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The calm after the . . bit of strong wind.

søndag 10. marts 2019
af Peter Denyer

After the bad weather of the last couple of days the forecast looked good enough for Dante to head up to Grenen and me to head into the garden and try some ringing. Dante saw a lot including a couple of twite (perhaps the same birds from last year.) I, however, did not catch any birds, but I managed to get some observations in, including my first red kites of the year, a couple of hundred jackdaws and a a couple of buzzards.

So inspired was I by this that I headed to the harbour to look for the glaucous gull. A croissant and a pizza roll later I had the best views and photos I’ve ever had of the species. I also counted 300 eider in the harbour too.

When I returned, Simon was back from Aalborg and had picked up our new guests for the week, Heidi, Mette and Eva. After this he ran through with us our plans for the rest of the day and then went home for the evening. Dante and I headed out for more obs as the weather was very good. I headed to Grenen Dante headed to North Strand and walked around the coast. I didn’t see much of interest but there were a lot more birds moving than before the storm, so that bodes well for the next few days. Dante had more luck and he found a flock of ten long tailed tits on the walk from the Cormorant lake back to the Observatory. The ladies had settled in and were cooking their own dinner this evening, though they intend to join us later in the week.

After dinner, Dante and I went out for some flashlighting, and whilst we didn’t even see any birds, we did see a mustelid species, probably a polecat though I couldn’t be sure it wasn’t a marten. It was a beautiful clear night and not for the first time I curse the fact that the iPhone can’t take pictures of the night sky. Dante is planning to head up to Grenen in the morning, I’m planning to ring and the ladies are planning to watch the sun rise over Grenen, so it was early . . ish . .to bed tonight.

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Rød glente past the Observatory this morning 

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The gråmåge was showing ridiculously well in the harbour. 

Indoor Day

lørdag 9. marts 2019
af Dante Shepherd

I didn’t leave the observatory once yesterday as the weather was so terrible (30+ mph winds and rain)!  Peter and I got a lot of stuff done which had been building up over the last couple of months such as finishing the photo archive, fixing a load of nets and other computer work. In the afternoon Peter had a cup of tea with Flemming in the news room and discussed upcoming social tasks. That was it for the day really, a lot of stuff done but not much to write about! 

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People: Dante Shepherd, Peter Denyer

The ‘storm’ hits.

fredag 8. marts 2019
af Peter Denyer

Another rainy day saw us doing some inside jobs, though Dante drew the short straw and had to cycle into town for some shopping, checking out the harbour whilst he was there but not having any luck with the two glaucous gulls reported there. I spent a couple of hours working on the photo archive and managed to shift everything from 2018 so we’re ready to start inputting 2019 photos as of tomorrow.

After lunch I got to work on some more nets, getting two more done and a third underway. We’re well on the way to having all the nets repaired by next week, though some of the more damaged ones will require quite a lot of time. The supposed ‘storm’ was really just a combination of relatively high winds and a bit of drizzle, quite an anticlimax after what we’d been led to believe was coming.

Dinner was mostly leftovers from the week and afterward we decided to try some flashlighting on the beach as the ‘bad‘ weather might bring some birds in to shore. It was very dark and the beach had all but disappeared in some places making walking up there a little tricky. We did see some birds but didn’t catch any, and a few mammals. We took a nice stroll back via Ellekrattet and saw a short eared owl on the way which was unexpected on such a windy night.

People: Dante Shepherd, Peter Denyer

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One of the mammals we saw during the flashlighting, a juvenile grey seal. 

Glaucous Gull

torsdag 7. marts 2019
af Dante Shepherd

With heavy rain and strong winds forecast ringing and migration watching was called off. At 9:30 Rita came over to clean the observatory (thanks again!) and to show Peter and I how to clean the toilet properly. Afterwards, I did some picture archiving and net fixing and Peter went to clean the birders club. As we were doing this Charlotte said goodbye as she was leaving back for Copenhagen, we hope you enjoyed your visit! 

In the afternoon Peter headed off to Frederikshavn to watch a movie and I went into town to buy dinner. On my way back I decided it would be worthwhile to check the harbour for any interesting gulls. I was very pleased to find a juvenile Glaucous Gull. It was very approachable and seemed to have a taste for the pastry I was throwing out for it. Definitely the best cinnamon roll I have ever bought! 

