Brandenburg

Great Bustard Strix aluco ©Andrej Chudý Website

Birding BrandenburgBrandenburg is located in the northeast of Germany covering an area of 29,478 square kilometres (11,382 sq mi) and has a population of 2.5 million residents, the fifth-largest German state by area and tenth-most populous. Potsdam is the state capital and largest city, while other major cities include Brandenburg an der Havel, Cottbus, and Frankfurt (Oder). Brandenburg surrounds the national capital and city-state of Berlin, which together form the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region, the third-largest metropolitan area in Germany. Brandenburg borders the states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Saxony, and the country of Poland. The Federal State of Brandenburg is at last being recognised as a good birding venue by Birdwatchers outside Germany. Facilities for birdwatching are very good, with well constructed hides, observation towers and display boards at key sites.

It is one of the largest States of Germany, situated in the east of the country and separated from Poland by the wide River Oder. The terrain is mainly flat but diverse with large rivers, lakes, fishponds and extensive forests and heaths giving a rich variety of bird life, only a few of which are mentioned below.

Among the many excellent sites, special mention should be made of the Lower Oder National Park along the Polish border. The polders, lakes and rivers and surrounding forests provide habitats for a wide variety of species, some of which, such as Thrush Nightingale, River Warbler and Red-breasted Flycatcher are at the western edge of their breeding range in mainland Europe.

The Corncrake population is healthy and both Spotted and Little Crake can be found. Along the river Oder are colonies of Black and sometimes White-winged Black Terns, and Bluethroats are in the damp areas. In winter, the valley is transformed by extensive flooding bringing in thousands of swans, geese and duck from the north.

Gülper See and its environs is perhaps the best place to see the huge flocks of wintering geese. Most of the geese are Bean, White-front, and Greylag plus a few Lesser White-fronts and Red-breasted Geese. Flocks can reach 40-50,000.

Cranes breed and large numbers pass through on migration. Throughout the State are a number of well-known roosting sites, often with observation towers and hides. The largest roost is at Linum where in October the awesome sight of thousands of Cranes arriving in the late afternoon has become a tourist attraction. In 2014 the number reached a record of 100,000.

One of the special birds of Brandenburg is the Great Bustard. There is a small remnant population in protected areas to the west of Berlin. Numbers are increasing and there are now over one hundred birds. They can be watched from hides.

As well as all the forests and the water bodies, extensive areas of partially wooded heathland remain from military training by the Russian army. In summer these provide good habitat for Honey Buzzard, Wryneck, Woodlark, Nightjar, Red-backed and Great Grey Shrike, Wheatear and Tawny Pipit.

The city state of Berlin lies in the centre of Brandenburg, and within the city boundaries are forests, and lakes. Red-necked Grebe breed at the fish ponds. Two Black Tern colonies are in the south-east of the city. Black and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers are in the woodlands.

Birdwatching is well developed in Germany, and NABU (the German society for conservation) oversees nature protection. Most of the literature about birds is written in German, and this is probably one of the main reasons why the country has not been well known to birdwatchers from the UK and other parts of Western Europe.

Now a guidebook in English has been published. A Birdwatching Guide to Brandenburg and Berlin describes 110 sites, and has photographs, coloured maps, and details of habitats, access and species. More details are on the website – See germanybirding.com ( in ‘other websites’ ) and the book can be obtained directly from the contributor (below).

Contributors
  • Roger White

    | roger.white4@virgin.net

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 313

    (As at March 2019)

    State Bird - Great Bustard Otis tarda

Useful Reading

  • A Birdwatching Guide to Brandenburg & Berlin

    Written & Published by Roger White | 2012 | Paperback | 230 pages, colour photos, colour maps | ISBN: 9780957169500 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Organisations
  • NABU Brandwenburg

    Website
    If you would like to support the projects of the NABU Brandenburg, you will find all necessary information here.
  • Society for the Promotion of Great Bustard Protection

    Website
    The aim of the society is the initiation and promotion of measures and activities designed to support the conservation of the Great Bustard as breeding bird in a cultivated countryside in Brandenburg, rich in flora and fauna. The site (in German) gives an overview of the distribution,biolocy and relevant literature. It also has up to date news on the breeding population, provides information for visitors and sets out the aims and work of the society. Visitors who want to see the spectacular display at the start of the breeding season are advised to visit from mid-March to mid-May. The summer months are not good for observation as the birds extremely shy at this atage and, despite their size, can scarcelly be found in the high vegetation. In winter, with a little luck, small groups can be found on rapeseed oil fields. There is an information centre in the centre of the region at Buckow near Nennhausen which is annually open from the beginning of April to the end of May on weekends and public holidays (except Easter Sunday) between 10.00-13.00. See map of Eastern Brandenburg. Guided tours for groups can be arranged with sufficient advance notice (Tel.: +49 33878/60257 Fax: +49 033878/60600)
Reserves

