Black Grouse - Orre 130427-28

Translate? See Google translation in the sidebar!
Coming back to Pensionat Udden from the night with the Western Capercaillie (Tjäder) adventure I was really pleased. And I could only hope my shots would be OK.
Now there were several people joining us for lunch. And again we was served a great meal from lamb. This time for the Black Grouse ( Orre) we were 5 people who would stay in hidings. Me and two couples.  We left in 2 cars after lunch. We went to Ekopark Färna. As we had a couple of hours to spare we walked in teh forest. Hopefully we would find Three-toed Woodpecker (Tretåig hackspett) After some time we did find a pair. At first the female was sitting high up in a tree impossible to get a shot at. The male took off. But after a while, when we were about to leave she came down and it turned out there was a nest too. A lifer for me. :)

We also spotted a Winter Wren (gärdsmyg). I was happy about that as I did not have a good shot at one in freedom. Only from a banding session. A great time in the forest. :)

Lekking area with one hide out of three visible.
Around 16.00h we readied ourselves for the hike to the Black Grouse lekking area. As my rubber boots was not knee high I took off my stockings and rolled up my pants to hopefully avoid getting wet while going through the moss.  I also had the camera equipment stored in my backpack for safety reasons. Only the little one in my pocket. It was a hard hike for a woman like me. First we walked the forest, then an area with short bushes called Marsh Labrador tea (skvattram), dry and sticky, but smelled rather nice,  and I got a lot of stuff in my boots. Not fun but I managed. The big problem came after that. We had to pass a stream and had to be careful not to slip on the slippery bottom. Then we came into the moss. Water all over and so soft. The boots got stuck in it making every step a challenge. It took a little less then an hour to get to the hidings. I grabbed the first one I came to, and was lucky, as it turned out later on.
The two couples had one tent per couple and I had one of my own. It was placed on a platform above the moss so it was dry. Sun was shining and it was nice as I arranged my stuff. Looking out of one opening in direction towards the sun I spotted some nice grass and spiderwebs so I got myself a photo session in the back light of the setting sun. Then I had my dinner before it was time to close the hide and eventually go to sleep.

I woke up after a while as it was getting cold. I had to put on everything I had to stay warm. Not much more sleep that night. At 4 I started to hear noice outside but it was too dark to see anything. I reached for my water bottle. And guess what? It was frozen solid. No wonder why it was so damned cold.

Black Grouse 1 female, 2 males
Well, at 5 it was light enough to see the Black Grouse outside the hides. There were several males and a few females. And the ground had also frozen so there was frost and ice on the water pools. But the black birds was really gorgeous against the white surrounding. Lots of action going on among the males. Not boring for a second. There was a few spots I liked and tried to get shots of birds there. And when the sun came up coloring the treetops yellow it was perfect. 3h of fun watching them. A final fight between 5-6 males ended the session, sadly that was hidden from me. It happened behind some bushes.  Then it stopped and they all flew off into the forest.

Ok, breakfast! And then Mattias came and picked us up for the hike back to the road and then Pensionat Udden. My boot got stuck once and I stepped out if it but no water came into the boot. We were again invited to a good meal before we headed home. As I was tired I had to go rather slow not to risk anything. But I made a detour to the lake, Gnien, as I planned to visit the first day. But the place was empty so it was nothing but getting some air before continuing back home.

I´d like to say thanks to the guys at Nordic Safari for making this a great adventure despite the first troubled days. Now I am happy I did indeed go home after that first night last week. The two nights now was worth it all.
  Nordic Safari



Western Capercaillie -Tjäder 130426-27

Translate? See Google translation in the sidebar!

During the week I decided to try both birds again so when I went to Nordic Safari and  Udden this time my goal was the Western Capercaillie first night and the Black Grouse the second.

Started as last time. The ice still covered Hjälmaren so not much to see there on my short break. I arrived at Pensionat Udden in good time before lunch. I was lucky to find a  Black-throated Loon  (Storlom) in the lake. After the lunch we looked at the wolf movie and a presentation of Nordic Safari. Then we headed out in 2 cars. Some people would go to the Black Grouse and I to the Western Capercaillie. Before going to my hide we were checking some other places in the forest. And we went to Uttersberg to meet with Fredrik at 17.00. Uttersberg was a nice place with a stream and a museum. Then we headed for the area where I was last week,  Klotens Vargrevir.  Fredrik too had the same bad luck last week and wanted to try again. We picked our hides and closed at 19.00.

