Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Viborg - the town upon the hills with the shrine

Viborg is one of the oldest towns in Denmark.The original name was Vibjerg (Vvibuiærgh in Valdemar Sejrs Jordebog from 1231), which means "the hills with the shrine". It was in prehistoric time a sacred cultplace, where the ancient Nordic gods were worshipped. The sacred place was called a "Vi", which explains the name Viborg. The settlement consisted of spread farms up till year 1000, after which properties were being outparcelled along the road, which today is Store Sct Peders Stræde (mid-town). From here was a connection road  across the lakes to Asmild. In the Viking period a larger town emerged gradually - and it was through centuries the main town of Jutland and a political power center. Viborg got its municipal rights in 1150. The old trade and pilgrim road to Europe Hærvejen went out from here.Viborg lies upon a hillside, falling steeply into a valley along the eastern part of town. The valley is filled by the lakes Nørresø and Søndersø,the waterstreams leading to the lakes are surrounded by large meadow areas. The long lakes form a clear border of the town. The western part of Viborg is today an area with villas stretching far out into the countryside. The visible center of Viborg is still the cathedral with two towers, one of the largest churches built in granite ashlars.

 Things went quickly for the city in the middle of Jutland. Tradesmen and craftsmen settled here, where the  trade- and pilgrim road Hærvejen from the south met the country roads from north, west and east. Most important was that the Jutland chieftains gathered here on a regular basis to counsel together upon the Thing about common affairs and to celebrate the Danish kings. A celebration of the king told who had to succeed the king when he died. The first celebration in 1027 was about Hardicanute, who was Danish king from 1035-1042. The tradition went on until 1655 where Christian V. was celebrated at the Thing in Viborg.

Where the town leads out between the lakes, king Erik Menved let build Borgvold in 1313 in order to break the wellknown obstinacy of the Jutlanders. Here is a castle bank and a park today. The Jutlanders in the northern section of Jutland had after a counsel at the Thing in Viborg rebelled against the king's new tax notices, but they were suppressed by the king and his German mercenaries.

The Thing (Landsting) in Viborg was in the Middle Ages a Thing for the whole country. The Thing was abolished in 1805. Viborg was also a religious center. The town became bishopric in 1065, and the foundation stone of the cathedral was laid by bishop Eskil about 1130. During the Middle Ages were built three monasteries and a nunnery in Asmild, 12 parish churches and some roadside chapels. 


Maybe it was the wealth of the number of churches and klosters which provoced the first Danish rebellion in Viborg against the papal power. In 1525 a Johanitter monk Hans Tausen started to preach Luther's teach in Viborg, and when he was dispelled of his order, king Frederik I appointed him his chaplain.The king allowed in 1529 the civilians in Viborg to break down all the churches and chapels, which the town was not able to maintain. This meant direct cash to the Crown. The king also "took care" of the church silver. In 1529-30 the klosters were abandoned too, and the monks were driven out. The rebellious Lutheranian citizens seized the cathedral in 1530.


The 1500s brought progress, but in the 1600s and the 1700s the town was hit by recession, fires and wars. The town burnt both in 1567, 1615, 1667 and 1726, the last fire was especially a catastrophe. Half the city burnt down and for many years a big part of the town were nothing but black ruins. From the late 1700s the town had an important period of expansion and became what is is today: a city of institutions. It grew into a stylish town of officials. Some found it snobby. The Danish writer Peer Hultberg, the son of a judge, grew up in Viborg -  he wrote a novel where he delivered an utmost corrosive image of the citizens, who are described as the victims of their own strict consciousness.

 Most of the oldest Viborg houses were built after the big fire in 1726. The present look of the Viborg cathedral is a result of an almost complete rebuild in 1864-76. From the original church is only kept the crypt and a small part of the apse. The cathedral in Lund (Skåne) was the role model of the present building. The artist Joakim Skovgaard decorated the church with frescoes in 1899.

The altarpiece from the beginning of the 1500s is in another Viborg church, (Søndre Sogn) - it is called the masterpiece among the carved Netherland altarpieces in Denmark. East of the lakes is the old Asmild kloster, the oldest section of a nunnery built around 1100. It was in Asmild church king Erik Emune let bishop Eskil of Viborg kill in front of the altar during mass.

