Items I carry in the forest everyday

I start my new job on Wednesday as Project Leader for the nature center we are creating in Dokkas, so I will not have so much time to get out and about and as so I probably will not be posting as much.

I thought it might be interesting to see what I carry with me on a daily basis when I am out in the forest.

The first item is a piece of carry mat to sit on when the ground is wet or covered in snow.  I carry it rolled up with a piece of parachute cord tied around

Inside the mat I have a small bottle of water (because there is often not water available in the middle of the forest) and I store dry material for making fire.

I carry my titanium mug in a leather pouch clipped to my belt and inside the mug I have a leather pouch containing instant coffee and stock cubes.

I also have my knife and sharpening kit on my belt and in my pockets; strike anywhere matches, parachute cord, hemp cord (for making fire), camera, a spare camera battery and SD card.

Around my neck I have a small torch, a wooden spoon and the kit I carry in my neck pouch.

1. Small knife, with blade, scissors, tooth pick and small tweezers.
2. Some reindeer sinew and a bone awl and bone needle.
3. A piece of carbon steel chainsaw file, a piece of flint, a piece of true tinder fungus, a char tube and some sisal string – all of which I use in combination for fire lighting.
4. A small firesteel and a glue stick from a hot glue gun.
5. Reindeer leather neck pouch

Out for a meal

Teres says that we never go out for a meal together, so the other evening I took her to one of my favourite places………

Its a nice quiet spot with a lovely view across the river and a great area to watch birds and animals (we were fortunate enough to watch a Peregrine Falcon chasing Common Sandpipers over the river).  I also saw my first skogslämmel, Forest Lemming (Myopus schisticolor).

I made a sausage and vegetable stew, with cheese dumplings and coffee after.

The dumplings I make by mixing flour, salt, baking powder and honey.  I then cut lumps of cheese and wrap the dough around the cheese and cook in the stew.

And now specially for  Cristy Anspachm…

Here is a typical example of a sausage here in Sweden

We cut a piece from the sausage and remove the wrapping and set on a stick and grill over the fire

This is what it looks like when cooked

To cook the coffee I first boil the water in a coffee pot

I then pour in coffee grounds until they form a peak above the water.  The pot goes back over the fire and simmers for a couple of minutes.  I then pour out a cup of coffee and pour back into the pot.  This makes the coffee grounds settle to the bottom of the pot and after a couple of minutes you can pour out the coffee.

Bloody typical!!!

While I was at my cabin hoping to see a bear, one was seen on the the road near my house in Nattavaara!. It was also seen in some ones garden the previous week.

I have been out and about over the weekend looking for birds and animals. I have found a really large lake just outside Nattavaara

with a nice area of marsh around the outside

There was a White-tailed Sea Eagle sitting at the edge of the lake when I arrived, but it flew off before I could get a picture. There were also Arctic Terns, Bean Geese, 4 Willow Grouse, a Reindeer with a small calve and this Moose

At this little cabin near to the lake

there was a Kestrel nesting and I found this Tengmalm’s Owl

He wasn’t easy to see, but I found that if I did not look directly at him he would let me get closer

until after about 10 minutes I was one metre from him

I promise you it is not a stuffed one!!

I was also out with a local birdwatching group on Saturday near Porjus.

We saw Little Gull, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, Osprey, Dunlin, Temminck’s Stint, Common Scoter

3 Oystercatchers (which is a very rare bird up here in Lapland), Common, Green and Wood Sandpiper, Bluethroat, Common Crane,

and a close Whimbrel

Of course we also made fire, grilled sausage and cooked coffee.

A couple of days at my cabin

I have been to my cabin for a couple of days to finish working on the kitchen.  The road is clear of snow now so I was able to drive there.

I arrived on the 17th and was surprised to find that there were very few birds there.  There was a pair of Bean Geese on the lake and I have a pair of Siberian Tits (Poecile cinctus) nesting close to my cabin, but I was not able to find the nest.

I made some bread for lunch using flour, honey, salt and baking powder.  I put peanut butter and jam on the bread after I have baked it in the oven

I spent the day working in the cabin and for my evening meal I cooked spaghetti bolognese

I spent the evening in a forest clearing hoping to photograph a bear, but saw nothing.

