Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Nature: Orchids, Peregrine Falcon
See my blog today: "A Taste of Denmark" Møns Klint

Møns Klint, the island of Møn, Southeast Denmark

The latest slide of the cliff

Møns Klint is an about 6 km long and 128 m high chalk cliff along the east coast of the island Møn. The thickness of the chalk is 60 meter. Behind the cliff continue the chalk flakes like a long range of hills to the west. The white chalk was deposited about 75 million years ago in a tropical ocean. The cliff is filled with fossils of the small and large animals and plants from prehistoric time. They can be found at the beach. It is a dangerous place both on the beach and the cliff because of slides which can happen unexpectedly, ane people walk there on their own responsibility.

The Danish Forest and Nature Agency owns ab. 510 hectare of forest and other nature areas at Høje Møn. In 1983 the whole of Møns Klint and the areas behind the cliff were listed as protected areas. The area has to be protected for its great natural value and ensure that visitors have access to nature. The most tangible condition of the preservation is that you are not permitted to pick the flowers. The objective is to prevent people from picking the many rare plants.

All EU Member States have identified a wide range of nature areas for special protection of rare nature types and species. Møns Klint and Høje Møn are such Nature 2000 areas.

The most impressive nature types and species that require protection are:
Cliffs or rocks near the coast.
Pastures and scrubland in more or less chalky soil (orchid localities)
Beech forest in chalky soil.
Peregrine falcons.

In the area around Møns Klint are no less than 300 animal- and plant species, which as endangered species are on the red list of international organisations.

Several birds are listed like the Peregrine Falcon

After 30 years absence from Denmark the peregrine falcon came back and has been breeding at the cliff since 2001.

The peregrine falcon's maximum speed:

Speed is the falcon's forte. If birds of prey were airplanes, then the eagles, the buzzards, the kites would be the gliders, and the falcons would be the jets. Estimates of the maximum speed of a falcon dive are as fast as 273 miles an hour (440 km/h) based on analysis of motion-picture footage of a falcon in full vertical dive taken by the Naval Research Laboratory in England in WWII. Most biologists, however, estimate the falcon's maximum velocity at 150 to 200 miles an hour ( 240 to 320 km/h), which is still faster than any other animal on earth.


The Klintekongen, (Cliff King) was awesome. He was a "mountain man" who ruled in his cave under the cliff. The brave young men, who went down to the cave to find him, never came back. And the girls who dared to look into the eyes of his son, the prince, became so enchanted that they danced with him into the cave and stayed there forever.

The Cliff King had a magical garden, which was only visible from a certain spot of the cliff. One of the fruit trees was always filled with the loveliest red apples. But if you plucked them, the whole garden disappeared - and did not appear again, until no human hand could get hold of the red apples.

There were many legends and myths around Møns klint, and they were the local people's explanation of the strange events and phenomenons which happened in this spectacular nature.

It was actually a local belief among people, and this superstition was not totally killed until the mid 1900s. Although science was interested in the cliff already in the 1800s, several priests and learned men wrote in 1948 a treatise about the cliff. They went all over the island of Møn and wrote down peoples' stories of how large rocks were seen transported to the cliff across the Baltic Sea by witches. Although the men were sceptical, peoples' words were accepted at face value, because there were lots of surviving stories like this. It became a part of their treatise.

How long will the tree survive?

History in the Middle Ages:

In the Edda is mentioned a locality which supposedly is Møn. According to legend two wights ruled the island. One at Høje Møn (Cliff King) the other was Green or Green Hunter at the western part of the island, where Grønsund ( Green Sound) and the Green Hunter's hill were said to be named after him.

During the Middle Ages Møn was of great economic importance caused by the herring fishing in Øresund and its placing close to the markets in Skåne. Both Stege and Borre were important towns. Stegeborg (castle) was one of the most important fortifications in the country. After Møn had been plundered by the Wends, the island became in Valdemar the Great's rule a starting point for war-expeditions to the Wend. In 1252 the German Henrik of Æmelthorp conquered Møn - and in 1289 the island was attacked by the outlaws (Marsk Stig and his men) and the Norsemen. During Lübeck's war against king Hans the town Borre was destroyed, while Stege, lead by Anders Bille, beat off the attack. In the Grevens Fejde (civil war) the people of Møn joined the rebels, and the citizens of Stege conquered the castle and destroyed it.

