KYST 43 – from Gedebak Odde to Raghammer Odde, 29.10.18

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 43 I arrived back at Gedebak Odde three days later than planned due to military exercises at Raghammer Odde on the Friday. It was cold, wet and windy and for the first time since April I was clad in my thermal flying suit, as well as waterproofs, gloves and a wooly hat. Settling on the beach, I got to work immediately on a slice painting. The sky was incredibly dynamic and the gunmetal grey and deep indigo-blue clouds shot past overhead, sometimes accompanied by a rain shower. I struggled in the windy and wet conditions.


Eventually I walked on along the sandy beach. The sea was high and the waves took bites out of the coast. Thankfully the wind was on my back and not in my face. Often I was forced off the shore and on to the high dune that runs alongside the beach all the way to Raghammer Odde. The drizzle was relentless and I had to take shelter under the M60, but the soft sand meant it was impossible to secure it in the high wind.


Up on the dune I took shelter under the M60 and looked through vegetation towards the sea. There were few birds.


A group of gulls fed on the shore, picking small tidbits off the retreating waves. The rain and wind meant that I couldn’t sit and draw them through the telescope, so instead I retreated to the shelter of the umbrella, relying on my memory to guide me instead of the optical reality of the birds (see also top).


I wandered into the stunted pine forest that borders the dune and is part of the area used for military exercises. Save for the roar of the waves and the wind, it was silent and seemed empty of life. I carried on, all the way along the beach over the soft sand, dodging the incoming waves. Eventually I arrived at Raghammer Odde, a large open heathland where the military carry out regular military exercises. Despite, or perhaps because of this, the area is usually rich in birdlife and flora, but today in the relentless drizzle and wind there was very little showing. As the rain increased in severity I crawled under the M60 again, and tried to paint the rich colours of the Rugosa rose just next to one of the many bunkers.


Despite the grey dusky light, the wetness made all the colours incredibly intense – the strange pairing of the hot-pink flower with the tomato-red fruit, and the leaves all sorts of gold, yellow and green. I crawled out of the M60 and staggered exhaustedly towards my pick up point at the Raghammer car park, when the light was too dark to carry on, reassured with the thought that I would be returning in just four days



Weather report = regular showers and rain all through the day, some brief sunny periords. Temperature between 6°C and 8°C (though it felt much colder in the wind). Wind between 8 and 10 m/s from the east. Hours of sunshine: 0.5 hours.

Lessons learned – it is difficult dealing with the humidity and wind. I knew that anyway. My new hiking boots are good.

Stops with the M60 = 4

Kilometers walked = 7.80 km

Day lasted = 9 hours, 40 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 22 species (0 new ones – running total 136)

Other stuff = at one point a goldcrest almost landed on my arm as it picked methodically through the pines in the hunt for spiders and insects.

People talked to = 1

Snakkede med = 1

In my head – The trip to London last week. Hangovers. What ‘evil’ means.  ‘4321’ a book I’m reading by Paul Auster.


KYST 42 – from Slusegaard to Gedebak Odde – 19.10.18

For at læse denne KYST 42 blog på dansk, se her

See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 42 In good time again, I parked my car and walked down to the open heathland area at Slusegaard. On the way down to the coast I paused at the small stone marker that indicates the graticule of 15 degrees longitude east and 55 degrees latitude north. For the first time in many months, my toes and fingers were freezing, despite my wooly hat and gloves. The sky was clear and there was little wind, but the air was humid and I felt chilled to my bones.

Above, there was an almost constant stream of birds on the move: thrushes, siskins and greenfinches, with sparrowhawks and rough legged buzzards higher up. Eventually I moved down to the beach and basked in the warming sun. I painted the Ole stream emptying out into the sea – the unseasonably warm and dry weather meant that there was little more than a trickle.

On the large erratic boulder close to the shore – the same one that the swans had fought on last week – a cormorant and herring gull sat and preened together. After last week’s pessimism I felt relaxed and positive.

