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West Coast Living

For the past week I have been living life on Denmark’s west coast, literally 50m from the waves and sand. This is a tad different to my sheltered (from the wind!) life in the leafy suburbs of Odense on Funen. I’ve found/taken a few photos which summarize things here for me, especially the differences!

Sea and sand, and when you are really lucky - no wind!

Sea and sand, and when you are really lucky – no wind!

There is nothing better than wandering the waters edge to see what the wild waters have brought in - and what some people have turned into art!

There is nothing better than wandering the waters edge to see what the wild waters have brought in – and what some people have turned into art!

This blurry shot captures many things - lighthouses, rose hip (hyben), mist nets and dragonflies!

This blurry shot captures many things – lighthouses, rose hip (hyben), mist nets and dragonflies!

Amber - or fossilised tree resin - is commonly found (or hunted!) on the west coast of Denmark. I haven't spotted any yet, but I do spend most of my time looking up...

Amber (aka Danish gold) – is fossilised tree resin and is commonly found (or hunted!) on the west coast of Denmark. I haven’t spotted any yet, but I do spend most of my time looking up…

Look carefully, the sign is in two languages, Danish and German. The west coast is a mecca for German tourists!

Look carefully, the sign is in three languages, Danish, English and German. The west coast is a mecca for German tourists, which is a new experience for me!

Escaping Odense for a day…

Danish countryside – a patchwork of yellows.

At 5am the alarm gently woke me from my lovely sleep and I crept out of bed, trying not to wake the other half. It was me after all that had decided I was interested in birds, not really knowing that meant early starts and sleepless nights!

I jumped on the bike and left the confines of the city. I headed south west through Danish countryside and farmland to Tarup, a village about 10km from my home. Here on the site of old flooded quarry pits, I met Hans and we continued with his net rounds. Every year Hans sets up nets at this site to catch and ring birds. I recently attended a course on bird ringing and obtained a trainee license, which allows me to ring birds under the supervision of an experienced ringer.

The wonderfully calm garden warbler (havesanger)

One of the first birds we came across in the net was a garden warbler (havesanger). It’s described as a “featureless bird” with no strong or distinct markings, but despite this, it is very beautiful up close. Garden warblers are migrants and have just returned to Denmark in the last few weeks after spending the winter in south Africa. They are a pleasure to handle, very calm and collected and even a little reluctant to leave your hand!

A garden warbler (havesanger) is happy to stay on Hans arm after being ringed!

The nets were open for 6 hours and as the morning continued we caught a range of species in the nets. Our most exciting/noisy catches were two greater spotted woodpeckers (stor flagspætte). Two young boys (born last year, or 2k birds) were found in two separate nets, quite close together. We suspect they had been chasing each other, lost their minds slightly and landed in the nets! These birds are a little more tricky to handle, so I happily took a back seat and watched the master at work! Once out of the nets and ringed we got to have a closer look at this beautifully colored bird.

Greater spotted woodpecker (stor flagspætte)

They were smaller than I imagined, with very short legs. They have a complex marking pattern with black, white and red. The also have a very long tongue to probe with and collect food (insects like ants).

Greater spotted woodpecker (stor flagspætte)

As the day progressed we met some of the usual suspects in the nets including blue tit and great tit. The blue tit is most certainly the opposite of the garden warbler. It is constantly fighting, wriggling, struggling and trying to cause you trouble! For it’s size it certainly has a LOT of attitude.

Blue tit causing trouble!

Despite the feathered focus, I did manage to distract myself from the birds for a few minutes to appreciate a few of natures other wonders. I came across this large moth which resembled an old leaf. He was attached to a nettle. Any suggestions?

Mystery moth at Tarup -Poplar Hawk Moth – thanks Sharky!

After closing the nets shortly before lunch time I took some time to enjoy the peace and calm at the quarry. On the way home I stopped to delight my nose in the scent of lilac, which grows along the road sides in many residential areas. It reminds me of our first house, where it grew just outside by the road. I loved to pick some and bring it to school for the teacher – that says a little about my childhood!

Opium for my nose – Lilac

Spring seed sowing!

It’s funny the way things happen. Usually I’m busy when my other half is not, or vice versa. But today we found ourselves at home with some free time. This usually means we get started on a project. Today we turned our attention to the garden for a few hours.

Mending a bird bath

Our reuse-recycle theme is still going strong. After reading a little more about how to have a fuglevenlig (bird friendly) garden, I decided we needed a bird bath. We had a look in our local recycling area and found a large broken plate. Bingo – a bit of repair work and we will have a bird bath (fingers crossed!).

Increasing garden space with hanging baskets

I have to say, I’m not the creative one in the relationship, or the handy person either! Last week Rasmus came up with the idea of making a hanging garden to increase the growing space in our garden. We replanted some parsley in the top and planted rocket and some edible flowers in the lower tiers. The baskets are carefully suspended from the top of a wall that divides our garden from our neighbours. Quiet an ingenious design, I think! If you look carefully on the brick wall you may be able to see the hemp string that makes up a spider web design. This is in preparation for some peas which we have planted along the bottom of the wall. Climbing plants are ideal in our small garden as they maximise ground space and grow up!

Hanging bike tyre baskets - maybe they will work!

Hanging baskets have been done before, but hanging bike tyres, maybe not! We decided we would give it a go and planted some water cress (karse) as an experiment!

Tomatoes growing indoors

This is a project we started last week. We sowed some tomato, strawberry and sunflower seeds indoors in preparation for being planted outdoors. The tomatoes and sunflowers sprung up in no time at all, but nothing has happened with the strawberries as of yet. Today we planted the young sunflowers outside. Hopefully the shock of going from warm apartment to cooler garden won’t do them any harm. I’m hoping for some tall happy flowers this year!