Expedition in the Arctic

Autor: Charel Klein

Visiting the arctic was always one of my childhood dreams.

This summer, I had the great opportunity to join scientists who visit Greenland every year as part of a long term project. We worked on a long term study on lemming cycles in North-East Greenland. With three other people, from France, Germany and Switzerland, we spent 2 weeks in the biggest national park of the world. The project is carried out in the Karupelv Valley (72.30 N; 24 W). With 3542 km2 the island of Traill is bigger than the surface area of Luxembourg (2586 km2).


The main work to carry out was to observe Sanderlings nests (Calidris alba) of which we find the first pairs in the area. We had to visit the nests every second day, mark the colour code of the adults, check if they got predated or not, ring the chicks when they start to run around in the tundra and to collect the tiny tags from under the sanderlings' nests after they finished breeding.


We had to also check the population of predators in the research area. Therefore we visited the old burrows of Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) and counted the number of Long-tailed Skuas (Stercorarius longicaudus), Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus), Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) and Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus). Futhermore we searched chicks of Long-tailed Skuas to get some feather samples for an isotope research.

In two weeks we hiked about 200 km and checked all the important points in the research area. We slept in tents and spend our time eating and chatting in an old trapper hut from the thirties. Our shower was the whole Kong Oscar Fjord with Icebergs and as toilet we had to ditch a hole near a streamlet. We used flowing water from glacier and snow water to drink or cook and eat trekking food from cans (some from 2005 !!!). During the time in Greenland we had 24h light and between 0-15°C. The number of midgets was incredible and torturing! not even comparable with the deep jungles.


I was very happy of the different bird species that I have seen up here, the beautiful flora and all the big mammals like Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus), Musk ox (Ovibos moschatus), Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus) and seals.

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Birdringing at Kaiserstuhl

Christian Stange is ringing a little owl (Athene noctua)
Christian Stange is ringing a little owl (Athene noctua)

Already since two years one of our members of the Birdringingstation 'Schlammwiss' is working together with Christian Stange at Kaiserstuhl / Freiburg. During the autumn and winter the main work is the maintenance of the biotopes. For spring they start to control the nest boxes of little owls (Athene noctua) and hoopoes (Upua epopos) and to ring the juveniles. 


This year they checked the area around Ihringen and controlled about 12 nest boxes of hoopoes and 1 box of the little owl. 


Most of the hoopoes started already with the second brood. So most of the nest boxes which are inside of a vineyard cabin were empty or with eggs. We checked the empty boxes if any birds breed inside and checked what happen with the juveniles (Are we too late and they flew out? Did something happen? Did they breed?). We also checked the nest boxes around the vineyard cabin which are against the breeding pressure to see which birds used it. 


To check if something is inside of the box we checked the ground in front of the hole for faeces and smell on the hole to determine the present of juveniles (>> penetrate smell for the defence of the juveniles against predators like the beech marten (Martes foina)). We also check for marks on the hole to see if a beech marten already tried to get in. Than we close the hole and go inside of the cabin to get the juveniles. Before we open the box we shine with a light inside of the box to see if there are juveniles or the female with eggs. Inside of the box we check the condition of the nest box and have a look if we can find some remains of their food. 


We had only two nest boxes with juveniles which had the right size to ring. More than the half of the boxes had only eggs which mean that the hoopoe started with the second brood. 

We also we checked a nets box of the little owl which was impossible for Christian to check earlier. We found one juvenile inside of the box and another one outside in a natural hole.


Same as the population of hoopoe Christian Stange is also responsible for the little owl population at Kaiserstuhl. Both species need the same area and conditions to live. For the moment there are about 56 pairs with 160 juveniles at Kaiserstuhl. 


To the end we installed a new nest box for the scops owl (Otus scops) which has been seen and hearing a bunch of times at this area. 


Autor: Charel Klein


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Trip to 'Federsee'


Three members of our Schlammwiss Team (Dave, Charel and Max) visited the Federsee lake in southwestern Germany the 26th and 27th of May. The lake itself is surrounded by a spectacular reed belt and vast moorland, the water surface itself, which is only about 2 meters deep, is only accessible by a 1,5 km long wooden boardwalk. Since the area is an important hibernating, resting and breeding site for many bird species among others 200 breeding pairs of Whinchats and 18 breeding pairs of Marsh harriers (according Nabu 2014), it has been declared a Special Protection Area.


We’ve seen lots of interesting species, some well known as Reed Warblers, Savi’s Warblers, Great Reed Warblers and Reed Buntings, rather uncommon species such as Whinchats, Common Terns, Ruffs and marsh harriers. Furthermore we were quite lucky to observe rare migrants such as six female red-footed falcons and one Arctic Tern!


