The nutcracker belongs to the order of songbirds. After observing some individuals of this species over several hours, I began to have doubts about the biological classification. But then one of them actually began to actually 'sing'. They are hardly ever quiet, but the singing is clearly different from the usual calls.
Actually this beautiful alpine bird had been on my wish list for a long time, but I had never really bothered to find it. As a result, it was still missing on my species list, until today I walked totally unprepared into the coniferous forest where probably most photos of this species are taken in Switzerland.
As in most years, this year I discovered a breeding burrow of great spotted woodpeckers. But this time it was very well protected, almost impossible to photograph there. When I returned a few days later with camouflage to try after all, the young birds had already fledged. In the meantime a real territorial fight is going on in our forests, the youngsters have to look for their place. So, thanks to their calls, you can easily find them - and photograph them.
After a break of two years, I was lucky again to observe a family of great spotted woodpeckers. Nest photography is a critical task, because you consciously take the risk of disturbing the birds, which in the worst case could lead to a breeding stop. But the fact that I was able to observe countless feedings, take more than 900 photos and also some films in a single morning is a clear sign that I approached and behaved considerately under the camouflage cover.
This picture seems almost kitsch. But this is how a modern camera sees the remaining light long after sunset, while we humans can barely see our hand in front of our face. In fact, the photo was even more colorful when I first saw it, which I reduced a bit when I developed it. Because it was quite stormy, the branches in most of the photos obscured part of the tawny owl, if not, the welcome blur resulted. I have been visiting this meanwhile quite well-known tawny owl near my home regularly for some time, but I never managed to take a photo like on that evening before. I was really grateful to it, that it was sitting so calmly and also looked friendly, while the long exposure was running.
This siskin presented itself to me beautifully in front of the autumnal forest. At first I thought it was a Serin, which it looks very similar to. In our region it lives infrequently, because it finds its preferred food in the spruce forests, which are found rather mountains.
On two days I visited my old home county, the canton of Thurgau in Eastern Switzerland. Besides foxes, deers and rabbits I found this Red-backed Shrike. This beautiful bird is quite famous because it spears its prey - mainly large insects - on spines. This strange behaviour serves in food storage for times with bad weather when the hunt for insects is not so fruitfully.
In this picture the scene seems very peaceful. But those who have ever witnessed the thousands of crows taking their stands for the night in Aarau and the noise they make, they will probably not think about Beethoven. The moonlight allowed the reduction to the silhouettes of the animals.
Before the beginning of winter, most birds leave Switzerland in order to spend the cold time in warmer climates. The Great Tit is one of the most frequent brood-birds in Switzerland and spends usually also the winter here. Now that the trees have lost their leaves, the chances are good to meet them in the forest. Here I had the luck to meet a whole group.
Colorful autumnal light surrounds the song of this Great Tit.
Autumn unfolds its colors at and on the small lake, which is actually an old arm of the river Aare, and the gray heron casually standing on one leg asserts itself as the boss on the water. The place is well protected, no human being can get there, which he knows of course. Nevertheless, he is very attentive and would fly away at the slightest disturbance.
Grey herons are very shy animals. They can rarely be observed or photographed from a close distance. Even a camouflage cover is of little use, they notice it somehow. But here I was lucky, because I was sitting camouflaged behind a reed belt when it landed. Afterwards the reed was pushed aside again and again thanks to strong gusts of wind, which made this photo possible.
Bird species that spend winter in our latitudes sometimes have to endure hard times. Although increasingly rare due to climate change, there is regular snow in the lowlands of Switzerland. In the winter of 2020/21 this was the case several times. This gray heron, which I have encountered here frequently, was probably quite cold and also hungry, certainly dreaming of spring. But that still lasted a while. Meanwhile, however, three young gray herons fly there.
This gray heron was standing in a stream when I rode by on my bicycle. With the experience in the back of my mind that these animals flee immediately when you stop, I rode a few meters further, turned around and rode past him again until I reached a small footbridge. There I stopped in the cover of the bushes, unpacked the camera, and sneaked onto the bridge from where I could get a good look at it and take a picture. I chose to convert to black and white because I thought the lights were pretty, but the colors were very pale green because of the surrounding trees.
