Tussilago 2018

It has become a personal tradition over the last years: Every spring I look for the first blooming coltsfoot, in Swedish tussilago in Skelleftehamn. Even though I already saw some in Skellefteå, it wasn’t before today that I spotted the first tussilago here. It grew on the foot of a muddy southern slope and the blossom was not open yet. No wonder at temperatures of just 2 °C and occasional sleet.

 

Holes in the ice

Today a neighbour told me, that it’s still safe to go over the ice to the near Baltic islands Norrskär and Bredskär. He said however, that there was so much water on the ice that even my rubber could be too short to stay dry.

An hour later at the coast: I let my eyes wander over the frozen surface of the Baltic Sea. Still there was ice everywhere but it looked old, wet, grey and bleak.

There was water on the ice but less than excepted. But I saw something different: Two holes in the ice. Quite near the coast and apparently very deep.

I definitely don’t want to break into the ice without dry suit. These holes are a sure sign for me that the ice-crossing season is over. Anyway, it’s 21 April and all the other years I’ve been living in Skelleftehamn at least parts of the Baltic Sea were already free of ice at this time of the year. This years it will take some more days or weeks until the ice disappears.

Incidentally I saw not only wet ice today but something else: The first tussilago!

The first rain for ages

This morning I was awakened by a strange noise. The noise of dripping water.

First I thought of the smelting snow on the roof but that noise sounded differently. More like many tiny drops of water everywhere. Like precipitation of liquified snow, what do you call it …?

Ah yes, “rain”. It is called rain.

Of course I still know the word for rain but it was a long time ago that I experienced it, at least at home. I tried to remember the last rainfalls I witnessed.

  • 2 March (Domen between Vardø and Kiberg) – a short and light rain shower (temperature: -6 °C!)
  • 1 March (between Varangerbotn and Vadsø) – plus temperatures and rainy weather.

But before that? I even search the January and February articles of my own blog in for the word “rain” but only to find the words “train” and “terrain”.

But last year then?

  • 29 or 30 December (Bremen) – that’s Northern Germany, far away in the south. That doesn’t count.
  • 20 December (Skelleftehamn) – that’s the last rain at home I remember.

Exactly four months ago! The rest was snow. That’s the winter how I like it!

Since I consider blog articles without images as boring, I added an upside down image of Skellefteå today.

 

Between the seasons

Still a lot of snow in Skelleftehamn, still freezing temperatures every single night, still no rain since last year (if I’m right), but …

… spring comes nearer. According to smhi spring has already come to the town Skellefteå some days ago. Seems to fit, because I saw the first coltsfoots in bloom in Skellefteå yesterday. Unlike Skellefteå, Skelleftehamn is located by the Baltic Sea and the Baltic Sea is still covered with ice that cools down the air and causes the beginning of spring to delay by several weeks.

The snow piles on the first two images are remnants of the continuous snow clearing the whole winter. When walking around while taking these photos I experienced snow depths between 0 and 60 cm. Round 60 cm of snow lie in my backyard, too. At least all fences look out of the snow again.

Translation:

EnglishGermanSwedish
coltfootHuflattichtussilago

Small tortoiseshell

Yesterday I saw the first butterfly of the season on the icebreaker Baus. It was a small tortoiseshell. Today I saw another one fluttering in my sunny front yard. It rested on one of the wooden panels and I wondered if and how it can survive after such a long winter with no flowers around.

I sneaked into the house, fetched the camera (it still had the telephoto lens on) and made a shot for this blog. I made it from the street with a distance of 5 metres because I didn’t want to disturb this little fellow. The photo is a 100% crop of the original image, otherwise you would see only a small orange spot.

Small tortoiseshell · nässelfjäril · Kleiner Fuchs · Aglais urticae

White-tailed eagle

It’s not often that I see eagles in Skelleftehamn as near as today. it’s even rarer that I have my camera with mounted telephoto lens with me. And it was poor luck, when the eagle decides to wheel an extra round, so that I can take another shot when the first one is out of focus.