I found the swans again, this time feeding further out, silhouetted by the reflections of the rising sun.

I walked on, to the tiny harbour at Bakkerne, where a collection of small fishing boats rocked gently on their moorings. Just inland, a motley collection of summer houses nestled in the dunes, together with a few more permanent looking houses. Returning to the beach I continued westward and soon arrived at Holster Odde, where scores of coromorants, gulls and mallards perched on the large boulders that lay scattered in the shallow water. The small cape at Holster Odde markes the boundary between the Silurian slate and the younger Cretaceous Rabække formation that continues westward – a jump of some 300 million years. I sat and marked the spot with a slice painting (see top).

Before moving off I painted some studies of a wonderfully lit herring gull.

Now I walked all the way along the straight sandy beach to the Kadeau restaurant, in front of which I had arranged to meet someone. Sitting on the beach with the sun on our faces, it was difficult to believe that November was just a couple of weeks away. Several people swam in the crystal clear waters and I actually regretted not bringing a towel – to think I had been freezing just hours earlier. After some wonderful brownies and coffee, I continued westward, stopping to sketch the cloud formation that had momentarily obscured the sun and caused the temperature to plummet.

Further on still, my attention was caught by the shapes of the shifting sand in the dunes. Close to the shore, the forces of gravity and wind had created a miniature but ephemeral likeness of the Grand Canyon, not a metre high. Even whilst I sat there and painted small cascades of sand would periodically fall from the cliff face and gather on the slope below, as if time itself was sped up. Geological process that would usually unfold over thousands or even millions of years, were being played out before me, and as my eye soared over the sandy canyons I sensed a giddy feeling of omnipotence, as if I could control time and space.

I reached Gedebække Point with an hour or so until sundown. I wandered around on the dunes before finally settling in front of a small oak tree that was silhouetted against the setting sun, its autumn leaves ablaze. It had been a wonderful day and I walked back along the beach to the waiting car, as the sunset continued behind me.


Weather report = Unbroken sun for most of the day. Temperature between 7°C and 13°C (though it felt much hotter in the sun). Wind between 2 and 3 m/s from the northwest. Hours of sunshine: 9.5 hours.

Lessons learned – I felt as though I was better at not worrying too much about what I was doing and just enjoying the day.

Stops with the M60 = 0  (I didn’t take the M60 again)

Kilometers walked = 7.00 km (an estimate, as my phone ran out of batteries at Kadeau)

Day lasted = 10 hours, 20 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 40 species (1 new ones: bullfinch – running total 136)

Other stuff = the most fantastic weather on Bornholm, all week. On the beach a steady stream of joggers, dog walkers, fisherman and other people just enjoying the outside.

People talked to = 5 (1 +2 + 2)

In my head – The trip to London next week, ‘4321’ a book I’m reading by Paul Auster. The KYST book, applications…

KYST 41 – from Dammebæk (Udegårdsvejen) til Ole Å (Slusegård) – 12.10.18

For at læse denne KYST 41 blog på dansk, se her

se her for introduktion til KYST projektet

KYST 41 I arrived early and unpacked my things in good time. Although the day was mild and the sky completely cloud free, the onshore wind was cold and I regretted not taking my gloves and hat. After the last week’s unsatisfying KYST tur, I was in good spirits and eager to get to grips with the day. I painted the silhouetted pine trees with the blood red sky behind, including the metal cables visible on the beach that used to connect the 2nd WW German coastal fortifications on Bornholm with those on northern Poland.

I walked along the coast for a while. Wave-smoothed skeletons of pine trees, claimed by the vagaries of wind and wave, lay strewn amongst the surf. Some, more recently fallen, still retained branches and even pine cones. There were few birds and the incessant rumble of the tumbling waves filled the air.

I rounded the point of Sommerodde, and continued westward, the wind strong on my back. To my right, a thick and impenetrable forest of stunted pines, planted in the 1860s to halt the movement of the shifting dunes. The shadows on the sand caught my attention.

