Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Beaver is well and lives in Jutland..........

Nature is Dynamic

A sweet little beaver eating an orange in Aqua Freshwater-Center.
I haven't yet seen the beavers in Klosterheden. It's a rather long walk.

In 1999 six beaver-families - in all 18 beavers were released in six places in Flynder Å (small river ), which runs through Klosterheden Statsskovdistrikt near the town Lemvig in Northwest Jutland. (south of Limfjorden). The beavers came from the river Elbe in Germany, since the animals from here are closest related to the beavers, which once lived in Denmark. The population has grown each year - counting from spring 2009 shows there are estimated 121 beavers in Denmark. They have spread to other areas and were observed as far to the south of Jutland as Husby Sø and Nørresø west of Ulfborg. (near Ringkøbing fjord). Furthermore has the Skov- og Naturstyrelsen acknowledged release of beavers in Arresø and surrounding area in North Zealand in 2009-2010.

In spite of that Denmark's nature has changed since the beaver disappeared from the country more than a thousand years ago, there are many places where the beaver will find good habitats. Wet areas have been recreated, where the beaver will get an important role and raise the quality of those areas. The beaver was through several thousand years spread all over Europe, but caused by hunting, cultivating and draining it became almost extinct. About 100 years ago were only 700 European beavers left. The beaver was now listed, and in many places in Europe it was released in areas , where it had lived before. Thanks to the great effort to save the beaver the population has grown. Today are 500.00-700.000 beavers in Europe.

The beaver plays a central role in nature, and in a decisive way it influences the nature, which it is a part of. It takes part in recreating a nature , which is closer to the original nature. The beaver creates a variation, which we humans cannot create ourselves. Moist forest-spots, small lakes, dead wood in the forest and wet areas and glades in thick willow scrub are examples of, what the beaver gives back to our nature. These habitats are often lacking in the Danish nature, and they are important habitats for many of our endangered plant- and animal-species. It is first of all because of the beaver's positive influence on our nature that it was released in Denmark after many years of exile.

The beavers' clearing willow scrub in the ravines of Klosterhede will produce a positive effect on the flora. The light-demanding species, which have been shadowed by the thick scrub, will get a chance again. The small lakes created by the beaver-dams will become good habitats for amphibians, insects and birds. After some years, when there is no more food in the area, the beavers will leave it, and the dam will fall into decay. Where once was water, will now be a so-called beaver-meadow, where new plant-societies will arrive. Nature will become dynamic.

Source: Magazine Natur og Miljø; Skov- og Naturstyrelsen; Klosterheden Statsskovdistrikt.

photos from Aqua Freshwater-Center in Silkeborg, Jutland, March 2009: grethe bachmann

Nedre Strandkær, Mols Laboratory, East Jutland

Nedre Strandkær/Molslaboratoriet

Nedre Strandkær/Molslaboratoriet

The first mentioning of a farm at Strandkær is from 1487, but the buildings at Nedre Strandkærgård are 3 generations old, dated to about 1730. In the old stable were found rests of monk bricks, with a probable origin from Kalø castle. A sister of Karen Blixen, Ellen Dahl, bought Nedre Strandkærgård in 1924. She handed over the rights of scientific use of the land and the small-holdings in 1941-45 and in 1951 also Nedre Strandkærgård with adjoined land of 120 hectare to the Naturhistorisk Museum in Århus.

The areas were listed in 1941, which also meant that the agricultural sections must be run as traditional heath-farming. This was also the beginning of the scientific research of the Mols Laboratory. The research has since the 1940s been comprehensive and deals with faunistic, floristics ethologi and ecology - and nature management. Furthermore the Mols Laboratory functions as an education/course-center, where rooms, kitchens, course-rooms are available to scientists and students. It is among others Århus University, which holds courses in zoology/botany/ecology and geology here.

