It was the middle of September when I and a friend of mine visited Mandø in hopes to find seals and lots of birds. We, unfortunately, didn’t find any seals but we saw plenty birds.
Mandø is a Danish island on the southwest cost that has an area of 7.63 square meters and 40 inhabitants. It is part of Wadden Sea, an intertidal zone that has a high biological diversity and is an important area for both breeding and migrating birds. The access to the island is barley accessible at high tide as the 4 km road that connects it to the mainland gets flooded.
We have arrived there just under two hours before the high tide, so once we got to the island and discovered we cannot see any seals that day; we started driving back and stop along the road when we saw something interesting. Because we didn’t know how much, how fast and exactly when the water rises we resumed at photographing from the car and didn’t get out for better results. I have photographed over 25 species that day but I will show and research only 6 with whom I got better pictures and were not on this blog before.
First time we spotted a Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata) he was in flight, later we saw two at the edge of the water a bit far from us but with the cropping tool I have managed to get them closer. The Curlew is the largest wader (bird that is commonly found along shorelines and mudflats that wade) in its range and has a very long curved bill. It was classified as Last Concern by the IUCN until the evaluation of its population was done and in 2008 was moved to Near Threaten status. It is estimated to have declined by more than 50% in England and Scotland, more than 80% in Wales, and more than 90% in Ireland in 20 years and at the end of 2015 was introduced in United Kingdom’s Red List.
Another fancy wader that we’ve met was the Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia), this time a much slender bird with a shorter bill. Like most waders, it feeds on invertebrates which it picks out of mud with its long bill but also amphibians and small fish. It breeds in the subarctic region and in winter it migrates in Africa, India or Australia.
To go from big to small, the third wader spotted was the Dunlin (Calidris alpina), one of the most common in its range. It has a similar size with the common starling, but it’s bulkier and has a thicker bill. They form nests in shallow scrape on the ground lined with vegetation where usually 4 eggs are laid and incubated by both partners. The chicks are cared for usually by the male since the females desert the caring and often leave the breeding area.
Other small waders demonstrated their ability to camouflage, their speed and the foraging techniques when they’ve surrounded our car. Just their quick movements gave them away when we almost run them over with the car. The Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) is quite small and bulky bird with a harlequin-like pattern of black and white. Its plumage actually exhibits an unusual amount of variation in comparison with other shorebirds, using these unique patterns to recognize individuals and to tell apart an intruder from a neighbor. The Ruddy Turnstone has another interesting behavior from which it got the name of turnstone, it uses its bill to turn stones over in order to find insects, crustaceans, mollusks and worms with which it feeds.
After we left the island we went a bit south to another bigger one that is connected to the mainland by a road which is accessible all the time. We did not find so many different species here but when we stopped to get some food and drinks we found this flock of European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) looking for scraps and resting on the rooftops.
I remember the Starlings from my childhood when they were considered huge pests in the area where I’ve grown up and we were always supposed to make lowed noises and chase them when seen. From a distance, they can seem as boring black birds but at
Because I do not have good pictures of another new species from that day, I have chosen these two pictures of a House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) for the last species of this article. The House sparrows were present through the starling and often more daring in collecting the scraps of food left by the people. Because of this association with human settlements the house sparrow is culturally prominent. It is persecuted as an agricultural pest, often been as a pet, as well as being a food item and a symbol of lust, sexual potency, commonness, and vulgarity.
Some other pictures of the species seen that day are (for the full list see Inaturalist): Western Marsh-Harrier(Circus aeruginosus), Black-headed Gull(Chroicocephalus ridibundus), Eurasian Oystercatcher(Haematopus ostralegus), Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus), Grey Heron(Ardea cinerea)
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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.