Tag Archive | Walking

Spring signposted!

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There is a lot to be said for waymarked or signposted trails – leave your map and compass at home and enjoy a wander, which we have signposted for you. Perfect for an Easter Sunday springtime ramble with Hanne and Max. I was excited to visit this somewhat longer 15km circular route I found on Holsterbo Kommune’s website which winds around Subbergård lake, not far from our farmyard home.

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The path, which for the most, part doesn’t stray too far from the lake shore wanders through different habitats, from open heathland and grassland to both deciduous and coniferous forest and there is even a small taste of agricultural land. The weather was, as to be expected in spring, changeable, and we were rewarded with sunshine, rolling clouds and a fresh breeze as we walked.

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There were plenty of signs of spring to be seen. The fluffy soft buds of the willow trees were bursting out, and I learned that these are known as “gæslinger” in Danish, which translates to baby geese – how adorable!

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I was happy to find a small blanket (more like a rug) of early woodland flowers (Wood Anenome) and at one corner of the lake we spotted a small group of Greater Crested Grebes. To my surprise they were already beginning their exceptionally romantic courtship displays, which includes synchronised swimming, dancing, head shaking and giving each other gifts (mostly wet grass or weeds!). This is a must for everyone to see, and will melt the hearts of even the most cynical!

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Anyone who has joined me on an outdoor excursion, is familiar with my slight obsession for poo and poo like objects produced by mammals and birds. The lake side walk offered me many chances to get up close and personal with various forms of excrement – how exciting! I spotted what appeared to be signs of fox, otter and possibly a bird of prey pellet (undigested bones and fur are coughed up by owls, falcons etc.). My favourite was a fox dropping filled with the blue / purple shells of many many beetles (see below). Remember to wash your hands before eating, if you do, like me, decide to play with droppings!

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In the ruins of a monastery we also spotted signs of life. Stuck on to the white walls inside the strange shaped building, I counted the remains of over 20 barn swallow (landsvale) nests. It was all very quiet in the old building, but in no time at all the adult birds will reach Denmark, after flying a LONG way from Africa, and will start renovating their nests and starting families. It will get a little crowded in their I imagine! Keep your eyes peeled for returning swallows!

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When the sun broke through the clouds we were greeted with many tiny voices singing from the trees. The air was filled with the songs of skylark, robin, wren, coal tit, chaffinch and chiffchaff to name just a few. We were lucky to make it back to the car, with heavy legs and sore toes before the clouds brought rain. I’m looking forward to visiting again and spotting more signs of spring and maybe even summer!

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Walking wild

As a slightly alternative and less costly holiday this easter we went north to Jutland to wander for a few days in Thy National Park (see website, also in English!). Our walk began at Svankær went south, then west to the coast and north through Stenbjerg, Nørre Vorupør and then looped back to the car.  Armed with gas stoves, dried food and large amounts and cheese and sausages we walked for 3 days and stayed in shelters for 2 nights. This wasn’t my first snail-like experience. There is something so appealing about carrying all you need to survive on your back. It simplifies things and allows you to focus on the nature around you with no distractions except maybe your sore feet!

A Danish style shelter (like a big dog kennel) - our home for the night.

We were blessed with fantastic nature as we wandered along wetlands, sand dunes and through forest plantations on Denmarks west coast. So far I have found it a little difficult to get close to Denmarks nature, or better said, away from Danish civilization! Denmark is a flat land, which allows for easy cultivation, and as a result a large percentage of the country is arable. This forces one to look a little closer, turn a few more rocks and wander off the path a little further to find the wild things. But believe me, they are there! Here’s some of what we found.

Wetlands next to sand dunes, near Svankær. Althought not in the picture...here we spotted two cranes (trane) flying overhead (a first for me!) and a group of 10 female red deer (kronhjorte).

Fossil in chalk on Denmarks west coast - north of Stenbjerg

Green tiger beetle (Cicindela campestris) grøn sandspringer is a sun loving beetle that lives on dry soils. Green with cream spots.

Buzzard (Buteo buteo) musvåge, soars above us in clear blue skies. If you look closely you can see it's missing one of it's primary or flying feathers. A very common bird of prey in Denmark.

The glanville fritillary, okkergul pletvinge a type of butterfly spends most of its life as a small black spiny caterpillar.

Common lizard (Zootoca vivipara) skovfirben - When the sun was shining we came across many small brown lizards like this one sunning themselves at the edge of the path. If it's a warm day, they can be very hard to get close to!

I have an affinity for small mammals, and we came across this dead shrew (spidsmus) and I had to pick it up!

Simply beautiful - but easily overlooked

Getting closer, getting a better perspecitve, it's amazing what you will see.

Common ringed plover - stor præstekrave. Hard to spot on a stony beach.

Possibly herring gul (Larus argentatus) sølvmåge, most juvenilles.

Our backpacks taking a well earned break at Stenbjerg in the sun.

It’s taken me a while to learn to appreciate the more subtle beauty of nature here in Denmark. It’s an important lesson for me. I’ve been spoiled by large wild spaces in the past, but now my personal challenge is to find the beauty that exists in smaller amounts. Wild is everywhere, I just need to get better at looking.