Pick of the German Week 10/2000........Windmills in the Wadden Sea???...Birds of the Week.....Reserves in Southwest Germany....not yet Spring in Austria...

The Red Kite Milvus milvus
German Bird of the Year 2000

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First Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia) (4) back in the Leybucht - First, and one of the earliest ever Night Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) heard - and 2 Tengmalms Owls (Aegolius funereus) in the background!) - First Swallow (Hirundo rustica) reported from Bielefeld, Lower Saxony - Hooded Merganser (Mergus cucullatus) in a party of 17 Goosanders (Mergus merganser) off Bremerhaven - Masses of Bewick's Swans (Cygnus columbianus) on the River Elbe - the Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) is back - Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus) still hanging around near Hannover - Black Brant (Branta bernicla nigricans) in the North


1. The Bird 'Mecca' of Southwest Germany - A Foretaste
2. Austrian Bird News
3. Environment - Windmills in the Watt
4. Webwatch


This week, Ulrich Mahler provides us with a summary of the latest avifaunistic reports from one of the ornithological places of pilgrimage in Southwest Germany, the "Wagbachniederung" Nature Reserve near Waghaeusel, Karlsruhe.

Overwintering birds: Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor) (as last year), 2 Green Sandpipers (Tringa ochropus), 2 Firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus), 2 Serins (Serinus serinus), between 2 and 4 Bittern (Botaurus stellaris) (and see below) and regularly 1 to 2 Great White Egret (Egretta alba).

New arrivals: Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) singing and Stonechat (Saxicola torquata) from 26th Feb; Ruff (Philomachus pugnax) since 29th February, a regular early arrival; Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) since 6th March: Marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus), Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis) and Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius) since 7th March; Sand Martin (Riparia riparia) and garganey (Anas querquedula) since 15th March.

Additionally on 15th March: Merlin (Falco columbarius), Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula) and Dunlin (Calidris alpina)

Worth a special mention - not everyone has them in the backyard: up to 4 Bitterns (Botaurus stellaris) almost every evening at dusk calling in circling flight over the reed beds . "The Season Has Begun ;-) " - Ulrich Mahler, mailto:mahler@bnlka.bwl.de


From the Neusiedler See on the Hungarian border:
With a return to winter conditions the Red-breasted Geese (Branta ruficollis) have decided to stay awhile. On 17th March 16 were counted at Mexikopuszta near Fertöujlak (H) in company of 1000 White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons) and a singleton, also in a party of 300 White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons) at Darscho (Seewinkel). The next day 10 further Red-Breasted Geese (Branta ruficollis) were seen with White-fronts (1,500) at Fuchslochlacke (Seewinkel).
Also on the 17th an immature Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) and a group of 44 Great Bustards (Otis tarda) were observed at Hansag (A), a Moustached Warbler (Acrocephalus melanopogon) sang over the birder in Hungary near Balf and 25 Twites (Carduelis flavirostris) were near Neubruchlacke (Seewinkel).

Freezing greetings from among the migration jam of thousands of Skylarks (Alauda arvensis) and Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs) are sent by Manuela Timm, Jan Streese and Uwe Peter Streese-Browa


The University of Oldenburg plans to erect two 28 metre high wind towers bang in the middle of the Lower Saxony National Park Wadden Sea. The towers will be crowned with red spiral-formed rotors for the production of wind energy. The environmentalist Manfred Knake has voiced his misgivings, as partof a protest against building projects in an Flora-Fauna-Habitat (FFH) area by local environment groups.

The project leader, Professor Dr. Juergen Rullkoetter, of the Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Ocean (Carl-von-Ossietzky-University) has applied for a special exemption certificate to erect the towers in the core zone of the Wadden Sea. Together with solar collectors they will produce energy for survey stations which will carry out measurements in the Wadden Sea. The environmentalists claim that the towers will affect a wide area and cause considerable disturbance to flora and fauna. If permitted, the towers and ancillary buildings will be erected in the summer of 2001.

"We want to understand how the Wadden Sea functions" explains Professor Rullkoetter who coordinates the project 'The importance of biological, chemical and physical interaction for the development and structures of mud-flat systems'. The Professor wants a quick positive decision so that the project can run from next summer. The scientists want to find out why the logical process eutrophication does not take place and the habitat remains in delicate balance. This could lie in the interaction of micro-organisms or the storms which sweep the coasts with considerable severity each winter. "This will be principally basic research; but could have important perspectives for the specific area under study, in particular the protection and sustainable use of the Wadden Sea. This applies to the fishery and tourist industries amongst others." One result would be a computer model to assess protection or human use of the mud-flats thus reducing physical intrusion in future.

The local council of environmental groups see the project in a different light. Apart from conflict with the aims of the National Park and the FFH guidelines, the towers with their red spiral rotors would have an immeasurable repellent effect on the millions of waders, ducks and geese who live in or visit the Wadden Sea each year. They warn the responsible authorities against an ill-considered or precipitate decision.

But time is of the essence for the university and other institutions associated with the project. The 'Special Research Department for the Wadden Sea' is the central research project for Lower Saxony Ocean Research institutes in the coming years, with an annual budget of ten million Deutschmarks. If the project is not approved, the funds will be lost to research projects elsewhere.

As Manfred Knake wryly says "As soon as money is mentioned the politicians are immediately convinced. The environmentalists, although their protest is based on existing law, are once again the spoilsports……But it's not a case of wanting to completely block the project; but how and to what scale it can take place. The towers and measuring stations as currently proposed don't belong in the core area of the National Park."

WEBWATCH *The Corvid Project Group of the German Ornithological Society (DO-G) is now online (German only) at Rabenvoegel

David Conlin
GermanBirdNet Berlin

David Conlin
Mobile: +49 172 394 6671
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