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  • I R I S - feber

    Igen i år har jeg brugt en uges tid på at finde Iris i et egekrat ved Skivum i Himmerland. Her har jeg fundet den tidligere, ikke hvert år, og altid kun et enkelt individ. Tidspunktet for min eftersøgning er nøje planlagt, og jeg forsøger at tage bestik af observationer i det øvrige land samtidigt med, at jeg synes der er en vis regelmæssighed i dens optræden lige her. I år har jeg, inspireret af de engelske Purple Emperor-jægere, skaffet noget shrimp paste, som er deres foretrukne lokkemiddel. Sidste år forsøgte jeg med surströmming. Basislokkemidlet er dog rødvinssnore - dvs. hampreb vædet med en blanding af modne bananer og sukker/sirup samt rødvin (den legendariske Jens Stolt-blanding). Blandingen lokker i denne skov især Admiraler og Dagpåfugleøjer til - og en masse hvepse og fluer. Så altså, en masse forberedelser, et par mindre investeringer, og et enormt tidsforbrug på at holde øje med egetræskronerne, 20 lokkesnore samt en bakke med lidt iris-lækkert, blandt andet shrimp paste. Det lugter i øvrigt ikke så stærkt som jeg havde forventet. Og hvad blev resultatet? Efter fire dage med ingenting så jeg tre dage i træk Iris. Ja, inden det gik løs, havde jeg faktisk fundet en død Iris, hvor kun vingerne var tilbage. Den var sikkert blevet snuppet af en fugl eller en guldsmed. Den første levende Iris viste sig (helt typisk) majestætisk ved at svæve stille ned fra en trætop og sætte sig i bøgeløvet 2 meter oppe. Det er altid et fantastisk øjeblik - man holder vejret, rækker ud efter kameraet uden at fjerne øjnene fra sommerfuglen. Her sad den i 5 minutter, kun få meter fra rødvin og rejer, hvorefter den igen forsvandt op i træerne. Sådan har den efterfølgende vist sig syv gange i løbet af tre dage. Kun ved én lejlighed har jeg set to Iriser samtidigt og det var tydeligvis en mindre han, der jagtede en større hun - mageløst så det ud, da de tog en runde i lysningen i trætophøjde. Jeg kan se, at der er mere end én hun, da vingernes slitage er forskellig. Blot en enkelt gang har sommerfuglen sat sig og suget sukker og rødvin. Bakken med stinkende lækkerier har den fuldstændig ignoreret. Arrogant kejser-attitude. Litteraturen er uklar her, - er der nogen der ved, om det kun er hannen, der søger stinkende sager? Og hvad med sukker/rødvin? I øvrigt er det min erfaring, at der ingen som helst regelmæssighed er i iris' synlighed fra jorden. Her i krattet har den vist sig omkring kl. 11.30, 13.00, 15.00, 17.30 og 20.00. Og jeg har skam været på udkig fra kl. 6.30 hver dag. Til andre med tendens til iris-feber kan jeg anbefale hjemmesiden thepurpleempire.com og artikler og vidunderlig skønlitterær bog af Patrick Barkham.

  • Klitperlemorsommerfugl!! Or Niobe Fritillary as it's called in English. On a walk in the dunes near The Bay (Jammerbugten) we stumbled on a number of rather biggish sparkling orange butterflies that turned out to be Niobe Fritillaries. I had only seen a few before on the west coast, but here were at least 10. A few days later I went out in the same area and found hundreds. The numbers were beyond what I had ever seen and the whole scenery was like the meadow full of flowers and bright butterflies we tend to relate to an imagined idyllic childhood. It was truly amazing. It as a day surrounded by Niobe, Selene and Semiargus that I'll never forget. A perfect butterfly day.

  • Last summer I found two species of butterflies that I had never seen before. It was the Alcon Blue (Ensianblåfugl) and the Northern Brown Argus (Sortbrun Blåfugl). Both are rather rare in Denmark. The Northern Brown Argus and I share a passion for the flower called bloody cranesbill and the butterfly only lives in a small area on the northwest coast of Jutland. The larvae feeds on the cranesbill. Although we knew where to look it took us a while to find it.

  • Still learning!! Last weekend I went to a wildlife photo workshop run by Hilmer & Koch. It was excellent and I learned a few tricks and spent 24 hours with a bunch of great people. The workshop took place in a Finnish lavvu, a kind of tipi, in Skandinavisk Dyrepark. Morning and evening we had the park all to our selves. Here is a shot of one of the four brown bear cubs.

  • I believe I stroke gold yesterday finding several of the rare and beautiful Marsh Fritillary. It could well be their first day of flying this year. The butterfly season definitely started!

  • I recently returned from Extremadura in Spain. Apart from enjoying the weather and food I visited old favorite birding spots, mainly in the triangle Plasencia-Caceres-Trujillo. This year I spent a few days in the Villuercas, near Guadalupe as well. Spring was late in Spain, too, which meant that the flowers were blooming as a colorful carpet everywhere. Apart from vultures and birds of prey, the reason to visit Extremadura is flora. We went for orchids this year and found some. Montagu's Harriers were difficult to get hold of, whereas Short-toed Eagles were easier. My son of 13 had his own camera with a 400mm and showed great talent. A day in a hide near Jaraicejo was no success. After several hours of waiting on a group of 30 vultures to approach a dead goat used as bait, a farmer disturbed them as they were to make the final move. What a disappointment. Besides that, we had a wonderful time with lots of photo opportunities.