Because of its central situation and the many roads leading to Viborg the city has a large trade and a diversified industry. First of all it is an important administration- and institution town with courts, state districts, a large hospital and nurse school, media schools, teacher seminary, trade school, domestic arts school, cathedral school and a district gymnasium. North of Viborg is the beautiful scenery of Hjarbæk fjord, south of Viborg the deep Hald lake with old oak- and beech woods, Dollerup bakker with heather hills. The historic murder place Finderup lade does not exist anymore, but the historic village lies west of the forests. King Erik Klipping was killed here on Sct. Cecilia-night, 22 November in 1286. He is buried in Viborg cathedral.

Tourist sailing: a boat Margrethe I sails in the summer season on the lakes from where is a magnificent view to the city. City Museum in a historistic styled  and richly decorated building; the Skovgård Museum with art  exhibitions in the old Baroque town hall; "Brænderiet" which is art and culture center with alternate art exhibitions . In the Biblical gardens is opportunity to study the plants mentioned in the Bible; a garden called "Pilehaven" where the old Johannitterkloster was placed, until it was broken down in 1578. A basket weaver has formed the hedges, benches and huts in the park from willow and maple branches. "Latinerhaven", a labyrinthic park, with a fountain " Løvebrønden" (Lion's well), the park has a memorial for the ornitologist H.Chr. Mortensen, called Fuglemortensen (Bird Mortensen); he put Viborg on the map when he in 1899 put the ringing of birds in system. From the Gråbrødrekloster (Fransiscan kloster) in 1236 is little kept, but the ground plan of the kloster is marked by beech hedges.

photo Viborg 2006/2010/2011: grethe bachmann

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What Children Say.............


One day the first grade teacher was reading the story of Chicken Little to her class. She came to the part of the story where Chicken Little tried to warn the farmer. She read, ".... and so Chicken Little went up to the farmer and said, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!" The teacher paused then asked the class, "And what do you think that farmer said?" One little gir l raised her hand and said, "I think he said: 'Holy Shit! A talking chicken!'"

A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin, 5, and Ryan, 3. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. "If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, 'Let my brother have the first pancake. I can wait.'" Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, "Ryan, you be Jesus.  

TEACHER: Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?
HAROLD: A teacher. 


A little girl asked her mother, "Can I go outside and play with the boys?" Her mother replied, "No, you can't play with the boys, they're too rough." The little girl thought about it for a few moments and asked, "If I can find a smooth one, can I play with him?"


On the first day of school, about mid-morning, the kindergarten teacher said, "If anyone has to go to the bathroom, hold up two fingers." A little voice from the back of the room asked, "How will that help?"

A wife invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said, Would you like to say the blessing?" "I wouldn't know what to say," the girl replied. "Just say what you hear Mommy say," the wife answered. The daughter bowed her head and said,"Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?" 

A Kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they were drawing. She would occasionally walk around to see each child's work. As she got to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was. The girl replied, "I'm drawing God." The teacher paused and said, "But no one knows what God looks like." Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing, the girl replied, "They will in a minute."

photo: gb

Friday, March 15, 2013

Blue Tit / Blåmejse - Cyanistes caeruleus

foto:stig bachmann nielsen,

Blue Tit / Blåmejse (Cyanistes caeruleus, earlier Parus caeruleus) This species was first described by  Linnaeus in his Systema naturae in 1758 as Parus caeruleus. The blut tit is a small passerine bird and a  common tit in Denmark.The blue tit is spread all over Europe, except in the northern Scandinavia and is common in some neighbouring areas in Asia, North Africa and on the Canary Islands. The population of blue tits on the Canary Islands is often considered an independent species (the African blue tit, Cyanistes teneriffae). There are several various under-species in Europe and Africa, but Denmark has  no special variation. The blue tit can hybridize with the azure tit, which only comes to Denmark as a guest.

The spread and number of pairs have increased in Denmark for the last decades, and the blue tit is common all over the country - except in places without deciduous forests. There is about 250.000 breeding pairs in DK. There are currently around 20-44 million pairs in Europe and it is estimated by the RSPB that there are 3,535,000 breeding pairs in the UK. Danish blue tits are mainly sedentary, but they are complemented by blue tits from Scandinavia and Russia in autumn in varying numbers. In some years they might appear invasion-like.

