Germany, Jun 2019

    We’d been invited to visit friends in former East Germany and were going to fly but were scuppered by Ryan-bloody-Air when they cancelled the Stansted-Leipzig route completely. So, we turned it into a 3-week caravan trip.

    It was our first trip to Germany in 31 years. Things have changed. Our route out went through Belgium and the eastward journey was fine. The westward return was made a little further south, to avoid Belgium and hit France at Saarbrucken, on what I can only describe as nightmarish autobahns with dreadful delays caused by multiple sets of long-term road works, mostly at autobahn junctions to cause maximum disruption to the astounding amount of trucks using that particular route. We won’t be in a hurry to repeat the experience.

    We did enjoy the most incredibly good weather with three weeks of unbroken clear blue skies. In fact, the temperature was getting a little uncomfortable at >35°C on a couple of occasions. We were quick struck by how apparently empty the German skies were of birds as well as clouds. Flowery meadows seemed scant and insect life on the margins of fields seemed very meagre – we scared up very few butterflies or other flying insects. It was bizarre; we don’t know what Germany has done to its wildlife.

    Having said that, we did succeed in finding 25 species of odonata in Germany. Originally I had a distant hope that I might see an early Ophiogompus cecilia (Green Snaketail) or Sympetrum vulgatum (Moustached Darter) but no such luck. This was probably a combination of being a little too early and/or not finding the right kind of habitat – they are a little particular and you really need to know where to look.

    What I did find at almost every site – there were just two exceptions – was  Blue Featherlegs/White-legged Damselflies (Platycnemis pennipes). This was a bit of a surprise since, according to the BDS:

    In recent years there have been increasing concerns that this elegant species is disappearing from some parts of the UK.

    It seemed to be doing very well in Germany which, as far as other wildlife was apparently concerned, might be less than ideal. Interesting.

    Here’s my map with indexed locations.

    Eisenbachtal, 15 Jun [#1]

    Calopteryx virgo, female, Germany-0303Our first camping experience in Germany for 31 years at Herr Wolf’s Campingplatz Eisenbachtal,  near Montabaur, was a sheer delight – hedged pitches with all facilities and a very friendly, welcoming owner who spoke English but graciously allowed me to practice my very rusty and poor German. little gem . He mentioned a lake, I mentioned Libellen, he said “ja”. It wasn’t a stunning collection but it was a relaxing and enjoyable start. This female Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo) has a silted abdomen so has been ovipositing – job done.

    • Calopteryx splendens (Banded Demoiselle)
    • Ischnura elegans (Common Bluetail)
    • Coenagrion puella (Azure Bluet)
    • Platycnemis pennipes (Blue Featherleg)

    Holzappel Ponds, 16 Jun [#2]

    Somatochlora metallica, Holzappel, Germany-0413This was our first star find on a day trip from Herr Wolf’s to Limburg an der Lahn. On our return we stumbled across a series of descending ponds beside the road on a hill. With a handy-dandy pull in, I couldn’t resist. I’m glad I didn’t because I got my second and very unexpected photographic opportunity with a Brilliant Emerald (Somatochlora metallica).

    • Calopteryx splendens (Banded Demoiselle)
    • Ischnura elegans (Common Bluetail)
    • Coenagrion puella (Azure Bluet)
    • Erythromma najas (Large Redeye)
    • Pyrrhosoma nymphula (Large Red Damsel)
    • Platycnemis pennipes (Blue Featherleg)
    • Anax imperator (Blue Emperor)
    • Gomphus pulchellus (Western Clubtail)
    • Somatochlora metallica (Brilliant Emerald)
    • Libellula fulva (Blue Chaser)

    Stausee, Hohenfelden, 17 Jun [#3]

    This, our second campsite, was much larger and more of a shock with many static units and a frankly scruffy, crammed area beside the lake. (We set up further away on some real grass.) Being on a lake, it did have a few dragonfly species but a rather uninteresting, small collection, was all I found.

    Platycnemis pennipes, Hohenfelden, Germany-0422The most interesting feature was that Blue Featherleg (Platycnemis pennipes) was beginning to be something of a feature, having been at all three sites thus far.

