Monday, 25 July 2016

Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany (17th-23rd July 2016)

Back to Germany again with my sister, brother and mother to visit our relatives.  We spent an enjoyable few days together, swimming in the local crater lakes, gardening and going for walks etc.  I managed to fit in a decent amount of birding too but I'm taking it easy in preparation for a full autumn season back on North Ron.

17th July:

The channel crossing is often one of my very favourite experiences when going to Germany although this trip only produced 2 Harbour Porpoise a trickle of Kittiwakes, Common Terns, Mediterranean GullsGannets and a Common Sandpiper between Dover and Dunkirk.

18th July:

Walked to Die Altenberghütte, a local watchpoint that overlooks a large wooded valley stretching N/S.  2-3 Honey Buzzards were circling and performing well.  One even performed the spectacular wing-clapping display!  Other highlights included Sparrowhawk, Buzzards, Red Kites, Hawfinch, a flypast Turtle Dove and a Fox.  I also had a massive shock when a large Grass Snake rose up out of the short grass inches from my feet, hissing before slithering quickly away.  Emperor Dragonfly was also on the wing as were numerous Purple Hairstreaks.

19th July:

A visit to Sangweiher, the local wetland is always high on the agenda.  This time it hosted 2 Black Storks feeding amongst the overgrown margins to the main pond before taking flight, circling and moving westwards.  A Great White Egret, Green Sandpiper and a Common Sandpiper were also present.

20th July:

Stayed local for the morning so went to enjoy three families of Red-backed Shrike just down the road which included 3 males, 2 females and 5 juveniles.  A Map Butterfly, Hobby and a purring Turtle Dove were also of note.  In the afternoon, Ephraim and I visited the vineyards bordering Die Mosel for our third attempt at finding the small and localised population of Rock Buntings.  At long last, we finally connected with 2 Rock Buntings on the sunny slopes of Kobern-Gondorf, a juvenile and a stunning adult calling away atop a bush.  We also heard several others on the steeper sections but these did not show.  Equally surprising was a stunning Apollo (a very scarce localised butterfly for these parts found only in the very area we happened to visit)!  2 Scarce Swallowtails were an additional bonus!

Rock Bunting in flight, just a blur but YES!!!


Scarce Swallowtail

21st July:

A whooping 16 Turtle Doves near Die Altenberghütte were today's highlight (including a group of 15 along a single row of electricity lines!  A Continental Swallowtail was a very enjoyable sighting as was watching the usual Purple Hairstreaks performing nicely atop the Oaks.

22nd July:

Our final full day in Germany.  Once again I visited Die Altenberghütte where I yet again enjoyed 2 Honey Buzzards circling and calling above me.  c16 Turtle Doves, Map Butterfly, 2 Queen of Spain Fritillaries, Hawfinches, 1 Fieldfare and a large Slow Worm were also present.

23rd July:

On our return, we crossed the channel from Calais to Dover.  The majority of our time was spent deeply shrouded in thick fog but we still managed to see c24 Common Scoter, a few Mediterranean Gulls and 2 Compass Jellyfish.

Mediterranean Gull

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