Saturday, January 3, 2015

Rotten snow.....

Moist air and frozen rock; Nature's art in the making.

If I don't have economics or social issues to gripe about.... Well, then there's always the weather!
These last few days have been a meteorological rollercoaster ride. Just before christmas the weather turned winter... Real winter. Temperatures dropped almost down to -20C at night and not much warmer during the days with enough snow to turn it into a white christmas. And just before new year we received a fresh dusting of snow.
Then last friday, january 2nd, a storm called Svea hit the southern part of Sweden and we got a huge weatherchange because of that. My wife and I were out with Rex on the 1st. and one of the first things we noticed, was a strong and warm wind blowing into our faces. We knew beforehand the change in weather would be swift. However we had no idea how swift it would be! Within 24 hrs the
temperature rose almost 20 degrees (in some parts of Sweden even up to 30 degrees!!) and during the night from friday to saturday it became quite windy and we had a lot of rain. In less than 12 hrs. the world turned from bright white into greens and browns. I imagine that a weatherchange like that would create serious logistical issues if one were to be out in the woods. Pulling a sled one day, carrying it the next! How do you dress or prepare for events like this? Even at home it was a bit of a challenge to change from warm wintery woolies to autumnclothing again, since much had been put in storage. How do animals and plants cope with this sudden and significant rise in temperatures?
For the next few days or week it looks rather changeable. It might freeze, it might thaw, it might snow, it might rain..... Some winter.... All this makes our world here quite treacherous as the going has become very difficult. The ground is still frozen solid and with all that water accumulating on top of it.... There's as much ice of the roads as there is on the lakes and its surface is often as smooth as a mirror's.

All this changing did make for some great photographing, even with some dumb mobile phone... One day we'll own a decent camera... one day.
We had some amazing sunsets.
Our little dwelling to the right...
The same hill, the same day.
The only difference is the slight increase in altitude. 
The higher up there had been more warm wind...

And the next day it was all gone...

And today it really felt like a fine and chilly autumn day...

Is it all weathertalk? Nope, there is some tracking involved as well.
There are animaltracks all over the place; hare, fox, many a rodent's, birds...
There were some wonderful walks with Rex, which are slowly increasing in length. And on one of these, december 30th, we came across some exciting tracks; fresh wolftracks! These were a mere 500 meters or less from our home and had been made after the snow that fell during the night and early morning. The prints were quite large; 2 of them in a size 42 bootprint. The stride was more then a meter long and the prints were in a single, straight line. Watching Rex' stride, when he sets of in a trott, makes it easy to imagine his "cousin" going there and gives me a slight indication of the animal that might have made these. It would at least be his size or have equally long legs.

Wolftracks marked with red arrow, Rex' pawprints next to it and he has big feet!

The day after I had a long walk with him on the other side of the village and I came across a similar size and pattern of tracks, only slightly melted this time, which fits right into the timeframe of the freshly made tracks! This animal has skirted our village or even went right through it! There are quite a few sightings of a (single) wolf around here these days. Is this the beginning of the establishment of a wolfpack in the immediate area?
Yet so far I do not share the local fear or hatred of it. I have been doing some studying on the wolfsubject and (think) I know that a solitary wolf should not be that much of a threat. Am I a brave man, an educated one or a fool? There's a huge difference of opinion among many around here and since I am nothing more than a foreign cityboy, I'll steer clear of all and any discussion regarding this subject.

Another event made us discover a lot of beaversign. Large birchtrees had been chiseled down by beaverteeth. And not just one. A good dozen just seemed to lay there. A sign of seemingly wanton destruction. Why would an animal so "small" need to cut down a tree so large and in these numbers? Some of the larger branches were completely stripped of their bark, the toothmarks clearly visible. But those were just a few. Nothing compared to the size of the tree. I also did not see any prints or other marks, just some orange stains, along with small, doglike prints. I guess these were fox?
Another subject I need to learn more about and when the next freeze and snow has come I'll go and check it out again.

Despite all these tracks, or maybe because of them, there is one that I am not seeing: moose. I have not yet found a fresh sign of moose, not even at the place I dubbed "moosealley" last year. No prints, droppings of feeding sign. Come to think of it, there aren't that many deersign either.
One animal we did come across, was a wood grouse or capercaillie. It was a male, sitting in the middle of the road and the first one I had seen up this close: less that 4 meters. It was big!! A decent sized goose would have not matched it. Never knew they were that large! A fine and proud looking animal it was too. And apart from being in awe by its size and beauty, I couldn't help but thinking if they'd be good food as well.... Sometimes I am ashamed of myself. ;)

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