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Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

I spotted this bird on Friday as I explored the area around my hotel near the airport in Munich, Germany. I am not sure of the exact name of the town, but it is one of many airport hotels that are in a relatively rural area adjacent to the airport.

I spotted the bird, which I was sure was some kind of a raptor, from a distance and was able to move a little closer to the mound on which it was perched. My initial thought was that it was some kind of hawk or falcon, but it was different from any of the ones that I have seen in my home area of Northern Virginia.

Thanks to the experts on a Facebook birding forum, I learned that this is a Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus). It is somewhat similar to the American Kestrel, the smallest falcon that we have in North America, a species that I have seen a few times.

Eurasian Kestrel

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday I bought a round trip ticket on the Laben Bergbahn, a small mountain cable car in Oberammergau, Germany that took us quickly from 900m to 1684 meters. Some folks, however, bought a one-way ticket up the mountain and used an alternative mode of transportation to come down.

I am not sure if I am courageous or crazy enough to jump off a mountain like that and paraglide to the bottom.

parasailing

paragliding

paragliding

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Blackbirds in Germany are more closely related to American Robins (Turdus migratorius)—both belong to the thrush family—than to Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus), which belong to an entirely different bird family.

Here is a shot that I took earlier this week of a female Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula) in Oberammergau, Germany. In many places this bird species is known as the Common Blackbird or simply as a blackbird. When I first spotted this bird, I was struck by two things. First, the shape of the body and bill reminded me immediately of a robin, even though the red-breast was not present. Secondly, the song that the bird was singing was melodious, unlike the sometimes grating calls of Red-winged Blackbirds.

Eurasian Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I couldn’t see the sun actually setting on Wednesday in Oberammergau, Germany, but there was a glow in the sky and behind the mountains that was particularly beautiful.

As I rushed around in the fading light, trying to get some shots, I decided to include the Parish Church St. Peter and Paul, one of the most prominent buildings in this small Bavarian village. A few hours later, I captured the second image with a long exposure made by leaning my camera on a parked car. I love the architectural style of the church and included a third image to give you a better sense of the entire church structure.

Parish Church Oberammergau

Parish Church Oberammergau

Parish Church Oberammergau

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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During most of my travel overseas, I stay at hotels operated by US chains, generally the Marriott. The accommodations are predictable, albeit a bit generic, no matter where I am in the world.

This week in Oberammergau, Germany, I am staying in the Alte Post Hotel, which is almost the antithesis of a hotel chain.  It is old, unique, and charming.

According to information in the hotel, it was initially known as the Lion Inn and was first mentioned in chronicles in 1612. Merchants frequently stopped in as early as the 17th century. In 1851, the first postal station was opened at the inn. In 1864 the inn, minus the postal station was purchased and the new owner renamed it as the Alte Post  (Old Post).

The hotel is a little quirky, but friendly, with lots of wood paneling, as seems to be the style in the region. The first photo below shows the front of the hotel. The second photo shows the view from my room that looks out onto the spectacular mountains.

Alte Post

Alte Post

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I spotted this White-throated Dipper (Cinculus cinclulus) on Sunday on the Ammer River in Oberammergau, Germany. This little bird, which is about 7 inches in length (18 cm) is also known as the European Dipper or simply a dipper.

Remarkably this bird walks on the stones on the bottom of a moving stream against the current, with its head downwards to locate prey, according to an article on oiseau-birds.com. According to this report, the current’s force against the bird’s bowed back keeps it on the river bed as it walks, propelled by wing movements. Of note, the White-throated Dipper is the national bird of Norway, according to Wikipedia.

White-throated Dipper

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Here is a shot of some of the distant mountains that surrounded me on Sunday afternoon as I wandered about in Oberammergau, Germany. From this small Bavarian town, there are impressive mountain views in virtually all directions.

There was already a significant amount of snow on the mountains and we had almost 6 inches of additional snow on Monday. Unlike in the Washington D.C. area where I live, things functioned as normal with this snowfall, including a surprising number of people riding bicycles.

mountain view from Oberammergau

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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