Springtime in Aalborg Fjordland

Springtime in Aalborg Fjordland

Photo: Niclas Jessen

Explore the forest, gather bog myrtle for your own schnapps or go on a fishing trip. Aalborg Fjordland is wonderful during springtime.

In March and April, the first songbirds start returning from their wintering grounds in Sothern Europe and Africa. The song of the chiff chaff can be heard at De Himmerlandske Heder. The brent geese and whooper swans can still be seen and heard from the dam at Sebberlund. Frogs and toads wake op from their winter lairs and return to their breeding grounds, for instance, at the mill lake at Halkjær Mølle. Over De Himmerlandske Heder, the raven marks its territory with amazing air displays, and the forest floor is blooming with thousands of anemones and pilewort in Skalskoven. A clear sign that spring and summer are on their way is the return of the garfish and herrings to the Limfjord as a part of their spawning migration, along with the return of the Eurasian oystercatcher.

If you go for a walk in the morning or at twilight, your chances of spotting wild, grazing deer are large. In the middle of May, the roe deer normally gives birth to its fawns. Therefore, remember to keep your dog on a leash. The rook population is regulated on municipal areas in this period, and Aalborg Kommune (municipality) attempts to prevent the spread of the giant hogweed plant. By the end of this period, when the water temperature of the Limfjord rises, there are great chances of catching fresh shrimps during low tide. Great and child friendly shrimp locations can be found at Nibe Habour and Staun Fiskerleje (fishing village).

Gather bog myrtle catkins along the old railroad

A fresh bike ride on the carless bicycle path south of Nibe will take you into the beautiful nature along Halkjær Bredning. The fresh ground air feels amazing, and it is high season for gathering bog myrtle catkins, which are used for making a lovely springtime schnapps.

Bog myrtle

The bog myrtle is characterized by its aromatic scent, its reddish brown branches and its height of approximately 1-1.5 meters (3-5 feet). The plant is dioecious, meaning that there are both male and female plants, which have different types of catkins. The male catkins are approximately 1.5 centimeters (0.4-0.6 inches) long with brown bracts, where the yellow anthers can be seen in between. The female catkins are smaller and have red stigmas. After wind pollination the female flower creates an approximately 1 centimeter (0,4 inch) long cone looking stone fruit.

Recipe for schnapps with bog myrtle

Several parts of the bog myrtle can be used to make schnapps, but right now, before the leafing of the bush, it is the small cone looking male catkins that are interesting.

Both blooming and semi blooming male catkins can be used to make schnapps. While the semi blooming male catkins give a milder taste, the fully blooming ones give a sharper and stronger taste.

How to do it!

Go to the old railroad and find a large, dense bog myrtle bush with plenty of blooming male catkins.

With a sharp pair of scissors, cut off the outermost part of the catkin directly into a jar. By using this technique, the bush and its branches will remain almost completely intact.

Fill the glass half-way up with male catkins and fill the jar with clear Brøndum’s Snaps.

Put on a lid, and let the jar stand in a dark spot for 2-3 weeks.

After filtering the content, the schnapps is now ready for drinking. You can regulate the intensity of bog myrtle taste by adding a desired amount of clear Brøndum’s Snaps.

The schnapps is perfect for the lunch table and especially suits piece of bread with herring on it.

 

Experience the spring and pick anemones in Skalskoven

Skalskoven is the best location in the area to find anemones, and here, you will definitely be able to find enough flowers for a spring bouquet or two.

Anemones as decorative ‘water lilies’

It is a great family activity to gather wild spring flowers. Sadly, a bouquet of anemones fades rather quickly, already after a day or two. However, you can make the anemones last for a whole week if you let them float in water. Put them in a little bowl, and use them as decorative ‘water lilies’.

Facts about anemones

In Denmark, there are four types on wild anemones: blue, pale blue, yellow and the common white anemone. As the blue and yellow anemones are rather rare in Aalborg Kommune (municipality), and the pale blue one is only found at Bornholm, these will not be further described here. The anemone used to have the name, ‘the white simmer flower’. “Simmer” is an old Danish word for summer and fits the flower perfectly, as its blooming is a sign that summer is on its way. The name ‘anemone’ is an old Greek name, coming from the word ‘anemos’, which means ‘wind’. The word was used to describe the corn poppy, whose petals easily fall off and get carried away by the wind.

Anemones are poisonous for the human being

The anemone contains the poisonous substances called ‘anemonin’ and ‘protoanemonin’, and even though certain animals, such as deer, eat anemones, the flower is very poisonous for human beings to eat. Do not taste the stems and avoid getting the flower in contact with your eyes. Signs of poisoning are vomiting, blistering on the skin and so on. However, the taste of the anemone functions as a warning in itself, as it is sharp and unpleasant.

Go angling for garfish at Klitgårds Fiskerleje and Nordjyllands Landbrugsskole (Lundbæk) 

In April and the beginning of May, the first garfish come to the Limfjord as a part of their spawning migration. After wintering in the waters west of the British Islands, large shoals of garfish seek towards the inner Danish waters and the Limfjord to spawn in waters that are just a few meters deep.

Fact about the garfish

A single female is able to spawn up to 40,000 eggs, which are immediately fertilized by the male. The eggs hatch after approximately four weeks, and the newly hatched fish are born without beaks. The characteristic beak does not start developing until summertime, where the garfish will have reached a length of 20-25 centimeters (9-12 inches). During autumn, the garfish return to deeper waters to spend the winter. Garfish prey on small fishes and crustaceans. The garfish is an edible fish, which, due to containing large amounts of iron sulphate, has a green skeleton. Even though the number of garfish is large, the garfish is hard to catch. Angling for garfish is an exciting challenge.

Angling tips

It is a good idea to use lures and flies that look like bristle worms. Lures in sharp, provoking colors that move like bristle worms are ideal, and flies with long fluttering hairs mounted as suspenders will enhance your chances greatly.