Flyvestation Værløse… I have already taken you to this place.
You don’t remember? OK, I can’t blame you. In the first place, the header doesn’t show a picture of the area (I was so focused on the birds, I don’t have anything else…). Then, last time I was there, the ground was covered by snow. Remember now?
This time, the weather was much better, so I went by bike. I got a bit lost, but shhhh…
On the way, I spotted a bird of prey perched on a tree, next to the road. I stopped to take a look, but I expected it to take-off quickly. It didn’t, so I grabbed my binoculars from my bag. Even with them, I wasn’t sure whether this was a Common buzzard (Buteo buteo) or its nordic counterpart and winter visitor, the Rough-legged buzzard (Buteo lagopus). I had the feeling that it was the latter, but given how close these birds are and how little experience I have, I reserved judgment.
It still didn’t show any sign of impatience, so I also grabbed my camera. I fired a few shots, but when I stepped on the grass to get closer, it flew away and settled on another tree. It showed me its gloriously white upper tail, making me pretty confident it was a Rough-legged buzzard. I tried to chase it further, but it wouldn’t let me closer, so I let it be, packed my stuff again and resumed my journey.
As I started to cross the compound of the abandoned airport, scanning the area in quest of my targets, I saw a white shape drifting under the horizon, far away, eventually perching on a wood post: a Short-eared owl! Bingo, first target acquired 🙂
I strengthened my pace to go closer, but when I arrived on the disused runway, I saw no sign of the bird. Afficionados flew miniature planes (what an appropriate place for that, I thought), and cyclist trained for time trial.
I was walking to the north-east of the area when finally, I saw it. Flying a meter or two above the ground, it was hunting in the fields. What a show! It seemed to wander aimlessly, then sometimes would drop to the ground, taking off empty-handed (or should I say “empty-clawed”?) soon after, or perching on a post.
No real opportunity for pictures arose, but I enjoyed this special moment just as well. After seeing it disappear behind a hill, I wandered a bit more and spotted a Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) singing at the top of a tree. A Common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) let me come close enough to snap a portrait of it.
Further, I discovered that a lake actually hid behind the woods. I had no idea there was one there, but I’m glad I found this bird tower, because from there I saw my first Danish Red-necked grebe (Podiceps grisegena). It was far away, but since then, I have had better opportunities to see this gorgeous bird (head to Facebook for a sneak peek 😉 ). In the reeds, a Eurasian wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) sang to mark its territory.
On my way back, I was surprised by the same owl, hurrying, a prey in its claws. I saw it vanish behind a mound, but it didn’t show up on the other side. I approached carefully, and saw it sitting on a horizontal branch. When I pulled the trigger, it turned, and then flew away. I was left in astonishment, with a photograph surprisingly sharp.
As I left the area, I saw at least two other owls, maybe three. My quest for the Great grey shrike (Lanius excubitor) was vain again, but still, what a day!