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The Gnocchi Experiment

onsdag 26. september 2018
af Lisa Vergin

Today, the morning started rainy and windy, so we didn`t go out ringing. Instead, we had a very nice brunch during which we were able to watch gannets, which were flying very close to the beach. Overall, it was pretty much an indoor day. We cleaned the flat, finished data entries and had again a very good moult session with Simon. He also told us a lot about skull ossification which we`re hopefully able to make use of during the next ringing mornings.

In the evening I tried to make gnocchi by myself (I really can`t believe that you`re not able to buy them here in town). Normally, gnocchis are a quick meal, but these were such a kind of work! I think all in all, it took me about two hours to made them and in the end they were just okay. However, they were all eaten, so at least they weren`t too bad. :-P

After the evening meeting, Daniel and Molly went out for night catching but they weren`t successful, again. Maybe we`ll be more lucky during the next nights.  


People: Simon S. Christiansen, Daniel Bloche, Molly Brown and Lisa Vergin

The Viking Game

tirsdag 25. september 2018
af Molly Brown

We started off the morning opening the nets at 0630 at Grenen accompanied by the lovely Lars, the first couple of rounds we caught surprising numbers of birds, in particular Blue Tits (Blåmejse). It appears that most observatories have also experienced this in Scandinavia and there’s currently quite a large fall of them. We also had 5 Wrens (Gædesmutte) in the first round- great extraction practice for Lisa and Daniel! Jørgen and Igor also joined in the morning however both Lars and Jørgen had left when we caught the Great Spotted Woodpecker, always a nice but painful bird to catch!

After shutting the nets at 12:45 we met Jørgen at Grenen carpark and went on a search for a Glaucous Gull (Gråmåge)- a bird that usually makes an appearance every winter here in Skagen but something Daniel, Lisa and I haven’t seen. However, we were unsuccessful although we did get to see how big the harbour is here in Skagen- I never realised!

When we arrived back at the Station hungry and tired we came across Fleming above the ringing lab with a Treecreeper (Traeløber) that had flown in through the door, we caught and rung it successfully! Then we did a quick blitz clean of the apartment for the Real Dania who own the buildings here and came to look round the station. After their visit we all went and slept, recently I’ve got into the bad habit of sleeping through the alarm. So I was woken at 1700 by Simon telling me to get changed we’re going swimming. So I very grumpily joined everyone for a quick dip in the Baltic Sea- it was absolutely freezing and woke me up very quickly!!! We also attempted to catch a pink footed goose that landed surprisingly close to us when we were swimming, although we didn't succeed!

I was then introduced to the Viking Game- Kubb, which we learned quickly Simon is very good at! It seems to be a running theme here that the only games we play Simon is always skilled at!


There was a book signing in the evening for Jocob Hyttel releasing De Brændemærkede and we met Oluf Lou who bought us beer as a thank you for catching the Red Flanked Blue Tail and is a fellow ringer!

We then finished off the evening with a delicious meal cooked by Daniel and Shuffle ball- surprise surprise Simon won! 

People: Lars Mortensen, Jørgen Kabel (and Igor), Daniel Bloche, Lisa Vergin, Simon S. Christiansen, Molly Brown and Oluf Lou

Birds caught: 1 Redwing (Vindrossel), 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker (Stor Flagspaette), 1 Blackbird (Solsort), 1 Song Thrush (Sangdrossel), 4 Great Tits (Musvit), 1 Yellow Hammer (Gulspurv), 2 Dunnocks (Jernspurv), 25 Blue Tits (Blåmejse), 5 Robins (Rødhals), 4 Goldcrests (Fuglekonge), 5 Wrens (Gædesmutte), 1 Coal Tit (Sortmejse), 3 Blackcaps (Munk), 1 Reed Bunting (Rørspurv), 6 Chiffchaffs (Gransanger) and 1 Treecreeper (Traeløver).

beautiful blue bird

mandag 24. september 2018
af Daniel Bloche

Molly and I went out early this morning to open the nets at Grenen again, it was absolutely worth it. We had ringed 40 birds including a beautiful Bluetail (Blåstjert). This was only the second bird caught at Skagen. We were all surprised and excited in the moment Molly said, that “this bird has a blue tail”. It was just amazing to catch this Bluetail and funny that after a few minutes 15 local birders appeared to take photos of the bird with the impressive blue tail. The bird we caught most often this day is also blue, but much more common. It was the Blue Tit (Blåmejse). Additionally to these birds we caught some birds announcing the autumn, like a Redwing (Vindrossel) and two Bramblings (Kvækerfinke). In the noon I went out to dip quickly into the blue ocean to celebrate the catch of the Bluetail. Due to the blue sky and the warm sunshine, it was possible to resist the cold water from the Kattegat.


