Findings: Beautiful scenery, flocks of sheep, a few starlings but no Black Sun.
We drove to Tøndermarsken. The marchland area located in the southwest of Jutland. With an ice-cold wind blowing on a lazy Saturday afternoon in October, we decided to head off for Ribe Canal Lock to hunt for a Black Sun moment. The phenomenon Black Sun is the moment when the starlings gather in the air before settling down in the marchland straws for the night. The travel from Kolding is about an hour by car. The landscape changes dramatically in that short period of driving. From rolling fields and small protective woods at the east coast of Jutland to rough, flat marchlands at the west coast. The wind is suddenly massive when no shelter at all. The toughness of the landscape becomes evident. Driving by small wind weary houses from another century makes you wonder how did they survive in past times, in this raw, minimalistic nature.
We arrived at the Canal Lock in Ribe and found us a cosy little tourist spot with graphics telling the story of the Canal Lock area. A restaurant and a charming coffee house also formed the spot and quite a few people were weekend touristing along with us.
The surrounding landscape is visually more than just flat. It feels like having the absolute Overview of Everything when you walk up the 25 steps onto the Canal Lock building. Then you are hit by the stunning view of the marchlands beach coast; with fields of green grass purposed for the flocks of sheep laying as a soft carpet down to the shore where ebb and flow decides the shape of the beach. Different species of birds gather in the low water and nature clearly has its own structure and routine. Though the Canal Lock is made by human hand it functions well in this diversity of flora, fauna and concrete.
The defining moment for success when Black Sun hunting, is to choose the right spot to begin with. At first they only fly in small groups until a few minutes later ending up in a huge group formation flying with the same purpose – to find safe shelter in the reeds for the night.
The sun setting, we began to look for the first signs of starlings teaming up. We had located a large area of straws so all we had to do was waiting in the twilight. From a far distance, starlings were spotted but they never came close. As a guest in natures eco system you can only observe and enjoy what is at the specific moment.
With no Black Sun in sight we decided to enjoy the last of the stunning sun set before heading home.
Link to The Wadden Sea National Park website:
Photography by Henrik Hansen
Words by Dea Simonsen