The ocean and the sky is one magnificent blue where the beautiful ship with emerald sails is floating almost like a ghost ship.

Østrigsk Hør(Linum austriacum)
, listed, a lovely blue flower.

Skov-Gøgeurt /Dactylorhiza maculata ssp. fuchsii

There are 43 orchid-species in Denmark and 20 of those orchids grow at Møn. They are all totally listed. Most are rare and endangered plants. It is not allowed to pluck or dig up those or other listed plants in the area.

The Geo-Center

Walking through a glacier from Ice Age.
The Geo-Center is located by the edge of Møns Klint. You may experience life in the chalky ocean, walk through a glacier in the Ice Age, take part in various activites. At the center is a tourist agency and a restaurant.

A row of small models of the cliff behind glass show a slide after frost.

click to enlarge

At the Geocenter you are received by a giant dinosaur suddenly peeping round a corner. Scary to children I imagine and almost scary to me at first sight! There is a children's corner and an education section about the geological history for children and young people. Some beautiful large turquoise models of the microscopic chalk crystals hang below the ceiling. You walk like through a tropical sea-world with sharks and other water-animals around you. The Geo-center experiences are numerous for the whole family.

photo: grethe bachmann & stig bachmann nielsen Naturplan Foto

Monday, June 28, 2010

Elvira Madigan and Sixten Sparre

A Tragic Romance

Troense, where Elvira Madigan and Sixten Sparre stayed in a guest-house, until they ran out of money.

She was born Hedvig Antoinette Isabella Eleonore Jensen in Flensburg in Germany. Her mother was a Norwegian circus performer and her father a Danish stablemaster. Her mother later lived with the American circus manager John Madigan. Elvira had her debut at five and performed as a line dancer together with her stepsister Gisella as the "Sisters Madigan" in 1886, when she was nineteen. They had an enormous success, they travelled from one triumph to another - in Paris, London, Berlin, Bruxelles, Amsterdam and Odessa.

The graves of Elvira Madigan and her lover Sixten Sparre.

While she in 1887 was in Sweden with her stepfather's circus, she met a Swedish cavalry officer, Lieutenant Count Bengt Edvard Sixten Sparre (27 September 1854 – 20 July 1889). Sparre was the son of a landowner and was married to a rich lady of the nobility, but he fell madlessly in love with the beautiful circus princess. They exchanged love letters for a year and ran away together to Denmark in June 1889, where they spent about a month at the island Tåsinge south of Funen. At last they had no money and could see no way out. They brought with them a picnic basket and went out to a forest south of Valdemar Slot, where they had a last meal and committed suicide in July 1889 with Sixten Sparres service revolver. Elvira was 21 years old and he was 35.

A shady 250 year old oak near the graves.

The graves of Elvira Madigan and Sixten Sparre grave are situated on Landet cemetary on the island Tåsinge and is still today visited by tourists from far and wide. Their tragic love story has some resemblance to the Austrian Mayerling drama, where Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria shot his mistress and himself in January 1889.

The romance, the suicide and the following scandal was both then and later hot stuff for journalists and writers. In 1967 Bo Widerberg revived the beautiful and sad story in his movie "Elvira Madigan", which is especially remembered for its music, the second movement of Mozarts piano concerto nr. 21, now often mentioned as "The Elvira Madigan".

photo Landet kirke, Tåsinge 1999:grethe bachmann

Silver-studded Blue/Argusblåfugl

Plebejus argus

This Blue has a wing span of 20-31 cm. Its characteristic is the strong black spots, clear orange seam band and 4-5 metallic shining eye spots. But else the various Blues are much alike. The male of the Plebejus argus has a broad black seam with a "blurred" border towards the blue. The females are easier to recognize, since they are usually brown with a golden glow, while females of Ida's Blue (Plebejus idas) are more or less blue.

Elsewhere in Europe the argus females have often blue root fields. It is often necessary to use a magnifying glass to see if the argus has a small amber coloured prickle at the tip of the front legs. The Blue species can be difficult to recognize from one another in general, and I haven't used a magnifying glass, but there were many Plebejus argus in Lille Vildmose during this week, and this is one of them. A strong wind was teasing both the Blue and me!