The wind and grass combined to draw circles in the sand.

Again, I quickly descended into a funk of self-loathing and dissatisfaction with how the day was progressing and how I was reacting to it. An all too familiar feeling of frustration meant that I grabbed wildly after things, instead of letting myself be taken in. I thought the intricate seaweed patterns at Stenodde might calm my nerves, but to no avail. Whereas I had been too cold, now I was too hot.

I carried on, and soon arrived at the mouth of the Øle stream. The many months of dry weather had reduced Bornholm’s longest river to an almost negligible trickle, and despite the unseasonably warm weather – or perhaps because of it – my thoughts drifted towards the environment and impending ecological Armageddon. A large flock of mute swans feeding in the surf caught my attention but I struggled with their movement and the constant bobbing of the waves (see also top).

I watched a swan sitting on a large flat-topped erratic boulder close to the shore.  I accidently spilt some water on the painting and everything got covered in sand. I came close to breaking a KYST rule and destroying it. I was about as low as I had been during the KYST project.

Another swan managed to get up on to the rock, and the two swans wrestled and pushed against each other. Eventually they both lost their footing tumbled into the sea together – it was a random and amusing little spectacle that somehow put things into perspective and cheered me up. I walked around for a while, and collected a group of colourful leaves.

From my perch on a dune overlooking the sea, I got to work on a slice painting. The completely cloudless sky created a different kind of sunset with enormously subtle graduations and blends of colour and tone. I struggled with the changing light and colour and fought hard, trying to depict the delicate tonal values. As the sun finally fell below the horizon the colours deepened, with the sky becoming a sort of strange muted horizontal rainbow.


Weather report = Unbroken sun all day. Temperature between 13°C and 18°C. Wind between 7 and 2 m/s from the southeast. Hours of sunshine: 11 hours.

Lessons learned – No lessons learned. Today, looking through yesterday’s work, I am actually pleasantly surprised. Next time I start to ‘lose it’ I will try to remember how I feel today.  I’m not doing this to be ‘happy’, but it shouldn’t be such a slog. I’m doing this because I love looking.

Stops with the M60 = 0  (I didn’t take the M60, for the first time)

Kilometers walked = 7.50 km

Day lasted = 11 hours, 11 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 34 species (2 new ones: White fronted goose (many hundreds, migrating) and a Hen harrier – running total 135)

Other stuff = it feels so ‘civilized’ now. I wake up at a ‘normal’ time and am back home by 7pm. I miss those long days of summer.

People talked to = 4 (2 + 2)

In my head – The KYST book, applications and so on.

KYST 40 – from Dueodde to Dammebæk (Udegårdsvejen), 05.10.18

For at læse denne KYST 40 blog på dansk, se her

See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 40 I walked from the car park at Dueodde along the wooden walkway to the broad sandy beach where I had finished a week previously. It was mild but a strong onshore wind blew and I was well wrapped up. The sunrise was incredibly subtle and ephemeral, colours, tones and contrasts changing by the second. I got to work.

The huge sky opened up before me and the waves rolled into the sandy shore and deposited strands of seaweed amongst the sea rocket and sea grasses along the shore. A light dusty rain fell for a few minutes, but otherwise the dark blue and grey clouds only threatened.

An almost constant stream of migrating birds flew westward into the strong wind. Geese, ducks, gulls and cormorants powered over the choppy waves, while huge flocks of siskin and greenfinch bounced along the shore, sometimes feeding together with the energetic dunlin that frittered amongst the seaweed (see top). A small group of Brent geese struggled in the wind and the waves.

Already the energy and positivity with which I had started the day had been replaced by a negative mind frame and a feeling of frustration. I lacked a clean vision and was torn between painting and just looking at all of the passing birds. I wandered into the dunes and looked towards the new lighthouse. The dunes were covered in a kaleidoscopic carpet of heather and grasses. Several kestrels hovered in the wind above me and at one point an elegant Rough legged buzzard floated over the pine trees bordering the dunes, only to be chased off by a pair of belligerent ravens.