Pic.: Bluetail

After the amazing Migration of Great Skuas (Storkjove) the day before, Lisa had a great observation together with Knud, again. They found a White billed Diver (Hvidnæbbet Lom) and a Manx Shearwater (Almindelig Skråpe). Moreover the great number of passing and resting Scoters () was very impressive. In the afternoon I counted just in two hours more than 2000 of these ducks.

Birds we ringed: 3 Blackcap (Munk), 8 Blue Tit (Blåmejse), 2 Brambling (Kvækerfinke), 1 Reed Bunting (Rørspurv), 1 Chaffinch (Bogfinke), 1 Redwing (Vindrossel), 1 Songthrush (Sangdrossel), 2 Robin (Rødhals), 1 Wren (Gærdesmutte), 7 Redpoll (Gråsisken), 1 Dunnock (Jernspurv), 1 Bluetail (Blåstjert), 5 Coal Tit (Sortmejse), 1 Goldcrest (Fuglekonge), 1 Chiffchaff (Gransanger)

People: Simon S. Christansen, Knud Pedersen, Molly Brown, Lisa Vergin and Daniel Bloche

New Record Number of Great Skuas in Denmark

søndag 23. september 2018
af Lisa Vergin

As the storm “Knud” calmed down, we went to the person Knud for observations this morning. There were a lot of Great Skuas (Storkjove). It was quite amazing how fast Knud recognized them from such a far distance (but the close ones we recognized, too :-P ).  In the two hours we spent observing, we saw 120, but the local birders around counted from 6:47 till 18:46 528 Great Skuas, migrating out of the Kattegat. That`s a new record for Denmark, the last record from 2002 counted “just” 230!

But another highlight and life bird for Daniel, Molly and me was a Merlin (Dværgfalk) flying and hunting waders on the beach.

In the early afternoon, we went to Frederikshavn to visit the boat on which Simon`s mother was traveling. Then we went to the town and visited some places there (and watched birds of course).boat

After that, we visited the ice hockey game Frederikshaven vs. Aalborg, which the home team won. That was such a great experience! On our way home, we stopped by at Jerup Strand, where we saw pink footed geese (Kortnæbbet gås) and found a lot of nice seashells.


People: Simon S. Christiansen, Knud Pedersen, Molly Brown, Daniel Bloche and Lisa Vergin

Storm Knud

lørdag 22. september 2018
af Molly Brown

Today’s been pretty quiet, the wind still howls, and the rain continues in patches so again we’ve been mostly restricted to indoors. Although this morning with the hope of some interesting migrating bird species we ventured out (wrapped in all the clothes we own!) and joined Knud, however the trip wasn’t particularly successful with the highlights being Arctic and Great Skuas (Almindelig Kjoves and Storkjoves), Ringed Plovers (Stor Præstekraves), Velvet Scoters (Fløjsands) and a Little Gull (Dværgmåge).

diary 22.09

This weather means that the ringing lab is now spotless after a thorough clean from Daniel and me. We also took a trip into Skagen and we went to every super market on the hunt for gnocchi for Lisa’s cooking tonight, but we couldn’t find it anywhere!!! So next time I think we will try to make some! The meal was still delicious though!

After having a few too many unsuccessful trips to catch waders we decided to sleep instead tonight particularly with the defeat of last night still on our minds (human vs nature)!

Man vs. Nature

fredag 21. september 2018
af Daniel Bloche

This morning I went out at Grenen observing seabirds together with Knud. We had a successful observation with a number of different migrating and resting birds. Since we had seen two Caspian Gulls (Kaspisk Måge), I have another new bird species during the stay here in Skagen. Furthermore it was impressive to watch an Arctic Skua (Almindelig Kjove) heisting the fish of a Common Tern (Fjordterne). It is so mean but yet spectacular to observe. During the observation and the rest of the day the wind was getting stronger and the storm “Knud” was making its presence felt.

Besides the seawatching we finished this day some indoor tasks, like the report for the rarity committee, due to the catch of the Arctic Warbler (Nordsanger) and the observation of a Stone-curlew (Triel) at Råbjerg Mile. Moreover the Bird Observatory got visited by students from Aalborg, having a project on ringing data. Sadly Sasha left us at noon together with Gunnar.

