Before everything I want to let you know that even though by the time this post will be released it will probably be summer, the action described took place somewhere at the beginning of April. This is because I started writing before I launch the blog in hopes that I could keep up with posting once I launch it.
Now, back to business, and before I reach to the Norwegian city fauna I will present to you some local Danish species that I’ve discovered and managed to photograph.
In one of the first sunny and warm day of spring here in Denmark, some friends formed a group and decided to go and visit the town Ribe, the oldest town in Denmark, and the surrounding areas like the sandy beaches in Rømo. They asked me to join and I was thrilled to do it so especially that near Ribe we could also catch the birds in migration. We were not so lucky with the birds but we had a great day.
The one new bird that I have discovered on this trip is the Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus), a bird that is in good numbers in that area but this time I have only seen few. The first thing that cached my eyes was the straight long red beak and assorted red irises. They use the long beak to open mussels, shellfish or dig for earthworms. Another remarkable thing about the Oystercatcher is their noisiness, especially in the breeding season when they establish territories.
If you have read the previous article, you will probably notice the second appearance of the next protagonist. Yes, it is the Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) and it will probably make its appearance many times in my pictures as it is so plentiful in Denmark. This time I chose to write about him because of its behavior witch startled my curiosity. It is the first time when I notice a bird yawn which made me ask: do birds yawn or I’m interpreting wrong what I see? Yes they do, the birds do yawn; actually to some birds yawning is contagious like to humans or other social animals. There is no clear reason as to why the birds yawn; some studies suggest it could be a thermoregulatory behavior.
The first mammal that I’ve photographed since I’ve started this documentative journey, was actually another nice surprise. As I was driving to get to the beach on a sunny, warm’ish day, on the right side of the road, on a new greenfield, a heard of European Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus) was enjoying the newly formed grass. I quickly found a parking place and jumped out of my car and head with caution in a position from where I could photograph them. The European Roe Deer is the most abundant and also the most hunted wild ungulate in Europe with the ability to quickly re-build its numbers if it is in a suitable habitat under an appropriate hunting regime. The world famous character Bambi was in the original story, written by the Austrian author Felix Salten, a roe deer and it was changed by Disney with a mule deer when the animated movie came out in 1942.
And now I can tell you about the Norwegian city fauna. In the first half of April, together with my girlfriend, we made a trip from Aarhus, Denmark to Bergen, Norway with the train, stopping in Stockholm, Oslo, Nærøyfjord and Bergen. In our walk, through Oslo, my attention was directed to some big birds that were grazing calmly in a small park near the port. There were two pairs of geese from two different species, Greylag Goose (Anser anser) and Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis). While the first is better distributed across Europe, the Barnacle Goose is found only in Northern Europe with breeding sites in Greenland, in the Arctic Ocean’s archipelagos and the Baltic see’s coast. The Graylag Goose is the ancestor of the domestic goose being one of the first animals to be domesticated at least 3000 years ago in Ancient Egypt. I wonder if they spend the winter in Oslo or they were just passing by.
Apart from the geese’s found in Oslo and some birds found on a picnic day in Bergen I did not manage to stumble into some special wildlife as I also did not spend much time searching for it. The Great tit (Parus major) was the first bird that I’ve photographed on a splendid sunny day when we decided to relax taking a picnic in a city park. The Great tit is a common beautiful bird but small (12.5-14cm;4.9-5.5in) and quick so the first time I managed to lay my eyes on its beautiful colors was in my 20’es and could not believe what was hiding in plain sight. Apart from being a beautiful colored bird, it is also a vocal bird, having up to 40 types of calls and songs.
Lying on the grass after a good meal, I see approaching with great determination, two Feral pigeons (Columba livia). I took the camera and start photographing them being certain they will try to steal some food from us. It was not the case, or maybe they’ve changed their minds, we will never know. At first, when I’ve looked in the field guide I thought they were Rock doves (Columba livia) but when I started reading I’ve found out that the domestic ones could look exactly like the wild form, the Rock dove, from which they originated from. Also, the wild Rock dove is not present in parks and cities like the Feral pigeon. Considered a pest and an invasive species, many municipalities take measures to lower their numbers in order to protect the buildings from their drops, the crops or to prevent diseases from spreading.
Another bird that was present from time to time, foraging and collecting building material, was another common species, the Magpie (Pia pia). A distinct bird with black and white patterns, a long tail and a distinctive call, the Eurasian Magpie is part of the crow family, being considered one of the most intelligent animals. There are studies that suggest that the intelligence of the corvid family is equivalent to that of the great apes. The Magpies are also one of the few animals that recognize themselves in mirrors. Beautiful and mysterious birds, in my opinion, that need a further attention from my side.
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For all species found on my spotting adventures, take a look on INaturalist.
The gear that I’ve used for spotting and book used for identification, here.