Lake Constance ('Bodensee') - Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland - August 2020
From 30 July to 13 August 2020, my wife and I went on a self-organized 15-day vacation with our car to the 4 countries around Lake Constantia: Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
It wasn’t a dedicated birding trip (my wife would rebel if it were!), but I certainly did fit in some birding while there.
Hereunder you will find our program and the places we visited:
Aschaffenburg (Germany), Pfänder Mountains (Austria), Bregenz Forest (Austria), Kanisfluh Mountain (Austria), Rheindelta Nature Preserve, Hard, (Austria), Triesenberg (Liechtenstein), Ruggeler Riet Nature Reserve (Liechtenstein), Gailingen am Hochrhein (Germany), Schaffhausen (Switzerland), Wollmatinger Marsh/Rheichenau Island (Germany) and Überlingen (Germany).
Thu 30-07: Car drive from Hilversum to Aschaffenburg, Germany (445 km). Walk along the river and Old Town. Night at Zum Goldenen Ochsen, Aschaffenburg
Fri 31-07: Early morning walk along the river and Castle. Drive to Pfänder Mountains (370 km). Night at Gasthaus Moosegg, Pfänder Mountains, Austria
Sat 01-08: Early morning (05:30h) Pfänder Mountains hike. Afternoon hike Pfänder Mountains (4,5 hours). Evening and dinner in Lindau (Germany). Night at Gasthaus Moosegg, Pfänder Mountains, Austria
Sun 02-08: Morning hike to Hirschberg summit in the Pfänder Mountains. Diner in Bregenz. Night at Gasthaus Moosegg, Pfänder Mountains, Austria
Mon 03-08: Morning visit and city walk to Lindau (Germany). Afternoon drive to Bregenz Forest. Night at Gasthof Ochsen, Hittisau, Bregenz Forest, Austria
Tue 04-08: Visit to Oberstaufen (Germany). Afternoon hike around Alpenhaus Edelweiss (Kanisfluh Mountain). Night at Gasthof Ochsen, Bregenz Forest, Austria
Wed 05-08: Cable cart Mellau to Kanisfluh Mountain; Morning hike to summit. Night at Gasthof Ochsen, Bregenz Forest, Austria
Thu 06-08: Early morning birding Rheindelta Nature Preserve, Hard, (Austria). Afternoon relaxing at Strandbad Eichwald, Lindau. Afternoon drive to Liechtenstein (120 km). Night at Berggasthaus Sücka, Triesenberg, Liechtenstein
Fri 07-08: Early morning Mountain hike (06:00h). Afternoon birding Ruggeler Riet Nature Reserve, Liechtenstein. Visit to Konstanz (Germany) at Lake Constance. Diner at (excellent) Ban Thai, Schlattingen, Switzerland. Night at Gastehaus Anita Nowak, Gailingen, Germany
Sat 08-08: Bike tour along the Rhine (Germany and Switzerland). Visit to Stein am Rhein. Afternoon visit to Strandbad Gailingen. Night at Gastehaus Anita Nowak, Gailingen, Germany
Sun 09-08: Bike tour to Schaffhausen (Switzerland). Visit to Munot Castle, Old Town and ‘Rheinfall’, the largest waterfall in Europe. Bike visit to and lunch in Rheinau (Switzerland). Train ride from Jestetten back to Diessenhofen. Night at Gastehaus Anita Nowak, Gailingen, Germany
Mon 10-08: Slow morning. Afternoon river swim. Night at Gastehaus Anita Nowak, Gailingen, Germany
Tue 11-08: Visit to Wollmatinger Marsh/Reichenau Island (Germany). Afternoon visit to Überlingen. Night at Bistro Krone Lounge, Herdwangen-Schönach, Germany
Wed 12-08: Morning visit to Stadtgarten, Überlingen. Swim in Lake Constance at Überlingen. Night at Gastehaus Anita Nowak, Herdwangen-Schönach, Germany
Thu 13-08: 09:30h: Car drive (745 km) from Herdwangen-Schönach to Hilversum, The Netherlands
Aschaffenburg, Germany: Gasthaus Zum Goldenen Ochsen: Euro 105 per room per day, excluding breakfast.
Pfänder Mountains, Austria: Gasthaus Moosegg: Euro 128 per room per day, excluding breakfast: Located near the top of the Pfänder summit (10 minutes walk) at 1,000 meters above sea level. A beautiful view over Bregenz and Lake Constance. Wonderfully quiet in the middle of nature.
Hittisau, Bregenz Forest, Austria: Gasthof Ochsen: Euro 139 per room per day, including breakfast.
Triesenberg, Liechtenstein: Berggasthaus Sücka: Euro 107 per room per day, including breakfast.
Gailingen, Germany: Gästehaus Anita Nowak: Euro 123 per room per day, including breakfast.
Herdwangen-Schönach, Germany: Bistro Krone Lounge: Euro 128 per room per day, including breakfast.
