Monday, September 24, 2012

Utö again

I visited Utö for the first time in January. Having always been fascinated by barren nature, I didn't hesitate to accept an invitation to go to Utö in September. I would go with a small group of seven persons I know from similar trips. While it is perfectly possible to go alone as well, being in a group makes the accomodation a  lot cheaper and easier.

The ferry left from Pärnäs at  18:15 and took about five hours to reach Utö. The evening was quite nice, but the weather forecast for the weekend was quite depressing: Rain, rain and more rain, with no glimpses of the sun forecasted.
Paul takes some photos.

The first stop was Berghamn.
The sunset at 19:30 was behind us.
 Paul took the last photos of the day.

We arrived a little after eleven in the evening. It rained quite a bit. The strategy for tomorrow was to check the weather at 6:30 (the sunrise was at 7:15) and get up if the cloud cover wasn't totally featureless. I got up with Paul and we got out in good time before the sunrise.

Unfortunately, the sunrise wasn't actually visible in any way. The clouds were just a little lighter in that direction.

I had a thermos bottle and the means to make good coffee as well as some sandwhiches for breakfast, but just when I had walked about as far as it was possible on the island, it started to rain. Hard. I took a few more photos and then returned to the cottage for breakfast.

After breakfast and two cups of dark coffee, I went out again for some more photography starting from the lighthouse, which was just a short bit from the cottage.

Birdwatchers at the lighthouse. Utö is a popular place for birdwatching, especially during the migration. The following morning Håkan counted 27 species during one hour while drinking the morning coffee on the terrace of the cottage. For more info about birdwatching on Utö, see Jorma Tenovuo's web pages. Actually, check them out anyway for some really great bird photography.
The cloud cover let some of the sun through.

The lighthouse and the pilot house.

The church.
Shaggy ink cap, which is supposed to be a good edible mushroom. I've never tasted it, though.

Remnant from the summer.
Just as I again got as far away from the cottage as possible, it started to rain again. Now, with rain gear some rain and wind isn't really a problem for me, but I didn't want to expose my camera gear too much, so I walked back to the cottage for lunch. Sometimes professional grade weather sealed equipment would be nice, though it won't happen with my economical resources.

Photographing of goldcrests outside the window while I had lunch.
Magnus looks very serious with binoculars and two cameras ready for action.

I also decided to give it a try. Goldcrests are quite difficult to photograph in their natural habitat, since they are very small, in fact the smallest bird in Europe, and move very quickly. Here at Utö the trees are quite low, though, and there are not too many places to hide when the hard weather have brought the birds down from their migration.



A spare lighthouse?


Rowan.

I took some pictures of the surfs as well, trying different shutter times. 1/1600 s gives a fairly static result, freezing everything.
Putting on a dense ND filter, I got the shutter time down to 1/25 s, which I think is more interesting.
I think 1/20 s worked fairly well for this one. I spent around ten minutes in a spot that was fairly dry and then got entirely soaked by a freak wave that obviously was a lot bigger that anything had been for a while.
Now the weather was quite sunny and nice.


The Park Victory monument.
Bunchberry.


Vincetoxicum hirundinaria (tulkört, käärmeenpistonyrtti).

This year there seems to be a lot of rowan berries.

Pilot boat.
During the late afternoon it started to rain again and the cloud cover just got thicker. Time for dinner then. Since the rain just got more intense during the evening, there was not much point in going out for more photography. A good time for some reading and checking out (i.e. deleting) photos.

The next morning the wind had turned 180 degrees and the rain continued, though not as hard as during the night.
Our accomodation, Hannas horisont B&B.
I put a simple rain cover on the camera (I really should get better one) and strolled around the village after breakfast.


The lighthouse is that way.

Through the opening of a small fortification.

Yellow toadflax.

A tenacious rose.



Good to know.

A goldcrest that crashed into the window. It didn't get hurt too bad, and flew away after ten minutes. A Song Thrush wasn't as lucky the day before: It died one hour after it flew into the window.

The ferry back left at 11:15. It was now raining fairly hard with a very refreshing wind from north.
Until the next time then...
I think it is nice that M/S Eivor retains at least something from its life as Baldur in the stormy seas of Iceland.

Stopping at Jurmo.

The weather did not improve and I spent most of the five hour journey back to Pärnäs reading a good book.

That's it. It was a nice weekend trip.

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