I was very glad to be able to spend the week of Christmas and the new year at the Tegernsee, a small lake in southern Bavaria, together with my family and my girlfriend. Although a few unexpected hick-ups occurred, such as significant travel delays (which have become the norm when using Germany’s trains) and positive Covid tests that prevented some family members from joining, it was refreshing to spend some time somewhere else, particularly in a scenic and relaxing environment like the Tegernsee.

While I did take advantage of the comfort inside, we did regularly venture outside and I was glad to have a few good birding moments. The lake itself did not produce anything out of the ordinary however, with Eurasian Coot, Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Common Pochard, Mute Swan, and Grey Heron. I was hoping for Black-throated Diver, which sometimes winters in lakes in southern Germany, but was not lucky (you might have noticed a certain pattern emerging in my previous posts, regarding this species…).

Mute Swan

The town of Rottach-Egern, where we stayed, was similarly unremarkable in terms of birds. The standard garden birds were around, although Eurasian Bullfinch and Hawfinch were nice additions to the trip list.

Eurasian Nuthatch

A beautiful area for a short hike is from the parking lot “Klamm” to the “Königsalm”, south of the Tegernsee. This path first passes through forest before reaching a larger pasture area higher up, providing a good mix of habitat. Coal Tit, Crested Tit, and Goldcrest were among the delightful birds around, and they were particularly cute having fluffed up their feathers in the cold, turning into tiny balls hopping around the foliage. However, the main surprise was in the form of a Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker, which I saw in bad light but relatively well as it clambered up a tree before flying off. I did not expect to see this lifer, one of the most popular species in the Alps.

Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker

While there are several species I am still very eager to add to my list in the Alps, such as the various game birds, Alpine Accentor, White-winged Snowfinch, etc., I was very content with just doing some moderate birding on this family holiday, particularly as I didn’t have any expectations and was still treated with the woodpecker.

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.