Gazing in one direction the prominent hills of the Black-forest take up a commanding scene, but if I cast my eyes westward, toward France, the Kaisersthul is the one clear hill on the horizon before the Rhine. The Kaisersthul, or ‘Emperors chair’, is a little over 500 metres at the summit and is an old volcano. It is known worldwide for the wines that come from its terraced slopes, and for some interesting flora and fauna.
In what is a micro-climate of Mediterranean temperatures it is possible to find sand lizards, praying mantis, and breeding colonies of the European Bee Eater. Having journeyed with a friend from church I was surprised that we were able to spot the Bee Eaters so quickly. Driving up a narrow road with the only traffic being narrow bodied farm tractors that are built to pass between the row upon row of grape vines, and the occasional cyclist, we stopped the car and sat on a wooden bench and within moments graceful birds glided above and below our vantage point.
It was the warmest day of the year, with the temperature hovering around 30 C and the air heavily scented with the perfume of flowering trees. All very exciting stuff for those who like to birdwatch. Meanwhile in Scotland, one of my favourite birds species from Canada, the Red-winged Blackbird, was grabbing the attention of those on the hunt for rare birds. After my own outing, I heard reports of birdwatcher flocking to a remote part of Scotland to see the first time visitor of a female Red-winged Blackbird.
I was glad that my trip was not so frantic, a lot warmer, and spent in good company. To end the birdwatching trip and toast my first sighting of a Bee Eater at the Kaiserstuhl – like most outdoor hikes in Germany – we were able to find a nice local restaurant where we could put down the binoculars and lift another set of glasses to end our day.