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“I have the best job in the world”

Christoph Bock explains how birds influence the construction of wind turbines in Germany. Insights into the everyday life of a biologist.


Ornithologist Christoph Bock
Ornithologist Christoph Bock © Stephan Pramme

I actually wanted to be an architect, but soon changed to the subject that was closest to my heart: biology. Ornithology became my favourite area. Now it’s my job to observe and document the world of birds. My data is important for environmental impact assessments – in other words, the question of how far the planned construction of a wind turbine, railway line or gas pipeline could disturb bird life.

My daily routine usually begins just before sunrise, when most songbirds become active. I travel to the assessment area with my binoculars and tablet computer and record what I discover. In the case of nocturnal species I have to work in darkness.

In the process I learn a great deal about the complexity of ecosystems. Seeing the often destructive impacts humans have is tough. Nevertheless, I think I have the best job in the world.

After gaining my university diploma, I took on a job observing wintering water fowl in the Westhavelland Nature Park in Brandenburg. Later, I began helping to observe birds in areas being considered for the construction of offshore wind farms or wind turbines on land. You can only ensure that a project will not have any negative impacts on endangered species and that an area can be protected in a sustainable way if you carry out detailed observations.

Independence is important to me. That’s why I work on a free-lance basis for a private environmental planning office, for which I collect data in the field that I then process digitally and explain. The office then produces a report for the relevant environmental authorities.

I find being out in the open air and supporting nature conservation very satisfying, but it can also be frustrating sometimes. The death of insects, for example, gives us a hint of how much our current activity will influence our living conditions in the future. That’s why I consider more education on environmental issues enormously important.

Observing and documenting birds are the ornithologist’s main task.
Observing and documenting birds are the ornithologist’s main task. © Stephan Pramme

Where do biologists find work in Germany?

Biologists can apply their expertise not only in research, but also in industry – for example, in medicine, pharmacy, agronomy, biotechnology and environmental protection. Many biologists also work in public authorities, such as environmental offices or public health departments.

How can you train to become a biologist?

You can work as a biologist if you have completed a training programme as a biological laboratory technician or a degree course in biology, life sciences or plant sciences.

Transcript: Nicole Sagener