Jul 13, 2013

Berry picking

This morning, I went out to check the bilberry situation. I remember reading that this is not a good year and that's certainly true. The place where I usually go is normally very wet with mosses and other bog vegetation. Now it's much too dry, so there were a lot less berries than normal and most of them were quite small.

I did manage to see something interesting, though, so the trip wasn't a total waste of time. As I was picking some bilberries, I got a surprise. I put my hand close to that small fir tree in the picture, when a little bird flew out from within the ground. That startled me a bit.

A closer look revealed where it had been hiding and also something else, three tiny eggs. The hole in the ground looked like a perfect hiding place and I never would have noticed the bird, if it hadn't flown out. I guess my hand must have been about 15 cm from it.

I took a couple of photos and then moved away quite a bit, so the bird could go back. It wasn't a cold morning and I'm sure the eggs can take it when the mom needs to go out for a little while, but I wanted to make sure I'm not interrupting for too long.

There seemed to be more mosquitos than berries, so I decided to change place. I remembered the cloudberries I saw last week in Paukaneva and thought it would be a good idea to go and check if there were any ripe ones. Going after cloudberries meant a lot of walking on the bog, not the plank path. As my sense of direction is really bad, I kept the path in sight all the time, so I would know which way to go to get back to it, although once the sun came out, that got a lot simpler.

The number of mosquitos went down in the open area, but then the bigger buggers appeared, namely horse-flies. I've still go a few itchy patches where they managed to bite. Finally it got too hot and I got enough of being eaten alive, so I headed back to my bicycle.

I'm used to seeing big spiders scurrying under the plank path as I approach (they feel the vibrations), so I first thought this was a really big spider. However, a closer look revealed something much more interesting, a viviparous lizard (common lizard, Zootoca vivipara), the northernmost lizard in the world. I startled it, but as I stopped, it stopped as well. Then I just stayed put, took out the camera and started taking photos. I took a photo, moved the camera closer, took another photo, moved the camera, and so on. That way, you'll get at least something, if the animal suddenly disappers before you get close enough for a good photo. This first photo shows how small it was.

The lizard went under the edge of the path, but as my Samsung MV800 camera has a fold-out display, I could still see where I was focusing. That makes it so much easier to take photos.

Here's a cropped bit from one of the closeups (on original resolution). It's really wonderful what small digital cameras can do nowadays. I hadn't seen one of these in years, although they aren't rare. We just don't move in the same circles, I guess. In the place where I lived as a child, there were a lot of these every summer.

On the way back home, I noticed that my bicycle's odometer had reset itself again. It did it once before I got to the bilberry place. There's something badly wrong with it as you can guess from the readout. I don't think there's a person in the world who could do this with a Jopo unaided (i.e. not towed by a car).

Jul 7, 2013


I hadn't been out for a while, except for shopping, so I decided to go today. I cycled to Paukaneva and went for a walk there. I didn't go all the way to the bird tower this time, just half way and then back.

The sign warning about the poor condition of the footbridge is really a bit redundant, when the old part of the trail starts like this.

The first entirely open area is really open, and really wet. Slipping from the path would mean being at least ankle deep in the bog, if not deeper.

I took the forest route. The forest edge is really sudden. At one moment, you're in an open area, and in the next, you're in the forest. The weather was starting to warm up, so the forest was nice and cool, but there were also a lot of mosquitos.

At the halfway point (a crossing, where you can continue to the bird tower or return to the river),  I turned back and there are these tracks, which I saw also last year. I thought it looked like a stampede. Today I finally realized what this is. As I was here in early May, I saw a guy with rubber boots and Nordic Walking poles and he was walking very fast in the bog, not on the path. I thought it looked like training for some sports. I think these are his tracks, if he trains regularly, or maybe there are more people doing the same. Even if it's just the one guy, you could cause this, walking the same route again and again.

This was a bit odd. It's a kicksled, stuck in a 45 degree angle in the bog. I guess it's been there since winter.

A little later, I noticed a woodpecker in one of the few taller trees. It seemed to be a Great Spotted Woodpecker and young male based on the red top of the head. I managed to observe it quite a while and then it flew past me, about my waist height and only couple of meters away from me. It went to the other side of the trail and all of a sudden, there was another woodpecker, this time a female.

Recording the video was a bit hard as there were horse-flies buzzing around me all the time. One even managed to take a bite on my finger

There were a lot of cloudberries, but most were not ready yet. This one was, but it was a really strange one. Usually there are several "balls" stuck together, like in the lower picture, but this one was just one perfect, round ball.

Red cloudberries are raw. When they ripen, they get a nice golden yellow-orange color. This one still had a long way to go.

I really wish I could identify caterpillars. They are so weird looking creatures and there's no way to deduce anything about the looks of the adult butterfly on the basis of how the caterpillar looks.

I also saw a lot of butterflies. Silver-studded Blues were the most plentiful. They were everywhere.

As I was there early in the morning, there were also spider webs everywhere.

Coming back home, I decided to take the dirt road. I noticed the oncoming traffic from far, but they turned around before getting to where I was. Judging by the tracks, they do this every time, so it wasn't because of me.

Jul 4, 2013

Now in ipernity

Flickr seems to be introducing more "interesting" features that you can't opt out of, so it seems that I'm heading to ipernity. I like the layout and the fact that you can actually customize it to a degree. The Guestbook seems like a nice feature as well.

There aren't many photos there yet, but I will be transferring "the best of the bunch" there. The rest will stay in Flickr and I will revert the Pro account to a free one in November before the next payment is due.

Here is a slideshow of what's there now. I also added this to the sidebar, so you can always get to my account from there.