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This highest mountain in northern Germany is a great place for birding and seeing some rare and sometimes alpine species.
The Brocken is the highest mountain in northern Germany and in the Harz. With a height of 1142 meters above sea level. It is located in the Harz National Park. When you hike up to the Brocken you pass through a multitude of different habitats. Beech forests, bog forests, raised bogs, rock walls and cliffs. The mountaintop of the Brocken is a bare landscape with granite blocks, bushes and grasses. Note that the summit is covered in mist for around 300 days a year.
But birding the summit of the Brocken is very interesting. Ring Ouzel breed in a small population. Meadow Pipit breed in abundance up here and Cuckoo calls just below the tree line. The summit is particularly exciting during bird migration. Then Alpine Accentor, Northern Wheatear, Dotterel, and more rarely Water Pipit and Twite rest here. With a lot of luck, a Snow Bunting or a White-winged Snowfinch can be encountered.
And of course there are plenty of forest birds to see. In addition to the common forest birds, Mistle Thrush, Common Crossbill and Nutcracker breed in the mountain forests. Sometimes, individual breeding pairs of Greenish Warbler appear. White-throated Dipper, Grey Wagtail and Common Kingfisher can be seen along the streams. The Brocken is also good for owls. In the higher altitudes, the singing of Eurasian Pygmy Owl can be heard in early spring. Further towards the valley Boreal Owl breed, which can be heard at night.
The village of Schierke is the best starting point for a hiking route to the Brocken. Not surprisingly, the Eckerloch-route from Schierke to the Brocken is one the most popular hiking trails in the Harz Mountains. The length is about 5 km (one way). It has some steep slopes, paths rich in stones and you have to bridge a height difference of approx. 500 meters. Sturdy shoes and a good physical condition are required. The climb to the top is very popular with tourists, so it can be busy. Leaving early is therefore a good option. Another option is to walk other, less crowded trails on the flanks of the Brocken. There is plenty of choice in trails in the area.
In ideal weather conditions on the top of the Brocken one can see as far as the Thuringian Forest and the Sauerland. But the weather can also be nasty on the top. Wind speeds of 190 km per hour are sometimes measured on the Brocken. Very severe storms occur regularly. Partly for this reason, the top is above the tree line. There is an alpine climate with short summers and long, harsh winters. There is snow and ice for almost half of the year with temperatures of -20 and lower during the winter. It is therefore wise to dress well or to bring at least warm clothes with you when you go on the Brocken. Also in summer.