Places of interest / Birding hot spots
Aschaffenburg is a beautiful city in northwest Bavaria, Germany with Johannisburg Castle as its main feature. This was our stopover on our way south to Lake Constance. The town is located on both sides of the River Main and therefore a nice place to wander and look for birds. In the ‘Altstadt I found several Blackcaps and near the shore of the river a European Serin singing.
Pfänder Mountains (Austria)
The Pfänder Mountains are ideal for nice walks through nature. There are all kinds of nice routes to take. Each route is indicated with signs and walking times. On our several beautiful hikes we kept bumping into Red Kites and Common Ravens. Black Redstarts and Mistle Thrushes are common here and every day we saw butterflies like Map Butterfly, Ringlet, Silver-washed Fritillary, Meadow Brown, Arran Brown, Scotch Argus and Speckled Wood. On one rainy morning, in the garden of our hotel Gasthaus Moosegg, we admired a family of Alpine Salamanders that live here and come out whenever it is raining. One night, a Mouse-eared Bat species flew into our room and after having flown several laps around the room, sat next to the mirror. Fortunately, it flew out of the window after 20 minutes.
Bregenz Forest / Kanisfluh Mountain (Austria)
Bregenz Forest (‘Bregenzerwald’) is a forested mountain range in the district Vorarlberg, in the far West of Austria. Its rolling hills, moor landscapes and numerous hiking trails make this region a paradise for pleasure seekers and nature lovers. The Kanisfluh ridge, located between the villages of Mellau and Au, is the most famous mountain in the Bregenz Forest. Near Alpenhaus Edelweiss at the base of the Kanisfluh I found dozens of Yellow-billed Choughs and a little higher up I was very lucky to spot from a distance a Chamois. At the top of the Kanisfluh Mountain (2,044 m) I found one large Oak Eggar Moth.
Rheindelta Nature Preserve, Hard, (Austria)
This refuge with its peninsulas, bays and marshlands is located where the Rhine flows into Lake Constance. There is a path through a jungle of reeds, meadows and willow trees following the course of the river, as far as the shore of Lake Constance. Alongside this path I found Great Spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Reed-Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Long-tailed Tit and a Common Chiffchaff. A Red Kite showed itself nicely sitting in a dead tree.
The area around Berggasthaus Sücka, where we spent one night, offers a spectacular mountain scenery. I made a few nice walks near the hotel which is located on a traditional alpine pasture, at 1,400 meters above sea level. Along a path from the hotel into the mountains I found Black Redstarts, Coal Tits, Tree Pipits and various butterflies like Large Wall Brown, High Brown Fritillary, Arran Brown, Scotch Argus, Marbled White and a nicely coloured Pyrausta purpuralis. Many hoverfly species like Scaeva pyrastri, Eristalis picea and Sericomyia bombiformis were attracted to the wild flowers.
Ruggeler Riet Nature Reserve (Liechtenstein)
The peat-rich Ruggeller Riet Nature Reserve covers an area of 90 hectares in the northernmost region of Liechtenstein. Its rich variety of local fauna and, in particular, flora makes it a fascinating region perfect for nature-lovers. Lowland moors, ponds, hedges, trees and litter meadows provide an ideal habitat for many endangered animals and plants. I found here several butterflies like many Dryads and Scarce Large Blues and several dragonflies like Banded Demoiselle.
Gailingen am Hochrhein (Germany)
This little town is situated in a unique location on the northern bank of the High Rhine just across the border from Switzerland and close to Lake Constance. This area is excellent for hiking and cycling and of course swimming in the Rhine. Various historic villages like Diessenhofen and medieval Stein am Rhein are considered the most beautiful villages in Switzerland.
This beautiful small historic town with its stunning architecture is located right next to the shore of the High Rhine and offers Europe’s largest waterfall. During our visit we walked through the wonderful car-free Old Town where I found a Hummingbird Hawk-Moth at Munot Fortress, a 16th century round fortress built on a hill. At the waterfall some Mallards were bathing and it seemed that there was always a Red Kite in the sky.
Wollmatinger Marsh/Reichenau Island (Germany)
The Wollmatinger Marsh is near the city of Constance where the Upper Lake merges into the Lower Lake. With its near-shore reed beds, patchwork meadows and riparian forests, this area is a preferred resting and over-wintering spot for a quarter of all Lake Constance waterfowl. Nearby Reichenau Island which is connected to the mainland by a causeway offers great biking routes over the island. The island was declared a World Heritage Site in 2000 because of the Abbey of Reichenau. During our bike tour over the island I found a Ruddy Shelduck resting with a group of Mallards.
Überlingen is located on the northern shore of Lake Constance. Überlingen looks back on a long tradition as a garden city. It has an almost 5 km long lakeside promenade and a town garden (‘Stadtgarten’) which has impressive trees, exotic plants, rocks, small winding paths and enchanted, flower-entwined arcades on various levels. Since 2010, a pair of Eurasian Eagle-Owls has been breading in the Stadtgarten. I was very fortunate to see them in July 2013 but this time they were not there. This time I did find a European Robin, European Goldfinch, Eurasian Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Jersey Tiger and a Villa hottentotta.