Today was such a day.

White-tailed eagle · havsörn · Seeadler · Haliaeetus albicilla

Breaking the spring ice

This morning I saw not only the ice fishermen, but also the icebreaker Baus clearing the ice in the port of Skellefteå in Skelleftehamn. In the afternoon I remembered, that I had come into contact with K., one of the crew members on Facebook some weeks ago. I had asked if it was possible to go with the Baus to take photos sometime. K. had answered that I should just go there and ask the people. And so I did today.

I met a guy who works on the icebreaker and learned that it’s hard to make some kind of appointment. In winter no one knows exactly, when ships will arrive or depart due to the weather and the ice conditions and therefore neither when the Baus would start. But they would actually leave in twenty minutes to clear the ice for the ship Ice Star and I was allowed to join …

Sixteen minutes later I was at the dock again, this time with better clothes and my camera equipment that I got from home. How good that I live so close.

I was allowed to enter the Baus and say hello to the captain on the bridge.

He welcomed me, showed me some of the controls to steer the boat and allowed me just to go round everywhere to take photos. I didn’t want to disturb him, because he had to focus on his work and my plan was to make photos, not to interview the crew. At first I went up onto the top deck.

The water was completely covered with crushed ice. Some of the ice floes were at least half a metre thick. Slowly the Baus departed from the dock and I went down to the bottom deck to be closer to the icy sea.

While the Baus was slowly moving back and forth I went on every possible deck. I really enjoyed that freedom that you never can have on bigger ships as e.g. the Hurtigruten ships.

After some time of waiting and some time of moving around the way was clear for the Ice Star. Slowly it departed and followed the cleared channels between the solid ice where it with increasing speed left “Skellefteå Hamn”, the port of Skellefteå in Skelleftehamn.

While my eyes followed the Ice Star I spotted something blue at the horizon. Water! Somewhere behind the island Gåsören the ice had started to break and now open water covered the Baltic Sea behind Gåsören. Maybe the next paddle tour is closer than I think.

The Baus already had started to turn around (the previous photo shows the funnel at the rear) and return to the dock. I enjoyed watching the different types of ice.

Until now, the trip was extremely calm, now it started to get more rumbling, because Baus now went through packed ice – crushed ice that had frozen together and now was split into large irregular chunks. Great channel-like cracks developed in the ice, which soon closed again.

After some more minutes the Baus arrived and after thanking the captain for the opportunity to follow I left the icebreaker. The whole trip took less than 90 minutes, but felt much longer. I’ve been living in Skelleftehamn for almost eight years and it was a great experience to see my place of residence from a completely new perspective.

Thanks a lot, crew of icebreaker Baus!

Seeing the blue open water was a welcome spring sign. I saw two others today:

The first butterfly of the season, a small tortoiseshell that fluttered around the top deck of the Baus and (perhaps less romantic) the first teenager in shorts in front of ICA, the grocery store. I’m still waiting however for the first wild spring flower in Skelleftehamn.

Period of fine weather

I guess, this week has been the ice fisher’s delight. Nightly temperatures between round -8 °C (good for the ice), afternoon temperatures round +8 °C, hardly any wind and no clouds hiding the sun (good for oneself).

It’s really hard for me to focus on my work when weather is as nice as it has been the last weeks. I would prefer having holidays in the mountains enjoying the fabulous late winter weather. I guess however that there are times when I have to earn money, too …

Already at 8 o’clock I saw five ice fishers standing, sitting or lying on the ice with their tiny plastic fishing rods. Although it was -6 °C it was warm in the sun. In the background the icebreaker Baus circuited around to break the ice for the next ship to come.

I knelt on the ice to make the photos above and heard it cracking. Was it thin ice? Not at all, it is still thick and safe. I guess it was the waves caused by the Baus that made the ice swing and crack. A strange experience. Good to now however that the water is quite shallow where I went.

But now I have to continue my work …

Addendum

I didn’t work much more today, sometimes there are spontaneous opportunities to seize  …