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A Report from

Berlin and Brandenburg, 14-24th June 2010,

Allan Finlayson

General information

With a daughter currently living in Berlin, it seemed a good destination for a holiday this year, and, although not specifically a wildlife watching trip, we did manage to do quite a lot of that too.

Thanks to a decent accumulation of Tesco inspired Air Miles, we were able to fly from Edinburgh to Berlin via Heathrow for free! Our hotel was booked online through and the one we chose was the Hotel Maison Alte Galerie am Kudamm (e mail They also have their own website where you can read reviews etc.

As everyone knows, Berlin was very badly destroyed during the second world war, but this hotel, in Leibnitzstrasse, survived. Built in 1896, it is a good example of how things used to be, and is still furnished in the traditional style. Admittedly, the plumbing was a bit noisy, but we thought it good value for money at £676 for 10 days. The price also included a superb buffet breakfast – all you could eat and plenty of variety. There are U (underground)and S (schnell) Bahn stations nearby.

While the war damage has meant that Berlin is not as beautiful as, say, Vienna or Paris, it is a city full of character, and I defy anyone to be bored there – there is so much to do and see. It is also surprisingly cheap, indeed cheaper than other parts of Germany, and prices compare well with the UK. I can recall being in restaurants where every main course cost less than 10 euros, and there is an enormous number and variety of them (restaurants, that is). You would have no trouble in having a good two course meal with a beer for well under 20 euros per head. Just see if you don’t put on weight!

The other great thing about Berlin is its fantastic transport system – surely one of the best in the world. This is the ideal destination for anyone who wants to get around but doesn’t want to hire a car – you simply don’t need one. You can find detailed information about the transport system from the following sources: Lonely Planet: Berlin

In brief, there are two very advantageous ways to get around. For local travel, purchase an ABC Berlin Welcome Card when you arrive at the airport. (The ABC refers to the three tariff zones around the city). You will also receive a booklet, in English to explain all about it. A five day card costs about 30 euros, and entitles you to use all the transport – buses, trams, underground and S Bahn (the suburban railway service) as much as you like. With the S Bahn in particular, you can travel a considerable distance from the city centre (e.g., to Potsdam). All services are fast, frequent and reliable.

For trips further afield, a Brandenburg-Berlin-Ticket ticket is a must. This costs about 29 euros, and entitles up to 5 persons to travel anywhere within the state of Brandenburg for a period of 24 hours. Surprisingly, it also allows you to travel to Stettin (Szczecin) in Poland. A look at the map will show that this will allow visits to many places, both of general interest and for the naturalist, including most of the 15 nature reserves in the state. (See below). All of the destinations mentioned in this trip report were reached by using public transport.

Whatever ticket you buy –don’t forget to validate it immediately after purchase. The system works on trust – there are no ticket barriers or regular ticket inspections. There are however, plain clothes inspectors roaming the system, and if you are caught without a ticket, you can expect an on the spot fine of 40 euros.


Travel to Poland is easy – there are no border checks, although we took our passports just in case. Indeed, on the train trip to Szczecin, we didn’t even know that we had crossed the border until we saw the street sings etc. in Polish. It was the same story from Frankfurt an der Oder to Słubice. You just walk across the Oder bridge. Although the old border crossing booths etc. are still in place, they were unmanned.

The Zloty is still the official Polish currency, but Euros are also widely accepted – check in cafes etc. before buying.


This is a region with much to offer. Even within Berlin city limits, there are parks and gardens good for wildlife. The gardens at the former palace of Frederick the Great  (Sans Soucci) in Potsdam are also good. Like most of the former East Germany, the countryside round about remains relatively under developed and sparsely populated, providing increased habitat for wildlife. Germany is also very good at preserving its wildlife. Look for the green and white triangle with or without the word ‘Naturschützgebiet’ (area protected for nature).