Yesterday (18th) the first bird I saw as I walked out of the cabin was a Swallow (the first of the year).  I spent the morning working in the cabin again.  I needed to cut a piece of worktop.  To prevent the surface splitting and cracking you cover the line you will saw with sticky tape and this gives a nice neat finish.

I used the same bread mix as mentioned above to make a pizza base (with a few herbs and spices added) and I covered the base with a carton of tomatoes, re-hydrated mushrooms, sausage and cheese.  After cooking in the oven it turned out very well

In the evening I went to a much larger forest clearing where there was a Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) singing and for the first time in my life I listened to a Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) singing from the top of a tree.  Unfortunately it was too far away to take a picture.

This morning I left the cabin to drive to Nattavaara.  I realised halfway in my journey that I had left my telescope in the cabin, and so had to turn around and drive back which was actually very fortunate…… because as I arrived back at my cabin 4 Long-tailed Ducks landed on the lake

A busy week

It’s been a busy, but interesting  week  for me.

On Monday I was involved in a Finnish radio program about Arthur Leidgren and our new nature center in Dokkas.  It was an interesting experience for me as an Englishman to have to talk in Swedish and have my answers translated into Finnish.

If you are interested to hear my friend Alf talking Finnish and me talking Swedish you can listen here.  Select 17:30 – 18:00 and listen from 05:30 minutes on the player at the bottom of the screen.

I was back to Dokkas again on Friday to meet with representatives from Gallivare kommun, to discuss designs and costings for repair/construction of the bird towers and walkways for the nature center.

There was a nice variety of birds there including; White-tailed Sea Eagle, Whimbrel, Tufted Duck,


House Martins and Waxwings

On Saturday myself and Teres joined a group of local birdwatchers in Hakkas for a mornings birdwatching.  Our sightings included; 3 Little Gulls, 1 Arctic Tern, 4 pairs of Slavonian Grebe, 1 Rustic Bunting, 1 Smew, several Ruff, and Wood Sandpiper

We ended the morning with a warm fire, coffee and sausage.

My favourite time of year

This is my favourite time of year here in Lapland.  Everyday there are new species of birds arriving and you just never know what you will find.  Yesterday I was out for the hole day visiting different areas.

I started at a wetland area just outside Nattavaara.  Before I had got out of the car I could here 2 Rustic Buntings (Emberiza rustica) singing.  One came very close to investigate, but was moving all the time and I could not get a good photograph of it.

I also found a Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)

displaying or “lekking” on an island in the middle of  small lake

In Dokkas there was a Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis) singing.  On the lake in Dokkas there were five Little Gulls (Hydrocoloeus minutus).  There is a colony of Little Gulls which breed on the lake.

There was one male Smew (Mergellus albellus) and many Goldeneye

Another nice surprise was a pair of Common Scoter just in front of the bird tower.

I have not seen Common Scoter in Lapland before.

I cooked my evening meal at the side of Lina river just outside Dokkas

I cooked fried sausage, noodles and coffee

I made this simple fork to eat the noodles with, but splitting a piece of Alder at one end and inserting a small wedge to keep the two prongs open.

An evening by the river

The sun is now setting at around 21:30 but it does not get dark until after midnight, so yesterday evening I headed out to the Råneälven about 1km from my house, to see what I could find.

The evening started well with two Moose in the forest watching me

and I had not been sitting at the edge of the river long when a beaver decided to come and check me out

There were also two Bean Geese (Anser fabalis rossicus)  and three Whooper Swans

I have started taking photographs through my telescope with my digital camera, using a piece of waist pipe to connect the two together

with reasonably good results.  The three swans were taken this way, as was this swan taking off

There was Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Snipe and Wood Sandpiper displaying over the river, but the best bird of all was a Great Grey Owl (lappuggla in Swedish) which flew over the forest and then along the river.  I had seen one before in Canada when I worked with Mors Kochanski, but have spent many hours here searching to find one.

Picture by Thomas Oberg