Spring in Lapland – 20th May

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A pair of Pied Flycatchers had appeared over-night and the male was singing from a nearby Black Spruce and they were soon busy collecting nest material and building in one of the many bird boxes available to them. Other birds singing around the cabin this morning were Chaffinch and Brambling, Redstarts and Song Thrush, Whimbrel displaying overhead and 2 Common Cranes calling from the marsh. A small area of open water close to cabin was also drawing in various duck species; Goldeneye, Mallard, Teal and Smew.

After breakfast I decided to walk to the marsh again where there were over 50 Ruff & Reeve, Several Wood Sandpipers, Spotted Redshank, Raven and Mistle Thrush and Great Tit singing in the trees. Then I walked into the forest behind the cabin but it was incredibly quiet and very difficult walking in the deep snow.

After returning I continued to clear snow

Then I made a trap to try and catch an Arctic Hare , who’s tracks I have seen around the cabin. I bent over a Birch tree and set up a trigger system

with two snares attached to catch the hares feet.

I hoped that an apple core would be irresistible as bait and when it touched the apple core, the branch I had attached it to would trigger the trap (the snares of course were covered by a layer of snow). Unfortunately I never did manage to catch it!

Later in the evening I went for another walk and attempted to collect some Birch bark, but it was incredibly difficult to remove so I guess it was just a bit to early.


Spring in Lapland – 19th May

I awoke to find that it had been snowing for most of the night and it continued to do so during the day, but with brief sunny periods.

I decided to walk to an area of marshland about 1km from my cabin from where I could hear many birds calling and displaying, but my singing and talking loudly in case of bears was getting on my nerves and probably disturbing some of the things I was trying to see, so I put some stones in a plastic water bottle

and taped it to my walking staff and each time I moved the staff, the stones rattling in the bottle made a noise.

The conditions made walking quite a challenge because you might be in deep snow for a short distance and then in areas where the sun had penetrated, the ground was clear.

Walking in snow was also unpleasant because often below the snow there would be deep melt water and so my boots and trousers were constantly wet and my feet cold. Another issue with ground covered by snow was that you could not see the many holes and cracks in the ground and at one point my leg went down one of these and I cracked my elbow on a rock.

Arriving at the marsh it was well worth the walk though. There were Ruff displaying, Spotted Redshanks, Greenshanks, Wood Sandpipers, Whooper Swans, Whimbrel, Goldeneye, Smew and Teal. It was amazing to see wading birds displaying in these snowy, wintry conditions.

Back at the cabin I continued clearing the snow, carved a spoon from Birch and put together a wooden bed. Birds close to the cabin included Great Tit, White Wagtail, singing Redstarts, Raven and Meadow Pipit. There were also fresh Hare and Moose tracks.

Spring in Lapland

My first task was to get a fire going in the stove to heat the cabin and melt snow as this was my only source of water at this time. The most efficient way to melt snow is to put a small amount of water into the saucepan first and to then keep adding snow as the water heats.

You would be amazed at how much snow is required to produce a saucepan of water!

There was a lot of leaves, Pine needles and many other items in the snow, so after melting the snow and boiling the water, I then filtered it through parachute material.

The next task was to clear paths through the snow to the toilet and wood store, and remove the shutters from the cabin windows. It was -5 degrees and snowing quite heavily and I was so pleased that I had thrown a set of merino wool thermals into my pack at the last minute.

After cooking a small meal of meatballs and dehydrated potato mash, my warm sleeping bag was calling to me and I decided it was time for bed.

Spring in Lapland – the jouney there.

I boarded the National Express coach at 1am on Saturday morning (17th May) and after a three hour journey, arrived at Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5. Unfortunately my flight for Stockholm did not depart until 11:15am, but at least there were no delays with our departure.

We touched down at Stockholm Arlanda Airport at 14:50 local time and after collecting my bag, I boarded a train to Stockholm Central Station. I then transferred to the night train to Gallivare for my 16 hour journey. I was sharing my carriage with 5 other people who were travelling further north for a skiing trip.

Here are my friends for the train journey; Richard, Johnny, Camilo, Madeiene, Emilia and Axel. We had good fun and lots of laughs and they were teaching me more Swedish and was teaching them English.

At 9am on 18th May the train arrived in Gallivare station and after saying my goodbyes, I left the train and walked to the town centre. I had decided not to bring a knife with me, but to instead buy one from a shop in town. It was snowing and -1 degrees and no shops opened until 11am, so I sat around and waited. Once open I bought basic provisions, but could find nowhere that was selling knives! Then met with my friend Merete for coffee and then at 3pm my friend Kent (my taxi driver) picked me up and we commenced the one hour drive to the cabin. I told Kent that I had been unable to buy a knife, so he telephoned his daughters boyfriend to ask if I could borrow one. We stopped to pick up the knife on the way to the cabin and rather than loaning me the knife, he gave it to me and would take nothing for it.

When we turned off the main road and onto the forest track to my cabin, we found that it was blocked by a bank of ice and snow left by the snow plough.

Without a shovel it was impossible to move the snow and it was obvious that I would have to walk the 4km to the cabin. Kent was concerned about recent problems with Brown Bears and told me I must sing and make lots of noise to scare them away. Having paid him the taxi fare I set off on my walk to the cabin. I decided to leave my food and some kit in a tree, to return the following day to collect it and with a much lighter load continued on my way. The first birds I encountered were Wood Sandpipers displaying above me and calling from the forest and then Greenshank and Spotted Redshank displaying.

I was surprised to find as i approached the cabin that the lake was still frozen and there was still up to a metre of snow around the cabin.

The last kilometre was very hard going because the snow was deep and each step I took I disappeared at least up to my knee, but finally I arrived at the cabin

I called Kent to let him know I had arrived and was amazed to find that he had driven home to get a shovel, come and cleared the bank of snow, collected my food stash and was on his way to the cabin. I walked back through the snow and met him. Kent said that he did not want me being here without being able to get to me incase there was a problem and when I asked how much I owed him for doing this, he refused to take any money and said “friendship means much more to me than money”……….

Almost alone in the wilderness

So as you may have guessed I have been away for a while and I have just got back. I have been at my cabin in Swedish Lapland since the 18th May. I have many things to write about and show you but it will take me a while to transfer all my pictures and upload videos so please be patient.

You will read about everything that has happened and I have done, the birds and animals I have seen and the people I have met since arriving…..

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and departing two weeks later………

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