Lower Saxony

Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria ©Andrej Chudý
Birding Lower Saxony

Lower Saxony is a German state situated in northwestern Germany. It is the second-largest state by land area, with 47,624 km2 (18,388 square miles), and fourth-largest in population (7.9 million) among the 16 Länder federated as the Federal Republic of Germany. Lower Saxony borders on (from north and clockwise) the North Sea, the states of Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia, and the Netherlands. Bremen forms two enclaves within Lower Saxony, one being the city of Bremen, the other, its seaport city of Bremerhaven. In fact, Lower Saxony borders more neighbours than any other single Bundesland. The state’s principal cities include the state capital Hanover, Braunschweig (Brunswick), Lüneburg, Osnabrück, Oldenburg, Hildesheim, Wolfenbüttel, Wolfsburg, and Göttingen. The state is dominated by several large rivers running northwards through the state: the Ems, Weser, Aller, and Elbe. The highest mountain in Lower Saxony is the Wurmberg(971 m) in the Harz.Lower Saxony has a lot to offer for nature lovers and birdwatchers. The state – comparatively unspoiled by development – offers appealing countryside between the Rivers Ems and Elbe, between the mountain summits of the Harz Mountains region and the maritime climate of the North Sea. Lower Saxony is committed to nature conservation: more than 20 per cent of the state’s area has been designated as protected, with the mudflats of the Wadden Sea National Park taking in the entire North Sea coast, and the Harz National Park extending over the state border into Saxony-Anhalt. The Elbtalaue riverine woodland landscape enjoys protected status as a biosphere reserve. In between lie countless peat bogs, secluded areas of heathland and extensive tracts of mixed woodland. These are in part incorporated into 730 nature reserves, over 1,400 landscape protected areas and 12 wide ranging nature parks, the latter primarily serving recreational activities.

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 410

    (As at March 2019)

    State Bird - Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria

  • Arbeitskreis Göttinger Ornithologen (AGO)

    (In German only) This website presents not only the comprehensive tasks taken on by the working group and new developments in the bird world. It also is intended as a vehicle for nature conservation and species protection matters in the region and beyond. Keep checking regularly for updates!
  • Avifaunistische Arbeitsgemeinschaft Lüchow-Dannenberg

    Wendland lies in the northeast of Lower Saxony and borders on Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt. It has a diverse flora and fauna and it varied, mostly near-natural countryside, lies between the River Elbe valley in the north, the East Hanover moraine in the West and the Old Mark in the south
  • Helgoland - Ornithologische Arbeitsgemeinschaft (OAG) Helgoland

    The Ornithologische Arbeitsgemeinschaft (OAG) Helgoland e.V. (Heligoland Ornithological Work Group) was founded on 9th March 1991 with the aim of supporting research on birds on Heligoland. The number of the members has recently risen to over 500. The main task of the OAG is to publish the annual Bird Report for the island, in cooperation with the Institut f
  • NABU East Friesland

    Masses of information on nature, environmental protection and birding. Organisation of regular excursions for local nature-lovers and visitors.

Abbreviations Key

  • NP Harz

    InformationSatellite View
    The lynx now lives wild again in the Harz, having been eradicated from the mountains since the early 19th century. Another reintroduction project was the capercaillie, which died out in the Harz in 1920-1930. Its reintroduction began in 1978. Over the years about 1,000 birds have been reared and set free. In spite of the number of birds the population was not assessed as stable. Due to the lack of success, the project was closed in 2003.
  • NP Lower Saxon Wadden Sea

    InformationSatellite View
    The Lower Saxon Wadden Sea National Park embraces the East Frisian Islands, mudflats and salt marshes between the Bay of Dollart on the border with the Netherlands in the west and Cuxhaven as far as the Outer Elbe shipping channel in the east. The national park has an area of about 345,800 hectares (1,335 sq mi). The habitats to be protected by this park include the mudflats, salt marshes, beaches, dunes and estuaries on the North Sea. The approximately 180,000 birds of north-western Europe's shelduck population also spends their moulting season from July to September in the Wadden Sea, as do about 200,000 eider; and about 1,000 pairs of eiders use the mudflats of the North Sea as a breeding area. Most of them breed on the island of Amrum.
  • NR Barnbruch WII

    InformationSatellite View
    The Barnbruch is a wetland of international importance in the old glacial valley of the river Aller that provides a habitat for endangered species of birds, amphibians and insects.
  • NR Breites Wasser

    InformationSatellite View
    Many rare birds breed in the area and there are also colonies of gulls. In autumn and spring quite a few migratory birds rest here en route to their destinations.
  • NR Central Lüß Plateau Heathland

    InformationSatellite View
    It has a total area of about 293 hectares (720 acres).
  • NR Große Aue

    InformationSatellite View
    Threatened dragonflies, such as the banded darter, southern emerald damselfly live here as do birds like the whitethroat and little grebe. Reed buntings, reed warblers and snipe also occur here.
  • NR Großes Meer

