Uncle Henry´s Universe.

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.

And then winter…

Everyday lifePosted by Uncle Henry Sat, November 05, 2016 12:39:44

Time flies. We had a wonderful time in Italy, in mid-October, and I was about to write a blog post about it, when suddenly it was the first of November and the snow pouring down! Life goes so fast sometimes.

Tracking season got a flying start, suddenly needed miles and miles of gravel roads to be searched over in pursuit of traces of wolves and lynxes. Being first on the road, with a new yet untouched snow, is a great satisfaction that I think I share with all my colleagues. It's exciting. The day is still a blank slate.

After a good tracking day, with a lot of tracks and samples collected for DNA analysis, ended the day at Bastutjärn. The freeze begins on the little lake and the track of the wolf pack disappears towards the Norwegian border.

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Everyday lifePosted by Uncle Henry Sun, September 11, 2016 20:28:37

It was midsummer. We ate our herring with new potatoes, chives, sour cream and everything else related to the weekend. We enjoyed cold beer and schnapps. Then swoosh, the autumn was here! What the heck happened?

I remember that long beard lichen was inventoried, and we actually found a new location, which is quite unusual. That was nice.

And I know that the haymaking was good, we had perfect weather throughout the mowing season. (I forgot to photograph this year, the picture is from 2015.) Do not worry if you forgot the knife to the snack bread, it goes equally well with a scythe.

It was a great summer for strawberries, flower meadows, butterflies - and gnats. I remember them very well! Gnats and other biting insects are really a plague during work in the forest during the summer, as terrible as butterflies are gorgeous. The biting should I forget but the memory of the butterflies is to be cherished and enjoyed on cold winter days. I had the most, nearly a hundred butterflies swarming along the spice garden, where I sat and tried to think wise thoughts.

We have had the first frost, the leaves have begun to change color but the heat persists. It's still summer warm during some days. Perhaps it will be a long and warm autumn, which in recent years. Beautiful, but it can easily become too much of a good thing, both nature and wildlife trackers have to get a real winter to feel good. But why be in a hurry! We enjoy autumn's high and clear air, the rich scents of everything that has matured, melancholy strophes from migratory birds and heat as long as it is offered. Have a nice autumn everybody, enjoy life.

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Mary-Ann´s Polarrigg.

TravelPosted by Uncle Henry Mon, July 04, 2016 21:19:50

We have stayed at many peculiar places around the world, Mary-Ann's Polarrigg in Longyearbyen, is definitely one of them. Old miners' barracks assembled into a small hotel, with mining tools, coal and driftwood lying in the corners and images of half-naked ladies on room doors. And with a polar bear in the corridor which reminds you of the importance of being able to defend yourself in the Arctic.

Polar bears rarely freeze ass off, neither this one. It has its rear end in a wonderful conservatory, also the dining room, where you can have breakfast with the whole nature panorama outside the window. (Maybe you will see a drooling arctic fox, a glowering Svalbard reindeer or any other exciting thing ...)

If you suddenly need a beer (Longyearbyen has the world's northernmost brewery) or any other strengthening, the pub has open until 02:00. It's just tiptoe away in stocking feet (No shoes indoors in this village!) sneak through the kitchen, say hello to the chef if he is there, pass slugger bear and swish you're there.

The beer is very good! The place is quite charming and the style really relaxed! Go there, be cool.

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TravelPosted by Uncle Henry Sun, June 26, 2016 18:16:01

The chance or risk, depending on how you see it, to encounter a polar bear near Longyearbyen this time of year is probably as good as non-existent. But only almost! They have four legs and like to hike, so you can never be absolutely sure, suddenly stand exception there breathing down your neck. Therefore it is best to stay within the safe range, at least without armament.

This year we wanted to do something extra on the summer solstice, it became kayaking in the Arctic. Only a small day trip, but still, pretty awesome! Advent fjord in Longyearbyen is located at 78.13 degrees north, so it's a bit of traveling but it was really worth it!

The landscape is wild and enchanting beautiful. Northern Fulmars glide past on stiff wings, only a few meters away from the kayak, eider and long-tailed ducks resting in the coves and snow buntings sing intensive from the beach. A quite long and enjoyable observation of an adult ivory gull, round off the day.

The beaches are full of driftwood from Siberia, a lot of plastic waste from the world's oceans, aircraft remnants from the war and rusty relics from abandoned coal mines. Nothing to come before 1946 may be moved or removed, it counts as cultural heritage.

