KYST 21 – from Helligdomsklipperne to Stevelen, 26.05.18

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 21 For once I was actually in good time – unpacked and ready and armed with a strong coffee, waiting for the sun to break the horizon. Perched high on a rocky outcrop I had a fantastic view of the ocean and the surrounding cliffs and crags. I had heard that a pair of peregrines was nesting somewhere in the area, and I was hoping that I might be lucky enough to get a view of the birds, or even the nest if I could find it. As I gazed out over the sea, I saw the blood-orange light of the sun rise out of the sea, just to the left of the islands of Christiansø, 18km to the north east. At that very moment – at that very moment! – I heard the familiar yikkering call of the peregrine, as if welcoming the new day. Minutes later a huge female peregrine flew out from the cliffs below and sailed back and forth right in front of me, all the time energetically calling. It was a magical and unforgettable moment and I quickly got to work…

For at least ten minutes she powered back and forth, wing tips beating through the still air. A massive and muscular bird, she was silhouetted against the rising sun. I struggled to depict the unusual shape and the sense of weight and power of the bird. It seems almost sacrilegious to say it, but at times, peregrines – especially the much larger females – can seem musclebound, overweight even, and at times she reminded me of a huge and bulky wood pigeon. Every now and then, however, she would turn and stoop, instantly transforming into a jet-powered streamlined and menacing projectile.

When the show was over, and once I had calmed down, I continued working on a painting of the ‘Lyseklippen’ rocks, the same view that I had finished up with last week. There was a cooling onshore wind and the water was agitated, but otherwise the conditions were perfect and I looked forward to the unfolding of the day.

After a quick breakfast in an open-sided barn back at the car-park, where I enjoyed watching swallows building their nests at very close quarters, I continued along the cliff-top path towards my destination. After a short while the path came down and skirted the shore and I walked out on to a stony and secluded beach. Looking south I could see the town of Gudhjem in the distance (see top). I tried to find the peregrine nest, but it was well hidden. Eider ducks with their young were strung out along the shore. Female eider ducks often join forces and raise their young in a communal crèche and I saw one rather harassed looking female in the surf surrounded by no less than 36 fluffy ducklings.

One group of females resting on the shore seemed to be enjoying the better side of the bargain.

I walked on. Unable to continue along the shore because of rocky outcrops, I continued back up along the coastal clifftop path. In the shade of the trees hugging the cliff top there was a constant gurgle and bubble of garden warblers and blackcaps, but little else. There were many lime and sycamore trees, along with the usual ash, wild cherry and rowan. To my right there was farmland, and the clifftop walk felt divorced from the coast down below. I was glad when the path descended again, down to another stony beach. Here I wandered around and had some lunch, and tried to take a small nap. On waking I made some studies of some of the wild flowers (dragon’s teeth and birds-foot trefoil, apparently)  growing amongst the rock pools and grass tussocks flanking the rocky shore.

Another group of three eider ducks were almost invisible on the jagged rocks.

Leaving the beach, but unable to progress further along the shore, I walked back on to the path and round the rocky promonotory called Stevelen, passing through the charming little café where I enjoyed a fantastic coffee with wonderful views of the ocean. It felt luxurious and perhaps a little decadent, and I wandered onwards past Stevelen and down to the shore where the huge sweep of the Salene Bay opened up before me, with the red roofs of Gudhjem clearly visible in the early evening light. I made a timed slice painting, recording the changing light and colours, as the sun set behind me.

When not occupied with the slice painting, I painted the incredibly complex and intricate face of Stevelen. I was struck by how it somewhat mirrored the Jons Kapel rock face I had painted all those weeks ago, during KYST 07.

During a break between ‘stripes’ I had jogged back to the day’s start point and collected my car. A genius move I was very glad for, as I wearily climbed back up to the cliff top path with all my gear and into my waiting car. It had been a fantastic day under a warm sun and as I drove back to my home I could still recall the yikkering peregrine falcon I had witnessed over seventeen hours earlier.


Weather report = Mostly sunny all day with a few cloudy periods in the mid-afternoon. Temperature between 11 °C in the early morning and evening and 19 °C in the afternoon (though it felt cooler with an onshore wind). Wind between 4 and 6 m/s from the west and north west. Visibility: fantastic. Hours of sunshine: 16 hours . Officially the hottest and sunniest May since records began, Bornholm is a tinderbox and drought beckons…

Lessons learned – good idea to run back and collect the car before the sunset, so I was ready to leave after the day finished.

Stops with the M60 = 1

Kilometers walked = 16.04 km (KYST record)

Day lasted = 17 hours, 13 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 38 species (2 new ones = peregrine falcon, dunnock  = running total 93)

Other stuff = when watching the nesting swallows in the barn by the car park, I was struck by how confiding they were. I thought about how much joy these swallows are going to give all the other people and tourists that are going to sit there, like me, and watch them over the next couple of months.

People talked to = 1

In my head = … I couldn’t forget the article I read on about the biomass of life on Earth. Whilst at first I felt reassured that humans only make up 0,01% of the world’s total biomass, I was horrified to read that, out of the total biomass of animals, humans and livestock (domestic animals) make up 96%, with the remaining 4% – FOUR percent!  – wild animals. In another words, in the space of 10,000 years or so (an instant), wild animals have gone from 99,9% to 4%. I can’t get it out of my head.