The Bohus archipelago showed its best when a high pressure moved in from east in the middle of May. With almost no wind and high air temperature the water temperature rose up to 16 degrees Celsius in the sea. During these circumstances its easy to reach the outer archipelago in contact with the huge sea.
The nature exploded with temperatures up to 28 degrees Celsius. We went ashore in a most spectacular nature reserve – Valön. The red granite rock by the sea was surrounded by blossoming meadows filled with all kinds of spring flowers. The cowslips are favored by shells and shell deposits as well as by cattle. Typical for this habitat is the pink thrift. The sounds of the birds in spring are overwhelming. From every bush, on the rocks and in the sky the birds did their best to show up in their colorful plumage.
After a long paddling and a walk on the peninsula it was really refreshing with a swim from the cliffs. The water was crystal clear and we admired the shells, Japanese oysters, mussels and different kinds of wracks in the water.
It was time to leave this wonderful place and slowly paddle back admiring the light on the rocks and the sea in the sunset. We were companied by cormorants, black guillemots, terns and gulls who filled their stomachs with herrings who also were chased by macherels. The eiders were occupied by wooing and the air was filled by the males’ calls.
Summer 2018 entered so quickly!
P.S. We didn’t mention that we went ashore in Bovallstrand and had an ice cream 🙂
Eventually it was time for beaver safari with kayak. The season will keep on for many months until the winter is here again. We were happy to be here from start and are eager to follow the spring, summer and autumn together with the beavers. In the beaver lodge the last years generation are still with their parents and the new off springs are not yet born.
We started our silent paddling at dusk. The sky turned to blue, pink and purple, the birds were singing and fulfilled the atmosphere of being one with nature. In company of starlings, geese, herons, goosanders, red robins and blackbirds we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The cranes were trumpeting and telling us spring was here. Now and then the sighing fog-horn call from the great bittern was heard from the wide and dense reeds. Suddenly the first beaver appeared! To our joy we realized that the beavers had been busy building two new lodges since August last year. The moon rose, it got darker and darker. We had contact with seven more beavers from at least two different territories. It was time to paddle back by the sound of the snipe dazzling in the sky and the sounds from the wood cock on its route in the sky over our heads. We were looking forward to a good nights sleep and to dream of next day’s adventures.
Morning has broken! Our mission for the day was to investigate the territories of the beavers. As most beavers rest at day in their lodges we didn’t expect to meet any beavers. Splash! A curious beaver right in front of us. Probably it was a young one as it was so interested in us. We followed it respectfully for quite a long time. We went ashore on the beaver island to investigate their habitat. The first signs were young oak trees that were grazed during winter time when fresh food is scarce.
We entered a diversified forest with trees in all stages and ages – from young plants to older trees and dead standing and lying trees covered with moss and fungus. A virgin forest! The beavers’ favorite trees are aspen and birch. They also like willow, rowan, alder and oak.
Since we were here in August last year, a lot had happened. The beavers had really harvested a lot. We observed a concentration of logs in the neighborhood of the new beaver lodge. From the harvesting place paths and canals led out to the water. The branches and logs are used for the building and small logs, branches and twigs as a winter food storage stuck down in the water nearby the dwelling.
Out on the water again to investigate the next territory. Canals in the reeds show where beavers transport their material. The entrance to the lodge is under water to prevent predators to get into the lodge. We followed down stream and on our way we saw a lot of new interesting birds as marsh harrier, grey heron, osprey, buzzard, hawk, hobby, kestrel and white-tailed eagle. It was the first day we met the swallows. There is a saying when the first swallow arrives summer is here. We also observed a lot of geese, swans, whoopers, teals and other ducks, grebes and divers.
Our turning point at the lake showed a fantastic view. Beavers live in rivers, small and big lakes and they are even seen i salt water areas. On our way back we passed another lodge, rebuilt on an old lodge. The logdes are built by logs, branches, twigs, stones and mud. Inside the entrance you find a chamber for eating and also a chamber for sleeping. The “bedroom” is covered with grass and moss to make it cosy and comfortable for winter. In the end of April life changes dramatically for the beavers when nature awakens. After a long winter with a poor diet of inner bark from twigs and branches fresh plants, sprouts and leaves starts shooting. What a feast for beavers!
It is an honor to get to know these wonderful, hard working engineers. You are welcome to follow us in our next blog. More information about ecology in another habitat where beavers build their dams. Of course you are invited to meet beavers together with us. Safari in tandem kayak or by foot!
Scary Seafood? What is that? In the mid of April we were invited to a very instructive full day workshop at Lovén Marin Centre, Tjärnö for learning more about how to use and prepare the treasures from the sea.
