Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Sea Duck

A day trip to the north Sjaelland coast for sea duck delivered mixed fortunes. When I arrived at dawn it was a beautifully clear dawn with a fantastic low sun behind me as I looked north. However, as soon as I reached the ideal viewing spot and began to scan the flocks of sea duck on the bay, the mist rolled in and visibility was reduced to around 100 metres, meaning I was left staring at what looked like a polar bear in a snowstorm. Added to this, the temperature plummeted from an already cold -3 to about -6! A walk around the woodland at Melby failed to produce any Parrot Crossbills (a party of around 20 have been seen regularly here) so I walked along the north coast path towards Kikhavn, a small harbour town. On the way, at around 1300 and after having seen nothing, the mist cleared and it turned into a beautiful afternoon. So I walked back to the bay and spent the last hour of light scanning the flocks of sea duck. There were 100s of Eider plus small flocks of GOLDENEYE, RED-BREASTED MERGANSER and about 50 Scoter. The most numerous scoter was VELVET SCOTER with smaller numbers of COMMON SCOTER. Unfortunately there was no sign of this. A flock of 14 WHOOPER SWANS flew west and then a single LONG-TAILED DUCK flew in and began feeding just offshore. Given the lack of sea duck present on my local patches, both Velvet Scoter and Long-tailed Duck were new species for me here, bringing the total number of species seen in Denmark to an almost respectable 211.

Friday, 26 December 2008


A couple of hours walk around Vestamager on Christmas day with the in-laws was rewarded with a PEREGRINE FALCON, at least 4 SMEW, 6 WHOOPER SWANS and a good assortment of ducks including PINTAIL, WIGEON, TEAL, SHOVELER, POCHARD, TUFTED DUCK, SCAUP, MALLARD, GADWALL and SHELDUCK. This morning (26th) we have been shrouded in thick freezing fog. A short cycle ride to the industrial harbour (oh the glamour) produced several argentatus Herring Gulls, a few Cormorants and 3 Waxwings in a roadside rowan. My toes have just about thawed out.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Southern Sweden

Merry Christmas to all. I have just enjoyed a fantastic traditional Danish Christmas meal (roast pork, red cabbage, roast potatoes and veg) and a couple of glasses of vino tinto.. One of my presents (in Denmark we open them on Christmas Eve - top!) was a book I have wanted for a long time - the Dick Forsman Raptors guide to Europe and the Middle East. What a great book. And hopefully I will get to check out its quality quite soon.. because in southern Sweden there is a wintering 2cy+ GREATER SPOTTED EAGLE just east of Malmo. Also in southern Sweden, around Gothenburg, is a BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT, an ORIENTAL TURTLE DOVE, at least two HAWK OWLS and PYGMY OWL. So a trip across the border is definitely in order.

It is now cold here.. about freezing during the day and -4/-5 below at night, although this is average for the time of year (last year was incredibly mild). There is a distinct lack of WAXWINGS this winter, compared with last winter, mainly due to the very limited berry crop this year. I guess this is why so many have made it to the UK this winter. The female BLACK-THROATED THRUSH is back at Nivå, just north of Copenhagen, for its third winter - it is quite remarkable that this bird has wintered in the same small area (by a railway and next to a dog-training area) for the third winter in a row.

The TENGMALM'S OWL passage seems to have dried up and NUTCRACKERS seem to have settled down with a handful wintering in local woodlands. Here's hoping for a GYR as a Christmas present!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Let it snow...

It snowed today. Ok, so not much but, nevertheless, it snowed. After last year's pathetic excuse of a Scandinavian winter I am hoping for the real thing this year. The Christmas markets have started and the ice rink is now in full swing on Kongens Nytorv so it is beginning to feel quite festive... Photos soon.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008


I have just returned from a ten day work trip to Mexico. What a place. 24 million people living in its capital city (that's almost 5 times the population of Denmark) and so much history that Britain looks like the new kid on the block. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to explore the country outside the capital but, with visits to some of Mexico's stunning museums and contact with the legislators in Congress, I was left with a very positive impression of the country, its people and its very promising future.

Some facts about Mexico:

- 12th largest economy in the world
- population 109 million (24 million of which live in the capital, Mexico City)
- Mexico City lies at an altitude of 2,250m above sea level
- human activity dates back to at least 21,000 BC
- the Aztec civilisations were invaded by Spain in 1591 and Mexico became the largest and most populous Spanish colony

So, far from being just the land of tequila, sombreros and ponchos, this is a land of culture, history and economic muscle.

My work took me to the Mexican Congress - the Chamber of Deputies - where we held a meeting on climate change for legislators from the Americas - North and South America plus the Caribbean. The result was a consensus declaration calling on industrialised countries to cut their emissions by 60-80 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050 and calling on the most advanced developing countries (Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa) to take on binding commitments by 2020. This is a significant advance ahead of the latest round of UN negotiations that take place in Poznan, Poland from 1-12 December 2008 and demonstrates that there is cross-party support in the parliaments of these countries for more ambitious action.

The people we worked with were some of the warmest I have met and I came away with a genuine warmth for the country and a reassurance that the region sees climate change as the most serious issue facing humanity in the 21st century and, beyond that, is already doing a significant amount to mitigate its effects and adapt to the impacts. From Brazilian ethanol to Argentinian water management expertise and Costa Rican work on rewarding forest conservation through payment for "ecosystem services", there is much that we can all learn from this diverse region.