As I noted in my last post, I recently found out that a Wallcreeper had been discovered already in December just outside Bonn, conveniently a 10 minute bike ride from my home (plus a ferry crossing). Although the bird was found a while ago, it had still been seen the day before I went to check out the site with my mother (not a birder but interested in birds), who, in an unlikely coincidence, came across this species a few days earlier when looking through my bird guide and decided that she would really want to see this species. “Unlikely coincidence” might be redundant, but I use this word as it is not unlikely at all for birders to regularly express their desire to see a Wallcreeper.

Multiple aspects make this species very special, but I expect that it is mainly the the rugged and seemingly inhospitable nature of their normally frequented habitat, the difficulty of finding them, and their stunning appearance if seen well. While they are more or less restricted to mountains, they seem to appreciate the comforts of urban life in winter, when some individuals are found on walls of buildings in towns and cities, sometimes far away from the higher elevations. Only around 15 previous records come from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, some of which may have been the same individuals.

We arrived at the site, a small cliff face above some vineyards on the slope of the Drachenfels (a hill in Bonn), at noon, and easily found the place from which to look as several birders with scopes pointing up towards the slope were standing there. I expected the bird to be super hard to find but a group of Dutch birders (indeed quite an attraction, the Wallcreeper!) pointed to the general location where they had last seen it and within minutes I saw a tiny shape move along the cliff face. Through the scope, we got superb views of this bird as it foraged on the cliff with remarkable agility. Multiple times, it suddenly took flight and either disappeared into a small cave at great speed or flew short distances in its miraculous flappy flight that truly looks like the butterfly flight it is often likened to.

Wallcreeper camouflaged against the rock face

After we were satisfied with this grey cliff-loving hoopoe-like bird with its flashy red wings, we continued along the vineyard towards the village of Rhöndorf to get a snack and a coffee. On the way, we saw a Peregrine Falcon, Common Buzzard, Eurasian Nuthatch, and the other typical birds of the region. We kept an eye open for the Rock Buntings that are well-known at this site but which I have yet to see, but unfortunately they didn’t show themselves. On the reptile front however, we were rewarded with with a large number of common wall lizards that saw the warm sun as a rare opportunity to sunbathe on the stone walls along the paths through the vineyard.

Eurasian Nuthatch
Common Wall Lizard

After our coffee, we couldn’t resist the temptation to check out the Wallcreeper again, which was still there (unsurprisingly) and as beautiful as ever in the afternoon light. Just like the lizards, we also greatly enjoyed the sun from this vantage point. In general, this location is great with its view across the Rhine and along the slopes to both sides. I’m already thinking of returning next weekend to get more views and some better photos.

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.