40 Today!!

Today is my 40th birthday so what better way to spend the weekend than at my cabin, collecting Birch bark .

Some of the bark was impossible to remove but some separated from the tree as you cut into it

I took the bark back to the cabin.  Some I will store, but some I wanted to work with while it is fresh and flexible

I made a large folded container

I used a narrow strip of Birch bark folded in half as a rim and removed bark from a Willow sapling

and used to stitch the rim in place

The container holds about 5 litres of water

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20th May 2010

There is a bird that is resident here and I have not seen before……until today!

While out walking in the forest I saw a brightly coloured bird fly up from the ground into a tree, where another bird was sitting.

The bird I saw was Pine Grosbeak Pinicola enucleator

This bird (an immature male I suspect) was very obliging and allowed me to get to 1 metre from it, but the duller greenish/brown female was much more shy and I could not get photographs of her.

Pictures of the male however where no problem

17th & 18th May 2010

Yesterday we went out in the evening to look over some marshy areas for birds.  The extremely warm weather we are experiencing (29 degrees C yesterday) mean that the majority of snow melted during a two day period and now the rivers

and marshes are flooded

On the marsh above we had a pair of Whooper Swan and Spotted Redshanks displaying.

The next area we moved to had 5 Bean Geese, 3 Wigeon, 1 Teal, 1 pair Goosander and 1 Yellow Wagtail

The lake opposite was surprisingly quiet, except for 1 Red-throated Diver and a displaying Greenshank.

This morning I went for a walk nearer to home, along the edge of a flooded river; I place I have named “little England” and when those of you living in England see some of the names of Birds I saw there, you will understand why!

There were several Blackbirds and Dunnocks (Hedge Accentors) singing, Robin, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Woodpigeon, Song Thrush, Bullfinch, Goldcrest.  I have not seen or heard Blackbird and Dunnock anywhere else up here so it was strange to have several singing in such a small area.

There were also a pair of Common Sandpiper,2 Green Sandpipers displaying, 1 Woodcock I disturbed and White Wagtail.

In addition to birds, I also saw found the first flowers of the spring…..

Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara).

15th & 16th May 2010

Yesterday morning I visited the bird tower near Porjus again, where I met some of the local bird watchers.  There had been a heavy thunderstorm the night before and with the temperature at 10am already 16 degrees, there was a thick mist over the river.

It was clear that there was already a greater diversity of birds than when I had been there just over a week ago.  As the mist cleared I could see Bean Geese, Whooper Swans, Cranes, many Spotted Redshanks, Green and Redshanks, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Goldeneye, 3 Little Gulls, Many Willow Warblers singing, Whinchat singing, Lapland Bunting, Yellow Wagtail, 1 Cuckoo, 7 Wheatears along the railway line and an Osprey hunting over the river.

At the tower there there is the added bonus of a grill place where you can cook coffee and (yes you’ve guest it Rick) grill sausage

When I got home in the evening there was a Woodcock displaying over the flat.

Today has been 20 degrees and we have been out to the forest.

I devised a simple game as Emma was bored.  I cut a Birch sapling in half so that the piece rooted in the ground was about 0ne and a half metres high.  I split the end of the wood and set a Birch bark cup into the split.

The cups purpose was to hold a pine cone.

Emma pulled back the sapling and when released, the cone would be propelled (in this case up to 10 metres).

I set up a snow shovel as a target to hit with the cones

13th May 2010

Today is a public holiday in Sweden and so we have all been out to the forest to grill sausage.

I made a simple throwing dart with a piece of Willow as the stem and Birch bark as the flights.

Each of the children had three throws at the target (drawn on the ground) and the one who scored the most, won a cookie.

While we were there Common Cranes and Spotted Redshanks were displaying and there was a pair of Pied Flycatchers.  I also saw a House Martin as we drove home.

Nearby, yesterday I saw an Osprey, 2 pairs of  Smew, 1 Greenshank and a male Peregrine.

9th May 2010

Today many Brambling have arrived and now they, Fieldfare and Redwing are singing everywhere.

We were out in the forest today and as we drove along there were many small groups of Reindeer either by the side of the road

(here is a calf)

or on the road

and this one was running along the road

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There were Capercaillie in the forest

Can you spot this one?

We made fire and cooked coffee

and grilled sausage

with Chaffinch, Waxwings, Tree Pipit and Redwing calling/singing around us.

Bird migration is underway

More and more open water is appearing on the lakes and rivers

and more birds are arriving/passing through.

On Thursday evening I drove to an area near to Porjus, where I left my car and walked the short distance to the Luspen Bird Tower

As I walked to the tower I found a Chiffchaff feeding on the ground in undergrowth under some small Birches.

Even before I had reached the tower I could hear Common Cranes and Whopper Swans calling.

The tower overlooks the Stora Luleälv (älv means river in Swedish) which is an important migration route for birds breeding further north.

There are two levels inside the tower, the upper being accessed through this trapdoor

and there are large windows which open and allow 360 degree viewing.

I saw; 47 Whooper Swans, 24 Common Cranes, 4 Pink-footed Geese, 1 Kestrel, 2 Goldeneye, 2 Curlew displaying and as I returned to my car a White-tailed Sea Eagle flew low over the trees.

It was great just to sit in the tower and watch and listen

On Friday I saw my first Fieldfare and Redwing returning for the summer to breed and yesterday morning there were many Fieldfares around and some were already singing.