Maybe the title of this article has reminded you of the Disney film of the same name. Maybe the theme song is now stuck in your head (I know people who hate that). I have never seen the movie, but I’m pretty sure the following interpretation is among the best you can find…
OK, now that I have delivered my joke, let’s move on. Snow has become a rarity in Copenhagen, and tempereatures rarely drop below zero during the day. However, nights are still fresh, and when you travel early in the morning, you see frozen water everywhere. That’s unfortunately a bit cold for birds, we will have to wait before we see the first migrants, but I joined a DOF tour to Hellebæk nonetheless. Weather forecasts were not really optimistic, and it was snowing when I woke up, but the sun wanted to be a witness of this day, so it chased the clouds away when I arrived to the north of Sjælland. Still, it wasn’t very strong, so every blade of grass was encased in frost, and so were the few ponds scattered in the fields.
A few weeks ago, I visited with a friend the quiet town of Køge. 40 km south of Copenhagen, on the coast, there is a long beach to the south, and a harbour busy with construction work.
We wandered along sleepy streets at sunrise, spotting a female Smew (Mergellus albellus) in the canal, and reached the beach soon after.
Have you ever seen a dipper? That’s a stunning bird, unique among the passerines for its underwater feeding habits. You wouldn’t expect such a small creature, which doesn’t even have webbed feet, to be able to swim with such ease. Its favourite hunting ground would be a fast-flowing stream, with rocks and branches on which it could stand, and many fishes and insect larvae dwelling in the shadows.
Utterslev Mose is not really far from home, but sometimes, it’s cool to see birds from your living room. After coming back from holiday, I finally set up a bird feeder in the backyard of my dormitory. I put it on a table in front of the kitchen, so that we can see it when we eat. I hoped to spark some interest in the neighbours I share the kitchen with; so far, I’d say some have enjoyed the show already, and that pleases me.
A blast from the past. I wrote this article almost one year ago, but never published it. I think it’s about time. That was an amazing concert, probably the best of the many I attended in Helsinki last year.
Frosttide + Ensiferum
Three years after a highly criticized Unsung Heroes, the warriors of Ensiferum were back with a new offering called One Man Army. On their way to conquer the world, they stopped in Helsinki for a fantastic performance.
Jyväskylä’s Frosttide were there to open the show. Having offered a solid show during Heidenfest 2013 in Paris, I thought it would be interesting to see what they had to offer, with one more album out. Alas, the acoustic was disappointing, for the guitars were drowned among the keyboard and the drums. As a result, soli were barely audible, which is a pity for this kind of music. Actually, from the pit the music delivered by Frosttide sounded just like Ensiferum’s music, but simply worse. The blasting was powerful, but no emotion was born from it.
Still the audience was quite responsive, thanks to Felipe. The keyboard player was indeed restless, always asking the crowd to move and shout, but also chatting with his partners between the songs.
The show took off a bit with “Gates of the Asylum”, an epic powerhouse from Blood Oath, but it was clear that Frosttide still needed a bit of practice to be as convincing as their older brothers headlining this evening.
When lights faded and “March of War” started to sound in Nosturi, the excitement of the audience was palpable. As expected, a circle pit erupted in the beginning of “Axe of Judgment”, a pogo so lively it stopped only after the last notes of “Iron” had resonated in the venue. It immediately appeared that the acoustic was excellent, and even though it fluctuated later on, it stayed at a more than acceptable level. A good point, and the occasion for the audience to glimpse the mastery of a talented band. Most noteworthy, the work on vocals was exceptional. To witness Petri introducing an angry growl, then leaving the vocals to Markus and Sami for some epic clean singing, then coming back for a combined conclusion, was a redundant but powerful pattern the band used perfectly in their compositions. And it works when they are on stage, as the uninterrupted singing from the audience could testify.
Besides locals, the technical prowess of the band was stunning: martial rhythms, fast soli, devastating blasting, everything was executed to perfection, leaving the impression of a band at their top-level. Many samples were used, but they never stood out of place. Moreover, all the musicians interacted a lot with each other but also with the audience. Actually, they were surprisingly talkative and made numerous jokes, and even though I understood some words there and then, I deeply regretted not being able to understand Finnish very well. A “pesukone” (washing machine) caught at some point announced the arrival of “Ahti” (Ahti being a god of sea and fishing in Finnish mythology, or a sea-going warrior), celebrated by a fierce circle pit, but most of their speech remained unclear to me. It did not to the audience however, and the whole night was rhythmed by laughter.
This is the last episode of my Christmas break adventures in France. On the first of January, my dad and I visited the Lac du Bourget. The largest natural lake in France, it gives shelter to many species during winter time. That day, though, was not a winter day, but we saw some interesting birds nonetheless.
We were welcome to the Site des Mottets by a pair of Reed buntings (Emberiza schoeniclus), some tits and wrens, and some Eurasian coots (Fulica atra). The big attraction was the huge group of diving ducks, mostly Tufted ducks (Aythya fuligula) and Common pochards (Aythya ferina), resting on the edge of the reedbed.
I’ve talked about Utterslev Mose for some time now, so I guess you must be quite familiar with the place. Because it’s situated next to my apartment, I often go there to enjoy the sunset when I’m not in a traveling mood. While the birds there are usually not extravagant, you can get good sights of some common species, especially when they are fed by humans.
This week saw the end of sub-zero temperatures. The snow has melted, and the weather is now grey and windy. The last snowflakes fell last Saturday, and I enjoyed them until the end, on a lovely walk with two friends around Buresø.