Venetjoki at spring time

I have written about trying to see beaver in the stream that runs close to my house and now I have been able to photograph them.

They are coming out at about 19:30 each evening and are not bothered by me sitting and watching them

However, yesterday was probably not a good evening for the beavers.  In the past huge amounts of logs were floated down the stream in spring when water levels were high and all natural obstructions (stones and sand banks) were removed.  This means that the water flows uninhibited and now when the ice is melting, it flows down river with the water.

Just downstream of where the beavers are living, there is a large area of ice that has not melted and so ice flowing down could get no further.  Very quickly an ice jam formed

The jam became larger and larger as more ice was carried down and the water started to flood over the land as it could not get past the ice wall.

This morning the ice jam had cleared and the water level had dropped, but here is a piece of video I took of the ice jam yesterday evening

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Dokkas 23-4-11

Yesterday I was in Dokkas (the village where we are trying to create a nature center) for the day.

My first visit was to the Jerttlompolo Nature Reserve, created by Arthur Leidgren due to the are being incredibly important to both migrating and breeding birds.  Unfortunately the lake there was still frozen but there were two Bean Geese, I Robin singing (not a common bird up here) and one Tengmalm’s owl singing during the day.

I then visited the much larger lake in Dokkas, where we have two birdwatching towers

We will be repairing the towers during the summer and we are currently seeking financial support to build another tower with access for disabled  people.

As I sat in one of the towers I heard another Tengmalm’s Owl singing.  There was also a Woodpigeon singing on the far side of the lake (which is another rare bird up here).  A pair of Kestrels have set up residence in one of the Goldeneye nest boxes we have put up and although the lake is frozen, there were four Whooper Swan present.  There was also a White-tailed Sea Eagle circling over the lake, 2 Common Cranes flew west calling and I saw the first Meadow Pipit of the year.

I made a small fire on the edge of the lake to cook coffee and grill some sausage

It was a beautiful warm sunny day and really nice to just sit there and look and listen.  There was even a Fox that ran within two metres of me carrying a vole in  its mouth, so I guess it has young nearby.

Where the snow had melted I found many Cranberries left from last summer

Tengmalm’s Owl

Yesterday we had the first Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) singing in the garden and a Common Crane (Grus grus) flying over the house calling.  We also had the first Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) arrive and a Woodpigeon singing, which is a very rare bird up here.  It’s interesting that we only have male Chaffinches here just now.  They are busy singing and making territories in preparation for the arrival of the females.

We have two Tengmalm’s Owls singing close to the house just now.   I used my compact digital camera to record them singing.

Tengmalm’s Owl 1

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Tengmalm’s Owl 2

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They start singing between 9 and 10pm (it gets dark here at 10pm now) and they are still singing at 4 in the morning (it gets light at 3pm).  I have read on the internet that birds singing all night now have not yet found a mate.

I have been out during the day trying to find the owl perching in a tree

bit I have not found one so far.  I have also made some nest boxes for the owls

and fixed in trees near to where they have been singing

There was a full moon two nights ago when I was out listening to the owls.

Goldeneye and Smew nest boxes

Yesterday we had two Yellowhammer in the garden and three Whooper Swans flew over calling.

I drove to the small village of Dokkas yesterday where I was helping Dokkas Hunting & Fishing Club with a nest box project which has been running for many years.  The project was originally started by this man

Arthur Leidgren,

but more about him later.

There were 10 of us there

to clean out about 60 existing boxes around the edge of Dokkas lake

and put up 25 new ones.

The boxes are especially for two species of ducks; Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) and Smew (Mergus albellus) which used to be very common but due to more intensive logging, there are very few trees large enough for them to nest in now.  We travelled around on snow-mobiles, but both the snow and ice are melting very fast now and driving conditions were very difficult.

It took two and a half hours to complete the work.  We put dried moss in all the boxes for the birds to lay their eggs in.

This is the original type of box Arthur made (he cut them from trees in the forest and carried back great distances on his back).

Some of the new boxes we fixed up with nails

and some were fixed with two webbing straps

In two boxes we found Red Squirrel when we cleaned them out and in this box we found a Tengmalm’s Owl sitting on eggs

After we had completed the work we gathered around a fire on the shore of the lake for coffee, buns and sausage.

We are currently seeking funding to create a nature center in Dokkas in memory of Arthur Leidgren and if anyone reading this knows of any funding sources within the EU, please get in touch.

I am also creating an extra page on my blog about Arthur and the work we are doing to create the nature center.

Tin thread armbands

Chaffinch started arriving back here yesterday after migrating south in early November.

Many people here wear tin thread armbands traditionally made by the Saami people from Reindeer leather, Reindeer horn and a silver and tin alloy thread.  Here is the first one I made

I began making the bracelet by doing a three strand braid with six strands of tin thread and three strands of cotton thread.

Once completed I stitched the braid to a piece of leather.

I stitched the edges of the leather together to form a tube, incorporating a leather loop and reindeer horn button as fasteners for the bracelet.


I cut small slits at either end of another piece of leather and inserted the leather tube through the slits, so that the loop and button protruded from the ends.

I stitched the edges of the leather together to form another tube.

Here is the completed armband

I have also made one for Emma using black leather and six strands of tin thread.

Migrant birds are starting to return for the summer.

On Thursday (7/4/11) I saw several small flocks of Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis feeding along the edges of the road.  The Snow Bunting is a bird that you can find in flocks on the east coast of England during the winter and there are about 100 pairs that breed in Scotland.

On Friday I saw my first Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus) of the spring.  It ws flying over the forest following the course of a small river.  I did much work studying Whopper Swans in the UK when I was a child, as a volunteer for the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust at Welney.

Training with skis

I’m still not that good on skis so I’ve been out in the forest training.

The weather and scenery are beautiful just now

The Birch trees are sheding their winter coat now and I am collecting the thin, pappery outer bark for teachingfirelighting later in te year.

Of course I made fire I cooked coffee.  I collected resin rich, standing dead wood to use for making fire

I used a thick layer of Pine as a base to build the fire on

It ignites easily and burns very well due to the resin

Soon the snow was melting

and coffe was made