Saturday, 19 January 2013

Birds, ships and mirages in Øresund

On my afternoon walk this afternoon, I noticed that mirage effects were quite visible. Even if it was quite cold, sea birds appeared to enjoy the sunny day.

Here are a few of the pictures I shot:

On this picture you can see a minor mirage effect when you look at the cargo ship. 
These mallards looked quite nice., when they were swimming towards the point where I was standing.
A busy afternoon in Øresund ...
Here again, you can see the mirage effect quite well.
This formation of swans was another beautiful sight this afternoon. In the background you can see the northern part of Danish Zealand "hovering" in the air due to the mirage effect. 
The shape of Nissan's futuristic car carrier City of St. Petersburg  looks quite interesting, due to the mirage effect.
About ten minutes earlier, the City of St. Petersburg could be seen "hovering in the air" when it approached Helsingborg.


Just for comparison, here is another shot of the swan "formation":

Four "work horses" in Øresund this morning

These are the kind of small and medium size "work horses" that are such a common daily sight in Øresund:

The Dutch registered 120 x 16m freighter Vegadiep was this morning on its way from Finnish Pori  to Gaeta in Italy.
The small coastal tanker Oljaren (56 x 9m) was heading for Malmö, while the somewhat bigger Stella Polaris (117 x 16m) was on its way to Riga. 
The  Dutch registered cargo vessel Nordfjord (110 x 14m) in the Sound this morning. The ship's destination is Dramen in Norway.

I added a fifth "work horse":

Cargo vessel Njord (133 x 19m) on its way from St. Petersburg to Vlissingen.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Two blackbirds

I could not resist adding two more blackbirds from my garden. These ones I photographed this morning:

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Blackbirds enjoying apples in my garden

Apples are a real winter delicacy for blackbirds ....

An apple a day, keeps hunger away ....
A small rest after lunch is not a bad idea ....
Still, better to proceed with the apple, or somebody else is doing it ....
Sometimes a little action is needed to keep others away  ...
We ladies also like apples ....
Actually, I'm full up now ...
Time for one more bite ....

Views from my balcony (6): A cold January day

Yesterday we had a cold, but beautiful winter day (close to -10°) with a haze over Øresund.

Great tits and Blackbirds are among the first visitors to take advantage of my free winter 
food offer. 


This observation by a Finnish birdwatcher certainly also applies to the area in Sweden where I live:

As soon as the winter solstice has passed and days begin getting longer, birds that winter in the country immediately begin to be more active singers.
"Sometimes it seems as if they use the same almanac as we do," laughs Ohto Oksanen, a keen amateur birdwatcher from Nastola.
In the depths of winter, birds use nearly all the available daylight hours in their search for food. As the days get longer, they have more time for other activities.
In addition, light itself inspires birds to sing. According to Oksanen, they most often burst forth in sunshine and when feeling well fed.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The 1897 Stockholm General Art and Industrial Exposition

A general view of the exposition area. 
(image by wikipedia)

The 1897 Stockholm General Art and Industrial Exposition was a huge undertaking, and also a major international media event. When the exhibition closed on October 3, having been open since May 15, there had been a staggering 1,5 million visitors. 

The 1897 exposition was the fourth and largest in a series of Scandinavian fairs. This time also Finland and Russia took part. (In order to make the Finnish participation possible, also Russia, of which Finland at the time was an autonomous Grand Duchy, had to be invited). 

Formally the exposition was organized in order to mark the 25th anniversary of King Oscar II's regency. Altogether 3 722 exhibitors took part, displaying a multitude of objects in the 208,000 square meter exposition area in the southern part of Djurgården. Many new technical inventions, like moving pictures and the modern bicycle, were introduced at the fair. 

The main entrance, with the Nordiska Museet in the background. Only a part of this new cultural history museum had been completed at the time, but a temporary annex building was added for the exposition.
The exposition area, seen from Strandvägen. The bridge connecting Djurgården with central Stockholm was built for the exhibition. 

The Swedish-Danish "fish hall" (center, left) and "Old Stockholm" were popular among visitors. The huge candle on the right was erected by the Liljeholmen candle manufacturing company. 
The 50 meter high industry hall, with four "minarets", designed by the F. Boberg (the architect in charge of the exposition), was considered to be the grandest of all the about 100 pavilions. 
The forest exhibition hall, also designed by Boberg.
The city of Stockholm's pavilion and the main restaurant building.
The "engine hall" on the left and the pavilions of the Royal Swedish armed forces.
The white art pavilion, designed by Boberg, was considered to be the most beautiful of all the exposition buildings. The statue in front of the pavilion portrays Swedish king Carl X Gustaf. 