If you are near a reed belt, you can often hear the song of the reed warbler. Usually it is not to be seen or only very briefly deep in the reeds, nervously jumping from one stalk to the next. This specimen, however, presented itself beautifully, reminding me of an opera singer, so that I could take quite a few photos.
During the last weeks I had explored a new location near my home, where already during the first visits I discovered kingfishers and many other waterfowl. So finally I took a whole day off and spent about eight hours there, certainly not for the last time. Shortly after sunrise this Green Sandpiper strutted in front of me in search of food, only a few meters away from a dipper.
White wagtails are a common bird along these streams, as is the Grey Wagtail, which can also be found here. This wagtail hopped from stone to stone and landed in between in the light of the just risen sun, occasionally on a stick to rest briefly.
Although I have spent a lot of time at the waters of my hometown for years, it took until now that I met a female Goosander with the hatchlings for the first time. The little ones are already trying to explore the surroundings by themselves. A short whistle of the mother is enough and all are back with her. Gladly they climb on her back and let themselves be transported.
This great tit unexpectedly jumped on the branch. The branches form a kind of frame around the bird. I especially like this because of the graphical effect it creates.
You can see the great cormorant almost anytime in the city of Aarau along the river Aare. In the nature reserve nearby I haven't seen them often, usually just flying by. That morning I sat next to the shore of the Aarschächli in the early morning and in the fog. Suddenly two cormorants swam along quite close. In the early morning light the don't appear black, but rather shiny.
Together with its male companion this mallard invaded the carved out territory of a coot in a pond at the Rohrer Schachen near Aarau, Switzerland. After some minutes of loud twitter the coot started an attack and the mallards took their heels.
Along the steep coast line of the british islands there are various free standing rocks that are full of birds. This picture shows a rock of that kind, located at Farne Island, Northumberland. Just before the main breeding season I'm sure it got even denser the following weeks.
Guillemots are among the most common sea birds along the coast of Great Britain. On Farne Island they breed in huge numbers. A intersting visual mark of this birds is a color variation that can be seen at about every eighth bird in this area. It is a white ring around the eyes. So the two birds on this picture are the same species.
Hidden between the rocks this seagull watches its environment from its nest in Seahouses, Northumberland. They build their nests in small holes in the rocks. That gives them protection from weather influences and predators.
I could observe two Arctic Terns hunting around a little pond in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. They were flying their circles around the pond and from time to time they plunged into the water to catch little fishes. They ignored the signpost clarifying that it was a private area and fishing was forbidden.
There are not only puffins that can be found on Farne Island in Northumberland but many other kinds of sea birds. One of the most prevalent are the arctic terns (Sterna paradisaea). They are quite easy to take pictures of just before landing. Then they use to fly quite still in the adverse winds.
This arctic tern posed on a nature stone wall on Farne Island in Northumberland. The background shows the approaching thunderstorm.
On a photography workshop with Alan Hewitt on Farne Island I had the focus on this puffin for quite a long time. I waited for it to start another flight. Unfortunately it was very happy there and had no intention to leave. Anyway, I think I got paid well with this picture.
On a photography workshop with Alan Hewitt on Farne Island I had the chance to take pictures of many puffins (Fratercula arctica). The waiting time was long before the first one of this group left the rock. Finally it took off and flew into the abyss.
During our second holidays in Northumberland I joined Alan Hewittfor a very intensive, but also very successful photography workshop on Farne Island. I was hoping for beautiful pictures of puffins, this is one of the resulting images.
It is an interesting fact that the number of Red Kites is growing in Switzerland in contrast to most other countries. It is nothing unusual to see one of these raptors in the sky. Still it was quite special when I could see about ten of these animals flying in circles above me. The reason was a farmer who was cutting the grass and by that probably made available some food that they were diving for. I could even observe as one of the birds caught a big dragonfly in flight.
This young common buzzard was probably just told by his parents to care for himself. For a long time he sat on this branch directly above a frequently walked path and screamed for his life. For me a stroke of luck, I could photograph him in beautiful light.
