Monday, 19 November 2007

Waxwings and other randomness

This week has been cold (ish) and pretty murky but dry. It gets dark at about 4pm so a cloudy day almost feels like it doesn't quite get light. Nevertheless, this hasn't deterred your intrepid birder correspondent, although I have to admit I only made it out for two hours over the weekend. Highlight was a group of Waxwings and a pair of Hawfinches. But the major news to report, belatedly, was the relief at sighting a female BULLFINCH at Kongelunden last weekend. Yes, it is true, Bullfinches do exist in Denmark. Picked up on call (showing off now), a lone female was sitting in a bare hawthorn giving her soft whistling 'peep' call when I arrived at the fort. Unfortunately she didn't hang around long enough for me to provide photographic evidence but you all trust me, don't you?

This week I have mostly been eating rye bread with sild (pickled herring).

Friday, 16 November 2007

"Fogh" more years...

Photos: Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Opposition Leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

I know you have all been dying to know who won the Danish election and I humbly apologise for the delay in bringing the result to the followers of this blog.. (all two of you!)

Well, the result was close but not that close. The current PM, Anders Fogh Rasmussen (commonly called "Fogh", pronounced "Fow" as in "mow") of Denmark's Venstre Party has secured a third term in office thanks to his minority coalition involving the Conservatives and the Dansk Folkeparti (the Danish People's Party). Amid chants of ‘Fogh more years’, the leader of Venstre claimed outright electoral victory on Tuesday evening over the Social Democrats centre-left party led by Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

When all the votes cast in the general election were counted, the Venstre-Conservative-Dansk Folkeparti coalition had won a total of 89 seats in the 179-member parliament.

Rasmussen, who has been prime minister since 2001, can now use the support of either the centrist New Alliance party or one of the representatives from the Faeroe Islands to give him the 90 seats required to form a majority and continue for a third term.

Rasmussen’s Liberal Party lost one seat, but as he addressed supporters after the preliminary results had been counted up, he nevertheless called the election result ‘a good day for Denmark, and a good day for the Liberals’.

‘This is historic. It’s the first time a Liberal prime minister has been re-elected to a third term in office.’

The post-election mood of the opposition’s Social Democrats, led by Helle Thorning-Schmidt was a study in contrasts. The party chalked up its worst election result since 1906, and party leader Thorning-Schmidt was forced to acknowledge that she could not deliver on her promise that she could beat the prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Hard-line union members nevertheless joined young professionals to cheer on Thorning-Schmidt as she acknowledged defeat, but pledged to carry on the fight.

‘I promised you that I could beat Fogh,’ Thorning-Schmidt told the crowd. ‘It unfortunately didn’t happen this time. But, my friends, I want to keep my promise. We’ll do it next time.’

Helle is the daughter-in-law of former UK Labour leader, Neil Kinnock having married Stephen Kinnock, son of Neil and is something of a sex symbol, as shown by the photo below (not genuine, I think....)! :-)

Monday, 12 November 2007


Yes, it's true, yesterday (Sunday) we had our first snowfall of the winter with a light sprinkling across Copenhagen. It is currently bitterly cold (about 4 degs today) and the forecast is for -7 on Wednesday night.. Makes my previous entry entitled "Brrr..." seem a bit woossy...

Tomorrow is election day here in Denmark. The current ruling coalition of Venstre (literally meaning "left" even though they are actually right of centre (!)) and the Conservatives is tipped to hold on to power but it will be close. The major left of centre party, the Social Democrats (led by Helle Thorning Schmidt, Neil Kinnock's daughter-in-law) is taking the fight down to the wire and the polls suggest that it will be a very close run thing. Last night's live TV debate with the leaders of the major parties would have swayed any last minute undecideds and it is generally thought that the current PM, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, did enough to win. But we'll see - stranger things have happened! The 2 seats allocated to each of the Faroe Islands and Greenland could yet decide who will be the next PM!! In reality both parties are very close to the centre, so there is unlikely to be a radical change to Danish domestic policy whoever wins. The Scandinavian model of high taxes and excellent welfare system is embedded in the Danish psyche and sacrosanct, so the only major changes if a Social Democrat government get in are likely relate to foreign policy.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007


A short trip out to Nordhavn this afternoon produced my first Danish Long-eared Owl (above), a Woodcock, a first-winter Hen Harrier and 20 Waxwings in off the sea from Sweden. But no sign of any Bullfinches.. I'm beginning to think they don't exist here....

Sunday, 4 November 2007

We're going to the zoo.. oo..oo..

It was a stunning autumn day in Copenhagen today - a cloudless sky set against a great backdrop of rusty, red and gold autumn leaves. So what better day for Libby and me to make our first visit to Copenhagen Zoo, located in Frederiksberg, to the west of Copenhagen centre.

Copenhagen Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in Europe. It was founded by the ornithologist Niels Kjærbølling in 1859 when he was given the summer garden of "Princess Vilhelmines Have" (The garden of Princess Vilhelmine) by the chief directorate of Copenhagen to begin his collection. At that time the attractions apparently included eagles, chickens, ducks, owls, rabbits, a fox, a seal in a bathtub and a turtle in a bucket! It has come a long way since then and the range of animals and the addition of new facilities in recent years places it among the best in Europe.

We saw Giraffes, Elephants, a pair of sparring White Rhinos, a family of Amur Tigers, two Polar Bears, three Brown Bears, Otters, Common Seals, Leopards, Chimpanzees, a Red Panda, a Three-toed Sloth as well as a few less obvious animals including the secretive Mouse Deer (a sort of tiny version of our muntjack) and European Tortoises.

I couldn't help feeling very sorry for the Polar Bears. Whilst it was amazing to see these magnificent animals close up, it was very sad to see the size of the enclosure in which they are being kept. They need space and space is one thing these two do not have. It was heartbreaking to see one spending most of its time sitting next to the door from which it was fed and the other swimming in circles around its tiny pool.. I might start a petition to get them a new enclosure!

The three Brown Bears, despite not having a larger enclosure, seemed much happier and the source of their happiness was seemingly a set of blue plastic containers. Each bear had its own and was completely occupied trying to get inside... They genuinely seemed to be having a whale of a time..!

Overall a good day out but I still find myself torn over the ethics of zoos.. I can see the educational value but the quality of life for some of the animals, particularly the large mammals, concerns me deeply.


Yes, it's definitely getting a bit parky here with temperatures down to 6 degs yesterday (with the ferocious NW wind it felt like -16, believe me!). After enjoying an amazingly fast cycle ride with a strong tailwind to Kongelunden I was battered by the wind on the exposed coast and after seeing a few Snow Buntings on the shore, and a Jack Snipe on the coastal lagoon, I soon decided it was time to do some woodland birding (purely coincidence that it was sheltered, of course). Good numbers of Redwing, 40+ Waxwings in several groups, an adult male Hen Harrier, a Red Kite and a few Mealy Redpolls (sporting lovely pink breasts) meant it was a good day. But still no Bullfinch... The cycle back was a little more tricky.. I think I could have walked it quicker!