Helgoland: Day One Birding

An Island FULL of birds

 Friday 21st October. Having arrived the previous evening as sun was setting to one of ‘birdings’ famed islands. Helgoland. Weather not ideal. Keep expectations low. I only had 2 days. What would I see? Well here’s the sunrise view from my B and B:


Thought I would harp on about one of my favourite spots on the island (I have 2). I loved  a place called Kringle. Especially the little beach there. Here’s why.

I soon found Eckhard at our rendezvous. Before long we were looking into a wide drainage channel strewn with seaweed and flotsam and FULL of birds. Meadows Pipits, Brambling, Chaffinches and a great tall-standing Richard’s Pipit which in full view, seemed to completely dwarf the little MPipits, almost in a cartoonish kind of way.

Juvenile/1st winter Richard’s Pipit, Kringle, Helgoland, October 2011 © René van Rossum

Juvenile/1st winter Richard’s Pipit (with Meadow Pipit), Kringle, Helgoland, October 2011 © Thomas Langenberg

A few yards away, on the little beach this juvenile Sabine’s Gull came in and out and while watching it 2 Grey Phalaropes appeared. besides a Wheatear and Continental Cormorant, the Richards’ Pipit would occasionally drop onto the beach too:

Juvenile Sabine’s Gull, Kringle, Helgoland, October 2011 © Martin Garner. I included this photo as it shows the moulted grey wing covert so obvious in the field

Juvenile Sabine’s Gull, Kringle, Helgoland, October 2011 © René van Rossum

Juvenile Sabine’s Gull, Kringle, Helgoland, October 2011 © Thomas Landenberg (2 above)

This is folk watching the little beach at Kringle:

and my shot of the ‘sinensis (Continental) Cormorant at Kringle. This bird reminded of N. Ireland. Why? The first record of sinensis Cormorant for Ireland is of a bird ringed in Denmark (which is not far east of Helgoland). That ringed bird spurred me on to find the first live sinensis Cormorants in Ireland. Maybe this Kringle beach bird would head NW to?

Grey Phalaropes,  Kringle, Helgoland, October 2011 © Thomas Landenberg (2 above)

At first just 2 Grey Phals. Later on I was scanning north from Kringel (view below) and could see a 3rd, plus a second Sabine’s Gull). The next day there were 4 Grey Phalaropes on the same beach:

Grey Phalaropes, Kringle, Helgoland, October 2011 © René van Rossum

Richard’s Pipit on the on the beach:

Juvenile/1st winter Richard’s Pipit, Kringle beach, Helgoland, October 2011 © Thomas Langenberg

I spent much of the day birding with Eckhard. Here we both are in the ‘great crater’ hollowed out in a British attempt to blow up the island. In fact in created really good rare bird habitat! photo © René van Rossum

Eckhard in the crater

Eckhard and I returned to Kringle later in the day in this area, when I heard what clearly sounded like an Olive-backed Pipit calling from somewhere above us, no doubt in flight. 10 minutes later, Eckhard’s radio crackled to say an Olive-backed Pipit had just been found on North beach! Found out next day that had René van Rossum also heard a flyover Olive-backed Pipit  around a similar time, to the north of us, just before the bird was found on north beach.

Olive-backed Pipit, North Beach, Helgoland, 21st October 2011 © Thomas Landenberg.  the likelihood is that this is the fella that flew over Eckhard and I at the magic Kringle.

OBP twitch on North Beach, Helgoland, 21st October 2011

This blog post feels like a very poor representation of the wonderful variety and number of surprisingly approachable birds I saw- just on my first day!

I then went off to prepare to give a talk to some 300 German birders, hoping my British humour would go down OK…

3 thoughts on “Helgoland: Day One Birding

  1. Bismuth David


    I’m the webmaster of the website http://www.ornithomedia.com, the 1st French speaking birding website, and we’d like to publish an article about the identification of the Richard’s Pipit: would it be possible to publsih the Thomas Langenberg’s photo wehre on can find aJuvenile/1st winter Richard’s Pipit with Meadow Pipit in Kringle, Helgoland in October 2011 ? Naturally we would credit it and link to http://birdingfrontiers.com.

    David Bismuth

  2. Pingback: Booted Warbler and other vagrants on Helgoland | Bird Lens

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