On the way back after a long unsuccessful time in a hide, I noticed a bird of prey ten meters from my bike through the bushes. It was maybe three meters away and even remained sitting while I photographed it from all possible directions. Only when a dog came close did it leave the branch. At home, the difficult identification of the species then began, although I must admit that I first thought of a hawk. However, thanks to the support of my friend Ambroise Marchand, I then came up with the sparrowhawk, my first conscious observation of this bird species.
Kontrastreiche Aufnahme eines weissen Schwans an der Aare
As it can be seen quite often along small lakes Etang de la GruyÃ¨re in the Swiss canton Jura had ground fog just above the water line. This mallard did not care, and I was happy about the opportunity. By the way, this picture is not black & white.
Am Aarschächli konnte ich diese drei Enten im Flug photographieren. Erstaunlich ist für mich der Unterschied des Verhaltens der Enten hier im Vergleich zu jenen nur wenige Kilometer entfernt in Aarau. Dort kann man sie fast streicheln, im Naturschutzgebiet haben sie ihre ursprüngliche Angst vor Menschen behalten
Diese Art gehört eigentlich nicht nach Europa, sie wurde wegen Ihres Aussehens aus Asien hergebracht. Dieses Paar scheint jedenfalls zufrieden zu sein und geniesst scheinbar die Aussicht.
Since the frogs had enough action this morning with their quarrels, I could approach the pond almost without problems and they did not immediately take flight as usual. So I calmly placed the camera at water level and made a whole series of such photos. I would call it a successful morning.
Quietly it was sitting on the branch swimming in the water. As always when approaching pool frogs I had to be very careful because the slightest movement on my part would force it to jump into the protecting water of the pool. That would mean that one has to wait for a long time for its reappearance - hopefully at the very same location. I could take this picture of the pool frog from a very low position through the reed.
I took pictures of pool frogs in the Rohrer Schachen quite often. Usually they immediatly take flight when you approach and it takes longer telephoto lenses than there are in my possession. Or they hide in the reed. There they are very difficult to see. When I took this picture the light was a big help, the result was a study in green.
Rare picture of a pool frog that is not in the water or at least on close proximity. My idea was to come close at a very slow speed and to finally motivate it to jump. So I could get a picture of the flying frog. It really jumped, but the picture does not exist.
Ja, diese Art heisst tatsächlich so. Ein beschreibender Name, wie ich ihn bisher nur im Grand Teton Nationalpark in den USA als Vogelname gehört hatte: "Yellow eyed black bird". Alles klar.
Im Rohrer Schachen hört man zu dieser Jahreszeit die Frösche mindestens ebenso gut wie die Vögel. Es ist auch recht einfach, sie zu photographieren: Hören, lokalisieren, langsam anpirschen, dann ruhig bleiben und warten, bis einer möglichst nahe als Motiv auftaucht. Oft muss man allerdings den Schilf ein wenig zur Seite drücken, um eine tiefe Position der Kamera realisieren zu können. Erstmals konnte ich heute die Schallblasen aufnehmen, die diese Froschart beim lauten Rufen unterstützen.
One evening on my holidays at the North Sea I was sitting on the floor at the mudflat when the sea was receding. I was hoping for some good pictures of sea birds when something rather unexpected happened: Some crabs suddenly started comming out of the water and were looking for a hide behind stones. This crab was pretty sure that I was a stone. It was difficult convincing it that I wasn't a stone and that I didn't want to be one until I started pushing it softly with my feet.
This morning I had not expected to observe beavers at all and was busy with long exposures of sleeping mute swans, when in between the first beaver appeared, and that in the first light of the soon rising sun. Since he immediately disappeared on the riverbank, and after him more beavers, I concluded that I had discovered a beaver den.
It had been quite a long time since I went to the nature reserve Auenschutzpark Aarau-Wildegg to take pictures of beavers. Since recently the work of these animals has become ubiquitous in the area I was once again motivated to lie in ambush in the early morning hours. Successfully as it should turn out. But not at all surprising as I know very well where to find beavers. Occasionally some nutria and mallard ducks passed by as well, so it was diversified.
