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).

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