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The Birds of Brandenburg & Berlin

Tour Code: DEU03

A 5-day birdwatching break to north-east Germany in search of migrating Cranes as well as wintering geese, ducks and raptors.

5 days from £995(inc flights) Land Only Price: £875 SRS: £110

This single-centre holiday visits the state of Brandenburg in north-east Germany during two key birdwatching months - March and October. About 100 Great Bustards reside in a protected area of rough grassland and cultivated fields west of Berlin and we’ll visit key sites in order to enjoy these. During the winter, tens of thousands of geese, including huge flocks of Taiga Bean Geese, visit this area as well as wintering ducks such as Red-breasted Merganser and Goosander. Raptors such as White-tailed Eagle have benefited from conservation efforts in the region, and we’ll hope to see these impressive eagles, as well as other raptors during our stay. Another highlight of this trip will be the Crane passage in both March and October, and we’ll watch the Cranes as they come to roost at dusk. We begin and end the tour in Berlin, and highly recommend extending your holiday with some additional sightseeing in Germany’s vibrant capital city.

  • Our tours in March & October are timed to coincide with peak Common Crane passage
  • View Great Bustards from well-constructed hides & observation towers
  • See Tundra & Taiga Bean Geese, Pink-footed & Barnacle with the rare Lesser White-fronted & Red-breasted also possible. 
  • Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Common Goldeneye & Smew overwinter here
  • Watch Common Cranes as they come to roost at dusk (March & October)
  • Rough-legged Buzzard, Hen Harrier & White-tailed Eagle among the area’s raptors
  • Hawfinch plus Black, Middle Spotted & Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers possible
  • Extend your holiday with a stay in Berlin
  • Led by expert naturalist guides



All included in the price.


A comfortable hotel in Semlin, all rooms with private facilities.

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Berlin from regional airports; transfer Semlin.

Day 2/4 Daily programme of birding excursions from Semlin.

Day 5 Transfer Berlin; fly UK.

A birdwatching holiday might not immediately spring to mind when mention is made of Berlin, or of north-east Germany in general. This area is, ornithologically speaking, one of Europe’s backwaters, currently little-known and under-visited despite an abundance of attractive habitat and good birding. Things are changing though. Considerable efforts are being made in Germany to protect wildlife, and the popularity of birdwatching as a hobby is growing fast, particularly with the younger generations. Many of the reserves in this area now offer well-constructed hides and observation towers to rival the best on offer at British nature reserves.

Berlin is the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany and lies in the north-east of the country, in the centre of the State of Brandenburg, the fifth largest of Germany’s 16 Federal States. Brandenburg’s landscapes are generally flat, but nevertheless offer considerable variety in an area roughly twice the size of Yorkshire, notable for over 3,000 significant lakes, two major rivers (the Elbe and Oder) and extensive woodland, with the largest tract of lowland beech forest in Europe. Our base for this tour will be the small village of Semlin which lies on the shores of Seeblick, an attractive lake tucked into the western edge of the state.
The avian spectacles on offer during these two key months — March and October — are mouthwatering. We will visit the extensive rough grassland and cultivated fields of Havelländisches Luch in search of some of northern Europe’s few remaining Great Bustards. About 100 bustards reside in a protected area between the towns of Nauen and Rathenow to the west of Berlin. Tower hides provide good vantage points from which to admire these impressive birds; the bustards have benefitted from a successful conservation strategy in recent years, bouncing back somewhat from a low point in 1997, when only 56 birds remained.
Large numbers of geese are another highlight at this time of year, with tens of thousands of birds seeking refuge in and around the lake, adjacent meadows and streams of Gülper See. Wintering flocks of Taiga Bean Geese can number 50,000, with smaller numbers of Tundra Bean Geese also present. White-fronted Geese also winter throughout the state, appearing in flocks of up to 40,000, while telescopes will be at the fore to pick out the occasional Lesser White-fronted, Pink-footed, Red-breasted or Barnacle Geese that sometimes join them. Wintering ducks, both dabbling and diving, are numerous too, with Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Common Goldeneye, Smew, Red-breasted Merganser and Goosander forming significant flocks.
North-east Germany is also one of the major staging posts for Common Cranes, with spectacular numbers migrating south to their main winter quarters in Spain. The best-known Crane site in Brandenburg is Linum Ponds — an extensive area of former peat cuttings, 30 miles north-west of Berlin. Our two departures are timed to catch the peak Crane passage, in October when the Cranes are south-west bound, and in March, when the birds are on their way to breeding grounds across northern Europe. Watching the Cranes come in to roost at dusk is an evocative experience and one not to be missed.
This proliferation of birdlife in attractive, well-managed habitat attracts a healthy population of raptors. Amongst them is the White-tailed Eagle, a species that has done particularly well in recent decades and may be found wintering here. Of other winter visitors, Rough-legged Buzzards patrol the rough grassland areas from October to March and can be easily seen, whilst Hen Harriers, Merlins and Goshawks are all much more common than in the UK. In the extensive woodlands we plan to enjoy a walk or two in search of Hawfinch, Black, Middle Spotted and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, whilst open fields will be checked for winter flocks of finches, larks and buntings.
On completion of this tour, we highly recommend an extended stay in Berlin, which we are happy to organise for you. Since the fall of its infamous Wall, Berlin has busied itself with, once again, becoming one of the most stimulating creative and cultural centres in Europe. Clustered together on the UNESCO-listed Museum Island in the centre of the city are some of the continent’s finest museums. Berlin is a fascinating city, and though it still bears reminders of its turbulent 20th century history, today it buzzes with a vibrancy brought by international artists, immigrants and visitors from all over Europe, attracted by its progressive cultural scene and relatively low cost of living.

Great BustardTaiga Bean GeeseCommon CranesGreater White-fronted GeeseBean GeeseCommon cranesWhite-fronted GeeseGoshawk with MagpieBlack Woodpecker, GermanyHawfinchGadwallNorthern PintailMale SmewHen Harrier (Female)GoldeneyeGreater White-fronted GeeseMiddle-spotted WoodpeckerFemale MerlinCommon CranesGoldeneyeBarnacle Geese
October 2016
The leader, Tom, was extremely knowledgeable about birds and their habits and calls which made it easier to spot them. He found great places to watch the flight of the cranes. The food at the hotel was very good. Rooms were clean and comfortable.
October 2016
Spectacular sightings of cranes and geese. Outstanding leader. Excellent general birding.
October 2016
A well organised trip, expertly led by Tom. I enjoyed the pace and variety. There was a good balance between travel time and time at locations. A thoroughly enjoyable bird watching venture.
October 2015
Brilliant leaders who worked well together.
October 2015
An interesting, fun holiday with lots of variety. The small villages, wildlife and birds.
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Fri 5th October 2018 - Tue 9th October 2018



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Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £875 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Germany

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The leader, Tom, was extremely knowledgeable about birds and their habits and calls which made it easier to spot them. He found great places to watch the flight of the cranes. The food at the hotel was very good. Rooms were clean and comfortable.
T.S, October 2016