Doesn’t sound like a typical activity, does it? Yesterday I actually tried. What drove me to do that? The sun was shining, I wanted to use the macro lens and I think I even dreamed of a hoverfly – very motivating. Whatever – armed with an umbrella, I visited the airfield in Freiburg. I shook a few branches with little success. From a blackberry I shook a nursery web spider (Pisaura mirabilis).
When I shook the branch of a mountain pine (Pinus mugo mugo), an unknown bug from the Pentatomidae group fell into the umbrella. After some photos I put it back into the tree. What a surprise when I tried to identify it at home: It seemed to be Holcogaster fibulatus. In Germany, this species has been detected only once before (in Nordrhein-Westfalen; Hamers, 2018).
Typically, it occurs further south but it is said to be nowhere common (Sauer, 1996). Due to the global warming, more and more species from the Mediterranean are reaching Germany. And Freiburg is located close to the Belfort Gap, through which various southern species have reached Germany in recent years. Nevertheless, it remains a surprise and it is a pleasant result for an hour of nature observation on the outskirts of the city.
Hamers, B. (2018): Nachweis von Holcogaster fibulata (GERMAR, 1831) in Nordrhein-Westfalen. Heteropteron 51:14-15.
Sauer, F. (1996) Wanzen und Zikaden, Fauna-Verlag, Karlsfeld
During my stay on Scharhörn I wondered which insects made the jump to this island. It’ s only 15 km to the mainland – but this is a distance that many insects cannot cover without help.
For sure, many insects were transported by chance from the mainland. But even if they made the jump to Scharhörn, it is not easy to survive: Salt everywhere, only a very small number of plant species grow and storm surges can flood most of the island at any time of the year. A species of sawflies made the jump and reproduced in the European Searocket (Cakile maritima – Europäische Meersenf) were i found some larvae.
There are also few species of bugs which occurs on Scharhörn:
Lygus maritimus is adapted to feed in various plants of the salt marshes and I found individuals on Sea Wormwood (Artemisia maritima – Strand-Beifuß) and Tripleurospermum maritimum (Echte Strandkamille). Of course there is a parasite which larvae lives in these bugs – Phania funesta.
There’s always a parasite in nature….. For example, owl moths (Noctuidae) have also made it to the island, as have parasites of them – Ophion obscuratus as well as Netelius sp. which probably live in the caterpillars of moths as well.
Surprisingly, I found no spiders and very few beetles. The most interesting of these was Broscus cephalotes (Kopfkäfer) – a nocturnal, predatory ground beetle.
In sum, I found just little more than 30 species of insects on the isle. Well, it was very stormy and by far to late in the season for many species. Maybe, there will be a next time to have a closer look earlier in the season.
Now that I have shown so many beautiful sides of Scharhörn, I want to point to the less beautiful ones. Scharhörn lies in the North Sea – an industrially very heavily used water. As national park ‘Hamburgisches Wattenmeer’ the area itself is well protected and the disturbances are low on Scharhörn and Nigehörn.
However, even there one is constantly reminded that mankind is changing its entire environment. Already at sunrise this cannot be denied.
Scharhörn lies next to the Elbe fairway – which means that many container ships, fishing boats and more pass it every day.
This means, among other things, that you can hear the ship’s engines – no tragedy. What is worse is that much of what is thrown overboard arrives. Also the currents carry what gets into the sea at the East Frisian islands to Nigehörn. The garbage is counted and collected regularly on a defined route. Last Friday I collected the garbage on a distance of 120 meters.
Here is the result:
113 glass bottles, 9 light bulbs, 2 wheelbarrows full of plastic waste (plastic bottles, canisters, crashed balloons, cords, ropes, shoes, shoe soles, etc.), spray cans, cleaning agents as well as two wheelbarrows fishing waste (nets and the like) and 80-100 kg heavy oil. This rubbish did not collect there for years, but was the result of the spring tide of the 18th September. To emphasize this again: All in all seven wheelbarrows filled with garbage as result of a single spring tide on a 120 m long distance at the beach. So – just a normal Friday… Do we really want to leave the earth like this?
Within few days, Scharhörn proved to be a wonderful site, worth every minute spent.
Birds migration has started and there were amazing numbers of Sanderlings, and also some sucess while doing seawatching with Leach’s Storm Petrel and Sooty Shearwater passing by.
The real highlight however was a Little Bunting, a very small and rare scandinavian / siberian bird, which flew by calling. Lateron, I found it again, resting in the meadow and could also watch it shortly. Well, the bird is mainly brown – but a nice combination of different brown and white tones.
I hope it was able to leave the isle alive – not as this Meadow Pipit which was dinner for a Sparrowhawk:
Scharhörn lies next to Nigehörn, an artificially washed sand island. Over the years the two islands have almost grown together and only during the high water they are separated from each other by a tidal creek, surrounded by salt marsh.
One of my tasks as a bird warden on Scharhörn is to count the birds that are resting on both islands. Therefore I also had to walk to Nigehörn to count the birds there. However, as the water came earlier and much higher than expected, I was cut of from Scharhörn and had to wait for 3.5 hours before I could return.
Whata pleasure to lead a life that is determined only by the sun and the tide.