Sunday, 9 November 2008


Photos: first two - Brown Bats at Vestamager, including an acrobatic individual doing an impressive 180 degree head twist to catch a mosquito; and a late afternoon scene at Vestamager Nature Reserve

Saturday was a glorious day - still, with a clear blue sky and a late autumnal chill in the air. I decided to look for Tengmalm's Owl in Kongelunden forest, figuring that with the recent irruption of this species in Sweden, there was a chance that one would have made it to this forest close to Copenhagen airport. The species has been seen there before in irruption years and is still recorded most springs. Despite checking almost every pine, spruce and fir tree in the forest, I had no luck. So I wandered towards Vestamager, the nature reserve made up of wetlands and wet birch forest. On my way, a fantastic Rough-legged Buzzard was hunting from a treetop in an open field. Living here has enabled me to get to grips with this species and learn the id characteristics that separate it from Common Buzzard (which can be incredibly variable). The longer wings (to me they almost have a kite-like appearance), pale/white upper tail, dark belly and large dark carpal patches on the underwing separate this species from its much commoner cousin and I was able to study this individual for around 20 minutes before it was flushed by a dog-walker.

Further along the path I was surprised to come across a group of 8 large bats hunting insects over one of the flashes in broad daylight. I was told by a local that these are BROWN BATS and are Scandinavia's largest species of bat. They are day-flying and migratory and are apparently seen in this area most autumns. If anyone out there knows anything about bats and can confirm the species, I would be interested to hear from you.

On Sunday, Libby and I went for a walk around the coastal wood at Sydvestpynten where we vistited the resident Tawny Owl that has returned to roost in the same tree for at least its third winter.

The hunt for Tengmalm's Owl continues..... maybe I should ask the Wise Woman for advice...!

Friday, 7 November 2008

How many rare birds do we miss?

I came across this blog entry from David Sibley and thought I'd share it with you. Food for thought as we are wandering the migration hot spots. I am sure observer coverage in Europe is higher than in the US but, even so, I am sure the same principle applies.

Sunday, 2 November 2008


Another morning at Mandehoved for raptor migration produced 33 Red Kites, 1 adult White-tailed Eagle, 1 Goshawk, 15 Sparrowhawks, 6 Rough-legged Buzzards, 7 Hen Harriers and 15 Common Buzzards. However, overshadowing the raptors were the skeins of geese that seemed to be constantly passing south. Over 2,000 Barnacle Geese and 1500 Brent Geese were counted in four hours with 5 White-fronted Geese, 4 Bean Geese and small numbers of Canada Geese mixed in. The supporting cast was made up of finches - good numbers (in the 100s) of Chaffinches, Bramblings, Redpolls (numbers seem to be well up this autumn) and Siskin. A flock of 60+ Waxwings were my first of the autumn and over the weekend good numbers of these cracking berry-eating birds were seen all across Denmark.

At lunchtime, after the migration was beginning to tail off, we visited the lighthouse at Stevns Fyr to look for Tengmalm's Owl (one was heard there the night before). The first tree we looked in produced a roosting Long-eared Owl but unfortunately, despite looking in every tree in the lighthouse garden, there was no sign of any Tengmalm's. We wondered whether the presence of a Long-eared would have made it move on (I think I have read somewhere that Long-eared Owls eat Tengmalm's Owls which would be good enough reason to find somewhere else to roost!). There have now been an incredible 252 Tengmalm's Owls ringed this autumn at Falsterbo in Sweden (just across the water from Stevns in Denmark) - the highest total ever. So it is only a matter of time before one of these fantastic owls gets pinned down in Denmark. You can see a photo of one at Falsterbo last week here. They are usually very confiding during the day (once the roost site has been found - which is by no means easy), so I am hopeful of seeing one or two this winter. Remarkably, a Great Grey Owl was also seen at Falsterbo this week - only the second ever in southern Sweden. This could mean that these huge owls are also on the move. Having never been recorded in Denmark, Great Grey Owl would cause much excitement if one was to make the crossing from Falsterbo....

With Nutcrackers, Tengmalm's Owls and possibly Great Grey Owls on the move this winter, hopes are high for some of the other scarcer visitors including Pygmy Owl, Hawk Owl and Pine Grosbeak - I will be checking my local woods very carefully!