Author Archives: BiTh

Beaver Safari Offers More Than Beavers

Krokstad Herrgård – situated close to the estuary of River Byälven/Lake Vänern – is a perfect starting point for exploring and experience the beaver habitat from the kayak. An impressing oak alley, in bright green spring colors, invites us to Krokstad herrgård. The late May evening was sunny, a bit chilly but probably too windy to make the beavers in the mood to show up.

  • The entrance to Krokstad Mansion

We had the pleasure to scout the surroundings together with family Say from France and Switzerland. A short walk down to the river before its time for preparations before embarking.

  • Preparations

Three double/triple kayaks and one single kayak is awaiting for the safari. The triple kayaks are really stable and to paddle these you don’t need any paddling experience – perfect to be able to concentrate on wildlife, birds and search for beavers.

We crossed the river and went behind “Ile des Castors” – habited by a beaver family last year – now the hut is abandoned. It made it possible to paddle into one of the narrow “beaver canals” to watch their hut.

  • Silent paddling

Windy and sunny. Expectant. Even the birds were withdrawn this evening though we observed and heard thrushes, wagtails, some geese and mallards.

  • Time for a little forestwalk

We decided to go ashore for a short walk and to investigate traces from beavers. Now the sun set and suddenly we heard a sound we had longed for. Three souffles from a bittern marking its territory in the reeds. It is a sound that is similar to blow in a bottle. That sound followed us now and then all the evening.

  • "Beaver time"

After a small “picnic” with hot tea and some snacks we continued paddling south towards the huge Lake Vänern. In strong headwind we paddled towards a canal behind an island – but sadly no beavers. We had the luck to be in near contact with a crane – who probably had its nest in the weeds – grey lagged geese, gulls and sterlings. Now and then the european reed warbler sang wonderful tunes for us. On our way back in the dark we heard the spooky sound of a Tawny Owl.

No Beaver Safari is like the other. Even though you don’t meet beavers it’s always a treat to be out on the water in near contact with nature. BUT – in our very last minutes a beaver showed up – just with a big SPLASH – but a sign of a beaver.
To share these moments with people you have never met is a great gift for us. Thank you family Say!

Two Days on lake Vättern – part 2

We couldn’t resist to continue our discovery along the north east coast of Lake Vättern. The weather was with us so instead of what we was thinking making a short trip morning trip we were out all day – discovered the coast south of Tokanäset, passed Lemunda Bay and the exciting “Mill stone coast”, rounded Island Åholmen, had a wonderful swim by the sandy beach Lilla Hals and returned home in the evening. Full of new energy and impressions – again!

  • New day - what will happen today?

We followed the shore line and were amazed by the remnants from an industrial era about 100 years ago – mill stone making.

  • Forgotten mill stones produced by sandstone. Hard work in vain.

The sandstone shore line and the bottom below the water surface was “decorated” by loads of mill stones for kilometers. This masterpiece is now like a huge installation of arts which reminds us of very clever and hard working people. Sadly many of them died too early because the effects of their work.

  • Thankfulness for being a part of great history - but sad for unused work

We can’t get enough of this clear, drinkable water!

  • Struggling alder tree - a survivor in the water zone

We were very excited to investigate “our” new island. And we got a great reward – birds showed up we never had dreamt of.

  • The island was covered with trees and as we had hoped the opsrey's nest showed up in a pine tree

An inviting sandy beach was our our next goal.

  • Looking back admiring our beautiful island

With the afternoon sun in the back we had a wonderful trip back.

  • We paddled into a shallow, sandy bay with water lilies coming from the bottom and loads of fries - an interesting loop.

Total length of this trip was 28 km – in a relaxed paddling.

Two days on Lake Vättern in May – part 1

Quietness, peacefulness – Lake Vättern offered one evening and one whole day in perfect weather conditions for kayaking. Almost no wind and warm temperature. This time of the year you are on your own – except from wonderful company of birds. We left Medevi, by the north east side of the lake, and paddled northbound to Nature Reserve “Råå Uddar”. Following the shoreline in a choir of singing birds we finally had a stop at an island before we returned home in a spectacular sunset.

  • Heading northbound

Spring is in the air!