The farm Nedre Strandkær is also called Molslaboratoriet. It belongs to Naturhistorisk Museum in Århus and is placed in a beautiful nature scenery in the middle of Mols Bjerge National Park and EU habitat 186 in the southern part of Djursland. The area is about 150 ha and has some valuable nature types like heath, pasture, untouched hardwood forest and grazed forest. In these areas have since 1941 been made a comprehensive ecologic research. Here are fine research facilities available for Danish and abroad -scientists and students.


There are several paths from the Mols Laboratory

One is "Den italienske sti" (The Italian path), which begins at Nedre Strandkær. It is 3 km long and has been used for more than 100 years. The name is said to origin form the first guests in the area, who meant that the place reminded about an Italian landscape.

Cattle at Strandkær:

I want to have my photo taken too, if you please!

I've got a very soft spot for cows ! Therefore you have now seen a few pictures of some Hereford cattle from Strandkær on a lovely summer's day. The Hereford cattle breed originated from Herefordshire, England, perhaps as early as the 17th century - and more than five million pedigree Hereford cattle exist now in over 50 countries. The Hereford Cattle export trade began from the United Kingdom in 1817, and today this pretty cattle dominate the world scene.


Some grazing is done by 25 cattle from the tough Galloway-race. They are some charming fellows who can stay out all year and keep down the growing vegetation. They ar popular nature-keepers in the National Park-area. The Galloways have their origin in the southwest-Scottish land Galloway. They origin from a dominant, polled race who has survived as wild cattle in Great Britain until the beginning of the 1800s. They are probably related to the polled cattle of the Scythians (485-425 B.C.). Their arrival to the Bristish Isles are before the written sources, it might be at the same time as the immigration of the Celtic tribes. But the prototype has been spread in Middle and North Europe. The cattle in the Galloway-district are mentioned several times in historical sources, which trace back to the Skoto-Saxian period ( 400-800 A.C.)

In the Galloway-district is said: "The sheep provide the bread, but the Galloway the butter and jam".

A small collection of plants:

Harebell/ Blåklokke/Campanula rotundifolia is native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. In Scotland it is often known as Bluebell. The flowers are pollinated by bees but can self-pollinate. In common with other Campanulas, all parts of the plant exude white latex when injured or broken. Harebells flower in late summer between July and October, sometimes into November, and are found on dry, nutrient-poor grassland and heaths in Britain, throughout Northern Europe and in North America. In Roman-Catholic communities, the Harebell is dedicated to Saint Dominic.

Harebell leaves can be eaten raw in a salad, and the plant is known to have beneficial properties. These include a remedy for earache that can be made from the roots and a wash for the treatment of sore eyes. Other conditions Harebell is said to cure include depression and if the root is chewed, it may help to treat heart and lung complaints. A professional herbalist and physician should always be consulted to make an exact diagnosis and to recommend correct usage.

Yellow rowanberries and the pink corn cockle

Common Corncockle/Almindelig Klinte/Agrostemma githago - also written "corn cockle" and known locally simply as "the corncockle" -, is a slender pink flower of European wheat fields. In the 19th century, it was reported as a very common weed of wheat fields and its seeds were inadvertently included in harvested wheat seed and then re-sown the following season. It is very likely that until the 20th century, most wheat contained some corncockle seed.

All parts of the plant are reported to be poisonous, but it has been used in folk medicine to treat a range of ills, from parasites to cancer, but it may produce chronic or acute, potentially fatal poisoning. There are no known recent clinical studies of corn cockle which provide a basis for dosage recommendations, however doses higher than 3 g [of seeds] are considered toxic.

Lady's Bedstraw or Yellow Bedstraw/ Gul Snerre/Galium verum) is native to Europe and Asia. It is related to the plant Cleavers or Sticky Willy (Gallium Aparine). This species is sometimes confused with Galium odoratum, a species with traditional culinary uses.