    InformationSatellite View
    The nature reserve of South Großes Meer (Südteil Großes Meer) was established in 1974 and is surrounded by a 2,500 hectares (6,200 acres) large protected landscape. The northern part, by contrast, is used as a leisure and recreation area and has facilities for angling and water sports. With its extensive belt of reed-beds and the adjacent wetlands the Großes Meer and its surrounds are a breeding area and habitat of regional importance. Black-tailed godwit, snipe, lapwing, short-eared owl, marsh harrier, hen harrier, bittern, sedge warbler, bluethroat and reed bunting are a few of the species of breeding bird that are important from a conservation perspective. In winter huge flocks of greylag geese and greater white-fronted geese shelter here.
  • NR Kiehnmoor

    InformationSatellite View
    This whole area is very secluded. Rare birds have settled here including the crane and the black stork. Even the otter may be found here.
  • NR Lüneburg Heath

    InformationSatellite View
    The Lüneburg Heath Nature Reserve is one of the oldest and largest nature reserves (Naturschutzgebiete or NSGs) in Germany, and the oldest and largest in Lower Saxony. It is the only freely accessible part of Lower Saxony in which the Black Grouse may be found.
  • NR Meißendorf Lakes and Bannetze Moor

    InformationSatellite View
    The Meißendorf Lakes and Bannetze Moor are a nature reserve and bird reserve of national importance on the edge of the Lüneburg Heath in the state of Lower Saxony. Species that breed here include: white-tailed eagle, sedge warbler, bittern, garganey, peewit, to name only those on the IUNC Red List of Endangered Species. But many other species also breed here, such as the kingfisher, crane, penduline tit, little grebe, water rail, reed warbler, great crested grebe, cormorant, grey heron, greylag goose, gadwall, red-crested pochard, barn owl, black-headed gull, marsh harrier, coot, shoveler, sparrowhawk and red kite.
  • NR Sandwater

    InformationSatellite View
    The Sandwater near Simonswolde (in the municipality of Ihlow) in the north German district of Aurich is a shallow fen lake on the edge of the geest and is one of the few remaining, preserved, natural "inland seas" in East Frisia. The extensive reed beds have an important function in providing nesting and feeding grounds for reed breeders and waterfowl. The expanding beds of common reed, however, are causing the lake to gradually silt up and reduce the area of open water.
  • NR Teufelsbäder

    InformationSatellite View
    The Teufelsbäder 'Devil's Baths' is the name of a moor landscape near Osterode am Harz in the Harz Mountains of central Germany. The ponds and marshy depressions in the nature reserve, which covers an area of roughly 84 hectares (210 acres).It is a habitat for rare plant species and a breeding ground for numerous birds typical of such features.
  • NR Tiste Bauernmoor

    InformationSatellite View
    The Tiste Bauernmoor is an area of raised bog on the Lüneburg Heath. It has an area of 570 hectares (1,400 acres). These areas now form breeding grounds and staging areas for many species of bird, some of them rare. The crane has resettled in the area and now breeds here. In late autumn several thousand cranes rest on the moor before flying on to their winter quarters. This makes the Tiste Bauernmoor one of the most important sites for cranes on the Northwest German Plain. Other rare birds such as the sea eagle and the osprey have been seen here. The following birds of prey have also been observed on the moor: hobby, peregrine, merlin, marsh harrier, hen harrier, Montagu's harrier, red kite, black kite, European honey buzzard and rough-legged buzzard.[2] In addition there is evidence that the following have bred here, or at least have been seen during the breeding season: Short-eared owl, great grey shrike, teal, garganey, shoveler, black stork, snipe, peewit, nightjar, grasshopper warbler, stonechat, whinchat and red-backed shrike. The list of residents runs to more than 40 species.
  • NR Weesener Bach

    InformationSatellite View
    The Weesener Bach, also called the Lutterbach, is a tributary of the Örtze in northern Germany. It rises in the Südheide Nature Park, south of the village of Lutterloh near Unterlüß, then flows through the Hermannsburg village of Weesen and enters the Örtze north of Hermannsburg after about 10.5 km (6.5 mi). Along the banks and water meadows there are 60 more endangered species, such as vascular plants, mosses, amphibians and reptiles. Even the kingfisher lives here.
Trip Reports
  • 2016 [11 November] - Wouter Teunissen & Menno van Duijn - Cranes in Diepholz

    It’s Sunday the 13th of November and we are heading for Landkreis Diepholz, in Germany to witness one of the most marvellous scenes of bird migration: the Crane (Grus grus) migration. In the area of Diepholz there are several locations where Cranes roost. The birds use this area as a stop over on their way from the breeding grounds in northern Europe to their wintering grounds in France and Spain. Up to 83,000 birds visit the area for fattening up on leftovers of corn agriculture, arable weeds, acorns and small rodents to get enough energy to fly to Lac du Der or the cork oak woodlands in Spain.

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