A couple of days ago I saw some birds in the water next to the cycle path on my way to work in the morning. My first thought was “small ducks”, but after having past them I realised I hadn’t looked closely at them and though I tried to fix the vague memories of their appearance in my head, by the time I got to work I realised that it could have been anything from a moor hen to a “funnily coloured duck that looked small for some reason”. I wish I could go back in time and look at them properly!
Fortunately, time travel was not required in order to get a second look. On my way home from work, the ducks were still there, and though they got a bit shy when I carefully brought my bike to a stop and slowly got my camera out, they only swam a little further away, and stayed near some grass they could hide in, if they needed it. I managed to get a little video. I’m sure they were making some sounds at the time, but unfortunately it was so windy that it’s pretty impossible to hear anything on here. Towards the end I zoom in, and you can see them a bit better:
I also took quite a few photos, and here are some zoomed and cropped versions. Click for bigger versions in lightbox:
Hopefully some helpful ornithologists out there can help me figure out what they are. Please comment with your ideas!
A couple of days ago we realized that it wasn’t long before the end of our Swedish adventure and we would have to return to Cambridge and work. However, the holiday and its wonders had far from ended and Sweden still had a few tricks up its sleeve.
After a couple of slightly rainy days, yesterday started out as a dry and pleasant day. After our elk safari, we decided to row out to the little island in the lake for a picnic again, and this time we brought a lighter as well. We sat around the fire for several hours (some of the others taking the kids back earlier). When we returned as well we had a barbeque by the lake. It was now both sunny and very warm.
Later my sister and I were enjoying the last of the evening sun and taking sunset pictures. Just after my sister mentioning that she’s never seen a European beaver in the wild she notices something square-ish swimming across the lake. It was coming our way. We hid in the door and behind the windows taking pictures through the door and on the closer ones you can make our the eyes and nostrils. It seemed all of nature was teaming up to make our last evening a special one.
But it didn’t end there. This morning was as sunny as last night, and when Katie went to say goodbye to the lake, yet another creature came to say goodbye to us. A long grass snake was lying very elegantly in the aft of the little rowing boat. It patiently lay the for all to get a good look, posing for lots of photos. All these photos are of the kind needing much processing, so I’ll have to add them to the post later. For now, here is a drawing Katie made of us fishing
On the way to the bus two cranes joined in the big goodbye from just next to the road. It is still sax to say goodbye, but we feel very lucky to have been here at all.
This morning we defied laziness, as our wish to see elks combined with the short time we have left here became dominant, and woke up at 6:00 to go for a drive.
We went up some small forest roads and after only half an hour our early start was rewarded. We’d all been paying a lot of attention to the forest, checking every clearing for anyone looking back. The expectation of seeing one almost made it feel impossible that it would actually happen. But suddenly there were two odd faces looking straight at us with very big ears and huge noses. One was significantly bigger than the other and the smaller one soon lost interest in us and started walking away. It was a mother with a calf, and shortly after we realized the little one had a twin. After 5-10 min or so and a lot of photos, the mum got up as well and they all slowly walked off. Funny how it’s obvious that they aren’t scared of us but just think we’re a bit annoying and would rather be alone. And in spite of their size they’re surprisingly good at disappearing.
About five minutes further on the drive another elk walked out on the road a bit ahead of us, followed the road a bit and went back in between the trees. As soon as we got to where it had left the road it was already out of sight, though there seemed to be a 5 meter rock wall where it would have gone.
Although, as I mentioned earlier, we took a lot of photos, you’ll have to wait a bit before they’ll be on here, as they have to be processed before they’re ready for publishing. So long for now!
Here is more from our holiday in Sweden. Since my 20 MB of internet seems to be lasting well there’ll be some photos too 🙂
The first photo documents something that is very important on any holiday we go on (and our everyday life): food. This is the famous smörgåsbord with schøøødbullarrr, lots of herring, blood sausage (like black pudding, but with different herbs and spices) and more. This goes with lots of light Swedish beer and fruity ciders. Of course we’ve also had lots of pike, even though the fishing since the first day has been fruitless.
Another thing that dominates our holiday and Sweden in general, is the wildlife. My sister and her husband are enthusiastic birders, and the species list has just reached 71. This includes exotic and exciting birds like cranes, osprey and a woodcock. But it’s not limited to birds as we’ve also seen hares, foxes, deer and a chick-hunting mink (that really shouldn’t be here). And we’ve seen paw prints from a lynx, which is probably as close as we’ll get to seeing one … but we still haven’t seen an elk (moose for the Americans), and if that doesn’t change it would be the first elk-less Sweden holiday of the family, which could possibly be attributed to the size (and audio volume) of the kids 😉 Now we’re off for a walk up a mountain, so maybe we’ll be lucky…
I’ll leave you here with a photo of a giant Vespa wasp that came through our door this morning. It’s about 5 cm long or about 10 times as big as a normal wasp or “scary big”. And the noise it made was that of an approaching speedboat.