Plan d'eau de Rhinau-Kappel

Alsace  >  France

A remarkable hotspot for migrants and wintering birds.

Added* by Martin Grienenberger
Most recent update 12 February 2020


The mouth of an old Rhine rambling arm, the Taubergiessen stream was transformed into a body of water in the early 1960s for hydroelectric developments. This sector, although located on the German shore, belongs to the Alsacian city of Rhinau; it is situated on the right bank of the river following the rectification work. It is bordered to the west by the channeled Rhine, to the east by protected meadows of the Ried for their rich flora and, to the south, by the lush Rhine forest set aside by the German administration. The transition with the Rhenish forest is done gradually by a flooded forest zone, with many dead trees on foot.

The body of water is remarkable for the passage and wintering of water birds. Peripheral dikes allow to observe them in excellent conditions, without disturbing them. A hide located 1 km from the ferry offers a good view of the southern part of the water where they are concentrated. Morning is usually the best moment of the day, lighting is favorable. Several circuits run through the different natural environments which total nearly 1000 ha (ask the reserve guard in the premises of the former German customs). The site is accessible and worthy of interest all year round.

During the breeding season, Common Tern settle on artificial water rafts, flown over from time to time by Black Kite. The morning concert given in the early hours of the day by warblers, nightingales and many other passerines is a delight.

In the reedbeds, you will be able to hear Great Crested Grebe, Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler as well as Water Rail which can sometimes be observed closely. The 6 species of woodpeckers nest in the forest. The Ried shelters European Stonechat, Red-backed Shrike and several raptors such as European Honey-buzzard, Eurasian Hobby, Eurasian Kestrel; several orchids bloom there in May, just like on the slopes of the dike.

Migratory species such as terns, Osprey, Black-necked Grebe or Garganeyl are regular in spring and autumn. We should also note the migratory stopover that some European Bee-eater make there regularly in early August.

Winter is the most interesting period in terms of diversity and numbers. These species are found: Great Crested Grebe, ducks (Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Common Teal, Mallard, Common Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Common Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, Goosander, occasionally divers. This site is one of the best to see White-tailed Eagle in Alsace, although it is not a certain observation. Another rare but regular winter visitor is Red-necked Grebe. Greylag Goose comes to rest by hundreds in early winter. A dormitory of Great Cormorant allows you to watch impressive aerial ballets at the end of the day. Hen Harrier hunts in neighboring meadows, where you can also sometimes observe Great Grey Shrike.



From Strasbourg or Sélestat, take the N83 to Benfeld, then take the D5 in the direction of Rhinau (via Herbsheim and Boofzheim). In Rhinau, take the free ferry for Germany -passage every 15 min. Note that during periods of flooding, the ferry is stopped: in this case, access by the Gerstheim or Marckolsheim bridges. Once you have crossed the Rhine, follow the river to the south via the dike.

Terrain and Habitat

Forest , Wetland , Plain , Lake , Mud flats , Agriculture , Reedbeds , River , Grassland


Flat , High water possible

Circular trail


Is a telescope useful?


Good birding season

All year round

Best time to visit

Winter , Spring


Unpaved road

Difficulty walking trail


Accessible by

Bicycle , Foot

Birdwatching hide / platform


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