8th December 2016

When my Godson began to train as an airline pilot I promised him that I would be on his first flight, wherever it was. In the event, it turned out to be the evening flight, departing at 19.30, from Copenhagen to Gatwick.

I booked on that flight and also on the early morning flight out, leaving Gatwick at 07.00. The return ticket cost £60. The flight landed on time at about 09.50 and I disembarked and cleared immigration in a matter of minutes and headed straight to the airport train station.

The train and underground service in Denmark is excellent and I had no trouble either buying a ticket or finding the right platform from which to take the train from the airport station (Lufthavnen) to the third stop at Ørestad where I caught the metro to the next stop, which is also the end of the line, at Vestamager. I arrived there at 10.26. Both train rides took a total of 12 minutes, though I was perhaps fortunate in making a good connection and didn’t have to wait.

Clutching the map of the area that I had printed off from the Internet before leaving home, I hoped that it would not be difficult to find my way to the reserve. My worries were needless; stepping out of the station a sign pointed the way to the Vestamager Nature Centre and the whole route, about a 10 minute walk, was clearly signposted.

Due to its size, Vestamager is the sort of reserve that we simply do not have in England - over 5,000 acres of marshland with reedbeds, birch forest, lakes and lagoons leading through a saltmarsh to the sea.

Being winter in Denmark I was not expecting a huge species tally and set myself a target of 40, in the event falling three short. Highlights included Whooper Swan, Smew, Hen Harrier, Brambling and Tree Sparrow with a large supporting cast of Hooded Crow, Fieldfare and Magpie. I did a 10km walk but couldn't get to the sea as the final 200 metres was too flooded and didn't have time for the 3km detour reaching it on dry land would have entailed.

Hopefully, the idea of putting seats into their hides may one day occur to the Danes.

I headed back, with daylight left, to meet  my cousins (my godson's parents) off the 13.00 flight that arrived at 15.50 and we headed into central Copenhagen where we had time to walk from Nørreport to the Central Station (with a peek into the beautiful Tivoli Gardens) taking in the Christmas lights and a lovely Christmas market made all the better by a cup of hot glühwein before being flown safely back to Gatwick, on the 19.30, by my godson who said the most nerve-wracking part of the flight was having to make the public announcements to the passengers.

Below is the list of species which I saw on my half-day at Vestamager Nature Centre in the dead of winter, with approximate numbers for some of them.

 

Greater White-fronted Goose

200

Greylag Goose

40

Barnacle Goose

14

Whooper Swan

4

Mallard

 

Common Pochard

5

Tufted Duck

12

Smew

4

Pheasant

7

Grey Heron

6

Hen Harrier

1

Coot

15

Curlew

7

Black-headed Gull

Common Gull

Herring Gull

Feral Pigeon

2

Wood Pigeon

Collared Dove

Kestrel

3

Magpie

Jackdaw

Rook

 

Hooded Crow

Blue Tit

 

Great Tit

 

Wren

Robin

Blackbird

5

Fieldfare

45

Redwing

6

Meadow Pipit

2

Chaffinch

 

Brambling

 

Greenfinch

14

Goldfinch

8

Tree Sparrow