A northern hawk owl and its prey

Hawk owl

Yesterday’s mission was to find and catch a glimpse of the hawk owl that was reported seen in the area. After two kilometers walk we reached the old barn where the owl was last seen, and we decided to give it two hours to appear.

It didn’t take long, though, until it swept down from the blue sky and landed on the roof ridge.

Hawk owl on the roof

Gazing and preening in the sun for about half an hour, then it suddenly made a head-first dive down into the rough grass and disappeared.

Slowly and cautiously, we approached the place where it had landed. The owl lay still, half hidden in the grass and didn’t seem to notice our presence until the camera began clicking.

Hawk owl in the grass kopiera

The sound was obviously annoying and after less than a minute it got tired of the photographer interfering with its meal, and took off with the prey in its claws, probably a mouse or a vole.

Hawk owl with mouse

 

Hawk owl with mouse2 kopiera

 

Hawk owl with mouse3 kopiera

 

Advertisements

A turquoise gem way out of nowhere

After spending four months at our Paradise, it was finally time to return home last week and we are now slowly adjusting to city life again. There has not been much work done on the blog these past months, the summer has been way too gorgeous to be spent hunching over a laptop. But piles of pictures have been taken of both bear encounters, beavers, and birds and they will be posted eventually.

Today’s post is from a trip in September to the nearby Gröntjärn nature reserve. This is an area of exciting geology with traces of the most recent Ice Age about 8500 years ago, for instance many so called kettle holes. When ice blocks buried below sand and gravel melted, the ground subsided and formed steep sided hollows of which many were filled with water. The most notable of them all is this strange, greenish glittering lake, like a turquoise gem, surrounded by tall pine trees.

Like a turquoise gem

 

The lake is known for its unusual hydrological conditions. It has no brooks running to or from it and a natural water-level difference of 14 meters due to a complicated interaction between surface water, groundwater, and the groundwater flow.

Gröntjärn

This summer has been very hot and dry  and the water level is unusually low. The small white square in the upper part of the picture marks the all time high water level.
This past summer has been very hot and dry and the water level was unusually low. The small white square in the upper part of the picture marks the all time high water level.

Its beautiful turquoise green colour is an effect of the groundwater, which is free from particles, unlike the water in streams, together with the reflections from the sky and the surrounding trees.

Turquoise water

 

Gröntjärn 1

 

After a three-kilometer walk around the lake we were ready for lunch. The area is well equipped with picnic tables, grills, and wind shelters. We had decided to skip the hot dogs this time and instead make us some charcoal buns.

Frying charcoal bun

Charcoal buns is a provincial dish from way back, a kind of pancake with salted pork or bacon (the modern version). Rich and robust food from a time when lumberjacks, navvies, charcoal burners, and log drivers had to live away from home for months and work under primitive conditions. This was food containing few and sustainable ingredients – flour, water, and salted pork – and was baked in pork grease in a cast iron pan over open fire.

All you need is pet bottle with pre made batter (always 100 ml less water than flour, and a pinch of salt) and a container with pre fried chunks of salted pork or bacon. Serve with lingonberry or cranberry sauce. Enjoy!

Charcoal bun

Oh yes, I almost forgot, the iron cast pan! That one can be heavy to carry in your rucksack, but there are special light metal pans with long handles.

 

 

Kestrels in Paradise

When visiting our summer cottage up north during the Easter holiday we had the priviledge to watch and follow a “lovesick” kestrel couple which, as it seemed, was planning to take over an old abandoned crow’s nest in one of our pine trees.

Kestrels_redigerad-1

When returning to our Paradise in early June, now for the rest of the summer, we were of course very curious to find out if the couple had moved in and how the family planning proceeded.

The characteristic sound of the kestrel revealed that the couple was still there and in a small gap between the branches of the dense pine crown we managed to catch a glimpse of a brooding bird. Around midsummer some downy little heads popped up over the edge of the nest. It was difficult to see how many, but we guessed at three chicks.

Suddenly one morning I noticed a lot of activity up in the pine crown and then the sound of flapping wings. I realized I was sitting in the front row to watch the chicks testing their wings.

Kestrel chick in pine tree

Kestrel chick 1

Testing the wings
The kestrel chick is testing its wings…

 

... and is soon ready for its first take off
… and is soon ready for its first take off

 

Mom is supervising her exercising chicks.
Mom is supervising her exercising chicks.

Practising flying can be tiresome, time to take a nap…

…. and then get a bite to eat

Vole for lunch

I appologize for the bad quality in this and the next two photos. I blame it on the far distance and that my camera is nothing of the fancy kind. When I was taking the above photo I was so focused on the chick that I never noticed the mom coming with a vole until I opened it in the computor.

Mother and chick and a moment of peace and love.

