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Uncle Henry´s Universe.

About the blog

I have no heavy training... Barely Elementary School. Preferred the wilderness, it became my university, but I got muddy boots and experience instead of School knowledge so my English was therefore quite inadequate. This blog is a project to improve my skills in English language.

We all have our own universe, welcome to visit mine.

Barranco del Infierno.

Nature Conservation, Travel Posted on Tue, March 31, 2020 02:00:18

Barranco del Infierno (“Hell’s Gorge”) is a ravine and a Nature Reserve where only 300 people can enter a day, in order to preserve the environment and not alter the development of the species, the flora and the fauna. To visit the ravine a previous reservation is essential. They open the entrance at 08.30 and it costs about 8.50 euros for an adult tourist. (Cheaper for children and locals)

When we visited Adeje in the south of the island of Tenerife, just over a month ago, we rented an apartment next to the reserve border. Ideal for exciting hikes in the mountains along winding goat paths. It was warm and steep, but the view was always seductive.

Canaries (Serinus canaria) and Canary Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus canariensis) sang everywhere, and African blue tit (Cyanistes teneriffae) was often seen among the bushes. Sometimes it rattles on the ground when a lizard ran away. Tenerife lizard (Gallotia galloti), an endemic species. The male is large and has a blueish stain on both sides of its head, the female is smaller with brown lines on the sides or molted.

The entrance to the ravine was just 100 meters from our accommodation so we took a chance and went there early one morning, hoping that there would be an opportunity to visit the reserve, but no! Only bookings are possible. The ravine is so popular to visit and only 300 guests are admitted per day. We bought tickets for a visit a few days later.

Then came Calima, the sandstorm and ravine closed immediately for visits. In 2009, a deadly accident happened, and the ravine was then closed to visitors for six years. Today, it is open again after extensive maintenance work to secure the trail. Our booking was moved forward a few days but, in the end, we got a clear sign.

The instructions are clear. All visitors wear helmets – all the time. No one is allowed to leave the hiking trail and on some extra risky paths one should not stop but be in motion all the time.

The further into the ravine you get, the steeper the rock walls feel. You are asked to be quiet during parts of the hike, a sympathetic condition that I would like to salute at all, but here is the idea that you should hear stones that collapse and be warned in time. We keep up the speed to keep a distance from a group of loud visitors who laugh, talk and shout to each other …

It was an exciting landscape and according to all the nice information boards there were lots of interesting endemic species of all kinds, both terrestrial and aquatic. For the invertebrate it should be around 416 species among which the groups of arthropods, millipedes, arachnids and mollusks stand out… I say!

The trail ended at the highest waterfall on Tenerife, about 200 meters high. Here water flows all year round and a small levada leads it via an old mill down to Adeje.

Wish we had a little more time to explore the gorge. Three and a half hours it was thought that the tour would take, and you knew that more visitors were waiting for the day. It did not get completely relaxing. Probably prefer “our own” nature reserves, where there is endless space, hardly a human and absolutely no cactus.

But as I said, very interesting and exciting. Well maintained! Well worth a visit.

No problems with the language, it’s universal. The Barbary partridge (Alectoris barbara) say, do you have a sandwich?



Working week

Everyday life, Nature Conservation Posted on Sun, November 03, 2019 15:06:53

The metrologists have threatened with lots of snow, but the week has been pleasant with a good temperature, brilliant sunshine and fantastic mornings. It started with work in the county’s northernmost nature reserve and ended with a day off in one of the southernmost.

In a fantastic autumn weather, we wandered around the Päggonätto nature reserve and placed signs to try to curb unauthorized motor vehicle traffic on the marshes. Päggonätto is 620 hectares, so it takes a while to walk around it with heavy signs, iron skewers and sledgehammer.

The week also offered some work with chainsaw. We felled contorta pine in one reserve and cleared the boundary in another.

We saw several moose during the week and had a nice sight of a golden eagle over one of the marshes in Päggonätto. We also saw some northern bird species such as Snow bunting, Bohemian waxwing, Pine grosbeak and Siberian jay. The highlight was nevertheless a brief but fine observation of two wolves. It was in an area that has long been empty on wolves, now it’s just that they manage to avoid the poachers this winter.

