Schleswig Holstein, Germany, August 2002

Published by Surfbirds Admin (surfbirds AT


Nigel Willits


Schleswig-Holstein is the most northerly of the German states, occupying the narrow neck of Jutland south of the border with Denmark. My visit was for 6 days, a mixture of Viking Age historical research and birding. I got a cheap Ryanair flight from London to Lübeck, then drove a hire-car a couple of hours north to stay in a hotel on the outskirts of Schleswig. Most of my time was spent in the north-eastern part of the region where there are many marshes, lakes & long inlets (förde) from the Ostsee.

Prior to my visit, I was unable to find anything in English about birding in this area, neither books nor on the web. For German readers (& those with a dictionary), the website of the German nature reserves organisation NABU has lots of useful information:

For detailed maps, I recommend the series of Wander- und Radtourenkarte published in German by Kompass.

The main sites of wildlife interest that I visited are given below with brief descriptions and species lists, including butterflies, dragonflies & other animals.


A small lake on the western edge of Schleswig town, flowing into the Schlei Förde, with reed-beds, marsh & adjacent woodland. Worth a look if visiting the Landesmuseum or as a local patch.

Birds: Great Cormorant (20+), Grey Heron, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Coot, Moorhen, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Feral Pigeon, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Eurasian Treecreeper, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch.

Butterflies: Red Admiral, Small Copper, Small White.
Odonata: Keeled Skimmer.
Others: Rabbit.

Geltinger Birk

A low-lying promontory at the mouth of the Flensburger Förde with a wide variety of habitats including open sea, tidal flats, stony beach, dunes, marsh (salt & freshwater), drainage channels, small lakes & ponds, pasture, scrub & woodland. Part of the area is a managed nature reserve with visitor centre. Highly recommended, but a whole day is required & there's lots of walking. Apparently in winter, substantial numbers of White-tailed Eagles gather here.

Birds: Great Crested Grebe (60+), Great Cormorant (200+), Mute Swan, Greylag Goose (500+), Barnacle Goose (1), Shelduck, Mallard, Common Teal, Common Eider (50+), Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Common Buzzard (2), Common Kestrel, Coot (150+), Ringed Plover, Lapwing (300+), Golden Plover, Dunlin (40+), Common Snipe (25+), Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper (4), Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull (50+), Wood Pigeon, Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Wren, Northern Wheatear, Robin, Blackbird, Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat (3), Reed Warbler, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper (2), Red-backed Shrike (1 juvenile), Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting.

Butterflies: Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Large & Small White.
Odonata: Ruddy Darter, Scarlet Darter, Southern Hawker.
Others: Common Weasel (1), Common Frog (20+ small ones crossing woodland path).

Haddebyer Noor / Selker Noor

A pair of interconnected small lakes flowing into the Schlei Förde south of Schleswig, with reed-beds and adjacent deciduous and coniferous woods. Certainly worth exploring if you visit the Wikinger Museum and the Haithabu ramparts. Would make an excellent local patch.

Birds: Great Crested Grebe, Grey Heron, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Swallow, House Martin, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Pied Flycatcher (1 female), Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Eurasian Treecreeper, Eurasian Nuthatch, Eurasian Jay, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch.

Butterflies: Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Green-veined & Small White.
Odonata: Emperor Dragonfly.
Others: Roe Deer, Viviparous Lizard.


A village on the river Treene 20km south-west of Schleswig. There is a nature trail along the river south through the Treenemarsch but I didn't have time to follow it. Judging by the species I saw in the vicinity when I stopped briefly passing through, it may well be worth pursuing.

Birds: White Stork (3), Honey Buzzard (1 adult male & 1 immature), Swallow, House Martin, Grey Wagtail, Starling.

Holmer See

A small freshwater reed-fringed lake on the southern shore of Schlei Förde, about 2km north-east of Fleckeby; with adjacent marsh, scrub, clumps of pines & the sandy shore of the fjord. Although a small area, from what I saw it could be a migrant hotspot and is certainly worth checking out during passage season.

Birds: Grey Heron, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Common Pheasant, Coot, Common Snipe (5), Great Snipe (1), Green Sandpiper (3), Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Wryneck (1), Sand Martin, Swallow (50+ adult & juvenile hirundines gathering for migration), White Wagtail, Wren, Blackbird, Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Great Tit, Carrion Crow, Greenfinch.

Kührener Teich

A small lake managed as a nature reserve with lightly wooded shores, reed-beds & islands (both vegetated & gravel), about 25km south-east of Kiel. Access is restricted to the northern side where there is a hide. For the eagles & grebes, this site is a must.

Birds: Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Red-necked Grebe (10), Black-necked Grebe (3), Great Cormorant, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Greylag Goose (200+), Gadwall, Common Teal, Mallard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Common Goldeneye (8), White-tailed Eagle (2 adults & 1 immature), Marsh Harrier (1 female), Common Buzzard (2), Coot, Lapwing (300+), Black-headed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Kingfisher, Swallow, Wren, Robin, Blackcap, Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Willow Tit (1), Carrion Crow, Eurasian Jay, Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch.

Odonata: Ruddy Darter, Yellow-spotted Emerald.
Others: Common Frog.

Lankener See

A much larger lake 1km north of Kührener Teich, part of which is a managed nature reserve. There seems to be no access to most of it, apart from a recreation area on the outskirts of Preetz. A path through dense woodland allegedly leads to a haunt of Penduline Tits but I never got that far as my time was limited and the large mosquitos were extremely aggressive.

Birds: Great Crested Grebe, Mute Swan, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Common Buzzard, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wren, Blackbird, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Carrion Crow, Magpie.

Butterflies: Red Admiral, Small White.

Additional Species

Collared Dove: 2 - Kappeln, 35km north-east of Schleswig.
Slow-worm: 1 - Dannewerk, 3km south-west of Schleswig.

Species Totals: Birds: 84; Butterflies: 7; Odonata: 6; Mammals: 3 ; Reptiles: 2; Amphibians: 1