Plebejus argus' flying period is from mid June till late August. Its habitats are heaths and dune-heaths with worn-out vegetation or new sprouts of heather. It overwinters as an egg, which is placed separately at low plants, and the larvae's fodder-plant is low or new sprouts of heather (Calluna vulgaris) and Bell heather ( Erica tetralix), but probably also other low plants.

It is found in spread populations all over Denmark, but is declining everywhere, especially on the islands. Extinct af the island Funen in 1989, but found in isolated populations in a few places on Zealand/Møn/Falster

Source : Michael Stoltze, "Dagsommerfugle i Danmark", 1997.

Photo Lille Vildmose 26 June 2010: grethe bachmann.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dragør - a small charming town south of Copenhagen.

About 13 km south of Copenhagen on the island Amager lies the charming town Gammel Dragør with lovely and very expensive little houses and about 1.000 inhabitants.

The first base of Dragør was a fishing town in the 1100s, and the reason why it started its existence here at this place was the successfull herring-fishing. In 1370 the Hanseatics achieved trade priviliges and right to salt herrings in Dragør, but when the herring-fishing declined in the 1500s, the fishermen started to pilot ships through Øresund. About the same time the area was formally handed over to the immigrated Dutch people, who had settled in Store Magleby. In the 1700s and 1800s the shipping was of great importance to Dragør, which during a period was Denmark's second largest shipping town with 92 registered ships.The town was always an important ferry station to Skåne (Sweden).

Fra 1907 till 1957 Dragør a railway line to Copenhagen. In the first half ot the 1900s the town was a popular resort for people from Copenhagen. From ab. 1950 many new citizens moved to Dragør, and it is today an attractive residential area for newcomers from Copenhagen. The ferry between Dragør and Limhamn was established in April 1960. In october 1999, eight months before the Øresundsbroen came into use the ferry traffic stopped.

Dragør has got many well-kept historical buildings, and the old part of the town is idyllic with paved streets and yellow-washed houses with red tiled roofs. Most of the buildings are from the 1700s and 1800s. The harbour is a well-kept cultural environment and is now used by sailing boats, small fishing boats and as a base for pilot boats. Dragør was in 2001 spoken highly of as a tourist town in an article in New York Times. Although the journalist was in Dragør on a rainy day in March he was captured by its charm.

From the 1500s the permanent buildings grew and Dragør became a fishing- and shipping town. From around 1600 came the real town building with 20 permanent houses. At this point the Dutch inhabitants also started planning a harbour. Besides farming the Dutch peasants also run fishing and shipping in a lesser scale. In the 1700s salvage of grounded ships was an important occupation for the citizens. the maritime war against england 1807-1814 meant a closing of the good times. From ab. 1880 the era of the sailing ships was over and so was Dragør's era as a shipping town.

A nesting box on a chimney

Where is my mum?

There was a Dragør-inn since 1721, but the present building was built ab. 1805. In a street named Blegerstræde (Bleach Street) lived families, who earned their living by bleaching fabrics. The distinguished firms in Copenhagen had fabrics bleached for tablecloths and bed-linen by the people of Bleach Street. The department store "Magasin" in Copenhagen sent in the beginning of the 1900s 6.000 rolls fabrics à 40 m to Dragør in order to have it bleached in the sun. A high house in number 12 in Blegerstræde is a typical bleach house. It is built high in order to make room for the high barrel, where the linen was boiled before the bleach. After this it was driven down to the beach to be rinsed and at last spread upon the meadows to let the sun bleach it.

Of course the weathercock has to be a ship.

The Øresund Bridge, seen from Dragør

Dragør Museum is in a warehouse from the 1600s, which for some time also functioned as the townhall. The exhibitions are marked by the shipping history with model-ships and curiosities brought home by the Dragør-skippers. The museum holds fine Dutch folk-costumes and Dutch tiles. In the harbour lies a museum-ship Elisabeth K 571, which together with other fishing boats from Dragør brought 600 jews across the Øresund to Sweden in WWII.

This old water-pump is called "Karrebæksposten" and is the last of nine water-pumps, which delivered water to the citizens of Dragør until 1907.