Part of the "Old Stockholm" area, showing how the city looked 300 years earlier. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Cargo ship Nordenfjord in the Sound

Today we had another beautiful sunset over Danish Zealand. The ship on this photo is the Dutch registered freighter Nordenfjord (110 x 14m) on its way northwards in Øresund.

Here is the Nordenfjord a few seconds before:

The quiet before the freighter looked like this:

Stora Sundby - "The Swedish Abbotsford"

Stora Sundby, "the Swedish Abbotsford", in a late 19th century photograph. 

The books of Sir Walter Scott made him and his Abbotsford House well known all over the world. Sweden was no exception.

When the rich nobleman, count Carl de Geer in 1824 bought the 16th century manor Sundby Hus at lake Hjälmaren in Södermanland, his wife, who had read Scott's novels about the noble knight Ivanhoe, wanted their new home to be converted to a "Swedish Abbotsford". 

The count did not want to disappoint his countess, which is why an English architect, Peter Frederick Robinson, was commissioned to redesign the old manor in the style of Abbotsford. The conversion was not an easy task, which is why it took 16 years to complete. But in 1848 the new "romantic knight's castle" was finally inaugurated. 

The house, renamed Stora Sundby (Great Sundby) by de Geer, is now the home of Johan and Tina Klingspor and their children.   

For a comparison, here is a late 19th century photo of the real Abbotsford, which became a model for the modern revival of the Scottish baronial style:

Monday, 14 January 2013

The gathering of Jackdaws in the Kulla Gunnarstorp Nature Reserve

Every winter thousands of Western Jackdaws gather in the Kulla Gunnarstorp Nature Reserve on the south coast of Sweden. In the early winter months you can see large flocks flying above Hittarp, which is the community closest to the nature reserve.

Often the Jackdaws choose trees or rooftops for a few minutes of rest.

The empty bathing pier is another popular gathering place.

This is how Wikipedia describes the Jackdaw gatherings in various areas:
Highly gregarious, Western Jackdaws are generally seen in flocks of varying sizes, though males and females pair-bond for life and pairs stay together within flocks. Flocks increase in size in autumn and birds congregate at dusk for communal roosting, with up to several thousand individuals gathering at one site. At Uppsala, Sweden, 40,000 birds have been recorded at a single winter roost with mated pairs often settling together for the night.

The way Jackdaws interact in a flock is quite interesting:
In his book King Solomon's RingKonrad Lorenz described and analysed the complex social interactions in a Western Jackdaw flock that lived around his house in Altenberg, Austria. He ringed them for identification and caged them in the winter to prevent their annual migration. He found that the birds have a linear hierarchical group structure, with higher-ranked individuals dominating lower-ranked birds, and pair-bonded birds sharing the same rank. Young males establish their individual status before pairing with females. Upon pairing, the female assumes the same social position as her partner. Unmated females are the lowest members in the pecking order, and are the last to have access to food and shelter. Lorenz noted one case in which a male, absent during the dominance struggles and pair bondings, returned to the flock, became the dominant male, and chose one of two unpaired females for a mate. This female immediately assumed a dominant position in the social hierarchy and demonstrated this by pecking others. According to Lorenz, the most significant factor in social behaviour was the immediate and intuitive grasp of the new hierarchy by each of the Western Jackdaws in the flock

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Dutch tug Norne towing cranes in Øresund

On my afternoon walk today, I noticed at a distance this somewhat unusual looking transport on its way northwards in Øresund.

It was the Dutch owned tug Norne, towing what I think is some kind of loading/unloading equipment, probably to be used at the port of Eemshaven. (At least that is Norne's destination, according to Marine

The the "double" crane, here in front of Hamlet's Kronborg castle, was probably built in Poland, because Norne started this towing job in Szczecin yesterday morning.

It was a perfect day - almost no wind at all - for towing something like this. Hopefully the weather conditions are as good later on tonight, when Norna is continuing its journey in the North Sea.

I could not resist adding another picture from my afternoon walk:

A great day also for walking the dog.