Some nice visitors

The last week has been quite exciting as we have had some unusual guests here….

Everyday since last Monday a Moose has visited the garden and here I photographed it crossing the road.

and here is a piece of video of it in the garden the following day

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sufguy1/Sweden, posted with vodpod

We were even more surprised when on Wednesday it had a large calf with it

and here is a piece of video of the calf

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On Friday morning as we walked out of the house to take Emma to daycare a Siberian Nutcracker (thanks David) (Nucifraga caryocatactes ssp macrorhynchos) flew from a tree onto the ground.  Unfortunately I did not have much time to watch and photograph it so this is the best I could do

and just after dark on Friday evening we had a Tengmalm’s Owl in the garden, flying around and calling.  I have put up a nest box now in the hope that they might stay.

June at the cabin – Part 5

While Emma was staying with me, Ingvar (grandfather) decide to build her a swing to play on.

We cut Birch and Pine to build the swing and used rope to suspend it.

Emma also enjoys going out with me to watch the nature, using an old pair of binoculars and a telescope

We spotted a Hare in its summer colours

It appears that it will be a very good year for Bilberry/Blueberry as there are many flowers on the plants

The plants blooms at least one week before the leaves appear.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find Cloudberry (Hjortron in Swedish) flowering near to my boat house

Lapland autumn 2009 – 18th September

There are some beautiful scenes across the lake on cold, misty autumn mornings.

mist over lake

To provide more of a feel for the this scene I took a small piece of video

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more about “Pictures by sufguy1 – Photobucket“, posted with vodpod

After breakfast I took Teres and Emma for a row around the lake

Teres and Emma (Large)

and later we walked through the forest to a large about 1 hours walk away.

walking in the forest (Small)

The previous evening I had demonstrated the flammable properties  of Club Moss spores

Club Moss spore fire (450 x 600)

photograph by Jonny Pickett

and Seb (AKA “Mini Me”) was keen to collect spore tops to obtain the spores.

collecting club moss tops (Small)

When we reached the lake the boys got a fire going and we cooked sausage and bread and then marsh mallows

cooking lunch (Small)

by the fire (Small)

As we walked back to the cabin I noticed bear tracks crossing our previous tracks but we saw no bear.  Emma collected berries as we walked back but as you can see…..she seemed to eat more than she collected

Emma collecting blueberies (Small)

I was in no rush to get back to the cabin because I knew what we would be eating at Anki’s cabin that evening…..but more about that next time!

Bird sightings included; 2 Raven, 1 Jay, 3 Siberian Jay, 3 Goldeneye flew past,  1 Great spotted Woodpecker, Willow Tit  and several Waxwings

Lapland Spring 2009 – 26th May

I wanted to get more video footage so spent the day filming.  I began by filming birds around the cabin.  A male Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus) was a new species, flying low over the cabin. This is a Northern Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula pyrrhula).

Northern Bullfinch

After breakfast I walked over to the marsh to film the Common Crane and the sounds of wading birds displaying.  I crossed the marsh and headed into the forest.

in the forest (Small)

When you are deeper into the forest it is incredibly quiet for birds and the animals disappear before you can get close to them, so I made my way through the forest to one of my favourite spots where the forest has been cleared and there is an observation tower to sit in.  As I came out of the forest I was walking around this tree stump

Caper nest (Small)

when a female Capercaillie jumped up from her nest and almost knocked me over.  The nest contained 6 eggs, slightly larger than those of a chicken.

Caper eggs (Small)

I was filming the nest when I heard something moving in the forest and I could see the brown back of a mammal moving along behind a ridge.  As I watched a head appeared and it was a Red Fox.  I filmed it as it came towards me to investigate but when it realised what I was it turned and ran off.

As I walked up to the tower I saw a Moose feeding on trees along one edge of the clearing.  I filmed it briefly but then it saw me and disappeared into the forest.  I climbed up onto the tower

in hunting tower

and watched for movement across the open clearing

cleared forest (Medium)

A Black Woodpecker flew into the clearing and landed on a tree stump ( a new species in Lapland for me) and another Moose walked across the clearing grazing on Birch regrowth.

I was walking back through the forest and decided to check out a small area of marsh.  As I walked through the trees to the marsh I heard something running across the wet ground.  I walked onto the marsh and stood watching where the animal had run into the forest.

edge of marsh (Small)

I looked to my right and noticed the moss had been disturbed and when I walked to it there were a clear line of tracks going across the marsh………bear tracks…….very fresh bear tracks

Bear print (Small)

How did I know they were fresh?….well when you tread on the moss it compresses and water fills the hole or track.  Gradually the moss rises again (rather like a sponge) and the water disappears.  When I first found this track it had water in it.  I saw or heard nothing more but this is the closest encounter I have had with bear so far.

Birds of note;  I male Rustic Bunting around the cabin, 3 Willow Tit and 1 Whooper Swan on the lake in the evening.