  • Bloody Geranium in evening light

We left the nature reserve in a beautiful sunset.

  • Sunset

The purple hour gifted us with with an additional memorable treat.

  • Sky in fire

This tour was 17 km long.


					

Beaver habitat shows biodiversity

Our different seasons offers a variety of nature experiences all year round. Spring is here – the ice and snow is gone, nature wakens up. The air is full of singing birds, the buds changes into flowers and leaves and our beavers continue their life cycle. Soon the new “babys” are born. We were out looking for our “friends” and we were anxious to find out how they had survived the winter. They were still there, though they had moved some kilometers south the river.

Can you start a beaver safari from a better spot than Krokstad Mansion? It is situated by river Byälven, close to Lake Vänern . The park was glowing in different green colors in the evening sun. We paddled down the river in a slight head wind. In the reeds we got in contact with one beaver. Just a big splash, but so exciting! Beneath the surface pikes, pike-perches and fries were active. Loads of geese were swimming around with their goslings. And the goosanders were around – both in the sky and on the water. The king and queen of the reeds – the marsh harriers – were hunting above us. The cranes were trumpeting from the fields in the background. The air was filled with singing birds.

When we reached the horizon of the giant lake Vänern we turned back around some islands. There in the channel we had an exiting time following the beavers in their evening swim. They were not really shy – more curious. Now and then we heard the special sounds from the bitterns in the reeds – like someone blowing in a bottle. When the sun set the wood cock appeared flying its route over our heads to protect his territory. Moments of thankfulness to be just here.

On our way back in the stunning evening light we visited some abandoned beaver huts. You can never stop to marvel these intelligent, unobtrusive animals. They create pieces of engineer buildings and pieces of art. The more you follow the lives of these animals the more respect you get for wonders of life!

Nordic EcoTours are looking forward to share these moments of nature together with you!

February delivered magnificent ice

Lucky us! Just when our guests from UK, Sicily and Germany arrived the weather cooperated with us and blessed us with marvellous skating conditions. The thick, black ice was polished by a thin layer of water.

In the borderland between Sweden and Norway small lakes gave us unforgettable memories.

During our 3 to 5 days together we skated on five different lakes.

The foggy weather made our days to a mysterious experience – sometimes like a fairy tale.

The temperature was above zero every day so we were lucky the sun didn’t shine. It would have destroyed the ice.

For two days we had company by a Norwegian family – their first nordic skating experience.

All members of the family made really good improvements.

Getting the last out of February on skates!

Nedre Bolsjön – Lower Lake Bolsjö – gave us two wonderful skating days. The ice is struggling against sun shine and temperatures above zero.

Visible ice again – time for skating

After two weeks of heavy snowfall all lakes were “snow closed” in Sweden. No possibility of skating. Then it happened. Thaw and loads of rain. It felt like March. Rivers and streams were filled with water…

… snow melted to slush and the stable ice was visible again. Many of the lakes are difficult to get on because ice has melted along the shore line.

Today’s check by the little pond had strong surface after last night’s minus degrees. Tomorrow we will try a bigger lake.

Lake Tåkern – Paradise for Birds, Birdwatchers and Skaters!

Lake Tåkern is a very shallow lake situated in a historical landscape, surrounded by big agricultural fields and Mount Omberg rising in the west. Today the lake was covered with a thin layer of snow, but big areas was just powdered like dust – so we could often observe the ice quality. Do we skate if there is snow on the ice? We had prior knowledge of stable and smooth black ice under the snow so we decided to try it . But you have to be cautious, because if you can’t see if there is open cracks in the ice, it can cause you serious problems. If you fall – e.g. high risk, especially for the shoulders!

  • Swan traces - the swan is a symbol for Lake Tåkern

It was overcast and everything seemed grey, but the white surroundings enlightened the scenery. A big Sea Eagle rose majestic from the ice with heavy wings, quite a long distance in front of us. Maybe it just have had its lunch – perhaps a swan. Thousands and thousands of birds (especially swans, geese, different ducks and cormorants) inhabit the lake during the “open” season. Right now the lake had just a little “opening”. Other overland predators as foxes and minks take advantage of the “ice age” – to enlarge their hunting area – during the winter. We passed numerous traces from foxes and some minks.

