Okay, not truly near Bonn, but I made a feeble yet desperate attempt to have the title be an alliteration. Only after I came up with this, I realized that the title an earlier post of mine is also a b-based alliteration, which I guess I should accept is more an indication of my limited creativity than an inevitable result of me living in Bonn. Some time ago I visited the Wagbachniederung (see my last post) and as I would be traveling more or less along the Rhine to get back, I decided to throw in a visit to an area I recently found out has Rock Buntings and Cirl Buntings. I’ve seen the latter but not the former, and was eager to try for both of them. The area comprises the vineyards above the small town called – continuing with the alliteration theme – Rüdesheim am Rhein (you probably can’t get much more German than that in terms of place names).
I only found out when I got there that the place seems to be quite touristy and known for its wines. There’s even a cable car to take people to a large statue honouring the formation of the German Empire in 1871 on the top of the hill above the vineyards. More than that though, my visit coincided with a huge gathering of Harley-Davidson fans and riders (who unsurprisingly but fortunately did not explore the vineyards and frequented the grill stalls, bars, and parking lots in the village instead).
Ignoring a smattering of Barn Swallows and Western House Martins as I walked through the town towards the vineyards, literally the first bird I saw when I got to the vineyards was a Cirl Bunting. The bird was scared away by a group of partygoers (it was noon…), but I thought this bird had to be common here, given how quickly I saw it. It took quite a bit of walking until I heard the next one though, and then realized I got to a spot where around four birds could be heard singing at the same time.

Cirl Bunting

Rock Bunting, of course, eluded me once again as they always seem to do. I have looked for this bird a few times in the region and would like to see it here although I know that it is very widespread and far more common in southern Europe. Some nice sightings of Eurasian Linnet and Red-backed Shrike nearly made up for it though.

Eurasian Linnet
Red-backed Shrike

It was interesting to see that many birds were breeding in the low stone walls forming the terraces of the vineyards, including Blue Tits and Black Redstarts.

Black Redstart

The vineyards and stone walls on the steep hills, old castles, and the river made for a scenery along this stretch of the Rhine that I really enjoy. Perhaps it was also good to not have seen the Rock Bunting, giving me a good reason to come back here – preferably when the Harley-Davidsons congregation has dissipated.

Written by Luca
Family holidays to nature reserves and the abundance of nature books including bird guides at home paved the way for Luca Feuerriegel to be a committed birder by the time he was in his early teens. Growing up in Namibia, South Africa, and Sri Lanka provided the perfect setting for this interest. Luca recently completed his BSc in the Netherlands and currently spends his time working (and birding!) before starting his MSc.