I paced around, enjoying the day but feeling guilty at my lack of KYST progress. The beach was a landscape in flux: dunes and lagoons in constant movement being pushed and pulled by the eternal motion of the waves and wind. The sand itself was a fascinating universe of pattern and texture, in some places held fast by the roots of the sea rocket and grasses, in others by the weight of the water. Where it was dry it flew over the surface of the beach in a fine mist. I painted a sheet of paper and let the wind-blown sand leave a trace on the wet pigment. It seemed to work, but once dry the sand fell off leaving no meaningful trace.

I carried on along the beach looking down at the incredible diversity of marks left by the elements. The waves traced mountain-like silhouettes of their movement in the sand, and drew calligraphic seaweed gestures amongst the pebbles.

I was fascinated by the shapes of the seaweed clumps on the shore line. Looking down there seemed to be an order or unity to their form.

The day had run away and the sun was already low over the horizon. I powered on, along the deserted sandy beach to my destination at Dæmmebæk. Here the sea was claiming the land, and the thinning beach was riddled with the carcasses of pine trees. I could see a wonderful sunset was cooking (my first KYST sunset since I headed around Hammerknuden at the north point of Bornholm, many months ago), but I had run out of tape and was unable to paint a slice painting, as I had wished. Instead I used the silhouetted trees as dividers, and worked from left to right, as the sky turned blood orange and then crimson red. Eventually, when the sun had completely set, I walked aback along the beach in dusky loneliness and creative frustration, all the way back to the car park at Dueoode.


Weather report = Mostly overcast with a few sunny periods. Temperature between 13°C and 15°C, though it felt much colder in the wind. Wind between 10 and 7 m/s from the southwest. Hours of sunshine: 1.5 hours.

Lessons learned – holding your watercolour pallet close to a windy sandy beach is a bad idea. Dueodde sand is very fine and gets everywhere..

Stops with the M60 = 0

Kilometers walked = 8.30 km

Day lasted = 11 hours, 29 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 44 species (4 new ones: Common tern, Sanderling, Rough legged buzzard, Bean Goose – running total 133)

Other stuff = a dog came and kicked sand all over my palette and paper. Was livid, but what can you do?

People talked to = 1

In my head – The wedding party in London on Saturday night, meeting people I hadn’t seen for over 25 years.

KYST 39 – from Bethesda (Stavnshavn) to Dueodde, 28.09.18

For at læse denne KYST 39 blog på dansk, se her 

See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 39 Clad in gloves and a wooly hat for the first time in many months, I quickly unpacked my things and welcomed the sunrise on the broad sandy beach at Bethesda. The cold, clean air seemingly added to the clarity of the unfolding vision, and I began working on a slice painting, working from left to right and recording the changing colours and brightening of the day (above).

I wandered around the beach for a while. There had been storms and strong winds since last week’s trip, and it was fascinating to look down and see the innumerable sculptures and patterns carved into the sand by the wind and waves. Islands of searocket stood facing the wind like ships in a petrified ocean, while the sea grasses further inland inscribed delicate arcs on the sand in the wind.

Closer to the sea, tiny stones and pebbles balanced precariously on teardrop shaped platforms of sand, sculpted by the ceaseless action of the wind. There were landscapes, worlds, universes unfolding with every step, and it felt so far removed from the lichen covered granite boulders I had been walking through just ten or fifteen kilometres away, or a month or so ago.

Eventually I managed to pack up my things and walk along the shore. Dog walkers and joggers ambled by and the day felt fresh and invigorating. The water was high, and waves sometimes flooded the beach creating temporary lagoons, where wagtails and waders picked amongst the seaweed. The sea, sand and sky together formed a reflective kaleidoscope of changing light and shifting patterns, an ephemeral vision of muted tones and restless energy.

