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Botanisk Have

A selection from Copenhagen’s botanical garden. Their native plant section was mostly gone to seed, but a few flowers were still bravely waving.

Yes, a little awkward cataloging this post under “Sweden” but the Danes held the part of Sweden we visited for centuries, so I’m sure, in the spirit of Scandinavian cooperation, everybody’s going to be chill about it all now.

Speaking of identity: a fascinating look at Northern Ireland’s tripartite either/or/and, with lessons for all of us citizens of Earth.

In Sweden

I particularly wanted to see some sloes, the marble-sized drupes of the blackthorn (Prunus spinosa). My walking stick, which saw me around Dartmoor, is made from the storied wood of this shrubby, hedgy, sometimes-tree. There’s much legend associated with this species; and (black) magic, like, for instance, how they find a long straight piece for a walking stick… Meanwhile, Slån is the Swedish name for this source of sloe gin. The drupes are not very palatable until they’ve been soaked in gin and sugar… but we did see some young Wood Pigeons gobbling them up.I hadn’t realized that hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) or Igelkott was on the menu, so to speak, of sights. But our nighttime safari-leader Evan turned one up not two blocks from our lodgings in Skanör. The animal was bigger than expected, about the size of an American football. They bulk up for winter hibernation. After we determined it was not a rock on the lawn, the critter took shelter in a mess of rose and ivy and some kind of diptera aroused by our light. We searched again the next two nights but found no others; this source says they can forage for up to 2 km during the night.

I haven’t yet downloaded my camera camera, as opposed to my phone camera, so pictures of the Kingfisher will have to wait. One was definitely on my list of things to see (we saw two)… But here is a fine consolation prize, worth two in the camera:A Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) after being ringed (or banded, as we would say) by members of the Falsterbo Fågelstation bird observatory. This little songbird is on its way to central/southern Africa, presuming it survives the gauntlet, including the Sahara, along the way.
And then, all things being just, it will return north in the spring.

Great numbers of migrating birds fly over the Falsterbo peninsula, which sticks out like a T from the southwest corner of Sweden, during the fall. It’s the shortest distance over water to Denmark and non-pelagic birds don’t like being over the water too long. The observatory keeps a daily count of passing birds and rings a few in the lighthouse garden and the nearby Flommen reedbeds, where the warbler above was netted, ringed, sexed/aged, weighed/checked for body fat, recorded, and released.

North Woods

We were in Skåne, Sweden’s southern-most county, largely flat and agricultural. But there were certainly pockets of woodlands.And mushrooms.And the fabled Röd flugsvamp (Amanita muscaria), which the Vikings used to get up and go… berserk in the morning.

Winter Memories, With Spring and Fall Not Far Behind

Ok, this last one was in May…

Alas, I have no pictures of Swedish owls. In coming days I will be posting about our adventures in southwestern Sweden on a Wings Birding tour with a wonderful guide named Evan Obercian. We looked for a Tawny Owl that had been heard around a church in Malmö. No luck.

A local man — who turned out to be related to the fellow who reported the owl two nights previously — walking a Shar-Pei asked if we had heard about the Eagle Owls in an abandoned limestone quarry nearby. He basically pshawed when someone mentioned the Great Horned, for the Eurasian Eagle-owl (Bubo bubo bubo) is the largest owl in the world. You bet we hotfooted it off in search of the berguv. Evan told us that the species has taken up residence in Sweden in relatively recent times, almost always in quarries, which can provide the cliff-side nesting spots they like so much.

Well, long story short, as the sun set we found the pipe the birds were known to use, but saw not a feather (unless you count those being plucked in mid-air by a Hobby disemboweling a song bird). Thus it often is with owls. But, as Evan noted, the owls were probably watching us…

Darners

The mosaic darners of the genus Aeshna are some of our largest dragonflies. There are 20 similar looking species in North America, so they can be a bear to identify. This looks like a Shadow Darner (Aeshna umbrosa), photographed recently in Westchester Co. They run about 2.9″ long.

Shadow Darners can be seen well into the fall. They are one of the last Odonata flying around here. The only other time I’ve seen one was in late October.

Our usual darner is the 3″-long Common Green Darner. Migratory, they can sometimes be seen in good numbers over meadows this time of year.

But our biggest darner is the 3.4″ Swamp Darner (Epiaeschna heros). That link is to the time I watched one lay her eggs in rotting wood in Prospect Park.I don’t run into Swamp Darners often. Recently, though, we found this dead one in the NYBG on the bridge over the Bronx River. Talk about ol’ blue eyes.

Feather Quiz

Starting with a gimme, a bit of exotica.Found along a pond in Westchester Co.Found at the northern end of Central Park.

Answers in comments. It’ll take several days to get back to ya’ll.

Tern Tern Tern

Time for a Tern challenge? Post-breeding terns lose their summer plumage quickly. So what do we have here? (These pictures were all taken two weeks ago in tidewater Virginia.)

A.

B.

C.
Yes, that bill is broken. Th bird was grooming, but I wonder how long it can survive this way?

(Note that I won’t be able to access the internet for at least a week, so your answers won’t get posted until then.)


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