For information on these ‘Naturschützgebiete’ you can go to There is an excellent book, but it is in German. ‘Adler, Otter, Orchideen – Brandenburgs Naturlandschaften’ published by L & H Verlag. This tells you everything you need to know about the 15 Naturschützgebiete in Brandenburg – addresses, e mail contacts, how to get there, tourist information, and other local items of interest (history, museums, etc.) If you have no German, it may be of little use, unless you can puzzle out the travel information etc. However, I will list below some basic details which may help.

1. Biosphärenreservat Flusslandschaft Elbe-Brandenburg
150 breeding Birds, 12 Amphibians, 36 Butterflies. Beaver, Moor Frog, Fire-bellied Toad, Yellow-spotted Whiteface (Rambower Moor.)

2. Naturpark Westhavelland
Gülper See – White-tailed Eagle, Corncrake. Also elsewhere, Great Bustard, Moor Frog, Common Spadefoot, Sand Lizard, Beaver, Water Shrew, Green Hawker.

3. Naturpark Stechlin-Ruppiner Land
Sedgling, Hawkers, White-faces, Moor Frog, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Beaver.

4. Naturpark Uckermärkische Seen
White-tailed Eagle, Beaver, Moor Frog, Fire-bellied Toad, Smooth Snake.

5. Biosphärenreservat Schorfheide-Chorin
3 Eagles, Beaver, Wild Boar, Raccoon-dog, Fire-bellied Toad, 40 Dragonfly species in June.

6. Nationalpark Unteres Odertal
Hawker and Emerald Dragonflies, Corncrake, White-tailed Eagle, Aquatic Warbler, Penduline Tit, Beaver.

7. Naturpark Barnim
Fire-bellied Toad, Common Spadefoot, Moor Frog, Dragonflies, Black Woodpecker.

8. Naturpark Märkische Schweiz
Green Snaketail, 53 odonata species recorded, Honey Buzzard, Barred Warbler.

9. Naturpark Schlaubetal
Green Lizard, White-tailed Eagle, Wild Boar, Sand Lizard.

10. Naturpark Dahme-Heideseen
Moor Frog, White-tailed Eagle, Sand Lizard.

11. Biosphärenreservat Spreewald
Fire-bellied Toad, Moor Frog, Dragonflies, Green Hawker.

12. Naturpark Niederlausitzer Landrücken
Pygmy Owl, Tengmalm’s Owl, Alpine Newt.

13. Naturpark Niederlausitzer Landschaft
Wild Boar, Capercaillie, Tengmalm’s Owl, Beaver.

14. Naturpark Nuthe-Nieplitz
Honey Buzzard, Fire-bellied Toad, Ortolan Bunting.

15. Naturpark Hoher Fläming
Alpine Newt, Great Bustard.

16.  Templin Lakes

17.  Lake Steissee, Metzelthin, Western Uckermark


It should be stressed that some of these reserves cover huge areas – it’s not like going to an RSPB reserve which you can walk around comfortably. However, bike hire is often available and, with the landscape being flat, cycling is a pleasant way to get around.

I might mention the trip to Frankfurt an der Oder which we made with the trusty Brandenburg-Berlin-Ticket. The city lies on the huge river Oder, which forms the border with Poland. Once there, you can walk across the bride into Słubice in Poland (once part of Brandenburg itself) On the Polish side, there is a fantastic wetland which must be part of the Oder valley floodplain. We only had time for a quick look, but saw White Stork and Red-backed Shrike here. I am convinced that there must be a lot more to find at this location, given more time – very well worth a look.

Blumberger Mühle  (

The above is part of the Schorfheide-Chorin reserve, and I mention it in particular as it was recommended to me by the locals when I enquired as to the best place to go to see White-tailed Eagle (my target species for the trip). To get there, you take the train from Berlin Hauptbahnhof to Angermünde (using, of course, you Brandenburg-Berlin-Ticket). Angermünde lies to the north east of Berlin, towards the Polish border on the line to Stettin (Szczecin). The train trip takes about an hour, and is train RB 66 to Stettin (Szczecin). Trains leave Berlin Hauptbahnhof at 34 minutes past the hour and return from Angermünde at 32 minutes past.

