmentalists for some time - and a political bone of contention. The mussel fisherman for instance are livid about any suggestion that they are in any way to blame and oppose any moves to restrict or remove their livelihood. Details of Eider deaths can be found at http://home.planet.nl/~camphuys/Eidereend.html Only in Dutch I'm afraid - and my German only allows a rough understanding of the content. Perhaps someone can help with an English source? The warden of the island of Memmert in the westerly German part of the Wadden Sea has counted 220 dead Eider in January alone; and seen many more in bad condition on the water's edge. The local island and coastal authorities in Lower Saxony have kept the matters very much under wraps for fear of affecting the tourist trade, which flourishes in all seasons.


The counter migration has begun. The Stonechat (Saxicola torquata) is back, as is the Firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus). Common Crane (Grus grus) flocks of ever-increasing size fly over to their breeding grounds. The Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) is back in North Rhine Westphalia. Arctic Redpoll (Carduelis hornemanni) was spotted in Lower Saxony.The Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) is stillpresent and the Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus), although sightings are decreasing, has not disappearedentirely.

--- David Conlin
GermanBirdNet Berlin

David Conlin
Mobile: +49 172 394 6671
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Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

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The senior German nature protection society

GermanBirdNet Website

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BOA - Berlin Ornithologische Arbeitsgemeinschaft

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