Monica alias NatureFootstep

Fixed the sleeping bag, arranged my stuff  and had my dinner. Looking out now and then. This time I had a squared tent and my head at one wall and feet at the other. Not much for taller people then me. When it got dark I finally spotted a bird down the road. Yes, this time will be ok. At least I´ve seen one and heard another during the evening.

I woke up at 4.30 but the area was empty. Still a bit too dark anyway. At 5.30 I had my first bird close by and then it was busy the entire time until 10.00.
From my tent I had a view to the other side of the road and there one male was lekking for 3h. Jumping up and down and pacing back and forth. With no female to join him. Poor thing.
On the moss area below there was frost and to see the birds in the sun was quite nice. I had one male with two hens and then a few other males here and there.  One male flew up and lekked quite close to Fredriks hide and I had a good view of it between some trees.

Mating in progress
I was lucky enough to see a mating even if I did not understand it at once as they where partly hidden behind a tree. Not before I saw the hen slip away I understood what had happened. The shot is rather lousy but still a proof of what I saw. Photography was not an easy task. The trees was in the way most of the time and also made it difficult to choose settings. Too dark or too bright? Hard to get it right. So, take a lot of shots and hoep for the best.

It took a long time before things calmed down enough for me to think about breakfast. But what the h-k. I wasn´t there to eat.

We were picked up at 11,00 and went back to Udden for lunch. I had seen at least 6 males and 2 females. Not bad at all.

male with 2 hens

 I was amazed when I saw this shot, there is different patterns on each tail feather. I wonder if that is a way of telling the difference between them? Like a fingerprint.

Nature Notes   Our World Tuesday  Travel Photo

NOTE! Comment form for visitors outside GOOGLE 


Western Capercaillie -Tjäder 130417-18

Translate? See Google translation in the sidebar!
I got up rather early this morning as I was about to go north to see lekking Western Capercaillie (Tjäder) and Black Grouse (Orre). I would be in a hiding for two nights. One night for each bird. That was the plan.
Wolf tracks in Kloten
I left at 9.00h to go to Surahammar where I would meet up with the guides from Nordic Safari. Then we went further north to the Pensionat Udden where we had lunch and also gathered the hot meal and drinks for dinner in the hiding and for breakfast, still in the hiding. It was a beautiful afternoon, a bit chilly but sunny. The lake outside the house was still mostly frozen. But a few ducks, golden eyes, was swimming there.

We left for the woods to see if we could find tracks from wolfs. It was a place called Klotens Vargrevir - Klotens wolfterritories. We did indeed find some tracks but did not see them. There was also very nice thawing pools of water so I was busy taking shots. We did also see a beaver hut, but of course, not the beaver itself. Done with the Kloten area we checked out some more open land and was able to find a few early migrating birds.

At 18.00h we was at the area where the Western Capercaillie -Tjäder was supposed to take place and we checked out what had happened there lately. You could find droppings and feathers and other signs of the birds. Besides me there was one man that should stay in a hide too so I was not to be alone in the wilderness.

Some signs clearly visible

A cup of coffee before entering the hide. I picked a tent for me and Anders picked a tent nearby and at 19.00 h we closed the tents. Not to be opened until 10.30 next day.  Now I was busy arranging my stuff and to have the dinner I brought with me. A bit chilly but I managed. I tried to hear if there was any sounds of birds outside but I did not hear a thing. Later it started to rain and got really windy. Not fun at all. I went to sleep around 22.00 but awoke as I was sliding of the madras to the cold ground. Then I slept until 4.30. Still raining and windy and not a single bird. Had some breakfast but still no birds. Our guide, Lars, was guessing the situation and arrived early to pick us up. Most of my stuff was wet as the rain had dropped in to the tent. At 11 we were back to Udden. Disappointed!  Some more people was coming for the afternoon and we was served a nice lunch. Then we looked at a video about wolfs.
As they said it would be very wet to hike to the site for the Black Grouse I decided to go home and come back next week. I did not have knee high rubber boats so the guides thought I would probably get wet. I did not want to be wet staying in the tent another night so we changed the arrangement and I went home. But will make another attempt next week.

Next morning, no birds but the forest all wet with, still, a bit of snow down there.