I stopped for lunch, under slept and exhausted, but was driven by a need to keep going, to explore and record. Looking south towards Dueoode, the day’s destination and Bornholm’s southerly point, the sun was reflected on the horizon, below columns of distant cumulus clouds. Though the temperature was only 14 degrees, it felt warm out of the wind.

On the shore not far from where I sat, I suddenly noticed a Little gull cavorting on the waves together with some Black headed gulls: the first time I had seen one so close and for such a long time. I wondered at the tiny bird, enjoying the wonderful sensation of acquainting myself with the special and unique characteristics of a new species.

Further on still I couldn’t help looking at the wind carved pebble trails in the sand.

I felt confused and tired, not really sure where to look or where to concentrate my gaze. At the same time, the sound of migrating birds filled the air. Earlier I had seen white tailed sea eagles circling above together with a red kite, while hobby falcons darted along the coast after dragonflies, and I didn’t want to miss out. The day was racing by, the shorter days really noticeable. The shadows were longer now, and the colours even more enriched and intense.

I reached the day’s destination, Dueodde, an hour or so before sundown. Here on Bornholm’s southern corner, I stood – three quarters of the way around the island and about to head west for the first time. I began to paint the clouds reflected in the lagoon, but regretted not painting a slice painting as the cloud bank slowly changed from cream, to yellow, then orange to vermillion, to finally the most delicate rose pink.


Weather report = Sunny for most of the day with a few cloudy breaks. Temperature between 10°C and 14°C, though it felt warmer in the sun. Wind between 10 and 14 m/s from the northwest. Hours of sunshine: 9 hours.

Lessons learned – tent pegs in the sand do not hold down the M60 in the wind.

Stops with the M60 = 2

Kilometers walked = 8.32 km

Day lasted = 11 hours, 58 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 38 species (5 new ones: Brent goose, Coal tit, Arctic tern, White tailed sea eagle, Little gull – running total 128)

Other stuff = Feeling sorry for myself and a little under the weather the whole day, despite the fine weather and the opportunity to spend all day outside. Shattered when I got home.

People talked to = 8 (all singles  + 2)

In my head – overwhelmed by the incredible visual feast and the migrating birds.

KYST 38 – from Salthammer Odde (Snogbæk) to Bethesda (Stavnshavn), 21.09.18

For at læse denne KYST 38 blog på dansk, se her…

See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 38 It was a warm, still morning and I arrived in good time for a change, in time to see the wonderful sunrise over the sandstone rocks at Salthammer. I unpacked and got to work, just as a sparrowhawk shot past in pursuit of some starlings.

Deeply unsatisfied with the day’s first painting, I tried to loosen up a little, concentrating on the orange light hitting the side of the slumbering black-headed gulls.

A backlit herring gull was deep blue, with a silver lining.

Once the magical first hour of dawn had turned into daylight, I turned my attention to the various plants and flowers growing in the sandy beach by the shore. These were mostly new to me and very different from the flora on the granite coast further north.

(clockwise from top left – med uret fra top venstre) Sea rocket/Strandsennep, Nipplewort/Haremad, Yarrow, Røllike, White campion, Aftenpragtstjerne, Common bugloss/læge-oksetunge, Common stork’s bill/hejrenæb, in middle (?)

The jetty leading to Snogebæk harbour was silhouetted by the rising sun. A few tourists wandered aimlessly, the atmosphere subdued and soporific. Truly the calm before the storm, as I knew that the storm ‘Knud’ was due to arrive at Bornholm in the afternoon. A friend arrived with coffee and food. I remembered how I had been sitting on the exact same bench only a week previously with my students.

I finally packed my things and started to walk on the beach away from Snogebæk and south to the day’s destination at Bethesda. The southerly wind, now building, pushed waves into the bay and piled great banks of seaweed and algæ along the shore, which were covered in feeding gulls, corvids and ducks. I tried to capture the intensity of their frenzied and jerky movements with quick expressive brush strokes, but I struggled with the baking sun burning the watercolours dry.

