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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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”.
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?