Två små fåglar på en gren

Två små fåglar på en gren1

For two whole weeks I had the pleasure following the chicks’ progress when flying around from tree to tree on our lot. But then, on a Monday morning, those “klee-klee-klee”- or chatter calls I had got so used to were missing and so were the whole Kestrel family. Hope to see them again next year!

Among bears and wolverines in Finland

Today’s post is a small selection of photos from my dear husband’s encounters with bears and wolverines in eastern Finland a couple of weeks ago.

Bear at the creek

Björn i gräset 1

Bear

 

There is a saying, where there are ravens in a bear tight area there are probably bears just around the corner.

Ravens

 

Just wonder what’s up there?

Bear standing up

Bear

 

When the sun had set…

Sunset

…. two wolverines suddenly appeared, quickly rushing around making it difficult to capture them with the camera.

Wolverine
Wolverine

 

This is the laughing bear; almost sounds like the name of one of all those rock groups from the early 60’s, The Laughing Bear!

Laughing bear

“Oh, what a beautiful morning” or “Houston, I have a problem”

This morning, when the ”heat was on”, the lake smooth as a ballroom floor and it was just me and my red kayak out there slowly drifting through the water, it was close at hand to start humming “Oh what a beautiful morning, ….”.

Kayak_redigerad-2

 

Yesterday, on the other hand, was quite another day, when it was closer to allude to Apollo 13’s crew and their call from outer space down to Earth: “Houston, we have a problem”.

Yes, Houston, I have a problem too, a wasp problem, and on top of that I don’t have a control center that can respond and assist me. My son and grandchildren have just left and returned back to Stockholm and Roffe, my devoted husband, is somewhere in Finland near the Russian border to shoot bears and wolves. No, not rifle shooting, just shooting with the camera.

My problem appeared this morning when I opened the greenhouse for the usual morning routine, to greet my plants and “ruffle their hair.” Someone told me the ruffling would help the pollination along!

Inside, there was a nice summery buzzing from insects but no matter how I looked around, I could not see whether bumblebees or bees. On the way out, however, I discovered the source of the buzz. A large wasp nest was under construction on the ceiling above the entrance. And believe me, they were many who apparently planned to move in when it was finished!

getingbo

I did not want to use toxic insect spray inside the greenhouse, instead I went for the water hose and tried to shoot down the nest and kill / drown the little creatures with a hard water jet. To tell the truth, this was not a successful strategy at all, though. It just made those black and yellow bastards aware of me and preparing counterattacks as soon as I tried to approach the greenhouse.

The whole day went by and all I could do was watching how my plants slowly wilted in the heat due to lack of water. There was only one thing left to do now. I had to start a war. So while the rest of you probably were glued to the TV watching The Netherlands vs Argentina, I covered myself from head to toe, gloves and rubber boots on and last but not least that old mosquito hat that was purchased for a mountain hike ages ago. Then a firm grip on the water hose, shove it up into the nest and spray, spray, spray and then run for my life.

Dressed for success
My very first selfie ever

 

Getingjakt med vattenslang

After three or four attacks with the water hose the nest was finally gone, dissolved in little gray tears.The wasps that did not die drowning seemed to have fled the field.

Well, did this brave soldier get any memorable war injuries? Yes, a sting in the thumb (despite the gloves) from an angry wasp, but nothing serious and nothing that a little ointment made from spruce tree resin  couldn’t soothe

Here is lookin’ at you, coots!

Not a single dull moment when nature comes alive. On the contrary, it offers a lot of feel-good factors right now. The days are getting longer and lighter (and tomorrow even longer as we are moving the clock forward an hour), the breeding season, nesting and burgeoning budds are underway. Today it’s looking at the rather agressive coots chasing after one another.

Coot Red

 

Coot 1 Red

 

Coots 1 Red

 

Coot

 

Balancing acts and reflections

Climate- or weather-wise, it feels like we live in an upside down world right now. Aside from a couple of weeks in January  this winter has been thoroughly green, or rather brown / grayish – mild, wet, muddy and hazy – most of the time. In the Stockholm area lapwings, skylarks and starlings as well as winter aconite are more than a month early. For the birds and buds, let´s just hoped there won’t be a setback of cold and snow in March.

Mallard
Preparing for a somersault or just navel-gazing?
I suppose it takes a lot of yoga-classes to be able to scratch one's own neck the way this male mallard does.
I suppose it takes a lot of yoga-classes to be able to scratch one’s own neck the way this male mallard does.
Dipper_redigerad-1
A cute little dipper

Gull

Standing on one leg or balancing a seed on its bill also requires a certain skill.

Great tit kopiera

Spotted nutcracker 3 kopiera

This  Sibirean spotted nutcracker is not commonly seen here but seemed to enjoy the surroundings so much that he stayed for a couple of weeks.

Spotted nutcracker 2 kopiera