People: Dante Shepherd, Peter Denyer, Simon S. Christiansen, Charlotte Mathiassen

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An unexpected Obs morning

onsdag 6. marts 2019
af Peter Denyer

Today Simon and I attempted to do some ringing, we opened all three nets and flipped the trap and put some redpoll calls on. An hour and a half later I closed the nets after catching . . no birds! It was very strange, but it gave me the opportunity to to go and do some observations. So back down the road I went to look for the marsh tit. Once again I drew a blank, so I think it must have left. I had a pleasant morning though and went home via Batteriscoe where I found a bullfinch, for my Danish year list. Whilst I was out Dante was at North Strand with Knud, they didn’t see much but it was all good migration monitoring. Charlotte walked together shops along the beach to get us some much needed staples. She then worked on the results of her interviews here with all the volunteers and staff. Simon was overloaded with bookings for the apartment, planning a business trip for April and trying to get some more bedding for the season.

When I returned from the field, I had a quick lunch, and went straight upstairs to get on with net fixing, Dante joined me later and we worked on a particularly difficult net for a couple of hours. From there I got straight on with cooking the dinner (my usual, a chilli) cleaning the kitchen, going through yesterday’s ringing records for mistakes, entering DofBasen before finally sitting down at 8pm. We have a rainy day tomorrow according to the forecast so the evening meeting was mostly planning out tasks we could do inside tomorrow. Today was Charlottes last day, so we asked her thoughts on her experiences and take always from her first visit to Skagen.

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The path at Batteriscoe, with the flycatcher tree on the right.

Guest Post

tirsdag 5. marts 2019
af Charlotte Mathiassen

Today I had meetings with various people from around the lighthouse, Lene from the nature conservancy, Christel from the café and an interview with Dante about being a volunteer. From these meetings I gathered useful information to be used in future questionnaires/interviews with people in and around the lighthouse.

During the morning Peter and Dante were busy observing birds, Peter also checking out the cormorant lake to see if any cormorants are thinking about breeding yet. He then went on to look for the marsh tit that had been reported in the town by Anders Bojesen and a few others over the last month. Dante went out to Grenen to do four hours of migration monitoring off Worlds End.

They both entered their DOFBasen records on return, and had a quick nap before undertaking other tasks, including net repair and ringing data entry.

Simon was mostly involved in admin tasks and preparation for an upcoming trip, all of which he assures us, would be ‘boring’ to go into detail on! He also had a meeting with Lene and Christel during the morning.

For dinner I made a nice vegetarian Dahl and butternut squash, bean and mushroom curry, which was well received by all. We planned our activities for the next day, bearing the poor weather forecast in mind.

 People: Dante Shepherd, Peter Denyer, Simon S. Christiansen, Charlotte Mathiassen

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Work in progress on net repair


My first diary post of 2019

mandag 4. marts 2019
af Dante Shepherd

I was the first one up in the morning and after a bowl of yogurt made my way out to Grenen for a migration watch with Knud. There were decent numbers of birds, namely seabirds and wildfowl, moving in the first couple of hours of light but by 4 hours most of the visible migration had dried up. Highlights from the 4 hour watch included 8 Taiga Bean Geese which headed straight for Sweden and a really impressive flock of 27 Raven which turned back. Peter decided to watch for raptors from the fuglestation garden for an hour before lunchtime after he had finished some computer work and had a nice flock of 7 Common Buzzard, a Rough-legged Buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel.

In the afternoon whilst I was doing some DOFbasen Charlotte interviewed Peter for a questionnaire about birders she is making and Simon went into town to buy some ingredients for the quiches I was going to cook in the evening. Whilst the quiches were in the oven Knud came over and showed Peter and I the ins and outs of DOFbasen so that we could input our data properly.

 Apparently the quiches were good!

People: Dante Shepherd, Peter Denyer, Simon S. Christiansen, Charlotte Mathiassen, Knud Pedersen

12F56469 3DC0 400A BCDB 964118073E9AA vegetarian and a bacon quiche I made, which went down very well! 