  • Thrilled by the longer days and the clear mornings we have had lately I went to Vejlerne yesterday. I was hoping to find the large flocks of Pink Geese that I saw the week before. Pink Geese spend the winter in Denmark and the Netherlands and they nest on Svalbard, near the Arctic. The Pink Geese usually leave for their Norhern endeavours in early April and they must have left a few days ago - only a small number of geese were left in Vejlerne. The week before I had photographed a Pink Goose with a white neck tag reading G44. On a web site I can now follow G44, which is female, on her trip, if she is spotted and reported. She was tagged several years ago and her route is illustrated on a Google Map. Interesting. There were loads of Greylag Geese in Vejlerne. They stay and are getting ready to breed. Also I saw plenty of Barnacle geese. Two big Sea Eagles (Whitetailed) were soaring right above me, too (see picture).

  • I just returned from a great trip to Norway with Jon and Carsten from Fotofestival.dk. We went to Valdres to meet up with Bjørn-Egil Brekke, Rolf Støa and Trym Sannes, all distinguished Norwegian nature photographers. What an inspiration!! In between enjoying Bjørn-Egils fine selection of single malts we did several field trips to the mountains and took lots of photos of beautiful snow covered landscapes.

  • Some years ago I found this Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) near Hadbjerg, Jutland, where I used to live. It looks strange with its different wing colours, two brown and two blue. It's a ultra-rare "ladyboy" butterfly, which is born half male and half female. This happens to 1 out of 10.000 butterflies.The "ladyboy" is also known as a gynandromorph.

  • The first Baltic Hawker ever seen in Denmark! This is the picture taken by my parents in 2006 after they saved it from the lake with their umbrella. Mogens Holmen later identified it on the website fugleognatur.dk. This individual was female. The male is blue.

  • Søndag den 25. juli 2010. Jeg så skyggen af den i Skivum Krat i 2005 - helt præcist den 21 juli 2005. Iris-sommerfuglen er fabeldyret par excellence, som Michael Stoltze skrev i sin store sommerfuglebog. Og aldrig havde den været set så nordligt i Danmark. To år efter, en forårsdag i 2007, sad der pludselig en fin iris-larve på min kones jeans (billedet). Siden har vi forgæves ledt efter larver og flyvende iris hvert år. Og så, i dag, kom den roligt flaksende ned fra de store egetræer. IRIS, råbte jeg, og familien ilede til, og betragtede stille dette vidunder i nogle fantastiske minutter, inden den igen forsvandt. “Jeg sagde jo, at den var her”, fik jeg garanteret sagt...

  • One August afternoon in 2006 my parents went bird watching in Vejlerne, North Western Jutland. At some point my mother noticed a dragonfly lying helpless in the water and she saved it by letting in crawl up on her umbrella. She then took a picture of the dragonfly and when she later looked at it she sent it to me. As I couldn’t identify it right away I put the picture on the web site fugleognatur.dk and asked for help. Mogens Holmen quickly recognized it as a first sighting of a new species in Denmark: Aeshna serrata or Baltic Hawker (Baltisk mosaikguldsmed). Quite amazing. After some years of searching with no luck the species was rediscovered on the same location in 2009. In July 2011 I went to Vejlerne to look for it and it was quickly spotted. I also met two fellow photographers in search of the Hawker. After a good chat I headed some 5 km north to Bulbjerg right on the North Sea coast. To my big surprise I encountered about 40 Baltic Hawkers in the grass along the beach. Alas a new location. Probably the Hawkers breed in Vejlerne and fly to this spot to mate, but nobody knows for sure. Quite a story, is it not? To be continued....

  • My various photo galleries are the result of successful pursuit of certain species or just sheer luck. Most often, well, my photo excursions are unsuccessful. Last Summer for instance was a disaster. I had reserved two weeks for the pursuit of the butterfly Iris. Which meant that I had placed and arranged my (and my family's) Summer vacation so that it concurred with the expected flight time of Iris. You never know for certain, as it depends on the all year weather. I even had the unexpected help from an aurelian friend who also had the ambition of finding Iris and who had purchased the ultimate bate - Swedish half-rotten herring. So....., I spent days and days looking for Iris in the parts of the wood where I had seen it in previous years. As the weather changed from day to day I left the woods when overcast only to come back when the sun started to shine again. It drove my wife and kids mad. The bad weather and the lack of butterflies in general and Iris in particular affected my mood and the legendary Iris fever worsened each day. At times I was close to hallucinating, seeing shadows of big butterflies among the branches... I t h i n k I saw Iris twice. But no, I never saw it for certain. I tell you this because I think the unsuccessful pursuit and the feeling of great disappointment is inherent to butterfly photography and an important part of the attraction. Add a little bit of nostalgia for past great butterfly Summers and it's what makes the butterfly photographer tick :-)

  • On Saturday I will have my first photo exhibition!! It'll take place at the biggest photo event in Denmark - at the Fotofestival. Choosing which photos to show was rather difficult, but now I have 10 nature shots ready. Please join me at the festival where some of Scandinavia's hottest nature photographers will give talks and show their work.

  • It's time to look for Marsh Fritillaries! According to the calendar they have been flying for a week or so. Still, it's been rather rainy and Spring was cold. When the rain stops I'm off......

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