    • Ischnura elegans (Common Bluetail)
    • Platycnemis pennipes (Blue Featherleg)
    • Anax imperator (Blue Emperor)
    • Orthetrum cancellatum (Black-tailed Skimmer)

    Haselbacher Teiche, 20 Jun [#4]

    Chalcolestes viridis, Haselbach-0449Our primary purpose near Leipzig was to meet with some friends we had met in New Zealand 18 months earlier. Knowing I was an odo-nutter, they took us on a bike ride to Haselbacher Teiche where we found a reasonable collection. I must say I was very surprized to see many recently emerged Western Willow Spreadwings (Chalcolestes viridis) – this seemed very early for them, though perhaps they are earlier in Germany, I thought. Then I was even more surprised to be shown a photo of one that had emerged at the same time in the UK. An early year, then.

    • Calopteryx virgo (Beautiful Demoiselle) – Pleisse River
    • Calopteryx splendens (Banded Demoiselle)
    • Chalcolestes viridis (Western Willow Spreadwing)
    • Coenagrion puella (Azure Bluet)
    • Ischnura elegans (Common Bluetail)
    • Erythromma najas (Large Redeye)
    • Platycnemis pennipes (Blue Featherleg)
    • Anax parthenope (Lesser Emperor)
    • Gomphus pulchellus (Western Clubtail)
    • Orthetrum cancellatum (Black-tailed Skimmer)
    • Crocothemis erythraea (Broad Scarlet)

    Starkenberg Reserve, 21 Jun [#5]

    J19_0477 Calopteryx splendens, GermanyWe were spending 6 days a little south of Leipzig with our friends. They seemed keen for me to see as many dragonflies as possible in their area, knowing it was my main interest, and took us to a very nicely done small nature reserve with two modest lakes and good vegetation. I don’t know if it has an official name so I refer to it as Starkenberg Reserve.  I got what I considered to be a great photo opportunity with a Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens).

    Unfortunately it was also good habitat for Ticks so more protective clothing would have been helpful. Ticks are a real problem these days.

    • Calopteryx splendens (Banded Demoiselle) 
    • Ischnura elegans (Common Bluetail)
    • Enallagma cyathigerum (Common Bluet)
    • Coenagrion puella (Azure Bluet)
    • Erythromma najas (Large Redeye)
    • Platycnemis pennipes (Blue Featherleg)
    • Anax imperator (Blue Emperor)
    • Orthetrum cancellatum (Black-tailed Skimmer)
    • Crocothemis erythraea (Broad Scarlet)

    Pahnaer See, 23 Jun [#6]

    Pahnaer See was home to the campsite we had chosen for the duration of our 6-day visit to friends. It went from feeling spacious, through crowded at the weekend, and back to spacious as other campers left. We were having some difficulty adjusting to camping in Germany.

    J19_0554 Libellula fulva, GermanyThe campsite was beside a large lake but there was a smaller lake favoured by dragonflies and naturists. This represents a combined list from both lakes – minus the naturists. 😀

    • Calopteryx splendens (Banded Demoiselle)
    • Ischnura elegans (Common Bluetail)
    • Enallagma cyathigerum (Common Bluet)
    • Coenagrion puella (Azure Bluet)
    • Erythromma najas (Large Redeye)
    • Platycnemis pennipes (Blue Featherleg)
    • Anax imperator (Blue Emperor)
    • Libellula quadrimaculata (Four-spotted Chaser)
    • Libellula fulva (Blue Chaser)
    • Orthetrum cancellatum (Black-tailed Skimmer)
    • Crocothemis erythraea (Broad Scarlet)

    Grosse Teich, Eschefeld, 23 Jun [#7]

    J19_0539 Sympetrum fonscolombi, GermanyThis was just a short distance from Pahnaer See. I wouldn’t normally have bothered including this site since we spent only a few minutes there and saw little but it was our only encounter with a Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombi), so I thought I should.

    • Anax parthenope (Lesser Emperor)
    • Orthetrum cancellatum (Black-tailed Skimmer)
    • Sympetrum fonscolombii (Red-veined Darter)

      Bad Kostritz, 24 Jun [#8]

      Our friends had booked us on a brewery tour after I expressed interest in a biergarten (I think). It was a large brewery, really more of a beer factory with a computer acting as brew master. 2+ hours of trying to fathom fast, intense German did my head in. The tasting was refreshing, though.

      Much more relaxing was a walk in the local park complete with a small lake where we once again came across a Brilliant Emerald (Somatochlora metallica) and our now common friends, Blue Featherlegs (Platycnemis pennipes). Since I wasn’t expecting odonata, I didn’t take my camera.

