Spring has arrived on the Rhine Delta



Male Black Kite (Milvus migrans) chasing off a pair of Carrion Crow on the Rhine Delta in Vorarlberg, Austria

The last week has been exceptionally mild with early morning temperatures around +5 degrees Celsius and warming up to the mid teens in the afternoons.

Combined with brilliant sunshine and birdsong all around, the consensus is that spring has well and truly arrived on the Rhine Delta.

My first encounter this morning was with a pair of Black Kites busy nest building. At least the female was busy collecting roots from a nearby plowed field.

The male was positioned high up in an adjacent tree just watching the progress and occasionally chasing off the odd, trouble-making carrion crow. In the same area I must have counted at least 4 pairs of Black Kites, all busy nest building, each in its own isolated, tall tree.

Male Black Kite (Milvus migrans) chasing off a pair of Carrion Crow on the Rhine Delta in Vorarlberg, Austria

Female Black Kite (Milvus migrans) collecting nesting material on the Rhine Delta in Vorarlberg, Austria

Male Black Kite (Milvus migrans) chasing off a pair of Carrion Crow on the Rhine Delta in Vorarlberg, Austria

Male Black Kite (Milvus migrans) chasing off a pair of Carrion Crow on the Rhine Delta in Vorarlberg, Austria

Yet another plowed field was occupied by a flock 20 to 30 Lapwing, actively feeding on the wireworm and other delicious creatures exposed by the farmer’s recent plowing activity.

Yet another plowed field was occupied by a flock of curlew. I estimated the number of Curlew in the range 70 to 100. Curlew normally spend the winter on the Rhine Delta even in the coldest weather.

Ken Billington

Ken Billington

Ken, a scientist by training held various management positions in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries during his professional career, enabling him to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Americas, North Africa, Asia and Japan. Ken has always been a keen photographer and bought his first telephoto lens 10 years ago. This was the beginning of his interest in bird photography. Since then he has also become an active supporter of birding and wildlife conservation.

Ken Billington

Ken Billington

Ken, a scientist by training held various management positions in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries during his professional career, enabling him to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Americas, North Africa, Asia and Japan. Ken has always been a keen photographer and bought his first telephoto lens 10 years ago. This was the beginning of his interest in bird photography. Since then he has also become an active supporter of birding and wildlife conservation.

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Rory

Hi ,
I also believe the first images are of Black Kite. Out of interest
I counted 29 Steppe Buzzard in the Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia, assembling along the escarpment. I assume this was in preperation for heading North.

Glenn Bartley

Rory, many thanks for correctly identifying my images of the Black Kite. My article has been updated accordingly.

C. van Deursen
C. van Deursen

The bird exposed is a Black Kite!

Glenn Bartley

Many thanks for correctly identifying my images of the Black Kite. My article has been updated accordingly.

Jefferson Silva

Amazing pictures

Glenn Bartley

Hi Jefferson, thanks for your kind comment. The Rhine Delta is very flat and amazingly rich in wildlife! In fact all you have to do is just stand there and keep doing a 360 degree turn. With a good pair of binoculars you can see interesting creatures in all directions. If you have the patience and just wait, then the birds actually come to you!

Jefferson Silva

Looks very nice place for birding…