The national birdwatch 2019 in Finland (& pics today)

On Saturday, yesterday, I took part in the national birdwatch again, the national birdwatch 2019, Pihabongaus 2019, organized by BirdLife Suomi here in Finland. It was my fourth time now and I was standing and walking in our garden again. As usual, I had a good time and I was freezing at the end of the event even though I had warm clothes on. 🙂 But it was only -9 degrees Celsius, they said that it felt like -14 degrees, during my birdwatch hour.

So, I saw… a lot of snow and it was snowing a bit, too. Well, as always, I heard many little birds singing, singing in the trees, but I didn’t see that many birds. I recognized the voices of great tits and blue tits and crows. And I saw a magpie, a great spotted woodpecker, a few great tits and I heard and saw a flock of tree sparrows as well. The great spotted woodpecker was pecking at a pine tree and it was nice to watch it with binoculars. One great tit came to perform a solo in front of me, that was funny.

So that was what happened. 🙂

And just a few pictures that I took in our garden today:

January

We have around 30 centimetres of snow here where I’m living. I suspect that we have more than 30 centimetres… It’s been snowing like every day now – sometimes more, sometimes just a little bit. And they say that it will still be snowing.

January

The sky is blue!

January

…and at night the snow is still blue, too. 😉 This was bad after 1.30 am today.

  • Leena

Some more outdoor hobbies

The first picture I took on Sunday:

January
~’How do you play this instrument…?’

Archery! Getting to know archery, learning archery, actually shooting an arrow from a bow… I’ve wanted to do this for many years, we both have, my boyfriend and I, but we started this only just before Christmas. It looks easy, but when I had the bow in my hands for the first time, I didn’t know, I didn’t understand, which way to hold it… That was funny.

Now we just shoot arrows in our garden, without a target stand, but we’re thinking of building a target stand to my boyfriend’s field for example. We have a lot to learn, but it’s so nice to learn and to finally do something that one has been admiring for a long time. Yay! 🙂

January
January

We had the super blood wolf moonsuperverisusikuu in Finnish, early in the morning on Monday, yesterday. I set my alarm clock for 6.25. When I woke up first I looked out of the window with my still sleepy eyes and saw a shiny edge of the moon and thought to myself “good, not cloudy…”, then I went outside and my eyes were still a bit blurry, but I could see that the moon was already turning red. I looked through binoculars and suddenly my eyes were wide open: “this is really happening!” – No clouds this time. I even had time to make coffee and then enjoy my coffee watching the total lunar eclipse. My coffee was hot, but I was freezing a bit at the end of the event, because it was around -20 degrees Celsius.

January
The picture in the book is by Lesley Anne Ivory. The book is Cats Among The Toys by her, from the year 1993.

Morning coffee today…

January

It was cold last night, well under -20 degrees Celsius. Now, in the afternoon, it’s -10 degrees Celsius and it’s snowing.

  • Leena

Collecting stuff

We collected acorns in October.

acorns

First these…

acorns

…and then these – about 300 acorns in total. Some of the acorns were already sprouting, lovely. 🙂 We collected them from the ground, under big oak trees, here in our home village.

The first two pictures I took in October, the rest of the pictures in this blog post I took today.

acorns planted

So, we planted the acorns in our garden, here…

acorns planted

…and here.

And we also collected some acorns for the land that my boyfriend now has in the region of Etelä-PohjanmaaSouth Ostrobothnia, about 180 kilometres north from our home, that is to say, we already planted the acorns there, into the forest ground. There’s a certain spot or place, an island actually, where broad-leaved trees are growing in the forest, but there are no oak trees, not yet…

So, this is all an experiment, with these acorns, just nice and interesting.

spruce cones

I collected spruce cones, too. These were on the ground in our yard, on the driveway. We don’t have big spruce trees, but there are spruces just outside our yard. I started to collect these just because I think that they are lovely, but my boyfriend said that we could try to get seeds from these as well. Well, that’s a good idea, an interesting experiment, too. The cones have been drying inside the house now.

emptying a compost bin

And I was shoveling compost, emptying a compost bin a bit today. We have this year-round composter for kitchen (and garden) waste.

emptying a compost bin

We shovel the compost into this container, where the process continues, and in the end, it all goes back to nature again. 🙂

-Leena

Gone cross-country skiing [in Kuusamo earlier this week]

It’s been like summer here in Finland this week. Especially here in the southern part of the country it’s been warm for a bit over a week now. The temperatures have been between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius during the day. The sun’s been shining, grass is already green, the trees are growing leaves – everything is growing, everything is green… and there’s more flowers and butterflies. The scent of summer is in the air and we can already eat some herbs from the garden as well.