We were offered a mixture of interesting and informative presentations, delicious samples of seafood and insights into recent research of how to use the unexplored food source of the sea.
There is a lot to learn about seaweeds. It’s our new superfood with a lot of minerals, vitamins and proteins. A better name should be Seagreens!
Christine Appelqvist, from University of Gothenburg, and the fishermen informed us a lot about the different species of the bycatch which is possible to use for food. We were served a very tasty soup made from small crabs.
After a day filled with new impressions we are inspired to paddle out on our own and with our customers to “harvest” and prepare what the sea offers us!
Our second short trip on salt water ice! Though it has been really cold for several days – down to 13 degrees Celsius below zero – it has been so windy that it has taken long time for the bays to freeze. In our opinion far too long time. Satellite maps and reports from other skaters made our direction to Sannäs this morning – near Havstenssund, Bohuslän.
The sun was shining, but – 9 degrees C is a bit chilly in the strong wind. Who cares? Our expectations were met! Shining salt ice – just like a new polished floor. We had to be careful as the ice was rather “young”. You need to stop often and check – 7 cm is safe.
We had a limited area to circle around and were not far from open water. Luckily we found a sunny place sheltered from wind for our hot crane berry juice and sandwiches. A nice stop for photos. So peaceful to admire mussels, Japanese oysters, barnacles and lichens from the ice edge.
The rocks are all red granite – famous for this part of Bohuslän. A piece of gneiss was transported here by the ice 10 000 years ago. It is almost incomprehensible to understand what it looked like during the ice age and the melting of the giant ice that covered our country.
Time to skate back to the car. New out door adventures are awaiting. Wonder what will happen next!
Back to lake Unden again. A huge lake, close to Tiveden National Park. This time we chose the north eastern part. Even though it was overcast and the skating area was limited today’s trip gave extra energy to body and soul.
First stop by a little island. Ice covered stones and plants.
Busy shooting memories
Fir tree skirt
Ready to continue
The snow didn't hinder too much
Back to starting point
Better be on shore
Ice ice ice
Who lives here?
Full speed in the stream with iron rich water
Nice end of the trip - a pair of swans
It is always uplifting to be out and be a part of nature. Sweden is fantastic – has so much to offer!
Sometimes it’s not the skating which gives the most memorable moments. BUT – the skates bring you to the most stunning environments and experiences. After many days of overcast we were lucky to meet the sun again. A thin layer of snow over the black ice made the skating very easy and enjoyable. The thickness of the ice was between 5 and 7 cm so we had to be aware. Only small parts of the giant lake Unden had ice, so the view from the ice over the navy blue water gave a special feeling of the beauty of nature. At last nature had sculptured the most fantastic statuaries. From start a nice “ice goat” showed us the way out. We hadn’t skated long until we met a couple of whoopees who enjoyed the sun and the open water by an island.
Even if a skater’s dream is shining black ice, a layer of snow shows you what’s going on in nature by all the different tracks. From the very beginning on our way to the lake, a lot of roe deer have had a wonderful meal on twigs from felled deciduous trees. We skated by the shoreline, and there – suddenly – we could follow round, quite big tracks. To our great joy there were trails of lynx. Imagine – the big cat was there yesterday! We could even see tracks from its tail dipping in the snow. It seemed the lynx hadn’t been in a hurry. Maybe it had admired the wonderful icicles – as we did.
Finally we could tear ourselves out from ice art and further on to open spaces. The skates slid easily on the smooth surface. BUT – what was that? Another creature who had had as fun as we had. Jumping – gliding – jumping – gliding – jumping – gliding. An otter! After imagining how happy it had been we continued our trip. We didn’t come far until next track stopped us. Traces of mink. This little one had jumped on the ice and dived into the water. We wished all these wonderful signs should have been alive so we could had seen all of them!
Lunch time – we found our own little island. Perfect for hot tomato soup and some sandwiches in the sun shine.
You never know what you will experience. That’s the fascination with outdoor life away from traffic, towns and a lot of people.
It was mid of January – time for skating on new frozen ice! We were awaiting new customers in three different groups to arrive from the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The weather forecast for the coming 10 days showed a lot of snow coming from southwest. We thought our base in Bohuslän, on the Swedish west coast, should be a good place to start from. Close to the sea it might be less amount of snow falling. Because of that we started investigating nice tours around in the neighborhood.
We found magnificent black ice in Norway, just an hour drive from Heestrand – our base. In our direct area ice was in the state of beginning to freeze – not only lakes – also inner salt water fjords. In the inland we had different, wonderful lake systems to choose from. Sadly they were, for the moment, covered by some centimeters of dry snow – still skatable.