I carried on along the beach and looked back towards the same birds, this time trying to capture their movement with ink.

By the time I rounded the next headland at Broens Odde, the wind had really picked up and the sun was long gone. Groups of ducks, gulls and cormorants huddled on the strange greenish siltstone rocks and faced into the wind.

I suddenly realized the day had flown by. I had been going for nine hours without stopping for food or rest, and was only halfway to my destination. I continued around the cape, waving goodbye to Nexø and Bornholm’s eastern coastline, and walked into the wind, along a sandy shore. On the sea some kite surfers cavorted and leapt through the waves.

I arrived at Bethesda, put up the M60, and immediately got to work on a timed slice painting, knowing that the storm was imminent. The buildup of tension was palpable and by the time I finished the second section the kite surfers had fled and the rain had already started. A huge wall of deep blue and gunmetal grey clouds rolled in from the south west. As I began the third section I could see the wall of rain across the sea heading straight for me. The wind suddenly whipped up, changed direction and chaos ensured. Hundreds of swallows suddenly shot out of the forest where they must have been sheltering and flew into the storm in panic. Dogs barked, children screamed and I ran back to the shelter of the M60 just as the heavens opened.

Once the rain had paused I rushed out again to complete the painting. Back under the umbrella I worked on  a new painting of the feeding birds, looking at my painting from earlier and trying to recall the shapes, sounds and smells of the feeding birds (see top). Soon, dusk came and I walked back along the beach in the rain, all the way to Snogebæk where my car waited.


Weather report = A sunny start, clouding up then stormy.. Temperature between 18°C and 22°C, then down to 13 after the storm. Wind between 4 and 14 m/s from the south then west. Hours of sunshine: 5 hours.

Lessons learned – need to get new palette, new brushes, new waterproof walking boots and new stativ **

Stops with the M60 = 1

Kilometers walked = 6.40 km

Day lasted = 12 hours, 20 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 34 species (0 new ones: running total 123)

Other stuff = ‘Knud’ was our first storm of the autumn. As we’ve mostly had an Indian Summer on Bornholm, it really felt like my slice painting witnessed the end of the long summer and the start of the new season.

People talked to = 4 (1 + 1 + 2)

In my head – still last week’s course, and the talk I’m giving at Faber’s café on Sunday (2pm ;-))

