Common Swift, Steinhuder Meer


Springtime in Germany
10-21 May 2006
Narrated by Henry Detwiler

My parents and I spent about a week and a half in Germany, visiting friends and relatives, and seeing some of the beautiful sights.
species -- bird list is at the bottom of the page
Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized photos.   

Days 4-12: Kaufungen, Steinhuder Meer, & Bielefeld

The Birdwatcher

On Thursday the 18th we spent a day with my Aunt Lotti and Uncle Horst in Bielefeld.  We walked around the castle and a promenade high above the city.  Then, as we had some cake and coffee at a cafe, we watched a couple of black & white birders coming out of this little door on the 2nd floor of the restaurant.  At Uncle Horst's home, I watched a Great Tit bring caterpillars to its young, nesting in a birdhouse above their flowerbed.

On Friday the 19th, Christa and I took an all-day trip north to Steinhuder Meer, a shallow lake in the lowlands at the edge of the Lueneburger Heide.  As we drove north from Kaufungen we eventually descended from the rolling foothills on the northwestern edge of the Harz mountains to the flatlands and canals surrounding Hannover.  The Audi's navigation system led us around the traffic of this major city and put us on a course for the town of Steinhuder, directly on the lake.  

Common Swift, Steinhuder Meer



It was raining once we got there, so we bought some coffee and an umbrella at the visitor center.  Then we walked a short trail over a bridge to a little island close to the shore.  From the bridge and the shoreline we spotted Tufted Ducks, Shovelers, Gadwalls, and Pochards.  There were also lots of Mute Swans, looking most elegant as they floated and fed in the water.


The most common water bird here, as in many of the lakes of Germany, was the Great Crested Grebe.  Later we were also to see a Dabchick, or Little Grebe.  Several of the grebes did some head-bobbing & neck-weaving, but we never saw them do their full-fledged courtship dance.  We drove on to the southeast end of the lake, which turned out to be the most productive area for birding.

 Great Crested Grebe

Barnacle Goose, Steinhuder Meer

As we got started hiking down to the nature preserve and blinds, I saw my first Common Cuckoo, and got some far-away photos as it flew away.  A wet meadow close to the woods had dozens of Greylag Geese and this solitary Barnacle Goose, another lifer for me.  Another fifty yards took us to an observation  blind overlooking a wonderful set of shallow, reedy ponds, chock-full of duck species.  In addition to a "lifer" Gargany were Eurasian Teal and all the waterfowl species we'd seen so far! 

The final stop along the northern shore of Steinhuder Meer proved good for swifts hawking insects in the sky, and fieldfares feeding on the resort lawns.  In the reeds along the shore we also heard and glimpsed several Marsh Warblers.  After a two-hour trip home, we picked up Christa's dog from the "doggie hotel" and joined several relatives for dinner at a local restaurant.


Fieldfare, Steinhuder Meer




On Sunday Christa prepared a fine "birthday" breakfast for us all (it was her birdthday!), and after visiting a few more hours we headed south towards Frankfurt.  We made one final tourist stop at Alsfeld to tour the beautiful old city and have a light lunch.  The next morning we flew home, and then drove back from St. Louis to Carbondale.


Return to Page 1 : Bad Kreuznach & Kaufungen


Germany, May 10-21, 2006

Photos Henry Detwiler