The "Rhine Islands" are actually an island located south-east of Mulhouse, enclosed between the Rhine and the Grand Canal since its creation in 1928. With an area of 2900 hectares (over 1000 hectares in water) and 45 km long (between Vogelgrün and Huningue), it has a large wooded area made up of deciduous trees, dry lawns and a wide edge of willows on the banks on the French side. The site described here is 475 hectares wide in the southern part integrated the National Nature Reserve of the Petite Camargue Alsacienne.
A special feature of the site in Kembs: the Istein bars. Appeared following the canalization of the Rhine in the XIXth century which caused an overcrowding of the bed, these 2 rocky bars, prolongation of the last buttresses of the neighboring Black Forest, emerge from the water and make the river unfit for navigation. During low water periods, as in winter, these bars slow the current and encourage the appearance of aquatic plants and zebra mussels, a food highly valued by many bird species: Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goosander. The White-throated Dipper frequently winters in this area.
As the Rhine and the Grand Canal remain free of ice, it is possible to observe waterbirds up close during winter. At Kembs, a circuit of about 2 hours makes it possible to discover very easily, from the end of November to the beginning of March, about twenty species. The clearings, in one of which extends a pond, and the forest, very rich thanks to the variety of substrates present in and the inexploitation of wood, also lend themselves to the observation of various species, especially during spring : Black Kite, Red-backed Shrike, the 6 species of woodpecker in Alsace including Grey-headed Woodpecker, and during winter : Great Grey Shrike, Common Raven.
In France, from Mulhouse, take the A35 motorway to Basel, then the Bartenheim-la-Chaussée exit, join the D468 to Kembs-Loechle. Join the lock and, immediately after, stop at the car park.
In Germany, reach Weil-am-Rhein and head for the Märktt lock and park there.
The route displayes on the map is 10,6 km.
Terrain and HabitatForest, Wetland, Grassland, River, Reedbeds, Agriculture
Is a telescope useful?Can be useful
Good birding seasonAll year round
Best time to visitSpring migration, Spring, Autumn migration, Winter
RoutePaved road, Unpaved road, Wide path
Difficulty walking trailEasy
Accessible byFoot, Bicycle, Wheelchair
Birdwatching hide / platformYes
Barrage de Märkt-Kembs and Petite Camargue Alsacienne.