Luebben is a town about 70 km southeast of Berlin, lying on the Spree (this is the same river that flows through Berlin -- you probably saw it in the background of Christo's wrapped Reichstag). It's a famous place for pickled gherkins, and also worth visiting for the birds. It is also one of the few areas where the Sorb language is spoken, a Slavic language that sounds a bit like Czech.
I visited the fish ponds to the north of town, reached by following the riverside footpath towards Schlepzig.
This area is less disturbed than the other ponds. The dikes between the ponds have a good band of reeds, and there seem to be plenty of nesting birds.
Breeding GOLDENEYE (Bucephala clangula -- several families of ducklings) GREAT REED WARBLER (Acrocephalus arundinaceus), RED-BACKED SHRIKE (Lanius collurio), GREAT GREY SHRIKE (Lanius excubitor), MARSH HARRIER (Circus aeruginosis), RED KITE (Milvus milvus), WHITE STORK (Ciconia ciconia)
One can cross the river Spree at the locks to the North of Hartmannsdorf.
Heavily stocked -- very attractive to fish-eaters (and anglers).
Several pairs of BLACK KITE (Milvus migrans), a young WHITE-TAILED EAGLE (Haliaeetus albicilla -- tail not yet white) OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus -- at least 2) (these are all raptors with a fondness for fish). At times the sky was quite crowded with raptors -- soon after I arrived there were 2 kites, the eagle and an Osprey over one of the ponds -- the Osprey thought it too crowded and chased the eagle off -- seeing the two birds close together really gave an impression of how huge the White-tailed Eagle is. I twice saw an Osprey take a sizable carp (don't tell the ponds' owners!). The smaller fish aren't safe either -- there were plenty of CORMORANT (Phalocrocorax carbo -- till recently a coastal species, but now spreading in-land rapidly -- there's a breeding colony in Berlin this year for the first time, but only a few years ago it was written up in the Berlin bird report as an interesting record if any were sighted in the summer months), a few COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo), and I also saw a BLACK TERN (Chlidonias niger).
These ponds are surrounded by woodland, mostly pine, but with some patches of mixed forest -- I was lucky enough to see a BLACK WOODPECKER (Dryocopus martius) fly between two of the mixed patches.
On the walk back through a huge DDR-period farmyard, everything built from prefabricated concrete plates -- there are two birds that are specialists for prefabricated concrete buildings -- I found both -- CRESTED LARK (Galerida cristata) and BLACK REDSTART (Phoenicurus ochruros).
This was written a couple of years ago, after my first visit to the area (the Christo reference is a little dated now). I've been back several times since, and I should mention two other interesting species that I missed on my first visit.
BLACK STORK (Ciconia nigra) are present, I've seen them several times in the woods to the south of the village Hartmannsdorf, and also in the woods around Pond groups 2 and 3.
PENDULINE TIT (Remiz pendulinus) breed in the reeds around the ponds.
The raptors are very reliable, I've seen BLACK KITE and OSPREY on every summer visit, and WHITE-TAILED EAGLE almost every time. I don't think I know of another site so near Berlin where your chances of seeing Black Kite are this good. The GREAT REED WARBLERs at the first (quieter) pond group are also quite easy to see.
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