KYST 37 – from Balka Harbour to Salthammer Odde (Snogbæk), 16.09.18

For at læse denne KYST 37 blog på dansk, se her… See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 37 Late again, I arrived panicked and bleary eyed at Balka’s tiny harbour, annoyed that I had missed the sunrise by a few minutes. Once I had unpacked at the end of the pier arm however, I was greeted by the most incredible combination of light and water, as the first rays of sun broke between the clouds and lit up the layer of sea mist that hovered just over the sea in the bay. With my telescope I watched a fisherman tending to his nets lost in the orange glow of the mist. On the shore, two women on horseback thundered up and down the beach, laughing with an unbridled abandon. Just when I thought the morning couldn’t get any more spectacular, a lone kingfisher darted out and flew low, dart like, over the surface of the mirrored sea, and disappeared into the sea mist. When the kingfisher returned and perched on a nearby rock I resolved to not paint and just soak in the atmosphere instead. I couldn’t though, and soon got overinvolved with a reflective gull. The previous week I had been teaching a field painting course at Bornholm’s Højskole, and the lessons of the week were still fresh in my memory. I tried to not get too upset with the reflective gull disaster, and just carry on (‘…don’t judge and keep working’). I lost myself in some herring gulls feeding in the bay, the sea mist long having been burned off by the rising sun. Before moving off from my perch at the end of the pier, where I had now been for many hours, I tackled the solar reflections on the surface of the water. I wanted to show how the green seaweed, rocks and innumerable jellyfish below the surface of the water replaced the reflections of the sky towards the bottom of the visual plane, but failed. I finally packed my things and started to walk on Balka beach towards Snogbæk, the day’s destination.  I stopped again rather quickly, wanting to capture the sweep of the bay, with Snogbæk pier in the far distance. As I was painting, the first flocks of graylag geese flew overhead, returning to spend the day at Nexø Sydstrand, last week’s start point. I quickly drew the mutating shape of a large flock of several hundred geese, as it passed by. As I continued walking along the beach my eye was caught by the rills, folds and patterns in the sand caused by the action of the waves lapping at the shore, together with the tracery left by mica, crushed mussels and seaweed. A sandbank created a lagoon of completely still water that reflected the clouds scudding by in the dynamic skyscape. I made two studies (see also top) I carried on along the beach all the way to the end of the bay at Snogbæk, where I set up the M60 and had lunch and a really good sleep. On waking I looked towards Salthammer Odde, the great shelf of grey balka sandstone that juts out from Snogbæk and continues under the sea, attracting a rich diversity of sealife and birds. All week with the students we had been concentrating on tonal values and working with ink, which I had bought along. I tried to capture the movement of the feeding frenzy on a bank of seaweed, where gulls, geese, crows, pigeons and starling all worked together feverishly, hoovering up sandflies and the like. I worked again with the ink, trying to capture the dynamic shapes and silhouettes and making inky marks with sticks, feathers and seaweed. I packed my things and walked on to Snogbæk, taking time out to look and listen before continuing with painting again. I turned my back to the town, an eclectic and unpretentiousness mixture of tourist cafes, bars, summer houses and fishermen’s’ huts, and looked instead towards the sea. After a detour to the local supermarket I sat on the sandstone bedrock, hidden amongst the vegetation, and looked with my scope towards the multitude of gulls preening, sleeping and standing stoically in the early evening breeze. The day finished quickly and I had no time to draw the six curlew that arrived just as the sun was setting and my lift arrived.


Weather report = Mostly sunny with passing clouds, increasing. Temperature between 11°C and 18°C. Wind between 2 and 6 m/s from the west/south west. Hours of sunshine: 7 hours.

Lessons learned – all week I’ve been teaching – and stressing the importance of taking those lessons, and applying them ‘in the fied’ once the course had ended. Easier said than done.

Stops with the M60 = 1

Kilometers walked = 6.08 km

Day lasted = 12 hours, 30 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 39 species (3 new ones = kingfisher, shoveler, pintail: running total 123)

Other stuff = there were very few passerines about, save for starlings, sparrows, wagtails and a lone swallow. There seems to be a lull – the waders have already moved on, but the other birds are waiting.

People talked to = 8 (1 + 1 + 3 + 2 + 1) In my head – 20%, 60% 100%… elation and fatigue after an amazing course at the højskole… thinking of the diverse collection of people that made it such a wonderful week (including my mum). Thinking of how to retain that energy and put it into practice, and thinking of things to do better next time.

KYST 36 – from Nexø Sydstrand to Balka Harbour, 07.09.18

For at læse denne KYST 36 blog på dansk, se her (først om et par dage!)…

See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 36 I arrived back at Nexø Sydstrand just before sunrise and was surprised to see how quiet it was; the hundreds of graylag geese from last week’s trip were nowhere to be seen – or heard. It was grey, overcast, and a little cold in the face of a stiff onshore breeze. I climbed the stairs to the bird watching tower, with great views of the coast in both directions, and unpacked my things. A small flock of hunched up lapwings were resting in the shallows, with the orange edge to the clouds from the rising sun reflected in the water at their feet (see above)…

As I was painting, silent and still, a buzzard suddenly swooped down and perched on the edge of the bird tower right in front of me. I froze, my heart in my mouth. I could have reached out and grabbed it. After a second or two the buzzard suddenly worked out my shape and flew off in surprise. Below me, a group of cormorants preened and dried their wings after their early morning swim.

