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Saxon Selflessness

Bird Club Twinning Initiative

As I spend my life commuting between my flat in Berlin and our cottage in North Bohemia, it was not entirely coincidental that I ended up joining the Saxon Ornithologists` Association (VSO ? http://www.vso-internet.de some 18 months ago ? I cross the province regularly, by train or car, and see a number of interesting birds every time. The Saxons are very hospitable ? read on.

[First of all a short description of the region. Saxony lies in Central Europe and borders on Poland in the east, the Czech Republic in the south and, beginning in the southwest, shares internal borders with the federal states of Bavaria, Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg. The state is almost bisected by the River Elbe and borders in the east on the River Oder. The terrain ranges from low flood plain through moor land and gentle foothills to the Elbe Sandstone Mountains and that part of Central German Mountain range, the Ore Mountain (Erzgebirge) which rises to over 1200m. The state capital is Dresden ? now once again a vibrant residential city with its restored baroque splendours.]I have been trying for some time to find a birding society in the UK and elsewhere to partner Saxony ? so far with little success. Ideally the partner county or region should have some coastline with an abundance of seabirds ? something that Saxony lacks. I hope this article will kindle a little more interest.

As a Brit living in Germany I receive many requests for assistance with birding contacts. I try to help wherever I can and have had lots of fun with visitors to Berlin. Others I try to help by passing their requests on through birding nets here. My most recent request came from a birder in Brazil who was looking for bird tour companies in Germany. A mail to the German BirdNet evoked the following response from the Gen. Sec. of the Saxon Society which I abbreviate here:Dear David, All the best for you in the New Year! I have often considered that we as a society should be ready and able to help out birders from other countries. What do you think? We have lots of interesting terrain and areas here ? from the plain of the River Elbe to the mountains ? which would surely be of interest to birders from other continents. What do they need? Some friendly guidance and a roof over their head? With best wishes, Hartmut Meyer

A terrific idea and one I want to follow up. The only thing better than birding in a new region and seeing new birds (or familiar or rare species in a new context) is sharing the experience and knowledge of local birders. It would be nice to report some progress in terms of partnership prospects, by our Annual General Meeting on 18-20 March 2005.

To whet your appetite, below is a short unofficial extract from Where to watch birds in Saxony ? which has yet to be published:Saxony enjoys an abundance of bird life. More than 250 birds breed here or are occasional visitors. Many species are found only in certain regions or in specialized habitats, and some are extremely rare in Saxony. The whole of the Ore Mountain range (Erzgebirge) and its foothills are especially well suited for all-year-round bird watching as are also the many beautiful lakes and ponds; the wooded slopes on the bends of the Mulde River which flows through the Valley of Castles. This river valley quickly narrows and is soon enclosed by steep wooded walls and here, far away from the daily grind of a hectic existence, the lone wanderer can find peace. The valley reopens just as quickly into a landscape of broad meadows and then narrows once again; an ever-changing landscape of secluded vales and wide pastures, of peace and activity; the Elbe River which is in parts embedded in the wonderful Elbsandsteingebirge with it`s tall and wooded, all overlooking table mountains. And last but not least, the D?bener Heide where lush meadows and their inexhaustible wealth of flowers complement spring and summer in one of nature`s most beautiful landscapes. In order to receive an impression of the bird life in our state, we decided to describe some places where to watch a variety of this birds in Saxony.

The dams and lakes are preferred habitats during migration. You can see a large number of Great Cormorants, Mute Swans, Geese, Plovers, Terns, and Gulls. Furthermore, Ospreys, White-tailed Eagles, and many other wonderful species…
Best breeding birds (selection): Red-necked Grebe, Bittern, White Stork, Black Stork, White-tailed Eagle, Osprey, Black Kite, Red Kite, Peregrine Falcon, Pygmy Owl, Tengmalm`s Owl, Nightjar, Black Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Three-toed Woodpecker, Wryneck, Alpine Accentor, Bluethroat, Ring Ouzel, Fieldfare, Barred Warbler, Savi`s Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Crested Tit, Bearded Reedling, Golden Oriole, and of course many continental forms of birds found commonly [or not so commonly] in the UK.

I hope that this generates some interest. I can be contacted online at david.conlin@proact-campaigns.net I look forward to your comments or interest.

David Conlin http://www.proact-campaigns.net

4th July 2014