Sunday, October 17, 2010

Birding Vejlerne - Denmark - Part 4

One of the good things about a little country is that you are close to everything :-) I have previously claimed that Balling was located less than 10km from one of the best bird spots in Denmark, however, getting in the car and driving for about an hour will take you to what is probably the best birding area of all of Denmark and arguable one of the best places in Europe for birdwatching: Vejlerne or The Vejler.

During the middle of the 19th century the kingdom of Denmark lost a few wars, it hurts your pride to loose, but even worse loosing a war or two often involved the loss of land i.e. your production of bacon and milk goes down the drain. So what to do? - lets drain all the lakes and wetlands and make them into prime farm land! .. luckily it was harder than expected and in a few cases the projects were abandoned - like in the case of vejlerne - resulting in some of the best bird habitat around.

Located in the north end of Jutland, Vejlerne becomes an absolute crucial pit-stop opportunity for the army of European birds migration between the warm south and the cold north, who would not like to take a little breather and stock up on food before having to make the journey across the water.

The Danish birding community must be very well organized, the hides are absolutely top-notch quality! Good seating options, windows that can be opened just enough to get a clear view with your scope, but still keep the wind out (not something you think about in Australia, but it surely make sense in colder climate) and very appropriate the hides have thatched roofs making them blend into the reed forest surrounding them. The level of equipment for use was another welcome surprise, in most of the hides there were binoculars for anyone to use - but a free-to-use roof mounted (and spring suspended) monster binocular allowing you to get good focus on every single bird between Sweden and England must be the Nirvana-model of fully equipped bird hides - Fantastic stuff!! :-)

Birds were good, really good - but it was hard to get proper close. I managed to get a good BIF of a Marsh Harrier (Rørhøg) on the hunt around one of the bird hides. 5th photo is a BIF of a Northern Lapwing (Vibe). It is a bird that used to be very common in DK, but sightings are now down to about 25% of what it they were 35 years ago. Just below the Lapwing is a familiar sight - or nearly - the Eurasian Oystercatcher (Strandskade) looks very much like the Australian Pied O. equivalent. Highlight of the day - bird wise that is - was to see Eurasian Crane (Traner)! With the help of the roof mounted binoculars we all managed to get good views of a few of these fantastic birds. Pretty impressive, since they were probably about 1km away - unfortunately well and truly outside of Bigma range .. maybe I should cool the need for a wide-angle lens and start buying and stacking teleconverters with the Bigma! ;-)

Great day in the reeds! Judged from the smiles in the photo above I was not the only one enjoying myself ;-) Lovely place, definitely somewhere I would like to go again. Funny that the hardest part of this blog post was probably to find the Danish names for some of the birds :-) .. and I must admit that I still think Oystercatcher is a better name than Strandskade :-D

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