Sunday, 25 October 2020

More on a Scandi approach to a dark winter lockdown

Having written yesterday about coping with a winter lockdown, I have recalled a chat that I had with a Finnish guy on the 8 hour long train journey south from the Arctic Circle at Rovaniemi to the capital city of Helsinki during my trip to Arctic Finland and Arctic Norway in June and July 2019.

During our chat about the many things that make up his beautiful country, he tried to explain sisu to me.

Sisu is a Finnish concept described as stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience and hardiness and is held by Finns themselves to express their national character. During the brutal Winter War of 1939 to 1940, the Finnish perseverance in the face of the invasion by the Soviet Union popularised sisu.

In Finland, they say “Finns go through even a grey rock” and “Arctic nature has given us guts” …. that is sisu .



 







Source: Finland emojis

Sisu is generally considered not to have a literal equivalent in English but an understanding of it seems to me to be relevant to the current challenges that our local communities, our country and the world have faced for several months and will continue to face for the foreseeable future.

Reading about sisu again led me to a more amusing solution for coping with the social distancing and self-isolation of a winter lockdown …. kalsarikΓ€nni.

KalsarikΓ€nni literally means “drinking at home, alone, in your underwear” πŸ˜€

In Finland, this is a fully fledged, nationally celebrated pastime and not the sign of a minor emotional breakdown and, to be honest, if your winters consisted of -30ΒΊC temperatures, a huge amount of snow and ice and no sunshine or daylight for several months, you would probably spend a fair amount of time drinking at home in your pants as well πŸ˜€.










Source: Finland emojis

So, after our understanding of Danish hygge which reached us in 2016 and Swedish lagom which reached us in 2017, we have a few more Scandi concepts to get to grips with!

πŸ’šπŸ¦† πŸ¦‰πŸ¦‹πŸπŸ¦ŠπŸ¦‘🌼 πŸŒ³πŸ’š
Stay safe, stay well, stay strong, stay connected with nature


Saturday, 24 October 2020

Dreading a dark winter lockdown?

Think like a Norwegian.

Dreading a dark winter lockdown? .... think like a Norwegian

Studies have shown that people living in the Arctic regions are armed with a mindset that helps combat the long "polar night". It might come in handy for us all in the coming months.

Furthermore, Norwegian friluftsliv (“free-air life”) can help us adapt and cope during these challenging times.

Fjord focus: is Norway's friluftsliv the answer to surviving a second lockdown?

Let's get outdoors and enjoy the natural world during the coming winter months.














Photo: Arctic coastline of Troms og Finnmark near TromsΓΈ, north Norway

πŸ’šπŸ¦† πŸ¦‰πŸ¦‹πŸπŸ¦ŠπŸ¦‘🌼 πŸŒ³πŸ’š
Stay safe, stay well, stay strong, stay connected with nature



Friday, 23 October 2020

This week is National Mammal Week

This week, from Friday 23rd October through to Sunday 1st November 2020, is National Mammal Week.









National Mammal Week is organised by the Mammal Society as a celebration and awareness week of mammals and their conservation in the UK.

At the end of July 2020, the first official Red List for British Mammals was published .... see here and hereProduced by the Mammal Society for Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and NatureScot, it showed that of the 47 mammals native to the UK, 11 are classified as being "at imminent risk of extinction", with a further 5 species classified as "near threatened".... see hereThe destruction or degradation of natural habitats, alien invasive species and historic persecution are the main cause of the decline in the populations of many UK mammals.

However, on a more cheerful note, National Mammal Week also gives me an opportunity to showcase some of my favourite UK mammals.

A long-time favourite is the Otter which I have seen on an almost annual basis for many years at various locations in north and west Scotland (but not this year for obvious reasons). I have also seen this species at RSPB Strumpshaw Fen in Norfolk.














