Swedish Bird- and Wildlife

While I was guiding this summer in Eastern Greenland (more on that in a later blog), I really hoped to see and finally photograph the beautiful white Arctic Hare. I did see them several times, however never had the opportunity to photograph them (as usual…). So I was really happy when I saw a Mountain Hare near our cottage in Abisko, moulting from its brown summer coat to its white winter coat. However, the first time I saw it, we were coming back from one of our nightly Aurora trips, so not really good light for pictures. But they are around!! A few days later, during daytime, we found it again. This time with enough light and fortunately he was willing to pose a bit.

Mountain Hare

From the bird specialties that we could see around Abisko, the Hawk Owl was very high on my list. I had seen them twice in the Netherlands, but that’s always a completely different experience as seeing one in the place where it actually belongs. And even though I’d been to Northern Sweden many times before, I had never found one. So when during our longest hike, Leon shouted: “Arjen, come, Hawk Owl”, I quickly turned around and grabbed my binoculars.

Hawk Owl

The Hawk Owl was sitting in the top of a Birch tree (as they usually do) and we had already passed him (or her). So after looking at it for a while from a distance, I decided to walk a bit back, to get better pictures. However, it was quite difficult to get good shots as often there were other Birch trees in front of the bird and its tree was standing on a small hill, so I had to look up. As the bird didn’t seem to be bothered by my presence, I decided to climb another hill, next to the bird, to get a bit more at the same level.

Hawk Owl

This did give better pictures indeed, and still no real reaction of the bird. Yes, it was looking at me from time to time (especially when it heard my shutter), but it was also looking around for something to eat regularly. So after a while, I decided to go to the hill where the tree of the bird was standing. Slowly I came closer and closer and the bird was still very relaxed. At one point it didn’t make sense to get closer as that would mean I was getting underneath the tree and had to look up again, which didn’t result in better pictures. But hey, standing at around 10m distance from a Hawk Owl was already a really great experience and I won’t complain of the pictures I got as a result. Finally, my first Swedish Hawk Owl!

Hawk Owl

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.


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