Wednesday, 25 April 2007

More woodpeckers and a squirrel

Another visit to Dyrhavn confirmed that it is one of the best spots around for woodpeckers. With very few leaves on the trees yet, and the romantic antics of woodpeckers in spring, this time of year is also the best time to spot them. The photo above is of a Great Spotted Woodpecker, the most common woodpecker in Europe but no less pretty for that.

Also spotted my first Red Squirrel. Sadly very scarce now in the UK, except for some remote islands beyond the reach of the more aggressive Grey Squirrel.

Monday, 16 April 2007

South Zealand Coast Path

Taking advantage of the gorgeous weather here in Denmark (it's been amazing all week), we took a train to Faxe (about an hour south-west of Copenhagen) and walked the South Zealand (Sjaelland) Coast Path from Faxe to Rodvig. The walk is about 12 miles and follows the coast through a mixture of woodland, arable fields and along the beach itself. The beaches are a lovely whitish sand (reminiscent of the Hebrides) and the water is beautifully clear. There was a bit of a chilly easterly wind yesterday but, sheltered from the wind, it really was sunbathing weather. We found a gorgeous sheltered spot to enjoy our homemade picnic of sausage sandwiches, salad and carrot cake and watched the swans and boats go by.. The walk took about five hours altogether, allowing for an hour stop, and we arrived at Rodvig just 5 minutes before the next train home.. If we had missed it, we would have had a 2-hour wait, so we were very lucky... With a small party of Swallows (my 100th species in Denmark) and Blackcap, Sandwich Tern and Marsh Tit, my Danish total now stands at 103. The weather is forecast to be even warmer today (22 degrees) but we had better make the most of it as Tuesday is supposed to be 12 degrees! Brr...

Treecreeper part two

Now this is a SHORT-TOED TREECREEPER, taken in Dyrhavn. Note the white spots on the wing-tips (as opposed to buff/off-white on the Common Treecreeper) plus the white eye-stripe is only prominent behind the eye (runs in front of the eye on Common Treecreeper) and the hind-claw is relatively short (compared to the Common Treecreeper).

Any Treecreeper is an unusual sight in my old stomping ground of Winterton-on-Sea, Norfolk, so I am including this id lesson for the Winterton Bird Spotting Collective so that, should one turn up on that east coast location, they can check for Short-toed.. you never know!

Incidentally, you can follow the progress of the Winterton Bird Spotting Collective at:

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Black Woodpecker

With Libby's sister, Sally, here for Easter we took a trip north of Copenhagen today to Dyrhavn, the former royal hunting grounds, now a popular walking/picnic area. Part of the park is taken up by Europe's oldest amusement park, Bakken, which includes a wooden roller coaster.. Needless to say I didn't partake in any of the rides but Libby and Sally screamed their way around the circuit with hair flailing and smiles beaming.. After a spot of lunch, the girls went to a "5-D" movie while I had a quick search around the park for Black Woodpecker (Dyrhavn being a favoured spot for this scarce Danish bird). I didn't have long to wait as, within about 100 yards of the park, I heard a Black Woodpecker call and then, a couple of minutes later, an adult male flew down to a pile of rotten logs just a few yards from me. There it fed for about 20 minutes before eventually flying up to a nearby tree stump, sticking its tongue out a few times as if to lick its lips, and then flew off north calling. The best views I have ever had of Black Woodpecker by some margin. With Black Woodpeckers so close to the wooden rollercoaster, I would hope its structure is checked regularly! :-) A few hundred metres away I also watched a female feeding on a dead stump (see photos). Very confiding. Also seen were Nuthatch and Hawfinch, bringing my Danish list up to alofty 98 species. Not a great day, weatherwise, it being pretty cold (about 6 degrees) and drizzly but fun was had by all...

Thursday, 5 April 2007

In the pink..

The evening of 3 April... an amazing sky.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007


Yesterday I took my brand new (to me) bicycle to Kongelunden to give it a run out. Cycling is something I haven't done in ages and it showed. Firstly my thighs started to ache almost immediately (in fact, before I had even turned out of my road) and secondly my bum hurt so much by the end that I had to ride standing up! (Why are bike saddles so uncomfortable?).

Anyway, after an hour of cycling (Denmark is pretty flat, so it's easy going) I reached Kongelunden, a small woodland at the south of Amager. I had heard on the Danish bird grapevine that there were a couple of Firecrests around, so thought I would have a quick look. After 30 minutes of searching there was no sign but I did see two Treecreepers. Now, in Britain when one sees a Treecreeper it is almost certainly the subspecies "certhia macrodactyla", the western Europe version. But on the continent, things get more tricky. In Denmark there is the "certhia familiaris" which is the Fenno-scandian and Eastern European version (slightly brighter and whiter than the British version), and then there is the very similar (but a separate species) Short-toed Treecreeper (certhia brachydactyla) which differs from the other two by having a louder, more penetrating call, a slightly different pattern on the wing and a (relatively) short hind-claw. All a bit of a nightmare to separate in the field which is where a digital camera comes in handy.

The photo above is of the bird I saw yesterday and, by zooming in, I can exclusively reveal that is a "certhia familiaris" (the Fenno-Scandian version) which is probably what one would expect in such a location. How can I tell? Well, the stripe through the eye is quite prominent and appears in front of the eye as well as behind. Also, the wing pattern is typical familiaris and the hind claw is long, relative to a "Short-Toed treecreeper". Thus the features point to "certhia familiaris".

So there you go.. if you ever see a Treecreeper and wonder which version it is, you might just have a chance...

Also added Brambling and Coal Tit to my Danish list, making 91 in total so far.