Wild pelican makes for unusual spectacle in Denmark

A wild pelican has been spotted in two locations in Jutland in recent days, a rare sight in Denmark.

Wild pelican makes for unusual spectacle in Denmark
The pelican was photographed at Filsø near Varde. Photo: Bent Jakobsen/Blåvand Fuglestation/Ritzau Scanpix

The animal was first seen at Filsø in the southwest of the country before twice being observed further north in Vejlerne.

Sightings of pelicans in the wild are a very uncommon occurrence in Denmark, said Henrik Haaning Nielsen, an ornithologist with the Danish Ornithological Society (DOF).

“This is very, very unusual. There have been very few sightings of pelicans in Denmark. No more than ten,” Nielsen said.

According to the ornithologist, who has seen the pelican, the bird is around a year old.

“The pelican has probably been brought north to Denmark by the latest heatwave from the southeast. It was seen in Germany before it got to Filsø and Vejlerne,” he said.

Photo: Bent Jakobsen/Blåvand Fuglestation/Ritzau Scanpix

“Younger birds are known for being adventurous and can sometimes take a detour. Those two things combined could mean this is a spontaneous and wild animal,” Nielsen added.

The best spot for birdwatchers who want to get a glimpse of the pelican could be Skagen, Denmark’s northernmost town, the DOF ornithologist said.

“Perhaps it will fly to Skagen and then turn its beak southwards again before maybe settling in Lille Vildmose [Jutland nature reserve, ed.] or Ulvedybet [lake] for a day. We’ll probably find out, because it’s hard to miss,” he said.

The pelican is unlikely to remain in Denmark for long, however.

“It’s probably too cold for the pelican to thrive here. I don’t think it will stay for more than a couple of days,” Nielsen said.

White pelicans breed in small numbers in Europe in the Black Sea region including in Ukraine, where populations have grown slightly in recent years.

The species was last seen in the wild in Denmark in 2013 in Aabenraa near the German border, and before that on the island of Læsø in 2010.

READ ALSO: Rarely-seen falcon makes unexpected early visit to Denmark

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Why 30 percent of Denmark could be left to nature

A Danish environmental organization has received a positive political response over a proposal to ensure 30 percent of Denmark be reserved for nature.

Why 30 percent of Denmark could be left to nature
Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The Danish Society for Nature Conservation (Danmarks Naturfredningsforening, DN) wants the country’s nature to be written into law by way of an obligation to ensure 30 percent of Danish land to be nature reserve by 2031, DR reports.

The proposal was made as government politicians met at Marienborg, the official residence of the prime minister, on Monday for talks on biodiversity.

The concept of such a ‘biodiversity law’, which would place binding targets for Denmark on the area, was initially positively received.

The interest organization for the agriculture sector, the Danish Agriculture & Food Council, has said it also supports biodiversity goals, while environment minister Lea Wermelin said she would listen to suggestions regarding both targets and legislation.

“Fundamentally, the biggest task right now is to reverse nature’s decline and ensure that over 2,000 species threatened by extinction get a helping hand and the chance to remain in Denmark,” DN president Maria Reumert Gjerding said to DR.

“So it’s crucial that politicians make commitments to nature targets,” she added.

The Marienborg meeting is the beginning of government work to implement a ‘package’ of laws on nature and biodiversity, which the Social Democratic government promised prior to the June general election.

Wermelin said action must be taken to prevent Denmark from entering a “natural crisis”.

“We are genuinely interested in a new process to form a long-term plan for Denmark’s nature. Although reports paint a bleak picture, they also say it’s possible to set a new, green direction,” she added.

The minister welcomed “specific ideas and wishes” from environmental organizations that could help in making such a plan, DR reports.

Although only 0.4 percent of the area of Denmark is currently wild nature, DN says the target could be reached by buying or renting land from landowners and leaving it to nature, as well as by ensuring a specified amount of agricultural land actively benefits biodiversity.

READ ALSO: Here are Denmark's 15 most beautiful natural areas