KYST 35 – from Nexø Harbour to Nexø Sydstrand, 31.08.18

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 35 As I drove across Bornholm, the misty rain increased its severity and by the time I arrived back at Nexø Harbour for the sunrise, it was persistent and seemed destined to remain for the whole day. I took a walk around, scoping for cover, across the waterlogged wasteland fronting the harbour, but was forced to return to the car. As I began to work on a slice painting (see top) – documenting the welcome cessation of the rain and the start of a new day – a life boat shot out of the harbour accompanied by the wailing sirens of vehicles heading north to Svaneke.

Now that the rain had stopped, I wandered around the wasteland, under the whirring blades of two huge wind turbines. The grey weather presented a somewhat depressing backdrop to the piles of earth, tractor tracks and industrial silhouette of Nexø harbour, but the area was fascinating and charming in its own right, with a rich biodiversity of flowers, insects and birds. I sat and sketched the strange forms of the flora when suddenly a sparrowhawk shot by, after a flock of starlings.

Just after I had packed my things and walked on, a tiny ice-blue butterfly flew by and alighted on the seedhead of a nearby plant. I unpacked again and stealthily approached the butterfly, a common-blue, with my paper and paints. Amazingly it remained still, at one point even relaxing its wings – a most obliging model.

I trudged onwards and stopped by the industrial end of the harbour again. The squat boat I had painted last week was no longer there.

Continuing along the southern arm of the harbour I soon arrived at a small and very cosy jetty, where there were good views south to Nexø Sydstrand, the day’s destination and one of my favourite places on Bornholm. The whole coastal area is a protected reserve, where migrating and local birds come to feed in their thousands, enjoying the shallow and nutrient rich waters on the sandstone bedrock. I was looking forward to seeing a multitude of birds, and already the honking of thousands of resting graylag geese filled the air. I set up my telescope on the arm of the jetty, where various waders and some teal duck fed in the mud.

Farther out, the silhouetted dark shapes of a flock of coot were amicably diving together after seaweed, a world away from the aggressive and territorial thugs they turn into in springtime.

I packed up and carried on past a row of houses and on to the bird reserve proper, with the incessant honking of thousands of geese. The dynamic weather delivered moments of sun followed by showers.

By now I was really exhausted as well as irritated that I wasn’t able to make more of my ‘home advantage’.  I opened up my M60 umbrella, but managed to spook the geese, who flew off en masse, honking in terror. Guiltily, I walked around to try and clear my head, and on returning tried to work larger and change things up a little.

Eventually the penny dropped and I realized how hungry I was. I had some food and took a well-earned break, happy to sit back and watch the show. My mood had imperceptibly transformed from irritable to contemplative, and from my vantage point on the edge of the beach I had an incredible 180 degree view of the sea, the sky, and the constant activity of the birds. I marveled at the incredible richness of the panorama, and drank in the colours, the sounds and the smells surrounding me. Now that the geese had mostly vacated the area, the more gentle piping and wheezing of the multitude of wader species filled the air and periodically the sun would briefly appear from between the clouds, and cast a magical warm light on the birds. In the early evening glow I detected the most delicate rose tint on the breast of some black headed gulls, lazily swimming in the deep grey-blue reflection of the passing rain clouds above.

Energised again, in the fading light I switched my attention to a solitary lapwing on the edge of the seaweed. Eventually it was too dark to continue and I packed up again, both fatigued and elated in equal measures.


Weather report = Mostly cloudy with rain very early in the morning and some showers later. Temperature between 15°C and 20°C. Wind between 6 and 3 m/s from the west. Hours of sunshine: 1 hour.

Lessons learned – my rain jacket by itself is next to useless, as the rain just flows directly on to my jeans. Remember waterproof trousers next time…

Stops with the M60 = 2

Kilometers walked = 10.08 km

Day lasted = 14 hours, 0 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 57 species (17 new ones = great white egret, wigeon, common teal, lapwing, grey plover, ringed plover, redshank, turnstone, common snipe, knot, dunlin, curlew sandpiper, ruff, wood sandpiper, red breasted shrike, wheatear, spotted flycatcher, *KYST record* running total 119)

Other stuff = 57 birds in one locality, of which 14 were different wader species shows what difference a bird reserve makes.

People talked to = 2 (1 + 1)

In my head – next week’s teaching at the Højskole, upcoming exhibitions, chess, the ‘Tanks’ game