Exactly one year ago, we carried out a wildife survey between Berlin and the state of Brandenburg, to discover the interesting birdlife present here during the late winter period.
In addition to visiting the capital and enjoying its rich urban biodiversity, engaging in urban birding, searching for the Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), which nests here among the boundless urban green, we have decided to dedicate two days to exploration of some natural areas easily reachable from the German capital.
Much of the territory surrounding Berlin is characterized by immense plains occupied by expanses of fields planted with cereals, alternating with plain coniferous forests, stretches of water, canals and steppe areas.
These well-preserved environments allow the survival of many species of conservation interest and host a large number of wintering birds, becoming an attractive European destination for birdwatchers and wildlife photography enthusiasts.
So let’s start our short expedition by heading west to the federal state of Brandenburg. In the first part of the day we inspect the Westhavelland Nature Park, which develops along the lower Havel river plain. With an extension of about 1300 square kilometers, it represents the largest continuous wetlands in Central Europe, habitat of numerous endangered species, including the Great Bustard (Otis tarda), which here finds the last stronghold for its survival in Germany.
As soon as we arrive, we search a probable breeding site of European Common Spadefoot (Pelobates fuscus): an underground peat bog at the edge of a parking lot. Unfortunately, the temperatures are still rigid and we cannot confirm the presence of this interesting Amphibian species.
We approach a plain conifer grove on the edge of a large natural meadow, where we begin to spot dozens of Birds, including Woodlark (Lululla arborea), Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) and Carrion Crow (Corvus corone).
Crossing some open fields flanked by small water channels, we observe a Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) and a Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor), as well as a beautiful male of Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus) and at least 3 Red Kites (Milvus milvus).
Great Grey Shrike.
Arrived near a flooded plain, we take advantage of the presence of some roof terraces to investigate the surrounding meadows more accurately: we therefore spot many Northern Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus) and Eurasian Curlews (Numenius arquata), while dozens and dozens of Common Cranes (Grus grus) fly over our heads.
Unfortunately, during our stay, we are unable to contact any Great Bustard, on the other hand we observe 4 species of Mammals: different groups of Roe Deers (Capreolus capreolus), a European Hare (Lepus europaeus), 4 Red Foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and a Coypu (Myocastor coypus).
Returning to our car, we come across a flock of Eurasian Siskins (Spinus spinus) and a probable Wolf footprint.
We set off again, moving north-west towards the Gülper See, a lake located within the same natural park and an important wintering site for various species of Anseriformes. Along the path that will lead us to the next destination, we spot mixed groups of Mute Swans (Cygnus olor), Greylag Geese (Anser anser) and Greater White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons) grazing along the roadsides.
Once arrived, we are welcomed by a solitary individual of Crane hunting among the vegetation of the shore. Looking among the many ducks present, we observe a pair of Smew (Mergellus albellus), a Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) and 5 Goosanders (Mergus merganser).
We are now about to end our day, when we notice the arrival on the opposite shores of a flock of Barnacle Geese (Branta leucopsis).
We then move in search of the landing point, where, accompanied by a breathtaking sunset, we conclude the day with the noisy rendezvous of dozens and dozens of Barnacle Geese and Greater White-fronted Geese.
Barnacle and Greater White-fronted Geese.
The next day, we move to the northern outskirts of Berlin, with the intention of adding one of the tour’s target species to our checklist: the Red-necked Grebe. So we decide to explore the Karower Teiche, a suburban park full of ponds, reeds and riparian woods, where this wonderful water bird is often observed.
Arrived near the park, we cross a small town made up of villas and tree-lined avenues that will be full of life. In fact, in the few meters that lead us to our destination, we contact dozens of species, including two Eurasian Sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus) and some particularly confident individuals of Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea).
We thus approach the first stretch of water, where among the many Pochards, Tufted Ducks and Gadwall, a pair of Common Goldeneye stands out, juggling in the frantic search for prey on the water floor, disappearing continuously and then re-emerging a few meters away.
Continuing the visit of the park, we look out onto another body of water entirely surrounded by reeds. Here, we can immediately spot the star of the day: the Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena). A few minutes pass to realize that, in reality, there are 5 individuals present at the same time!
Enraptured by their colorful plumage, we reluctantly try our hand at searching for other species along the lake shores. Here we spot a Barnacle Goose herding with some Greylag Geese.
Among the branches of the nearby trees, we observe a flock of Long-tailed Tits (Aegithalos caudatus europaeus) consisting of some individuals with a phenotype similar to the caudatus subspecies. This condition appears rather frequent in Germany and in other central European countries, where are observed individuals with a large portion of white feathers on the head, a characteristic that makes them confused with those belonging to the subspecies typical of the Scandinavian and eastern regions.
Among the avenues that connect the different lakes, there are many forest species seen and heard: Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Short-toed Treecreeper and Hawfinch are just a few examples.
We therefore look out over the last observation point, where we conclude our morning with 3 Goldeneyes and, among the thick reeds of the marsh, a beautiful pair of Bearded Reedling (Panurus biarmicus)!
- Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
- Greylag Goose (Anser anser)
- Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)
- Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis)
- Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
- Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
- Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
- Gadwall (Mareca strepera)
- Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
- Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
- Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)
- Smew (Mergellus albellus)
- Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)
- Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
- Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
- Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena)
- Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
- White Egret (Ardea alba)
- Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
- White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)
- Red Kite (Milvus milvus)
- Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
- Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
- Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
- Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
- Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
- Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)
- Common Crane (Grus grus)
- Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
- Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata)
- Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
- Feral Pigeon (Columba livia var. domestica)
- Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)
- Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
- European Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis)
- Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis)
- Woodlark (Lululla arborea)
- White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
- Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
- Eurasian Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
- Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)
- Common Blackbird (Turdus merula)
- Eurasian Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
- Great Tit (Parus major)
- Eurasian Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)
- Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus europaeus)
- Bearded Reedling (Panurus biarmicus)
- Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)
- Short-toed Treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla)
- Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor)
- Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica)
- Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
- Western Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
- Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)
- Carrion Crow (Corvus corone)
- Common Raven (Corvus corax)
- Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
- House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
- Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)
- European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
- Eurasian Siskin (Spinus spinus)
- Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
- European Greenfinch (Chloris chloris)
- Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)
- Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)