The storm was predicted to get strongest at midnight. Together with the rain that could be perfect conditions for a night catch of waders. That’s why Molly, Lisa, Simon and I went out as soon as it got dark. It was a fight between human and nature. It is pretty sure that nature had won this fight by far. Thanks to the chest waders we got two times pretty close to an Oystercatcher (Strandskade), but the catch never succeed. The way back was worst, because we had to walk against the storm. The sand was hurting our face and due to the strong wind it was very hard to make a steps forward. Although we had no success it was actually fun.


Pic.: motivated catching crew.

People: Simon S. Christiansen, Gunnar Simonsen, Knud Pedersen, Molly Brown, Sasha Munters, Lisa Vergin and Daniel Bloche

Sasha`s last day

torsdag 20. september 2018
af Lisa Vergin

We went out this morning for ringing at Grenen but we closed the nets early again, because there were barely any birds. There was also a guided tour for two German guys by Simon and Daniel, so they opened the nets at the Lighthouse Garden for two hours. They also caught birds, but it was about as much bird activity as at Grenen (so not that much…).
Sasha and Morten went out sea watching with Rolf Christensen. They talked a lot about identifying birds flying over the sea and bird observation at a different spatial scale. The usual Gannets foraging at Grenen were very close to shore and they also saw Great Skua (Storkjove), Arctic Skua (Almindelig Kjove), Fulmar (Mallemuk) and lots of Reed Buntings (Rørspurv).

In the afternoon we had another great session with Simon about moult strategies and he created a game with different scenarios we had to solve. We learned quite a lot.
But the best part from the afternoon was the cake Morten brought for us from the café. That was very kind and delicious.IMG 8124

Later at the day, Simon’s dad Gunnar arrived with pizza and we celebrated Sasha’s last evening (sad to say!). We`ll miss her very much!

Birds we ringed: 3 Blackcaps (Munk), 2 Robins (Rødhals), 1 Reed Bunting (Rørspurv), 1 Dunnock (Jernspurv), 1 Blue Tit (Blåmejse).

People: Simon S. Christiansen, Gunnar Simonsen, Morten Christensen, Molly Brown, Sasha Munters, Daniel Bloche and Lisa Vergin

Another day another Jay

onsdag 19. september 2018
af Molly Brown

Daniel, Sasha and I started the day by opening the nets at Grenen again we were then joined later by Simon and Lisa who arrived in time for our biggest round with 16 coal tits! The ringing session was quite successful. We were accompanied by 2 Danish people on a guided tour, so it was good for them to see us ring some birds as well and Jørgen and Igor also joined us. We then came back to the station and had started to sleep and enter data when we got a call saying there was a Nutcracker (Nøddekridge) at Batteriskoven we all rushed to Simon’s car and spent a good hour wondering round Skagen and Batterskoven. However we were again unsuccessful, although we did find a lovely park! So many Jays (Skouskades) and Magpies (Husskades) but no Nutcracker!!! When we arrived back at the station for a second time we were also called out again. This time the Pacific diver was within 200 metres of the lighthouse, and we were successful!!! A new bird for Lisa, Daniel and I and Sasha’s first in Europe. This raised everyone’s spirits after the failed Nutcracker hunt and we tackled cleaning the station, which between 4 of didn’t take long.

In the evening Morten arrived and while out jogging, Lisa saw a Short-Eared Owl! This led to a late-night expedition into the heath and woodlands surrounding the lighthouse equipped with net and torch, however this was also unsuccessful, hopefully as it becomes later in the season more Short-Eared Owls will arrive, and we will get to ring some!

Birds rung: 2 Robin (Rødhals), 2 Dunnocks (Jernspurv), 16 Coal Tits (Sortmejse), 1 Lesser Redpoll (Lille Gråsiskin), 3 Blue Tits (Blåmejse), 2 Blackcaps (Munk) and 2 Garden Warblers (Havesanger).

People: Molly Brown, Lisa Vergin, Daniel Bloche, Sasha Munters, Morten Christianson, Simon S. Christiansen and Jørgen Kabel.

