Monday, July 21, 2014

Boller Castle Park, Roses

Louise Odier

I paid a visit to the lovely rose park at Boller castle the other day . The roses are beautiful  - of course they are - I love roses. They have a fantastic history and origin, and the scent of roses is the most beautiful scent in the world! 

The name of the rose in the first picture is "Louise Odier" -  and it is a socalled Bourbon rose.
The Bourbon rose derives from a small island close to Madagaskar, Ile de Bourbon (Its name today is Reunion).

It was a tradition upon this small island to plant roses as a hedge between the fields. The roses used for this purpose were the damascene rose "Rose des Quatre Saisons"  and  "Parson's Pink China". The China rose came to Ile de Bourbon in the end of the 1700s from China via India.

The French botanist Breon found in 1817 a plant with very beautiful flowers in one of the hedges upon the island, where the two rose species grew. He moved the rose back to his private garden and sent seeds to the royal gardner in Paris. From these seeds came the rose "Rosier de I'lle de Bourbon". It was a very vigorous plant with shiny pink half-filled flowers. From the damascene roses it had inherited a fine scent and its blooming in autumn.

The Bourbon roses were used for new crossing experiments by the European rose breeders - and in the 1800s several new Bourbon roses  arrived.

One of the most famous Bourbon roses is "Souvenir de la Malmaison". The name is a memory of empress Josephine, who  laid out a magnificent garden at the castle Malmaison outside Paris.

Below: various roses from the garden: 

Isabella Rossellini

Kitty Harkness
Astrid Lindgren

photo Boller Castle, 19 July 2014. grethe bachmann

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Eurasian bittern / Rørdrum

 Botaurus stellaris


The Eurasian bittern or great bittern  is one of the most peculiar birds in Denmark. The Danish name is Rørdrum.

 It is a wading bird of the heron family Ardeidae, and it is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds AEWA applies.

The Eurasian  bittern is a medium-size heron with a lenght-striped,  goldenbrown pliumage. When it is disturbed it shows its striped underside and stretches the head and neck up into the air. This makes it almost invisible in the reed beds. The bittern is a rare sight, it is extremely well camouflaged, it lives very hidden and is very shy - but in return the male bittern delivers the mystic song in spring  -  in Denmark called PAUKEN - which is so strong that the sound can be heard for miles. 

The Eurasian bittern is spread in Europe and in a broad belt through Asia and North Africa, except in the northerh Scandinavia. It breeds spread in most of Europe, but is most numerous in eastern Europe, while it breeds only sporadically in the British Isles and in southern Europe. 

In Denmark the bittern breeds spread in most of the country, except Bornholm. The bird occurs in large reed beds and marshlands, and it is common at the fjords of West Jutland. The best locality in Denmark for the bittern is the birds sanctuary Vejlerne. Here are about one hundred pauking males. There is a good chance to experience these birds, especially in July, where they are flying around a lot. 

The Danish Eurasian bittern is probably a resident bird as far as the winter climate allows. If the habitats are frozen, the bittern has to seek other habitats, or it might overwinter primarily in western and southern Europe. 

The bittern's food is fish, amphibians and other little animals.  

photo:  habitat of the bittern in Lille Vildmose

Folklore/ Legend
No other bird in Denmark is surrounded by so much mystery as the bittern. Both the hidden ways of living, the owl-like flight and the strange voice, which sounds like the roar of a bull, have contributed to this mystery. People were scared of this mystic bird who had a voice as strong as any mammal, and furthermore it was  prancing around in the night hours - and when people met it in the dark of the night they were convinced it was a ghost.

The voice of the bittern created legends about the farmer's water cows roaring and yearning to get ashore.
A brutal landlord from Limfjorden was hated by everyone, and after his death his spirit was hazarding like a big black bird across the landscape, flying with silent wing beats and crying the hoarse scream of the bittern.

In the 1600s the voice of the bittern was compared to the roar of a bull, which is also seen in the Latin name Botaurus. With its beak stuck under wing or down under water, mud or eath its roar could be heard far away. 