The week ended with a free day devoted to bird watching and a visit to Dyrön, one of our county’s southernmost nature reserves. Lovely hike in a different kind of pine forest than we are used to. Observation of a white-tailed eagle instead of a golden eagle, red deer instead of moose and a red fox instead of wolf. But that’s fine too!

The northern bird species were represented by a large group of Smew that hunted together.

The nature reserve ends out in Vänern, Sweden’s largest lake, an inland sea with a lot of coastal feeling. A completely different landscape than we have in the northern part of the county.

The lake is the largest lake in the EU, third largest in Europe, after Ladoga and Onega, and in 26th place in the world.



Squirrels!

Everyday life, Nature Conservation Posted on Mon, October 28, 2019 09:33:53

The winter cold is creeping up and it’s time to start this year’s bird feed. And it immediately makes me think of squirrels …

The record was set on Christmas Eve 2017 when nine squirrels feasted on sunflower seeds. Only eight can be seen in the picture, but the ninth sat in a birch next door and shouted his frustration that the restaurant was full at the moment!

This summer, as I sat in the woods below our cabin, I saw a squirrel digging things out of hiding in the ground that it then ate. It was around to several different places. As I researched the matter, I found shells for sunflower seeds. Squirrels are not only greedy bird food eaters; they also hide food for future needs. Expensive friends, but okay, it’s worth it. They are really entertaining to study.

Our squirrel is the red one, Sciurus vulgaris, also called Eurasian red squirrel. They are members of the squirrel family, Sciuridae, commonly just referred to as “squirrels”. They include over a hundred arboreal species native to all continents except Antarctica and Oceania.

When I was in Geneva, I got to see another type of squirrel that I had never seen before. The Siberian chipmunk, Tamias sibiricus, a species that originally came as pets to parts of Europe in the sixties, but which has subsequently formed viable tribes in forests and parks. (The species is listed as an invasive species of the EU) Squirrels are cute little creatures but like many other species, they pose problems when they settle in areas where they have never been. (The gray squirrel is another example from the UK)

Other squirrels I previously posted on the blog are Gambian Sun squirrel, Malabar giant squirrel and Three striped palm squirrel.



The Longhorn Beetle.

Nature Conservation Posted on Thu, October 17, 2019 07:58:26

The Longhorn Beetle, Tragosoma depsarium, are categorized as “Near Threatened” (NT) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as that may be considered threatened with extinction in the near future.

The big beetle has disappeared from large parts of our country, but it occurs on some premises in our landscape. It needs older sun-exposed wood for its egg laying, preferably coarse pine trunks. Today, the species is threatened due to lack of suitable habitats.

10 years ago, we got hold of several very rough pine logs from a local sawmill. They were almost 6 meters long and up to 80 cm in diameter. Too rough for the sawmill to handle. I ordered a timber car to place them in sunny places in the Stormyren nature reserve and still remember the driver and his very suspicious look … He was used to transport wood out of the forest not the other way around!

It took 10 years before we could see that it succeeded. This summer we found lots of holes after the beetle. Now the rough logs can serve as nurseries for generations of beetles for many decades to come. Nature conservation can take its time but when it succeeds it pays off with interest.



The light in the tunnel!

Nature Conservation Posted on Mon, October 07, 2019 11:22:31

Since Alice Cooper wrote on his Facebook page that he would like to walk through Tilas Stoll, the nature reserve suddenly became a much hotter tourist destination!

Today we have a little over 200 nature reserves in our county Värmland. Högbergsfältet is one of them. It was founded in 1979 and is a mining area near Lake Yngen. Tilas Stoll is a mining corridor leading into the Krakbo mine. For security reasons it has been closed for a few years but is now open to visitors.

Go there! It is a strong experience, well worth a try.



Päggonätto

Nature Conservation Posted on Mon, January 28, 2019 16:05:22

Today,
Värmland has got a new nature reserve, Päggonätto, so our landscape now has 200
nature reserves! It lies furthest north in the county next to the Norwegian
border and is an extensive marsh area located on a height plateau about 600
msl. An exciting wilderness where you have the chance to experience both golden
eagles, willow grouse and siberian jay. In winter, you will often find tracks
of three of the big predators, wolves, lynx and wolverine.

Finnish
names in the area as; Havda, Hojka, Pottmäk and Rajsk suggest that burn-beating
had previously occurred in the area, perhaps once the marshland was used for
mowing. In that case, they had miles of view during work, north of the Trysil
mountain and other mountain masses.