All in all it was a perfect Weekend despite of rain and I strongly recommend visiting the spot!



Autor: Max Steimetz

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Turkeytrip part 1

In May 3 members of the schlammwiss team (Joseph D, Raoul M and Charel K.) went to Turkey for 11 days. Turkey was our choice because (like the most ornithologists) some of the team have a list of birds they've in the Western Palartic and they had some missing in the eastern part.


We started our trip in Antalya and drove until the Lake Van. For the new and dangerous parts (Göksu Delta, Camardi, Osmanyie, Birecik, Syrian border + desert, Nemrut Dagi) we had the Faroese man Silas O. as guide with us. He knew a lot about the areas, birds and culture. We enjoyed the time with him and learned a lot about the culture and country!


Most of the time we drove the car to find new birds and to get new photos. We started at sunrise and went back to the hotel as sun set (everyday a different hotel in another city).


In summary it was a great birding trip with 237 birds (see list below) and beautiful landscapes! (click to see all the photos)

Autor: Charel Klein

Some photos



Tadorna ferruginea

Ruddy Shelduck

Anas platyrhynchos


Anas querquedula


Aythya ferina

Common Pochard

Netta rufina

Red-crested Pochard

Aythya nyroca

Ferruginous Duck

Aythya fuligula

Tufted Duck

Oxyura leucocephala

White-headed Duck

Tetraogallus caspius

Caspian Snowcock

Francolinus francolinus

Black Francolin

Alectoris chuckar

Chukar Partridge

Ammoperdix griseogularis

See-see Partridge

Coturnix coturnix

Common Quail

Crex crex

Corn Crake

Tachybaptus ruficollis

Little Grebe

Podiceps cristatus

Great Crested Grebe 

Pelecanus onocrotalus

Great White Pelican

Phalacrocorax carbo

Great Cormorant

Phalacrocorax pygmeus

Pygmy Cormorant

Botaurus stellaris

Eurasian Bittern

Ixobrychus minutus

Little Bittern

Nycticorax nycticorax

Black-crowned Night Heron

Bubulucus ibis

Cattle Egret

Ardeola ralloides

Squacco Heron

Egretta garzetta

Little Egret

Casmerodius albus

Great Egret

Ardea cinera

Grey Heron

Ardea purpurea

Purple Heron

Ciconia ciconia

White Stork

Plegadis falcinellus

Glossy Ibis

Geronticus eremita

Northern Bald Ibis

Gypaetus barbatus

Bearded Vulture

Gyps fulvus

Griffon Vulture

Aegypius monachus

Cinereous Vulture

Neophron percnopterus

Egyptian Vulture

Pandion haliaetus


Aquila chrysaetos

Golden Eagle

Aquila pomarina

Lesser Spotted Eagle

Aquila nipalensis

Steppe Eagle

Circaetus gallicus

Short-toed Eagle

Circus aeruginosus

Western Marsh Harrier

Circus pygargus

Montagu's Harrier

Circus macrourus

Pallid Harrier 

Buteo rufinus

Long-legged Buzzard

Buteo buteo 

Subspecies:        vulpinus

Steppe Buzzard

Pernis apivorus

European Honey Buzzard

Accipiter nisus

Eurasian Sparrowhawk

Accipiter gentilis

Northern Goshawk

Accipiter brevipes

Levant Sparrowhawk

Falco tinnunculus

Common Kestrel

Falco naunmanni

Lesser Kestrel

Falco subbuteo

Eurasian Hobby

Falco eleonorae

Eleonora's Falcon

Falco peregrinus

Peregrine Falcon

Falco cherrug

Saker Falcon

Falco columbarius


Rallus aquaticus

Water Rail

Gallinula chloropus 

Common Moorhen

Fulica atra

Eurasian Coot

Recurvirostra avosetta

Pied Avocet

Himantopus himantopus

Black-winged Stilt

Burhinus oedicnemus

Eurasian Stone-curlew

Glareola pratincola 

Collared Pratincole

Charadrius dubius

Little Ringed Plover

Charadrius hiaticula

Common Ringed Plover

Charadrius alexandrinus

Kentish Plover

Charadrius leschenaultii

Greater Sand Plover

Pluvialis squatarola

Grey Plover

Vanellus vanellus

Northern Lapwing

Vanellus spinosus

Spur-winged Lapwing

Calidris ferruginea