In the past the dried plants were used to stuff mattresses, as the coumarin scent of the plants acts as a flea killer. The flowers were also used to coagulate milk in cheese manufacture and, in Gloucestershire, to colour the cheese Double Gloucester. The plant is also used to make red madder-like and yellow dyes. In Denmark, the plant (known locally as gul snerre) is traditionally used to infuse spirits, making the uniquely Danish drink bjæsk. ( snaps)

Frigg was the goddess of married women, in Norse Mythology. She helped women give birth to children, and as Scandinavians used the plant Lady's Bedstraw (Galium verum) as a sedative, they called it Frigg's grass. Later when Christianity arrived, the heathen goddess Frigg was thrown out of the good Society, and the name was in Denmark changed into "Jomfru Marias sengehalm". ("Virgin Mary's Bedstraw").

A few butterflies:

Common Blue, underside

Common Blue and Small Heath

Scarce Copper and Burnet

Our butterflies and other insects are in trouble. Besides the usual dangers from extended farming, the fallow fields have been diminished or almost disappeared in the Danish farmland during the latest years. I'd like to refer to my article in Thyra-blog: Take Care of Our Insects

(click to enlarge the small photos)

Wart-biter/Vortebideren/Decticus verrucivorus is Denmark's largest grasshopper It is native to all denmark and large parts of europe, it lives in sunny mkheaths and meadow. The wart-biter is a predator that eats other grasshoppers and lesser insects, but also green food like grass, heather and other plants. It has some strong jaws and can deliver a painful bite, but it usually does not bite through the skin. It has long wings can be used in flight situations. By the help of the wings it can jump more than 20 meter and also manoeuvre through air.

In the old days: The wart-biter got its name because it was used to bite warts of the foot. It was also said that field -workers used it to bite blisters.

A horse carriage drove up the Italian path........

and the Herefords were very curious.....

Walking the dogs upon the Italian path

photo Strandkær 2006/2007/2008/2009: grethe bachmann

When Nature Wins ...

A complete little angler

The Skjern Å Salmon
Natura 2000, North Europe's biggest nature restoration by Skjern Å in West Jutland has already brought fine results. Plants, which were almost extinct have come back for good, and the bird and animal life is thriving. It has especially been good for the birds. 136 different birds' species were counted in 1994 , and 255 counted in 2006.

At a point it seemed that the original Skjern-Å salmon was extinct, but old scale samples from the 1930s and 1950s showed via dna-analysis that the salmon from then and now is genetic identical. In 1984 were only caught 5 salmons in Skjern Å - this year the anglers have set a record with 301 salmons. And the salmon is bigger now.

It has been amazing how nature establishes itself, when a big area is taken in and made into a nature area. There is a richness of species now; the positive effect has arrived much faster than hoped for, and the successfull nature restoration by Skjern Å could very well be a role model for other nature projects in the country.

What have we caught?

Those boys might have high hopes for their future as a complete angler.......

The Sea Trout
It's high season for the sea trout in November and December. It has now lived in the sea for about 3-4 years and comes back to its childhood's fresh waters to continue the family. It has reached a weight of 4-5 kilos, but the growth might be colossal. Sea trouts of 10-20 kilos are caught by anglers every year.

The sea trout is special because it spends its life in salt water in the sea - other trouts, like the brown trout, stay in fresh water through their life. But they are all of the same species, Salmon trutta trutta - whether they live in the sea, in the lake or in the river.

photo Gudenå river 2006: grethe bachmann

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Viper's Buglos / Slangehoved

Echium vulgare

Viper's buglos is native to most of Europe and west and central Asia. This wildflower is found on disturbed dry soils, dunes, shingle, cliffs and open grassland. It is a good nectar plant, attracting lots of bees. On warm days the brilliant blue flowers are covered in honey bees and bumblebees.

