Hotspots

A haven for aquatic birds in eastern Hamburg

Hamburg has plenty to offer birders besides the Carl Zeiss Bird Station. Way out to the east of the city is Lake Öjendorf, where several rare duck species can be observed, especially during the winter.

With top-end ZEISS gear in tow, Sören Rust meets the Young Birders Club at the lake – together, they make a few remarkable discoveries. Even the bad weather can’t dampen their spirits.

more

ZEISS and the "International Birding and Research Center" in Eilat

Eilat is famous for its International Birding and Research Center. As the only land bridge connection between Eurasia and Africa it's a hotspot for birdwatching in Israel. Birds can stop there safely before they continue their flight through the foodless Sahara desert.

Noam Weiss, the director of the IBRCE in Eilat, tells you about his passion for birding and how he finds peace through nature observation. One of the most important things is to be well equipped with professional optics. Noam relies on ZEISS binoculars.

more

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Every year in November, birders from around the world celebrate the return of sandhill cranes and snow geese to the Bosque del Apache Refuge in New Mexico. The Festival of the Cranes is the oldest birding festival in the U.S.

ZEISS has been an integral part for the Festival of the Cranes for many years and will continue their support in the future. Stephen Ingraham tells you about the fascinating scenery and the stunning wildlife around the Rio Grande Valley.

more

Discover India's versatility

Home to over 1.2 billion people and reflecting the world’s richest cultural kaleidoscope, India is also justifiably famous for its rich avifauna and charismatic mammalian megafauna. Discover the breathtaking wildlife of different regions in India – one of the world's most attractive birding hotspot.

Our partner Rockjumper Birding Tours is known for top-quality birdwatching holidays and wildlife safaris throughout the world, guided by passionate and experienced professional tour leaders. Take your chance to observe the mythical bengal tiger as well as lots of rare bird species up close.

more

A Saturday morning with the Young Birders Club at the Carl Zeiss Bird Station

4:45 a.m.: The alarm clock went off. Thinking of sleeping in on a Saturday morning? Not when you're going to watch migratory birds with the Young Birders Club! We began counting all migratory birds even before the sun rose. So we met at the Wedel Marina at 7:30. We've headed to the marina because this is where the river Elbe is at its most narrow, causing the migrating birds to gather so that they can spend as little time over the water as possible as they fly south. This Saturday started out gray with a strong wind from the southwest – not exactly great conditions for migrating because birds generally don't fly when there are headwinds. Despite the weather, a small group of Young Birders met at the marina.

And it paid off! In spite of the wind, large groups of birds were out and flocks of them flew across the Elbe heading south every couple of seconds. Today the record went to the common chaffinch: in three hours, more than 21,500 of them flew across the river. Yet you have to look sharp when there are swarms of finches, because in between the common chaffinches is the odd brambling and hawfinch. Picking out individual species when bird watching requires a special kind of skill. Species that look quite different on the ground can appear almost exactly the same when flying overhead. You can only distinguish between them by their call and flying silhouette.

more

An interview with Sören Rust

Sören, what got you interested in nature and birdwatching?

My family has always been very connected to nature. Both my parents are biologists, so I spent a lot of time outdoors as a child and I just grew up with nature, really.

I soon developed an interest in birds when I discovered just how many you can spot in your own back yard and how little I even knew about them. No sooner had I begun did I feel an overwhelming curiosity and I came across ever more species in and around the garden. During one of my various forays, I met another birdwatcher, who was also on the hunt for a kingfisher. He taught me about the Carl Zeiss Bird Station, and that’s when my passion for the pursuit came into its own.

Where does the Carl Zeiss Bird Station come into play?

The Carl Zeiss Bird Station is a fantastic place for ornithologists in and around Hamburg to meet. The Bird Station is situated in a key breeding and resting area for many birds and is equipped with excellent optics, which make it a great place to experience our feathered friends up close. The volunteers there immediately welcomed me with open arms and encouraged me to take an active role myself. Not a month has gone by since my first visit that I haven’t been at least once – in fact, I usually stop by every week. I also very much enjoy showing interested visitors the Wedel Marsh and its birds, and I love watching the birds and capturing shots of them myself. As a volunteer, my duties include station service and assignments designed to ensure the birds always have a place to breed and rest.

more

Fascinating giants of our seas

Whales fascinate with their size and their elegant moves despite their sometimes clumsy appearing body. Different to birds you may recognize whales with the naked eye though you may need binoculars first for observing their details. Talking about optics it is an advantage to have a large field of view and stable image when panning with them in order not to get motion sickness. Nearly everywhere in the sea you will discover one of the world’s 90 whale species, many only from a boat on the sea. In Europe we show the spots where to watch whales from the beach.

On Germany’s exclusive Sylt island many tourists meet the world’s smallest whale and ask amazed why Flipper is in the North Sea. What many experience as a dolphin at first sight is a porpoise, Phocoena phocoena. The longest specimen measures two and a half meters from nose to fluke. Jumping behavior like that of dolphins is not common as the porpoise has a more calm temper. It is his survival strategy to be as physically small as it lives mainly in the shallow coastal regions of the North and Baltic Sea.

more

The name given for our new spotting scope

In Greek mythology they pictured a harpy as a mixture between a raptor and a woman. The creature was the personification of the evil, especially of greed. As a kind of an embodied storm wind she was very fast and thereby invulnerable. On behalf of Zeus she killed human beings or just nabbed their soul. Even in Astrid Lindgren’s famous children’s book “Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter” the author took up the harpies that regularly attack Ronia and her friend Birk.

What is so special about this bird that is named after such creepy mythical creatures? First of all it is one of the largest birds of prey, and in fact it is even the strongest raptor. Its wingspan measures up to two meters and the female birds, which are heavier than the male, may weigh nine kilos. There are few photos of them, but in most of the existing ones you see prey under their impressive, strong talons. The back part of a harpy eagle’s talon grows up to seven centimeters.

more

Beauty of Nature in southern France

There are locations in Europe where a nature observer can be almost overwhelmed by the diversity of the natural world. Where one fascinating creature after another appears and you can’t resist lifting your binoculars to identify it, to admire it, and to understand its behaviour. The Languedoc of southern France is one such place.

The variety of habitats there is huge, from the Haut Languedoc with its acidic soils and typical flora, to the vastly different, garrigue-covered limestone causses further south, where the smaller rivers can dry up or at least flow underground in the summer, and where larger mature rivers like the Herault, Orb and Aude flow to the sea.

more

A hotspot for birders in Central America

Nestled delightfully as a natural land-bridge between the Americas, Panama provides the perfect introduction to Neotropical birding. This small country is fast becoming a must-visit destination for birders and nature travellers the world over, and for very good reason.
The natural life in Panama is simply astounding. In a country about the size of the state of South Carolina, more than 10.000 species of native flora have been identified!

Add to this the fact that almost one-third of the entire country is protected within 15 nature reserves and it is no wonder that Panama is praised for its natural beauty – it is untouched and abounding! The country also boasts some of the most accessible rainforests and high-altitude cloud forests on Earth. Thing only thing that could possibly outshine Panama’s scenery, however, is its array of birdlife. Birding in Panama is an absolute delight. From Toucans to Tanagers, Hawks to Hummingbirds and everything else in between, the variety of avifauna is sure to keep all enthralled!

more