Curlew Sandpiper

Calidris temminckii

Temminck's Stint

Calidris minuta

Little Stint

Tringa glareola

Wood Sandpiper

Actitis hypoleucos

Common Sandpiper

Tringa totanus

Common Redshank

Tringa nebularia

Common Greenshank

Tringa stagnatilis

Marsh Sandpiper

Limosa lapponica

Bar-tailed Godwit

Numenius arquat

Eurasian Curlew

Numenius phaeopus


Gallinago gallinago

Common Snipe

Philomachus pugnax


Chroicocephalus ridibundus

Black-headed Gull

Chroicocephalus genei

Slender-billed Gull

Larus melanocephalus

Mediterranean Gull

Larus michahellis

Yellow-legged Gull

Larus armenicus

Armenian Gull

Larus fuscus

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Subspecies:        fuscus

Blatic Gull

Subspecies:        heuglini 
Heuglin's Gull
90. Sternula albifrons
Little Tern
91. Thalasseus sandvicensis
Sandwich Tern
92. Sterna hirundo
Common Tern
93. Chlidonias niger
Black Tern
94. Chlidonias leucopterus
White-winged Tern
95. Chlidonias hybrida
Whiskered Tern
96. Columba livia
Common Pigeon
97. Columba livia f. domestica
Feral Pigeon
98. Columba oenas
Stock Dove
99. Columba palumbus
Common Wood Pigeon
100. Streptopelia decaocto
Eurasian Collared Dove
101. Streptopelia turtur
European Turtle Dove
102. Stretopelia senegalensis
Laughing Dove
103. Cuculus canorus
Common Cuckoo
104. Bubo zeylonensis 
Brown Fish Owl
105. Strix aluco
Tawny Owl
106. Athene noctua
Little Owl

Subspecies: indigena

Subspecies: lillith
107. Otus scops
Eurasian Scops Owl
108. Otus brucei
Pallid Scops Owl
109. Apus apus
Common Swift
110. Apus pallidus
Pallid Swift
111. Tachymarptis melba
Alpine Swift
112. Apus affinis
Little Swift
113. Upupa epops
Eurasian Hoopoe
114. Halcyon smyrensis
White-throate Kingfisher
115. Ceryle rudis
Pied Kingfisher
116. Merops apiaster
European Bee-eater
117. Merops persicus
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
118. Coracias garrulus
European Roller
119. Dendrocopus syriacus
Syrian Woodpecker
120. Dendrocopos medius
Middle Spotted Woodpecker
121. Alauda arvensis
Eurasian Skylark
122. Galerida cristata
Crested Lark
123. Lullula arborea
124. Calandrella brachydactyla
Greater Short-toed Lark
125. Calandrella rufescens
Lesser Short-toed Lark
126. Melanocorypha calandra
Calandra Lark
127. Melanocorypha bimaculata
Bimaculated Lark
128. Eremophila alpestris  Horned Lark

Subspecies:   penicillata

Subspecies:   flava

129. Riparia riparia
Sand Martin
130. Ptyonoprogne rupestris
Eurasian Crag Martin
131. Hirundo rustica
Barn Swallow
132. Ceropis daurica
Red-rumped Swallow
133. Delichon urbicum
Common House Martin
134. Anthus spinoletta
Water Pipit

Subspecies:    coutellii

135. Anthus campestris
Tawny Pipit
136. Anthus pratensis
Meadow Pipit
137. Anthus cervinus
Red-throated Pipit
138. Motacilla alba
White Wagtail
139. Motacilla flava 

Subspecies:        feldegg
Black-headed Wagtail
140. Cinclus cinclus
White-throated Dipper
141. Prunella collaris
Alpine Accentor
142. Prunella ocularis
Radde's Accentor
143. Luscinia megahynchos
Common Nightingale
144. Cercotrichas galactotes
Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin
145. Irania gutturalis
White-throated Robin
146. Phoenicurus phoenicurus
Common Redstart

Subspecies: samamisicus

147. Phoenicurus ochruros 
Black Redstart

Subspecies:    semirufus

148. Oenanthe oenanthe
Northern Wheatear
149. Oenanthe isabellina
Isabelline Wheatear
150. Oenanthe hispanica 

Subspecies: melanoleuca
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear
151. Oenanthe pleschanka
Pied Wheatear
152. Oenanthe finschii
Finsch's Wheatear
153. Oenanthe xanthoprymna
Kurdistan Wheatear
154. Saxicola rubetra
155. Saxicola torquatus
European Stonechat

Subspecies: maurus ...?