Other names are Blue Devil, Blueweed, Thistle and Viper's Grass. The genus name echium comes from the Greek word Ekbis = viper. The viper part of the name may derive from the spotted stem said to recall marks on a snake, or an imagined resemblance between the flower-head and the head of a snake. Viper's buglos is an example of a wildflower that received a frightening name based simply on its looks. Some people thought that the plante created a hiding place for snakes or that the plant was guilty of other serpent-related qualities.

A red dye is obtained from the root.

Actually Viper's buglos was once considered to be a preventive and remedy for snake bites. Traditional the leaves of the plant were boiled and made into a tea which helped fevers and headaches or made into an infusion for nervous complaints.

photo June 2007: grethe bachmann, Jernhatten, Djursland

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Highland Cattle, Egtved, South Jutland

In a swampy meadow by the water streams of Egtved Å, which is only a brook in this picturesque place, we met the loveliest Highland cattle. They had the characteristic soft colours and the thick woolen fur. They walked silently in thick swampy mud and sometimes looked as if they were stuck in it - but they did handle it in a calm way, they got up from the mud without problems in spite of their heavy-weight. They are so sweet with that fringe and the fine long horns.

The first Highland Cattle were imported to Denmark in 1956 and since then the numbers has increased. According to the statistics from The Danish Agricultural Advisory Center - Highland Cattle is 6 in numbers out of 17 Beef Breeds in the country with 4869 purebred Highlanders. There are 737 farms where pure breed of Highland Cattle are registered and there are 1943 pure bred Highland cows.

Highland cattle or kyloe are an ancient Scottish breed of beef cattle with long horns and long wavy pelts which are coloured black, brindled, red, yellow or dun. The breed developed in the Scottish Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland. Highlands are known as a hardy breed due to the rugged nature of their native Scottish Highlands, with high rainfall and strong winds. They both graze and browse and eat plants many other cattle avoid. The meat tends to be leaner than most beef, as Highlands get most of their insulation from their thick shaggy hair rather than subcutaneous fat. The coat also makes them a good breed for cold Northern climates.

The Highland cattle registry ("herd book") was established in 1885. Although groups of cattle are generally called herds, a group of highlands is known as a fold. They were also known as kyloes in Scots. Highland cattle have been successfully established in many temperate countries. Their hair provides protection during the cold winters and their skill in browsing for food enables them to survive in steep mountain areas.

Some are of the opinion that the Highland cattle descend from the European aurochs, who walked in the Scottish forests as far back as the last Ice Age - others that the Highland comes from Asia and came to the northern England with the first settlers more than 5000 years ago. The breeders have always tried to keep the original characteristics.

photo Highland cattle Egtved 20.10.2007: grethe bachmann

Monday, May 24, 2010


From a burial mound in Thy in North Jutland is an unusual find: a clay vessel with 100 little gold boats. Every boat is built by leaves of gold foil around cross ribs of bronze bands. The boats are between 10 -17 cm long, and they have by form and construction a strong resemblance to the stretched dugouts , which are known from Slusegård. Their age is uncertain - they are dated to as well late Bronze Age as to Iron Age. From the form and from the simple decoration - and regarding the riches of gold i late Roman period and early Germanic Iron Age - then the fourth or fifth century A.D seems to be the most probable dating, and then they are a fine illustration of the Iron Age's little dugouts. 95 boats are at the National Museum, and five have been returned to Thisted Museum in Thy.