      • Calopteryx splendens (Banded Demoiselle)
      • Ischnura elegans (Common Bluetail)
      • Coenagrion puella (Azure Bluet)
      • Platycnemis pennipes (Blue Featherleg)
      • Anax imperator (Blue Emperor)
      • Somatochlora metallica (Brilliant Emerald)
      • Orthetrum cancellatum (Black-tailed Skimmer)

      Stadtsteinach, 25 Jun [#9]

      Back on our own time, we moved on to Campingplatz Stadtsteinach. This was a perfectly pleasant campsite, if not full, but was probably the smallest pitch that I’ve ever been on at just about 64m2 – just about room for van and car but no more.

      J19_0598 Orthetrum brunneum, GermanyWalking towards the local town we crossed a small, well vegetated stream finding just three species, including good ol’ Blue Featherleg (Platycnemis pennipes) but most interestingly Southern Skimmer (Orthetrum brunneum), our only encounter on this trip.

      • Calopteryx virgo (Beautiful Demoiselle)
      • Platycnemis pennipes (Blue Featherleg)
      • Orthetrum brunneum (Southern Skimmer)

      Kronach, 26 Jun [#10]

      J19_0619 Onychogomphus forcipatusFrom Campingplatz Stadtsteinach we made an excursion into Kronach again, not particularly after dragonflies. However, we did find one notable 60m (ish) stretch of river which was home to a dozen or so Small Pincertails (Onychogomphus forcipatus). Not being able to see the sub-terminal knobs, I can’t be certain but I strongly suspect this is ssp forcipatus, based mainly on the amount of black on the thorax and the location. Most notably, this short stretch seemed unique since we looked further along the same river and found absolutely nothing; the habitat on this restricted stretch must’ve been just right.

      • Onychogomphus forcipatus forcipatus (Small Pincertail)

      Pegnitz-Hirschbach Valleys, 28 Jun [#11]

      We moved on to Camping Pegnitz which, although without marked pitches, seemed to be controlled by the lady in charge. It was a delightful aire naturelle style campsite and great for escaping from the weekend crush.

      J19_0675 Libellula depressa, PegnitzFrom here we made a short excursion up the Pegnitz valley, then across and back down the Hirschbach valley. We made four stops at habitat of the way, none of which were particularly interesting but one did produce our only encounter with Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) in Germany.

      • Calopteryx virgo (Beautiful Demoiselle)
      • Ischnura elegans (Common Bluetail)
      • Enallagma cyathigerum (Common Bluet)
      • Coenagrion puella (Azure Bluet)
      • Pyrrhosoma nymphula (Large Red Damsel)
      • Platycnemis pennipes (Blue Featherleg)
      • Libellula  depressa (Broad-bodied Chaser)

      Dinklesbühl Lake, 1 Jul [#12]

      A blast from the past – I visited Dinklesbühl 51 years ago on a school cycling trip. It’s on the so-called Romantische Straβe and we stayed at Campingpark Romantische Straβe on the edge of  itself. We went this time only because Carol was interested to see it.

      J19_0801 Aympetrum sanguineum, GermanyThe campsite was on a lake which was, like most lakes in Germany, used for bathing. There were, however, vegetated margins and we did find a handful of dragonfly species including our first encounter with Ruddy Darters (Sympetrum sanguineum).

      • Calopteryx splendens (Banded Demoiselle)
      • Ischnura elegans (Common Bluetail)
      • Erythromma lindenii (Blue-eye)
      • Platycnemis pennipes (Blue Featherleg)
      • Gomphus pulchellus (Western Clubtail)
      • Orthetrum cancellatum (Black-tailed Skimmer)
      • Sympetrum sanguineum (Ruddy Darter)

      Wachenheim, 4 Jul [#13]

      We were quite looking forward to escaping Germany but, to keep the nightmare steps back along the autobahn a reasonable length we made a final stop at Wachenheim on the Deutsche Weinstraβe. The campsite was close to a manufactured lake, complete with a large fountain, and produced a trio of species including the almost ubiquitous Blue Featherleg (Platycnemis pennipes), which is about the only reason I include it.

      • Platycnemis pennipes (Blue Featherleg)
      • Anax imperator (Blue Emperor)
      • Orthetrum cancellatum (Black-tailed Skimmer)
      Posted in 2019, Germany, Trip reports

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