156. Turdus viscivorus
Mistle Thrush
157. Turdus merula
Common Blackbird
158. Monticola solitarius
Blue Rock Thrush
159. Monticola saxatilis
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush
160. Prinia gracilis
Graceful Prinia
161. Sylvia nisoria
Barred Warbler
162. Sylvia borin
Garden Warbler
163. Sylvia atricapilla
Eurasian Blackcap
164. Sylvia communis
Common Whitethroat
165. Sylvia curruca
Lesser Whitethroat
166. Sylvia crassirostris
Eastern Orphean Warbler
167. Sylvia melanocephala 
Sardinian Warbler

Subspecies:    melanocephala

168. Sylvia mystacea
Ménétries's Warbler
169. Sylvia rueppelli
Rüppell's Warbler
170. Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Sedge Warbler
171. Acrocephalus melanopogon
Moustached Warbler
172. Cettia cetti 
Cetti's Warbler 
173. Acrocephalus scirpaceus
European Reed Warbler
174. Acrocephalus palustris
Marsh Warbler
175. Acrocephalus agricola
Paddyfield Warbler
176. Acrocephalus arundinaceus
Great Reed Warbler
177. Hippolais icterina
Icterine Warbler
178. Hippolais olivetorum
Olive-tree Warbler
179. Hippolais languida
Upcher's Warbler
180. Iduna pallida
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler
181. Phylloscopus trochilus
Willow Warbler
182. Phylloscopus orientalis
Eastern Bonelli's Warbler
183. Regulus regulus
184. Troglodytes troglodytes
Eurasian Wren
185. Muscicapa striata
Spotted Flycatcher
186. Parus major
Great Tit
187. Periparus ater
Coal Tit
188. Cyanistes caeruleus
Eurasian Blue Tit
189. Poecile lugubris
Sombre Tit
190. Aegithalos caudatus 
Long-tailed Tit

Subspecies:        alpinus

191. Panurus biarmicus
Bearded Reedling
192. Sitta krueperi
Krüper's Nuthatch
193. Sitta neumayer
Western Rock Nuthatch
194. Sitta tephronota
Eastern Rock Nuthatch
195. Tichodroma muraria
196. Lanius minor
Lesser Grey Shrike
197. Lanius collurio
Red-backed Shirke
198. Lanius senator
Woodchat Shrike
199. Lanius nubicus
Masked Shrike
200. Pyconotus xanthopygos
White-spectacled Bulbul
201. Turdoides altirostris
Iraq Babbler
202. Pica pica
Eurasian Magpie
203. Garrulus glandarius 
Eurasian Jay

Subspecies:    atricapillus

204. Corvus monedula
Western Jackdaw

Subspecies:  soemmerringii

205. Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Red-billed Cough
206. Pyrrhocorax garulus
Alpine Chough
207. Corvus frugilegus
208. Corvus cornix
Hooded Crow
209. Corvus corax
Northern Raven
210. Sturnus vulgaris
Common Starling
211. Oriolus oriolus
Eurasian Golden Oriole
212. Passer domesticus
House Sparrow
213. Passer hispaniolensis
Spanish Sparrow
214. Passer montanus
Tree Sparrow
215. Passer moabiticus
Dead Sea Sparrow
216. Petronia petronia
Common Rock Sparrow
217. Carpospiza brachydactyla
Pale Rock Sparrow
218. Gymnoris xanthocollis
Yellow-throated Sparrow
219. Montifringilla nivalis
White-winged Snowfinch
220. Fringilla coelebs
Common Chaffinch
221. Carduelis cannabina
Common Linnet

Subspecies:  bella

222. Carduelis carduelis
European Goldfinch
223. Carduleis chloris
European Greenfinch
224. Carduelis spinus
Eurasian Siskin
225. Serinus serinus
European Serin
226. Serinus pusillus
Red-fronted Serin
227. Bucanetes mongolicus
Mongolian Finch
228. Rhodopechys sanguineus
Crimson-winged Finch
229. Rhodospiza obsoleta
Desert Finch
230. Emberiza schoeniclus
Common Reed Bunting

Subspecies: reiseri, caspia

231. Emberiza hortulana
Ortolan Bunting
232. Emberiza caesia
Cretzschmar's Bunting
233. Emberiza buchanani
Grey-necked Bunting
234. Emberiza cineracea
Cinereous Bunting

Subspecies: cineracea

Subspecies: semenowi

235. Emberiza melanocphala
Black-headed Bunting
236. Emberiza calandra
Corn Bunting
237. Emberiza cia
Rock Bunting
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Tengmalm's Owl


After two bad seasons in 2013 and 2014, we accompanied this year two experienced ornithologists who controlled nestboxes of Tengmalm’s Owl (Aegolius funereus) in a forest of the Hunsrück in Rhineland-Palatinate. Because of the good food supply this year, the Tengmalm’s owl is likely to experience a better breeding season. This nocturne species has a body height of only 24-26 cm and it primarily subsists on small rodents such as mice. Its habitat consists of low mountain ranges between 450 m and 800 m above sea-level. The Tengmalm’s owl mainly prefers coniferous forests mixed with leaf trees including old nesting holes of the Black Woodpecker. Unfortunately, the brood of the Tengmalm’s owl is threatened by martens which climb up trees and eat their clutches.