  • Covered with snow
    Sun break through

When the whole lake is frozen – and all birds have migrated – it’s not easy either for a predator or its prey to find suitable nourishments. On top of the food chain we find our earlier eagle mentioned, who has a hard time. The authorities of lake Tåkern Nature Reserve give special support for eagles – to increase the population to a reasonable level, in a suitable nesting habitat. They feed them with slaughter waste.

  • Support feeding place for eagles - wild boar

A big part of the lake area is covered with huge reeds. You find reed islands and a lot of channels and open parts – many of them skatable – bu its very easy to get “lost”. The reed zone stretches all around the shoreline. In the skatable reed zone you have to be aware of “methane holes” – can be very difficult to recognize them when they are covered with snow under thin ice!

  • Frozen pressure ridge

Obstacles often occur during a long tour – of many kilometers – as for example pressure ridges and open cracks in the ice. Today the pressure ridges were frozen and stabilized. No cracks at all and we skated on most all of them on very smooth black ice. Luck! However, on grey thick ice covered with snow – there are often open cracks.

  • Lake Tåkern
    Pause after 15 km skating

After about 30 km of wonderful skating on lake Tåkern we felt very satisfied, even if the weather was grey and foggy – what an experience – to be right in the middle of a Bird Nesting Paradise “off season”.

Bartmeise.JPG

The Bearded Tit is another character bird for Lake Tåkern. It’s metallic sounds followed us in parts of the lake. They stay in the reeds all year round and feed on reed seeds. Wonderful birds!

Next day we did a new try – “Snowskating” – in a deep forest region called Tiveden. A vast wild area with almost no human population. Quite another habitat! We had good skating, but both of us fell in grey ice cracks hidden under the snow. We were lucky not to get any serious problems this time, but our shoulders hurt a bit for some days or may be for a week?

  • Black ice under a thin layer of snow
    Last year's reeds

Covered with snow

A skiier longs for snow, a skater finds snow as a hazard. If it hadn’t been a slight snowfall some days ago the northern part of Lake Vättern had offered splendid skating conditions today. Anyway, our trip today gave us a lot – as always. – 5 degrees below zero, wind about 5m/s south east and cloudy. Was the snow frozen on the surface?

  • Foggy day - a palette of grey colours

Under the thin layer of snow we had smooth ice 🙂

  • Tensions in the ice due to temperature changes between day and night causes cracks

We headed towards open water. What a great feeling hearing the waves far away.

  • Pay attention - weak ice!

While skating on natural ice you always have to pay attention. Pressure ridges are quite easy to observe. You have a lot of choices, to pass over, pass around them or return. This one we had to return. Another danger is open areas called “wind wells” which can occur anywhere.

Tomorrow new adventures are awaiting. We are planning to discover new lakes for us further south, hopefully not covered with snow.

Black, black ice…

Weather conditions right now makes the south of Sweden to a skating paradise. Today we experienced a sunny, calm, – 4 degrees C day in total wilderness on lake Långvattnet (Bohuslän) on black ice framed by a rocky conifer forest landscape.

The surface was just perfect! Along the huge rocks by the lake nature has formed enormous icicles.

There are many lakes and tarns, and the exiting thing with nordic skating is to skate around one lake and then walk to another one. We heard a drizzling sound and followed the creek by foot. Wonderful ice sculptures in the running water showed up. A dipper showed itself on the iced stones. Down stream we skated round a little woodland tarn – not bigger than 1 km circumference. We had a feeling of March when we sat in the sun for our packed lunch.

As always in our part of the world we find traces from our last ice age. Grounded rocks and bare stones from old sea level, before the land rised after the high pressure of the inland ice 10 000 years ago, shows up. Before sunset we headed back home and hoped to observe some animals. This morning we had a wonderful meeting with a giant elk just by the road!

Three months of skating adventures are awaiting

Five different lakes in three days offers five different conditions. Ice and nature is amazing. From one day to another nothing is the same. When temperature varies over and below zero the most different phenomenas occur.

  • Testing ice quality +5 degrees C

  • Tiveden, great bolder
    Huge boulder in Tiveden - ice age remnant
  • What's around the corner?