A fantastic day trip with MS Langöysund gave, among other things, steep bird cliffs, bearded seal, a large family of Beluga whale and not the least; a loud popping ancient piece of glacier ice in the whiskey!

The endemic Svalbard reindeer, a separate subspecies of reindeer that overwintered the last ice age in the islands, is a charming and quite fearless little chubby thing that you suddenly can meet on the street, when you go to shop in the village.

The local supermarket provides gun cabinets directly inside the front door; they do not want anyone carrying weapons in the store, civilized in any way ;-)

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Baltic Grayling

Nature ConservationPosted by Uncle Henry 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.

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New Buddy in the neighborhood.

Nature ConservationPosted by Uncle Henry 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.

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Wolf Pups.

WolfPosted by Uncle Henry Sat, June 11, 2016 16:57:02

This time of year, nature is like one big nursery. It is a lovely time to gently roam around. Listening and watching, with all senses open to impressions.

At one point during the nineties, in the middle of June, I ended up by chance only a few meters from two wolf pups. They were quite busy, playing with a bone from a moose calf, the adult wolves left with them. They quarreled almost silently and very gently, the only sound that could be heard was a little panting breathing and occasional, puffing snort sound.

One of the puppies discovers me almost immediately and sneak away, the other continues energetically its struggle with the bone. It pries and hauls snorts and puffs but barely manage to dislodge the bone without the other's help.

It tire of after a period of struggle and put a sudden course straight toward me. Detects me; at first frightened, then curious. Thinking whether I’m friend or foe, and then strolling slowly away after the sibling who had disappeared under a dense spruce.

… Yet still unaware that within a few months it turns into a bloodthirsty beast; hated and persecuted by humanity.

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La Grotte de Villars

TravelPosted by Uncle Henry Wed, June 01, 2016 14:05:36

When the guide locks the massive steel door behind me, I feel the claustrophobia creeping like an iron band around the chest. It ceases, however, immediately when she knowledgeable and committed invites us in an amazingly beautiful world with stalagmites and stalactites from floor to ceiling. 13 km caverns and halls in different levels and only one who has the key to the doors – I know who I will hold in, if the light suddenly goes out!

We got during our drive through southwest France the opportunity to visit the Grotte de Villars, something that can really be recommended. It is an amazing and unforgettable experience. There is forbidden to photograph, therefore I borrow here some of the resort's image and hope for forgiveness, given how they are used.

There are more known caves, such as Lascaux, where the paintings are of a totally awesome and unique quality. But if you are content with simpler paintings, so is the Grotte de Villars a good option. Plus, you get to see the originals, at Lascaux, you make do with copies. Because of e.g. fungal infestation are caverns with paintings closed; only a few researchers are permitted to visit them. The visitors are now referred to the caves with cave painting replicas.

Claw marks after cave bears that once scratched out a sleeping place from the soft clay.

Cro-Magnon man painted with manganese oxide mixed with animal fat. Paintings, that still remains 19,000 years later. With time, however, they will disappear because the calcium deposits slowly covering them. In the Grotte de Villars is the famous "man - bison" picture, one of the very rare pictures where man depicted in pre historic art. (One of two sites in France) I have no good picture of it so it got to be a small horse instead.

There are no photos available in the souvenir shop, which nearly describes the experience that rests in my mind after our walk in the cave system. It must be experienced. Both my wife and I agree the visit to the cave to one of our absolute greatest experiences so far in life.

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Dune de Pylat

PG / PPGPosted by Uncle Henry Sat, May 28, 2016 18:41:28

In late April, early May, my wife and I traveled by car through France to enjoy the early spring and play a week in the sand, with the kite and paraglider.

60 million m³ of sand! Very fine-grained, soft as flour, wondering if I'll ever get rid of it. It will probably follow my equipment for a long time to come.

Dune de Pilat is the largest sand dune in Europe, located along the Atlantic coast, at La Teste-de-Buch, 60 km southwest of Bordeaux. It´s almost 3 km long, 500 meters wide and 110 meters high at the highest point.

Foret des Landes, east of the sand dune is the largest maritime-pine forest in Europe. 10,000 square kilometers planted by man for forestry and for stopping the sand. (Which still moves about 5 meters inland per year!)

Laminar winds and the large soft sandy surface, free from all forms of obstacles, make the area a paradise for paragliders. Here you can train different start techniques, perform balance exercises and other ground handling.

Here you can also get very nice flight time.

It was a useful week for me and my new paraglider.

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Mixed week.

Nature ConservationPosted by Uncle Henry 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.

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