The ancient beech forest of the Steigerwald, a low mountain ridge in Upper and Lower Franconia, hosts a good variety of woodland birds including all four species of
flycatchers as breeders. Unfortunately, it is almost completely unknown to birders and there are only few information about good spots. The Zeller Forst is perhaps the only part of the whole
area, which is a bit better known and furthermore easy to reach from the motorway.
Black Woodpecker, Collared Flycatcher, Firecrest, Hawfinch, Honey Buzzard, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Pied Flycatcher, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Stock Dove, Wood Warbler
By Car: Leave the motorway A 70 at the exit 11 „Knetzgau“ and follow the street in the direction of „Zell a. Ebersberg“, which you will reach after one kilometer. Stay in Zell in the direction of „Oberschleichach“ and turn right into the last street (“Böhlstraße“) of the small village. After a few hundred meters you'll directly come to the village exit, where you can park.
By Public Transport: The next railway station is situated in Haßfurt Either go by bike and reach Zell via Knetzgau (approx. 10 km) or take the bus line 8178 from Haßfurt. For the navigation in Zell pay attention to the details at Access - By Car.
Turn at the car park left and follow the wooden signpost "Schlangenweg" into the wood. The path leads you uphill and takes you soon to the first ancient trees, where you have good chances for Pied and Collared Flycatcher. Along the subsequent stretch between (1) and (2) you should pass several territories of both species.
Unfortunately there is no short cut to the valley, so either you walk the same way back again or the whole 11 km of the signposted circuit walk. In this case keep going on until you reach the T-junction at (3). Turn here right and follow the path to the valley (4), where you need to turn once again right. The subsequent trail leads you straight back to the car park. On the way back have an open eye for flying over Honey Buzzards. The Red-breasted Flycatcher has been regularly recorded over the last years, nevertheless it has always been at different spots in the area, so you will need a good portion of luck and a sensitive ear for its characteristic song.
(1) [49°57'15.43"N 10°33'48.09"E]
(2) [49°56'58.14"N 10°33'10.79"E]
(3) [49°56'20.18"N 10°32'31.86"E]
(4) [49°57'01.91"N 10°32'22.58"E]
P "Böhlgrund" [49°57'36.12"N 10°33'48.75"E]