Once in Angermünde, you have to take the ‘Biberbahn’ (Beaverbus) from outside the station to Blumberger Mühle. The Biberbahn is unmistakeable – it’s a minibus converted to look like a beaver! It too goes once an hour to Blumberger Mühle, timed to coincide with the arrival of the train. The bus stop is directly opposite the station entrance – look for the beaver sign on the bus stop.

The trip to Blumberger Mühle takes about 20 minutes (6 kilometres). Once there, entry to the reserve is free. This reserve, in fact, is like an RSPB one. It’s quite small and compact, with marked trails and an observation tower (where I got my White-tailed Eagle!) I was also told that Bearded and Penduline Tits occur here, but had no luck with them although the habitat was certainly there. I could hear a Great Reed Warbler though with ease.

A map of the reserve is available on its website. There are also staff on hand, and a very nice café/restaurant. If you allow yourself three hours here, that should be quite sufficient to see most of what is on offer.



1. Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
Recorded from Potsdam (16/6) (with a brood of 4) and Rheinsberg (23/6).

2.  Grey Heron  (Ardea cinerea)
Recorded from Potsdam (16/6), Löcknitztal (20/6), Königs Wusterhausen (22/6) and Rheinsberg (23/6).

3.White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)
Recorded from Słubice (Poland) (21/6) and on the bus journey from Königs Wusterhausen to Lübbenau (22/6).

4.  Mute Swan  (Cygnus olor)
Recorded from Potsdam (16/6), Blumberger Mühle (18/6), (with cygnets), Löcknitztal (20/6) and Słubice (Poland) (21/6).

5. Greylag Goose  (Anser anser)
Recorded from Rheinsberg (23/6).

6.  Mallard  (Anas platyrhynchos)
Recorded from Szczecin (Poland) (15/6), Potsdam (16/6), Wannsee (17/6), Köpenick (19/6), Słubice (Poland) (21/6), Lübbenau (22/6) and Rheinsberg (23/6).

7. White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)
Recorded from Blumberger Mühle (18/6).

8.  Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
Recorded on journey from Berlin to Angermünde (15/6). 

9. Red Kite (Milvus milvus)
Recorded from Lübbenau (22/6).

10. Eurasian Coot  (Fulica atra)
Recorded from Berlin (14/6), Wannsee (17/6), Köpenick (19/6) and Rheinsberg (23/6).

11.  Black-headed Gull  (Larus ridibundus)
Recorded from Szczecin (Poland) (15/6), Słubice (Poland) (21/6) and Lübbenau (22/6).

12. Northern Lapwing  (Vanellus vanellus)

Recorded from Słubice (Poland) (21/6).

13.  Feral Pigeon (Columba livia)
Recorded on journey from Berlin to Angermünde (15/6), Szczecin (Poland) (15/6), Potsdam (16/6), Frankfurt an der Oder (21/6), Słubice (Poland) (21/6) and Königs Wusterhausen (22/6)

14.  Common Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)
Recorded on journey from Berlin to Angermünde (15/6), Szczecin (Poland) (15/6), Potsdam (16/6), Wannsee (17/6), Blumberger Mühle (18/6), Löcknitztal (20/6), Słubice (Poland) (21/6) and Lübbenau (22/6).

15.  Common Swift (Apus apus)
Recorded from Berlin (15/6), Potsdam (16/6), Angermünde (18/6), Blumberger Mühle (18/6), Słubice (Poland) (21/6), Königs Wusterhausen (22/6), Lübbenau(22/6) and Rheinsberg (23/6).

16. Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)
Recorded from Wannsee (17/6), Blumberger Mühle (18/6) and Löcknitztal (20/6).

17. European Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis)
Recorded from Lübbenau (22/6).

18.  Great Spotted Woodpecker  (Dendrocopos major)
Recorded from Wannsee (17/6), Löcknitztal (20/6) and Rheinsberg (23/6).

19. Common Skylark  (Alauda arvensis)
Recorded from Löwenberg (23/6).

20.  Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Recorded from Potsdam (16/6), Wannsee (17/6), Angermünde (18/6), Blumberger Mühle (18/6) and Rheinsberg (23/6).