Depending on the weather conditions, the females generally start breeding in April. A few chicks had hatched already when the ringer checked the nestboxes.  In this ringing session only the females were ringed. A recapture of a female or a nest-ringed young owl is rare but there are already a few recaptures of Tengmalm’s owl in Belgium. They hatched and were ringed in the region Eifel, which shows that this owl species migrates between different low mountain ranges.


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Ringday 2015

Participation in the Ringday 2015 organised by Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique at Genk Belgium

Members of Schlammwiss Ringing Team met early on Sunday 22 March to hit the road to Genk in Belgium for the annual Ringday organised by the Belgian Royal Institute of natural sciences.Apart from the regular bird ringing and other scientific projects, the Ringing team makes sure to attend these sort of conferences to keep in contact with other ornithologists and update itself on recent studies and research on birds and bird ringing.

We arrived around 11 am where we attended a guided tour of the Het Wik nature reserve. An interesting biotope with marshes and reed beds surrounded by mixed forests which provide excellent habitat for birds. We were given information about ringing and management on the site.

At 2pm we started with the first talk which was about the ringing results of the reserve Het Wik, it followed by a very interesting talk about why bird ringers should take measurements on birds , what the measurements means, when and how. This talk solidified our beleifs and our insistance to take regular and accurate measurements. We were given several examples of cases where the measurements makes difference in species , populations and races of particular bird taxa. Measurements also help to determine sex and age in some species. A fine example is weight of a bird in comparison to fat levels, this can show whether the bird is migrating or not.

The third talk was also of high importance for all bird ringers it concerned the moult of birds, a must know to all bird ringers and trainees that ring birds regularly. Bird moult can tell a lot, it shows different stages in a birds life so knowing how birds moult is one of the biggest tool for ringers, ornithologists and scientists. We are used to ringing passerines so hearing a talk about catching and ringing waterbirds for 10 years was interesting for us.

It concerns the reserve of Sint Agatha Rode where they use a water cage trap with food to attarct ducks , of special interests was the information about the recaptures and the data provided from this activity as there are not a lot of ringing stations that focus on ringing water birds.

The last talk was about building a bal chatri trap for birds of prey. This is a special trap that needs a special permission to operate.

Overall, this ringday was a huge success from the social aspect for our team and most importantly for the opportunity to learn and share knowledge on birds and bird ringing. Member's of Schlammwiss team have also attend last year's Ringday and a symposium for birdmonitoring at Mainz University in November 2014.

Autor: Joseph Dunlop

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Pallas's leaf warbler

On thuesday the 19. march we (Jim, Raoul, Charel and Guy(Birdringingstation 'Schifflange')) went to Belgium to see the Palla's leaf warbler (Phylloscopus proregulus). We found the bird together with Goldcrests (Regulus regulus), Firecrests (Regulus ignicapillus) and Chiffchaffs (Phylloscopus collybita) in a big wetland area.


Autor: Charel Klein

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Spotted Nutcracker

As one of the most mystical birds, the spotted nutcracker spends all of his time in coniferous forests. The main nutrition source are cones. It's fascinating to which degree, evolution enabled this species to occupy an ecological niche that has hardly any biodiversity.


Apart from the spotted nutcracker, we were able to observe some red crossbills (Loxia curvirostra).


Autor: Dave Lutgen

lat.: Nucifraga caryocatactes

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3 000 000 Bramblings!

Around 3 million Bramblings (Fringilla montifringilla) found a roosting place in Hasel/Schopfheim in Germany near Switzerland. These birds come from the north and take the opportunity to feed on beechnuts. Because of the hard winter in the high mountains of Switzerland it's impossible to pass this way. This is why so many birds are roosting at one place.
To find some food, the birds are going in the forest around and eat around 80t of beechnuts each day..

It's a big show when thousands of birds are coming from every side to a few hectare large forest. Common buzzard (Buteo buteo), Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis),  Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) and Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) are common guests every evening and try to feed on some of the Bramblings.

3 Members of the schlammwissteam (Dave, Max and Charel) and  Christian Stange (german ornithologist) went twice to have a look at this very special show 


Autor: Charel Klein

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On Saturday and Sunday 17th and 18th of January,

Two membes of the Ringingstation 'Schlammwiss' (Dave and Charel) went to Radolfzell (Germany), in order to participate at the Bird ringing license course of the ‘Vogelwarte Radorfzell’. The course explains the judicial situation, the banding material and the handling of birds. Furthermore, they tested our knowledge on padded birds and we made a visit of the attached Max-Planck Institute.


