Once again this year, Osnabrück biology students explored the wildlife at 'Gülper See' (Gülpe Lake). The starting point for all daily observation tours was the Ecological Station of the University of Potsdam in Gülpe.

Prof. Dr. Achim Paululat

The so-called 'Hünemörderhof' is a single farmstead located in the middle of the floodplain of the Havel River. We were able to stay there thanks to the hospitality of the University of Potsdam and the extremely friendly and helpful support of the responsible staff members, Dr. Geißler, Katia März and Mr. Schlüter.

© Jonas Olbrich | Osnabrück University

The Ecological Station of the University of Potsdam in Gülpe.

Already on the day of arrival we spotted the first ospreys and white-tailed eagles around 'Gülper See' (Lake Gülpe) (see header picture). During the next days we heard and observed more than 80 bird species. For example, at 'Grützer Bogen' we spotted spoonbills, teals, garganey, whistling ducks, gadwalls, mallards and tufted ducks. Some excursion participants even observed the first hoopoes returning from their wintering grounds. From the large observation tower at 'Gülper See' we were able to study the behavior of a pair of white-tailed eagles with a young bird feeding. Another highlight was our trip to the 'Havelländisches Luch' (Luch Havelland) to see the Great Bustards. Great Bustards are extremely rare in Germany, only about 150 pairs bred in Germany in 2022, almost all of them in the Luch Havelland, the 'Belziger Landschaftswiesen' (landscape meadow of Belzig) and the 'Fiener Bruch' (Fiener quarry). Therefore, it was a great experience to watch the Great Bustard males mating. By the way, great bustards are the heaviest flying birds in the world.

An acoustic highlight was offered by a reed warbler presenting itself in best pose in the reeds of the 'Linumer Fischteiche' (Linum fish ponds). Its song is reminiscent of the chirping of grasshoppers. Once heard, a warbler will be heard again and again.

On the second evening of our excursion, we took advantage of the calm and warm weather conditions to catch bats right at the Ecological Station. Our guest lecturer Carsten Dense explained to the students the trapping and monitoring methods commonly used today. Of course, a permit for setting up trapping nets was obtained beforehand. On this occasion, as in the previous year, we received friendly and collegial support from local bat experts.

© Prof. Dr. Achim Paululat | Osnabrück University

The Biological Station is home to pygmy bats, rough-skinned bats and evening bats. Students had the opportunity to watch bat monitoring.

© Prof. Dr. Achim Paululat | Osnabrück University

Rough-skinned bats (Pipistrellus nathusii), weigh only 6-10 grams, feed on insects, and take up quarters in narrow crevices in walls or buildings. Rough-skinned bats like to hibernate in wood piles or tree cavities.

Klaus Thiele (volunteer bat hunter from Berlin), Bea Koch (National Park Ranger 'Gülper See'), Dr. Mia Lana Luehrs (owner of a planning office located in Gülpe) and Prof. Dr. Melanie Dammhahn (Chair of Wildlife Biology at WWU-Münster) support us in catching and identifying the bats. Thank you very much for your help. We are looking forward to having you again next year. On this occasion Klaus Thiele ringed Rough-skinned bats.