Black Sun - Starlings in Denmark. Also see the towers of Ribe Cathedral on the photo
In Spring and Autumn huge numbers of migration starlings land in the marshes at the Wadden Sea. They are looking for daddy long legs and garden chafer grubs in the wet meadows. At such time you can observe a fascinating panorama called “Black Sun” (Sort Sol).
Hundreds of thousands of starlings turn the sky black when they are circling around creating fascinating formations in the air before they land at dusk in an area covered with reeds. Several starlings descend on the same reed – the uppermost in danger of being caught by a bird of prey, while the lower ones might end with their feet in water.
Some evenings the starlings are especially active “air dancing” - making rapid changes of direction and flying around the air before they decide where to settle for the night. This is due to birds of prey nearby – goshawks, falcons or common buzzards. The birds of prey do usually catch many starlings during the air show and the starlings will all start to fly together, trying to come above the birds of prey to make a counter attack with vomit and bird droppings which make the birds' feathers sticky so that they can't fly.
Other evenings no birds of prey are nearby. Then the starlings make no “air dances” but descend directly in the reeds.
Often the starlings will change their sleeping locations, as they try to trick the birds of prey. Besides the reeds often break because of the heavy weight of the amount of birds. You can’t quite be sure where the starlings choose to stay for the night.
Here you can see a little of the video "Black Sun Ribe" filmed by Danhostel Ribe 1 km from the hostel.
In general, the spring migration occurs from February to mid-April, and autumn migration begins in August and can last all the way to December. The largest black sun experiences will usually be in late March and early April and again in September and the beginning of October. In recent years there has still been impressive Black Sun around the1st of November in Ribe
The Black Sun period in the spring is shorter than in autumn.
Many evenings you can watch the starlings dance from the bird watchtower at Ribelund (around 1 km. from Danhostel Ribe). Take an evening stroll through the park of Ribelund and watch all the animals (deer, kangaroos, goats, horses, donkeys etc. From the watchtower you may then enjoy the beautiful view of Ribe Østerå and the marshes of Ribe. Enjoy the tranquillity and the sunset above Ribe Cathedral. Please don’t disturb the birds by photographing with flash, though.
Other evenings the most magnificent sights have been near Tangeskoven or Kammerslusen. You may spend the day at the Wadden Sea with a visit to the Ribe Dyke and to the Wadden Sea island Mandø.
Black Sun - Starlings in Denmark - with Ribe Cathedral in the background
You can join “Black Sun” excursions with experienced guides from the Wadden Sea Centre. The guided tours take place around sunset. Notice that the local tour guides some times call the tours "Starling Magic" These tours do fill up quickly, so please book your tickets in good time on the centre's homepage. Click here to find a link to the Wadden Sea Centre: Museums and Activity Centres
Guided tours in Ribe. Spring 2015 :
Guided tours in Ribe. Autumn 2015
Black Sun is usually not far from Danhostel Ribe - most of the days no longer than you can either walk or cycle - but we are usually very busy in the Black Sun season - especially in the fall - so remember to book your room. See: Accommodation.
Also take a look at "Offers" first, we might have a special offer for you at the time you want to stay in Ribe.
Go bird-watching in the Wadden Sea National Park on bike. You can rent it at the hostel
Take a look of the photo of the sandpipers (right) giving a fantastic flying display - and the geese too. With 10 to12 million migratory birds spring and autumn in the Wadden Sea National Park, it is a top bird-watching location in Denmark
Most birds are to be seen in the Wadden Sea National Park during migration in spring and autumn. But during winter it is also possible to see big flocks of geese and swans
An option is a visit to the Wadden Sea Centre (Vadehavscentret) near Ribe, where you can learn more about the marsh and the Wadden Sea as a rich nutritional reservoir for the migratory birds.
At the Centre you may also see the Black Sun video. See: Museum and Activity Centres
Here you can read about : The Wadden Sea - The tidal wetlands along the North Sea
Here you can read about : Storm surges in Ribe, Denmark
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