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...
NEWS OF THE WEEK - CONTENTS SUMMARY
BIRDS OF THE WEEK
1. DEADLY PERCHES IN STORK PARADISE
2. ARISTOCRATS EVICT ESTABLISHED RESIDENTS - THE LESSER SPOTTED EAGLE
4. BEST OF EUROPE
5. NEXT ISSUE OF POTGW
BIRD(S) OF THE WEEK
Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor) with characteristics of the central asian race (pallidirostris – lack of black in front of the eye and on the forehead, beige edge to the underside of the (?) feathers)in Hessen?: *** small flocks of Broad-billed Sandpiper (Limicola falcinellus) and Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) in the Northeast *** A short-stayer: Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) in Baden-Wuertemmburg (SW): more persistent the shy Aquatic Warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola) *** The Slavonian Grebe (Podiceps auritus) in the Westerwald is still showing well *** strong migration of Dotterels (Charadrius morinellus)
DEADLY PERCHES IN EAST GERMAN STORK PARADISE
More than 200 White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) are electrocuted annually on the ‘unprotected’ perches of high-voltage masts in eastern Germany. This is the major local cause of death among the species. Evidence of this gruesome death toll, particularly high at this time of year among the young storks on their training flights for the long journey to Africa, hangs in the form of black and white feathered carcasses only hundreds of metres away from the breeding grounds in Brandenburg and Saxony. Smaller, but nonetheless disturbing numbers of raptors and owls, are also endangered throughout Germany. Of particular concern are the losses among the most threatened species such as the White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), Red Kite (Milvus milvus) and Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo).
Winfried Boehmer, a NABU warden and Green Party representative in the Stork paradise of the Spreewald in southern Brandenburg, has been gathering evidence and lobbying the regional energy company for increased protection for years. The energy producer – Envia - spokesman loses no sleep. As far as he is concerned an investment of more as a million DM over the last 6 years is sufficient sign of the company’s willingness to help in eradicating the problem. The masts in the immediate neighbourhood of nests have been fitted with a plastic shield to prevent the birds ‘earthing’ between the high-tension cables and the concrete cross-sections. Additional safer perches have also been fitted.
The problem will not go away until a far greater number of masts are ‘de-electrified’ – and wider-ranging and better co-ordinated safe zones near the breeding grounds created. Regional government, nature protection agencies and the energy companies need to get their act together and invest more time, interest and finance in tackling this eminently solvable problem.
RETURNING ARISTOCRATS EVICT ESTABLISHED RESIDENTS - THE LESSER SPOTTED EAGLE
The German proverb “Blue blood obligates” (‘Adel verpflichtet’) appears to have lost its meaning in the former East German provinces – or is the rarefied atmosphere of the modern capitalist world responsible for a galloping, and infectious, leukaemia of the upper classes? Since the return of confiscated estates to the offspring of the former owners the lush woodlands, home to many raptors but in particular the last stronghold of the Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina), shudder under the combined attacks of the bulldozer and chainsaw. As if the destruction of the rain forests in the last half-century had never taken place, arrogant action in the style of their robber-baron ancestors reminds the East German peasants of their place in society. Laws, rules and regulations are flouted – to the extent of felling trees with the eagles sitting on their eggs.
History, sadly, repeats itself. Reduced, or more accurately hunted to almost complete extinction early this (for some last!) century in Germany, the Lesser Spotted Eagle had made a strong comeback under totalitarian rule. Its elegant flight and startlingly high aerial displays, leaving the Osprey and White-tailed Eagle in the shade, was slowing becoming more familiar in the provinces of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt. Long before the ‘Fall of the Wall’ over 130 ‘east’ pairs represented the total German population, Since 1989 the story has taken a sad turn for the worse. The numbers have decreased, breeding territories have been deserted; drastic habitat changes and sinking food stocks have adversely affected the delicate population balance. Intensive, year round farming, and increased use of chemicals on the monotonous rapeseed fields, have taken their toll. Ten years of profit-motivated agricultural (mis-) management by the heirs of the ‘Junker’ and their cohorts have achieved what was never attempted in 50 years of communist rule. The marketplace prospers (or individual bank deposits) and nature pays the bill – with its last small change.
The all-too familiar tale of corruption and influence in high places, turning of blind eyes, short-term political convenience and the rest needs no repeating. Only the names, positions and titles change – the sell-out of nature is an international business. The additional stresses, when not direct effects, of the huntsman are scarcely worth mentioning except in a cynical aside. Hunting’s elevated and traditional role in German culture – and in particular the close association to the former (?) noble classes – lends it a strong voice and lobby in all matters affecting the protection and support of the natural world and its denizens.
The remaining population of this attractive bird will soon be leaving for it’s winter quarters – to return again, hopefully, next spring. That is, if it survives the rows of waiting gun muzzles in Syria, Lebanon and the rest of the Near East.
The East German provinces are the last and only breeding bastion of the Lesser Spotted Eagle within the current boundaries of the European Union. Although the German naturalists have the immediate and local responsibility, moral and practical support from all other member nations is of importance for their survival.
More pics and puzzles mystery bird competition
and more of the same from the popular Computer Birding at ‘Bavarian Birds’
BEST OF EUROPE
New rarity sighting lists this month from Norway, Denmark and France in'Best of Europe/Das Beste'
NEXT NEXT ISSUE
When I have time – and fresh German news ;-)
The contents of POTGW are © David Conlin 2000 unless otherwise stated and should not be copied in whole or in part, or otherwise publicly reproduced, without his consent.
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