As I said in my previous article, I had one week of holiday in the middle of October. I wrote a short summary, gathering information about accommodation and transport, I thought it could be useful if someone wanted to travel in the area. You can find it here. There’s also a map of my peregrination.
After visiting Aarhus, I took an early train to Esbjerg, where I arrived at 9.30. It was sunny, windy and quite chilly, and I soon started to bike in the direction of Blåvand, to find the bird station and meet some birders. Google Maps had told me it should take me two hours, so I was quite enthusiastic. Alas, it quickly turned out that, heavily loaded as I was, in such an adverse wind, it would take me much longer. Luckily, I had downloaded a GPS app on my phone, so I did not get lost on the way (not too much, at least). After three sweaty hours, I reached Oksbøl. My room was not ready yet, but I could leave a bag at the hostel. I travelled lighter to Blåvand (one more hour), where I met two birders. They told me about the species that had been seen recently in the area, the species that one could expect in Denmark during winter… interesting talk, but I wanted to go out and see some of those. Black, White-winged and Surf scoters, three American and Siberian species, had been spotted in the vicinity! Alas, alone and without a scope, I could not spot anything besides Velvet and Common scoters, but that was a start. I enjoyed the beach, took some pictures and went back to Oksbøl, to get a well-deserved rest.
The day after, I was to go to Ribe: three hours of biking, according to the same Google Maps… I decided that, if I wanted to visit a bit, it would probably be wise to take the train. So I did that. I visited the medieval town of Ribe, which I found pretty nice and particularly relaxing.
At the turist info desk, I grabbed a map called ‘Hiking and biking in and around Ribe’, and went to some places that looked interesting for birds. At first, I was quite unlucky: this cloudy day was cold and windy (as all the days of this trip would be, actually), and very few birds were in sight. But then, as I was taking a break in Østerå, I heard a strange noise coming from the reeds, behind a hedge. For a few minutes I searched, to finally spot a Water rail (Rallus aquaticus) cleaning its feathers at the edge of the reedbed. What a sight! The last time I saw one was actually the only time I saw a Water rail, it was in the Teich Bird Reserve in France, and it was… let’s say it was a long time ago! This brightened my day. It stayed there for some time, taking care of its plumage without noticing my presence. Then it left and disappeared in the reeds.
Invigorated, I felt ready to bike to the sea. I crossed the marshlands that extend between Ribe and Kammerslusen. Staging Barnacle geese (Branta leucopsis) were flying by the thousand, from and to the sea. When I reached the dike, I left my bike and went over it, crossing fields to reach the North Sea. A magnificent White-tailed eagle (Haliaetus albicilla) flew right above me, no further than 10 meters high. Oh how I regretted not having my telelens mounted on the camera at that moment.
Later on, I was surprised by a flock of European goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis) feeding on thistles, and as I was trying not to dip into ditches treacherously hidden by grass, I scared two Short-eared owls (Asio flammeus) that were resting on the ground not far from me. They flew away, but I followed one with the binoculars and saw it land. I walked in its direction, trying to get nearer, but it refused to let me close the distance. Still, amazing sight. On the sea, geese were unnerved by White-tailed eagle, and at some point a huge flock darkened the sky while reaching for some feeding field (I suppose) inland. Impressive.
Stay tuned, there’s more to come (with bird pictures!).