Life Birds

tirsdag 18. september 2018
af Sasha Munters

Today was one of the most exciting days I have experienced at the bird observatory so far! We decided as a group to have a bit of a “day off,” but I went out early anyway to join Knud Pedersen for some seawatching. Strong winds from the South made the day warmer than it has been recently and visibility was a bit hazy over the sea. Even so, we still enjoyed some nice birds. There were waders, gulls, and terns roosting or foraging on the beach, including a Little Stint (Dværgyle) and a first-year Caspian Gull, (Kaspisk Måge). Knud is an incredible birder and is quite gracious in sharing his bird identification knowledge!

I was delighted to get another “life bird,” yesterday morning. Although they are common here, I had never seen a Great Skua (Storkjove) before. It was thrilling to see not one, but two of these powerful seabirds out over the ocean. Seawatching requires observers to look at bird field marks from very far away, and the bright white flash on the wings of a Great Skua is an ID giveaway for this species!

I left the seawatching post at Grenen a bit early to join the rest of the crew on an excursion to Råbjerg Mile, a migrating sand dune. The wind moves the dune up to 20 meters every year! We went just to see this amazing natural phenomenon and to enjoy some birding and ended up with quite a surprise. While walking across the heath just next to the dune and admiring the Skylarks (Sanglærke) flying around us, we flushed another bird that none of us were expecting: a Stone Curlew (Triel)!

StoneCurlew blogStone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus) by Daniel Bloche

One of these strange members of the Charidriiformes had actually been seen in Skagen in early July and I was a little disappointed to have missed it. In the end however, I really could not have asked for a better first time seeing this species. We all watched through our binoculars in silence as it took off from the ground and flew with its strongly marked black and white wings and long yellow legs across the heathland. I’ve never seen a species like this in the wild and in North America we don’t even have anything like a Stone Curlew! It was very special for our whole crew to have such a nice look at a very interesting bird. Simon sent out the rare bird alarm right away and soon after Knud and Jørgen Kabel joined us to try and resight the Stone Curlew.

We were able to spot the Stone Curlew a few more times, but not nearly as well as the first time we flushed it. Still, our exploration of the heath was wonderful and we saw some more lovely birds. The warm weather had some raptors soaring overhead and we got nice looks at Common Buzzards (Muvåge), Red Kites (Rød Glente), Kestrels (Tårnfalk), Sparrowhawks (Spurvehøg), and a Peregrine Falcon (Vandrefalk).

SkagenBOcrew birdwatchingblogThe crew watching raptors at Råbjerg mile

We rounded out our exciting excursion day with an early (and delicious!) dinner at Skagen Brewery and a walk around the harbor in Skagen. It was a relaxing, yet eventful day with an incredible surprise!

People: Simon S. Christiansen, Lisa Vergin, Molly Brown, Sasha Munters, Daniel Bloche, Knud Pedersen, Jørgen Kabel

Amazing fishing Gannets (Sule)

mandag 17. september 2018
af Daniel Bloche

This ringing morning was very quiet. We caught just a few passerines. The highlight was a song thrush (Sangdrossel). It was funny how big and heavy this bird was compared to the Blackcap (Munk) and especially the Goldcrest (Fuglekonge) we held in our hand just before. But the quiet day gave me the possibility to ring my first bird, a Dunnock (Jernspurv). It was a great experience to put on the ring the first time.

jernspurv ring
Pic.1: Ringing of a Dunnock

In the evening, I went out to take pictures of Gannets (Sule). I´ve had been waiting for a long time to have the possibility to take pictures of hunting Gannets. Now at Grenen, I had the chance to photograph them in the setting sun. It was amazing to see them falling off the sky to get fish. They are so quick and it’s hard to foresee when they will start fishing. But after 30 minutes of trying to take pictures I finally got a few good shots. They are not they best but they are my first ones and I´m very happy that I was successful to photograph this spectacle. I think I´ll try the next days to get some more, better pictures of these fascinating birds.

Pic.2: Fishing Gannet

But the Gannets were not the only ones trying to hunt fish. When we got out catching some waders at night we saw a light shining into the ocean. It was a diver (no not a Loon as you might think - it was a human diver). He was trying to catch some fishes with a harpune but was as unlucky as we trying to catch birds because it was too windy so we had to cancel it.

Birds we ringed in the morning: 3 Dunnocks (Jernspurv), 3 Robins (Rødhals), 1 Bullfinch (Dompap), 1 Redstart (Rødstjert), 4 Blackcaps (Munk), 1 Coal tit (Sortmejse), 1 Song thrush (Sangdrossel)

People: Simon S. Christiansen, Lisa Vergin, Molly Brown, Sasha Munters, Daniel Bloche

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