It was the last week of April, when the gardens were lustrous with cherry blossoms, trees were nodding with buds and colourful wild flowers coming from nowhere were busy in prettification of the ground. The climate, by getting warmer each day signalled the end of winter. On one such sunny day, we got a message from Stig Toft Madsen, saying that he will be going to Skagen in May to attend Skagen Fuglefestival and asking us to join. We were over the moon for this opportunity and soon we set sail to Skagen.
Where is Skagen?
Skagen is a beautiful coastal town of Denmark situated in farthest north of Jutland. This can be easily reached from Gothenburg by ship. Main attraction here is Grenen a long sand bar where the two seas meet and is considered as the top of Denmark (mainland). With its beautiful beaches,picturesque landscapes and an old lighthouse, Skagen attracts tourists from everywhere.
Apart from these finest beaches and an old historical lighthouse, there is something more about this place that pulls another set of people “the birders”. One can witness the spectacular bird migration here, especially raptor migration in spring.
It was a cold and rainy morning in Skagen and we were walking towards Stig’s homestay. As we drew nearer, we heard a big hello. It was Stig who was already up for birding spotted us before we do and waved at us with a big smile. We were so humbled to meet and talk to this veteran birdwatcher personally, though we spoke before through messages. Without further ado, we got into his car and left for bird watching.
We reached a vantage point near the coast where it was packed with fellow birders, their big telescopes and cameras. It was very pleasing to meet Rolf Christensen, Hans Henrik Bay, Anders Bojesen and many other birders in the group. Lots of birds were already in their migratory parade towards north. With the help of large telescopes we spotted gliding Gannets and Gulls, hovering Hobbies and Harriers, Kestrels, Kites, Ospreys, Buzzards, Merlins and the count goes on.
When is the migration period?
The migrating season lasts from March to June. The Skagen bird festival will be held every year for four days in the month of May. Not only Danish birders but also people from different countries visit here to watch this magnificent phenomenon. A bird observatory has been newly established in this area in the grey light house. There is also a bird ringing station nearby where bird banding is done.
Few birds that could be spotted here during migration are Red Kite, Black Kite, Common Kestrel, European Honey Buzzard, Common Buzzard, Osprey, Merlin, Hobby, Peregrine Falcon, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Rough Legged Buzzard etc.
Birds other than raptors
For the next two days Stig, Anoop and I were plodded near the beaches to see Common Plovers, Common Sandpipers and Scoters, hiked through the hills in search of Crossbills, strolled around the area looking for Pied wagtails but ended up in spotting good number of Linnets, Pipits, Yellow Wagtails. An early morning walk in the park, amongst the rain drenched trees, where Whitethroats, Flycatchers, Chiffchaffs were showed up was very rejoicing.
We also got a chance to meet and listen to Mr. Lars Svensson, the author of “Collins bird guide”. I bought a new field guide book of birding and got it signed by him. It was a great learning experience for us in Skagen bird festival and we could not ask for more.
Check this video about Birding at Skagen.
PS: The beautiful bird pictures and the video are given by Hans Henrik Bay, who is a music composer, guitar player as well as a bird watcher. Inspired by nature and the wild life, he has composed many amazing tunes which are available at www.hanshenrikbay.dk.