Back to Danemead Part 1

I returned to Hoddesdon this weekend and Danemead Scout Campsite. Originally I was going to be teaching a small group of leaders, but for various reasons some people cancelled and for most of Saturday it was only me and my friend Stuart.

As I arrived and got out of my car there was a large party of Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrests moving around feeding in the trees. As I was watching I heard the short, loud, distinctive “tsu-weet” of a Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus), a bird which breeds in Siberia and Russia and migrates to Asia and has wondered off course. Each Autumn this uncommon vagrant arrives in varying numbers for a brief stay as they make their journey south. During my years of serious birding I spent many ours chasing around looking for them. This bird called several times and then departed with the tit flock and I did not hear it again for the rest of the weekend.

There is a brief piece of video of a Yellow-browed on YouTube here

Stuart had purchased a Tentipi (made not that far from my cabin in Sweden) and was keen to get it set up and try it out.

Here is a view from the front.

After erecting the tipi, we cut and split some logs for fire wood

and then got a fire going and put the kettle on.

Another surprising find, especially for mid November was this Comma butterfly

It gets its name from the white mark you can see on the underwing.

To be continued!!


Spring in Lapland – 31st May

Clear, sunny and 27 degrees today!!!!

I caught 3 Perch and 1 22 inch Pike in the trap today.

It is a sad day for me today as I will be leaving tomorrow.

This morning I had problems lighting the stove (the chimney may be blocked), so I made a fire outside to cook on.

For breakfast I had fried bannock and the remainder of my dried fruit and sun flower seeds.

I walked to the marsh but it was very quiet, though there were many Green Hairstreaks around and 1 Holy Blue.

I spent the afternoon cleaning and tidying in and around the cabin and spent the evening rowing around the lake, with the beaver as a companion.

Spring in Lapland – 28th May

Hazy sunshine today with a cold north wind.

1 Rustic Bunting singing in the forest at the north end of the marsh this morning and I managed to get some very nice views. There was also one Green Hairstreak butterfly flying around as well.

Only 1 Greenshank and 1 Wood Sandpiper on the marsh today.

Now that the lake is clear of ice

I have been able to get my boat out of the boat house and row around the lake.

I also put my fish trap into the lake, just off the end of the jetty in the hope of catching some fish as I am running out of food.

This evening, while I was outside working a couple appeared taking their dog for a walk. They introduced themselves as Ingvar and Anki and they have a cabin on another lake not far from mine. They had come to stay for one night and were going home again tomorrow. Although Ingvar spoke no English and I speak very little Swedish (if anyone knows of a Swedish language course please let me know!) Anki could speak some English and was able to translate. They invited me back to their cabin for coffee and we talked about the wildlife and nature. They have owned their cabin for many years and told me that a lady called Elin had owned my cabin from 1967 until she died four years ago.

It was nice to meet such friendly people and to share their company for an evening. When I return in September, Anki has said she will teach me the fungi I can eat there and the best places to fish. Ingvar is a carpenter and so has offered to help me with some repair work on the cabin in September.

They have asked that I learn to speak more Swedish before I return, but it is proving more difficult to find a local Swedish language course or tutor than I had expected.

Butterfly transect

From the 1st April to 30th September we do a weekly count of butterflies along a transect. The transect route has 8 sections and covers all the different habitats on the nature reserve. We have to note the start and finish time, end temperature, wind direction and at the end of each transect section the percentage of sun. Both butterfly species and the number of each species have to be recorded and this will vary during the summer months.

The most common species today was Peacock butterfly. The one below was one fresh Fox droppings, obtaining moisture and minerals I would imagine.

To fine out more about the method used and national results from the scheme visit

Spring is in the air

The birds are singing and collecting nest material.

At work today I noticed both Elder and Blackthorn bursting into leaf (Elder leaves work very well as an insect repellent) and the wild plum trees at the bottom of my garden are now in blossom.

On Sunday I saw my first Peacock butterfly of the year and there are a surprising number of moths crossing through the headlight beams of my car when driving at night.