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Knud, Peter and I goign through DOFbasen data entry

And then there were four . .

søndag 3. marts 2019
af Peter Denyer

The garden was pretty empty today so I put the redpoll tape out and turned the trap over. The wind was too strong to have a net open. Whilst I was waiting for the first round I wrote the diary post for the previous day. I managed to catch a redpoll in the trap, which was processed and then later, just before Lene’s Fastelavn event I got a great tit. At about 11am a few people gathered in the courtyard for a ‘feeding the birds’ event, where I showed them what food we use to attract the birds, and how we spread it out (it’s not just willy nilly despite how it seems). The kids also got a chance to spread some food too. I then showed them the ringing process with the great tit that I’d caught, and this really caught the kids attention. They went so far as to name the bird ‘Maximilian’ the musvit!

Dante went back down to the harbour and also did some shopping. Whilst he was at the harbour he managed to record the ring numbers of 3 great black backed gulls. During this time I was working on the photo archive and looking through some other admin tasks before biking over to Jennes Sø and back. We both entered some DOF records in the evening and Dante reported the ring numbers of the gulls he’d seen in the harbour.

Simon returned this evening picked up Charlotte Mathiassen who will be doing some work for DOF whilst she’s here. I worked on some emails and we planned out the coming week to a degree now there’s more than one person at the Observatory!

Birds ringed

Musvit - 1

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The musvit, ’Maximillian‘ was a big hit with the kids today

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Bizarrely, even though its only March, Lene found this large moth caterpillar on the heath. 

A familiar face returns!

lørdag 2. marts 2019
af Peter Denyer

We had a new bird in the garden today, nothing exciting but a blackbird gives me hope for some other birds than redpoll in the lab soon. Today’s the day of the presentation, and I still had a few last minute tweaks to make to it.

Dante arrived at lunchtime, and we had a nice session with Knud Pederson about upcoming activities and some of the stuff I’ve been doing since I’ve been here, including an impromptu demonstration of how to repair nets.

The presentation started at 3, with 16 nature interpreters from a variety of countries, including Albania, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Scotland and England present, along with several Danes. It went very well, there was a lot of interaction between us all, many questions asked, and an impromptu tour of the ringing lab afterward for those who are interested. It’s a shame I didn’t get a chance to spend more time with them as there were many conversations started that couldn’t be finished due to time constraints. As they left they presented the observatory with a very nice bottle of wine for the talk, which was gleefully received! Whilst I was giving the talk, Dante was refamiliarising himself with the local area, and even finding a glaucous gull (gråmåge) down in the harbour for his efforts.

After there was a lot of food left from dinner last night, Anders invited Dante and I to join him and Morten for dinner this evening. The wine from the Nature guides was well timed as it was a good accompaniment to a delicious lasagne. This was followed by a few drinks and chatting long into the night as the weather doesn’t look good for ringing or observing tomorrow morning.

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The presentation went very well thanks, in part, to the extensive photo archive from which I took the pictures.


Preparing for new arrivals

fredag 1. marts 2019
af Peter Denyer

Today started particularly slowly, as there was some computer work I needed to to work on, some emails about birding in Skagen that needed a reply, and the presentation for Saturday needed to be worked on and timed. Also there was various admin tasks that I needed to perform too, which aren’t worth noting here. . Earlier in the morning Lene and I did see a family of five whooper swans (sangsvane) fly past the observatory. I put the updated version of the introductory video in the birders club also.

With Dante arriving tomorrow and Charlotte the day after, I decided I needed to do some shopping for basic foods so we have enough to get by, and to that end I headed to the supermarket midday.

It was a less birdy day than I’ve had for a while, though there were still plenty of redpoll in the garden, with great tit and yellowhammer joining them. The wind was too strong to put nets up though. I had a brief break in the café with Flemming during some down time, but he got quickly called away by some visitors.

I’d been invited out to dinner by Anders Bojesen and Morten Christensen so I set off on the bike about 6.30pm. A great time was had, delicious food, great company and lots of talk about the birding we had been doing, or that was coming up. It was really good to see them both again and a great way to end the week. It was a cold and dark bike ride home though!

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The redpolls (gråsisken) are still present in numbers today. 

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