Photo: Otter at Loch Scridain, Mull, Argyll














Photo: Otter at Loch na Keal, Mull, Argyll















Photo: Otter at Broadford Bay, Skye, Highland

Another favourite is the rare but increasing Pine Marten which I first saw on an evening mammal watch trip with Speyside Wildlife in the Cairngorms in Scotland in May 2005. Since that time, I have also seen them regularly during week-long stays at Mingarry Lodges in western Scotland in September 2015, September 2016 and September 2019 plus a few chance encounters elsewhere in north and west Scotland over the years.

Photo: Pine Marten at Mingarry Lodges, Mingarry, Moidart, Highland





Photo: Pine Marten at Mingarry Lodges, Mingarry, Moidart, Highland

The other mammal which I have seen on an almost annual basis for many years at various locations in north and west Scotland is the Red Squirrel.


























Photo: Red Squirrel at Loch of the Lowes SWT reserve, Dunkeld, Perthshire

























Photo: Red Squirrel at Insh, Highland















Photo: Red Squirrel at Mingarry Lodges, Mingarry, Moidart, Highland














Photo: Red Squirrel at Freshfield National Trust reserve, Formby Point, Merseyside

There are 2 mammals that have produced many wonderful experiences during the last 6 months at one of my local patch sites, St. Nicholas Church and surrounding areasRed Fox and Badger. I have got to know both species very well through observation and reading several books about their ecology.

On 9th May 2020, I discovered the location of a family of Red Foxes, a vixen and her 4 very small cubs, and I have continued to watch them regularly since that time although the cubs are now well grown and often hard to distinguish from an adult. Here are some of the many photos that I have managed to take, starting with 2 photos of the vixen and then several of the cubs:


























Photo: Red Fox at Laindon, Essex














Photo: Red Fox at Laindon, Essex















Photo: Red Fox cub  at Laindon, Essex















Photo: Red Fox cub  at Laindon, Essex















Photo: Red Fox cub  at Laindon, Essex














Photo: Red Fox cubs  at Laindon, Essex














Photo: Red Fox cub  at Laindon, Essex















Photo: Red Fox cub  at Laindon, Essex















Photo: Red Fox cub  at Laindon, Essex

After seeing my first Badger at the site on 3rd May 2020, I discovered the location of the sett on 8th June 2020. Since that time, I have seen Badgers on the majority of my evening visits, sometimes just a single animal but a maximum of 5 animals on 29th July 2020. Unfortunately, it has always been too dark to get any photos of the Badgers but here are 2 photos of a Badger that I took on a visit to the British Wildlife Centre in 2011:
















Photo: Badger at British Wildlife Centre














Photo: Badger at British Wildlife Centre

Finally, I am now going to cheat πŸ˜€. I am including most definitely a favourite mammal although I have yet to record it at either of my local patch sites and I am very unlikely to do so any time soon πŸ˜€. Therefore I am not sure that it can be celebrated during the UK's National Mammal Week but it is going to get an honorary mention anyway since it is a magnificent animal and it was formerly present in the UK. It is Ursos arctosthe Brown Bear .... see here for more information on its status and distribution as a UK mammal.

I have seen several Brown Bears on 3 separate trips to north east Finland at Pirtttivaara (Martinselkonen Wilds Centre), Lentiira (Wild Brown Bear Centre) and Kuntilampi (Bear Kuusamo). All these sites are close to the border between Finland and Russia and provide almost guaranteed sightings of Brown Bears. Here is probably my best photo from many of the magnificent Karhu:














Photo: Brown Bear at Pirtttivaara, Suomussalmi, Kainuu, Finland

πŸ’šπŸ¦† πŸ¦‰πŸ¦‹πŸπŸ¦ŠπŸ¦‘🌼 πŸŒ³πŸ’š
Stay safe, stay well, stay strong, stay connected with nature



Thursday, 22 October 2020

Visit to St. Nicholas Church and surrounding areas – 22nd October 2020

Date: 22nd October 2020

Time: from 8:30 a.m.

Weather: dry, sunny, moderate wind, 11°C to 13°C

50 bird species!