The blue tit builds its nest in holllow trees and in nesting boxes or in cavities in buildings. The main competitors for nests and food is the great tit, and the blue tit is in sharp competition about both food and nesting places with this larger and stronger bird, but it is able to use lesser nesting holes because of its size. The blue tit will nest in any suitable hole in a tree, wall, or stump, or an artificial nest box, often competing with house sparrows or great tits for the site. Few birds more readily accept the shelter of a nesting box; the same hole is returned to year after year, and when one pair dies another takes possession. The nest is made of moss, grass, wool, withered leaves and spiderweb and is lined with hair, down and feathers. The female usually builds the nest on her own, typically in April or May,  normally 7-12 eggs are laid, sometimes up to 16 eggs - which makes it a top scorer among the passerines. The female breeds alone and is fed by the male.The blue tit is a very aggressive bird, if you reach out for the nesting bird it will puff out its feathers and peck out after your finger. The eggs are hatched after ab. two weeks, after which both parents feed the chicks with little insects in the nest for 2-3 weeks. The young birds can usually fly reasonable safe when they leave the nest, and the family is often seen together for a period. Many birds, breeding in holes, have difficulties in finding suitable locations for their nest. It is mainly due to forests being driven intensely - old and sick trees are cut down, thereby the natural holes and cracks disappear which do not exist in young trees and bushes. It is easy to overcome the housing shortage of the birds by putting up nest boxes.

The row of six photos of the blue tit below is from the same day.  The little bird was very busy removing something from a branch. Suddenly it discovered that someone stood below , but this did not disturb that little busybody. It started again to hack like a wild and succeeded at last. It looks like the blue tit has found a little thorn?  

The bird is easily recognisable by its blue and yellow plumage, it is light yellow on the underside and has blue wings, tail, neck and crown. Its white cheeks are broken by a dark blue bandit mask, running from beak to neck. The dark brown beak is short, compared to related species. The iris is brown, the feets are dark grey and with grey claws. The sexes are mainly identical, although the female usually is more dull coloured than the male. This applies particularly to the tail and the blue portions of the neck and upon the head. The young birds have duller colours than the adults. The lenght of the blue tit is ab. 10,5-12 cm. Behaviour, shape and size are similar to other tit-species There is no confusion in Central Europe, since no other songbird looks like the blue tit.

The preferred habitats of the blue tit are deciduous and mixed forests, but it is seldom seen in pinewoods. It is common in park, garden and thicket. If people put up a feeding table in the garden, the blue tit is one of the first and most frequent guests all year. It loves food like lard and nuts. It is a common and popular European garden bird, due to its perky acrobatic performances when feeding on nuts or suet. It swings beneath the holder, calling "tee, tee, tee" or a scolding "churr". The blue tit is not able to eat large seeds since it has a thin and fragile beak - and it does not store food like other tits (except the great tit). Its favourite food in summer is mainly insects, spiders and larvaes. Outside the breeding period important food is seeds and other plant-based food (from fx. beech and birch). While finding food the blue tit is dependent on its abilities to cling to the outernest branches, hanging head down, looking for food. In winter the blue tit form flocks with other tit species.

The small size of the blue tit makes it vulnerable to prey by larger birds such as jays who catch the vulnerable fledglings when leaving the nest. The most important predator is probably the sparrow hawk, closely followed by the domestic cat. Nests may be robbed by mammals such as weasels and squirrels

Since the chicks of the blue tit are fed with little insects, the great tit - which is dependent on larger insects - might risc that the blue tit has emptied the pantry before the insects have grown big enough for the great tit. Young birds of the great tit often die because of this.

great tit and blue tit share some winter food.

The blue tit is the most charming little bird. Two blue tits were playing in a bush, one jumped out in the air as if he had forgotten he had wings. Please click to enlarge. The photos are not good enough. Birds give me problems! They move too fast!

Songs and Calls: (wikipedia)

Blue Tits use songs and calls throughout the year. Songs are mostly used in late winter and spring to defend the territory or to attract mates. Calls are used for multiple reasons. Communication with other blue tits is the most important motivation for the use of calls. They inform one another on their location in trees by means of contact-calls. They use alarm-calls to warn others (including birds of other species such as great tit the european robin or rhe treecreeper, about the presence of predators in the neighbourhood. Scolding for example is used when a ground predator (e.g. fox, cat or dog), a low flying predator or a perched owl are noticed. Sometimes this is followed by mobbing behaviour in which birds gather together in flocks to counter a predator. The begging-call is used by juveniles to beg for food from parents.

Source: Danmarks natur, Felthåndbogen; DOF, Dansk Ornitologisk Forening, English wikipedia  

photo : grethe bachmann & stig bachmann nielsen,

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Great Tit/ Musvit - Parus major

Great Tit eating fat from a birch. /foto: stig bachmann nielsen.

 Great Tit (Parus major) is a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is a common breeding  and sedentary bird and a breeding-straying bird in Denmark, both in the forest and in the city. It is considered the fifth most common bird in Denmark and is also a common migrating bird and winter guest from Scandinavia, Finland and Baltikum.The Great Tit was originally described under its current binomial name by Linnaeus in his 18th century work, Systema Naturae. Its scientific name is derived from the Latin parus "tit" and maior "larger".