But I started off this week by going backwards in time, so to speak. – I travelled to Kuusamo in Koillismaa region in northern Finland, just below Lapland. This time it took 10 hours and 30 minutes to travel there by car through the western and middle parts of Finland, and during all that time I saw how the spring advanced… backwards and in the wrong direction. But that was just nice for a bit adventurous soul. 😀

We (me and my dad) arrived in Kuusamo late in the evening on Sunday a week ago, spent Monday and Tuesday there, and travelled back home again on Wednesday. After that it’s already been warmer there in Kuusamo, too, around 20 degrees Celsius, but here, in this blog post now, is one of the last opportunities to talk about cross-country skiing in Kuusamo this spring…

And in Kuusamo the roads and many other places already were free of snow and ice, spring was already there in that way – the snow had already almost mostly melted, almost… Well, there still were heaps of snow here and there, still melting and in the forests there still was snow, here and there. And the lakes were not free of ice.

cross-country skiing

So, into the woods I went. My very own cross-country skiing equipment waited for me at the cabin.

cross-country skiing

Kuusamo

In the woods, by the lake.

Kuusamo

I saw two swans flying and honking over the lake for a couple of times. I also saw an otter, an Eurasian otter that is, swimming in the ice-free water by the woods. I’ve seen that type of an animal swimming there before, too, a few years ago. 🙂

Kuusamo

And owls… I think I heard an owl calling! When I first heard the voice I immediately thought something along the lines of “this really might be an owl, there’s possibly something so specific in the voice… is it…?” I heard the voice every evening there, over and over again. Well, here, at home where my computer waited for me, I did some research and it truly might have been the voice of a northern hawk owl. I didn’t see the bird in the woods, but I might also have seen an owl flying when I was travelling in the car from the cabin towards the town centre. I saw the bird pretty well, and there was just something so specific… Or perhaps I’ve finally gone nuts. 😀 Well, nice experiences they were, even though I can’t be 100% sure… But learning new things all the time!

Kuusamo

The tracks of a reindeer on the left, my tracks on the right. We went for a walk in the woods together… Well, no, not together, I didn’t see reindeer by the cabin. But we saw many reindeer by the road when we were travelling to Kuusamo. I called them ‘Santa’s reindeer’, because they had winter coat. And before the reindeer I saw a moose standing in a forest.

And when we were travelling back home, about 11 hours through the middle and western parts of Finland, the spring advanced again in the right way, so to speak. And here at home it was like summer already! – At first all the green that had emerged while I was away really felt strange. Stranger than falling into the snow in the north. Nice and delightful, simple adventures everywhere. 🙂

-Leena

The national birdwatch 2018 in Finland & other things…

The temperatures have temporarily gone up. First we had a pretty heavy snowfall on Wednesday, we had about 10 centimetres of fresh snow on the ground in the evening that day. But after that it’s been even raining, raining like crazy for a while, but it still didn’t melt all the snow, so, here where I’m living, we’ve had snow on the ground for seven weeks now. And they say that the temperatures are going down again and that it will snow again. Today it’s already been sleeting and snowing, and heavily and very big snowflakes, too.

morning coffee

My morning coffee today. I love maps… I take every opportunity to have a map to look at, any map, everywhere… 🙂

And yes, today I took again part in the national birdwatch, the national birdwatch 2018, Pihabongaus 2018, organized by BirdLife Suomi here in Finland. The event is every year on the last weekend of January, it’s not a competition, just one hour of birdwatching, and anyone can participate. The idea is to get people interested in the nature around them and to collect information about the birds living here in wintertime. And even hearing the birds counts.

January

One of the birds’ hideouts… (I took these last two pictures in this blog post after my birdwatch hour.) So, during my hour I was standing and walking in heavy snowfall and in normal snowfall in our garden. And I heard a concert again! – The voices were many, but, again, I didn’t see that many singers. 🙂

I recognized the voices of crows, magpies, great tits and blue tits and I think I recognized the voice of a some type of sparrow and the voice of a bullfinch – I really was lucky enough to see a few bullfinches here on our bird feeder the other day! 🙂 And I heard a woodpecker knocking somewhere near (I’ve seen two great spotted woodpeckers hear earlier). There always are also some other tiny birds chirping and singing, but I still don’t recognize them…

And the birds I actually saw today: a couple of magpies, one great tit and a flock of small birds – I couldn’t see what birds they were.

