Phalacrocorax aristotelis

European Shag, Toppskarv, Topskarv


European Shag ( Phalacrocorax aristotelis ) breeding at the small Norwegian island of Hornøya, Thursday the 2. to Sunday the 5. of August 2007.

This years most spectacular observation during the annual and four day, Birding Festival at Skagen, northern Denmark, was six low-flying Shags. Six of them in line flying west along the beach in the early morning light of Friday May 18. Six black birds, that made the day for the aproc. 30 birders, that saw them, and gave the finder, the first guy to catch eye of them, a set of Zeiss Binoculars, this year’s first prize, for best and most spectacular observation.

This is how it is with shags in Denmark.

They are not seen every year, and surely a species you wouldn’t expect to se in bundles. Not to mention six-packs. Maybe once in a while and mostly one at a time. Shags are seen only if you’re lucky. And clever too. With the amount of Cormorants that spend their lives along the Danish coastline *, one Shag amongst them is easily missed. People tend to lower the binoculars, and just, let the group of Cormorants pass. So maybe that’s why the six-pack mentioned was never seen less than a mile down the beach.

*( Denmark houses 30 % of the entire European population )











So you go north to meet with the Shag.

To arctic Norway where these pictures are shot.

Elks on the runway. Sheep on the airports parking lot. Skuas over your head. And then the sailing. The eight of us in a neck breaking dinghy ride through massive grey fog, riding, jumping over the top of the waves of the Barents Sea itself.

On our way to the island of Hornøya.

Heading for the light tower, that marks the eastern far point of Norway. Murmansk/Russia lies 150 miles to the south. This is arctic Norway, and you smell it instantly getting out of the plane.
The air you breathe. The wind blowing in your face. It’s different.. Probably the cleanest Mother Earth can provide. After all, ahead of you, looking east, is nothing but ocean. Next stop is the Zemlya Islands, after that more ocean. The smell, the air, enters every fiber of your body. It really gets to you to the point, that you can still feel it five days later, 37.000 feet over northern Sweden, going home.

After that fog, and the waiting. 12 hours, in the light of the polar night, with a horizon 30 feet away.

The world is the light-house. But when the dense, grey fog finely disappeared this is what was revealed to us.

It might have something to do with my Icelandic predecessors. This feels right. I am certainly more connected to these North Atlantic, arctic rocks than to the warm sands of the Mediterranean. Even though this is farther to go.

Maybe this is what they call grounding.

Nowadays media are full of offers of spooky health bringing cures for just about any disease. Birding/photo pages should be no different.

If this is what they call grounding, it can be recommended as a cure.