The sound is also compared to deep tones from a far away bell buoy, or a foghorn, as when the wind is howling into a barrel. The voice of the bittern was called the rarest sound in Denmark, a strange hollow voice like the hooting of a distant steamer ,or the sound you made as child when you were blowing into an empty water bottle.  it is called the rarest sound in denmark , a strange hollow voice like the hooting of a distant steamer or like the sound you made as child when you blew in an empty water bottle, but only much more powerful.

The farmers took many omens from the voice, if it was heard early spring it would be a fertile harvest.
If the bittern was pauking in the reed rain and storm would come. If the bittern was pauking for a long time it meant that war would come. 

The claws were  - mounted in gold or silver- used as toothpicks. 

 photocopy: wikipedia

source: Brøndegårdsamlingen, folk og flora 2 ; DOF Danmarks fugle,

photo: grethe bachmann, Lille Vildmose, July 2014.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Lille Vildmose in Himmerland, Northeast Jutland.

It was magnificent summer weather in late May and start June - and one of our first summer trips went to the Lille Vildmose in  Himmerland (Northeast Jutland). Lille Vildmose is a raised bog, it is an endangered habitat, not just in Denmark but also in Europe. A project LIFE+ focuses on securing the raised bog and to create conditions for the decomposed part of the raised bog to re-emerge in the long run. This area is the largest left raised bog of the lowlands in northern Europe, and it includes more than half the total raised bog in Denmark. Lille Vildmose is appointed as a Natura2000 area (7824 ha) and a Natura2000 plan has been prepared with a focus in keeping and extending the raised bog area.

From the reed beds sounds the voice of the bittern.

Eurasian Bittern 

When this is said the large moor in Himmerland is a wonderful place to visit, also because of the boardwalks across a big part of the area. It would be impossible to cross the moor without these boardwalks and bridges. The animal and plant life is very rich and you'll never know how much or what you'll see on such a tour. Birds of prey, like the golden eagle, the whitetailed eagle, the marsh harrier or the Eurasian hobby. We did not see the large birds of prey this time, but we heard the rare golden oriole. We did not see this beautiful yellow bird, but we later came to a place where we heard another rare bird. The strange voice of the Eurasian bittern sounded from the reed beds -  and a few moments later an Eurasian bittern flew above our heads and disappeared in the reeds. A rare sight. There are approximately about 22 Eurasian bitterns in Lille Vildmose right now. We heard its strange voice calling out like an angry  bull every five minutes.

No other bird in Denmark is surrounded by so much mystery. Both the hidden ways of its living, the owl-like flight and the strange voice have contributed to this. People were scared of this strange bird with a voice as strong as any mammal - and when it was strutting around in the night hours people thought they met a ghost. The voice of the bittern created legends about the Merman's cows, roaring and  longing for coming ashore. In the old days lived a landlord, named Mads Spejser, at Aggersborggård at Limfjorden opposite the town Løgstør. He was a brutal master and a nasty neighbour and very much disliked. His spirit is said to hazard like a dark bird across the landscape at night, flying with silent wing beats, uttering hoarse cries like the  bittern. 

New Observation Tower

A new observation tower has been raised in 2014,  called Brandtaarnet (the fire tower). Until the 1980s was here a fire watch tower, where a guard supervised the moor to observe if  there was fire or smoke. The new tower is a part of an ongoing and very comprehensive EU-LIFE nature-restoration project  Brandtårnet is the sixth observation tower in Lille Vildmose. It is 6-7 meter tall, and half as tall as the tower at the Vildmose Center at Vildmosevej. But it is tall enough since the moor is as flat as a panncake -  and there is a fine view across the earlier peat-extraction area, which during WWII gave work to 1200 men. Today it is a bird-rich restoration area, and from the new yellow tower it is possible to follow the rapid change of the nature area in these years.

The moor was earlier overgrown with birch which has now been removed. Only a few birches are allowed to stay in the landscape.

cloudberry, no flowers yet.
cranberry flowers
The plant life is special in a moor, there are tufts of spaghnum moss, cranberry, rosemary heather, bell heather, cloudberry, sundew, cotton grass, white-beak-sedge etc.

bell heather
cotton grass

Kærguldsmed / Leucorrhinia pectoralis

A Dragonfly...........

