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Reedbeds to Ravensbruck - Richards Diary part 17

Saturday 1st May

I wake early, listening to newly-arrived great reed warblers on the mill lake. Outside, I locate three different males on the southern side of the lake. Despite their size and loudness, they are tricky to see. Eventually I pick off one bird hopping around in the reed leaf litter, churring. like a souped-up reed warbler. Nick and Toby are ready to do more filming and I join them to help with some ‘drive by’ shots of the truck which they haven’t yet got. We drive to a lovely spot just outside Altkunkendorf and do several takes. By nine o’clock we’re finished and I leave them to explore the area.

Houses on the edge of Altkunkendorf
Houses on the edge of Altkunkendorf

The restored marsh south of Altkunkendorf
The restored marsh south of Altkunkendorf

Red kite soaring in the sky
A red kite soars over the Altkunkendorf marsh

White stork in flight
White stork

There’s a beautiful restored reedbed and marsh just south of Altkunkendorf where I spend some time. There is a booming bittern – probably the same male as we heard last week when Nigel and Roland packed the hire car before leaving for Calais. Red kites and white storks soar overhead as the ground warms up and a male marsh harrier quarters to reedbed. I am tempted to stay for longer but am keen to explore further afield.

The rape has come into flower over the last few days and large areas of the countryside have turned yellow. I watch a pair of marsh harriers doing a food pass over a rape field just outside Greiffenberg. Outside the biosphere, much of the farmland is managed intensively and there are many wind farms right across the landscape. There have been recent cases of both sea eagles and lesser spotted eagles being killed by turbine blades. For a vulnerable species like lesser spotted eagle the impacts could be very severe. I come across feldsolles where the rape is planted right up to the wet border – this can’t be good for nutrient runoff and leaves little riparian habitat for wildlife.

Feldsolle with rape flower border
Feldsolle with rape border, Greiffenberg

I pass through the lovely town of Templin and finally make up my mind to go to Ravensbruck. This was the site of a women’s concentration camp during the war and I have just finished reading an account by Corrie ten Boom who was held there with her sister Betsie for helping shelter Jewish people at their home in Haarlem. It is a very sobering experience. I return to the mill via Friedrichswalde where there is a wayside cross filled with keys, which somehow feels appropriate. I get back to the mill late and Nick cooks pasta. The RSPB film crew now have all the film footage they need and are ready to return to the UK.

The Friedrichswalde key cross
The Friedrichswalde key cross

This is the diary of Richard Archer, RSPB Conservation Officer for Somerset. In mid April, Richard spent three weeks as part of the RSPB/WWT/Pensthorpe crane team collecting crane eggs in Eastern Germany. These are his personal reflections on the successful German visit. You can read all of Richards Diary here.

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Richard Archer is RSPB’s Conservation Officer for Somerset, and took his sabbatical in the of Spring 2010 to help with the collection, incubation and transport of the first year’s eggs.