Lignite trio: Sophienhöhe – deer only seen from a distance

A trip with the Research Centre for Recultivation

On this warm evening, at the end of July, about a dozen people came to the hiking car park at Sophienhöhe. They all want to see deer "live". Melanie Gutmann and Gianna Krauß from the RWE Research Centre For Recultivation invited to the excursion.

If you could still stroll up to the Sophienhöhe, scurry comfortably over the gravel with the soles or joke loudly, Melanie Gutmann commands the "silent game" on the last few hundred meters to the game observation post.

But how do you do that? Blessed with some of the obese people of prosperity, she offers a picture of imitation, namely to walk as quietly as "a predator on prey".The effect is immediately noticeable, because suddenly every step suddenly seems to resound. The dry path is full of sloppy pebbles, cracking branches and rustling foliage.Often one looks in vain for the next juicy grass-nabe, which could dampen the step. And just don't cough, even if it tickles the throat so much.

Recultivation is laid out here like a table mountain

After a further bend up to the plateau, the height laid out like a table mountain, the forest opens and gives a wide view to the right into a valley with a watercourse.Even with binoculars, there is no game to discover here. Another bend, Gutmann and Krauß lead the group in the goose march to a hill with the remains of old oaks and beech trunks, which are embedded here in a semicircle into the ground.As deadwood for woodpeckers and habitat for many insects, the trunks were brought here to support the young vegetation from the Hambach Forest, it is later said.

From this cover you can see two deer, at a distance of about 200 meters. One thing turns out to be the dust after a short time.Another has the peace and quiet away and eats what is still visible to the naked eye. Then it raises its head, turns its gaze towards the group of people and sets up the eavesdroppers. It lingers for long moments until it disappears without haste in the next bush.

The group was very quiet, and therefore did not beat the animals on the way, Gutmann later complimented the group.The extremely shy animals had an excellent hearing.Unfortunately, the rising wind made a dent in the bill and drove the smell of the group towards rehnase, which weathered foreign odors with a range of up to 300 meters in the vicinity.But we were still "very close" to the animals. 

A bit of deer

The so-called "slipper type" included deer, because they were looking for shelter in the next bushes from enemies in escape mode with jumps up to four meters long, the group had learned from the geo-resource manager Melanie Gutmann von and her assistant, the student Gianna Krauß.

Its tasks include "monitoring", monitoring and recording the development of fauna and flora of recultivated areas.But also the energetic and tingly relocation of anthills, layer by layer, to a wind-protected, partly sunny location is part of it. "You have to find the queen and lift your fingers into the transport containers," Gutmann says.

As for the deer, the Sophienhöhe with its comparative white young sprouting vegetation, the smallest species of the deer family known as the "Naschkatze" offers the best conditions. "Let's go, there," the deer consumed only the youngest shoots, the juiciest fruits, fungi, acorns, and plants with the highest nutrient content. They therefore referred to biologists as "concentrate selectors". In general, they liked to refer to the deer as "trughirsch" because it shows greater kinship with elk and reindeer than with deer.Much smaller and more delicate than the deer is also shown the headdress of the roebuck, the "hearing", which the buck throws off every year in winter. By May, June, a new pair of horns will be growing for him.

Experimental laboratory

Also noteworthy is the behaviour of the white-spotted kitze and the Ricke in the event of threat. The female animal tries to distract the hunter from the offspring, who squat in the high grass under the bushes or in the high grain. The kitz is not even to be smelled, because it does not have its own smell, explains Gutmann. In the case of the Mahd, however, such behaviour often proves to be fatal. In the agricultural holding of the research centre, kitze was used to locate kittens with thermal imaging cameras and to move the mowing date from meadows to the end of July.

As a unique experimental laboratory and as an opportunity to design habitats that are threatened with extinction, Gutmann recommended the recultivation of opencast mines. The provision of very specific biotopes such as puddles of water or lean grass is increasingly being accepted by partly endangered animal and insect species. The Sophienhöhe of nature conservation associations likes to be called dirt mounds, is characterized by ever-growing biodiversity, according to the geo-resource manager.

During the nightly descent in the flickering light of many smartphones, visitors cross the path of crawling toads, bouncing frogs and moist glittering snares.

RWE Research Centre Recultivation

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