Sometimes you can go in a place like a national park or a protected lake and expect to find lots of wildlife and instead you find very few animals but sometimes the opposite can be true also. In the same day that I’ve visited Mols grounds (described in the last article), we’ve made a stop at a historic site in our way back. Kalo castle ruins are also part of Mols bjerge Nationalpark and are situated on a small peninsula. Here I’ve managed to find 10 different bird species, one mammal species, and few insects in about an hour spent there. My highest hopes for the day was at Mols Laboratory where many hectares of land are protected and I was not disappointed but for the Kalo visit I had no hopes and I’ve ended up being surprised. It was a very rewarding day with many new species photographed for the first time and in photography, this kind of days will give you energy for the days you go out and come back home with no photo.
As we walked a narrow path, flanked by water, that leads to the ruins, me and my friend that was joining me, we’ve spotted birds like the Grey heron (Ardea cinerea), Black-headed gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) and some distant Cormorant (Phalocrocorax carbo) but something else really got our attention, a bird that was hovering above the ground. After framing it in the viewfinder I’ve realized it might be the Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) and after examining the first photos the suspicion was confirmed. It was hunting using it’s characteristic technique, hovering above the ground, and using his keen eyesight which allows him to see the pray from a distance and also using his ability to see near ultraviolet light allowing him to detect the urine around rodents barrows. His usual pray is consistent with mice, voles, and shrews which he needs to eat between 4 and 8 every day depending on his energy expenditure. Occasionally the kestrel eats also small birds, bats, frogs, lizards and even invertebrates like beetles or spiders. It can be often seen hovering above roads and highways and I personally have seen many dead birds on the roadside probably because concentrated on the pray they enter in contact with the cars.
After the kestrel abandoned his hunt and left the place for a while, we headed for the ruins and while admiring the view towards the sea we’ve noticed a strange rock in the distance. Putting the zoom lens in action we have gladly discovered the rock was actually composed of two Grey Seals (Halichoerus grypus) and for some moments the third one was in the water next to them. Even though I just got some shitty pictures that I’ve had to crop, even more, the scene reminded me about the seals from the animated movie Finding Dory where the two seals were always enjoying the basking spot while making fun of the third that never get the spot. A pretty unexpected place to spot the seals as they usually appear more on the west coast of Denmark. They use to rest at low tide, fish at high tide and this time they’ve chosen a populated place to rest but even though there were a lot of people in the area very few spotted them because they were quite far and nicely camouflaged. We have tried to get a bit closer for a better shot, of course without disturbing them, even passing through low water and when we were almost in a perfect position a loud motor boat past in high speed and of course scared the seals which immediately disappeared in the water. I guess the place is for anybody to enjoy in their personal form of enjoyment but that is the main reason I avoid motorized boats and any kind of enjoyment that creates a lot of sound and disturbance to nature. I am also aware that very few know or realize the impact their actions have on wildlife.
While trying to get closer to the seals I’ve noticed a bird, which I’ve not photographed until that point, was sitting on a big boulder looking into horizon but soon flew away and started fishing in our proximity. It is a common bird as the name suggests, Common Tern (Sterna hirundo), with large populations and wide distribution, breeding in Europe, America and Asia. The common tern feeds by plunge-diving to catch fish and is also an agile flyer being a delight to watch him doing rapid turns and swoops, vertical take offs or hovering. It needs all those skills as the competition on the sea is pretty rough and besides the many predators that may attempt to eat them or their chicks and eggs, there are many larger birds that may attempt to steal their captured food.
After our seal photography mission failed and started on our way back to the car we’ve noticed the Kestrel hunting again and proceeded in taking more pictures of this beautiful bird. The spectacle ended and now I was reviewing my photos when a butterfly landed on a near flower hunting for his own food, the nectar. The adults of this species, Meadow brown(Maniola jurtina), emerge over a long period, from spring to autumn, and it’s univoltine (only one generation per year). It presents a sexual dimorphism the male being less colorful, with smaller eyespots and is more active while the females are more colorful and fly less. The differences have also an evolutionary significance: the males which are more active have an upper wing that allows them to blend much better in the background, wheres the females can use their more vivid colors and bigger eyespots to suddenly put them in motion potentially startling the predators.
More wildlife and not so wild life expected us on our way back. While taking some photos of what I’ve ended up calling sea cow and was actually a cow that was just sitting alone in low water, I’ve noticed a bird moving in the grass. It was very well camouflaged and did not wait for me to move my position in order to try and separate it from the background. The Rock Pipit (Anthus petrosus) is a small bird that breeds on rocky coasts and it’s territorial when in breeding season or if it is resident year-round. It has an interesting behavior when defending the territories sometimes males can enter in a neighbors territory in order to help him repel the intruder. This behavior involves distinguishing the resident from the intruder and it was otherwise only known in African fielder crab (Uca annulipes).
A Black Snail Beetle (Phosphuga atrata) was wandering close to the parking lot and on walking path which, now that I’ve done some research on it, I found it to be a lucky and strange event because this beetle is supposed to hunt at night and hide during the day which makes him hard to find. It is a carrion beetle but also feeds on snails, insects, and earthworms. It uses his elongated neck to reach into the snail’s shell where he sprays a digestive fluid. This one is an adult known by his black color, the young ones being brownish. If they feel threatened they excret a yellow fluid and retract their heads.
Here is more of the wildlife seen and photographed that day: Black-headed gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus), Grey heron (Ardea cinerea), Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna), Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), Rook (Corvus frugilegus) and the famous sea cow.
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For all species found on my spotting adventures, take a look at INaturalist.
The gear that I’ve used for spotting and book used for identification, here.