Category Archives: Wildlife

Posts about interesting wildlife

Bossbu tourist cabin

Autumn came with lots of rain, but the weather forecast for the weekend September 16.-17. 2017 looked good. I had never been visiting the tourist cabin Bossbu, located in Vestheiene, Setesdal. The cabin is run by DNT (The Norwegian Tourist Association) and is normally open for hikers.  It got a major overhaul in 2015. September is reindeer hunting season in the area. Because of this, organized groups of tourists are not welcome to the cabin but others are. My wife and I decided to start from Berg in Setesdal, which implies a 15 km walk on trail. From the parking lot the trail goes trough a valley with moderate increase in altitude up to the cabin Stavskar. Then steeper up through  the Stavskar pass, before the path goes down towards the flat plain and lake were Bossbu can be found.

Lemmings are everywhere

Approaching Bossbu, lemmings started to show up around us. They are easy to spot with their brown and black color pattern. They also make sounds and run fast, sometimes in panic. As I put my foot down a lemming ran under the sole of my solid mountain footwear. Probably it thought the gap was a safe shelter on the path. It was not possible to prevent a quick death of the lemming. The day after, on our return, the same thing happened to my wife. Lemmings are apparently not popular among predators since they give a bad taste when eaten. In some years the lemming population grows to incredible numbers.

Reindeer are hunted

The reindeer herds in Setesdal belong to the southernmost population of wild reindeer in Norway. There is a long-standing tradition of reindeer hunting in this area. We observed two animals running towards hunters on our way to the cabin. The next day we observed a large herd only 200 m away from us. At the cabin we met the hunters. They had butchered the animals and now parts of the slaughter were tied up on the wall of the cabin to dry. The weight of the meat gets so heavy that some hunters require helicopter transport to get the meat down from the roadless area. Some people dislike this form of hunting, but since wolves are not present here, hunting is a way of regulating the reindeer population growth. At the same time, resources are harvested that are natural to the area. Reindeer have been found in Norwegian mountains since the last ice-age.

 

Reindeer meat ready to be transported from Bossbu by helicopter.

Bossbu was crowded

Because of the reindeer hunters and also the many hiking tourists present, Bossbu was crowded. There was barely enough matresses for us to sleep on the floor. However, we slept well and were ready for the retun trip on Sunday. During the night I had set up the camera for a trough-the-night timelapse. I use a drill battery as a power source for the camera, enough to do the several hundred exposures necessary for the timelapse. I used an exposure time of 25 seconds on the interval timer, and mounted the 14 mm Samyang wide-angle lens. The interval was set to 35 seconds. That was enough to ensure that the image files were stored to the memory card. I set the camera on a tripod weighted with a rock to ensure stability. A raincoat served to protect the camera. Because of my error the ISO was set to 800, while it should have been set to 3200. Luckily, because of the raw expose together with exposure adjustment in post, it was still possible to get a good timelapse from the scene.

Bossbu cabin and Botnsvatnet.

Bossbu at night – one image from the time lapse series.

Red admiral

One of the most beautiful butterflies in Norway is the Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta). Often it can be seen in late summer visiting flowers for a sip of nectar. My butterfly-bush (Buddleja davidii) which was planted in May gave flowers already in August, and as hoped butterflies were eager to visit it. Among the visitors were the Red Admiral. There were also others, like the Small tortoiseshell Aglais urticae. The Red Admiral is the best looking, in particular when it is in good shape with no wear of the wings. Also the underside is nice. The Red Admiral is not an inhabitant of Norway. It is an immigrant coming from southern latitudes every summer.

 

This beautiful butterfly was visiting my butterfly-bush on the last days of August.

This beautiful butterfly was visiting my butterfly-bush on the last days of August.

Moths

I have an interest for photographing insects, among them butterflies. To increase chances for having butterflies visit my back yard I went to a flower shop to get a herb called butterfly-bush (Buddleja davidii). While driving home with the bush safely placed in the back seat of my car I noticed a large insect on my left arm. I almost lost the control of driving trying to get a closer look at the insect. By now I had confirmed that it was a butterfly, probably a moth (thanks God not a spider!). After arriving home I placed the butterfly on a stump in my back yard for photography. Moth are easy to photograph in the daytime since it is natural behaviour for them to sit quietly waiting for dusk. I left it there and went on to identify the creature by the photographs. After some search I identified it as Phlogophora meticulosa (angle shades, Norwegian: Taggvingefly). It is a strongly migratory species, and since this happened in May it is likely that the moth had migrated northwards. So the purchase of the butterfly-bush gave results already the first day, and long before blooming.

Angel shades (Phlogophora meticulosa) accidentally sitting on a baby butterfly-bush, but here replaced to a stump.

Angle shades (Phlogophora meticulosa) accidentally sitting on a baby butterfly-bush, but here relocated to a stump.

The angel shades sitting on a stump in my back yard

The angle shades sitting on a stump in my back yard, sideways view

 

The lazy bird photographer

Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) in my garden

Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) in my garden

Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)

Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)

A remote setup controlled from the kitchen. The 200 mm lens is focussed on the pine branch to the right of the bird feeder.

A remote setup controlled from the kitchen. The 200 mm lens is focussed on the pine branch to the right of the bird feeder.

Why not take photos while sitting in comfort by your breakfast table drinking a cup of coffee. I have tried this while photographing birds visiting my bird feeder. I have erected a pole near the feeder were a proper branch can be nailed in place. Many birds prefer to land here rather than landing directly on the feeder. All you need is a camera, tripod, remote control and some patience. I have made the remote control cable longer (about five meters) so that it can be taken in through the open  window, then the window is closed.  The camera lens must be focused at the branch or slightly in front of it. I use a 200 mm lens on a camera with APS-C sensor. Use a short shutter time, like 1/500 s. Also use an aperture of about 5.6 to blur background but still have some depth of field. If the light is good an ISO value of 200-400 should be OK. I have also made a box for the camera in case of rain. You can see the set-up in my garden and some results by the images enclosed. Both birds are finches and seed eaters. The red bird is the bullfinch and the brown bird is the hawfinch. The latter species is known to have a very powerful beak pressure, enough to crush cherry stones. It is definitely the boss of the bird feeder.