 For the readers. Not to worry. It all worked out fine next time. You´ll see.
 Our World Tuesday    Outdoor Wednesday


Hornborga Lake 130407 day three

Translate? See Google translation in the sidebar!
Waking up at 5.15 to fix breakfast and get ready to leave at 6.00h. This morning we are going to Skövde skjutfält, a military, shooting range,  location, where we were guided to a field were there, hopefully, would be Black Grouse. It was chilly and the grass covered with frost as the sun rose. Quite a beautiful morning. We were lucky, there was 4 Black Grouse as I could see even if they were rather far away. You needed the spotting scope to see them. After an hour or so people started to have their breakfast. We sat down in the grass on the sunny side of the slope we used as birding site.  
After finishing breakfast we leave as the birds also left due to a bus stopping to close to them. We made a stop to listen for a lark but did not hear or see it. But we did hear a woodpecker. Later on we made a stop to look as some Bean goose.
We made a stop at a small village called Odensåker. It is a nice old culture area. A place with old buildings and fences and gorgeous nature with lots of Juniper bushes. I loved the roofs of the buildings with grass growing on it. :)  There was also a jewellery store where you could buy silver jewellery. And we also finished the coffee we might still have left.
Now we took the road around Hornborga lake and stoped at Varnhem for lunch. That´s the place where the movie of Arn was shot. This restaurant had a very nice bread baked of maize.

We finished the day with going back to Utloppet. There was a little more open water and birds then it was yesterday. Lots of swans, some ducks and gulls. And a few raptors as well. We stayed about 2h and then we headed back to the Hostel to finish the trip and get our belongings. At half past 4 I started my way back home. 3h in the car. Did take a look at Kvismaren but all geese were gone so I did not stay.

Thanks to the women who made this possible. You did a great job. And thanks to Lotta and Hanna who guided us. It was a great experience even if the lake was frozen.
Frosty Morning at Black Grouse location

Himmelsk    Sky Watch Friday


Hornborga Lake 130406 day two Trandansen

Translate? See Google translation in the sidebar!
Hornborga Lake with Rapphönorna day 2

Herrtorp Qvarn
After a chilly night we got up at 5.30 to have breakfast and to gather a little food to bring with us. I had a few minutes to spare so I checked out the little waterfall at the side of the building. No birds but a glorious sunrise, mist and all.

At 6.45 the bus picked us up and we headed for what we call the Trandans which means "Crane dance". The place is located at the south point of the lake. They built a center for visitors and have a great view over the birds. The birds always stop at that location as they are being fed. It is good both for visitors/tourists and for the locals. The birds are not feeding on farmers land.
Whooper Swan with breeding colors
We spend all morning at the location watching Cranes, geese and mostly Whopper Swans. A few ducks here and there and two lapwings. After making an overall check of the area I went back the road we came as I had seen there was a very nice morning back light. I stayed put until the sun had raised so the glory was gone. There was also Tundra Swan. They said those are easy to spot. 4 was obviously seen. But I´m not sure I really saw any.

The "dancing" of the cranes happened occasionally. They merely jumped up and down flapping their wings.

At lunchtime we headed a bit north to
Löfwings Ateljé. An artist has a restaurant and are showcasing his artwork. Lovely nature art displayed both in separate rooms and on the walls. Seeing the nice art and enjoying a very good meal was a hit. And so was the company at the table. Especially Lotta and Hanna. Our guide and her daughter.   :)

Blue Tit being ringed
After lunch we headed for the lake and was divided into two groups. One group had free time to stroll alongside the lake looking for the Mute swans on the ice. Those I watched yesterday. Or trying to find some smaller ones in the bushes. But not many of these this time of year. The other group went to join a ringing session. After a while we changed groups. The little Blue Tit did not appreciate the procedure at all. Looking angry and tried to hurt the guys fingers. :)

Later on we change the original plans and headed to the other side of the lake as there was a little open water. The place called Utloppet (the outflow), so named as this is where the water exits the lake. Now we could see that actually some ducks and gulls has arrived to our frozen country. (This was the beginning of April.)

After a long day in the fields we went back to the Hostel for an evening meal. We call it pyttipanna. You can put whatever you like in a frying pan. The food disappeared more quickly then the staff had estimated from a bunch of woman. But adding some extra bread that problem was solved.

But the day was not over yet. We had a lecture to attend at the Trandansen so we headed out again. Alf and Clas had been counting the cranes for decades and that was what the lecture was about. But, honestly, the place now bathed in glorious evening light and it was hard to stay put and listen. At least for me as first and foremost is a photographer.

When we came back to the Hostel we were all tired. After a short session on what birds we had seen most of us went to bed.

Today I learned the difference in size and appearance between the Whooper swan and the Crane. I never realized before how big the swan really is. The two birds are almost the same in height but the body stays on completely different levels. Long legs on the crane the body stays high and the bird seems slender. Short legs on the swan makes the body close to the ground and gives a very heavy appearance. :) 

We are to be early birds again tomorrow.

Whooper swan in morning light

 And in evening light
Our World Tuesday     Outdoor Wednesday