The Great Tit is spread in all Europe, the Middle East, northern and central Asia and parts of north Africa.The Great tit is like other tits a vocal bird and has up to 40 types of calls and songs. 

The Great Tit is ab. 14 cm long, it is slightly smaller than a sparrow. It is a distinctive bird with strong and clear colours. The underside is yellow with a black mid-stripe, more or less wide, the head is black with white cheeks. The back is greenish and the wings bluish with a single white wing band; the beak is short and pointed. The black mid-stripe of the underside varies in width. It is wider in males than in females. The narrowest stripe has the young bird. The birds show their place in the hieraki through the width of the stripe. The most dominant male has the widest black middle stripe. It is the same for the yellow colour of the underside, which is most intense in males and most pale in young birds. Birds that live in deciduous forests are more intense yellow than the birds living in coniferous forests. The birds in the city are the most pale. The yellow colour is due to karotenoids, which the Great Tit gets through the food. The substance is also used for the immune defense and to help breaking down harmful substances. It is an expression of surplus to have a strong yellow underside.

Like all tits it is a cavity nester, usually nesting in a hole in a tree. It is very fond of nestboxes and it is able to use wall-holes, downspouts, post boxes or flower pots. The nesting material can be moss, hair, wool or feathers. The female lays around 12 red dotted white eggs and incubates them alone, although both parents raise the chicks. In most years the pair will raise two broods.The nests may be raided by woodpeckers or squirrels and infested with fleas, and adults may be hunted by Sparrowhawks.

they also eat Cinnamon Danish....
The food is insects and larvaes, worms and seeds -  in winter the bird will stay in the garden if it can get fat and sunflower seeds. During the breeding season, the tits prefer to feed protein-rich caterpillars to their young.  Large food items, such as large seeds or prey, are delt with by "hold-hammering", where the item is held with one of both feet and then struck with the bill until it is ready to eat. Using this method, a Great Tit can get into a hazelnut in about twenty minutes. When feeding young, adults will hammer off the heads off large insects to make them easier to consume, and remove the gut from caterpillars so that the tannins in the gut will not retard the chick's growth

Great Tits combine dietary versatility with a considerable amount of intelligence and the ability to solve problems with insight learning, that is to solve a problem through insight rather than trial and error. In England, Great Tits learned to break the foil caps of milk bottles delivered at the doorstep of homes to obtain the cream at the top. This behaviour, first noted in 1921, spread rapidly in the next two decades. In 2009, Great Tits were reported killing and eating pipistrelle bats. This is the first time a songbird has been seen to hunt bats. The tits only do this during winter when the bats are hibernating and other food is scarce. They have also been recorded using tools, using a conifer needle in the bill to extract larvae from a hole in a tree. In 2013, some individual Great Tits were noted to attack, kill and to some extent eat other small birds at wintertime feeding spots in Finland.

The Great Tit threatens other birds by stretching neck and beak upwards so the yellow breast with the black stripe will look threatening to the enemy, the bird moves its head at the same time so the white cheek look like threatening big "eyes".
The Great Tit has adapted well to human changes in the environment and is a common and familiar bird in urban parks and gardens. The Great Tit is a popular garden bird due to its acrobatic performances when feeding on nuts or seed. Its willingness to move into nest boxes has made it a valuable study subject in ornithology, and it is one of the best studied birds in the world. It has been particularly useful as a model for the study of the evolution of various life-history traits, particularly clutch size. A study of a literature database search found 1,349 articles relating to Parus major for the period between 1969 and 2002.

Special info: 
Until 2005 this species was lumped with numerous other subspecies. DNA studies have shown these other subspecies to be distinctive from the Great Tit and these have now been separated as two separate species, the Cinereous Tit of southern Asia, and the Japanese Tit of East Asia. The Great Tit remains the most widespread species in the genus Parus.
The total population is estimated at between 300–1,100 million birds in a range of 32.4 million km2 (12.5 million mi2). While there have been some localised declines in population in areas with poorer quality habitats, its large range and high numbers mean that the Great Tit is not considered to be threatened, and it is classed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

source: Danmarks fugle og natur, Felthåndbogen, 2013; Roger Peterson, Europas fugle, Gads forlag 1985; Klaus Malling Olsen, Danmarks fugle, en oversigt, DKO; English wikipedia. 
 photo grethe bachmann & stig bachmann nielsen, naturplan dk.