Sort sol translates into black sun (in the most positive of ways). It’s an amazing phenomenon that will leave you speechless and leave you with memories of a lifetime. It’s birdwatching but in a super cool way. There aren’t many places in the world where you can experience such huge formations of starlings as in Denmark and the Unesco World Heritage site of Vadehavet. Amazing is one word to describe it!
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What is Sort Sol
Each year, starlings migrate to go to their breeding grounds. Along the way, they stop and eat to have enough energy to continue their travels. The name Sort Sol is a good way to describe it because as the birds fly in for their overnight stay – they are so many that they sometimes cloud the sun. It’s a unique show of hundreds of thousands of birds that come here to spend the night after a day of eating.
Flying together, finding strength in numbers, the starlings take over the sky and perform for the viewers. They fly in patterns and if they get attacked by a bird of prey, they build formations by flying close to each other. Whether you like birds or not – this is a super unique experience that will blow your mind!
When can I experience Sort Sol
The best period to experience this phenomenon is during spring (March to April) and in autumn (from the middle of September to October). You want to be by the starlings sleeping place before sunset to experience this amazing thing. A tip is to come early, having the time to relax and wind down before the show starts. The Sort Sol happens in Vadehavet, Wadden sea and it’s the oldest population of starlings in the world.
There’s only one that’s bigger and the flock is located in Vancouver, Canada. Otherwise, this is the most unique place to experience this phenomenon. It’s said that the biggest flock comes in autumn but the one in the spring is also great. The idea of starlings flying in formations is not at all unique. It’s the fact that there are so many in one place at the same time that makes this so special!
Vadehavet a UNESCO world heritage site in Denmark
Vadehavet or Wadden sea is part of a Unesco world heritage site. It’s located in the marshlands of the Jutland peninsula. It became a Unesco heritage in 2014 and is the largest tidal area in the world. This is a place that’s rich in both birdlife and other small wildlife like insects and smaller prey.
During the migration of the starlings, it is said that the Wadden Sea is the best place on earth to see them fly in formations. But even when the starlings aren’t here, the Wadden Sea is a special place to visit. There are about 120 different kinds of fish in the waters here and it makes a great place for hikes and excursions. During summer, they offer guided tours of the area that are well worth visiting.
Experience Sort Sol – almost guaranteed
You can experience Sort Sol either on your own or by taking an excursion. If you book an excursion (it will set you back about 20 euros per person) you are almost guaranteed to see the starlings. The companies are experts on these birds and they know when they will arrive and where. Because the starlings do move and don’t spend the nights at the same place during their feedings.
Sort Safari offers excursions and in their price, there is pick up and drop off included. You get information on where pick up is and you don’t need to worry about finding either the birds or a parking spot. During the bus ride, you also get more information about the birds and what you can expect to see. If you go on your own, it’s possible that you miss the spot where they land and that would be a shame.
Our experience of Sort Sol
It is about five o’clock in the evening and we have parked our motorhome in a huge parking spot. We have really no idea what to expect this evening but we are really excited. It doesn’t take long before there are more cars arriving and we go outside to meet up with the rest of the group. We get information and head for the big bus that has arrived. Everyone enters the bus and off we go. The bus ride takes about one hour this evening. This might change as the birds migrate. We are having a nice time on the bus and get lots of information about the area we are in and more about the starlings. When we pass open fields, our tour guide, Iver Gram, points out groups of starlings that are still eating from the fields. We arrive and today’s spot is right by the German border.
Preparing for the starlings
We get seat pads and they also have binoculars that you can borrow. We end up skipping the binoculars and grab a seating pad each. There are other groups that have arrived already and we sit down next to them. The sun is still up and we get to ask questions that Iver is happy to answer. We have no idea how long we will have to wait for the small birds to arrive but we can feel the tension in the air. There’s excitement from everyone here and the hype is growing. People are talking and time is passing. After about 30 minutes, there is a small flock of birds that come flying. Ivan informs us that they are starlings and that the show is about to start. The starlings fly past us and then they turn around and land right in front of us – almost like they know that we all want to see a show. And then another group comes – this time a larger group. And then another one that’s even bigger. Before we know it, the whole sky is covered with birds!
A show in the skies with amazing performance
It is like something taken from a fairytale. The sound of the birds flapping their wings sounds like a waterfall that comes closer and closer. It is mesmerizing and everyone is quiet. In total, Ivan tells us that there are about 750 000 starlings that come to land this evening. They fly in incredible formations and leave us all breath taken. We are hoping for the birds of prey to arrive and to make the starlings come together. However, this evening the birds of prey are possibly frightened by the number of starlings that are here because most of them stay away. There is one quick attack that we watch but other than that – we are just enjoying the starling’s land. They come in thousands, flying close together, and then they suddenly appear to drop from the sky. But it’s all controlled and just incredible. I believe that words can not describe the experience. This is something that you need to put on your bucket list and experience. Life doesn’t get better than this! After about an hour the sound is louder than ever from the birds in the marshlands. There are not many birds that continue to land and we all take the bus ride back to our cars. THE MOST PERFECT EXPERIENCE EVER!
Information about Sort Safari
Address: Slotsgaden 19, Tonder, Denmark. However, you will get information on where pick up is.
Price: About 20 euros per person and that includes a bus ride.
Website of Sort Safari. They offer more than Sort Sol. Check out their website for more information.
Disclaimer: Our visit to Southern Jutland was part of a press trip that was arranged by Destination Sonderjylland and Visit Denmark. All the thoughts and opinions are our own!