Denmark is a relatively small country and the highest point above sea level is only 173m, but we have over 7000km of coastline with marshland, mudflats, inlets and coastal meadows. Furthermore, Denmark lies on the main migration routes between continental Europe and the rest of Scandinavia. In spring and autumn, a massive migration of landbirds both raptors and passerines takes place, while enormous numbers of wildfowl and waders stop off, some of them even spending winter here. We actually house almost the whole population of pale-bellied brent geese from Svalbard in the winter months. In summer we are home to a large population of breeding waterbirds. From the hundreds of thousands of waders, ducks and geese feeding on the mudflats off the west coast to the solitary kingfisher darting along a stream in the woods.
Look at the map of Europe and you’ll soon see an obvious route for returning migrant raptors that want to take advantage of thermals over the land to ease their passage back to their breeding grounds. It sticks out like a giant sore thumb into the North Sea, and its largest landmass has a name to fit Jutland.
It is here that Europe’s most overlooked raptor migration takes place. Given easterly winds, the largest numbers of birds head all the way up Jutland, the main Danish peninsula. Its northern tip is on the same latitude as Aberdeen, the landmass whittling into a long spur near the end of which sits the town of Skagen. Flagbakken is situated south of the main road just before it enters the town of Skagen from the south. The 24-metre high hillock is the highest point in Skagen. The great view from the rise makes it the best and most popular observation point for birds of prey in Skagen, especially when the wind is blowing from between north and east, but also in light, changeable winds. On the best days more than 100 birdwatchers can sit on the hillock and watch the migrating birds. On a good day up to 15 different species of birds of prey can be seen. There's an information board featuring descriptions of the birds.
Pale-bellied Brent Goose © Sean Nixon
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Denmark - Nordfriesland (D)/ West Jutland (DK) - March 08, author Dirk Raes (added June 3, 2008)