Valborgsmässoafton or the Last Day of April

Today it is “Sista april” or “Valborgsmässoafton” (the Last Day of April or Valpurgis Night). This longed for holiday definitely puts an end to winter, whatever the weather.

This is also the time of year when the cattle are let out to pasture for the first time after a long winter in the barn and far back in the 18th century huge bonfires were lit to protect the livestock from both predators and supernatural beings.

The tradition with bonfires still lives though, but nowadays “Sista april” is just another opportunity to bring friends and family together, have a bite to eat and later in the evening take a walk to the nearest local bonfire and welcome spring with speeches, songs and colorful, but perhaps not so eco-friendly fireworks.

These are pictures from last year’s celebration down by our lake.

Valborgsmässoeld ljus

Last of April

Last of April 2

Fireworks

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Spring fever or love is in the air

Signs of spring continue to appear, one after another. This past weekend the first wagtail showed up, 10 days late.

Wagtail

Wagtails usually arrive on the same date year after year and in the Stockholm area that tends to be April 4th, but this year the first bird was not reported until April 14th.

We have also spotted the very first wood anemone, even before the hepaticas which is unusual.

Wood anemone
Clearly spring has an aphrodisiac effect on both humans, animals and birds. The sunlight and warm air affect our mood, kick our hormones to ”rock ‘n’ roll” and arouse a lust for life (and other things) again. Some species express this lust in rather violent manners though. This male Canada goose almost drowns his female during the act of love.

Canada goose 1

Canada goose 2

No hard feelings afterwards as it seems.

Canada goose 3

 

Lapwings – just wondering if they’re trying to “do it” in the air.

Lapwings

Lapwings 2

A grey heron couple working on their nest.

Grey heron couple

Seeing is believing – Spring is in the air!

At last! This past week, the three surest harbingers of spring arriving finally occurred.
#1 The coltsfoot shine from roadsides and ditches like little suns.

Coltsfoot
#2 The starlings have arrived and are moving into the nest boxes.

Starling
#3 The football season and “Allsvenskan” – Sweden’s top football league – kicked off last weekend. Roffe’s soul is black and yellow as in “AIK”, mine is green and white as in Hammarby and Celtic.

AIK

AIK 2

 

A snow bunting, a rare bird not often seen in our area. Roffe was lucky though to catch a glimpse of it the other day.

Snow bunting

 

Greylag geese coming in for landing.

Greylag goose

Greylag goose 2

Easter rhapsody

Back home again after a fabulous Easter holiday in our little cabin up north (in the province of Hälsingland about 400 km north of Stockholm) where we literally have been “walking on sunshine” (to quote Katrina and the Waves). A retreat and hideout that is our very own little Paradise! Gorgeous weather every day, warm and sunny, no winds but very cold nights that contributed to a hard snow crust, comfortably for long walks on the lake.

Bäckesundet ram

Even though the ice was thick and safe enough (about 60-70 centimeters) there were still places with streaming water where we had hoped to find some seabirds, but they didn’t seem to have arrived yet.

Ice

 

I imagine the harsh winter has been tough for both animals and birds and as soon Roffe had opened up his “restaurant” the guests were lining up, birds as well as squirrels and a roebuck. The quality of these two shots are not the best as they are taken throught the window, but they still bring back happy memories.

Kollage roebuck

The crested tit and the blue tit fraternally share the food.

Blue tit and crested tid

A willow tit.

Willow tit with a nut

A black woodpecker.

Black woodpecker

Woody Woodpecker working on a pine cone.

Woodpecker

 

Whether skiing or walking, an outdoor lunch cooked over open fire tastes just as well. This is a charcoal bun served with lingonberry jam (similar to cranberry sauce). No, charcoal buns are not some blackened buns. It is simply a kind of pancake with salted pork or bacon (modern version). Heavy and robust food of the past when loggers, navvies, charcoal-burners and log-floaters had to work away from home for months under primitive conditions. This was food that contained few and sustainable ingredients, flour, water and salted pork and was baked in pork grease in a cast iron pan over open fire.

Charcoal buns on the ice

 

Well, short is that happiness that lasts for ever. Time to return home!

svart ram