Spring in Lapland – 27th May

So I was up at about 02:15 to try and find the beaver (there are Chaffinch and Redwing singing in this piece of film).

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The first birds I saw were a pair of Long-tailed Ducks sitting on the ice outside the cabin.

I walked around the lake and on the northern edge I could hear gnawing of bark and could see the water moving. I moved very slowly and managed to get to about three metres of the beaver, who was completely unaware of my presence.

I even filmed it for a short time

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before it noticed I was there and with a slap of its tail on the water it was gone.

Pleased with my success I walked over to the marsh where there was nothing unusual and then made my way back to my bed.

After breakfast I decided to walk to a much larger lake that I had visited last autumn. Minerals in the ground mean that a compass can not be relied upon for navigation so as I travel I keep looking back to note distinctive features that I can look out for as I travel back. I also make small marks on trees to help define my return route. The picture below shows a mark on the left of the tree so I know I must turn left here.

The lake is in a low valley and it was almost like going back a week in time as there was still a lot of snow and most of the lake was frozen!

Smew, Goosander and Goldeneye were the only birds here and I also flushed a female Capercallie as I walked back.

I spent the rest of the day rubbing down and painting more windows and I finished the kuksa I was making.

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Spring in Lapland – 26th May

As predicted I awoke to a wet rainy morning, which then turned to snow. By mid afternoon it was sunny but with an icy cold north wind.

1 Common Gull flew low over the lake, 1 Redwing singing just outside cabin, 1 male Wheatear around the cabins today (probably forced to take a break from its migration by the weather), I Wryneck (a member of the Woodpecker family) around today. Here is a picture of it on the sauna chimney

I spent most of the day working on the kuksa that I started yesterday to give as a gift to the guy who gave me the knife.

I also collected some local plants to experiment with as food;

I have found references to “Old Mans Beard” lichen being used as a survival food.

If cooked for a long time it is supposed to release starch and has also been used as a gluten substitute to make bread.

It reminded me of pubic hair prior to cooking and after testing it at various intervals during a 10 hour cooking period, it didn’t change much!

I do recall from a Ray Mears programme though, that the resulting water could have been used to treat fungal infections.

A plant that I do enjoy is Labrador Tea

though if I drink too much of it, it sometimes gives me stomach ache.

This evening as I sat carving the kuksa, a beaver appeared swimming around the edge of the lake.

I’ve decided I will get up early tomorrow morning to try and find where it is feeding.

Spring in Lapland – 25th May

Sunny and warm today and as a result the snow is melting significantly now.

The male Common Sandpiper is displaying over the lake today. There were 2 Siberian Jays in trees behind the cabin, 1 Willow Tit and 2 Waxwing, but apart from these it is very quiet for birds today.

Made the most of the fine weather by rubbing down and painting some of the cabin windows today.

I then gathered logs from the fallen frees I had cut up over the past few days. and then carved a spatula and started to carve a kuksa.

I really like a slightly sweet Swedish bread called Vetekaka and buy a pack each time I go.

I used my last mushroom and cheese to make some mini pizzas.

This evening I am trying to collect some Birch sap.

The sap will run down the blade of the knife and drip into the well of the billy can lid. Once this fills the sap will run over the lid, and because the lid fits loosely on to the can, the sap will run around the lid and into the can. This prevents any crap getting into the sap.

There has been a “halo” around the sun all day today so I am expecting rain tomorrow!

Spring in Lapland – 24th May

Another year older today, but what a fantastic way to spend my Birthday!!

Several Tree Pipits singing this morning, 1 pair of Spotted Flycatchers in the trees, a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming at the top of a dead Spruce, a Cuckoo singing and a pair of Common Sandpipers around the edge of the lake all day. It was also nice to see the three Reindeer again near the cabin.

The back room of the cabin has moved slightly during the winter and now there is a gap between the room and the cabin.

Mice are getting in, so I decided to cover the gap with pieces of wood.

I have a small hand-drill, but no drill bits so I cut the off of one of the nails I intend to use and insert the nail into the drill as use it as my drill-bit.

it works incredibly well!

After my evening meal I went for a walk to the south end of my lake where there were two Elk Moose feeding on Bog Bean rhizomes in the waters edge.

I managed to get to about 20 metres from them, but them something in the forest behind spooked them and they ran off.