Abbreviations Key

  • BR Schorfheide-Chorin

    InformationSatellite View
    ...composed of extensive woodlands (most of which are dominated by either oaks or pines), a wide range of bodies of standing water like lakes (most notably Werbellinsee, Grimnitzsee and Parsteiner See), ponds and renaturated bogs, as well as heathlands. Some parts of the Schorfheide are left as a wilderness. Due to its water bodies, the area serves as an important breeding and resting ground for birds like white-tailed eagles and cranes.
  • BR Spreewald

    InformationSatellite View
    It is known for its traditional irrigation system, consisting of more than 200 small canals within the 484-square-kilometre (187 sq mi) area. Alder forests on wetlands and pine forests on sandy dry areas are characteristic for the region. Grasslands and fields can be found as well. About 18,000 species of flora and fauna have been counted
  • NP Lower Oder Valley IBA

    InformationSatellite View
    The Lower Oder Valley International Park is a shared German-Polish nature reserve. It comprises the western banks of the Oder (Polish: Odra) river within the Uckermark district in the German state of Brandenburg as well as the steep eastern banks in the Gryfino and Police counties of the Polish West Pomeranian Voivodeship further north. The area comprises 165 km2 (64 sq mi) (Germany 105 km2 (41 sq mi), Poland 60 km2 (23 sq mi)); together with adjoining nature reserves in Germany and Poland the total area is 1,172 km2 (453 sq mi). There is a Special Protection Area (SPA) for birds. These plains are habitats for birds such as the black stork, the aquatic warbler, and the corn crake.
Forums & Mailing Lists
  • ORNI-BB

    Mailing List
    This is a forum of the Berlin-Brandenburg and Berlin Ornithological Working Groups. It is designed to serve the exchange of information between ornithologists in the region. Please post information on interesting or unusual sightings, topical conservation themes, events and any other matters of interest to ornithologists and birdwatchers. The aim of the forum is the provision of rapid and up to date information and not the collation and archiving of observation data for later anaysis.
Guides & Tour Operators


Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

  • Birding Berlin - Rolf Nessing

    Guide
    Rolf offers field trips getting to know the urban bird life within the city of Berlin, as well as full day trips in the immediate vicinity of Berlin or further afield. There are 46 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) around Berlin as well as one IBA in the city itself (as at 2003). He knows most of them like the back of his hand.
Trip Reports


Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

  • 2010 [06 June] - Allan Finlayson

    Report
    …The above is part of the Schorfheide-Chorin reserve, and I mention it in particular as it was recommended to me by the locals when I enquired as to the best place to go to see White-tailed Eagle (my target species for the trip)…
  • 2011 [07 July] - Allan Finlayson

    Report
    …Seeing lots of Common Cranes from public transport (train and bus). With the main breeding season over by July, the birds have dispersed from their breeding sites and are easier to see. A notable area was between Löwenberg and Gransee…
  • 2016 [10 October] - Tom Mabbett - Brandenburg & Berlin

    PDF Report
    We enjoyed a superb few days exploring the Brandenburg region and its array of avian delights, with countless thousands of birds seen in this superb area. We enjoyed White-tailed Eagles, Rough-legged buzzards, Hen Harriers, Great Bustards, fields full of Bean and White-fronted Geese not to mention around 50,000 Common Crane! It was a great few days with lots of fun along the way.
  • 2017 [10 October] - Rick Wright - Brandenburg & Berlin

    PDF Report
    ...we also had periods nearly every day of beautiful blue skies, none more heart-rendingly lovely than an afternoon at Frederick the Great’s palace of Sans Souci, where over-the-top baroque gardens and the fanciest of rococo architecture provided the cultural backdrop for our encounters with a dazzling Common Kingfisher, noisy Middle Spotted Woodpecker, surprisingly abundant Hawfinches, and snowball-headed Long-tailed Tits.
Places to Stay


Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

  • Birding Berlin - Rolf Nessing

    Accommodation
    Rolf rents out holiday chalets on his own property in Lychen. The chalets consist of 3 rooms, with kitchen and 2 baths/showers. Red and Black Kite, Osprey and White-tailed Eagle grace the skies over Lychen. In the nearby woodland there is a colony of Grey Heron, and Black and Green Woodpecker can be heard.
  • Hotel Haus Chorin

    Accommodation
    The Hotel Haus Chorin is nestled in untouched nature right by the Amtssee lake and only a few minutes' walk from the Chorin Abbey. Located in a natural forest park, our hotel complex offers the ideal stay in the biosphere reserve Schorfheide for relaxation seekers, conference guests or business travellers.
Other Links
  • Germany Birding

    Website
    This website will provide information and advice for visitors to Berlin and the east of Germany. The area covered is bordered by Poland in the east, and the Baltic sea in the north. Berlin is within the State of Brandenburg. North of here is the State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the Baltic coast and islands. In due course I will be posting Trip reports, and news of recent sightings. See information page for bird guides to the region...
Photographers & Artists
  • Webcam - White Stork

    Gallery
    The NABU Stork Station Vetschau

Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND