1) Agerø
2) Agger Tange
3) Anholt
) Bjerregrav Mose
5) Bolle and Try Meadows
6) Bølling Sø
7) Djursland's north-east coast
8) Egå Engsø
9) Geddal Enge and Sønder Lem Vig
10) Hald Sø
11) Halkær Sø
12) Harboør Tange
13) Hjarbæk Fjord
14) Jerup Strand
15) Lille Vildmose
16) Madum Sø
17) Mariager Fjord
18) Nors Sø
19) Rold Skov
19) Roshage and Hanstholm Harbour
20) Skagen
21) Stubbe Sø
22) Sødring Vildtreservat
23) Ulvedybet
24) Vejlerne
24) Vest Stadil Fjord
26) Vilsted Sø
27) Vorup Enge 


Island in the Limfjord, off the south-west corner of the island of Mors

Staging site of international importance for light-bellied brent goose and of national importance for golden plover.
See Google map with bird hide, car parks etc.  

Agerø with the bird hide and the reserve in the background

Most of the island of Agerø consists of cultivated farmland, but there are large stretches of fine coastal meadow along its coast. Off the coast are reaches of shallow water with sand flats, islands and islets. The fjord around the island is mostly shallow. The Danish Bird Protection Foundation owns a reserve covering 26 ha in the north-west corner of the island. This comprises some coastal meadows and the islets of Holmene and Stenklipperne. The meadows are grazed by cattle to prevent overgrowing.

Agerø is worth a visit all year round. In springtime, around April-May, and again in September-November, large flocks of golden plovers can be seen. The light-bellied brent geese are a particular attraction. At the same time, there is a good chance of seeing many different species of waders and ducks, and spoonbills have also begun to turn up. 

Later on in the year, waders, geese and ducks can be spotted in varying numbers. Both autumn and winter, geese and ducks stage in the fjord around the island and on the fields.

Breeding birds

Breeding birds have had serious problems the last few years due to a massive predation by foxes. The former large colonies of avocet, arctic tern and common gull have almost disappeared. Redshanks have, however, been lucky enough to hide their young in the longer grass on the meadows. Lapwing has more or less disappeared and all species have been dramatically decimated in comparison with previously. By contrast, eider have now begun to nest in the area, for example on Stenklipperne, and some years large gatherings of ducklings can be spotted in the shallow water between Stenklipperne and the mainland. A few pairs of yellow wagtail usually breed on the meadows.

Migrating and staging birds
Agerø is best known for the rare light-bellied brent goose that usually winter here from November to May. This race of brent goose is one of the smallest goose populations in the world, numbering only around 7000 birds. The number has however increased somewhat due to a good breeding season in 2020. The number of light-bellied brent goose in the Agerø area varies somewhat from one year to another. The former large flocks of up to 5000 birds have not been seen the last few years, but there is still a chance of seeing up to a few thousand at the end of May, just before they fly off north to their breeding grounds on Svalbard. (An exceptional 3080 birds were observed on 13th May 2020). A small number migrate to north-east Greenland.

Apart from the brent geese, there are many other birds that visit the area on spring passage, including large numbers of golden plovers. Greylag goose, barnacle goose and pink-footed goose, together with various species of duck, oystercatcher, ringed plover, lapwing, dunlin, curlew and redshank can also be spotted. Spoonbills forage in the shallow waters.

From the end of July and well into autumn, waders and ducks arrive in varying numbers. Various species of geese can be seen, in particular greylag geese, which sometimes roost around Stenklipperne, with often as many as a few thousand birds in August/September. Later in the autumn many barnacle geese and pink-footed geese arrive. Various species of waders can be seen.

In the fjord around the island there are often large flocks of goldeneye and red-breasted merganser in autumn and winter.

With luck, one may be able to spot razorbills and guillemots, often in the summer months.

On the meadows, especially north of the bay of Nees Vig, large flocks of barnacle goose and pink-footed goose are often seen. During the last few years, white-fronted goose has also appeared, sometimes in fair numbers. They stay here from October to May, depending on the weather conditions.

In the winter months, the area is often visited by twite, shore lark, snow bunting, very occasionally lapland bunting, etc. Peregrine, merlin and white-tailed eagle are frequent visitors to the meadows.

Herons can be seen in the area throughout the year.

Visiting and access

On route 545 between Nykøbing Mors and Karby/Nees Sund, turn off towards Agerø in Vr. Hvidbjerg. A 500m long embankment leads across to the island. East of the Bird Protection Foundation’s reserve is a car park next to the road. From here there is access to the bird hide on the reserve with a view across the meadow. There is a picnic table and benches outside the hide. It is also possible to park just before the embankment and look across the coastal meadows next to Ager Vejle, which is a little bay north-east of the embankment. In spring there are foraging ducks, geese and waders here.  

Light-bellied brent geese. Photo: Albert Steen-Hansen


Agger Tange 

North-west Jutland between the North Sea and the Limfjord, north of the Thyborøn canal 

One of the most important wetland areas in Denmark. Staging area for ducks and waders and migrating passerines.
See Google map with car parks etc.

Agger Tange. Photo: Joy Klein 

Agger Tange is a bar which consists of a long string of dunes bordering the North Sea. It is 10km long and 1.5km wide. East of the dunes is an embankment (built in 1954), cutting the area off from the Limfjord, and between the dunes and the embankment is a large, shallow lagoon surrounded by reedbeds, coastal meadows, marsh, sand flats and heath. In 1862, the sea broke through the coast where the present Thyborøn canal now runs, south of Agger Tange. Since then, the sea and the Limfjord have been connected, although the channel in the canal has to be dredged regularly, as it will otherwise become sanded up.

Breeding birds:
Several species of duck breed at Agger Tange, including shelduck, shoveler, gadwall, mallard and garganey. Other breeding birds include cormorant, avocet, dunlin, black-tailed godwit, arctic tern, little tern, sandwich tern, stonechat and red-backed shrike. A new bird island on the eastern side of Agger Tange (Krik Sandø) has attracted common tern, arctic tern and little tern.

Migrating and staging birds
During the migration season, thousands of birds stop off on the bar: mainly ducks, geese and waders. The passage waterbirds are especially seen on the lagoon, on the flooded meadows, on Krik Sandø and in the shallow waters around Krik Vig, which is the area of the Limfjord on the eastern side of the embankment.

Shelduck, wigeon, teal, mallard and pintail can be seen in large flocks, together with smaller flocks of gadwall, pochard, tufted duck and goldeneye. Agger Tange is also a staging post for greylag goose (up to 10,000 birds), dark-bellied brent goose and light-bellied brent goose.

Many different waders visit the area. Golden plover, dunlin, bar-tailed godwit, curlew and redshank, especially, can appear in large flocks. Oystercatcher, avocet, ringed plover, knot, sanderling, little stint, curlew sandpiper, ruff, snipe and turnstone are also seen here, but in smaller numbers. During the last few years, a little flock of spoonbill has appeared during the summer months. Summer is also the time for various species of tern: sandwich tern, arctic tern, common tern and little tern. Cormorant, grey heron and mute swan are seen all year round.

Many raptors visit the area as prey is plentiful. Sparrowhawk, buzzard, kestrel and peregrine are seen regularly. Now and again white-tailed eagle and merlin can be spotted. In summer, marsh harriers fly over the reedbeds and in winter hen harriers and rough-legged buzzards appear.

In autumn, various seabirds move along the coast on their way south, including divers, shearwaters, gannets, ducks, skuas, razorbills and guillemots. In winter, small flocks of sanderlings and snow buntings can be spotted. Flocks of shore lark turn up in winter - most are seen in October and chiefly on the meadows at the southern end of the bar. Flocks of whooper swan and smaller numbers of Bewick's swan turn up in the winter months. In winter and early spring purple sandpiper can be seen on the coast and sometimes flocks of common scoter and eider. With some luck, skuas, guillemot, razorbill and divers can also be spotted. In spring, the long breakwater can be a good spot for observing gannets. Another spring visitor is short-eared owl. With luck, one can see one or two of them flying close to the road. 

Rarities are seen quite often at Agger Tange. For example, in 2020-22 red-breasted goose, stilt, red-necked phalarope, yellow-browed warbler and Radde's warbler, to mention just a few.

Other animals
Common seals are often seen on the mudflats at Agger Tange. The ferry harbour is a good place from which to look across to the mudflats.

Visiting and access
From the town of Agger, a road leads south along the embankment. There are several car parks along the road. From here there is a good view across the lagoon to the west and the bay of Krik Vig to the east. Further south, there is a car park on the left with picnic facilities and a good view of Krik Vig and the bird island. Opposite this car park, a little road leads to a car park next to the dunes where there are some information boards. From here, a gravel track leads north. There is public access to Agger Tange on roads and paths, but large parts of the area are closed to the public during the period 15th April – 15th July. At the ferry harbour is a new National Park visitors' centre with toilets.

Bar-tailed godwits. Photo: Gerner Majlandt


Island in the middle of the southern Kattegat

Gull and tern colonies. Passerine and raptor migration both spring and autumn. The waters north of the island are of international importance for staging eiders and common scoters.
See Google map

Alliker KMO 
Jackdaws. Photo: Klaus Malling Olsen

Anholt is the most isolated of Denmark’s small inhabited islands. It covers 22 km2 and has around 170 inhabitants. Its most spectacular natural feature is the area known as “Ørkenen” (which means “the desert”), which is the largest lichen heath in northern Europe. It consists of sand dunes and heath and came into being in the 1600s, when the population cut down all the woodland to use as timber and as fuel for heating, boiling tar and for the island’s beacon. Around 300-400 different species of lichen grow in Ørkenen. There are two small plantations of mountain pine on Anholt (Hermannsgave and Totten). Nearly all the island is surrounded by sandy beaches.

In 1902, a harbour was built on the island, which caused sand and gravel to gradually be deposited north of the town of Anholt. In time, this area became a wide beach with beach ridges, ponds, reedbeds and meadow, and is now known as “Flakket”. Changes in the currents (possibly due to stone extraction at the reef north-west of Anholt?) has meant that the area from the harbour and to the north around Flakket is again being eroded.

Most of the island is under a preservation order and the north-easternmost tip of the island, Totten, is a seal reserve. Access to Flakket is forbidden in the breeding season.

Breeding birds:
There are important breeding populations of gulls and terns in Ørkenen. One of Denmark’s largest breeding colonies of lesser black-backed gull can be found here, together with smaller colonies of common gull, common tern and little tern. Herring gull and great black-backed gull also breed here. Several pairs of black guillemot nest at the harbour. Other breeding birds include eider, red-breasted merganser, oystercatcher, ringed plover and curlew. Tawny pipit, which is a very rare bird in Denmark, probably had its last breeding site in Ørkenen. Other interesting breeding birds are marsh harrier, nightjar, red-backed shrike and scarlet rosefinch.

Migrating and staging birds
Lying as it does in the middle of the Kattegat, halfway between Denmark and Sweden, the island is an excellent place to watch bird migration, both spring and autumn. Raptors include marsh harrier, hen harrier, sparrowhawk, buzzard, osprey, kestrel, merlin, hobby and peregrine. There is a steady stream of the common passerines, with chaffinch sometimes appearing in large numbers. During migration, woodpigeon, meadow pipit, tree pipit, yellow wagtail, wheatear, pied flycatcher and many other species are also seen. Jackdaws can migrate in large flocks both spring and autumn. The commonest waders are seen in smaller numbers during migration.

Now and again, rarities appear. For example pallid harrier (2020, 2021, 2023), red-necked phalarope (2020, 2021), barred warbler (2020), greenish warbler (2020), red-breasted flycatcher (2020, 2021), collared flycatcher (2023) and rose-coloured starling (2021).

The sea around Anholt is of international importance for wintering eider and common scoter. Up to 100,000 eiders and up to 20,000 common scoters have been registered on arial counts. They can be seen staging or flying off the coast. Other birds that are seen all year round out over the sea include divers, gannet, velvet scoter and black guillemot. Black guillemot is often seen in or near the harbour and near the lighthouse at Totten. In summer, sandwich tern, common tern and little tern fish over the sea. Cormorant often use Totten as a roost and up to 2000 birds have been spotted here.

Other animals
Anholt is one of the largest and most important localities in Europe for common seal. There is also a small population of grey seal. The seals can be seen at close range from land all the way round the island and at the seal reserve at Totten.

Visiting and access
One cannot go to Anholt on a one-day trip, as there is normally only one daily ferry crossing. It is therefore necessary to arrange accomodation for the night. The ferry sails from Grenaa harbour and the crossing takes about 3 hours. Most of the year, the ferry does not sail on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, but in connection with public holidays and the summer holiday season (around mid-June to mid-August), it sails every day. It is necessary to book in advance. The ferry does not take cars. A leaflet with the ferry timetable can be downloaded here. A leaflet with information about Anholt in general and about the few possibilities for accomodation can be downloaded here.

Access on foot is permitted all over Ørkenen, apart from Totten. It is not allowed to drive a car in Ørkenen. It is advisable not to enter the central and eastern parts of Ørkenen, where the gull and tern colonies are, during the birds’ breeding season. Instead, one can walk along the beach. From the outer dunes there is an excellent view over to the gull colonies. One can watch the seals on Totten from the observation hut adjacent to the lighthouse.

Natravn John Larsen 
Nightjar. Photo: John Larsen


Bjerregrav Mose

North Jutland, west of Randers

An extensive area of bog, lakes and thicket with an impressive spring chorus
See Google-map with car-park etc.

Bjerregrav Mose. Photo: Benny Kristensen

Bjerregrav Mose is west of Randers in the Skals Å river valley. In the past, the area was used by local farmers for digging peat, but during the second world war and up to the end of the 1950’s, when there was an enormous demand for fuel, peat digging was carried out as a commercial enterprise. When production stopped, a number of small lakes remained, and later on willow thicket appeared. The area now consists of a mosaic of cultivated areas, meadows that are grazed or harvested, lakes, and thicket which now threatens to overgrow the whole area. Skals Å flows through the bog.

Breeding birds:
The most prominent feature of Bjerregrav Mose in the springtime is the many warblers. In the first two weeks of May the choir is at its loudest. The bog is one of East Jutland’s best localities for thrush nightingale and other birds typical of bog landscapes. There is an exceptionally large population of thrush nightingale. In addition, many grasshopper warblers, marsh warblers, reed warblers and reed buntings nest here. A very special species is the penduline tit, that builds its nest in the willow thickets. 2-3 pairs were seen in 2022. Another interesting species is bluethroat (race cyanecula) which has spread rapidly northwards throughout Denmark these last few years. 7 males were heard singing in Bjerregrav Mose in 2022. Several pairs of water rail breed here. The reedbeds house bittern, which is heard every year. The many nesting reed warblers attract a number of cuckoos to the area. Other passerines include willow warbler, chiffchaff and whitethroat.

The bog also boasts a colony of black-headed gull and one-two pairs of common tern. Mute swan and greylag geese breed here, and lapwing nest on the meadows around the bog. There is a pair of kingfishers, and marsh harriers nest here too.

Migrating and staging birds:
Outside the breeding season there are still many swans, ducks and greylag geese in the area. Whooper swan, water pipit and great grey shrike are regular winter guests.

Some of the rarer guests that have been registered in the area are quail (last time in 2022), corncrake (2015) and Savi's warbler (2019).

Visiting and access:
From route 16 between Randers and Viborg, turn off for Øster Bjerregrav and drive north out of the village in the direction of Bjerregrav Stationsby. Just before a sharp right-hand bend in the road, turn left along Mosedraget and follow the road through two right-angled bends (around a farm building). About 100m after the last bend is a track leading down into the bog. It is possible to park at the roadside here, or to drive on a little further around a left-hand bend to a grass-covered car park on the left-hand side of the road. By following the track one reaches a gravel track crossing the area from south-east to north-west. It is advisable to keep to this track. From here, one has a good view of a large part of the bog. The area is privately owned.

N.B. In the period 16th May to 15th July there is intensive hunting activity in the area. It is therefore strongly recommended to avoid entering the area in the early morning during the first two weeks of the hunting season.

Willow warbler in Bjerregrav Mose. Photo: Benny Kristensen


Bolle and Try Meadows

North Jutland

Meadows and fields with staging whooper swans, geese and waders
See Google map for outlook points etc.

Bolle and Try Meadows with whooper swans. Photo: Svend Erik Mikkelsen

Bolle and Try Meadows is a large area comprising meadows that are both used for pasture and for hay-making, and several cultivated fields, with scattered scrub and hedgerows. The area is privately owned.

Breeding birds:
The meadows are a breeding site for a good many marsh birds, for example thrush nightingale, sedge warbler, marsh warbler and grasshopper warbler. Penduline tit has sometimes been found here in the breeding season. Whinchat is another breeder. Corncrake used to nest here, but none have been heard for the past few years. However, several quails are heard nearly every year.

Migrating and staging birds:
In the spring and autumn, the meadows are used by flocks of golden plover and lapwing to rest and forage. If there is heavy rain and pools form on the fields, especially in early springtime, a good many ducks can be seen – chiefly wigeon and mallard. In the last few years white-fronted geese have turned up on spring migration.

In winter, both whooper swans and a few Bewick’s swans can be seen here. Due to the mild winters that have been prevalent since 2013/14, the number of geese that stage in the area has increased considerably. Both Canada goose and pink-footed goose are seen in large numbers, with a few white-fronted geese in the flocks.. Barnacle geese are chiefly seen in spring, but are also numerous in winter. 

Buzzard is seen regularly in winter: there are often up to 10 birds in the neighbourhood. Rough-legged buzzard and hen harrier hunt over the area from time to time. Short-eared owl can be seen in winter, although not every year. Many jackdaws, rooks and crows forage on the meadows and sometimes ravens. Large flocks of corn bunting are seen here in winter.

Golden eagle can sometimes be seen flying over the meadows.

Visiting and Access:
From the E45 motorway between Aalborg and Frederikshavn, turn off towards Lyngdrup (exit 17) and continue along Lyngdrupvej until it ends at Vester Hassingvej. Just opposite is the start of Bolle Engvej, which is a gravel track, and which one can drive along to Øst Hassingvej. Cross over this road and continue along Bolle Engvej to Ulstedvej. In this way one has passed through the whole area. It is recommended to park at the side of Bolle Engvej and explore some of the side tracks on foot.

Wigeon. Photo: Klaus Malling Olsen


Bølling Sø

Mid-Jutland, west of Silkeborg

Re-established lake with breeding whooper swans
See Google map with car parks etc.  

Boelling Soe 
Bølling Sø - view of the central part of the lake. Photo: Niels Peter Brøgger

Bølling Sø is a re-established lake around 10km west of Silkeborg on the watershed of the Jutland ridge, around 67m above sea level. The original lake was formed around 12,000 years ago after the last ice age. In the stone age, the area was the centre of one of the earliest hunter cultures in Denmark, which numerous archaeological investigations have brought to light. The original lake was drained in the 1870s and again in the 1940s but the soil was not very fertile and cultivation was no great success. Peat from the raised bog was used for fuel, especially during the two world wars. In the 1960s the area started to become boggy and overgrown and at last in 1994 it came under preservation orders.

As it was not possible to recreate the original lake, as most of the peat layers had been removed, a re-establishment project was started. This involved various construction works, including building an embankment with a path/cycle track that borders the lake to the west, and constructing a weir to control the lake’s water level. Three islands were established in the lake for the benefit of the birdlife. The work was finished in 2005 and water was allowed to rise in the new lake. Bølling Sø is around 360ha and the whole protected area covers 835ha. The lake is shallow, with brownish water low in nutrients, that gets its water from rainfall and from springs in the hills around. It is surrounded by fields, meadows, scrub and reedbeds. As it has only just been re-established, changes in the landscape are still taking place. Unfortunately, two of the three bird islands have already disappeared and the remaining one has been reduced considerably and will probably no longer exist in a few years' time.

In 2016 an extensive project was completed that moved the course of the outlet from Bølling Sø from the former canal to a new, winding stream.

Breeding birds:
Bølling Sø is one of the few localities in Denmark which can boast breeding whooper swans. There have been a pair here since 2007.

The most dominant breeding bird at the lake is the greylag geese. Up to 500 pairs of black-headed gull used to nest here, but have now disappeared as a breeding bird. A few pairs of herring gulls breed on the islands which formerly supported electricity masts. Other breeding birds include mallard. Tufted duck, pochard and coot breed occasionally.

Lapwing, snipe (the most numerous wader here), whinchat, reed warbler, whitethroat and meadow pipit nest on the surrounding meadows. Stonechat has recently turned up and started to breed. Water rail breed here, together with reed bunting. The woods around the lake are home to stock dove and black woodpecker.

Two adult white-tailed eagles appeared in the area in 2018 but do not seem to have bred successfully. They are often seen on a small, tree-covered islet at the southern end of the lake. 

Migrating and staging birds:
Flocks of more than 500 greylag geese can be seen all year round if the lake does not freeze. In spring and autumn, large flocks of teal, mallard and coot accumulate here, together with a smaller number of wigeon, pochard, tufted duck and goldeneye. 20-30 goosanders appear regularly. Passage waders are also seen in the area. They are not very numerous, but 24 different species have been spotted, including golden plover, lapwing, ruff, snipe, greenshank, green sandpiper and common sandpiper.

Cormorant and grey heron can be seen most of the year. 1-2 great white egrets are seen regularly.

Hobby is seen every year, with a few individuals, the record being five on one day 4th June 2011. This species probably breeds sporadically in the vicinity. Red kite, crane and honey buzzard nest very close to the lake and are seen now and again in the summer months. White-tailed eagle is seen every summer, as a pair nest nearby in the Silkeborg area. Buzzards are the commonest migrating and wintering raptors, but marsh harrier, hen harrier, goshawk, sparrowhawk and kestrel are also seen.

In winter, if the lake is free of ice, whooper swans and a few Bewick’s swans stage here. A few great grey shrike stay in the area during winter.

Up to now, 208 bird species have been noted at Bølling Sø, including some rather uncommon species such as little gull, wryneck and penduline tit. Probably the most remarkable find was a collared pratincole in May 2008.

Visiting and access:
Bølling Sø and the surrounding areas can be found north-east of the crossroads between route 15 and route 13 west of Silkeborg, on the edge of Egesvang. From the town, one can drive along Kragelundsvej north of the lake to the embankment, where there is a car park, information pavillion, toilets, folders, and other facilities, as well as good views. A little further on is the Klosterlund nature centre. A 12km long marked nature trail leads round the lake and there are several car parks with picnic areas. It is recommended to bring the Nature Agency’s leaflet with a map of the area, which can be downloaded here.   

Whooper swans with young (2009). Photo: Niels Peter Brøgger

Djursland's north-east coast

Djursland, east Jutland

Spring migration of raptors and passerines, autumn migration of razorbills – and breeding black guillemots.
See Google map with look-out points, car parks etc.

Fornæs. Photo: Joy Klein

The two best spots to observe bird migration on the north-east coast of Djursland are Gjerrild and Fornæs. The subsoil in this part of Djursland is limestone, which is visible in the vertical cliffs along the coast which stretch from Fornæs in the south to Karlby in the north, with Sangstrup in the centre. The cliffs are less than 20m high, very hard and contain flintstone. The cliff at Gjerrild, however, is formed of moraine from the last ice age. At many places along the coast there is marine foreland, formed by deposits left by the sea after the stone age. This is the case at Gjerrild Nordstrand (the north beach), although much of the foreland has been dug away for use as raw material. The sea is fairly shallow just off the shoreline, especially off the north coast, although off Fornæs it is deep and there are relatively strong and generally north-flowing currents.

In Gjerrild, bird migration can be watched from the beach at Nordstranden or from Marshøj, a hill on the northern outskirts of the village of Gjerrild. West of Gjerrild is the forest of Gjerrild Nordskov with many passerines and staging migrants.

Fornæs is a spit north of Grenaa, with a flat pebble beach and meadowland.

Breeding birds:
In the forest of Gjerrild Overskov there are hole-nesting species such as black woodpecker, great spotted woodpecker and stock dove. Raven also nest here, and red-backed shrike breed occasionally.

Black guillemot breed in the cliffs at Sangstrup Klint and with luck one can spot some out at sea.

Migrating and staging birds:
Gjerrild is Djursland’s best migration watch-point in spring. The greatest concentration of birds appears in April and May. Many of them stop over in the thickets along the beach. Crows, pigeons, finches, swallows and siskins can be seen in large flocks. Thrushes, including a few ring ouzels, and pipits fly over in smaller flocks. A few cranes are seen each year. There is a good raptor migration, including honey buzzard, red kite, marsh harrier, hen harrier, sparrowhawk, buzzard, osprey, hobby, merlin, peregrine and white-tailed eagle. Now and again, pallid harrier, lesser spotted eagle, black kite and golden eagle turn up.

Rarities can sometimes be spotted: in 2021, for example, turtle dove, bee-eater, golden oriole, rose-coloured starling and serin were seen. In 2020 the very rare pallid swift was spotted.

Fornæs is also a good spot for observing spring migration. Many birds leave the coast here, especially in March. The migrating birds are the same species as those seen at Gjerrild. Buzzards are particularly numerous.

In autumn, it is possible to see birds flying in from the sea on their way south from Sweden and Anholt. These include, for example, whooper swans, geese, raptors, and several species of waders and passerines.

Seabirds can be observed all year round from both Gjerrild Nordstrand and Fornæs. In autumn and winter, especially, many divers fly past (especially red-throated diver), ducks (especially common scoter, but also scaup, eider and velvet scoter) and razorbill. Kittiwakes fly past in autumn and winter. Gannet can nowadays be seen throughout the year. Barnacle goose and light-bellied brent goose turn up on spring and autumn migration. Long-tailed duck is a regular visit in spring, the largest numbers being seen off Gjerrild Nordstrand. Sandwich tern often forage along the coast and rock pipit is present all the winter months from autumn to spring.

Some of the more unusual seabirds seen here include black guillemot, little auk, arctic skua and great skua.

Visiting and access:
Gjerrild is situated north of Grenaa and can be reached by taking the road going north from the northern by-pass round Grenaa, where there is a signpost to Gjerrild. From Gjerrild, drive north in the direction of Bønnerup. Where the road makes a left-hand bend just outside the village, follow the sign to Gjerrild Nordstrand and drive along Langholmvej. At the end of this road is a large car-park with public toilets. It is possible to park here and walk around in the vicinity, or to drive left past the car-park and follow the gravel track between the holiday bungalows down to the beach, where one can park. 

The most popular place to watch spring migration is the end of the beach east of the holiday bungalows and which stretches round the point called Knudshoved. It is reached by driving past the toilet building on the large car park and turning sharply to the right onto Betinavej, continuing for about 1km to a small parking area north of the gravel track. From here, the track continues eastwards and leads down to the beach.

Another popular place is Marshøj, which can be reached by turning onto Marshøjvej, which is a turning off Stokkebro in the northern end of the village of Gjerrild. The road continues upwards through fields, and from the top of the hill there is a good view over a wide area. The birds can, however, be quite a long way away. As there is not much room at the roadside it is a good idea to park further down, where the houses stop, and walk the last part of the way up the hill.

West of the village is the forest of Gjerrild Overskov, where one can talk a walk and look out for passerines and perhaps migrants that have stopped over in the woodland. 

Fornæs is reached by driving north from Grenaa harbour along Kattegatvej. At the roundabout, continue straight across and onto Stensmarkvej, which carries on to the farm of Stensmark. Turn right just before the farm, where a sign shows the way to Fornæs Fyr (lighthouse). There is a car-park here, from where one can observe the migrating birds. One can also walk along the coast in both directions.

The cliff of Sangstrup Klint is between Gjerrild and Fornæs. Drive north in the village of Sangstrup to come out to the coast.

Pigeon migration. Photo: Klaus Malling Olsen

Egå Engsø

Jutland, north of Aarhus 

A newly established wetland area with many staging ducks and swans, with the chance of a rarity
See Google map with observation tower, car parks etc.

Egå Engsø - view from the observation tower. Photo: Joy Klein 

Egå Engsø is a newly established lake surrounded by meadows. Until the 1950s, when it was drained, the area had comprised low-lying meadows and bogs, that were used for grazing, haymaking and peat cutting. After the drainage project was completed, the area became intensively cultivated agricultural land, but in 2006 drainage was stopped and the land was flooded. The area now consists of the lake itself, covering around 100ha, surrounded by 60ha of more or less wet meadows, which are grazed. Two bird islands have been established in the lake.

Egå Engsø has proved to be one of the most successful nature projects in eastern Jutland. Many bird species have shown up (to date, 237 species have been noted), including some rarities. Many of the staging birds appear in large numbers.

Breeding birds:
The lake houses a colony of nearly 1000 pairs of black-headed gull spread out on both of the two islands. Black-necked grebe attempts to breed, but with varying degrees of success. Fair numbers of mute swan, greylag goose and tufted duck nest here, together with a few pochard and several pairs of gadwall. Waders include snipe, ringed plover, little ringed plover, oystercatcher and avocet. Reed warbler, marsh warbler and reed bunting nest in the reedbeds.

Migrating and staging birds:
Mute swan, greylag goose, mallard, tufted duck and coot can be seen here throughout the year. Other guests that are particularly numerous in winter are mute swan, wigeon, teal and pochard. Gadwall can be spotted all year round, but the largest numbers are seen in spring and autumn. A few bean geese and dark-bellied brent geese have been observed. White-fronted goose and barnacle goose have been seen regularly the last few years.

In spring, migrating waders stop here on their way north. They are few in number but many different species are seen, for instance knot, little stint, Temminck’s stint, curlew sandpiper, dunlin, ruff, spotted redshank, redshank, greenshank, green sandpiper, wood sandpiper and common sandpiper. Lapwing congregate in large flocks both spring and autumn. In autumn, flocks of up to several hundred golden plover can be seen on the meadows. Snipe are present throughout the year.

Raptors include buzzard and kestrel, which are seen regularly, whilst red kite and marsh harrier are seen in summer. Peregrine is a regular guest, although in no great numbers. The greatest raptor attraction is undoubtedly the white-tailed eagle. A pair nest in the vicinity and can be seen all year round at the lake.

The common warblers found in Denmark can be heard in the reedbeds and bushes around the lake. The meadows attract partridge and yellow wagtail, and in late summer flocks of starlings.

Egå Engsø is well known for the rare birds that turn up at regular intervals. These have included Slavonian grebe, great white egret, ferruginous duck, spotted sandpiper, red-necked phalarope, little gull, white-winged black tern, red-throated pipit and water pipit. In 2012 a blue-winged teal was spotted. A gyrfalcon was observed in 2016.

Visiting and access:
From Århus, drive north along route 15 (Grenaavej) and just past the railway bridge turn left onto Lystrupvej in the direction of Lystrup. At the first roundabout, either drive straight ahead and park in the car park on Lystrupvej just south of the motorway (about 1km after the roundabout), or turn left and park in the car park at the southern end of the lake on Viengevej (about 200m after the roundabout).

It is possible to walk or cycle all the way round the lake (5.2km). On the way there are benches, information boards and map boards. On the southern side of the lake is a bird observation tower, about 200m from an activity area. From the tower there is a good view over most of the area, especially the western part of the lake and the most westerly of the two big bird islands.

Little stint. Photo: Albert Steen-Hansen


Geddal Enge and Sønder Lem Vig

Two adjoining nature areas in the south western section of the Limfjord

Breeding and staging locality for swans, geese, ducks and waders. See google map for parking, outlook points, etc.

Geddal Enge KC

Geddal Enge. Photo: Keld Christensen

Geddal Enge was originally a wetland surrounded by a natural embankment. From the end of the 19th century and onwards various efforts were made to drain the area for cultivation, but the dikes were often broken through by the sea and plans had to be abandoned. In 1992 the area was taken over by the state and the beach meadows were restored. The water level is regulated by a sluice and the dikes prevent the meadows from being flooded during the birds’ breeding season.

Sønder Lem Vig is a large wetland area covering around 1000 ha with beach meadows, reedbeds and shallow bays. Originally an inlet, it is cut off from the Limfjord by an embankment that was build in 1876-77. Plans for draining the area were, however, never realized. A 200 m long canal connects the fjord with Sønder Lem Vig. In 1960 a pump house was built at the end of the canal to keep the water level in the inlet constant. The inlet itself, i.e. the open water, covers around 350 ha but reedbeds cover more than 150 ha, being especially dense on the southern and eastern banks. North and east of the inlet there are meadows and a little further north a few small woods with deciduous and coniferous trees.

Breeding birds:
The area is a breeding ground for ducks, waders and reedbed birds. Mute swan, greylag goose, mallard, garganey and shoveler breed here, together with little grebe, great crested grebe and coot. Waders include oystercatcher, avocet, little ringed plover, ringed plover, lapwing, snipe and redshank.

The reedbeds support bittern, water rail and spotted crake, and several pairs of marsh harrier. In the reeds and scrub both thrush nightingale, bluethroat (cyanecula race), stonechat, grasshopper warbler, sedge warbler, marsh warbler, reed warbler, icterine warbler and reed bunting can be seen and heard. Bearded tits are seen and heard all year round.

Migrating and staging birds:
Mute swan can be seen throughout the year at Sønder Lem Vig – culminating in late summer. Greylag goose is present all year round, often in flocks of several hundred individuals, whilst goldeneye and teal stage here in varying numbers outside the breeding season. The same species can be seen at Geddal Enge together with mallard, and in winter widgeon.

At Geddal Enge many species of wader can be seen, including ringed plover, golden plover, lapwing, dunlin and curlew.

Bittern and heron are present all year round.

Raptors appear at regular intervals, for example white-tailed eagle, buzzard, kestrel and peregrine. In summer, marsh harrier are seen and in winter hen harrier. Osprey forage here now and again on autumn migration.

In autumn one can be lucky enough to see the so-called “black sun” phenomenon, when a few thousand starlings congregate before roosting for the night.

In the winter months small flocks of whooper swan and white-fronted goose can be seen, together with goosander, smew and scaup. In winter, one can also be lucky enough to see short-eared owls. There are often 2-3 birds on the meadows south of Sønder Lem Vig or on the beach meadows west of Hostrupvej near the canal. Kingfisher is sometimes spotted at the canal near the pump house.

Less common birds seen here include spoonbill, which occasionally turns up in small flocks in summer, and great white egret which has been seen outside the breeding season.

Visiting and access:
It is possible to park at various places in the area and there are several viewpoints and bird observation towers (see google map).
1. The car park at Geddal Enge can be reached from route 189 between Holstebro and Balling. Several roads lead west into the area. One can for example turn left in the direction of Ejsing a few kilometres north of Vinderup. Geddalvej leads to Geddal Enge and the car park. Here there is an information board about the birdlife and some picnic tables. From the car park there is only 15 m to the first good outlook point. From the car park a short path leads to a picnic site with a very fine view across the meadows. The path has a hard gravel surface that is suitable for wheelchairs.
2. A new observation tower at Geddal Enge can be reached by following a grass path to the right from the car park.
3. A viewpoint from the former stone age coastal cliff, where a newly erected platform offers a view over the south-westerly part of the beach meadows. This can be reached by following a path leading off to the left from the car park. The path is narrow and not suitable for disabled persons.
4. The embankment along Hostrupvej. From here there is a view over the most north-easterly section of the meadows which cannot be seen from the observation tower.
5. The car park at Hostrupvej. From here one can cross the road and climb up the embankment – and perhaps spot a short-eared owl. One can also follow a path leading to a bird observation tower built in 2012. The tower has tables and benches. A chance of seeing a bluethroat.
6. The car park at the pump station at Hostrupvej with access to Sønder Lem Vig. From here there is a view over the water, especially if one follows the canal out to the inlet itself.
7. Newly erected (2019) observation tower at the eastern end of Sønder Lem Vig with a view over the reedbeds and the eastern section of the inlet. A good place in spring when bird migration has started and the breeding birds have become active. There is a good chance of spotting bearded tit, marsh harrier and – with luck – garganey. Bittern is often heard in spring. The tower can be reached from Sønderlemvej, which runs parallel with the northern side of Sønder Lem Vig. From Sønderlemvej one can turn south onto a road signed “Vigen” to Bustrup Plantage, where one can leave the car and walk along the path through the wood to the observation tower at the end.
8. Old bird observation tower on the southern bank of Sønder Lem Vig. The tower can be accessed from Vester Egebjergvej which runs south of Sønder Lem Vig. One can park at the side of the road at the farmhouse about 1 km north of the village of Egebjerg. From here there is a walk of around 1 km out to the tower.

From the pump station at Sønder Lem Vig there is 15 km to Spøttrup Borg, which is the most well-preserved castle from the Middle Ages in Denmark and is now a museum. West of the castle is the lake of Spøttrup Sø where there is also some birdlife.

Mosehornugle flyv KC

Short-eared owl. Photo: Keld Christensen


Hald Sø

North Jutland

Waterbirds and woodland birds all year round in a beautiful landscape formed during the last ice age
See Google-map with car-parks etc.

Hald Sø. Photo: Joy Klein

Hald Sø, which is Denmark’s third deepest lake, lies to the south-west of Viborg. The landscape around the lake was formed during the last ice age: steep hills with lovely views and Hald Sø itself, which lies in a former kettle-hole. Until the 1950’s, the lake was one of the cleanest in Denmark, but it gradually became more and more polluted with waste water. To help the situation, the influx of nutrient pollution was reduced considerably in the middle of the 1980’s and oxygen was added to the bed of the lake by means of pipes and nozzles (This method is now considered the perfect way to re-establish lakes by use of oxygen). The water quality is now considerably improved.

The Inderø peninsula is covered in woodland, some of which is old – for example a section with gnarled beeches is 200 years old. South of the peninsula are the heather-clad hills of Dollerup Bakker, which afford a good view over the southern part of the lake. The highest point is 63m above sea level.

Behind the old inn of Niels Bugges Kro on the west bank of the lake is the ravine called Troldeslugten (“the Troll Ravine”) with old, crooked oak trees and springs.

The area north-east of Niels Bugges Kro has been the site of several buildings called “Hald”, of which the third Hald (Jørgen Friis’ Hald) still remains as a ruin on a little head of land jutting out into the lake, and the fifth, and newest, Hald is the existing manor house.

The area around Hald has been thoroughly renovated throughout the last few years with a view to improving and modernising tourist information about this historic site. Good hiking trails have been established and a new exhibition throws a light on the area's nature and history.

Breeding birds:
Great crested grebe, mute swan, shelduck, mallard, water rail and moorhen breed around the lake. There is a cormorant colony which can easily be seen from the ruin at the north end of the lake. The woodland and the manor house park house typical hole-nesting birds, including stock dove, tawny owl, green woodpecker, black woodpecker, great spotted woodpecker, jackdaw and starling. Other birds include mistlethrush, raven, hawfinch, pied flycatcher, wood warbler, and all the common woodland birds. Short-toed treecreeper can be heard in the park and along the edge of the lake leading to Niels Bugges Kro. A special species is the lesser spotted woodpecker, which probably breeds at various spots around the lake. It is difficult to find, but Dollerup Mølle, Niels Bugges Kro and Non Mølle have proved to be good spots from time to time. Several pairs of kingfisher breed here and can often be seen at Niels Bugges Kro. Grey wagtail can also be spotted at the three above-mentioned localities. 

Migrating and staging birds:
Outside the breeding season there are a great many ducks in Hald Sø, including mallard, tufted duck and goldeneye. Great crested grebe and cormorant are present all year round.

In winter, dipper can be seen in the ravine known as Troldeslugten behind Niels Bugges Kro, and at Non Mølle. A few goosanders and whooper swans can been seen on the lake in winter.

Visiting and access:
Hald Sø can be reached by driving south from the town of Viborg on route 13. There are many car-parks in the area. The following can be recommended for bird-watchers:

1. The mill of Non Mølle can be found by turning off to the west on a little gravel track from route 13, about 150m after passing route 12 to Herning. At the mill is a car-park, from where one can reach the north-eastern side of the lake. Non Mølle is a good spot for dipper, grey wagtail, kingfisher, etc.

2. West of the manor house of Hald Hovedgaard is a large car-park. In the adjacent barn is an exhibition about the area's nature and history. On the other side of the road there is access to the park, which is open to the public. Along the lakeside in the park there are many hole-nesting birds. From the park, one can continue out to the ruin of Jørgen Friis’ Hald. From the path and the ruin there is a good view of the lake and the ducks that may be staging there, and also across to the cormorant colony. The manor house and car park can be reached by turning off route 13 onto route 12, leading to Herning, and then turning south along Ravnsbjergvej. 

3. By continuing along Ravnsbjergvej one reaches a car-park at Niels Bugges Kro. From here there is access to the Troldeslugten ravine or one can walk to the area called Niels Bugges Hald by the lake. The ravine is one of the best places to find hole-nesting birds, but also dipper, kingfisher and grey wagtail.

4. From a car-park at the edge of the Inderø peninsula (further along Ravnsbjergvej) one can find a path leading the whole way round the peninsula by the edge of the lake. From the peninsula there is a good view of the ducks on the lake, and in the wood there are many hole-nesting birds.

5. On the hills of Dollerup Bakker, the southernmost car-park is a good place to stop. Here is a kiosk, a picnic site and toilet facilities. Green woodpecker is often heard here.

6. Where Ravnsbjergvej ends in the village of Dollerup, one can turn left along Dollerupvej. After around 500m one reaches a car-park north of the mill of Dollerup Mølle.

7. By continuing even further along Dollerupvej one soon comes to a car-park at the stream of Dollerup Bæk on the left-hand side. From here there is access to an open space with picnic tables. a toilet, and a view over the southern part of the lake.

It is recommended to use the Nature Agency’s two folders with good maps: Hald Sø – Hald Hovedgård, and Hald Sø – Dollerup Bakker, which can be downloaded here.

Dipper. Photo: Gerner Mailandt

Halkær Sø

North Jutland, west Himmerland, south of Halkær Bredning in the Limfjord

A newly established lake with many grebes, swans and ducks
See Google map with look-out points, car parks etc.

Halkær Sø. Photo: Joy Klein

The river of Halkær Å, which has its source south of the town of Aars and runs northwards to enter Halkær Bredning south of Sebbersund on the Limfjord, had a natural course until 1900. The meadows on either side of the river were drained with ditches and used for grazing and haymaking. However, at the beginning of the 20th century, the part of the river valley north of Vegger was drained,  a canal was dug west of the area – making drainage even more efficient - and the river was regulated by dykes. After this the area was used as farmland, with cornfields and grass. In 2005 drainage was abandoned and the area was flooded.

The area covers a total of 150ha and the lake itself covers nearly 100ha. It is a shallow lake and in time a large part of it will be taken over by reedbeds, surrounded by bogs and wet meadows. The lake and the river are still separated by the original dyke to make it easier for small sea trout to make their way down river in spring. Only a small portion of the water in the river is led into the lake at its southern end and out into the river again at the lake’s outlet at Halkær Bro.

The area is privately owned and is used for grazing and hunting.

Breeding birds:
Three species of grebe breed at Halkær Sø: little grebe, great crested grebe (around 30 pairs in 2009) and red-necked grebe. There is a fair-sized population of nesting mute swans and mallards, and a few greylag geese, gadwall, garganey, pochard and tufted duck. A former black-headed gull colony has now diminished to just a few pairs. A few oystercatchers, avocets and lapwings nest here and there is a little colony of common tern. In the surrounding reedbeds and bushes, thrush nightingale, grasshopper warbler, sedge warbler, marsh warbler, reed warbler and reed bunting can be heard, and bearded tit has recently begun to nest. Kingfisher also breeds at the lake. Bluethroat started to breed here in 2017 and had several territories. Bittern breeds regularly. Two pairs of kestrels have settled down here – one pair at the northern end of the lake, and one pair at the southern end. In addition, one to two pairs of marsh harrier have started to breed.

Migrating and staging birds:
Swans, ducks and coots form the greater part of the birdlife on the lake. A little over 100 mute swans are seen throughout the year. Whooper swan is also seen and heard all year round, as several pairs nest very close to the lake. Coot can always be seen, sometimes in flocks of several thousand. Tufted duck is present all year round, but the biggest flocks turn up in winter, when more than a thousand birds can be seen on the lake. In winter there are flocks of goldeneye and wigeon. A few shelduck have been spotted in spring. 

Staging waders are few and far between, apart from snipe and lapwing. In spring, Temminck’s stint, curlew, spotted redshank, greenshank, green sandpiper, wood sandpiper and common sandpiper turn up.

Buzzard and kestrel are seen regularly and marsh harrier flies over the reedbeds in the summer months. White-tailed eagle and red kite from the local breeding pairs are regular guests. Osprey has been spotted a few times. Ravens often forage along the sides of the valley.  

Some of the more uncommon birds that have been seen at Halkær Sø are Slavonian grebe, little egret, great white egret, spoonbill, white-winged black tern, pallid harrier and stonechat.

Visiting and access:
The northern end of the lake at Halkær Bro can be reached by driving along the minor road connecting Bislev (south of Nibe) to Skørbæk (north of Vegger, on the western side of the river valley). The main 187 road connects Bislev with Vegger. One can park either at Halkær Bro or drive south towards Vegger to a car park next to the eastern side of the lake, just under 1km from Halkær Bro. Nearby is a look-out point, where the former pump station used to be, with an information board, a picnic table, and a good view across the lake. It can be reached by wheelchair from the car park.

It is possible to walk along the dyke between Halkær Bro in the north and Sønderup Å approximately halfway down the eastern side of the lake. To make a circular tour, one can turn east from the outlook point, cross Halkær Å and get onto the path along the abandoned railway line that leads north back to Halkær Bro. On the way, one passes Halkær mill, which has been restored and fitted out with an exhibition and a nature school. In the mill, there is a small exhibition about the history of the mill and its machinery, and in the barn – built of large stones in the 18th century – is an exhibition about the projects carried out in the river valley and the history of agriculture from 1850-1950.

There is an observation platform at the northern end of the west side of the lake, that can be reached from the car park on Louisendalvej, which runs along the western side of the lake and connects Halkær Bro with Vegger. There is a picnic table at the car park. There are no paths in the southern part of the area, in order to protect the wildlife.

At Halkær Bro is Halkær Voldsted, which is an earthwork that has been restored and has public access. There is a public toilet here, and also a primitive camp site with shelters.

Great crested grebes. Photo: Gerner Majlandt  

Harboør Tange

Between the North Sea and Nissum Bredning in the Limfjord

Well known for the large numbers of migrants that stop over here, especially waders and ducks
See Google map with look-out points, car parks etc. 

Harboør Tange seen from the West Coast Trail. Photo: Joy Klein

Harboør Tange is the southernmost of the two bars forming the boundary between the Limfjord to the east and the North Sea to the west. Harboør Tange was once connected with Agger Tange to the north, but during a flood in 1825 the sea broke through. At the northernmost end of the bar is the harbour town of Thyborøn. The area is raised sea bed and therefore flat and low-lying. Only the dykes, the tall chimneys of the FMC Site Rønland's chemical plant, the buildings on Rønland and the giant wind turbines around Rønland rise up in the landscape. The bar is dominated by two large and several small shallow brackish lagoons. Around the lagoons and on both sides of the road on the western side of the lagoons there are coastal meadows with grazing cattle.

Between the two large lagoons are the meadows of Knopper Enge. East of the lagoons are areas overgrown by reeds and bushes, interspersed with small wet meadow areas which have been opened up by grazing cattle. At the south-eastern end of the bar is a shooting range.

Two bird islets were constructed in the southern lagoon in 2017 to give safe breeding sites. There is a large islet in the south-western end and a smaller one in the north-eastern end. In 2019 a larger islet was constructed in the southern end of the northern lagoon.

The area is under preservation orders but there is intensive hunting here from September to January, although hunting is not allowed on the water surface of the two large lagoons and the strip of land along the railway embankment east of these lagoons. Hunting is also prohibitied on the Sønder Knopper meadows (south of Rønlandvej) until 1st November. 

Breeding birds:
Oystercatcher, ringed plover, lapwing and redshank breed on Harboør Tange, and a few pairs of dunlin and black-tailed godwit may be found. Ruff have bred here and a few may perhaps still turn up. Avocets attempt to nest every year on the islets and meadows - in Klydesø together with a colony of arctic tern. When they were established, the artificial islets worked like a magnet on black-headed gulls, avocets, arctic terns, common terns and sandwich terns, but during the last few years breeding activities and success have been limited. Cormorant have established themselves on the most south-western islet but are being regulated. Breeding waterfowl include mallard and coot in large numbers, and a smaller number of little grebe, great crested grebe, mute swan, gadwall, teal, pintail, garganey, shoveler and tufted duck. Passerines include many sedge warblers, and scarlet rosefinch is now and then heard singing in the scrub.

Migrating and staging birds:
The area attracts a great many migrating waterbirds in the springtime. These are particularly attracted by the lagoons, the flooded meadows and the shallow waters in Nissum Bredning. Pink-footed geese and pale-bellied brent geese arrive in March/April – possibly even in January if the winter is a mild one. In March, teal, pintail and wigeon arrive, and in April garganey, shoveler and a few gadwall. Harboør Tange is one of the few places in western Denmark where scaup can be seen in spring. Migrating waders that stop over in the area include oystercatcher, avocet, golden plover, lapwing, curlew sandpiper, dunlin, snipe, bar-tailed godwit and curlew. Wader migration tops at the beginning of May, when the colourful ruffs are very noticeable.

However, autumn is the most impressive time of the year both with regard to the variety of species and the numbers of birds, depending on the weather, the water levels and forage availability. The lagoons and meadows are dominated by ducks, swans and geese. In August, many teal can be seen, and later on wigeon, whooper swans and Bewick's swans appear. During the winter months, many goldeneye can be seen.

The sluice management practice that has been carried out during the last few years, resulting in higher water-levels and wetter meadows, has meant that there is a scarcity of large mudflats, and the numbers of waders are significantly lower than previously. Ringed plover, golden plover, grey plover, lapwing, snipe, dunlin, bar-tailed godwit, redshank and greenshank are common, and there are still good chances for seeing knot, little stint, curlew sandpiper, red-necked phalarope and black-tailed godwit.

Visiting and access:
Route 181 along the west coast or route 513 leading west out of the Limfjord town of Lemvig both lead to Harboøre Tange. There are various places one can stop and bird-watch. It is permitted to drive on the gravel roads in the area. All access to the coastal meadows is prohibited from 15th April to 15th July.

1. One can park on the railway embankment next to the southern lagoon on route 181 between Harboør and Thyborøn. From here there is a view over the lagoon to the west and Nissum Bredning, coastal meadows and the remains of Rønland Sandø to the east.
2. One can park at Rønland Station and walk about 500m south on a farm track on the west side of the railway line to reach a low bird hide with a view across the Knopper Enge and the north-eastern corner of the southern lagoon.
3. Just north of FMC Site Rønland that are car-parks/lay-bys on both sides of the road. From the railway embankment there is a view of the northern lagoon and the bird islet. A walk along the west side of the railway line can offer spottings of passerines in the scrub.
4. By driving west along Rønlandvej one has a view across Knopper Enge on both sides of the road. It is best to stay in the car so as not to disturb the birds. One can park the car at the end of Rønlandvej, in front of the dunes.
5. One can walk or cycle on the gravel roads and there is a good route called "Vestkyststien" (West Coast Trail) between Thyborøn and Harboør along the western side of the lagoons, on which one can walk or cycle.
6. Thyborøn harbour is also worth a visit, especially the two outer piers and the area around the 999 fish oil factory, where many gulls flock on the roofs.

Pintail. Photo: Helge Sørensen

Hjarbæk Fjord

North-west Jutland, north of Viborg

Staging waterbirds in autumn and winter
See Google map with look-out points, car parks, etc.

 Skals Å 

Hjarbæk Fjord is the innermost arm of the Limfjord. It is around 10km north of Viborg and 20km east of Skive. It is relatively shallow and receives water from four rivers: Fiskbæk Å, Jordbro Å, Skals Å and Simested Å. The flow of water into the fjord is considerable and constitutes 16% of the total water volume entering the Limfjord. At the northern end of the fjord is Ørslevkloster Sø, a lake connected to the fjord by a little stream.

In 1963, after many discussions, work was begun on an embankment over the sound of Virksund. It turned out that the embankment caused a considerable fall in the fjord’s salinity, which meant that many fish died. In addition, the fjord was subject to increasing pollution due to the large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus coming from surrounding farmland. In the 1970’s Hjarbæk Fjord was proclaimed “dead”. Not until 1991 was it decided to keep the sluices in the embankment open for longer periods, to ensure better renewal of the water in the fjord. Since then, water quality has slowly improved, but has not yet reached the desired level.

The landscape around the fjord is very hilly, having been formed during the last ice age.

Areas of reedbed are limited and they are found principally around the mouths of the rivers Fiskebæk Å, Simested Å and Skals Å. There are large areas of meadowland in the adjacent river valleys (especially Simested and Skals Å) and at Lynderupgård and to a lesser extent at Strandet.

Breeding birds:
Only a limited number of swans and a few duck species breed on the fjord, but the reedbeds attract birds such as marsh harrier, coot, bearded tit, water rail and reed warbler. The bittern has been heard booming some years in the reedbeds near the outlet of Skals Å.

Migrating and staging birds:
Hjarbæk Fjord is an important locality for many species of birds throughout the year, but is of special importance for staging ducks in autumn and winter. During this period, many thousands of waterbirds are seen in the locality. In very cold winters with ice many birds collect in the openings north and south of the sluice in the Virksund embankment and at the outlets of the four rivers.

There are large flocks of goldeneye, wigeon, mallard, goosander and coot, especially. Smew, great crested grebe, black-necked grebe, teal, pochard and tufted duck congregate in smaller numbers. Large flocks of mute swan, whooper swan and greylag goose can be seen on the fjord or on the surrounding fields and meadows.

Raptors are seen in the area throughout the winter. Peregrine - and white-tailed eagle - can be spotted on the meadows. Ospreys stage here in late summer and early autumn and are often seen at Kølsen, Nederhede and Strandet, for example.

In spring, migrating waders stop over in the area for a short while. Numbers are modest, but lapwing and golden plover can be seen in fairly large flocks. The best places to see waders are the meadows at Strandet, and in winter there are always redshank around the sluice at Virksund.

Visiting and access:
North of Viborg, one can take routes 26 or 533, which lead to the western and eastern sides of Hjarbæk Fjord respectively. It is possible to drive all the way round the fjord on public roads (a trip of around 42km) with the possibility of stopping at various look-out points. It is a good idea to bring a telescope, as the birds are often a long way away.

The various look-out points and relevant information can be found on the Google map mentioned above.
Goldeneye. Photo: Helge Sørensen 

Jerup Strand

North Jutland

Beach and meadows with waders and ducks
See Google map with car park etc.

Shelduck. Photo: Klaus Dichmann

Jerup Strand comprises a flat sandy beach with a single line of dunes, marshland and grazed meadows. It is situated on the shore of the Kattegat north of Frederikshavn. The area is privately owned but it is possible to park and walk along the beach.

Breeding birds:
Several species of wader breed in the area, including oystercatcher, ringed plover, redshank and now and again avocet.

Migrating and staging birds:
Jerup Enge is a stopover site for several dabbling duck species, including widgeon, teal and mallard. In the migrating season other birds arrive, including red-breasted merganser, shelduck, oystercatcher, ringed plover, golden plover, grey plover, redshank, dunlin, lapwing, knot, curlew sandpiper and little stint. Now and again, flocks of brent geese and barnacle geese and a few pink-footed geese stage on the meadows. Greylay geese can be seen throughout the year.

In winter there are flocks of sanderlings running along the sea’s edge, and one can be lucky enough to spot a short-eared owl over the meadows. Rough-legged buzzard and hen harrier can also be seen flying over the meadows, together with flocks of twite and snow bunting. Small flocks of shore larks and a few lapland buntings appear now and then.

Peregrine is a regular visitor.

Visiting and Access:
Follow route 40 connecting Frederikshavn with Skagen. About 13km north of Frederikshavn one reaches the village of Jerup. Just north of the village, turn east along Fredborgvej (there is a sign to Jerup Strand). At the end of the road is a car park, from where one can walk to the beach. Most birds can usually be seen at the southern end of the area.

Two shelters in the southern part of the area, north of Jerup Å, can be recommended for an overnight stay, when one can see the birds going to roost in the evening, and wake up with them early in the morning.



Lille Vildmose

North Jutland, between the Limfjord and Mariager Fjord

Denmark’s largest raised bog. Cormorant colony at Toftesø. Good chances of seeing golden eagle, white-tailed eagle, red deer and elk.
See Google map with look-out points, bird observation towers, car parks etc. 

The big peat digging canal in Portlandsmosen.Photo: Flemming Ahlmann 


Lille Vildmose is the largest raised bog in Denmark and one of the best preserved lowland raised bogs in north-western Europe. It is situated between the Limfjord and Mariager Fjord and is bordered by the towns of Mou, Kongerslev and Øster Hurup. In the stone age, most of this area was covered by the Littorina sea – the coast being the hilly landscape which is now up to 10km from the present coastline. Gradually, due to land rising, the sea was transformed into a brackish lagoon and later still to a freshwater lake. This, in turn, became a raised bog and thereby one of Denmark’s youngest landscapes.

Despite various drainage projects, the raised bog of Tofte Mose is still nearly intact and forms part of an enclosed deer park together with the lake of Tofte Sø and the Tofte Skov forest. There are over 400 red deer from the original Jutland stock. They ensure that the forest is kept in its original state as a grazing forest with rich biological diversity. Around 150 wild boars make an impact on the area. The latest step has been the introduction to the Tofte Skov forest of four European bison in 2021. More were introduced the following year and some of them have had young, so that there are now 20 bison in the area.

North of the former peat digging area is the forest of Høstemark Skov, which has been an enclosed grazing forest since 1933, with around 150 red deer.

The area between Tofte Mose and Høstemark Skov - known as "Mellemområdet" - comprises a large area originally used for commercial peat digging and which has now been flooded. Mellemområdet also comprises the Portlandsmose bog, several other bogs and the lake of Birkesø. The whole of Mellemområdet was fenced in in 2016 to enable 26 red deer from the local stock to be released in the area, together with 10 elks. By spring 2023 the numbers had increased to 150-160 deer and 22 elks.

The latest development in nature restoration took place in December 2017, when the lake of Birkesø - which had been drained in 1762 to form farmland - was filled with water from the two adjacent lakes. Birkesø now covers 130 ha and has a maximum depth of around two meters. Around the lake are muddy areas, grassland and a beech wood that goes right down to the water's edge. Three bird islets have been established, which provide nesting sites for waders and gulls. Developments are being followed by researchers from the Freshwater Biological Laboratory under Copenhagen University.


Breeding birds:
Several of Denmark’s rarest birds breed (or have bred) in Lille Vildmose. The black stork has not bred here since 1951, but there is still hope that it may find its way back one day. Cranes nest in the northern part of the bog and in the forest of Tofte Skov, curlews on the raised bog, and in the forests, golden eagle has been nesting since 1999 and white-tailed eagle since 2010. The forests also house honey buzzard, goshawk, nightjar, stock dove, stonechat and red-backed shrike. The cormorant colony at Tofte Sø was one of the largest in the country for many years, but has shrunk considerably during the last few years. The latest count in 2021 showed there were only 118 pairs. Other breeding birds around the lake are marsh harrier, greylag goose and several species of duck. A little population of bearded tit is found in the reedbeds.
The lake of Birkesø attracted many breeding birds as soon as it was re-established in 2018. Avocets, lapwings, redshanks, ringed plovers, little ringed plovers and oystercatchers now nest on the islets. A colony of 1500 black-headed gulls has been established, and there are many breeding black-necked grebes and a smaller number of red-necked grebes and great crested grebes.

Migrating and staging birds:
In autumn, wigeon, teal, mallard, pintail, shoveler, tufted duck, goldeneye and smew can be seen in Tofte Sø and Birkesø. In the former peat digging areas in the northern part of the area, that are now under water, most species of dabbling duck and greylag geese can be found. Many geese stage in the lake itself and on the surrounding fields: especially bean geese, canada geese, greylag geese, white-fronted geese and barnacle geese. During spring and autumn migration the former peat digging areas and Birkesø are visited by several species of wader, including golden plover, lapwing, ruff, snipe, and various Calidris and Tringa waders. The fields in the area are feeding grounds for many starlings on autumn migration. They go to roost for the night in the reedbeds at Lillesø and Tofte Sø.

In certain periods, large numbers of non-breeding cranes turn up in Mellemområdet. After the breeding season many spoonbills arrive, the numbers reaching a peak in July 2018, when 264 birds were seen in Birkesø. Great white egret are now often seen dotted around the area. Bittern is often heard along Hegnsvej.

In winter, the area attracts a large number of whooper swans, and mute swans and a few Bewick’s swans are also observed.

Raptors can be seen both autumn and winter, especially hen harrier, buzzard and rough-legged buzzard. Peregrine and merlin are seen regularly, and hobby is seen in May/June and may breed in the area. Osprey and red kite are seen on migration, both spring and autumn. There is a good chance of spotting golden eagle and white-tailed eagle throughout the year.

Other animals:
At Tofte Sø there are good possibilities of seeing otter, red deer and wild boar. In Mellemområdet, red deer and elks have been introduced. 

Visiting and access:
Lille Vildmose lies to the west of the coast road (route 541) connecting Egense at the mouth of the Limfjord with Hadsund on the Mariager Fjord (via Als). It may be a good idea to take Birkesøvej, which leads west off the 541 south of Dokkedal, and follow it to the Lille Vildmose nature centre.  Here one can obtain information about the area and also a leaflet with a useful map published by the Aage V. Jensens Fund. The centre is open every day between 10.00h and 16.00h from March/April until the schools' autumn holiday. In June, July and August it is open until 17.00h.
There is public access to Portlandsmosen, Porsemosen, Paraplymosen, Lillesø and Birkesø, as well as along roads and pathways in the peat-digging area. On the other hand, there is no – or only limited - public access to Høstemark Skov, Tofte Skov, Toftesø, and Tofte Mose. Due to the animals, there is a speed limit of 60 km/h on all roads in the area. A great deal of the area can be enjoyed from the surrounding public roads and from several observation towers: 
  1. Høstemarktårn, an observation tower next to Hegnsvej in the south eastern corner of Høstemark Mose.
  2. The raptor tower, situated in the northern part of the area. This can be reached by a gravel path and boardwalk from a car park near the northern end of Ny Høstemarkvej. From the tower there is a good view of the raptor feeding site on the outskirts of the wood, and of the northern part of the former peat digging areas.
  3. From Hegnsvej, which leads east from Ny Høstemarkvej through the old peat digging areas, there is a good view over a large area that is now partially flooded and attracts many birds.
  4. The "firewatcher tower" at the junction og Ny Høstemarkvej and Hegnsvej with a small car park and a picnic table. From the tower there is a view westwards over the northern end of the Portlandsmose and eastwards over the wetlands on either side of Hegnsvej and across to the Høstemark Skov woodland.
  5. In Portlandsmose is a disabled-friendly boardwalk, which starts off from a car park on Ny Høstemarkvej and leads to the large peat digging canals before turning back across a raised bog
  6. At the lake of Lillesø there is a bird hide.
  7. At the southern end of Portlandsmose a trail leads from Vildmosevej and along a boardwalk across the bog to a stairway and a path up to the top of Kællingbjerg (38m above sea level), with a fantastic view across a large part of the area. There is a car park with picnic facilities on Vildmosevej.
  8. There is a look-out pavilion on the eastern bank of the new Birkesø. It can be reached only on foot or by bicycle either from the animal grid on Vildmosevej or from the Lille Vildmose nature centre. 
  9. On the northern side of Tofte Sø is an observation tower with an adjacent car park.
  10. From the car park next to this tower there is a path leading along the north side of the lake to steps crossing the fence around the raised bog. From here, a boardwalk leads for several hundred metres out onto the raised bog. Here one can experience the vast expanse of the bog and appreciate the silence.
  11. The Tofte Skov tower in the south-eastern corner of the forest of Tofte Skov, which can be accessed by a tunnel leading under the main road from the car park north of Øster Hurup.
A large part of the area is now owned by the Aage V. Jensens Fund, which has published a folder about the area with a useful map, that can be obtained at the Lille Vildmose center.

 Golden eagle, Lille Vildmose. Photo: Karsten Stæhr 

Madum Sø

Himmerland in North Jutland

Many staging waterbirds on the lake. A rich birdlife in the woodland.
See Google map with car park etc. 

 Madum Sø. Photo: Niels Fabæk 

Madum Sø, the largest of the few lakes in the district of Himmerland, is situated on the eastern border of the forest of Rold Skov. It covers 204ha and is only 7.5m deep at its deepest point. It was formed as a kettle hole lake after the last ice age. The lake is unusually clear and nutrient-deficient and is a so-called lobelia lake, as the water lobelia thrives here. This is a plant that can only grow in water of a very high quality. However, during the last few years there have been signs that the lake is becoming polluted with nutrients, presumably because of nitrogen pollution from agriculture and also because the area is used fairly intensively in summer, when it is very popular for bathing, riding and excursions. Fishing and sailing are, however, not permitted.

The lake was formerly surrounded by heath, but this has been planted with trees and the lake is now surrounded by woodland of beech, pine, alder and birch. There are stretches of reedbed around the lake.

Breeding birds:
There are very few breeding birds around the lake, apart from a few great crested grebe and mute swan. Some years, kingfisher breed by a stream running into the lake.

Migrating and staging birds:
The lake is an important staging area in autumn and winter for tufted duck, which can be seen  in flocks of several thousands, and to a lesser extent for pochard, goldeneye and mallard. In winter, goosander and smew are seen. Large flocks of gulls use the lake for night roosting, and common gull is especially numerous, sometimes congregating in flocks of several thousand birds.

With luck, one can spot a kingfisher on the banks. In summer a few common sandpipers forage on the borders of the lake. A number of goldeneye usually stay here over summer. A few goldeneye nesting boxes have been set up on the east side of the lake.

During the migration period the lake is visited by ospreys foraging on the lake’s pike and perch. Great white egret and white-tailed eagle are seen sporadically in the winter months.

In the forest round the lake, all the common woodland passerines are found, as well as honey buzzard, buzzard, goshawk, stock dove, tawny owl, green woodpecker, black woodpecker and raven. 

Visiting and access:
From route 519, that leads through Rold Skov and connects Skørping in the north with Hadsund in the south, turn north a little way north of Astrup onto a minor road leading to Hellum. On the way the road passes very close to the eastern end of Madum Sø. Here is a large car park with a good view over the lake. From here one can join the marked trail that goes round the lake. There is also access to Langmosen, which is a large raised bog in the forest towards the east.
Tufted duck. Photo: Albert Steen-Hansen

Mariager Fjord

East Jutland

Wintering pale-bellied brent geese. Many staging ducks and waders.
See Google map with outlook points etc.  

 Pale-bellied brent geese. Photo: Albert Steen-Hansen 

The eastern part of Mariager Fjord, which is the most important with regard to birdlife, is very shallow with large mudflats, sand flats and islets. Along the fjord are many fields that used to be coastal meadows, but that have been surrounded by dykes and drained.    

Breeding birds:
On one of the islets, Treskelbakkeholm, is a large colony of gulls (formerly including black-headed gull, but now only herring gull and a few lesser black-backed gull). Former colonies of arctic tern, common tern, cormorant and avocet have also disappeared, whereas mute swan still nest on the islet.

A few pairs of spoonbill bred in the area between 2011 and 2015.

During the last few years, colonies of arctic tern, little tern and avocet have formed on the sandbank in the Kattegat just off Als Odde.

Migrating and staging birds:
Mariager Fjord was formerly a well-known locality in autumn and winter for housing a large percentage of the world population of light-bellied brent goose that breed on Svalbard. However, deterioration of the eelgrass beds due to pollution has led to a considerable decline in the number of staging brent geese, which instead have moved to a more widespread area along the east coast of Jutland and in the Limfjord. Nowadays the number of light-bellied geese seen in Mariager Fjord rarely exceed 1000. Due to the absence of eelgrass, it is more and more usual to see the geese foraging on the fields and coastal meadows along the fjord.

Other birds that spend winter on the fjord include whooper swan, shelduck, mallard, wigeon, goldeneye and coot, which are mostly seen in the large shallow bay of Ajstrup Bugt. In addition, pintail, pochard, tufted duck, red-breasted merganser and goosander can be seen. Whooper swans and several species of geese also show up in large numbers and are usually seen feeding on the fields.

In spring and especially in autumn one can see many staging waders, including oystercatcher, golden plover, grey plover, lapwing, dunlin, curlew, redshank and greenshank.

Raptors seen regularly in the area are buzzard and sparrowhawk, with hen harrier showing up in winter. Peregrine is seen regularly in the winter months, either hunting or sitting on one of the islets. White-tailed eagle is also a regular visitor and can be seen circling over the fjord or hunting low over the water. Sometimes it can be seen sitting on one of the islets in the fjord, especially in autumn and winter. (Up to eight white-tailed eagles were spotted foraging here in February 2021).

Visiting and access:
The best view-points on the north side of the fjord are from Havnø, the bridge over the stream of Korup Å, Als Odde and the pump station at Måen. From Hadsund, drive on the main 541 road to Visborg, from where a minor road leads south towards Havnø. By continuing along this road one reaches a bridge which crosses the stream of Korup Å just before reaching Lovnkær Skov. From here there is a view across to Treskelbakkeholm, but a telescope is needed to get a good view of the birds. The road continues to Helberskov, from where a minor road leads south to Als Odde, where there is a view of both the fjord and the sea. One can also follow a gravel track that starts a little west of Helberskov and leads south until, after a few bends, it eventually ends at the pump station. From here one can see the shallow waters around the islets out in the fjord.

From the road between Havnø and Helberskov there is a good view of the many geese and whooper swans feeding on the fields.

From the southern side of the fjord, the best way to obtain a view over the shallow waters in Ajstrup Bugt is by driving from the village of Klattrup (north of Havndal) in a northerly direction to Vesterskovmark and then continuing straight on along a sunken lane down to the fjord. It is not possible to access the fjord east of here, as the lands belong to the Overgaard estate and there are no public roads to the fjord.

 Whooper swans. Photo: Albert Steen-Hansen

Nors Sø

North-west Jutland, south of the Hanstholm reserve

Staging waterbirds on the lake. Raptors all year round.
See Google map with bird observation tower, car parks etc.

Nors Sø. Photo: Joy Klein

During the stone age, the area around Nors Sø was a sea bay that became cut off from the sea when the land rose and sand drift set in. The lake is a so-called karst lake. It originated partly by the formation of fissures, partly by acid water dissolving limestone in the underlying rock, thus causing the land to subside. The lake is surrounded by plantations and farmland and towards the north-west by a heath that forms part of the Hanstholm reserve. Both Nors Sø and the Hanstholm reserve are part of Thy National Park. 

Nors Sø is interesting because of its staging waterbirds and raptors.

In the autumn, Nors Sø is a staging ground for large flocks of greylag geese. Waders on migration stop over at the lake on their way south. Golden plover and lapwing, especially, appear in large flocks. In addition, smaller numbers of other waders are observed, including redshank, greenshank and common sandpiper.

Many waterbirds can be seen in the autumn and winter months, including great crested grebe, teal, mallard, pochard, tufted duck, goldeneye, goosander and coot. The lake is one of the most important staging grounds in the area for smew, which are spotted in large numbers (for example 91 birds one day in January). A few pintail and scaup are also seen from time to time. Nearly every winter a few Slavonian grebe are spotted.

Osprey is seen in spring and autumn. Other raptors are seen over the lake at regular intervals, including white-tailed eagle, goshawk, buzzard and peregrine, and in winter rough-legged buzzard. Golden eagle is a very rare guest. In the winter months, the lake is one of the best sites in the region for seeing white-tailed eagle. It is not unusual to see 2-3 eagles at the same time. They are easiest to see if the lake is frozen, as they then often sit on the ice close to any open water there may be. If the lake is not frozen, they can be spotted along the banks or on the slopes leading down to the lake. They can also be spotted in Hanstholm reserve nearby.

Great crested grebe, cormorant, grey heron, coot and various gulls are present on and around the lake throughout the year. Raven nests in the area. Kingfisher is seen regularly. Bearded tit has occasionally been seen to fly over the reedbeds. Crested tit and other tits are often seen near the path to the bird observation tower and in the plantation north of the car park on the northern side of the lake.

In spring, bittern can be heard, and in the summer months one can often see cranes flying over the area or staying at the lake.

Great white egret has been spotted at the lake on several occasions since 2008, but in 2021 there were up to four birds here throughout the autumn.

Visiting and access:
On Klitmøllervej, route 557, between Klitmøller and Thisted, turn off at Vester Vandet in a northerly direction along Agerholmvej. After 2km there is a car park near the “bathing beach” at Nors Sø. From here, a path runs north along the lake to a bird observation tower. This is the best place for bird watching.

One can also reach the northern side of the lake by driving out of the town of Nors along Hindingvej. At the end of the road is a car park, from where there is a good view over the eastern side of the lake. A blue marked track leaves the car park and leads east along the lake and back again through Visbøl plantation. Here there is a fine view over the eastern side of the lake, the reserve, Tved plantation and the sea.

From the car park there is also a yellow marked trail leading up over the former coast to Isbjerget, 56m above sea level, and the highest point in the Hanstholm reserve. From here there is a splendid view over the heaths and dunes of the reserve. To enjoy a longer walk, one can continue around 3km north on the trails in the Tved plantation to a bird observation tower, from where one can also look across the reserve. It is recommended to use the Nature Agency’s leaflet covering Hanstholm Reserve, which is available in English and can be downloaded here. In the reserve are breeding greylag goose, curlew, wood sandpiper and crane, and large flocks of greylag goose are spread around on the lakes and the heath. The reserve is closed for admission from 1st April to 15th July. The central part is closed all year round. For Thy National Park's website, click here.


Osprey. Photo: Helge Sørensen

Rold Skov

Himmerland, northern Jutland

Forest with lakes, streams, springs, bogs and heathland and a correspondingly varied birdlife
See Google map with car parks etc.

Chiffchaff. Photo: Helge Sørensen

Rold Skov is Denmark’s largest forest, covering 8000ha, of which a quarter is state-owned and the remainder privately owned. It stretches from Gammel Skørping in the north to Arden in the south, and from Torstedlund Skov in the west to Siem Skov in the east. The area is a moraine landscape formed during the last ice age. The highest hills are up to 111m above sea level. The landscape is also characterized by many kettle holes that have now become ponds or lakes. There is nowhere in Denmark with so many springs as Rold Skov: for example Store Blåkilde with its lovely blue colour; Lille Blåkilde, which has the highest outflow of water; and Ravnkilde in the valley of Gravlev Ådal. There are also many bogs spread around in the area.

The forest consists mainly of conifers, especially Norway spruce, but there are also several old beech stands scattered around in the forest. Many of the old beech trees have a characteristic, twisted growth.

To the west, the valley of Lindenborg Ådal has been cut deep down in the surrounding landscape by the stream of Lindenborg Å, which has its source south of the forest. The valley is at first narrow, but later on – further north – it widens out and becomes Gravlev Ådal. Here, the lake of Gravlev Sø has been re-established. In the northern section of the forest are the heather-covered slopes of the hills of Rebild Bakker: a popular place for an outing.

At the edge of the Lindenborg Ådal valley, north of Rold Skov, is the old oak forest of Skindbjerglund. The forest has many old and dead trees and is grazed by cattle to keep the clearings open. Connected to Skindbjerglund is Rise Skov, a forest that was purchased by the Danish Nature Agency in 2019. Wild ponies have been put out to help turn the forest into a varied and open pasture landscape.

The lake of Madum Sø is also part of Rold Skov but is described in a separate section.

Rold Skov houses many common and less common forest birds, and there are many birds to be found in the wetlands and on the open spaces.

The less common woodland birds include hole-nesting species such as stock dove, green woodpecker and black woodpecker. Passerines include redstart, mistle thrush, wood warbler, pied flycatcher (now seldom), crested tit, nuthatch, treecreeper, red-backed shrike, raven, crossbill and hawfinch. Woodlark nest in the clearings in the forest, often where large areas of woodland have recently been cleared. In 2019 nightjars were heard singing in various parts of the forest, chiefly in the privately-owned sections which had recently been cleared of trees.

During the last few years, firecrest have begun to spread in the forest and can now be heard in many of the dense stands of conifer. Wryneck has also recently been found nesting in the forest, where it prefers areas with old trees verging on dry, open areas with many ants.

There is a good, stable population of breeding raptors: honey buzzard, goshawk, sparrowhawk and buzzard. A new inhabitant of the forest is red kite, which has bred on the outskirts of the forest the last few years. Other forest birds that breed here are woodcock, tawny owl and long-eared owl. Crane has been spotted several times during the breeding season in a few of the bogs in the forest. 

Skindbjerglund houses black woodpecker, green woodpecker and short-toed treecreeper, which are otherwise seldom seen in the area. 

In summer thrush nightingale, whinchat and grasshopper warbler can be found in the valleys, for example in Gravlev Ådal and around Store Blåkilde, and in winter great grey shrike.

Kingfisher and grey wagtail breed in the area and can be seen at several of the streams, for example Lindenborg Å, Kousbækken, Ravnkilden and near the former fishfarms that have been closed down. These locations house dipper in winter.

The lake of Gravlev Sø attracts many species of duck, including shelduck, widgeon, gadwall, teal, mallard, pochard and tufted duck, some of which nest here. Little grebe, red-breasted grebe, mute swan and greylag goose are other breeding birds. A few waders can be seen around the lake during migration, mostly lapwing and snipe. In late summer, the reedbeds provide a roost for swallows and starlings. Whooper swan, smew and goosander are winter guests. Peregrine falcon can be seen throughout the winter.

Visiting and access:
Rold Skov is situated east of the E45 motorway south of Støvring and can be reached via the small roads that cross the forest: for example route 180 which leads south from Støvring; route 519 between Støvring and Astrup, which runs through Skørping; or route 535 which goes east from the motorway and through Arden. There are many car parks, for example at Gravlev, Rebild Bakker, Skørping, Store Økssø and Arden.

There is access to all areas on forest paths and field paths.

It is recommended to use the Danish Nature Agency’s tour guide maps of Rold Skov and Rebild Bakker/Gravlev Ådal. Click here for the Rold Skov map and here for the Rebild Bakker/Gravlev Ådal map.

Other things to see in the area are the chalk mines at Tingbæk and the arboretum Den Jyske Skovhave. The extremely rare orchid lady’s slipper grows in an enclosure in Bjergeskov in the northern section of the forest. It blooms around the beginning of June.

Kingfisher. Photo: Gerner Majlandt


Roshage and Hanstholm Harbour

North-west Jutland

One of Denmark’s best spots for watching seabirds in autumn
See Google-map with car parks etc.

Razorbill. Photo: Carsten Andersen

The point of land jutting out at Hanstholm is Jutland’s most north-westerly promontory where the North Sea and the Skagerrak meet. In the stone age, the whole area consisted of islands surrounded by water. After the subsequent land rise, Hanstholm became linked to the rest of the region of Thy and is today a hilly landscape stretching from Hanstholm in the west to Vigsø in the east. Roshage is the most northerly point in the area and is situated just north of the town of Hanstholm. It is a very open area and consists of a mixture of sand dunes and landfill. Hanstholm Harbour was built in 1967 and is Denmark’s youngest harbour. It is the largest harbour in Denmark for fisheries for human consumption and has ferry connections to Norway, the Faroe Islands and Iceland.

Migrating and staging birds:
From the point of view of bird-watching, the most interesting period to visit Hanstholm is in autumn and winter. If there are strong winds blowing from the west, especially, Roshage is the place to observe seabirds, as many of them are blown close to the coast. Red-throated diver, fulmar and gannet are seen in large numbers, and more uncommon species such as great northern diver, sooty shearwater, Manx shearwater and Leach’s petrel can also be spotted. Common scoter and velvet scoter fly past. Auks are mostly represented by guillemots and razorbills, with little auks appearing in smaller numbers. Many gulls fly along the coast – kittiwake is the commonest species, but little gull, sabine’s gull and glaucous gull also turn up. All four species of skua can be observed regularly, and migrating waders can also be seen, with grey phalarope sometimes appearing as a rare feature. In winter, turnstones, sanderlings and purple sandpipers can be seen foraging on the beach.

In winter, many gulls gather around the harbour. They are especially interested in the fishing boats that have just come in from the sea. Apart from the more common species such as herring gull and great black-backed gull, glaucous gull is seen regularly, and there are always possibilities for finding Mediterranean gull, little gull and Iceland gull. A laughing gull attracted many birdwatchers in the winter of 2017/18 and a gyr falcon frequented the harbour area January/February 2020. Other interesting birds that find their way to the harbour in the winter months are purple sandpiper and rock pipit and occasionally shag.  

Visiting and access:
Route 26 from Thisted leads to Hanstholm. To reach Roshage, turn off the road just north of the town and follow Molevej to a T-junction, then follow Nordre Strandvej to the right until you reach a car park next to some wind turbines. One can watch birds from the car park or from any point in the surrounding area. If strong winds are blowing, it can be a good idea to park so that the sea can be seen from the car.

To reach the harbour, continue along route 26. There are many possibilities for parking and also public toilets in the town.

It is recommended to use the Nature Agency’s brochure about Hanstholm and surroundings (English version)

Glaucous gull (2K). Photo: Gerner Majlandt



Northernmost tip of North Jutland

One of Denmark’s most important localities for spring migration. Especially famous for north-west Europe's biggest spring migration of raptors and for the appearance of many rare birds both in spring and autumn. Considerable migration of many seabirds (gannets, fulmars, skuas and auks) in autumn. Up to 2020 around 385 different bird species have been registered at Skagen Odde - the Danish record for a single locality.

See Google map with look-out points, car parks etc.

Kongeorn og musvagerKNP.IMG 1617 002
Golden eagle and buzzards, Skagen. Photo: Knud Pedersen

North of the town of Skagen and reaching out to the coast there is access to a large open area with reserve status. The landscape is flat and dominated by heath and boggy areas with ponds. North of this is a wide sandy beach that to the east ends in the narrow sandspit called Grenen. Here, the two seas Kattegat and Skagerrak meet and the spot is a popular target for tourists. South of the town, the landscape is a mixture of plantations and sand dunes. Some of the dunes are fairly high and therefore good viewpoints, especially for observing the spring migration of raptors.

Breeding birds:
In the open areas north of the town there are breeding red-necked grebe, bittern, crane and water rail. The reserve at Nordstrand houses a cormorant colony of around 50-75 breeding pairs. The usual passerines nest in the plantations south of the town, together with less common species such as nightjar, goshawk, woodcock, woodlark and stonechat. The heath area of Hulsig Hede, south of Skagen Klitplantage, is home to breeding crane, curlew, redshank, red-backed shrike and stonechat.

Migrating and staging birds:
The first migrating birds are seen as soon as the winter weather becomes milder, normally in February, when larks, lapwings, crows, jackdaws, etc. begin to show up. As temperatures rise, wood pigeons, stock doves and mistle thrushes arrive. In March a considerable migration of whooper swans and, to a lesser extent, geese, can be seen. In April the number of birds increases day by day. Pigeons, crows and passerines, in particular, can be seen in large flocks, and a large number of buzzards and sparrowhawks begin to migrate. At this point the first ospreys turn up. There is also a good chance of seeing a white-tailed eagle or a golden eagle. On good days in April, hundreds of thousands of birds pass over the area, with chaffinch and brambling as the dominating species. Divers, ducks, gannets, waders, terns and gulls move along the coast.

At the end of April/beginning of May, more and more long-distance migrants such as hirundines, warblers and other insect-eating birds start to arrive. This is the high season for kites, rough-legged buzzard, osprey, hen harrier and merlin. Flycatchers, whinchats and swifts show up a little later and finally – around mid-May – the last birds arrive from the south: swift, garden warbler, marsh warbler and scarlet rosefinch. At the same time one can see honey buzzard, hobby, red-footed falcon, Montagu’s harrier and black stork. Bee-eater and serin are seen regularly. The migration season lasts into June.

It is raptor migration, especially, that has made Skagen famous as a bird locality. Both the number of species and the total number of migrating raptors makes Skagen unique among European migration localities. The migration lasts from mid-March to well into June, and the number of each species culminates at particular times. Numbers are very much dependent on the weather, but as a rule, many birds are seen in a period with rising temperatures and easterly winds. Up to 18,000 raptors have been counted migrating over Skagen in the course of a spring season with favourable weather conditions. Many of the raptors use the air currents over the dunes and plantations to gain height. It is an unforgettable sight when large flocks of buzzards and other raptors – perhaps even an eagle – slowly circle round high up in the sky over the fascinating landscape before heading for the sea.

Apart from the bird migration, Skagen is also an exciting place to be in spring due to the chance of seeing a rarity. The best time is May/June when warm winds are blowing from the south or the south-east. As an example, some of the rarities that have been seen during the last few years can be named: black-browed albatross, little bittern, black-winged kite, griffon vulture, lammergeier, Bonelli's eagle, greater sand plover, roseate tern, fork-tailed swift, little swift, green warbler, Spanish sparrow and yellow-browed bunting.  

In summer, the beaches attract terns, gulls and waders when they have finished breeding. As summer comes to a close, more and more arctic skuas and especially great skuas can be seen out over the sea. In autumn, especially with winds from the west, there are good chances of seeing different seabirds such as manx shearwater, balearic shearwater, sooty shearwater, long-tailed skua, Sabine's gull, together with storm petrel and Leach's petrel. From the middle of October, large flocks of seabirds can be spotted moving over the sea, especially razorbill and guillemot, and sometimes a few great nothern divers, little auks or puffins.

Skagen Bird Station catches and rings a large number of passerines during the autumn in the vegetation at Grenen. This is also a time of the year when rare birds can appear, both in the ringers' nets and flying over or resting in the area. During the last few years, species such as black-browed albatross, roller, pallid swift, Blyth's pipit, red-flanked bluetail, green warbler and arctic warbler have been found. In years with invasions of pine grosbeak in October-November, Skagen is the best spot in Denmark for coming into close contact with these birds.

Visiting and access:
It is easy to get to Skagen either by car or by train. It can be a good idea to get around the area by bicycle (they can be hired from various firms in the town). There are several localities in the area that can be recommended for bird-watching and the most important are listed below (see Google map for outlook posts, car parks, etc. - link at the beginning of this article):

1. Grenen is an excellent – and very popular – outlook post for most of the year. Here, one can see migrating passerines, raptors and seabirds. The best view can be had from the easternmost dunes north of the large car park. To get closer to the seabirds and staging waders, it is a good idea to use the outermost dunes as an observation post.
2. Nordstranden ('the north beach') is a good outlook point in spring, when one can see both the birds migrating over the sea and those migrating over land. In autumn, it is a good place from which to observe seabirds when the wind is from the east. Nordstranden can be reached by driving to the end of Batterivej.
3. The nature reserve is an elongated, boggy area with ponds, reeds, rushes and willow scrub, running parallel to the coast, to the east of the end of Batterivej. The reserve is a breeding site for teal, greylag goose, cormorant, red-necked grebe, little grebe, bittern, water rail, crane, bearded tit and reed warbler. Grenensporet - a network of paths starting out from the car park at Grenen - enables easy access to a large part of the area. A stretch of the Grenensporet is close to the cormorant colony which can easily be viewed from the path.
4. Batterivej is a road from which one can see migrating and staging raptors and passerines.
5. Ellekrattet (‘the alder copse’) is directly west of the large car park at Grenen. The copse is surrounded by bog and there is a little lake nearby. In spring it attracts many species of passerines, including a rarity now and again.
6. Flagbakken (‘Flag hill’) is south of the main road just before one reaches Skagen coming from the south. In spring it is usually easy to find the hill because of the large group of bird-watchers that often stand on the top! The little car park at the bottom of the hill is usually full on good migration days, and one must therefore park at the side of the road. The hill is a particularly good spot for observing spring migration of raptors when winds are coming from the north or east or if there is a light breeze from changing directions.
7. Storklit (Pælebakkeklit) is the highest dune on the coast of the Skagerrak. If the wind is blowing from east or south in spring, the dune is a fantastic outlook post for raptors. The easiest way to reach Storklit is from Kanalvejen which is a side road to Flagbakkevej.
8. Stokmilen is a high dune south west of the town of Skagen at the end of Damstedvej. The dune is a good spot for observing raptor migration with winds coming from the north west and north.
9. Skagen Harbour is a good locality for spotting rare Arctic gulls such as glaucous gull and Iceland gull. There is also a good chance of seeing shag and purple sandpiper.

In the high season there are so many birders in the area that it is easy to ask somebody about where the best place for bird-watching is.

The Skagen Bird Observatory and Ringing Station (opened in 2016) is situated in the Skagen Grey Lighthouse - Center for Migratory Birds, by the road leading to Grenen. Everyone is welcome to visit the station. In the lighthouse there are exhibitions about birds and nature. One can enjoy the view from the top of the lighthouse, and enjoy a cup of coffee or a snack at the café. For more information, visit their website.

Skagen Bird Festival takes place every year in May, with many activities. 

Skagen Krognaeb 1K spiser ronnebaer 31.10.19 KP
Pine grosbeak, Skagen. Photo: Knud Pedersen 

Stubbe Sø


Large flocks of staging swans, geese and ducks. Smew in winter. White-tailed eagle is a regular visitor.
See Google map with bird observation tower, car parks etc. 

Stubbe Sø. Photo: Joy Klein

Stubbe Sø is Djursland’s largest lake, and is situated in a moraine landscape formed at the end of the last Ice Age. When the litorina sea was at its highest level, Stubbe Sø was at the end of a fjord that stretched westwards inland from the Kattegat coast. The old coastlines can still be seen around the banks of the lake. In the 1800s, the soil around the lake was exhausted and the area became covered in moorland. To limit sand drift, conifers were planted, and today a large area around the lake is covered with woodland, still consisting mainly of conifers.

The lake is relatively shallow and surrounded by a 2-30m wide belt of reeds, bulrush, lesser bulrush, common club-rush, etc. At the eastern end of the lake there are several areas with meadows and beech and alder copses. In former times, the lake received a good deal of polluted water from the surrounding villages and from a fish farm which has now been closed down. Even though the lake is no longer under pressure from pollution there is a certain amount of phosphorus on the lake bed which boosts the growth of plancton algae.

The Bird Protection Foundation owns a bird reserve covering 23.5ha on the northern side of Stubbe Sø. The reserve consists of pine wood, dry grassland and a meadow which is grazed by cattle. There is a view over part of the lake from the reserve. There is also a very good view over nearly all the lake from a bird observation tower constructed by the Nature Agency at the eastern end of the lake.

Breeding birds:
Great crested grebe, greylag goose, water rail, coot and a few species of duck breed around the lake. A pair of marsh harriers breeds in the reedbeds, which also house bearded tit, reed warbler and reed bunting. There is a heron colony not far from the lake and herons are seen at the lakeside throughout the year. Kingfisher is seen regularly and probably breeds in the vicinity.

On the Bird Protection Foundation’s reserve there are many breeding passerines, which profit from the many nesting boxes that have been put up. Several pairs of pied flycatcher and redstart breed here. Woodlark and tree pipit breed on the dry grassland and red-backed shrike is seen on the meadow.

Migrating and staging birds:
The lake attracts many waterbirds that stage or forage her. Tufted duck, pochard, mallard, white-fronted goose and greylag goose, especially, can be seen in flocks of several hundred birds. Great crested grebe, teal, goldeneye and coot are also common. Many cormorants fish on the lake or perch in a group of trees not far from the bird observation tower, often together with herons. In summer there is a chance of spotting a marsh harrier. Bittern is recorded every year. Passerines include bearded tit, reed warbler and reed bunting. In autumn, one can be lucky enough to see thousands of swallows flying around over the lake before going to roost in the reedbeds. Autumn occasionally brings a few little gulls that forage over the lake. In winter, Stubbe Sø is a good place to spot smew, and the lake attracts large flocks of whooper swans that stay here overnight. In the last few years a few individuals of great white egret have stayed at the lake outside the breeding season.

White-tailed eagle breeds in the vicinity and is a regular visitor to the lake. In spring and autumn, osprey is spotted at intervals. Several buzzards have nests in the surrounding woodland and can be observed all year round.

Now and again rarities can be spotted, for example ring-necked duck (2019), ruddy duck (2019) and cattle egret (2020).

Visiting and access:
Stubbe Sø is accessed from route 21 which leads northward out of Ebeltoft. Outside the town, a lesser road leads north in the direction of Tirstrup, and in Øksenmølle a road goes east to Gravlev (follow the signs to Ree Park). From here there is access to two possible outlook points over the lake. The countryside around the lake is privately owned and there are no other possibilities of access to the lakeside.

To reach the Bird Protection Foundation’s reserve, park at a car park on Møllebækvej, just before reaching the village of Gravlev. From here, a nature trail (ending in Ebeltoft) leads south along the old railway line. After around 1km, a sign indicates a right turn towards the bird reserve. In the reserve one can follow the marked path that leads around the site and down to the lake. On the way, there is a bench in the woodland, close to a row of bird feeders, and further on there are a table and benches with a view across the meadow, and another table and benches at the edge of the lake. On the reserve there is a photo hide with an artificial pond that can be used by visitors.

To reach the bird observation tower at the east end of the lake, one can either park as described above, but continue further down the nature trail until one reaches a path marked by a post with the Nature Agency’s logo. This path leads to the tower. One can also park at a little car park near the tower. The car park is reached from Stubbe Søvej between the villages of Gravlev and Dråby. By driving along the stretch of Stubbe Søvej just east of Stubbe Bro one can find a gravel road on the north side of the road in a sharp bend with a sign "Stubbe Sø". There are shelters and a primitive toilet near the path to the tower.

Smew (male and female). Photo: Erik Biering 

Sødring Vildtreservat

At the mouth of Randers Fjord, east Jutland

Many staging ducks and waders in autumn
See Google map with look-out points, car parks etc.

Golden plovers. Photo: Klaus Malling Olsen

East of the ferry harbour at Udbyhøj, Randers Fjord opens out into a wide area with shallow water. North of the channel are the two fairly large islets called Mellempolde and a few smaller islets. The stretch of coast northwards up to Mariager Fjord consists of coastal meadows, most of which are grazed. The shallow waters off the coast have beds of eel-grass and sea-grass. At low tide, large mudflats appear at the mouth of the fjord.

Breeding birds:
Mellempolde and the other, smaller islets are good breeding localities for waders and terns, including oystercatcher, ringed plover, redshank, arctic tern and little tern. The breeding season can fail, however, if a fox finds its way out to the islets. Meadow pipits and skylarks also nest on the islets and on the meadows.

Migrating and staging birds:
The area is an important staging area for ducks and waders in spring and especially in autumn.

Along the coast, shelduck, wigeon, teal, mallard, pintail and goldeneye can be seen. Light-bellied brent geese arrive in the area in September, and many of them stay on through the winter months.

Large numbers of waders stage on the flats during their southward migration from mid-June to well into November, when many oystercatcher, golden plover, grey plover, dunlin, curlew and greenshank can still be seen standing out on the flats. Other waders that turn up in good numbers are knot and bar-tailed godwit, and in smaller numbers curlew sandpiper, broad-billed sandpiper (can be seen yearly in May and July-August) spotted redshank and turnstone. On good days in August up to 20 species of wader can be seen.

On the sea, eider, common scoter and scaup can be seen in large flocks.

In summer, many terns can be seen fishing off the coast – both sandwich tern, common tern and arctic tern. Black tern has shown up regularly in the area during the month of August the last few years. Gannet and arctic skua are seen regularly over the sea in autumn and with luck one can spot great skua, long-tailed skua and pomarine skua.

There are nearly always cormorants sitting out in the fjord – sometimes in large numbers.

Raptors include peregrine, which is seen regularly; osprey, that visits the area in August/September; and white-tailed eagle, that is present all year round. Sparrowhawk, buzzard and kestrel are also seen.

In late summer one can be lucky enough to spot yellow wagtail foraging on the coastal meadows. In winter, the meadows can house flocks of twite.

Visiting and access:
From Randers, take the main 531 road north via Øster Tørslev and Råby, and then turn east towards Sødring. At the crossroads just before Sødring, turn right. At the next bend, turn right again and follow the road past all the holiday cottages and then even further along the coast until one eventually reaches a car park. From here there is a good view across to the Mellempolde islets and the area of shallow water. By continuing along the coast on foot one reaches the meadows, from where one can look out over a large stretch of the shallow sea area.

To make a change, one can go for a walk in the adjacent wood, Sødringholm Skov, which is north of the village of Sødring. Nightjar, black woodpecker, woodlark and wood warbler all nest in the wood. 

Other outlook points are:

1. A car park north of Sødringholm Skov, at the end of the Under Bakken road, from where there is a good view over the coastal meadows.
2. The harbour at Udbyhøj, from where there is a fine view of the Mellempolder.
3. Demstrup Vase, an area of fields which can be viewed from the main Udbyhøjvej road before one reaches Udbyhøj, when coming from the west. Here there are large flocks of whooper swans and geese in winter.  

Arctic tern. Photo: Albert Steen-Hansen


Limfjord, west of Nørresundby

Ulvedybet is one of north Jutland’s best bird localities and is of great importance as a staging area for migrants, especially ducks and waders
See Google map with bird observation tower, car park, etc.

Ulvedybet. Photo: Joy Klein

Ulvedybet is a former arm of the Limfjord that has been enclosed by an embankment. It is a brackish lake with a few islets and with a very large expanse of reedbed. The lake is shallow, with a maximum depth of only 1.5m, varying according to wind and weather. The area is surrounded by meadows with several ponds and bogs. Some of the meadows are grazed by cattle, but there is nonetheless a danger that the reserve will become overgrown in time. Sheep have also been used for grazing during the last few years.

From the embankment south of Ulvedybet there is a view across the reach of the Limfjord known as Gjøl Bredning. West of Ulvedybet is the forest of Oksholm Skov, which is predominantly deciduous woodland with many old trees.

Breeding birds:
Greylag goose, shoveler, garganey and pintail breed in Ulvedybet, together with great crested grebe and little grebe. Breeding waders include dunlin (the southern variety Calidris alpina shinzii), redshank, lapwing, avocet and ringed plover. The next largest population of sedge warblers in northern Jutland nest in the area. Bluethroat (cyanecula) and yellow wagtail nest regularly on the meadows north of Ulvedybet near the pump station. 

Oksholm Skov supports various passerines, including treecreeper, mistle thrush, redstart, pied flycatcher, raven and red-backed shrike. White-tailed eagle breeds in the area and is seen regularly. Buzzard, goshawk, sparrowhawk and marsh harrier breed here, as do long-eared owl and tawny owl. 

Migrating and staging birds:
The area is most interesting during the migration season, especially in the autumn, when a large number of migrating and staging ducks and waders turn up. Mute swan, whooper swan and Bewick’s swan can be seen foraging on the fields north of Ulvedybet from late autumn and throughout the winter. The area Ulvedybet/Nibe Bredning is of international importance for these three species of swan. Geese appear in fairly large flocks, especially greylag goose and canada goose. Both in Ulvedybet and out on the Limfjord one can see brent goose, wigeon, goldeneye, tufted duck, pochard, mallard, teal and red-breasted merganser. Spoonbills from the local colony in the Limfjord can be seen regularly during the spring and summer months. All the common waders are seen here, including avocet, ringed plover, golden plover (in large flocks), grey plover, lapwing, knot, dunlin, and various Tringa species. There is also the possibility of spotting Temminck’s stint (one of the best localities for this species in Denmark), black-tailed godwit, curlew sandpiper and ruff.

Many raptors can be seen in autumn and winter. Hen harrier visits the area regularly from September onwards, and in November rough-legged buzzard passes over the area. In autumn, kestrel, merlin and peregrine appear. Buzzards frequent the area all year round, but October is the month in which most are seen. A pair of white-tailed eagles started to breed in the vicinity in 2017 and are now seen regularly at Ulvedybet.

Visiting and access:
Ulvedbyet is south of the A11 between Åbybro and Brovst and can be reached from Gjøl or Hammershøj. Both Ulvedybet and Gjøl Bredning can be seen from the embankment, where one can park on several lay-bys. From the little hill next to the car park just east of the embankment there is a fine view of the area. There is also a bird observation tower at the west end of the embankment. Here one has a close view of the ducks and waders in the shallow waters in the south-western corner of Ulvedybet. On the eastern side of Ulvedybet there is a good view from the little car park on Gjølvej, with a good chance of seeing waders and ducks. It is also possible to follow the gravel roads north of Ulvedybet to reach a pump station, where there is a good view over the reedbeds. In the winter months, there is a chance of seeing hen harrier going to roost for the night. Oksholm Skov is crossed by a few roads that lead from the A11 to Hammershøj. 

Hen harrier. Photo: Helge Sørensen


North-west Jutland, between Thisted and Fjerritslev

Internationally important both as a staging area and breeding locality. Denmark’s most important breeding site for waterbirds and marsh birds. Many birds all year round.
See Google map with bird observation towers, look-out points, car parks, etc.

Bygholm Vejle. Photo: Joy Klein

Vejlerne covers an area of 60km2 and is situated north of the Limfjord, bordered to the west by Lønnerup Fjord, to the north by Lund Fjord, and to the east by Bygholm Vejle. Around one third of the area - just under 2000 ha - is covered by a dense reedbed, which is the largest in Scandinavia.

Until the 1870’s, Vejlerne was formed by two shallow arms of the Limfjord. In connection with land reclamation projects after 1864, the area was enclosed by dykes and then drained, but without much success. At last, in 1916, the pumps were stopped and drainage abandoned. The area was gradually transformed into a mosaic of reedbeds, meadows and shallow lakes with brackish water: a paradise for birds and animals. It was used for grazing, hay-making, reed harvesting, commercial fishing and hunting. In 1958, the area was appointed a nature reserve, and in 1960 it was appointed Denmark’s largest scientific research reserve. In 1965 the A11 road was built across the embankment at Bygholm. At the same time, a central sluice was built into the embankment, thus lowering the water level in the eastern part of Vejlerne. As a result of this, the birdlife in this part of the area was reduced dramatically.

In 1993, Vejlerne was acquired by the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation (now Aage V. Jensen Naturfond). The foundation aims at preserving and wherever possible improving this unique area by means of water level regulation and grazing of the meadows. Several bird hides and a nature centre have been constructed.

Vejlerne is the largest bird reserve in northern Europe and one of the most important areas for breeding and staging water birds. More than 300 bird species have been registered in the reserve, 130 of which have bred here. The area is the most important habitat in the whole of Denmark for more than 10 bird species.

Breeding birds:
The reedbeds house large breeding populations of passerines such as sedge warbler, marsh warbler, reed warbler, bearded tit and reed bunting. Bluethroat has also started to nest in the area. More than half the Danish population of bittern breed in the reedbeds. Marsh harrier, water rail and spotted crake breed here too. The reserve houses Denmark's largest population of crane with an estimated 10-15 pairs. Kogleakssø, one of the openings in the reedbeds, is a breeding site for the rare black tern, which, however, are not always successful in raising young due to weather conditions and predation. Floating islands have  been created in an attempt to help the terns. There is a good population of black-headed gull, and smaller colonies of common tern and arctic tern. All the four species of grebe that breed in Denmark can be found here: great crested grebe, red-necked grebe, little grebe and black-necked grebe. It is estimated that over 1000 pairs of greylag geese nest here. In spring they can be seen here together with the migrating guests. Breeding ducks include gadwall, pintail, shoveler and garganey. 

On the island of Melsig in the Arup Vejle is a large cormorant colony with 800-900 pairs. A few years ago, spoonbill began to nest on the island and numbers  increased to over 40 pairs, but in 2019 no breeding birds were observed.

The latest addition to the breeding birds is the great white egret, which started to nest in a grey heron colony in 2016, and was thus the first colony of this species in Denmark. Since then, the birds have continued to breed here, but both the great white egrets and the grey herons have been disturbed by white-tailed eagles during the last few years.

All the waders that breed on the Danish coastal meadows are found here: oystercatcher, avocet, lapwing, dunlin (schinzii), ruff (numbers vary considerably from year to year), snipe, black-tailed godwit and redshank.

Migrating and staging birds:
Many of the birds that stage in Vejlerne appear in thousands. Nearly all the Danish dabbling ducks and diving ducks can be seen here. In April, especially, large flocks of goldeneye and red-breasted merganser come to forage on the Limfjord and roost for the night in Vejlerne. Mute swan, shelduck and goosander can be seen. Large flocks of geese use the meadows to forage. Bean goose, pink-footed goose, greylag goose and barnacle goose are seen here in large numbers, especially in March/April, but white-fronted goose and canada goose are also observed. Spoonbills stage in the area from spring until the end of September. 

Waders can be seen everywhere, especially avocet, golden plover, lapwing, dunlin, black-tailed godwit, redshank and wood sandpiper.

There are many raptors in the area, attracted by the large flocks of waterbirds. Both spring and autumn, marsh harrier, hen harrier, sparrowhawk, buzzard, rough-legged buzzard, kestrel, merlin and peregrine can be seen. Osprey is a regular visitor. White-tailed eagle is present throughout the year. As in the rest of Denmark, it has shown a remarkable growth in numbers the last few years. The largest congregations in Vejlerne occur in the autumn months, especially in November, when up to 16 have been recorded in the Bygholm Vejle. 

In late summer/autumn, a good many cranes gather in the area. They are probably the Danish breeding birds which congregate here with their young before flying south. From August to November, Kraptårnet often offers good views of flocks of cranes - sometimes between 100-200 birds. They fly to and from their roosting grounds on Bygholm Vejle. Spoonbills also appear in imposing numbers in late summer/autumn. Great white egret collect here in autumn and have been seen flying to an overnight roost in a little group of spruce trees near Kogleakssøen. At this time of the year there are also many waders, especially large flocks of golden plover (up to 25,000 in October/November) and lapwing. Many ducks forage on the meadows, especially wigeon, teal and mallard. 

In winter, the area houses large flocks of whooper swan and some Bewick’s swan. Vejlerne is also a wintering ground for several peregrines.

Rarities turn up from time to time. During the last few years, for example, pectoral sandpiper, red-crested pochard, red-breasted goose, pallid harrier, red-necked phalarope, black stork and green-winged teal.

Other animals:
Vejlerne probably boasts the largest population of otter in Denmark. Red deer are also present in the area.

Visiting and access:
Vejlerne is on the A11 road between Thisted and Fjerritslev. The reserve itself is not open to the public, but there are many look-out points and bird hides from which to watch the birdlife. It is a good idea to use the leaflets about the area, published by Aage V. Jensen Naturfond, some of which are in English, and which can be downloaded from their website about Vejlerne.

1. Bygholm Vejle comprises the Bygholm meadow between the Bygholm embankment to the south, and the dyke known as Krapdiget to the north. Here, there are breeding avocet, black-tailed godwit, dunlin and ruff, and here one can observe the geese, ducks and waders feeding on the meadows. There are five  car parks along the Bygholm embankment south of Bygholm Vejle, and there is also the nature centre (Naturrum Vejlerne) with a bird hide and disabled-friendly toilets.
2. Kraptårnet is a bird observation tower at the eastern end of Krapdiget that can be reached by driving north along the eastern side of Bygholm Vejle. From the tower there is a view over the Bygholm meadow and the enormous reedbeds north of the dyke. The reedbeds hide a large population of bittern. There are also large breeding populations of red-necked grebe, marsh harrier, greylag goose and black-headed gull. From the tower one can be lucky enough to see ruffs displaying on their lecks. This is also the best place from which to see the cranes staging on the dyke and on the meadow in the afternoon and evening.
3. Kogleakssøen, which is a lake forming part of Bygholm Vejle, can be reached by driving north along the western side of Bygholm Vejle from Øsløs, and then eastwards to the hide at Kærup Holme. Here one can see breeding red-necked grebe, garganey, shoveler and black tern. Snipe can be seen in large numbers. Bearded tits fly around over the reedbeds behind the hide. The area also houses bittern and marsh harrier. 
4. At the eastern end of the embankment between Han Vejle and Lund Fjord are two car parks. From here there are boardwalks leading through the reedbeds on both the northern and southern side of the road. The northern boardwalk leads to a bird observation tower with a view across Lund Fjord. The southern boardwalk gives access to a hide with a view across Han Vejle. There are picnic tables along the route. In the reedbeds bearded tit, reed warbler, reed bunting, water rail, coot and bittern can be seen or heard. Several species of duck can be spotted on the water. In late summer/autumn large flocks of starlings roost in the reeds.
5. South-west of Tømmerby Fjord is a large bird observation tower beside a car park next to the main road. Bittern and a few pairs of marsh harrier breed at the fjord. A breeding platform to the north-east is used by nesting oystercatcher. In addition, red-necked grebe, coot and mallard are often seen here.
6. Next to the road between Vesløs and the Arup embankment is a hide with a view across Arup Vejle, in which the island of Melsig houses a large cormorant colony, together with nesting herring gulls, lesser black-backed gulls, mute swans and several species of duck. Many waders and geese forage on the meadows that lead down to the water.
7. On the Arup embankment south of Østerild Fjord are several places where one can park the car and look across the fjord.
8. Østerildtårnet offers a view over Østerild Fjord and Arup Vejle. From the car park south of Aalborgvej (and east of the village of Østerild) one can walk or cycle out to the tower (around 1½ km). In summer there are good chances of seeing spoonbill. In spring and autumn, large flocks of barnacle geese gather here. White-tailed eagle can be spotted all year round. With luck, one may catch a glimpse of an otter in Tømmerby Å.


Bearded tit, Han Vejle. Photo: Albert Steen-Hansen

Vest Stadil Fjord

West Jutland, northwest of Ringkøbing, next to the coast

Vest Stadil Fjord is an important staging area for large flocks of geese and ducks, and is a breeding site for many waterbirds. Marsh harrier and bittern are regular breeders. During migration and in winter, various raptors are seen regularly.
See Google map with car park etc.

The hunting cabin at Mellemdyb. Photo: Jens Ballegaard

Originally part of Stadil Fjord, the area has been surrounded by dykes and drained on several occasions. The first time, in 1863, the area became meadow, reedbeds and large expanses of water. In the 1950s, the drainage project was more successful, and most of the earth dried out and was cultivated with corn. After the state had purchased a large part of the area in 1993, a nature re-establishment project was started in the area north of Skelmosevej. It was decided to re-establish water surfaces, reedbeds and wet meadows.

Today, the area consists basically of three shallow lakes surrounded by reedbeds and arable fields. The largest lake is Søndre Dyb, which is surrounded by reedbeds. All the way round this wet area are large areas where corn and grass are cultivated. The water quality in Søndre Dyb is poor due to heavy pollution from nitrates and ochre. Attempts are now being made to improve the situation through nature re-establishment in the northern part and more environmentally friendly farming. Mellemdyb is where birds can generally best be seen. The area consists of several lakes surrounded by quite large reedbeds, which have, however, been removed at the car park next to Jens Bjerg-Thomsens hunting cabin on Skelmosevej – partly to give a better view and partly to keep the vegetation from spreading. Nordre Dyb consists of several smallish lakes surrounded by reedbeds, grass fields and meadows. North of the re-established area, two basins have been dug out to enable ochre fall-out. Attempts are being made to re-establish wet meadows on the low-lying fields nearby with the help of flooding, grazing and by establishing snipe scrapes.

The whole area around Vest Stadil Fjord is bordered on the west by a line of dunes and on the east by an embankment.

Breeding birds:
Thanks to the environmentally friendly measures now being taken, breeding birds are beginning to move into the area again. Bittern, water rail, marsh harrier and mute swan, together with great crested grebe and little grebe now breed regularly. Dabbling ducks such as garganey and gadwall nest here, as do coot, lapwing, redshank and snipe. Black tern is not a regular breeder, but can be seen in Mellemdyb throughout the summer. This can be seen from the hunting cabin. There is a small colony of black-headed gull and a number of breeding passerines including yellow wagtail, sedge warbler and bearded tit. Bluethroat has also started to breed in the area. The last few years it has been seen and heard along the canal round Jens Bjerg-Thomsen's hunting cabin. Bearded tit is often seen near the cabin. Stonechat is often seen in the area, especially along the coastal road.

Migrating and staging birds:
Large flocks of barnacle geese can be seen during the migration season and in winter, and smaller flocks of pink-footed geese and white-fronted geese can be spotted in the area.

Both in spring and autumn, Vest Stadil Fjord hosts large numbers of wigeon, teal, pintail, mallard, pochard and tufted duck. In autumn, flocks of whooper swan and Bewick’s swan arrive.Every year, sizeable groups of dotterel are seen foraging here in the middle of May. During the migration season and in winter there are good chances of spotting hen harrier, rough-legged buzzard, peregrine and merlin. Osprey is seen every year. Up to 2000 curlew stage here in early April.

In summer one may be lucky enough to see a spoonbill. Spoonbills are often see foraging in Mellemdyb. Little gull and black tern can sometimes be seen flying around over Mellemdyb. In the summer months, Caspian tern is a regular visitor. White-tailed eagle is seen regularly. Great white egret can be seen throughout the year.

During autumn and winter, Vest Stadil Fjord is a good locality for observing flocks of shore lark, twite and lapland bunting.

Visiting and access:
Vest Stadil Fjord is a large area offering many good bird-watching sites, with access from three public roads:

From Husby Klitvej (A181):
1. Between the 12km and 13km stones on Husby Klitvej one can climb the dunes and get a good overall view of the northern area. The birds are perhaps rather distant, but there is a good change of spotting peregrine.
2. At the 14.3 km stone one can turn onto a farm track and take a 90 degree bend to the ochre precipitation basins. Park the car here and walk further along eastwards (about 100m). From here there is a good chance of seeing dotterel in May.
3. Other good sites are at Krylen (5 km marker stone) and Sidselbjerg (6.3 km stone).

On Skelmosevej between Søndre Dyb and Mellemdyb, a car park offers a picnic area, toilets and a mini-museum in Jens Bjerg-Thomsens hunting cabin. This is a good place for seeing the great crested grebe, little grebe, ducks and coots, foraging geese, raptors and passerines.

Stadiløvej east of Søndre Dyb is especially good in May for dotterel and in autumn for golden plovers, geese and shore larks.


Pink-footed geese. Photo: Albert Steen-Hansen

Vilsted Sø

North Jutland, west Himmerland, south of Ranum

A re-established wetland with many staging ducks
See Google map with bird observation towers, look-out point, car parks, etc.

Vilsted Sø - view from the observation tower. Photo: Joy Klein

Vilsted Sø is a re-established wetland consisting of a lake of around 450 ha surrounded by about 480 ha wet and dry meadows. The lake is the largest freshwater lake in north Jutland.

In the stone age, the area was part of the arm of a fjord stretching into Himmerland from the Limfjord. When the land rose subsequently, Vilsted Sø was one of the two lakes that were left. In the 19th century the lake was partially drained, and in 1914 there were only around 15 ha of water surface left. The lake was finally completely drained in 1956. A little more than 40 years later, it was decided that the wetland should be re-established and in 2006 the lake was officially opened. The lake itself and the surrounding meadows have been purchased by the Aage V. Jensen Naturfond, but the rest of the area (around 70 ha) is privately owned.   

It is expected that in time around two thirds of the lake will be covered with reedbeds, while the remainder will be open water with a maximum depth of 1.75m. Around the lake are meadows, some of which are grazed, as well as willow and alder scrub, springs and pools. A few bird islets have been established just off the Holmen peninsula.

Breeding birds:
Great crested grebe, mute swan, greylag goose, mallard, gadwall, teal and shoveler breed at the lake. Redshank, snipe and yellow wagtail breed on the meadows and there are some black-headed gull colonies spread around the lake, replacing the former single large colony.

Water rail is  heard throughout the year, and the reedbeds are home to breeding marsh harrier, bluethroat, bearded tit, sedge warbler, reed warbler and reed bunting. A pair of kingfisher have bred regularly for several years and several more pairs turn up in winter. Thrush nightingale, marsh warbler, lesser whitethroat and especially whitethroat sing in the willow scrub around the lake in spring and summer. Heron is seen in the area throughout the year. Two small woods, Hedegård Plantage and Lundgård Skov, are right next to the lake, so that forest birds also contribute to a hike around the lake in springtime. In the evening and night time one can hear tawny owl and long-eared owl. A pair of white-tailed eagles have bred at the lake since 2019, and the nest can be seen from the observation tower.   

Migrating and staging birds:
The wetlands attract large flocks of ducks in the spring and autumn months, especially wigeon, teal, mallard, pintail, shoveler, pochard, tufted duck and goldeneye. In autumn, large numbers of coot can be seen. In the winter and early spring, a large number of goosander, whooper swan, pink-footed goose, greylag goose and barnacle goose can be seen foraging. White-fronted goose, canada goose and smew appear im smaller numbers. 

Waders seen on spring and autumn migration include large flocks of dunlin, golden plover and lapwing, and smaller flocks of ruff, avocet, common sandpiper, wood sandpiper and a few greenshank.

Buzzard and kestrel are seen regularly throughout the year. Peregrine falcon, hen harrier and osprey show up during the migrating season.

The meadows are good foraging grounds for flocks of starlings, both spring and autumn. In late summer and in autumn, hirundines use the reedbeds for night roosting and large flocks have been observed.

Vilsted Sø is only 20 km from Vejlerne on the other side of the Limfjord, which means that birds from there often visit the lake, for example great white egret, crane, spoonbill and white-winged black tern. 

Visiting and access:
One can reach Vilsted Sø from the town of Ranum, which is situated on route 533 south of Løgstør, or from the village of Vilsted, which is east of Ranum and west of route 29 between Hobro and Fjerritslev. There are several car parks round the lake that can be reached from the tarmac road leading round the area. It is recommended to use the Nature Agency’s leaflet about Vilsted Sø that can be downloaded here, and which has a detailed map with information about car parks, paths, cycle tracks and other facilities. The path round the lake is 20km long. In 2014 a 220m long wooden bridge was built over the narrowest part of the lake at the Holmen peninsula. The bridge connects the existing paths, so that there are now a 12.5km long trail round the northern part of the lake and a 13.5km long trail round the southern part of the lake. There is a disabled-friendly observation tower on the Holmen peninsula with a good view across to the bird islets.

At Ranum Søhus there is an exhibition about Vilsted Sø. The ruins of the monastery of Vitskøl Kloster, which are well worth a visit, are situated at the western end of the lake.

Wigeon. Photo: Helge Sørensen

Vorup Enge

Randers, east Jutland

A re-established lake and wetland just outside the town of Randers, with many waterbirds.
See Google map with bird observation towers, car parks, etc.

Vorup Enge looking east towards Randers. Photo: Benny Kristensen

Vorup Enge is part of the Gudenå valley that was formed during the last ice age. In the stone age, the whole valley was a fjord with marine flora and fauna. The bed of the fjord gradually turned into meadows during the iron age and the Viking period. Farmers used the meadows for grazing and hay-making right up to the end of the 19th century. As was the case for so many other wetlands in Denmark, the meadows were drained after the Second World War to create arable land. The area was cultivated for more than 50 years. Drainage resulted in the meadows sinking nearly one metre during this period. In 2004 the meadows were flooded as part of a re-establishment project.

Vorup Enge is now a large wetland, covering around 120ha, with one large open lake, several grazed meadows, a few small copses and some scrub. At low tide large mudflats emerge in the lake. Nature trails have been laid out on three sides of the area, which can be viewed from three bird observation towers. Vorup Enge is today owned by the Aage V. Jensen Naturfond.

Breeding birds:
Many waterbirds moved into the area as early as 2004, when the meadows were flooded. Most birds use the area as a staging and foraging locality, but a few also nest here. The most numerous breeding bird is mallard, but shelduck, gadwall, garganey and shoveler can also be spotted during the breeding season. Waders include lapwing and snipe. The reedbeds, meadows and scrub are nesting sites for passerines such as meadow pipit, grasshopper warbler, sedge warbler, marsh warbler, reed warbler and reed bunting. Savi's warbler has been heard nearly every year for the past many years. Bluethroat (race cyanecula) has now become a regular breeder with several pairs every  year. Marsh harrier also breeds in the area.

Migrating and staging birds:
The meadows host many staging birds spring and autumn, including cormorant, mute swan, greylag goose, wigeon and teal. Vorup Enge is one of the best localities in Denmark for teal, with flocks of up to 3000 being seen. Gadwall, shoveler and tufted duck are seen in lesser numbers. Migrating waders include lapwing, ruff, snipe, greenshank, green sandpiper and wood sandpiper. Vorup Enge is the locality in Denmark in which the largest number of snipe has been seen during the last 10-15 years (up to 900 staging birds). Vorup Enge is a regular staging site for a large number of black-headed gulls, common gulls and herring gulls. Common tern can be seen from April to September. 

White-tailed eagle, red kite, hen harrier, osprey, marsh harrier, sparrowhawk, buzzard and kestrel are seen regularly. Peregrine can visit the meadows during the winter months. In winter, whooper swans and canada geese are also seen.

Visiting and access:
The area can be accessed from two spots:
1) By a pathway leading from Randers Regnskov on the outskirts of the town of Randers and crossing the railway bridge
2) From the car park/picnic area at exit 41 on the east side of the E45 motorway.

Facilities comprise three observation towers – one of which is situated in the Gudenåpark on the north side of the Gudenå (follow the path west from Randers Regnskov), a pavilion for school classes, and a network of paths that ensure the birdlife is disturbed as little as possible.

It is possible to reach another newly established wetland, Hornbæk Enge, on the north side of the Gudenå, by using a footbridge adjacent to the motorway over the river. A large number of birds breed here, including gadwall and tufted duck. There is a good view over the area from a path on the embankment along the river. There are four outlook platforms along the path.

Common tern with young. Photo: Helge Sørensen