During my visit on 9th October 2020, I thought I had recorded my 50th bird species for the site. However, it turned out that my excitement over “a rather dull, brown, boring Pheasant” was misplaced since I had previously seen this species at the site.

Therefore my site list for bird species has remained stuck on 49 since I added Garden Warbler on my visit on 4th August 2020.

Today, I eventually recorded my 50th bird species although it was not the much hoped for rare autumn migrant Yellow-browed Warbler.   

The 50th bird species was …. drum roll πŸ˜€ …. a fly-over briefly calling Pied Wagtail which I actually failed to see! Someone once said “they all count” …. I think that may have been me πŸ˜€.

Anyway, somewhat surprisingly after many years visiting St. Nicholas Church and the surrounding areas, I have finally recorded a Pied Wagtail. This quickly follows recording my first Pied Wagtail at Noak Bridge Nature Reserve on 13th October 2020. However, this was another fly-over briefly calling bird. I frequently see Pied Wagtails foraging for food around the car park at Pipps Hill when I go shopping at nearby Asda but they are elusive at my 2 local patch sites πŸ˜€. Why is that?















Photo: Pied Wagtail at Dulnain Bridge, Highland

With regard to birds, there were several other highlights. 

After seeing my first Redwings of the autumn/winter on my last visit on 15th October 2020, I heard, but did not see, a few more of these birds this morning.

I saw 3 Goldcrests, 1 along the track from the access to the site from Larkins Tyres (where at least 2 others were calling) and 2 together in the south west area of the site bordered by St. Nicholas Lane and Pound Lane.

When I arrived in the eastern section of the cemetery, I immediately saw a Sparrowhawk being pursued by a Carrion Crow and when I re-visited the same area later, I saw another or the same bird gliding through.

I was able to watch and photograph a Green Woodpecker feeding on the ground in the western section of the cemetery for several minutes and I heard a calling Great Spotted Woodpecker in the northern area of the site on my walk back home.

Corvid activity was again noticeable this morning including several acorn-gathering Jays but also some very active Carrion Crows and Magpies around the church, some of the Carrion Crows evidently enjoying the moderate wind today.

With regard to mammals, I had 2 very brief sightings of Red Foxes this morning, the first walking along the edge of the central section of the cemetery before disappearing in to the hedge and the second in the area immediately behind the church which also disappeared quickly when it spotted me.

I also briefly saw a Reeves’ Muntjac at the eastern end of the cemetery before it too disappeared in to the wooded area.

I saw 3 Grey Squirrels this morning: 2 together along the track from the access to the site from Larkins Tyres and 1 in the cemetery. Unlike the Red Foxes and Reeves’ Muntjac, I was able to get 2 photos although they are blurry images due to the low light level amongst the trees.

Species recorded during this visit were as follows (heard only records in italics):

Blue Tit
Great Tit
Goldcrest
Pied Wagtail
Robin
Redwing
Blackbird
Sparrowhawk
Green Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Jay
Magpie
Carrion Crow
Woodpigeon
Herring Gull

Red Fox
Reeves’ Muntjac
Grey Squirrel

Here are some photos from my visit:














Photo: Green Woodpecker














Photo: Green Woodpecker















Photo: Magpie














Photo: Carrion Crow














Photo: Carrion Crow














Photo: Carrion Crows














Photo: Carrion Crows














Photo: Carrion Crows














Photo: Carrion Crows














Photo: Carrion Crows














Photo: Carrion Crows














Photo: Carrion Crows














Photo: Carrion Crows














Photo: Carrion Crows














Photo: Carrion Crows














Photo: Carrion Crows




























Photo: blurry record shot of a Grey Squirrel














Photo: blurry record shot of a Grey Squirrel











































































Site totals to date:

Birds = 50
Mammals = 6
Butterflies = 21
Dragonflies and damselflies = 7
Reptiles = 1
Amphibians = 0

πŸ’šπŸ¦† πŸ¦‰πŸ¦‹πŸπŸ¦ŠπŸ¦‘🌼 πŸŒ³πŸ’š
Stay safe, stay well, stay strong, stay connected with nature