After the snow came the sun. Often, it’s rain and warm temperatures that come and take the white cover away, but this day was to offer temperatures below zero from sunrise to sunset. That was the perfect opportunity to go out birdwatching, see the sun rise over the horizon and take pictures. Equipped with my winter jacket and my ski trousers, I was ready to brave the cold. Camera at the ready, I reached Staunings Ø minutes before sunrise, in this very special hour where everything is blue, everything but the horizon, which slowly turns orange.
Given the temperature, the ground was covered in something closer to ice than snow, and it was tricky to walk without falling. In some places, flood had occurred then frozen, offering the adventurer nothing but a path of ice to reach his destination, the sandbar separating the lagoon from the sea.
Would you dare?
After one year abroad, a lot of writing for both university and this blog, and tremendous improvement (I hope), I felt like I missed writing in French. While I enjoy English a lot, I think French is still a beautiful and rich language, and I wouldn’t like to lose all I’ve learnt during these years. Seriously, sometimes I stumble on a word while I know its English counterpart…
Therefore, I have decided to write about concerts in French. The advent of Sepultura in Copenhagen was the perfect occasion to inaugurate the [fr] tag, which you can see in the title. To my French readers: enjoy! To all the others: see you next time. Don’t worry, it won’t take long 😉
Essence + Sepultura
Après un début d’année assez calme, le mois de novembre promettait aux metalleux de Copenhague un plateau plutôt relevé : Nightwish, Eluveitie, Sepultura, Moonspell, Bring Me The Horizon ou encore Bullet For My Valentine allaient fouler les planches danoises ce mois-ci. Si ma présence aux deux premiers concerts n’était pas négociable, le reste restait à définir, pour des considérations principalement financières. Moonspell et Sepultura étaient en compétition ; j’avais déjà vu les brésiliens, pas les portugais. Cependant, le souvenir encore vivace de la grosse claque reçue à Paris l’an passé m’a ramené dans les filets de Sepultura. Moonspell attendra.
On Saturday, I went to Skåne, the southernmost part of Sweden. This was a bus tour organized by DOF, and aimed at birds of prey. Most of them come from the north during winter, but do not cross the Øresund Strait to Denmark.
From the first minutes there, the numbers of White-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), Common buzzard (Buteo buteo), Rough-legged buzzard (Buteo lagopus) and Red kite (Milvus milvus) were impressive: wherever you watched, there was a raptor either circling in the sky or roosting in a tree. This tour also brought me the first Whooper swans (Cygnus cygnus) of the year, and a Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) as a late highlight. Unfortunately, the day was rainy (and cold, but that was expected), and picture opportunities were basically non-existent.
Snow starting to fall as we were driving around Malmö, and it had become a true snowstorm when we arrived in Sjælor Station, in the south of Copenhagen. I had to ride home on my bike, but the snow did not stick to the ground yet, so the only real trouble was the snow hitting my face: it hurts more than rain! As the night went on, the city turned completely white, allowing me to take a few shots from the inside of my dormitory.
A few weeks ago, I saw on Facebook pictures of a Long-eared owl (Asio otus) taken in Vestre Kirkegård, a large cemetery in Copenhagen. It’s not far from where I live, so I decided I would take a look one day, when I have time and the weather is sunny. By asking the people who had posted online, I gathered information on how to find the bird without troubling it too much. Long-eared owls are nocturnal birds (not all owls are!), therefore they can be sensitive to day disturbance (there was a debate about that in the Danish birding Facebook group). I was kindly provided the precise location of a sighting (I was asked not to share it, so I won’t), so I was ready to grasp any opportunity to visit this cemetery.
These last days had been quite gloomy, but when I woke up this morning, the sun was shining. Incredulous, I checked the weather forecast, where I discovered it was going to be sunny all day long. OK, let’s do it!
