Stop 5 of the BTX Tour - Skagen: the location
Due to its geographical position and climatic conditions, Denmark is situated on one of the main bird migratory routes in Europe. In spring migratory bird species are leaving their wintering quarters in western Europe, the Mediterranean countries and Africa and move north to north-east to their breeding grounds in Scandinavia and Russia. The bird migratory routes over Denmark are generally spread over a wide front, but in certain cases migration is concentrated, due to special geographical and weather conditions. This is the case at Skagen as Jutland has the form of a giant funnel with Skagen at the end.
Most migratory landbirds prefer to migrate over land as much as possible, and coast therefore form guidelines for their routes. At Skagen the migratory landbirds concentrate before they have to cross the Kattegat to the Swedish coast 60 km away.
The main landbird species involved in the spring migration at Skagen are raptors, Wood Pigeons, thrushes, finches, Jackdaws, Crows and Starlings. Especially the spring migration of raptors has proved Skagen as an international important flyway. The numbers of migrating Hen Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Osprey, Kestrel, Merlin, Hobby and Peregrine Falcon are the highest in Europe. Monitoring raptor migration has been conducted every spring since the beginning of the 1970s. The spring migration peaks in April-May.
There are many good observation post and bird localities spread over a wide area around Skagen. Some of the most important bird localities are:
1) Grenen (The Spit)
Year round a very important observation point for both migrating seabirds and landbirds. On the beach are often large pools with gulls, terns and sometimes waders.
2) Nordstrand (The North Beach)
Very good observation post for the migration in spring , especially when winds are blowing from directions between northeast and south.
An excellent view point from a hill to the south-west of Skagen. Spring migration of raptors can be spectacular late morning and during the day, especially with wind directions from east to north.
The new established bird migration center - "Skagen Grå Fyr - Center for Trækfugle" will be opened together with Skagen Bird Observatory on the 12th of May 2017.
The bird migration center will provide an exhibition on international bird migration and activities – and the Observatory will arrange guided bird tours and showing ringing of recently trapped birds.
About the author:
Knud Pedersen is a birdwatcher and bird photographer from Skagen. He has monitored the bird migration at Skagen since the 1970s. He is a member of the Danish Rarities Committee running for more than 25 years.
Morten Jenrich Hansen is a birdwatcher and ringer. He works as assistant at Skagen Bird Observatory.