They did this course in order to support Bird ringing projects in Germany and maybe to get started with their own projects. 

Autor: Dave Lutgen

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Ringing of rose-ringed parakeets in Bonn

On January the 10th, the Schlammwiss-Team comprising Jim, Dave, Cédric, Nicole and Niklas visited another bird-ringing team in Bonn, Germany.


The local team around the ornithologists Esther Koch, Victor Corman and Sönke Twietmeyer as well as many other helping hands met at a roosting place near the river Rhine to ring rose-ringed parakeets (Psittacula krameri). Esther Koch has already examined the influence of the rose-ringed parakeets on cave breeders in Bonn in her diploma thesis.


With a current population size of approximately 1.300 individuals in Bonn, she found that the parakeets do not pose a significant threat to native cave breeders.


The parakeet’s native range is India and Africa but the wild populations in Bonn, and also those in Cologne and Brussels, are descendants from individuals which succeeded in escaping from private keepers and zoos.


In order to learn more about this bright green colored bird concerning age, sex and their life history in cities of temperate zones, the team of experts decided to continue the study on the rose-ringed parakeet. They are usually being captured with standard mist-nets for song birds. For parakeets, these nets are more effective than nets with wider meshes because this way the parakeets lie loosely in the pockets and can be removed easily by experienced bird-ringers. The disadvantage is, that many of those caught turn around in the net pocket and escape.


The whole team which included more than 20 bird ringers, scientists and helpers placed two nets near a group of plane trees not far away from the river Rhine. Plane trees are the favourite roosting trees of that species. As soon as the night fell, swarms of starlings, carrion crows and jackdaws settled down on the branches of the surrounding trees. Shortly afterwards, small groups of parakeets gathered on trees along the banks of the Rhine and places nearby. As it got darker, more parakeets flew in. Typical for their behavior before roosting time, groups of parakeets rush almost on ground level at high speed towards the trees and then rising again onto the branches where they loudly inform their conspecifics of their presence.


That is the moment in which the parakeets were caught. The team split up into small groups to remove the birds from the nets to ring and examine them. Others stayed hidden but close enough to the nets to observe further fly-ins. Regarding the strong force of their beak that even allows them to crack nuts, we took care of ringing them with rings made out of steel. Simple aluminium would rapidly fall victim to the beak’s destructive force. It became clear very soon that is impossible to ring parakeets without using protective handgloves. Indeed, their strong beak can cause painfull injuries. Additionally, it is hard to put the ring on the bird’s leg because it is just a tiny bit longer than the ring itself. After the ringing, the wing length and the length of the middle pair of tail feathers were measured. That method showed that males have longer tail feathers than females. Then the weight of the birds was taken and their wing was spread on a black background to take a photo. Lots of wing photos will allow to see differences in feather characteristics for age determination.


To really find out whether a non-male couloured bird is a female or a juvenile, the scientists took a cloacal swab of each bird for a molecular examination in a laboratory. Moreover, that same sample gives information about the bird’s health. The exact age of a rose-ringed parakeet cannot be determined by pure vision. We know however that adult males only get a rose coloured ring around their neck during their third calendar year.


Concerning age determination, there is another unusual characteristic whose occurrence depends on the season of catching and the past weather conditions. Partially, the rose-ringed parakeets showed signs of frost bite on the underside of their feet. Claws and toes can fall of in case of long term frost periods. Knowing that, a young parakeet hatched the year before, it can be distinguished from adults by the good condition of its feet on. If the toes are still on in January, the winter weather has been rather soft in that year.


Although the weather was windy and dark clouds and short rain showers accompanied the ringing action in the late afternoon, the team had great luck with at least six rose-ringed parakeets that made a little stop-over before they went into their roosting trees.


For the Schlammwiss team this was the first contact with this species. An exceptional experience for all of us – and probably not the last.


THANKS for the impressing insights into the handling and ringing of rose-ringed parakeets to Sönke Twietmeyer and the whole team in Bonn.

Autor: Nicole Thien

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Wallcreeper in Dinant

On the 30th of December a student of Biology, who started to screen systematically the rocks along the Meuse River, spotted a Wallcreeper in Dinant. This bird of the high mountains is largely resident and its closest breeding area is in the Alps. There are some rare reports about wintering birds in the Netherlands or England but it’s very exceptional to see it so far afield. The last record in Belgium was in 1988. Ornithologists from Belgium and the neighbor countries travelled to this small Belgian city to have a look at this special guest.