On the
eastern slope of Pottmäk, around the old Nygårdssätern (mountain pasture),
older lush spruce forest grows with large elements of deciduous trees. This
part of the area has an unusually rich flora. Parts of the old manor houses can
be found inside the forest.

The border
between Sweden and Norway is a clear delimitation of the reserve in the north.


It has been
a long time since forest workers lived in remote huts in the forest. Nature
recovers what man has previously created, moss beds softly in tired forest
workers’ beds. A ragged gable on a rotten dwelling, an eye up to the vault of
the sky.



Baltic Grayling

Nature Conservation Posted on Sun, June 19, 2016 20:24:33

From the
middle of Sweden and north, you can now see a gray-brown butterfly patrol
around the sunlit pine trunks in the mire landscape. It’s the Baltic Grayling (Oeneis jutta), a species in the subfamily
Satyrinae with a circumboreal distribution. It occurs in bogs and tundra in the
north of Europe, the Baltic States, the Urals, Siberia, Northern Kazakhstan,
the Russian Far East, Northern Mongolia, Northeastern China, North Korea and
North America. (In Canada it occurs from Newfoundland to British Columbia.)

In Sweden,
it flies from early June to mid-July every two years, so you could not see it
last year and will not be able to see it next. It flies only in even years, so
take the opportunity; the next time will be in 2018!

The
butterfly often starts at the root and then flits rapidly upwards along the
stem, sometimes up into the crown of the smaller pines before popping down to
the next pine and continues.

Flights
season varies in different places in the world. In Canada, for example, Baltic
Grayling flies from late May
to mid-June in eastern Ontario, from late June to late July at Churchill, and
into August in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is biennial, flying in even years
in southwest Manitoba and the west and mainly in odd years from southeastern
Manitoba eastward; at Churchill and in the Mer Bleue bog near Ottawa it flies
every year.



New Buddy in the neighborhood.

Golden eagle, Nature Conservation Posted on Sat, June 18, 2016 15:05:30

This year
seems to be a pretty bad year for the golden eagle, at least in the central
parts of Sweden. In Värmland, we have only found one successful breeding so
far, in which a fairly large and nice kid has been ringed.

In addition
to weighing and measuring, takes bird ringers now also blood sample for DNA
analysis. Here is the “Lord of the Rings” in place in the nest for sampling.

Big feet
and sharp claws, they have the resources, yet they are surprisingly calm and
kind while they are handled.



Mixed week.

Nature Conservation Posted on Sun, March 13, 2016 19:38:38

It has been
a varied week both in weather and tasks. Mostly overcast conditions, when it
has been tracked wolves and wolverines, but also fine sunshine with good
sightings of golden eagles. Only a few degrees below zero at night and a few
degrees above zero in the daytime. Spring is on its way.

One morning
we heard the raven crying outside our cabin, nothing unusual, but it was much
closer than it usually is. It turned out that two wolves during the night, had
killed and eaten, one of the roe deer that terrorize our garden. (I take care
of some small sallow trees grown especially given the bumblebees in the spring.
And who was munching on them last week, if not precisely these roe deer! But as
you all know, crime does not pay and this time got the bad guy to pay with
life!) If we had woken up and looked out the window, down the river, we had
been able to see what happened. But oooh no. We slept sooo well! (It would have
been interesting to see, but it was certainly too dark anyway.)

There is
not much left of a roe deer when two hungry wolves taking a midnight snack.

Some days
later, a moose cow with her two calves passed the place, (yes … we have a new
moose cow with calves discovered the charm of our garden!) she showed great
interest in the wolf tracks and tracked them for a short distance. I have seen
this behavior several times before during tracking, but this was the first time
I saw it happen. Maybe she tried to judge when the wolves passed and which
direction they took. She seemed very suspicious.



Poor meee!

Golden eagle, Nature Conservation Posted on Fri, March 04, 2016 19:11:33

Now it is a
difficult time for me and my dear colleagues. Not yet finished with wolf
tracking when the golden eagle demands attention. Frustrating days comes before
us. When you track wolves, are you thinking about all the eagles who wishes to
be registered and when you are waiting for eagles that never turns out, are you
thinking about all the wolves that wish to be tracked. You are never quite
satisfied.

As we say
every year, it’s a crappy job, but someone has to do it!



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