Im Juni muss man sehr früh aufstehen, wenn man Biber sehen möchte - hatte ich mir gedacht. Also stellte ich den Wecker auf halb vier Uhr und war bereits um vier Uhr im Naturschutzgebiet. Es war stockdunkel, und überraschenderweise mucksmäuschenstill. Aber schon etwa eine Viertelstunde später, die Dämmerung begann einzusetzen, ging das Pfeiffen der Vögel im Wald los. Im Gegensatz zur vorher herrschenden Stille war das schon ein richtiger Lärm. Ich sass an diesem Morgen vier Stunden möglichst ruhig unter meinem Tarnnetz. Dreimal sah ich einen Biber, erst beim letzten Mal schaffte ich es, Photos zu machen. Allerdings hätte ich mir das frühe Aufstehen sparen können, denn der Zeitpunkt der Photos war fast derselbe wie bei meinen vorangehenden Sichtungen vor zwei Monaten.
Usually you only see or hear marmots from far away. This time I could approach this male and its female as close as about five meters and observe the two for a longer time. Sometimes the male wanted to tag its patch with its loud whistles. That can be seen on this picture because of the wide open mouth.
During the annual general assembly event with the nature photographers of Switzerland we were allowed to experience - and photograph - great scenes of the marmots. Seven really young marmots were playing in the meadow, under the watchful eye of their parents. They gave themselves to eating and playing, but in between the rowdies also came back to their mother and got a few tender nudges on their noses.
In our neighborhood I had seen a hedgehog again and again for years. But that was always late in the evening, much too little light to be able to photograph him. Exactly on my birthday, this young hedgehog, probably born last year, gave me the gift of presenting himself a little earlier in the evening, so that I could finally take photos of a hedgehog. He came out after a rain in the early evening because the meadows were full of worms and snails: a real land of plenty.
Im Jægersborg Deer Park beim Vorort Klampenborg von Kopenhagen, Dänemark, habe ich im hohen Schilf zwei Rehe bei der Tagesruhe entdeckt. Sie waren so gut versteckt, dass sie wohl kaum einer der vielen anderen Besucher des Stadtparks gesehen hat. Spuren zeigten, dass sie regelmässig an der Stelle ruhen
While spending summer holidays in Northern Germany, in the countryside not far from the Baltic Sea, one evening I decided to go to a forest where I thought there could be some animals. And yes, shortly after I had installed myself under the camouflage four deer approached and enjoyed eating on the lush pasture. Later they were joined by some hares. When I had decided to return home something thrilling started: An off-road car was approaching me across the pasture at high speed. As it turned out it was the local hunter to whom the ground belonged where I was just standing. We had a nice chat. As I had to learn the hunt season had already started. Means that it is somehow dangerous strolling around forest in Northern Germany.
Während ich frühmorgens am Steiner-Kanal im Rohrer Schachen hockte und auf einen Biber wartete, erschien plötzlich am anderen Ufer ein Rehbock. Ohne zu zögern schritt er die Böschung hinunter und begann, den Bach in meine Richtung zu queren. Das nutzte ich durch das Gebüsch hindurch für dieses Photo. Er entschied sich dann zwar, wieder zurückzugehen, aber Angst hatte er offensichtlich nicht.
Bei späteren Besuchen in diesem Naturschutzgebiet habe ich während Gesprächen mit anderen Leuten erfahren, dass schon mehrfach beobachtet wurde, wie Rehe das Aarschächli, einen kleinen See, durchschwommen haben. Zu gerne würde ich das selber einmal beobachten.
In autumn there is a larger number of cormorants along the river Aare. That morning I was already hidden under my camouflage cover before dusk and waited for the awakening of the animal world. Several times I saw kingfishers, great crested grebes and mallards passed by, until I could finally take a picture of this cormorant in the warm morning light.
Once again the English name for a bird is much more descriptive than the German one. Nonetheless, this male blackcap was obviously on the search for a female partner as it was singing at full force.
I spent two days on the Col du Marchairuz to take pictures for a new project. Unfortunately, the motif I was looking for was not to be found. With the Crested Tit I was still able to find a species that was missing in my photo collection, although it occurs frequently in Switzerland. The reason is that the Crested Tit tends to live in higher altitudes than Aarau, so I can't find it at home.