Lapland Spring 2009 – 23rd May

I walked into the forest to cut some more poles and passed an area where a Redwing (Turdus iliacus) a member of the Thrush family was mobbing me and alarm calling so I decided to look around and see if it had a nest.  I did not have to look far

Redwing nest (Small)

The nest contained 6 eggs

Redwing eggs (Small)

I had cut down some poles when the boys joined me again and as there were many mosquitoes I decided to show them how to make a smudge fire to help keep the mosquitoes away.  The lose bark from the Pine can be collected  and will ignite with a spark from the firesteel

Pine bark (Small)

but to make it easier for the boys to make fire we collected Old Man’s Beard Lichen

Old mans beard (Small)

We used the lower dead branched from the poles I had cut as fuel and then started to add the green branches

making smudge fire (Small)

to produce smoke

smudge (Small)

This was sufficient to keep most of the mosquitoes away, but I demonstrated that added much more green Pine would produce a high column of white smoke which can be used as a signal fire for emergencies or if lost and people are searching.

smoke fire (Small)

Although it was my birthday the following day, in Sweden (as it was a Saturday) it was my unofficial birthday so that people could drink and not have to drive to work the next day and Anki had arranged a party.  The whole family came to Anki’s cabin bringing food and presents.  (I feel so lucky to have these people as my friends because they owe me nothing yet they give me so much!!)  Here I am opening my gifts.

opening presents (Medium)

and here are the children enjoying the party

party (Medium)

My friend Teres had also made me a traditional birthday cake (at least that is what they told me it was……I was a little suspicious at first) called I think “Sill tarte” which translated means herring cake

Sill torte (Medium)

and it was FANTASTIC.  Savoury, not sweet but very tasty.

Here are the gifts they gave to me;

birthday gifts (Small)

two fleecs blankets, some candy sweets, a set of Moose (Alg) antlers on a crown to go on the wall of my cabin and a frying pan of the type traditionally used when cooking out in the forest.

In the evening we decided to go fishing and Simon wanted to show me good places to fish

Simon fishing (Medium) (2)

and of course he caught a fish!!!…..but I didn’t

Simon with fish (Medium)

As the sun began to set we made fire

P1020405 (816 x 612) (Medium)

and spent the rest of the evening relaxing and watching the sun set

P1020400 (789 x 579)

Birds of note; Male Smew, Waxwings, Common and Parrot Crossbills, Siskin, Common Crane

Winter in Lapland 2009 – 4

I was up at first light (just after 7am) and went walking in the forest.  I decided to walk along the scooter trail to Kiruna.  My first encounter of the day was 2 Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix) jumping around halfway up in some Spruce.  Next I found fresh track of Mountain Hare (Lepus timidus)


and some droppings


but I did not see a hare.

The trail crosses a river and in the picture below I am standing on the river to take the picture


Crossing the river and heading into the forest I found evidence of where a group od Reindeer had been feeding.  In this picture you can see some droppings in the bottom left of the picture.


The Reindeer will bury down into the snow with there heads and plough through it to reach vegetation on the ground and often all you see is a series of backsides sticking in the air.  This can leave hollows in the snow and you can see one of those to the right of this picture


As the sun rose there was beautiful red sky which this picture doesn’t really do justice to unfortunately


Personally I felt I wasn’t taking a great deal with me when out walking


but each time I walked out of the house Ingvar would give me questioning glance of  “why are you carrying so much for a walk in the forest?”

As I walked back across the river the sight of sunlight on the hill stood out against the duller surroundings


After returning home I was asked if I would like to visit the Ice Hotel at Jukkasjavi (Javi meaning lake), but more about that next time.

Grey Seal colony

This week I visited a breeding Grey Seal colony. Its latin name Halichoerus grypus means “hook-nosed pig of the sea”. These were the types of views I was expecting to get of adults and their pups..

so imagine my surprise when I found pups sprawled across the footpath

This population are Eastern Atlantic Grey Seals. About half the worlds breeding population of Grey Seals are found around the coast of Great Britain.

The breeding site is known as either a rookery or haul-out. The pups are born with a white coat and start to moult at 2 – 3 weeks old.

They will suckle from their mother for about 21 days. After about 7 weeks the pups make their way to the sea and begin to feed.

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One of the pups proved to be incredibly friendly and came so close that it was infact too close for me to then photograph.

I did get a nice piece of video of it though.

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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.

Hammock and tarp

It has been a long time since I used my hammock and tarp, so I used them at Assington Mill last weekend.

My tarp is a Hennessey Hex-fly and the hammock is my own creation. I use a Reindeer skin (or my Swanndri hooded bushshirt) to line my hammock for insulation. The nights were warm enough that I only had my sleeping bag laid over me.

On Saturday night I was serenaded all night by a newly arrived Nightingale.

and I also heard badgers squabling close by.