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The year around in Rold Skov

Spring

In March, fine, purple threads emerge from the female flower buds of the hazel bush, ready for pollination from the yellow male catkins. Particularly the roe deer rake up the forest floor in their search for buds and roots of the windflowers. Everything is brown and dead, except for the forest’s springs, where the constant water temperature of 7-8 degrees centigrade ensures that aquatic plants stand fresh and green all year round.

The rare Hepatica is a sure sign of spring in Rold Skov forest. This plant has green leaves all through winter, whilst the spring sun on the hillsides of Bjergeskoven forest lure out beautiful blue flowers. At the end of April, at Skadsholm, within a few hundred square meters you can see Hepatica, wood anemone and yellow wood anemone in bloom simultaneously. At the end of April the greatest transformation in the forest takes place: The beech blossoms.

The state-owned forest has vast areas of beech - more than 800 hectares, of which much is old beech forest. On a May morning the forest is breath-taking. You will hear the cooing of the stock pigeon everywhere. The pigeons occupy the black woodpecker’s abandoned nesting holes in fresh beech trees. The roe deer is extremely visible in the morning and evening when they feed on the abundance of buds and shoots. The roebuck fray on small trees and bushes to mark off their territory which may be up to 10 hectares.

Summer

The Rold Skov forest jewel, Lady's slipper, blooms from early June. It used to be a universally accepted practice to visit the Lady's slipper on the Danish Constitution Day (5 June), but even Europe’s greatest orchid has had to acknowledge climate change. In a mild spring, blooming culminates on 1 July, or perhaps even the week before. It may be just 14 days until its magnificence fades. The Lady's slipper grows inside its fencing in Bjergeskoven forest, with a path from the car park on the Buderupholmvej road.

July is the season for delicious wild raspberries. The roe deer rutting season is imminent and you will hear the roebuck howling, either at each other or at forest visitors. Around Rold Skov forest, a tall plant shoots up with a spike of pink foxgloves. This wild medicinal plant, Digitalis, is used for heart medicine. Inside the fencing around the Lady's slipper, another rarity emerges; the Red Helleborine orchid.

It is time to pick blueberries. In forest clearings, along forest tracks and not least in Rebild Bakker, you will find the blue sweet berries. The first berries to arrive are blueberries, and at the end of August it is the season for bright-red mountain cranberries in Rebild Bakker. Notice how the two stunted bushes grow differently, the blueberries prefer north-facing hills, whilst mountain cranberries love sun in the south slopes.

Autumn

If the forest is moist there are many mushrooms. Rold Skov forest does not have many chanterelles but you may find lots of Boletus edulis (Karl Johan mushrooms). Look particularly in vegetation with high silver fir or noble fir, where the forest floor is green. If there are a few mushrooms, September guarantees a good portion of bramble berries, particularly in clearings. For example, try taking a walk through the old-growth forest which can be almost impassable because of brambles.

The red deer is in rut. The deep howls of the deer are heard in the twilight. Red deer stand close together, particularly in the southern part of the state-owned forest. The rut continues all through October. It is possible to sneak up on a calling deer, but do not disturb these impressive animals which have ruled in Rold Skov forest since the Stone Age. Beech nuts and acorns are ripe, and jays, mice and squirrels are busy gathering supplies for the winter.

The forest has winter guests. Flocks of wood pigeon search for beech nuts and acorns, and fieldfares, bramblings, siskins etc. bring life to the forest. Bad weather forces the woodcock to make a stop on their journey south. The brown woodland bird flaps away, zigzagging between the stems when frightened. It is hunting season in the state-owned forest, but you are still welcome, and hunters are instructed to be safe. Talk to them and continue, or choose another route.

Winter

You can gather moss, branches, cones etc. for Christmas decorations. When forest employees have finished harvesting decorative greenery, you can also collect fir from the forest floor. Contact the office at Møldrupvej 26 to learn more. Only collect for your own consumption, about what you can carry in a bag. At Christmas time, you can see large sea trout spawn in the Kovads Bæk brook at the foot of Rebild Bakker (National park).

Low-hanging beech buds are bitten off by roe deer, while the red deer peel the bark off the trees. All through winter, the roe deer go in flocks of up to 20 animals. In the stream and the forest’s springs, there are dipper on the rocks and diving for water insects. Even in hard frost, there are plenty of birds in the Gravlev Sø lake, which is kept ice-free because of the water from the spring. Water birds graze on the muddy bottom and prevent the shallow lake from becoming overgrown.

In February the woodpecker starts its hammering. It must find a good branch where it can make a lot of noise. The better the drumming, the bigger its territory. The great spotted woodpecker, the green woodpecker and the black woodpecker can be sighted in Rold Skov forest. In the pine forest, the crossbill already has young in February, when the seeds are still in the fir cones. Denmark’s smallest bird, the gold crest, flies around in flocks of 20 or 30 birds and find green-flies which give them a vital shot of sugar. The foxes are in their mating season and in the night you will hear their barking or characteristic screams.