Norway man!

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday 2 February 2014 07:52

The 'canny' among you can probably tell from the title of this post, it's about a trip to Norway with a bunch of Geordies. This is what I got up to on a short break in September last year with Rachael and her lovely family. We hadn't been before and I didn't really think I would spend my first trip to Scandinavia in September with my top off but I'm not complaining! When we weren't on a speed boat, a trampoline or a wake board, I was squeezing in some natural history...

No matter where I go in the world, natural history plays its part. It's like a curse and a blessing all in one.  I was quite restrained though, and didn't do too much this time. As I was jumping up and down on a trampoline, I could hear what sounded like someone clicking their fingers in the distance. I realised it was coming from a rough grassy bank nearby and was probably some sort of cricket. I spotted a huge grasshopper, shuffling up and down the stems and recognised it as the Large Marsh Grasshopper (above), a species I am yet to see in the UK. Nearby I spotted a Yellow-winged Darter, another species not on my British list. I even got Rachael's Mum taking photos of invertebrates, with this Goat Moth larvae she spotted on the way to the shops! I've only ever seen this moth as an adult or from the feeding damage it creates on the trees.

I picked up on a few Wart-biters by their distinctive song as I walked passed an unremarkable road verge. A species that's so rare in the UK it's only at a handful of chalk-grassland sites in the south.

Swimming with Lion's-man Jellyfish is less than fun. "Whatever you do, don't look over your shoulder!". There are thousands of them in the fjords.

I went on one long walk (actually a 16 miler) through the woods. I wanted to see one new species of bird and was hoping for a woodpecker. About two miles in I heard an awful racket which turned out to be a Nutcracker and I watched it land on the top of pine in front of me. Now, I have Nutcracker on my UK list (the Staffordshire bird) but was chuffed to see one again after some 20 years. At this point, an even louder noise came from behind the tree line and I assumed it would be another Nutcracker. It was actually a Black Woodpecker and landed on the adjacent pine top, so I had both birds in the same field of view. It then flew off straight over my head!!! My first ever Black Woodpecker and it was THE bird I really wanted to see. I then walked for another 14 miles and hardly saw anything else! I didn't care though, the landscape was amazing...

This little house is the furthest north I have ever been. Northern Willow Tits were frequent here.

Wild Blueberries.

And Moose poo. No Mooses though.

A currently unidentified carpet of club-moss from the spruce forest.

And the days we spent in the Skyberg's family holiday home were amazing. Waking up to Northern Nuthatches (how cool are they ?!) and Crested Tits was very cool.

A huge thank you to Espen and Jenny for sharing their home with us! We had a great time and I can't wait to go back.

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