Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Birding Denmark, September 7-16, 2014

Foggy morning at the vineyard
The woods of Guldbaek
Urban habitat in Aalborg
Vines, and the stand of pines where I saw my very first Crested Tit
Viking burial stones at Lindholm Museum, favoured by Northern Wheatear
  I have been hanging out at a Danish vineyard for two weeks - I'd highly recommend it. Whenever possible, I've been sneaking off into the countryside to bird, as I do. It's been said that if you stand on a case of beer, you can see all of Denmark, and that's not too far off. It's a depressingly flat country, not blessed with a huge range of dramatic landscapes - you'd be hard-pressed to see something other than farms and small woods from the window of a cross-country train.
  In spite of being so topographically challenged, Denmark is in a geographically interesting spot, with an northern/eastern European flavour to some of the bird life. Denmark also lies in a strategically important spot as far as north-south migration is concerned - apparently this week there are 'dozens' of birders stacked up at Skagen, Denmark's northernmost tip. I ran into Skagen's frigid waters, where North Sea meets Baltic, in my underwear once. In February. But that will have to remain a story for another day.
  The woods here are pretty lively with tits and other birds one might expect to find in the European woods. The bird of the week has to be the Crested Tit. As I looked through my Collins for birds that I may have a chance at seeing in Denmark, the Crested Tit jumped out as my number one target bird, for better or worse. The very next day, as I was picking through a mixed group of tits, a Crested Tit landed perhaps four feet from my eyes, which threatened to pop out of my head and hit the bird. I spent an amazing three minutes watching it from close range, strongly wondering why I had left my camera behind. The few Crested Tits I've encountered seem to have an 'authority' about them, if that makes any bit of sense. The other tits clear off when a Crested Tit comes through, and it takes its time, moving around a lot less nervously than most birds of a similar size. Perhaps it's all in my head.
  Off to Esbjerg on the west coast next week, I'm hoping to get more of a taste of the fall migration, as well as meet up with Jens Thalund, a fine fellow whom I had the pleasure of birding with on Jeju in 2011.

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