When the arriving date for our second group was there, the whole of Sweden was covered by snow, more or less. We couldn’t find any skatable ice! Where to go? Fortunately we had one more base, 300 km east of Heestrand. Medevi by Lake Vättern, the second biggest lake of Sweden. As it is a huge lake it wasn’t yet covered by skatable ice. Thanks Sweden is a great waterland! We found skatable ice in the surroundings of northern Vättern.
With the help of the skating network and weather reports we had four wonderful skating days in different environments. We started with two days of skating on small lakes in the surroundings of Lake Vättern. Lake Stråken – a “forest lake” with some mansions by the lake. Lake Tåkern – the well known bird lake – on the cultivated plain, surrounded with reeds. The third day we headed off west to lake Ymsen which invited us with stable ice. Back to Medevi in the evening where we made the decision to pack all our things and be ready for a check at lake Vättern before we headed to the west coast. On the fourth biggest island of Sweden – Orust – we had our final countdown, with safe ice on two small nice lakes. Refreshed by skating, fresh air and good company we said goodbye with nice memories for all of us.
In our region skatable ice just now is scarce, as lakes that are frozen are covered with snow or the lakes are not frozen at all. So today we headed towards Norway – not to far from Heestrand in Bohuslän. We had a magnificent sunrise and the day ended up to one of those lucky days with blue sky and almost no wind. Today we explored a new little lake – Kløsa – not very big but full of small islands and and we felt embraced by the surrounding landscape. The surface was not the best but very easy to skate on.
We found some frozen toads on the ice. Some say that during good conditions they can survive when the temperature rises. Let’s hope they are right. Even if we were on the ice at noon the January sun was low and gave long shadows. For lunch break we found the ideal sunny place with no wind.
The skating trip was about 10 km but we were eager to investigate some other lakes so we carried on. There by the side of the road was lake Isesjøen shining like a polished mirror.
The thickness was from 4 cm to 7 cm near the shore but open water in the middle. If the weather forecast is right – with a cold period and no snow – we soon will be very lucky! What a nice view to the afternoon coffee!
At eleven a clock a.m October 21st – six Norwegian see kayak beginners met up at Nordic EcoTours’ boat houses in Rådalen, Heestrand for instructions and planning of the tour. After basic instructions of kayaking vocabulary and how to paddle a see-kayak we launched for practical exercises in the calm bay. It worked very well from the beginning so we left the shallow waters and started our planned tour. One kayak guide in the lead and one in the the end of the kayakers. For security reasons we chose a double kayak as a follow kayak. Water temperature in late October is still reasonable high but of course , much cooler than in summer (today about 14 degrees Celsius).
We left the little village Heestrand (an old stonemason village) – in a cloudy and a bit rough autumn weather. With a strong tail wind we got a very good speed from start. The team met up very well acting like a tight an assembled group. Thanks to fast learning paddlers we could vary the trip a lot. After some kilometers we had our first stop – a sandy beach where we practised to get out “dry” from our kayaks. “The hardest thing about kayaking is to get in and out of the water without getting wet”. We had also time for some hot peppermint tea, some fig rolls, fruit and some snacks.
Satisfied after the break, we continued in the strong east wind in shelter of big and rocky granite islands. After half a mile we changed direction southwards paddling through narrow passages in shelter from the wind to find a suitable landing site for our lunch. Along our trip we had a fantastic contact with the high surrounding mountains. We left the inner archipelago and headed towards the horizon.
After some kilometers we reached a wonderful site – the west side of Lilla Hamburgö/Jakobsö -for break and lunch. The sandy beach with seashells was surrounded by high mountains which sheltered us good for the gusty hard winds. Cold fallows reached us though on the beach. Soon we got a nice fire perfect for grilling our locally produced sausages. One of the paddlers immediately took the role as a barbeque master and fulfilled his duty with excellence. A potato salad, vegetables, fresh bread saturated us. The meal was completed by coffee boiled over the fire and home made apple muffins.
After a refreshing meal it was time to enter the kayaks again. Further and further out in the outer archipelago along the high granite cliffs and a spectacular view of the Skagerakk horizon in the west and “Saltskärs Käring” in the south.
Below the fabulous steep cliffs on the west end of Kiddö island – we shot a group photo of the clever kayak group. Very nice team to handle!
Back to Heestrand again after paddling through a shallow strait called “Grundsund”. The circle was closed and now met the very strong head wind. We crossed a sound and landed at “Karlsvik” (Hamburgö island) beach fora short break. With renewed powers we finally reached the starting point again. Thanks for good company and restoration and cleaning of kayaks!