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#gobirding “Flat and dry, but so diverse.” – Leander Khil describing his patch at Lake Neusiedl, Austria

September 12 2019


#gobirding “Flat and dry, but so diverse.” – Leander Khil describing his patch at Lake Neusiedl, Austria

Lake Neusiedl – a special birding hotspot right in the heart of Europe. Located at the border of Austria and Hungary, the Lake Neusiedl was declared a World Heritage site. It hosts populations of very special breeding birds while also serving as an important stopover site for migrants. Flat, dry, but so diverse – dive into this natural gem and see it through the eyes of Leander Khil who has been birding here for almost 25 years.



Fascinated by ceaseless change

Leander Khil – acclaimed ornithologist, passionate guide, and nature conservationist – has been birding at Lake Neusiedl since his early childhood. However, he cannot get enough of its ever changing nature. A site that might be buzzing with bird life can be calm and empty a week later. It all depends on water levels, food availability, and seasonal movements of birds. “Especially the famous salt pans go from ‘amazing’ to ‘boring’, never following a given schedule,” Leander explains. Furthermore, the shallow shores of the lake are a crucial source of water for waders and water birds, whenever the soda lakes fall dry.


A place to find amazing birds

This summer, urban naturalist Gabriel Willow from the USA visited Leander at Lake Neusiedl. Together they explored the breath-taking beauty of this natural gem.

Even though it was not migration season, they saw an astonishing array of different birds:



Ruffs (Calidris pugnax)



Red-footed Falcons (Falco vespertinus) // Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)



Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor) // Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)



Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) // Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)


In summer 2019, we were lucky to join them on their adventure. Check out the checklist 1 and checklist 2 to get a glimpse into our bird findings at Lake Neusiedl.

Leander Khil’s top 5 activities at Lake Neusiedl besides birding:

1. Take a look at the landscape from above, from the viewing tower near Podersdorf.

2. Appreciate the extreme plant diversity in the puszta meadows of Lange Lacke, smell the wild Hungarian Thyme, and try to spot a Fire-bellied Toad (it's hard!).

3. Visit the endangered Ground Squirrels in St. Andrä and the impressive Steppe Cattle in the vast steppe near Apetlon.

4. Have a sundowner at one of the lakefront restaurants/bars and listen to the evening concert of amphibians and birds in the reed bed.

5. Jump into Lake Neusiedl and experience the murky water of the shallow steppe lake.




About the birders:

Leander Khil

Leander Khil is an ornithologist and photographer from Graz, Austria. He was interested in birds since his early childhood and turned his passion into profession. Today, he works in many ornithological fields and has written the field guide "Vögel Österreichs" (Birds of Austria). In his nomadic ornithologist's life, Lake Neusiedl has become the constant he comes back to on a regular basis. Accompanied by his EL42 binoculars and BTX spotting scope, he goes birding there several times a week.

For more information, check out Leander’s videologs on our website or visit his Instagram @leanderkhil and Facebook accounts.


Gabriel Willow

Gabriel offers free bird walks in Central and Bryant parks in New York City on which he always has his EL 32 at hand. Thanks to his digiscoping equipment (ATX 95 and TLS Apo), he captures fascinating wildlife in the middle of the Big Apple.

For further reading, go to our article about city birding, follow Gabriel on Twitter or Facebook, or check the list of upcoming events at NYC Audubon.


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