Thick mist this morning, -16 first thing, with sun clearly struggling to break through; not our usual weather pattern here in the North! Very rare to have thick mist cloaking the village itself. The lakes frequently have a hovering layer at dawn and/or dusk because of temperature inversion/differences but we are usually clear in the village itself. By 08:00 the temp had risen to -12 and the sun broken through with the mist retreating to roof level and fringing the surrounding forest.
Charlie was a bit late on the move this morning. 06:30 before he began purring in my ear, by which time it was bright-light outside and I found it impossible to get back off to sleep. Having induced only one open eye - to check the time - in me, he stalked off to rouse Jack, who, in turn, aware of the daylight breaking decided it was positively time to be up and about, and began whining : the scrabble of his nails on the bare polished, wooden floors, is impossible to ignore - so I was soon on the go, too!
A huge flock of Bullfinches had taken over the bird-feeders, with a solitary Great Spotted Woody and about a dozen or more Redpolls. Charlie raced out optimistically, but sat crouched, ready for action in a pile of snow for about ten minutes before returning for Friskies-tucker that is easier to catch in a bowl. It also gives him a chance to thaw out a bit. He comes over to me, leaps onto the desk and lies down by my computer keyboard - the mouse always interests him, with some interesting on-screen results!
Here are a pair of our visiting Bullfinches; not the clearest/best shot, I'm afraid.
Mister Fox didn't show for his nosh yesterday until almost 16:30, after the sun had effectively set. I left his tub of grub outside after returning from a frozen walk with Jack, and ten minutes later, when I checked, it had gone; so he must have passed and collected his take away on the drive-in hoof.
The garden is criss-crossed by animal tracks of many kinds. We have an ageing Collins guide to Animal Tracks but still find it very difficult to identify many. Moose are relatively easy to spot; a sizeable notable hoof-print; they also tend to leave copious volumes of shit behind. Rein and Red-Deer seem to leave a pretty indistinguishable trail. Bears leave a huge imprint, that can be nothing but Bruin. They, of course, hibernate for much of the winter months but can be fooled by a change in the pre-Spring climate on occasion. They also leave scat in big clumps of berried-blackish mush. We also have Wolverines in the area, though we have yet to see one. They are retiring but ferocious, voracious creatures, aka Gluttons. Members of the Marten family, they apparently have a striking sideways sort of gait, which should be very distinctive in the snow. None of our neighbours have seen them, though many have encountered bears. Lynx also leave a substantial spoor in their silent passing wake.
A couple of passing Red Deer by the Bagarstuga. (If, as is often said, a picture tells a thousand words, this one amply and positively shouts that I made the right decision when I spurned a possible career in photography).
I believe I saw a bear one day, though at the time I didn't realise quite what I'd seen. I was driving a friend to a nearby airport in Örnsköldsvik (don't try saying this with a mouthful of nuts and red wine) on the spectacularly beautiful Höga Kusten (High Coast); as we drove past a roadside forest track, I glanced along and saw a huge animal lumbering off on all fours. Initially I shrugged and thought it was just another Moose. Later, however, when I thought about the colour of the thing - a dirty russety appearance - and its gait, hunched and hugely all-foured, I was convinced it had been a bear. In addition, it was in an area where they were around and often visible on village roads. We have come across the scat on the track bordering our garden. So we know they are around.
I've just nipped upstairs and looking from the bedroom window can clearly see the fresh track of Foxxy, who must have been past earlier and I missed him. I don't like leaving his food outside because the bloody Magpies and Hoodies will hoover most of it, so I wait until I see him before putting it out. I'll have to keep an eye out for his return later. But I also see that the temperature, in the sun, is now +6. Marvellous. I'm tempted to take a Gadabout (odd, wonderfully quirky, folding UK made seating - our main wooden ones are in bits ready to move to France) and sit on the porch with a cuppa! The ambient temp will of course be lower, probably closer to zero or +1, but we have a steady dripping from the roof eaves and the porch is virtually free of snow and ice. Instead I will take Jack for a walk. He seems keen on this proposal!
I walked down to Roger's to check all was well with his empty house, while he swans around in sunny Spain. He owns a Torp, those small red-painted houses, that typify Scandinavia. Much beloved by Swedes, Danes, Finns and Norwegians, they are used extensively to represent an idyllic view of Swedish country living by guide books and tourist brochures. They are functional but can be cramped inside. By the time I returned, we had reached +8, again in full sun. It is a perfect day for a forest track ramble. And I heard nothing but bird-song and met not a single soul, though there were two guys ice-fishing in the distance, on Stortjärn, one of the bigger lakes.
I also took the opportunity to drive into Fun City - Charlie has finished his Friskies and will be demanding more tucker in the morning. The ice-cover on the river Röån has mostly melted:
In early winter, before the snowfall or ice-age reaches us, this river appears unfathomably deep, dark and, at times, almost menacing. It is not a river you would want to take a tumble in. And I speak with heartfelt experience on this one! Though fortunately, (if that's the right word!) when I entered its depths it was summer and not too cold, or debilitating.
This is the very canoe from which I tumbled, ably assisted by J, who returns tomorrow from London - a 12/14 hour journey by plane and train and car!