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Everything White (/Grey)

onsdag 7. februar 2024
af James Wareing

Today's blog is dedicated to the colour white and variants of it (bear with me, this is going somewhere...). It started looking rather gloomy under heavy clouds but ended with sunshine and two new species for me, so an unqualified success!

I took advantage of some lovely light around midday to take a walk across the moor, which was drizzled in a small helping of snow. The moor at this time of year is beautiful, with the goldeny yellow of the grass complementing the low winter sun. It rather reminds me of home in England but has the fortune of having significantly fewer dogs.


The birds however were generally very quiet. A few Crested Tits (Topmejse) betrayed themselves with their song but did not submit to being photographed, which is a shame because they are a cool bird and one I have only seen on one other occassion. 

Just as I was about to head back I spotted a white blob on top of a tree. I am used to seeing many white blobs in the corner of my eye here, I call them gulls. Gulls though, my instinct told me, do not sit on trees, so a closer look was needed. I was very excited by what appeared in my binoculars, a bird I had always wanted to see, a Great Grey Shrike (Stor Tornskade). Shrikes are particularly cool birds; their scientific family name is derived from the Latin word for "butcher". This is because of their habit of impaling prey onto spikes of branches/thorns to save for later and show the females just how good a hunter they are. They are not too commonly seen here, so this was an exciting find. Unfortunately, I was only able to get a rather distant photograph so I am hoping it stays around for a photoshoot tomorrow. 


In the afternoon, Simon and I went to Skagen harbour to feed the gulls. The gulls were very happy with our offering of white bread and quickly around 200 flocked to greet us. The Common Eiders (Ederfugl), were less impressed with our offering and stayed far away (maybe they prefer wholemeal with a few seeds....)





There was thinking to this madness and we managed to find two ringed gulls to record. When we returned to the lighthouse we recorded these and found they were originally from Norway. 



Amongst all this gull madness was the last present of the day, a Caspian Gull (Kaspisk måge) was to be found amongst the multitude of Herring Gulls (Sølvmåge). To those of you who do not know their gulls, you may ask: 'Well how did you know it was a Caspian Gull and not a Herring Gull?'. Well, the answer is; I was with Simon and Simon knows his gulls very well. On reflection, I can now see that it stands out from the others but I am indebted to Simon for first finding it. 


And so ends another day in paradise, not quite Papua New Guinea, but I think it will do all the same. 

Today’s observations in Dofbasen from observers in the area

People: James Wareing (with help from Simon Christiansen)