Tuesday, January 19, 2010


The day before leaving Balling we decided that we needed a little treat, we had thoroughly acquainted ourselves with the walking opportunities around Balling and after a request for ideas from nature knowledgeable friends it was clear that we simply had to get in the Volvo and visit Klosterheden! .. which probably qualifies as a slightly larger treat ;-)

Despite being a plantation, it is one of those types of Danish "controlled" nature that actually ends up delivering some fantastic wildlife. Sporting an area of 6700 hectares it was even decided one (probably) late evening before 1999 that it was time to introduce an animal that had been eradicated from the Danish landscape by human activity (such as hunting them to extinction) - a mammal of a good size would be great, since it is something that people notice .. and it will not just fly away again. Great idea to sort of try to reverse the wrongdoings of the past, indeed an idea that any Dane should be proud of ..

Unfortunately politics creeps in everywhere. The obvious choice would be wild boar as was pointed out by an army of biologists, they were hunted to extinction less than 200 years ago and would actually naturally find their place in Denmark by immigration from Germany into Denmark, if it was not for a government supported shooting of any boar close to the Danish border - we cannot risk the presence of boar due to our pork production!! :-D

Wolves was off the plan as well,which is probably fair enough, despite having the same association with Denmark as the boar (eradicated 200 years ago). Instead the politicians needed a "sweet" animal that would not do harm and would stay put in an restricted area - so beaver it was :-)

Funny story, do not misunderstand me; I like the idea of the beavers being in Klosterheden and despite them not having been in Denmark for the last 1000 years, there is no doubt that they have adapted to the Danish environment really well. In 1999 eighteen beavers were released and now the population has reached at least 100.

We did not see any beavers, but we saw traces of various beaver activity, which is apparently what most people see. Dipping on the immigrants was well and truly forgotten when we got ourselves an unexpected bird treat of colossal proportions! Walking around we had seen very little life, except for ticking a Goldcrest (Fuglekonge), which is the smallest bird in Europe, it had been very very quiet - minus 10 degrees reduces activity quite a bit.

Walking the last few meters towards the car, we noticed a person walking around with a camouflaged camera and lens setup that made the Bigma look like kindergarden gear :-) Carefully starting the chat with a few camera and bird related comments we were soon in a fruitful discussion on what Klosterheden had to offer and when and how to catch it with a Nikon D300 equipped with a prime 500mm f/4.5 handheld - fantastic stuff. Even more exciting was the reason for bringing out this monster of a lens. The White-throated dipper (Vandstær) had been spotted at the creek running along the carpark in Klosterheden where the Volvo was located, indeed while I had been standing admiring the prime lens, Gemma had been standing looking at a strange bird sitting on a rock out in the freezing cold water :-D

Great guns! Some great camera chat, I managed to get a picture and we all saw this peculiar bird, which is capable of swimming in and walking on the bottom of fast flowing freezing cold creeks all for the purpose of seeking out small critters living between the rocks in the water.

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