Wild Erfurt

Wild Erfurt

The third of our green portraits of Eastern German cities

A little Erfurter has gone in search of greener pastures. While searching for its new patch it loses his orientation and ends up on a busy street in the middle of the city. The field hamster digs out its new burrow directly in front of a family house. Fortunately, the residents of the house have noticed their new tenant. With their help, it makes it through the winter. Now it is to be transferred to a field on the outskirts of the city.

In the south of the Thuringian basin, the ground is fertile and loose – optimal conditions for the heavily protected rodent. However, in the substantial plantations of modern agriculture, the field hamster is threatened by extinction.

In the fields of an Erfurt flower-seed plantation the hamsters feel at home. In the summer, a meter under the ground, the young animals are born. In about 4 weeks time the newly-arrived hamsters will become self-sufficient and will have to build their own burrows. Here the ecosystem is very diversified and many plants are left until late autumn in the fields, when the seeds will be harvested. The staff of the Organic Farming operation have accepted the fact that many flower seeds disappear as winter supplies in the cheeks of the hamsters.

The greyling is also endangered because it places high demands on water quality. With much dedication to their cause, the members of the National Association of anglers in Thuringia ensure that the rare species of fish remains in the streams of Erfurt and the inner city of Gera.

Kestrels breed profusely in the city and the best nesting spots are filled quickly. On the third floor of an apartment building, a late-arriving pair chooses the flower box outside the kitchen window in which to build their nest. The tenants are pleased with the sudden appearance of nature.

Unusually close to humans, red kites have also moved in. In the Erfurt neighbourhood of Gispersleben the elusive birds-of-prey circle low over the houses in which their eyries must be hidden.

The historic center of the capital of Thuringia is famous. Between the lovingly restored half-timbered houses, the small waterways of the Gera frame a portrait of a small Venice. Trout swim under the bridges of the river, and on the most famous, the Krämer bridge, a daubenton's bat goes hunting in the night.