Monday 22 October 2007

The New Bell Tower

This is it then, my first post from Germany. It's been quite a while, more than a month to be precise, and just about a month longer than I had thought it would take.
I have missed blogging quite a lot, and reading other birder's blogs, too.

During the last month, I would have rather been bird blogging or even birding, but then there were planes to catch, and apartments to find, and jobs to do and all sorts of other nasty things to cope with that left no room for putting down thoughts in words.
I am done with most of that now, except for the jobs to do which will still go on for about ... well ... 40 years or so, 30 if I am lucky. Still, I now feel I have just about enough spare time at hand to write a post.

So now, let me introduce you to the New Bell Tower, the current territory of yours truly.

For the moment and possibly the forseeable future, I reside in the beautiful city of Stralsund, on the German Baltic sea coast right next to the equally beautiful island of Rügen.
The old city of Stralsund -which together with Wismar is actually a UNESCO world heritage site - is positioned on a small island. The eastern side of the island is bordered by the so-called Strelasund, a narrow strait that separates the island of Rügen from the mainland. All the other "coasts" of the small island are actually artificial as they comprise of several ponds that were dug out hundreds of years ago to protect the city from unwelcome visitors, like foreign armies or the plague. People today hardly ever appreciate the peaceful times we're living in.
This map gives a rough yet artistic overview of the old city of Stralsund.

In case you were wondering: No, this is not how we still write today in Germany, that's just art to make the map look even more ancient and historic.
And this is a bird's eye view of it, admittedly a view a bird might get on a very cloudy day...

This sculpture was actually designed to allow blind visitors to experience the city's architecture, which I think is a very neat and rather fabulous idea. Beat that, NYC!

My new home after the Ann Arbor flat and the in-law's closet (where I was tolerated and allowed to stay for the first 3 weeks after my return to Germany) lies right at the city harbour on the coast of the Strelasund and can be seen here.

To give you a general impression of my new home patch, here's my route to work each day!

I get up far too early - you don't even want to know, but people are serious about work here - and look out of my bedroom window.
First thought: I'd rather be birding...

Then I drag myself into the livingroom/kitchen area and check the view towards the harbour and the Strelasund there.

Second thought: Darn, still too early in the season for an Ivory Gull at the harbour.

I finally leave the house (we don't have coffee there, only at the office, so that helps a lot) and walk through the inner city until I reach the ponds.
You can cross the belt of ponds at a handful of locations, but the most beautiful spot to cross them is the "White Bridges", and as my office is right next to the White Bridges, I choose that route each morning.

Not the worst of choices, I must say...

... especially when looking back towards the impressive St. Marie's church.

After another five minutes, I let myself fall into my office chair just to glance back at the inner city, the ponds and my beloved bed in the far too far distance:

Now, to the birding, at least a few words (and you knew I'd get there eventually):
Despite the fact that this is all happening within the core area of a 60,000 people settlement, the birding around the city isn't that bad.
Take the view from my office as seen above: the window list now stands at more than 120 species, mostly fly-by's but still nice.
And the White Bridges are always good for nice views of the more common species.
Like the Black-headed Gull, surely the most easily photographed wild bird in Germany.

I like them, I really do, and it might not be a pure coincidence that I chose a picture of a Black-headed Gull both for my first ever real post on Bell Tower Birding and my first ever post on the New Bell Tower Birding.

Full cirlce, I am back again!


Anonymous said...

Wooo-oooo! I get to post the first comment!

Welcome back. It is good to hear from you again and I am looking forward to hearing all about birding in your very picturesque new environment.

PS Stunning photos!

Anonymous said...

Sorry that you've left the continent before we had the chance to meet, but I sure am looking forward to more of your blogs from the other side of the pond.

Patrick B. said...

Welcome back Jochen! The new pad looks pretty awesome. Can't wait to see reports from the harbor!

Anonymous said...

Good to have some news from you!!!!!

Hope to have some new posts soon....before I book a plane to germany......


Anonymous said...

Hurrah, my friend - welcome back to our little, backward continent with its rubbish birds and cr*p weather :))
Good to have you online again.

Anonymous said...

Nice, Jochen's Back!

Thanks for showing me around the Baltic...and if any other birders reading this are headed to northeastern Germany the birds are pretty cool!