Despite the fact that I have been in Berlin for two full days now I haven’t seen very many species of bird yet. This is mostly because I have been spending my time getting to know the various species of beer and going to a wedding, which, by the way, was wonderful! Congratulations Mike and Annalena!
(An aside…I am actually now way up north in Griefswald but I had already half-written this post and don’t have enough energy in me or my computer battery to rewrite and change tenses etc. Enjoy it anyway!)
The first species of bird I saw in Germany I failed to identify. I was in the waiting area at the Munich airport, where I was left for an hour while I waited for a new connecting flight to Berlin. A bird flew from the ground to the top of a building, wagged its long tail a couple of times, and was gone in a flash of yellow. I think it was a wagtail of some type but I’m not at all sure if it was, so my first bird of Europe was one that got away from me.
But when I landed at Berlin’s Tegel Airport I spotted Hooded Crows from the plane. These gray and black corvids are called NebelkrÃ¤he in German, which translates to “fog crow,” a name I understood much more when I saw a whole flock silently fly in to roost today at dusk at the Tempelhof Airport, the largest fascist-built structure in all of Europe, where I got my rental car for my planned trip up to the Baltic Sea tomorrow.
Other than the Hooded Crows I have spotted two other corvids, the gorgeous Common Magpie and the less gorgeous Jackdaw. I’ve seen a few smaller birds, notably both Great Tits and Blue Tits. The former is a essentially a large chickadee with yellow underparts and a large black line down its chest to its belly and the latter is a charming blue and yellow chickadee. All three times I’ve spotted one I’ve spotted the other in its company.
Also, when I was waiting for a bus an accipitor flashed past, being harassed by three small birds that, unlike the Eurasian Sparrowhawk they were harassing, I was unable to identify. The other raptor I have picked up was soaring high over the city and was only identified as a Common Buzzard because I got pictures and later used the field guide to identify the buteo of buteos, otherwise known as Buteo buteo.
Common Buzzard over Berlin
And, of course, I have seen House Sparrows and Rock Pigeons. Surprise! But I also managed to find a couple of the bird that is difficult-to-differentiate from the ubiquitous Rock Pigeons, the Stock Dove, with its gray back that matches its head, and a flat-tipped tail instead of the rounded tail of the Rock Pigeon.
The final bird that I have to report from my half-hearted Berlin birding is the most basic of blackbirds, yes, the aptly named Blackbird.
There will be much more to come and hopefully better pictures too, but at the moment I am exhausted and my battery is dying and I just wanted to get a post up so Mike and Charlie don’t try to replace me with a couple of monkeys and a keyboard…guys, hey guys, hello?
Sounds like a wagtail, but I wouldn’t know really. I hated beer until I went to Munich about 4 years ago. I discovered good beer there. I will stay away from any obvious chickadee-like European bird jokes here. Have fun!
Likely a Yellow Wagtail (I think thats what they are called), they are pretty common there.
Listen… I want all the details this weekend, while searching for Scoters, Ross’s Geese and Cacklers.
Hi Corey – It’ll be a Grey Wagtail, Yellows are summer visitors that never turn up in urban/semi-urban areas, whereas Greys are resident and often do. Now put those beers down and get birding!!!
@Patrick: Beer here is a bit too good…
@Will: I think I’ll listen to Charlie…and I won’t be back up in Albany until the 23rd.
@ Charlie: I still don’t think I’ll count it until I ID one for sure.
Oh sure trust the Brit…
Also, I looked at the wrong week in my calendar at work… So I’m just thinkg ahead. Still, Northern Shrike has been reported as has Ross’s Goose, Cackling Goose and all the good stuff. Lots of Siskins around as well. Evening Grosbeaks have spiked, time to start doing some ‘real’ birding, now that all those annoying neo-tropical migrants are gone.
By the way, Corey, chickadees are essentially small and boringly-coloured Great Tits 🙂
It’s been a great day birding with you and I can’t wait for your fabulous blog post, which I expect will be the best you’ve ever written. Unless of course you don’t consider the day worth blogging about in the most amazing way?
No pressure, buddy, just a thought …
And I agree with Charlie (I do most times): a wagtail that lands on a building and shows some yellow is … well … very, very close to 100% Grey Wagtail. I don’t think I have ever seen a Yellow land on a building and they’re long gone south now anyway. A young White Wagtail can also show some yellow around the head but you’ve got to see it quite closely to notice. So if your bird was far away, landed on a building and you saw some yellow, I probably wouldn’t have bad feelings about calling it a Grey Wagtail.
Cheers and see you again soon! Send Mike over.