The story behind the find:
A little more than 100 years ago the small village Nors in Thy became wellknown throughtout the country, caused by the find of 100 gold boats. It started on Tuesday 12. May 1885, when the farmers Hans Jensen from Thisted Mark and Jens Lukassen from Brund were digging grovel at Thorshøj. (burial mound). Close east of the hill they had opened a new hole in the slope, when the mattock hit the bottom of a large clay vessel just below the surface, and the contents of the vessel came rattling down over the surprised finders. Lots of small boats in gold sheet sailed down the slope. Both men knew at once that this was really something special. Each piece was carefully gathered and put into their lunch box (old-fashioned wooden box, named a tejne) - and with this they went to the nearby city Thisted and presented their find to the local authorities, which sent the unusual find to Oldnordisk Museum in Copenhagen (which later became the National Museum) with a description of the happening and a request that the finders would be paid the value of the find - and if they kept the lunch box in Copenhagen the farmers also wanted to have the value of this, ( 80 øre = 4/5 of a krone). The finders got the gold value 480 Danish kroner and a reward of 20 kroner plus the 80 øre for the lunch box.
Only 14 days later the same two men found in the same place a large heavy gold ring with a weight of 400 gram. This was also sent to Oldnordisk Museum, and the finders got over 900 kroner. At that time an average hourly wage was 20 øre (1/5 krone). So first 480 kroner and then over 900 kroner. A lot of money - and although they had to share, the money meant a turning point in their life.
To deliver the gold boats as Danefæ belongs to an old practice. The rules about Danefæ are some of the earliest legal provisions in Europe, which are still used - they go back to Jyske Lov of 1241. (Valdemar II Sejr). Back then as today it is the basis that find of gold and silver (with no owner) belonged to the king (today to the State) - should be handed over for a remuneration , which is the metal value of the find and a reward , dependent on the rarity of the find and the finder's taken care of the things. Today the Danefæ-rules are extended - i.e. rare ancient things in other material than gold and silver might be declared Danefæ.

Source: Gyldendals Danmarkshistorie, Danernes Land, 200 F.KR til 700 ; Bredal Geocaching.

photo Thisted Museum 2006: grethe bachmann

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sticky Catchfly/ Tjærenellike

Lychnis viscaria

Sticky Catchfly/Tjærenellike is a very attractive plant with dark pink flowers on a tall stem, which is sticky just below each pair of leaves. The plant is said to increase the disease resistance of surrounding plants. Extract from it contains a relatively high amount of brassino-steroids, which have a proven positive effect on the growth of other plants. In Germany the extract is allowed for use as a 'plant strengthening substance.' Sticky catchfly is native to Europe, Asia and North America.

If you pluck it, your fingers almost fasten in the tar-like paste on the stem, and if you look closely you'll see little dead and half-dead insects in the paste. The English name sticky catcfly is well-chosen. It is not a carnivorous plant though - on the contrary it has lots of nectar for bees and butterflies. In fact it is one of the best nectar plants in Denmark. On the other hand the plant wages war on the insects that try to steal the nectar, the so-called nectar robbers, fx ants. They empty the flowers of nectar without pollinating them , and insects on their way up fasten helplessly in the paste on the stem. Mother Nature is really smart.

photo 250508: grethe bachmann, Stigsholm Sø, Mid Jutland

Monday, May 17, 2010

Thorup Strand, Jammerbugten, the North Sea

Traces from the boats

The fishing village Thorup Strand is situated in the southern part of Jammerbugten by the North Sea. (10 km northwest of Fjerritslev). There is no harbour and the fishing boats are drawn up on the beach after a day's fishing. Thorup stand is the largest coast landing place in Denmark with ab. 20 fishing cutters. Fresh fish can be bought and Fishing trips are offered.

Thorup Strand is surrounded by the North Sea and a beautiful nature area - and 6 km from the coastline is Lund fjord, which is a section of the large birds' sanctuary Vejlerne with a rich bird life - and by the coast west of Thorup is Bulbjerg, Denmark's only bird clif.

The fine bathing beach at Thorup turns north and has rough sand with few stones. It is sheltered by dunes grown with lyme grass. In Thorup plantation is a rich animal life. Here is also a fine nature-playground for the children.

Lifeboat Station

Svinkløv Plantation at Slettestrand has many good hiking paths and is a magnificent nature area with a rich flora and fauna and with the water stream Sletteå running through it.

Svinkløv Badehotel

In the area are fine camping places(i.e. Svinkløv Camping) and the exclusive Svinkløv beach hotel.

photo Thorup/Svinkløv 2006: grethe bachmann.