PICK OF THE GERMAN WEEK 2000
The Red Kite Milvus milvus
German Bird of the Year 2000
The Red Kite Milvus milvus
News from the
and other sources...
BIRD(S) OF THE WEEK or WHERE DO I START?
The list of new arrivals has been so plentiful and comprehensive that I can't do justice to them all. Some of the S-A-S highlights:
Stayers: Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus); Red-breasted Goose (Branta ruficollis) (11 still in Austria); Bewick's Swan (Cygnus columbianus)
Arrivals: Great White Egret (Egretta alba); first Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) Pullis; Ducks in their droves – Wigeon (Anas penelope), Gadwall (Anas strepera), Teal (Anas crecca), Pintail (Anas acuta), Gargeney, Shoveler (Anas clypeata) (lots), Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula), Scaup (Aythya marila) and Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis) (10,200/17,000 in one location on the east Baltic coast); Goosander (Mergus merganser) ….and masses of Smew (Mergus albellus) pairs; Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus), Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Black Kite (Milvus migrans) (Red Kite (Milvus milvus) now nest-building); Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana); Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria) (flocks of thousands), Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa), Ruff (Philomachus pugnax), Snipe (Gallinago gallinago), Black Redshank (Tringa totanus); Little Gull (Larus minutus); Hoopoe (Upupa epops); Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica); Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava), White Wagtail (Motacilla alba); Stonechat (Saxicola torquata), Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) and Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica); Penduline Tit (Remiz pendulinus); Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia); singing/calling - Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus), Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita), Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla), Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra); 'dancing'/displaying – Common Crane (Grus grus) and Great Bustard (Otis tarda) (pers. obsv.)
Surprises: 'Blue Goose' and Black Brant (Branta bernicla nigricans) in Westhever; Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides) in Bremerhaven Harbour.
NEWS OF THE WEEK - CONTENTS SUMMARY
1. Raptors over Switzerland
2. Unwanted Lodgers? – House Martins in Berlin
3. Brandenburg' Beaver Ambassadors
SWISS RAPTOR MIGRATION NEWS
Lutz Luecker reports a good passage of migrating raptors on 25th March in the area of Lake Geneva:
Above Evian (Thollon/Hucel) 266 Buzzards (Buteo buteo), 6 Black Storks (Ciconia nigra), 16 Marsh Harriers (Circus aeruginosus), 27 Sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus); 35 Black Kites (Milvus migrans) and 9 Red Kites (Milvus milvus), 9 Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), 1 Merlin (Falco columbarius), 1 Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus) (dark Morphe), and 2 Short-toed eagles (Circuateus gallicus). So far this year 8,000 migrating raptors have been recorded at Thollon.
UNWANTED LODGERS? – HOUSE MARTINS IN BERLIN
The first House Martins (Delichon urbica) are not expected here until 20th April, just before Easter, but some unwelcoming landlords are already hanging out the 'no vacancy' signs. It might be thought that high-rise city dwellers would welcome the return of the cheery visitors who left them last autumn. Instead many of them are already busy hanging up nets or plastic strips on their neatly swept and orderly balconies. No untidy bird mess here! In the days of special offers, give- and throw-aways it seems that some of us no longer appreciate the benefits that nature bestows on the chosen ones. But now the good news. The Berlin Ornithological Society (do me a favour and click the website below) has announced that the number of House Martins has risen by 30% in the last 16 years to an estimated 1000 breeding pairs. In some boroughs artificial nests are provided in advance - and there are still enough welcoming balconies elsewhere for all-comers. Perhaps not orderly and antiseptic, even before the Martins arrive; but then birds have other criteria!
OUR OCCASIONAL NON-AVIAN ARTICLE
GREENCARD FOR THE BEAVER – FIRST CLASS EXPORT WARES FROM BRANDENBURG
The pedigree Brandenburg rodents from the River Elbe are in now great demand throughout Europe; in those countries who exterminated them in previous centuries. Last year 18 Beavers were 'ordered' by the Danish Environment Minister Svend Auken, with an option on 30 – 40 more animals this year. Trapping the cautious beaver is a costly affair - 11 years ago about 800 GDR Marks pro animal; and only complete families are resettled.
Castor fiber albicus is Europe's largest rodent with a body length of 140 cm and weighing in at up to 36 Kilo. They eat up to 2 Kilo of tree bark daily and can remain submerged under water for up to 20 minutes. The Brandenburg beavers live in a specially protected zone of the 'Central Elbe Biosphere Reserve' and their population has been 'managed ' for many years by Peter Ide, who has been involved with the scheme since 1973. Even before the unification of Germany, reintroduction schemes of the Brandenburg beaver were not only successful in Belgium and Holland; but also in the West German regions of Saarland, Hesse and Emsland. The scientifically controlled schemes have recorded a doubling of the population, in all cases, in a relatively short time. In the 'Central Elbe Biosphere Reserve' itself, some 43,000 hectare in size, the beaver population is some 3,000 strong. A proud achievement from only 150 animals after WW II. Many visitors to the area after 1990, expecting heavily contaminated landscapes in the heart of the East German chemical industry, were astounded at the intact natural habitats in the area. There were bad patches; but the region is also home to the White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Otter (Lutra lutra) and the Black Stork (Ciconia nigra). Wonderful orchid meadows lie just outside the city boundaries.
Peter Ibe is manager of the Nature Reserve Information Centre Kapenmuehle near Dessau. Eagles, Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) and Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) all breed in the vicinity. The beavers, although enclosed in a 6,000 hectare zone, live completely free. The reserve, the only one of its kind in Germany, is popular with visitors who can watch the beavers from relatively close quarters in the active periods at dawn and dusk. Their only enemy lurks outside the 'gates'; 60 – 70% of losses, mostly wandering beavers, are killed by motorists (to prevent arguments – the motorists control the cars! DC). Losses have, not surprisingly, increased since unification. Environmentalists call for better traffic planning to avoid decimating the thriving, but still threatened, German beaver population.
The large beaver populations of the 17th century will never return. They were then almost completely exterminated not only for their high quality fur and meat; but also for their musk – which was believed to have healing powers and increase male potency. There are now well-established populations in Brandenburg (including the Lower Oder and the Schorfheide Biosphere Reserve) and Saxony-Anhalt. Even the capital Berlin can boast 10 individuals! Of 4,300 pedigree beavers in Germany only some 200 live in the west. The Bavarian population in the south are of mixed race – a fact which they are politically not keen to advertise. Great Britain, which has already had successes with Red Kites (Milvus milvus) from Saxony-Anhalt is, along with the Czech Republic, have also declared their interest in introducing the Brandenburg beaver.
- Berlin Ornithological Society (BOA) - German
- New travel reports - German
- < A HREF="http://www.xterx.net/penne"> Bird Feathers - in Italian - English soon
- < A HREF="http://swift.il.eu.org/index.html"> Swifts (Apus apus) - English
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