21.  Common House Martin (Delichon urbica)
Recorded on journey from Berlin to Angermünde (15/6), Wannsee (17/6), Frankfurt an der Oder (21/6) and Rheinsberg (23/6).

22.  White Wagtail (Motacilla alba alba)
Recorded on journey from Berlin to Angermünde (15/6), Potsdam (16/6), Wannsee (17/6), Lübbenau (22/6) and Rheinsberg (23/6).

23. Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Recorded from Wannsee (17/6).

24.  European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
Recorded from Wannsee (17/6) and Löcknitztal (20/6).

25. Common Nightingale/Thrush Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos/luscinia)
A Nightingale spp. heard singing at Löwenberg (23/6) could not safely be identified due to unfamiliarity with the song of the Thrush Nightingale.

26.  Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
Recorded from Potsdam (16/6), Fangschleuse (20/6), Lübbenau (22/6) and Rheinsberg (23/6).

27.  Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)
Recorded from Wannsee (17/6).

28.  Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
Recorded from Szczecin (Poland) (15/6) and Rheinsberg (23/6).

29. Common Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Recorded from Potsdam (16/6), Wannsee (17/6), Angermünde (18/6), Löcknitztal (20/6), Frankfurt an der Oder (21/6), Lübbenau (22/6) and Rheinsberg (23/6).

30.  Common Magpie (Pica pica)
Recorded on journey from Berlin to Angermünde (15/6), Szczecin (Poland) (15/6),  Berlin (16/6) and Słubice (Poland) (21/6).

31.  Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius) 
Recorded from Wannsee (17/6) and Löcknitztal (20/6).

32.  Western Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
Recorded from Szczecin (Poland) (15/6) and Słubice (Poland) (21/6).

33.  Hooded Crow (Corvus corone cornix)
Recorded on journey from Berlin to Angermünde (15/6), Potsdam (16/6), Wannsee (17/6), Słubice (Poland) (21/6) and Löwenberg (23/6). Very common.

34.  Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
Recorded on journey from Berlin to Angermünde (15/6), Szczecin (Poland) (15/6), Potsdam (16/6), Frankfurt an der Oder (21/6), Słubice (Poland) (21/6), Lübbenau (22/6) and Löwenberg (23/6).

35. Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
Recorded from Potsdam (16/6), Wannsee (17/6), Löcknitztal (20/6), Lübbenau (22/6) and Löwenberg (23/6).

36. European Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Recorded from Potsdam (16/6), Löcknitztal (20/6) and Rheinsberg (23/6).

37. Great Reed Warbler  (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)
Recorded from Blumberger Mühle (18/6).

38. Willow Warbler (Pylloscopus trochilus)
Recorded from Blumberger Mühle (18/6), Löcknitztal (20/6) and Lübbenau (22/6).

39. Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix)
Recorded from Löcknitztal (20/6).

40.  Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
Recorded from Potsdam (16/6), Wannsee (17/6), Blumberger Mühle (18/6), Löcknitztal (20/6), Frankfurt an der Oder (21/6), Lübbenau (22/6) and Rheinsberg (23/6). Very common.

41.  Great Tit (Parus major) 
Recorded from Szczecin (Poland) (15/6), Potsdam (16/6), Löcknitztal (20/6), Löwenberg (23/6) and Rheinsberg (23/6).

42.  Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)
Recorded from Potsdam (16/6), Wannsee (17/6), Löcknitztal (20/6) and Rheinsberg (23/6).

43.  Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)
Recorded from Słubice (Poland) (21/6).

44.  House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Recorded from Berlin (14/6), Szczecin (Poland) (15/6),  Potsdam (16/6), Wannsee (17/6), Angermünde (18/6), Frankfurt an der Oder (21/6), Słubice (Poland) (21/6), Königs Wusterhausen (22/6), Lübbenau (22/6), Löwenberg (23/6) and Rheinsberg (23/6).

45.  Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)
Recorded from Słubice (Poland) (21/6) and Frankfurt an der Oder (21/6).

46.  Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
Recorded from Szczecin (Poland) (15/6), Potsdam (16/6), Wannsee (17/6), Blumberger Mühle (18/6), Löcknitztal (20/6), Lübbenau (22/6) and Rheinsberg (23/6).