Among them two Luxemburgish guys, who couldn’t resist to add this bird on their lifelist. The weather conditions were good and we have found it quite easily on the rocks near the citadel of the city center. Nevertheless, Dave and me, we were impressed by the difficulty to spot it, despite the striking flight feathers.  For about half an hour we observed the bird climbing around the mountains and flying in its butterfly style.

Jim Schmitz visited this bird on the second january with Guy Mirgain and Isabelle Zwick (from the Bridringingstation Brill).


Autor: Mettenhoven Raoul

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Zeeland: Birding Trip 

From the 26th of December to the 30th of December, 8 members of the Birdringingstation went to the Netherlands, in order to do sea watching and having a look at thousands of ducks and geese. We went to Zeeland, a province located in the South-West of the Netherlands. Most of the province is composed of islands, which are located for the most part below sea level. 



On the first day we started at 7 a.m. in Luxembourg and reached the first spot at 12 o’clock. The first spot were wetlands around the Veerse Meer; this spot gave us the opportunity to see different kinds of plovers (Grey plover (Pluvialis squatarola), European golden plover (Pluvialis apricaria), Common ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula)), the usual oystercatchers, some Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) and some Knots (Calidris canutus).

Highlight at this spot were two Red-breasted geese (Branta ruficollis), which was travelling around with a group of Brent geese (Branta bernicla). The stop of the day was the Brouwersdam, which is one of seven constructions, whose goal is to protect the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta from floods and storms.

At the Brouwersdam we managed to see different kinds of divers (Red-throated diver (Gavia stellata), Black-throated loon (Gavia arctica), Horned grebe (Podiceps auritus), and Black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)), some Gulls and some Shorebirds (Purple sandpiper (Calidris maritima), Ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres) and Bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica)).



During the night there was a snow storm, which meant that at 7.30 a.m., when we left the houses we had very bad weather conditions. On the second day, the first spot was the Brouwersdam, where we managed to see some sea ducks (Common scoter (Melanitta nigra), Common eider (Somateria mollissima), and Common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)).

As the weather conditions were very bad at sea, we drove inland with the intention of seeing more birds in flooded marsh areas. The area which we chose is called Zierickzee; it’s a mixture of fields and flooded marsh areas. At this spot, we managed to see different duck species (Northern pintail (Anas acuta), Northern shoveller (Anas clypeata), Common teal (Anas crecca) and Eurasian widgeon (Anas penelope)), furthermore we were able to see different shorebird species (Pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) and Northern lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)).

At the end of the day a highlight was a Northern harrier (Circus cyaneus) crossing our way.



The third day started with a great sunrise at temperatures of -1.5°C. As light conditions were very good, we took the opportunity to do sea watching: beneath thousands of sea ducks, we were able to observe a group of playing harbour seals (Phoca vitulina). Around 11 o’clock we headed towards the Deltapark Neeltje Jans; at this spot we tried to see the common shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) and a Red phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius) but unfortunately we were unable to find these birds. Not very happy, we still continued and managed to see Redwings (Turdus iliacus) and some Eurasian rock pipits (Anthus petrosus).

With the day coming to an end we spent the last hours on the Brouwersdam, benefitting from the low tide and a very calm sea to observe roosting birds.



On the fourth day the sky was cloudy and temperatures quite low; this made us head towards field observations. This means, that we spent the day scanning different fields in order to see different goose and swan species. At the end of the day, we managed to see a Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons), a Bean Goose (Anser fabalis), a Greylag Goose (Anser anser) and a big group of Barnacle Geese (Branta leucopsis). In addition to this we saw some Water pipits (Anthus spinoletta), some Meadow pipits (Anthus pratensis) and a Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis).



The fifth day was the last day of our trip, but as the weather was quite good we spent some more hours on the Brouwersdam. At 11 o’clock, we met a group of Dutch birdwatchers staring at the harbour. As exchanges of information are usual in ornithology one of them came to us and told us that they were observing a Black guillemot (Cepphus grylle). This bird was very special for most of us; it’s a species which usually breeds in the north (Ireland, England and Scotland) and is hardly ever seen in the Netherlands. Furthermore, as we were able to observe the bird at a distance of 15 meters a lot of people took the opportunity to take pictures.



Finally, I’m able to say that we had a great trip, the objective of which was to observe and identify the biodiversity of birds in the Netherlands. In addition to this, we were able to transmit our knowledge to some motivated guys in our team. All in all, we were able to see 102 different species.