At the top of the pilot-house, which was built in 1802, is an open view-tower. The piloting was established in 1684 and thereby Denmark's first piloting.

photo Dragør September 2008: grethe bachmann

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Hærulf Stone, Immervad Bridge and Sct. Helene's kilde

The Hærulf Stone at Hærvejen, South East Jutland.

The Hærulf Stone is a rune stone at Hærvejen between Immervad and the village Hovslund. The stone was one of the first known from Denmark's about 200 rune stones from the Viking Period and was mentioned already in 1592. The placement of the Hærulfstone at Hærvejen (the Army Road) both illustrates the historic importance of the road and that the area at the village Hovslund was inhabitated for a very long time. The granite stone can be dated to the years 850-900 (Viking Period); it is ab. 2 m tall and weighs ab. 4 tons. The inscription is only one name "HairulfR" , a man's name, written in runes. The name is Old Norse and known from Norway and Iceland and is supposedly a contraction between "Hær" (Army) and "Ulv" (Wolf), which indicates that the Hærulfstone was raised to honour a great warrior. This is supported by an old legend, saying that Hærulf was an earl of the Vikings here in the area more than 1000 years ago.
The Hærulfstone has travelled far and wide. In 1854 it was listed and made a property of king Frederik 7., who placed it upon a nearby lawn, but already 10 years later, after the Danish defeat in 1864, it was brought to Berlin by the Preussian prince Friedrich Carl, who placed it in the park of his hunting castle "Dreilinden" in Wannsee.

Since the reunion in 1920 were made persistent attempts to get back the stone to Denmark. There were many plans. A man had planned to kidnap the stone, but when the car with the lift and camouflage was ready to start, he became scared and his courage failed. But the stone came back to Hovslund by more diplomatic means. In October 1951 the stone was successfully released to Denmark, among others by the help of Berlin's mayor Ernst Reuter who was born in Åbenrå. In a nice and clean condition it was delivered to Hovslund railway station in a German waggon. The stone was moved to a car, which brought it back to its righful place at Hærvejen between Hovslund and Immervad, where it still stands.

It has earlier been referred to as "The Hovslund Stone" or the "Øster Løgum Stone", but is now only known as The Hærulfstone.
Superstition: About 200 m east of the Hærulf stone is a Bronze Age hill called Strangelshøj. Upon the foot of the hill stands a 2 m tall menhir. According to folklore the stone turns around when it smells newbaked bread."

Immervad Bridge at Hærvejen, South East Jutland

A little info about Hærvejen: Before cars and railroads came to, the main road of Jutland followed along the watershed up through the peninsula. *Hærvejen was at that time small gravel roads and sunken roads. There was not only one road, a network of roads formed, what today is named Hærvejen (Army Road). It was used by tradesmen in oxen carts, drivers with their cattle and pious pilgrims. In troubled times it was the army's natural march road. At Immervad the roads from north, west and east met and continued southwards.

* other names: Oksevejen, Adelsvejen and Pilgrimsvejen.
Immervad Bro: A few km north of Hovslund, where Immervad Å-river crosses the Hærvejen (Army Road) lies Immervad Bro. This stone bridge is the most famous bridge of the Army Road. The area Immervad with the bridge is known in history from a battle between king Erik of Pommern and the Holstein grafs in 1422. The battle was said to be so violent that the water in the river was coloured in blood.

In ancient times people had to wade or drive through the water in the lowest part. Later was built a wooden bridge, but in the late 1700s it was so ramschackled that it was dangerous to use it, and it was replaced by a stone bridge. The bridge meant that it was easier for the cattle-drivers to walk their cattle from Denmark to the markets in Hamburg and Rendsburg. On an average day about 700-800 oxen passed the bridge, which was of great advantage to the nearby Immervad Inn.

The stone bridge was built in 1787, and all the stones used were carved from one big granite stone. The bridge was built by a farmer, who together with his neighbour cleaved the long beams out from the stone, which was found at a field near the village Hovslund. It was a difficult work - some of the stone-beams are 3,5-4 m long with 35 cm diameter. It is said that only half of the big granite stone was used in the building the bridge.
Since then the water stream has been led round the old stone bridge. Today it stands as a relic of the past, but it is still a popular resort for locals and tourists.

Spring trickling up from the soil, Mid Jutland.