I returned my gaze towards the lapwings, their form and colour blending into the sandstone shore. In the diffuse early morning light, a redshank’s vermilion leg seemed to radiate its own energy.

I was already exhausted and working at a feverish pace. I kept returning to the group of waders and cormorants just in front of me. The cold wind and constant movement of the birds and the light created a nervous energy in my brush strokes.

By now, the first groups of graylag geese had begun to return, honking noisily. Soon the air was filled with squadrons of them, landing in the water and then making their way towards the shore. I tried to capture the energy of their movement across the shallows.

Looking south towards Balka the geese were almost silhouetted in the early morning light. From time to time the sun managed to appear between the clouds and cast radiant droplets of light on to the water.

I was drained and need to get away from the birds and the bird tower. I packed my things and started walking south along the path skirting the bird reserve. Looking back I saw a flock of Barnacle geese in amongst the greylags and couldn’t resist one last assault, the shapes and lines of the geese blending and merging, creating a pattern that was difficult to read.

Soon I arrived at Balka Lyng, a large open heathland area bordered by pine trees on one side and a low coastal rampart facing the sea on the other. There were kestrels and at one point a hobby shot past, but otherwise there was little birdlife. The coastal rampart was thought to have been constructed in the 15th century, perhaps earlier, and was the site of a successful repulsion of a Swedish invading force in 1645. Today though, it was difficult to imagine how the low grass covered embankment could have provided much cover.

A twisted pine tree in the now sunny afternoon light caught my attention and I sat down to paint it. I struggled with the painting and experienced another of my regular crises of creative confidence, but felt that the only way forward was to continue painting and working.

I continued along the embankment and paused by some iron age burial mounds. I tried to imagine how the landscape had changed since these people were buried nearly 2,000 years ago. The sandstone shelf jutting almost horizontally out under the sea means the soil is too shallow for cultivation, so perhaps it hadn’t changed that much. By the shore, the bedrock was veined with alternate layers of grey-ochre and reddish-brown, where the Nexø sandstone meets the younger Balka sandstone. The delicate and organic delineations of the rock reminded me of tree rings or contours on a map, and I tried to imagine the Cambrium estuaries, where the sand had been laid over 500 million years ago.

I ambled on arriving at the day’s destination, the tiny harbour at Balka with around three hours of daylight remaining. Here I met Steffan from the local TV station, but I was so exhausted I’m not sure I made much sense. After spending so much time looking through a telescope at birds, or closely observing the sandstone, I felt the need to step back and loosen up. The threatening clouds building over the sea fitted the bill perfectly and I threw the water at the paper and enjoyed playing with the pigment as it dissolved and dissipated.

As a last effort before the light completely faded, I turned my attention towards the gulls hunkered by the shore. Another roller coaster day (roller KYSTer?) was in the bag and I packed my things and prepared for the jog back to the car.


Stops with the M60 = 2

Kilometers walked = 7.76 km

Day lasted = 13 hours, 25 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 42 species (1 new one = yellow wagtail (thunbergi) running total 120)

Other stuff = I read recently an article about someone on Bornholm writing his phd thesis on folk connections to the landscape on Bornholm. He mentioned how, at Balka skanse, one of the soldiers had heard voices (from the Bornholmian trolls) telling him to ‘load and fire’, during the Swedish invasion. The ‘Underjordsike’ trolls have always been an important part of Bornholm’s social and cultural history and, as the author noted, are a way of connecting and giving life to the landscape. Interesting, and another angle completely to where I’m coming from. Sometimes I do feel – for better or worse – a bit divorced from the people side of KYST.

People talked to = 4 (2 + 1 + 1)

In my head – Next week’s teaching at the Højskole. Weather worries. Smoking guilt.

KYST 35 – from Nexø Harbour to Nexø Sydstrand, 31.08.18

For at læse denne KYST 35 blog på dansk, se her…

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