“A piece of Provence” makes life easier for the birds

Thanks to the County Administrative Board of Stockholm, and its generous contribution of sunflower seeds, a bit of farmland was turned into a “piece of Provence” at the nearby nature reserve Angarnssjöängen, foremost a bird habitat.

The sunflowers have been a beautiful eye catcher for visitors to enjoy throughout the summer.

Now the flowers have withered. All that remains are the heads packed with sunflower seeds.

Today the field is a sad and dreary sight, but the large crowds of goldfinches and one or two blue tits don’t seem to bother, as they pick the fatty and nutritious seeds from the flower heads. Hopefully the seeds will help them make it through the winter.

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Charmed by a mink

Well, I didn’t post much last year. Or rather, I did write several posts, but very few got posted. The main reason was an annoying unstable internet connection at our countryside cottage where we use to spend 4-5 months every summer. Some days internet worked , but at a snail’s pace, other days not at all.

Anyway, I have decided not to let all them posts all go to waste, so here’s one from last August about the cutest of minks.

It all started when a next door neighbor wrote on Facebook that a mink was strolling around on her pier. We hurried over to her house, hoping the mink would still be there.

It was, and for the first time, at very close range, and with slightly increased pulse, Roffe could photograph a mink in the wild. It seemed completely fearless and posed willingly.

Mink kopiera

Mink 1 kopiera

 

Mink 3 kopiera

 

Mink2 kopiera

 

Two days later I suddenly discovered him / it on our own jetty, munshing the fish guts Roffe had left behind for the fox and seagulls after cleaning his catch.

Mink on the jetty 1

 

Even though it’s so cute and you just want to pick it up like a pet and cuddle with, a mink is not an animal you want in your lake. It destroys your fishing nets, eats the fish, and worse, the birds nesting close to the shore and their eggs.

Mink 1

Mink 3

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

 

Waxwings

3 Attac

Snow covers large parts of the country and it’s more Christmassy  now than during the Christmas holiday itself. This is also the time of year when you can see large flocks of the beautiful and “punk” looking waxwing invading trees and bushes, especially in areas with lots of berries like rosehip, juniper and rowan.

1 Waxwings

 

2 Waxwing punk

 

5 Waxwing munchiong juniper berries

 

4 Waxwing and juniper

 

Unfortunately, waxwings are also said to be notorious window hitters. The prevailing opinion is that they become intoxicated by possible alcohol formed in the berries they eat, and thus easier collide with transmissive or reflective surfaces.

6 Wax wing eating rowan berry

 

7 Waxwing with a rosehip

 

 

25 years since the fall of the Berlin wall

Today is a very special day – celebrating 25 years since the fall of the Berlin wall.

The wall seen from the west side.
Berlin wall on tjhe west side

 

Berlin - Muren 2

 

Though most of the Berlin wall was dismantled, a 1,3 kilometer stretch was  saved as a memorial of freedom. The stretch was painted / decorated by 118 different artists from 21 different countries and became East Side Gallery, the world’s largest open-air mural collection.

Berlin - Muren 3

 

Berlin wall

 

Berlin - muren 2

 

Berlin - Berlin wall

 

 

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!