butcher birds

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This post is about a 27km walk from Augsburg to Zusmarshausen. I leave the Climate Camp and run into another environmentalist.

I had ended up spending the night at the Climate Camp. My new friends Passion Fruit and Mandala had given me a little booth to sleep in, and I had parked the Caboose right in front of it, within the safety of the camp.

leaving Augsburg

When I woke up I felt exhausted, though. Throughout the night all kinds of different people had passed through the camp, and at about four in the morning a massive thunderstorm had descended upon the city.

I sat with the climate activists for a while, then I got some water from a drinking fountain nearby and started walking.

And as I walked out of Augsburg I understood one thing: the fascist AfD had put their election posters on the main roads leading into and out of the city. But for whatever reason, they had not put up a lot of posters downtown.

the bird-watcher

I was resting next to a field outside of the city when a gentleman on a bike appeared. He was hauling a bunch of equipment on a trailer, and when he stopped next to me he got out his binoculars and started scanning the horizon.

“The red-backed shrikes,” he said, “I know they’re there!”

Martin Wendler was a local environmentalist and wildlife photographer. He liked the red-backed shrike, of which he seemed to know several in the area.

killer of nine

Of course our conversation was in German, and we referred to the bird by its German name: “Neuntรถter” (killer of nine).

Why do we call it that? I asked Martin.

“Well,” he said, “some people believe this bird likes to impale nine animals before feasting on them.”


As it turned out, the tiny red-backed shrike was indeed carnivorous and did like to keep a supply of dead animals (insects, lizards, frogs, etc.) impaled on thorns. And so sometimes it was being referred to as “butcher bird” in English.

Zoroastrian stickers

“The red-backed shrike must be protected!” said Martin, and when he learned about my journey he got out his notebook and showed me some stickers he had collected in it. They showed the Faravahar, a Zoroastrian symbol I had last seen sprayed on a wall in Iran. The stickers had the Zoroastrian motto GOOD THOUGHTS, GOOD WORDS, GOOD DEEDS written on them.

“You know what also needs to be protected?” asked Martin: “the cheetah of Iran!”


the walk from Augsburg to Zusmarshausen:

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