A weekend in Texel: tulips (V)

Most of our day was devoted to birdwatching along the Utopia wetland, a large area made of sand and water that hosts lots of geese, waders and spoonbills. The path is restricted to pedestrians and bikers, therefore birding is quite relaxed, and the distance still allows some quality observations; I was happy to show some spoonbills to the whole family, especially when one started to fish right in front of us.

Brant goose (Branta bernicla)

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A weekend in Texel: Sheep factory (III)

We started this sunny day by a visit to the beach. It was not so warm along the shore, especially with the wind blowing hard, so we only walked in the sand, jackets and gloves on. There were people of all ages, surfers, and even a carriage pulled by two horses. Over the sea, I spotted sea birds travelling north, following the shoreline like they often do.

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A weekend in Texel: Arrival (I)

Texel, in the Netherlands, is the first of the Frisian Islands, a series of isles that dot the coast of the North Sea, all the way up to South-West Jutland, in Denmark.

This trip, in the end of April, was a family reunion. Kevin was studying in Delft this year, and my parents spent a week in the region. I joined them for the three-day weekend, meeting them at the airport before driving to Texel. On the way, I was astonished by the sheer number of birds along the road: swans, geese, ducks, coots or grebes were everywhere! At that time, it was still pretty much winter in Finland (chilly weather lingered very late this year), so this abundance was a shock. Oh, and you’ll notice those birds I listed are all waterfowl: that’s because the Netherlands are a wet country. It’s obvious as soon as the plane goes down a little bit: canals, lakes, rivers… there’s water everywhere.

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Return to Suomenlinna

April, this year. After a long winter, days had started to get slightly warmer (not warm yet, but warmer) and longer, and some birds had returned from the south. It had been quite a long time I hadn’t been to my favourite place in Helsinki, so I decided to visit it again.

Black-headed gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)

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En rød dør

A red door, in Danish. That’s with this expression that our teacher introduced us to both the “ø” sound (a bit like “ö” in Finnish or “eu” or “œ” in French) and the soft “d”, which is for me pretty much like a “l”, except the tongue goes to the bottom of the mouth and not the top. At first, it sounded complicated… after a few months, it still felt complicated, but I also found the whole pronounciation very funny, and I learnt to appreciate it.

Black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)

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Hornøya, cliffside haven

There are some birds that spend almost all year at sea, and come to shore only to breed. Those species, like albatrosses or penguins, often gather in large and spectacular colonies, and since they barely see humans, they are fairly easy to approach. I have fond memories of the Sept-Îles in Brittany, or Låtrabjarg in Iceland.

Hornøya is also one of those magical places where pelagic birds gather.

Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)

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Vadsø

In the evening of our fourth day in Varanger, we slept in Vadsø, the administrative center of the county of Finnmark, home to some five thousand souls. In the morning, before driving to Ekkerøy, we visited the little town. Marci looked for a souvenir shop, but there didn’t seem to be anything of interest in the citycenter. What I noticed, in Vadsø but also in other towns, was a lamp store. I guess that, in places where the sun disappears for several weeks every year, inhabitants are particularly mindful about lighting in their houses, and so this kind of business thrives. I also liked the colourful houses.

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Varangerfjord

After our stopover in the far north, we took the road to the south again, back to the shores of the Varangerfjord. Instead of going back to Kirkenes, we followed the other side of the inlet, in the direction of Vardø. On our way, we had a few stops planned in scenic places and birding spots (which often coincided).

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