As I walked back to the cabin I flushed two Hazel Grouse.

I spent the evening on a high ridge behind the cabin

hoping I might see other large mammals, but saw nothing.

There was an Arctic Hare outside the cabin though.

Spring in Lapland – 23rd May

Sunny when I got up this morning and 10 degrees by 08:30! But heavy rain by 11am.

3 House Martins over the lake this morning, 1 Goldcrest singing, Several Tree Pipits arrived last night and are singing this morning, 2 male Goosander on the lake, and 1 Black-throated Diver flew East.

I decided to try and track the movements of the three Reindeer I saw last night and soon found tracks

and fresh droppings

They had spent some time in the trees behind the cabin and then moved off north west, passing a marshy area.

As I approached the area I found a frog making its way to the small area of open water!

Clearly from the noise emanating from the pool, there were already a considerable number of frogs there, though I could find no sign of spawn.

The Reindeer had continued past here and then headed into the forest, where there were also many Elk Moose droppings. This picture shows both for comparison; Elk above and Reindeer below in the snow (Elk droppings are at least 4x as big as those of Reindeer).

After returning to the cabin, I walked across to the main marsh where there were 2 Siberian Jays watching my movements

Picture taken last September by Jon Pickett

I had very close views of both Ruff and Wood Sandpiper, but there are very few waders displaying now. I tend to only hear and see Greenshank, Spotted Redshank and Wood Sandpiper as they fly over travelling to the marsh to feed and then back to the forest where they nest.

Spring in Lapland – 22nd May

It was a cold night last night and areas of open water on the lake now have a thin layer of ice again. Light snow first thing and then sunny and warm with temperature up to 12 degrees.

There was 1 male and 2 female Smew+ 1 male Goldeneye on the lake today. Another pair of Pied Flycatchers have appeared around the cabin this morning, 4 Waxwings now, 1 Greenfinch flew SSW calling, 1 Willow Warbler singing, several male Bramblings singing, 1 Blue-headed Wagtail flew over, 2 Siskin around and 1 House Martin feeding over the lake.

I cleared more snow and had to clean out the stove because the wood would not light, before I could have breakfast.

I am currently eating two meals a day to ensure my food will last two weeks. I have a big pot on the back of the stove which is simmering away all the time and any left-over food or things I find to eat outside are added and then I just spoon out a bowl full each evening for my meal (managed to find 12 Lingon berries yesterday evening). In reality of course I could survive without eating anything for more than two weeks, as long as I have drinking water, but it is amazing how much I look forward to something simple like a small cup of orange juice or two blocks of chocolate each day.

The stove performs incredibly well. It uses very little fuel and once hot, it will heat the whole cabin without the need for a fire in the living room.

Today I have also made a small shrink pot out of a piece of Birch.

First it has to be hollowed out with your knife

until the walls of the tube are just a few millimetres thick

then cut a small groove around the inside of the tube, carve a base and pop it into the groove

as the Birch tube dries and shrinks it should form a water tight seal around the base.

This evening I walked to a small area of marsh behind the cabin where there was a male Little Bunting singing. Just after midnight there were three Reindeer in the trees just behind the cabin.

Spring in Lapland – 21st May

Snowing again this morning, but by mid-afternoon it was sunny and up to 8 degrees, but by 8pm it was down to 2 degrees.

I spent the day around the cabin, cutting up fallen trees

and carrying them back to the cabin. I was having real problems holding things in my right hand, having hit my elbow on a rock the day before. 1 Lapland Bunting flew over calling, 3 Common Cranes flew NE, 1 Golden Plover flew over calling and there were a pair of Waxwings around the cabin for most of the day.

I must apologies for the quality of some of the wildlife picture, but I only carry a compact digital camera (Panasonic Lumix) and as with any compact, you have to be very close to get good pictures.

I selected some pieces of Birch and split for carving spoons and other items.

and here are some of the items I carved over the next few days.

At about 21:30 I sat outside the cabin and could here a strange distant noise coming from towards the marsh, so I headed over there to investigate. The sound reminded me of the bubbling sound of “lekking” Black Grouse and indeed that was what it turned out to be, they were in the forest beyond the marsh. There were many Ruff also displaying on the marsh, but other waders were rather more quite than on previous visits.

I was also quite surprised to find quite a few mosquitoes had emerged and were determined that i would be there first meal!!