Germany – Glinzig Lakes and Meadows in Brandenburg

We moved from Thuringia to Brandenburg a couple of months ago and since we got bikes it’s been very enjoyable to explore our new home not only on foot. And how exciting it’s been here already – from a daily dose of herons and jackdaws to fly-overs by white-tailed eagles. Today, the weather was excellent for cycling too, so we went to the lakes of Glinzig, which are part of the Landscape Protection Area Wiesen- und Teichlandschaft Kolkwitz/Hänchen. We weren’t disappointed!

The trip went along a small canal called Priorgraben from Cottbus to Kolkwitz and every 50m or so, a nightingale was making sure all the other nightingales knew that this was his patch! It was glorious, like cycling through a tunnel of nightingale song.

In Kolkwitz we had our next magnificent sight. Right next to the road up on a pole was a stork nest with, yes, white storks.

Upon arrival at the lakes, we met some people walking their dogs. I was very happy when I noticed they kept them on a leash! The place itself was really tranquil, with the occasional noises by greylag geese. Some of those already had goslings.

We walked along the lake to take it all in, including the small birds like chiffchaff and treecreeper. And another highlight – we heard two cuckoos calling. So the great reed warblers, which we heard too, need to watch out for any new eggs.

Germany – On the Trumpet Tree

Right. It’s a Trompetenbaum in German. In English it’s called Catalpa. Apparently poisonous. But never mind those trivialities. What’s important here is that said tree grows in the parental garden, I can see it clearly from the window, and it hosts the most marvellous visitors.

First of all, and always welcome, is the array of Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

Next, equally welcome by the photographers but not so much by the fish in the pond next to the tree, are the male and female kingfishers. This is the female – the lower part of the beak has an orange tinge.

Drumroll please.

Recently, said tree has been used as perch, much to the horror of all winged inhabitants of the garden, by a juvenile sparrowhawk and this one – an adult male.

Germany – Autumn Joys

I’ve always liked autumn. The changing colours, the passing flocks of geese on their migration, the smell of damp earth – it makes me feel alive. This autumn it’s a particularly strong feeling of joy because it’s my first proper one in three years and of course I’m trying to make the most out of it because nature certainly gives more joy than the news these days. So, enjoy with me 🙂 .

Germany – Autumn is coming

Well, actually it’s already here. But signs of summer still persist. I love the mixture of green and yellow and red on the trees.

In the gardens, lots of flowers are still offering a meal to the bees and other insects. Meanwhile, on the meadows, it looks a bit less so. Yet, not all is gone.

The shrubs are full of berries which will provide food for the winter.

And the birds, of course. The starlings are very audible and the occasional small or bigger flock can be seen changing trees. We usually don’t have big murmurations here. The black redstart was an unexpected sight, while the mallards have finished moulting and are back to glory. The neighbour’s garden is a paradise for green and great spotted woodpeckers.

Dinosaur of the week: Eurasian Kingfisher

common kingfisherI’ve seen Alcedo atthis in Austria, Slovakia and Germany. The species is widespread, and fortunately it is labelled as ‘Least concern’. However, if you look at the entry in the Red List, that is because a lot of data is unknown (http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22683027/0).

Dinosaur of the week: Common Chiffchaff

chiffchaffThe arrival of Phylloscopus collybita is always a sure sign that spring is in the air, even if the weather in Germany has been chilly for the last few days. I have to thank The Unknown Birder on the birdforum.net for helping me with the identification. Little brown birds are lovely, but not easy for a beginner-birder like me. On the bright side, I can ID this bird by its song.

Germany – Bus 666 to Colditz

Having left Slovakia, we spent a few days in Thuringia to visit family. Someone had the good idea of going on a day trip, and because neither of us had been to Colditz before, we decided to go there. They have a website (http://www.schloss-colditz.com/index.html), but no information how exactly to get there. So, while we were driving into what we thought as the right direction, a public bus headed towards us, labelled ‘666 Colditz’. Uh-oh.

Well, we eventually arrived. There was a diversion, and signposting towards Colditz town or Colditz castle was much sparser than I had anticipated, given how important the place is, especially for British tourists. For the uninitiated: Colditz was an Oflag during World War II, and most of the PoWs were British. Having said that, there were also substantial numbers of Polish, French and Belgian prisoners.

This is what the castle looks like these days:

One can go on guided tours, where there’s a lot to be discovered, but we only went to the permanent museum and the special exhibition. The latter was about the role of Poland during WWII, in particular Polish resistance and prisoners at Colditz.

Have a look at this poem:poem

‘Kriegsgefangenenpost’ means ‘post for prisoners of war’. We saw more of that in the permanent exhibition.post

The major part of this bit of the museum was about all the ways of escaping from Colditz. If you’ve ever watched a film called ‘The Great Escape’ – that did not happen at Colditz, but lots of similar stories did. I was amazed to learn that people escaped from this prison in the middle of Germany and made it through enemy country all the way to Britain or Allied territory! And Colditz today looks probably nicer than in the 1940s …colditz view

Of course, there was also some birding to be had, both inside and outside the castle.

All in all, if you’re in Saxony or Thuringia, and don’t know what to do, Colditz castle is certainly worth a couple of hours. There’s plenty of information available in English. And if you don’t have your own transport, you might actually get a chance to go by bus 666. Reward yourself afterwards with a home-brewed glass of beer in the pub Waldhof (on the western main road towards the town of Bad Lausick, closed Mondays and Tuesdays). Prost.beer