47.  European Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
Recorded from Szczecin (Poland) (15/6), Potsdam (16/6), Wannsee (17/6), Löcknitztal (20/6), Frankfurt an der Oder (21/6), Lübbenau (22/6), Löwenberg (23/6) and Rheinsberg (23/6).

48.  European Serin (Carduelis chloris)
Recorded from Potsdam (16/6), Wannsee (17/6), Frankfurt an der Oder (21/6) and Lübbenau (22/6).

49. Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)
Recorded from Wannsee (17/6).

50.  European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
Recorded from Potsdam (16/6) and Wannsee (17/6).

51. Common Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)
Recorded from Blumberger Mühle (18/6), Słubice (Poland) (21/6) and Rheinsberg (23/6).

52. Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)
Recorded from Blumberger Mühle (18/6).

53. Corn Bunting (Milaria calandra)
Recorded from Löwenberg (23/6).

Unconfirmed sightings

A probable Kestrel over Berlin.


1.  Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus)
Recorded from Löcknitztal (20/6).

2.  Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)
Recorded from Wannsee (17/6).

3. Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)
Recorded from Blumberger Mühle (18/6).

4. Chestnut Heath (Coenonympha glycerion)
Recorded from Löwenberg (23/6).

Butterflies were very disappointing, although the Chestnut Heath was a new species for me.

Unconfirmed sightings
Very small brown/blue butterfly at Blumberger Mühle (18/6) looked similar to a female Common Blue.

Damselflies and Dragonflies

1. Beautiful Demoiselle  (Calopterix virgo) 
Recorded from Lübbenau (22/6), and Rheinsberg (23/6).

2. Common Bluet  Enallagma cyathigerum)
Recorded from Blumberger Mühle (18/6).

3. Variable Bluet  (Coenagrion pulchellum)
Recorded from Blumberger Mühle (18/6).

4. Azure Bluet (Coenagrion puella)
Recorded from Wannsee (17/6).

5. Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula)
Recorded from Lübbenau (22/6).

6. Blue Featherleg   (Platycnemis pennipes)
Recorded from Rheinsberg (23/6).

7. Green-eyed Hawker (Aeshna isosceles)
Recorded from Blumberger Mühle (18/6), and Słubice (Poland) (21/6).

8. Common Clubtail Gomphus vulgatissimus)
Recorded from Lübbenau (22/6).

9. Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)
Recorded from Blumberger Mühle (18/6).

10. Black-tailed Skimmer  (Orthetrum cancellatum)
Recorded from Lübbenau (22/6).

11. Yellow-spotted Whiteface (Leucorrhinia pectoralis)
Recorded from Blumberger Mühle (18/6).

Unconfirmed sightings
A Lestes species at Blumberger Mühle (18/6) may have been Lestes viridis. Red-eyed Damselfly was also probably seen on a couple of occasions.
A very good selection – this is a good part of the world for Odonata.


(1) Beech Marten (Martes foina)
A dead animal was found lying in the street at Lübbenau (22/6).

1. Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)
Recorded from Potsdam (16/6).

2. Rabbit  (Oryctolagus cuniculus)
Recorded from Berlin (21/6).


1. Green Carpet  (Colostygia pectinataria)
Recorded from Löcknitztal (20/6).

2. Splendid Roller (Olethreutes arcuella)
Recorded from Löcknitztal (20/6).

Reptiles and amphibians

1. Edible/Pool Frog (Rana kl. esculenta/Rana lessonae)
Recorded from Blumberger Mühle (18/6).

2. European Pond Terrapin (Emys orbicularis)
Recorded from Blumberger Mühle (18/6).

3. Grass Snake (Natrix natrix)
2 large individuals recorded from Blumberger Mühle (18/6).

Unconfirmed sightings
Fire-bellied toads were heard, but not seen, at Blumberger Mühle (18/6).

Species totals

Total seen
New species Unconfirmed
Damselfies and Dragonflies
Reptiles and Amphibians

Species checklist for North East Germany


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