So first, a warning: when dmi.dk shows the picture of a sun without any cloud, that actually means “sun with many clouds in the sky”. Not that it was unpleasant compared to the beginning of the week, but it was not really what I expected…
Utterslev Mose is a recreation area on the outskirts of Copenhagen: three lakes, extensive reedbeds and grass fields around them make up an interesting area for birds, and therefore for birdwatchers too. Conveniently, I live next to this attractive place, so whenever I see a ray of sun hitting my window, I have the possibility to go out and see some wildlife. I haven’t seen anything really outstanding so far, but I still got nice sightings of a Northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) for instance, or of a harrier gliding over fields of gold. And while I find water birds very shy, with patience opportunities for good pictures arise. Actually, you either need patience or some people giving bread to the birds…
You can read more about the area on DOF’s website, but I have included a map of my own creation. You can’t easily reach the shores of the lakes, except where a platform is built. I indicated them in red. The stars shows a point where birds are regularly fed; there, you can bike within 30cm of a Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)… which is usually quite a cautious bird.
I like the path north of the middle lake, because is a quiet woody area, with a lot of small birds like Green siskin (Carduelis spinus) and Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus). One day, an injured Wood warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix) stayed for minutes in a tree right above us, enabling us to admire its splendid yellow chest. That was the highlight of a rainy migrant-less day.
The blue spot on the map is my favourite place for bird pictures at sunset, and where some people were feeding gulls and ducks two weeks ago. Many pictures below were taken this day.
Greylag goose (Anser anser)
In the morning of the 16th, I took a quick walk to the shore, where I met a birder who showed me a few White-tailed eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) with a scope. I left Mandø and headed south, to the island of Rømø. I followed the coast, but the road was on the inland side of the dike, so I did not see much of the sea. Luckily, the fields to the east were covered by Northern lapwings (Vanelus vanellus) and Golden plovers (Pluvialis apricaria), while in the sky evolved scores of Barnacle geese (Branta leucopsis) and Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). I had no time to be bored, because if I had been, I would have missed this Hen harrier (Circus cyaneus) taking off from the road and disappearing behind the dike, a few meters ahead. Minutes before reaching the dam that leads to Rømø, I scared a Rough-legged buzzard (Buteo lagopus), a wintering raptor coming from the north. It was perched on a tree, and showed me its splendid white tail when it left.
The road to Rømø is built on a 10km-long dam that links the island to the mainland whatever the tide. After spending 3 hours in the cold, with an everlasting wind blowing from the side, the crossing was an ordeal, and I was glad to find the doors to my accommodation open early in the afternoon.
After warming up indoors, I paid a visit to Lakolk and its immense beach. I did not see many birds except for a few Moorhens (Gallinula chloropus) wandering on the grass surrounding their pond, but on the way there was a superb orange heath. A thin, annoying rain started to fall again, so I headed back to the hostel.
I’m not sure you’re aware of that, but I started ‘serious’ photography as a live photographer (specialized in metal concerts of course). I hadn’t had the opportunity to shoot a gig since I opened this blog last summer, so neither had I had the opportunity to showcase my work in this field. These days are now over.
This Friday, a folk metal concert was organized at DTU. Yes, at the university! It gathered two of the most prominent Danish folk metal bands, Huldre and Svartsot. I thought it would be a great opportunity to go back to the pit as a photographer, which had not happened since the month of May.
I did not expect tremendous results: a long time had passed, so I was afraid to feel a bit like when I started, shy and awkwardly out of place. In the end, it went well, and I got interesting shots. The venue was crowded, and the audience dedicated and enthusiastic. Since my equipment for live photography is made of a 50mm f/1.8 lens only, I struggled to get nice angles, with the musicians so close and no possibility to back up a few steps, but it felt really good, and I’m now looking forward to going back to the pit.
After this outstanding day in Ribe, I headed to the island of Mandø, or what one could call ‘the end of the world’. To help you visualize, Mandø is no bigger than 8 km², and it’s flat. Very flat, actually, except for the dike that runs all around the island to protect it from storms and floods. Oh, and you can access it only when the tide is low.
Fortunately, I was given good information, and I planned my trip accordingly. At 10 in the morning, I crossed the strait. My bike struggled a bit on this uneven ground, but I was rewarded by the sight of three Eurasian spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia) taking off from the mudflats along the track.
The dike, and the shore