People say that there are no Badgers this far north….or are there?

While out in the forest I can across an area of disturbed ground.  I immediately found a foot print which (from much experience in England) I knew to be Badger  Meles meles. 

grävling

I know of a couple of people who have seen Badger in Nattavaara over the last couple of years, but most people say that they do not occur this far north.

I found many nose prints in sand, from where the Badger had been using its nose to smell and disturb the sand searching for food.

badger nose prints

Here is a close-up of  nose and foot print.

badger foot and nose print (Small)

Now I am going to try and get a photo of the Badger.

Solberget Vildmarksbyn

 

Yesterday I began working as a tourist guide at Solberget Vilmarksbyn as part of a work experience scheme with the local job centre.

Yesterday we took guests out on a ski tour around the local marshes.

We could not travel across the marshes because the ice was thin and there was water under the snow.

Water on skis freezes immediately and has to be removed.  Fortunately Dirk had a gas burner in his rucksack

We heard and found much evidence of Willow Grouse (Lagopus lagopus).  In the picture below they had been feeding on Birch buds

Willow Grouse have feathers on their feet so you cannot see toes in their tracks

In this picture a Willow Grouse has landed in the snow (you can see the wing pattern) and then run away.

We also saw many Red Squirrel tracks

After three hours, we returned to Solberget Wilderness Village

After the Reindeer had been fed this morning

we headed off into the forest on another ski tour to the top of Solberet (Sun Hill translated to English).

We skied uphill for about one hour until we reached a cabin and fire-watch tower

Once inside the cabin we made a fire

and had lunch

After lunch we returned to Solberget.

New species at my cabin and a wood burner

Using an old 20 litre oil drum I found on the side of the road and a piece of metal drain pipe, I have made a small wood burning stove to use on the veranda at my cabin.

I put 25mm sand in the bottom to help protect the bottom of the oil can.  I drilled a series of holes around the can, 15cms up from the bottom as air intakes.  The door has a diameter of 25cms and the drain pipe/flue has a diameter of 9cms.

It burns very well and very efficiently and provides a good source of heat when sitting out in the evenings.

A new bird species sitting in a tree calling was a beautiful male Pine Grosbeak/Tallbit (you can listen to the call on the page I have linked too).

Another new species so close to my cabin was completely unexpected!!

When I looked out of the cabin window I saw some large footprints

On closer inspection I could see they were from a Wolf.  The best print I have covered with a tin lid to protect it.  The Wolf must have walked around the cabin the previous evening (it gets dark at 5 now) when the ground was wet.  Then later in the evening the temperature dropped to -6 and froze the ground leaving perfect prints

This particular print measured 11.5cms.

The gait measured exactly 100cms.

Here’s a picture of another bird that is resident at my cabin now, but can you see what it is??……..

Problem solved

I was invited out yesterday by my friends Dirk and Silka from Solberget, to do some tracking in the forest.  I was somewhat concerned about getting around in the forest on skis, but they assured me it would not be a problem.  They use Tegsnas forest skis, which are 95mm wide

and loaned me a pair to test.  It was a completely different experience traveling on these skis compared with the military skis that I have.  I was not sinking into the snow at all at it was very easy to move around.

We did not find so much spore while we were out, but we did find burrows in the snow where Capercaillie had spent the night

Apparently it can be quite a frightening experience if you ski over one of these burrows while the bird is still in it, as the snow erupts in front of you and  a Capercaillie busts out!

We also found Pine Marten tracks

Dirk has a kåta in the forest where he takes guests to stay and we stopped there for lunch

It is close to a beautiful area of marsh where there are many birds and animals during the summer.

Tracking Reindeer

I seem to have few opportunities to get out and about these days so the other afternoon I decided to go out in the forest and do some tracking, so I put on my snowshoes and headed out.

Very quickly I found fresh Reindeer tracks and droppings

There were some beautiful views as the sun was setting

but as the sun disappeared the temperature dropped to -23 degrees and my breath started freezing on my face

There were many Reindeer tracks in the snow as I walked

It was not long before I glimpsed the first Reindeer on the horizon

I quietly walked up behind a ridge and looked over

The animals quickly spotted me and were soon on the move, but I walked quietly and steadily behind them and eventually they stopped to rest and feed and they allowed me to get quite close unfortunately it was getting dark and difficult to hand hold the camera

After about 15 minutes they headed off deeper into the forest and I made my way back home.

Out for a drive and a walk

Enjoying my new freedom to be able to get out and about in my car, I decided to drive out to an area of forest to see what I could find and hopefully film and photograph Reindeer.

I have now purchased two sets of military ski’s from my friend Toby but until my ribs are better I cannot learn to ski, so for now I have to use scooter trails (they have compacted the snow) to get about.

although if you step to far to the left or right you drop down to the top of your thigh or even higher

I found numerous tracks of a large canine which were too large for fox but did not seem quite large enough for an adult Wolf at least, but I can see no reason for a large dog to be traveling around so much in the forest on its own.

There was also a pair of Siberian Jays in the trees from time to time

I never managed to find any Reindeer but typically as I drove home, two ran alongside my car!!