In Europe, dragonflies have often been seen as sinister. Some English names, such as "devil's darning needle"  and "ear cutter", link them with evil or  injury.  A Romanian folk tale says that the dragonfly was once a horse possessed by the devil. Swedish  folklore holds that the devil uses dragonflies to weigh people's souls. The Norwegian name for dragonflies is Øyenstikker ("eye-poker"), and in Portugal they are sometimes called tira-olhos ("eye-snatcher"). They are often associated with snakes, as in the Welsh name gwas-y-neidr, "adder's servant". The Southern United States term "snake doctor" refers to a folk belief that dragonflies follow snakes around and stitch them back together if they are injured.
For some Native American tribes they represent swiftness and activity, and for the Navajo they symbolize pure water. Dragonflies are a common motif in  Zuni pottery; stylized as a double-barred cross, they appear in Hopi rock art and on Pueblo necklaces. They have also been used in traditional medicine in Japan and China. In some parts of the world they are a food source, eaten either as adults or larvae; in Indonesia, for example, they are caught on poles made sticky with birdlime, then fried in oil as a delicacy.

And two Butterflies

Moserandøje /Large heath.
Bølleblåfugl / Cranberry Blue

in Portland Mose

some restoration work in the moor.

a view from Portland Mose out to the coast (to Mulbjerge)
A poppy field near the Vildmose.

the limestone quarry near Lille Vildmose.

It was a lovely summer's day in Lille Vildmose.

photo: grethe bachmann, June 2014.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Month of May - Sweet and Mild

The month of May is sweet and mild with soft green hills and light green leaves,
sparkling yellow in the sunlight.

"Bright coinage by the generous sun
Down flung and scattered one by one..."

says a poem by Andrew Downing.¨¨

Horse and cattle are out in the fields again, enjoying the good weather I suppose. They almost alway join each other in a flock -  they are social  animals. I feel so sorry for a lonely horse in a field.

These horses are grazing in a beautiful place. I wonder if they do observe that?

Three photos from Nationalpark Mols Bjerge

Just take a look at this lovely thick wool of the Galloway cow.

The Galloway cattle is grazing the area of the Molslaboratoriet, owned by Naturhistorisk Museum in Aarhus and a part of the Nationalpark Mols Bjerge.

A sweet little Galloway calf. The Galloway cattle is very peaceful and calm, in fact reserved, they are not interested in us humans, no matter how much we want to "talk with them" - which might be a good thing! They are not curious, they keep away from us, which might prevent some bad experiences,  when we are walking in their fields.

So sweet. What fine eyelashes!

Den italienske sti (The Italian path). Each year I long for a walk along this path, it's a place with lots of plants and animal life, especially many butterflies in summer, but today is still too early. BUT it is a lovely spring day, and the sun is warming my old wintercold bones!

A brimstone in a dandelion

Have you walked beneath the blossoms in the spring?
In the spring
Beneath the apple blossoms in the spring
When the pink cascades are falling
And the silver brooklets brawling
And the cuckoo bird is calling
In the spring

from poem by William Wilsey Martin.

Walking along the Italian Path gives me the feeling that I want this moment to last.....

.....but we drive on and down to the beach  - and we pass one of the pretty buildings, belonging to the Mols Laboratory.

Down by the beach and the clouds and the blue, blue sea........

This cloud is either a duck or a dachshound being chased by a big fish!

A white wagtail playing by the beach...

Genista anglica ( Engelsk Visse) here growing by the coast of East Jutland, common in Mid- and West Jutland (in Denmark).

English names are petty whin, needle furze, needle whin. It is a shrubby flowering plant of the family Fabacea, which can be found growing in Cornwall, Wales and eastern Scotland.

Goodbye to Mols Bjerge and The Italian Path and the Galloway calf for this time..............

photo Mols/Strandkær 10 May 2014: grethe bachmann