Autor: Dave Lutgen

Birding Trip - bird species
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Birdringingactivity in Nieuwpoort / Belgium

On Tuesday 9 December 2014, me (Joseph Dunlop) and Charel Klein, left Luxembourg early in the morning to head to the Belgian coast city of Nieuwpoort to take part in a cannon netting activity aimed in catching and ringing coastal birds. The activity was organised by the Belgian Royal Institute of Natural sciences and was managed by ringer Norbert Roothaert. We arrived around midday and the team was already in place more than 20 ringers and volunteers were present. The nets were set on the beach and the circuit was in place while the wait started for the birds to come on the beach as the tide retreats. While we were waiting, we observed several hundreds of oystercatchers and Lapwings, good numbers of Dunlins, Cormorants, Turnstones and Gulls. The wait was long as we had to be sure that the tide was in the right place, firstly, so that we get the maximum birds possible and most important that it is safe for the birds.  When it was the right time , the switch was hit and the nets were shot.  73 oystercatchers were ringed, 16 recaptures. 2 more than 22 yrs old !! It was a great experience , the teamwork was excellent in making the process fast and efficient.  Routine measurements were taken on the birds and we learned a lot about ageing waders.  It was worth the long drive, it is always great to make an experience like this different from our routine of ringing passerines.

Autor: Joseph Dunlop

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CES birdmonitoring in Mainz

Hey everybody, today we skipped one ringing activity in order to visit a meeting of Constant Effort Sites (CES) in Mainz organised by Ismega, who celebrated their 10th anniversary. They got some very interesting results and a very special pleasure was the presentation about Birdmonitoring in the 21th century presented by Franz Barlein responsible of the 'Vogelwarte Helgoland'.

Another interesting presentation has been the CES in Trier by Dr Ortwin Elle, who visits our ringingstation regulary with the students of the University of Trier.

A big thanks to the Ismega who organised the meeting and to our team Jim Schmitz,Charel Klein, Nicole Thien, Cedric Brodin and Dave Lutgen

Autor: Dave Lutgen

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Trainee goes abroad

Col de Bretolet

At our station we have many people working and helping on the site and by all the activitys! Young and old, birdringers and trainees! Some of the trainees work already  several years at the birdringstation.. and start now to go abroad to see other/new places, see different birds, meet new people and learn other techniques!

The story of a trainee:

My name is Charel Klein. I am student for forestmanagement and environment (minor protection of nature) at the university Freiburg im Breisgau in Germany. I started 2011 with ornithology at the birdringingstation Schlammwiss.

I visited already some little birdringingstation in France and worked together with Christian Stange in Freiburg but I decided to visite my first 'big' birdringingstation this year. I found 'Col de Bretolet' in Switzerland and wrote a mail to join them! Unfortunaley I was a bit late so I haven't got a place... but in october I got a mail to join them!!  On friday 17th I drove to Freiburg and later on to Barme from where I walked 2 hours (didn't find the correct way..) up to 1923m . This year Sarah Althaus and Marco Thoma were working for the whole season at the Col the Bretolet and have been supported by helping volunteers.


Information about Col de Bretolet:

Since 1958 the ornithological station Sempach  makes studies about  bird migration in autumn. They ring every year about 10 000 - 20 000 birds with more than 100 different species. By every controll they take the date and time for exact studies about the migration. From other measurments , size, weight, fat and muscle they analyse the physical condition of the birds.
(information: http://www.vogelwarte.com)

The nets are open 24to 24 hours. The nets are on the back of a mountain in  a long line over a pass where all the birds  try to fly over. You can  hear and see many birds arriving in the valley and try to fly over the mountain. With usual mist nets and highnets (which can get change at night and dayposition) they catch  the  birds. A controle is made every hour. Everybody goes to the nets to take out  the birds . They mark the netnumber, netpocket and time (wintertime). Later on they bring the birds to the second cabin where  two motivated birdringers  wait to ring them and take  measurements.

Beside the data of birds they look also at the migration of moths and bats (which get caught in the net).



We had two cabins there. 3 bedrooms, a kitchen and a birdringingroom. The only heat place was the kitchen were we cooked all together. The shower was outside with cold water and the toilet too but you had an amazing view.... You don't need more!

When I arrived the weather was pretty good and hot! But it changed on wednesday.. It started with rain and fog and ended up with 40 cm snow... so i had everything :)



The first days we had many birds like: Erithacus rubecula, Fringilla coelebs, Fringilla montifringilla, Coccothraustes coccothraustes; later we had many tits, most of them were Cyanistes caeruleus, Periparus ater! We had a day with more than 1 000 birds and one with no birds

I took the chance to benefit from a lot of new species (for me)  and to make a photo-collection for identification.



All in all:

It was an amazing place! with very nice and interesting people! I was really happy to have  the chance to join them and a big THANKS  to Sarah and Marco!

Maybe i see them back.. next year ;)

Autor: Charel Klein

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