Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring

A naive and optimistic person would perhaps have thought that we would get an early spring, when the snow melted two months too early in February. Since I'm only optimistic, I had no such illusions. With very few exceptions, the spring arrives in April, regardless of how long the winter has been. And this is what happened. The spring progressed very slowly and by the middle of April only the earliest signs of spring could be seen.

Coltsfoot.

Liverwort.


For the Easter holiday I went with my family to Ekenäs/Tammisaari and just in time for that the weather warmed up a little, the result of which was soon visible in the rich leaf forests (couldn't find a word in English for the forest type lund in Swedish and lehtometsä in Finnish).

Wood anemone.


I managed to sneak away from the family for an overnighter.


Most of the forest here is belongs to the taiga zone, however, and in this coniferous forest the spring won't be visible for another month or so. The pines and spruces are always green and the heather is brown for all but a few months of the year. I rode trails in these forests, passing a few lakes on the way.




I arrived at my camping spot, chosen for the enjoyment of both sunset and sunrise, after a little less than three hours and in time for the sunset. I had been there once before.
There is a period of the year when tarps are nice. During the winter tarps don't offer much over an ordinary bivy bag, since when it is snowing and windy a tent is superior and during the summer the bug situation favors a tent like my Tarptent Double Rainbow, which offers good open views and total bug protection. During the spring there is a month or so before the bugs arrive, and during that time I find a tarp nice.


After having set up camp, it was time for a cup of hot chocolate and just sit back and enjoy the views and sounds of spring, with a good number of different bird species filling the soundscape.



Some time after ten in the evening the birds had become silent and it was time to go to sleep. A few birds species were active during the night, Arctic Loons, Whooper Swans and a European Nightjar among others. I also heard the peculiar sound of the Eurasian Bittern. It didn't sound exactly as I remembered, but looking at the map I was around one kilometer from a very suitable habitat for it, so it should have been one.

The night was chilly and the temperature around freezing. While I wasn't cold in my summer sleeping bag, I did put on the light down jacket to become a little warmer.

Well before sunrise the birds started getting active again, with the Black Grouse starting the one of the first concertos. I got up half past five in order to enjoy the sunrise.






The heather is still brown and dull.

It's rising.



The morning coffee was carefully timed to synchronize with the sunrise.


I concentrated on filming during this outing, so the still picture material is a little lacking. I find it difficult to do both, since they do need different thinking.

Oh no, the heather is on fire.

Morning camp.


The warmth of the sun soon melted the frost.

I used a superlight and strong Polycryo groundsheet. It worked well, but was a little slippery.

Soon it was time to ride back.

I took a shorter route back.

After around two hours I was done with the outing and enjoyed a second breakfast with the family. A most excellent outing. Spring nights are magical!

The video I made during the outing:

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