Sea eagles were as good as extinct in our country in the sixties. Only about 60 breeding pairs lived in our country at that time. For decades they were systematically persecuted like all birds of prey and were additionally unable to reproduce sufficiently due to insecticides such as DDT. The insecticide was banned and our largest native bird of prey was placed under strict protection.
What follows is one of the greatest success stories in conservation.
The white-tailed eagle is back in Germany
Today, the population of the white-tailed eagle has recovered significantly. Nationwide, more than 700 breeding pairs are currently believed to exist. Almost 75 percent of them have their breeding grounds in Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
Of course, I'm very happy about that, because I spend most of my time filming in these two states. As a rule, you can see them only from great distances. A white-tailed eagle sitting in a tree is already noticeable from several hundred meters away. With a wingspan of up to 2.50 m and such a beefy body, these birds can't hide so easily either?
Nevertheless, it is not a matter of course to meet a white-tailed eagle due to the very large territories. Such an encounter is and remains a real highlight every time. But what I experienced a few days ago in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, let all my previous experiences completely recede into the background.
The Peene Valley - A Land of Cockaigne for White-tailed Eagles
In the nature reserve "Flusslandschaft Peenetal" gathered in the last few days at times over 230 white-tailed eagles. An event that seeks its equal. Nowhere in Europe has such an accumulation ever been observed.
One of the reasons for this is that the Peene Valley has the highest density of white-tailed eagle pairs in Europe. The high food supply ensures that one eyrie follows the next and the birds tolerate each other in their territories. But that alone does not explain this extreme accumulation.
Indeed, white-tailed eagles usually lead a solitary life or in a permanent marriage. Smaller aggregations have been observed in the past only near larger flocks of birds. However, these aggregations rarely involved more than half a dozen white-tailed eagles. So where did this phenomenon of several hundred sea eagles come from?
Drought ensures a covered fish buffet
As is well known, the last weeks and months were extremely dry. The record summer has also left its mark on many bodies of water. And so some raised bogs in the Peene Valley dried out completely last week.
Until then, the water level was so low that the fish were served to the herons, sea eagles and many other species on a silver platter. Food was available in abundance and I could observe a behavior with some animals that one does not know otherwise.
Some silver and gray herons were so full that they simply dropped the fish they had caught. Some white-tailed eagles instinctively took the fish from another, but then they didn't know what to do with it either. A real land of plenty, but unfortunately one must also understand that not every animal species has benefited from the drought.
White-tailed eagle in the Peene Valley - A lasting experience
On site, however, this did not matter at first. To see the many sea eagles in the Peene valley was simply unique. I tried to soak up the moment as well as possible and to realize what a great event I may actually just witness there. Not even in a dream I would have thought to get times over 20 sea eagles on a single picture.
Plus the defiant wild boars, the flock of lapwings, the curlews flying by, and the hundreds of herons and cranes in the rising sun. It was a pure celebration of biodiversity and proof that Germany does indeed have exciting and impressive nature to offer.
I hope you like my little movie and you got a rough idea of how fascinating this event was. Otherwise, I am of course happy if you continue to hear from me in the Wildlife Blog be surprised by our native nature.