So, I was enjoying myself and my hour ended just before my freezing point. 😀

My birdwatching trail…

-Leena

The national birdwatch 2017 in Finland – Pihabongaus 2017

I took part in the national birdwatch 2017, Pihabongaus 2017, organized by BirdLife Suomi here in Finland. The event is every year on the last weekend of January. It’s not a competition and anyone can do it – the idea is to get people interested in the nature around them and to collect information about the birds living here in wintertime. We are just identifying birds, counting them and enjoying ourselves. It takes one hour. And it doesn’t matter if one doesn’t see any birds or if one only hears them – that’s interesting, too. Only hearing the birds is delightful – that’s my experience. 🙂 Last winter 18 000 people took part in the event, it’s interesting to hear how many people this winter.

Okay, I was enjoying myself and I was freezing! 😀 The sun was shining but the wind was cold. I was thinking about my cardigan before I went outside, but I didn’t take it with me. But my toes were soon freezing too, and I had woollen socks…

Yes, but, my actual results… I heard a concert! 😀 Birds were singing all around me as they always do in and around our garden, but I didn’t see the singers. I recognized the voices of magpies, great tits and blue tits. There were also some other tiny birds singing, but I didn’t recognize them. But yes, I actually saw a couple of ravens! They flew above me, croaking as they went. 🙂

January

We have this feeding spot for birds, hanging from a garden lamp post. We’ve seen many great tits and blue tits there, but not today…
And it’s occasionally been so warm lately that the snow’s been melting fast…

Cool! I do it every day.

“So, you count the birds once a year? Cool! I do it every day.”

a pine tree steaming

And this happened yesterday. The pine trees were steaming. It always looks rather interesting. 🙂 Yeah, with the temperatures going up and down constantly lately it’s good to let some steam off…

-Leena

Mushrooms

I absolutely love mushrooms! And mushroom hunting. Self-picked mushrooms and self-prepared food with them are something totally different from the canned mushrooms that we meet on pizzas, for example… – No wonder many people believe that they don’t like mushrooms at all… 🙂

And probably we all know how dangerous mushrooms can be – that is a fact indeed! We, me and my boyfriend, got our first facts on mushroom hunting, and bolete mushrooms or porcini mushrooms in particular, when we were mushroom hunting for the first time, with my boyfriend’s father in Eastern Finland. After that we have used a mushroom guide book and the internet, both. 🙂

This blog post of mine is not a proper guide to these two types of mushrooms that I have in the pics below, so don’t eat mushrooms based only on knowledge you get from here! – I’m just having a bit of fun with mushrooms here in this blog post, with a little bit of information! 🙂

The first five pics I took on our front yard on Friday.

shaggy ink cap

We have numerous shaggy ink caps on our front yard every year. They have their own special place there. 🙂 Shaggy ink caps are quite charming and funny mushrooms; they have many phases when it comes to their appearance.

shaggy ink cap

First they are just white, short and chubby ‘trunks’. Then they grow to be tall and thin mushrooms with a proper cap, which then starts to melt away, to dissolve, to drip down, as black liquid or ‘ink’.

shaggy ink cap

These mushrooms are edible when they are very young and white, that mushroom in the pic above is already too old. We have never eaten these, but they say, these are quite good edible mushrooms when they are young.

shaggy ink cap

This ‘ink’ of shaggy ink caps actually was used as ink in days of old. 🙂

shaggy ink cap

Ink dried up?

woolly milkcap

The rest of the pics I took on Saturday night, after a walk in the forest. – We came out of the forest with our hands full of woolly milkcaps.

woolly milkcap

Fluffy mushrooms! Cute and delightful! 🙂

Woolly milkcaps are fully edible, but they must be boiled, and they must be boiled longer than some other mushrooms. Woolly milkcaps must be boiled about 20-30 minutes. The taste of raw woolly milkcaps is strongly bitter and raw woolly milkcaps don’t agree with one’s stomach, at all. Cooking, boiling and rinsing the mushrooms removes the poison from them. The taste of woolly milkcaps after boiling them is very delicious! We cooked a creamy sauce with these.

woolly milkcap

Mushrooms always have funny and cunning names. In Finnish, for example, this woolly milkcap has two names – other one of them is karvalaukkufur bag, literally. 🙂

woolly milkcap

-Leena