The Sacred Spring
: Upon a private ground in the hills between Hovlund and Barlund is a sacred spring, which might be one of the explanations, why the area of Hovslund was inhabitated for so long. From far away came sick and palsied to the spring to be healed. The spring was named "The Holy Water" - and still up till 1850 it was visited by many people.
Legend: The correct name is "Helene's kilde", since it gots its name from a princess from Skåne(Sweden),who was famous for her beauty and piety and had a miraculous power of healing by laying on of hands. It was said she was at king Valdemar Sejr's court - and she accompanied the king on his travels and war-expeditions. Once near Hovslund the king was in great pain because of a sprained foot. Helene came up and offered to help. She led him to a place where a spring came up from the ground. She filled a cup with water from the spring three times and poured it over the king's bad foot, while she stroke her hand over the foot mumbling some incomprehensible words. The king's entourage , horsemen, archers, pages, courtiers etc. stood around the place. Helene fell on her knees and prayed the Lord's Prayer (NB: both heathen and Christian customs) The king stood up ,completely well again. The bishop Peter now came to and baptized the spring "Helene's Kilde", and whenever king Valdemar later came to the neighbourhood, he always visited the spring. Sct. Helene's Kilde was through many centuries a very visited shrine like other sacred springs in the country.

photo 2002/2010: grethe bachmann

Friday, June 04, 2010

The Green Frog/ Pelophylax esculentus

The frog lake in late May 2010.

Green Frog, Mid Jutland, May 2010.
photo: stig bachmann nielsen,
Naturplan foto

The Green Frog/Edible Frog (Pelophylax kl. esculentus) is a name for a common European Frog, also known as the common water frog or green frog (however, this latter term is also used for the North American species Lithobates clamitans. It is used for food, particularly in France for the delicacy frog's legs. It is a large green frog with black spots and often with a light stripe along the back. It jumps out into the water with a big splash when you come near. It's about 11 cm long and found in the eastern part of Denmark and a few places in Jutland. It stays all summer by water holes close to a forest.

The frog lake lies close to the forest

The green frog has declined since its waterholes have been destroyed or reduced. It is listed and must not be gathered or killed. Eggs and tadpoles may be gathered in limited numbers and the grown frog may be gathered in limited numbers for education and research. Its waterholes are listed according to the Nature Protection Law if they are over 100m2. The green frog quickly finds new-digged waterholes, since it is moving much about.

The green frog has various sounds, both males and females croak, but only the males have "croak-bags". The grown frog takes everything which moves and which it is able to swallow. Small insects, hornets, small birds like swallows, wagtails and young birds of grebes. The green frog eats all sorts of frogs - also green frogs.

The green frog started as a cross between the shortlegged green frog and marsh frog, but has turned into an independent species via some special conditions of its heredity. The green frog lays eggs latest of all other frogs in spring and demands the warmest water. Therefore the sun has to shine on each corner of its water hole. The water has to be clean with many water plants.

It lays its eggs in the end of May in lumps of 20 up to 1000 eggs - in all about two thousand eggs. They vary much in size, which indicates that the eggs come from a green frog. The tadpoles are very shy - and this might be the reason, why the green frog can survive in water holes with fish.

When the eggs have been laid, the frogs stay at the places where they have been breeding. Some frogs walk out to larger bogs and lakes. They begin their hibernation in September, both on land and in water. Their enemies are grass snake, grey heron, otter, badger and polecat.

The green frog was earlier a common frog in many places in Denmark, but has declined much and has become rare in large parts of Funen and Zealand. This is a result of that the water holes have been filled up or been overgrown or polluted. The green frog is listed as opmærksomhedskrævende (demanding attention) on the Danish gulliste 1997 (yellow list) - and it is covered by Habitatsdirectives, Listed and Natura 2000.

Superstition: It is wellknown that to kill a frog is bad, as you are killing the soul of a little boy or girl, who died in childhood. A frog that croaks in the middle of the day means that rain is due. A frog that jumps into your home is a sign of good luck to all in the household. It is also wellknown in fairy tales that frogs have been used for love spells. And if you rub the frog over your warts then they will disappear.

Or the famous fairy tale of the Brother's Grimm about the Frog Prince. The princess has to kiss a frog which then transforms into a handsome prince.

photo May 2010 Mid Jutland: grethe bachmann