Sweden. Day 9. Animals.

Many wild animals live in the archipelago of Björko-Arholma. We can see their footprints in the snow all the time, one track crisscrossing another. Once you learn their basic shape, you can identify them: hares, elks, lynxes, deer, foxes, wild boars, otters — and… well, others. However, spotting the actual animals is a bit harder.

I saw a hare crossing the road just as I arrived, but I haven’t seen another one since. And I’ve seen two deer in the distance a few days later, but I couldn’t photograph them: by the time I managed to take off my gloves and grab my camera, they were already long gone. Lynxes, on the other hand, appear to be very, very elusive. Even few locals have seen them around.

At least you can see many types of wild birds if you pay attention: crows, magpies, blackbirds, woodpeckers, and even hawks or eagles. And of course, this being countryside, there are also a few farm animals around.

Today I went out to look for animals. First I saw the long-haired cows that are raised in a farm around here: they’re Highland cows, a breed originally from Scotland, but well adapted to the Nordic cold.

A bit further ahead, a cat appeared. Not really a lynx, but at least a close cousin. He was very friendly and let himself be petted.

A bit further on, I found another farm with horses. They were also very friendly, perhaps too friendly. They were not behind a fence, but roaming free. As I started to take pictures of one of them, they started to come closer, until I suddenly found myself surrounded by horses. They got really close, even a little bit too close for comfort. I don’t really know what they wanted. I suppose they expected a treat, but I didn’t have anything with me. Next time, I will bring carrots or apples.

I kept walking on, following a hawk (or was it an eagle? It had a pretty large wingspan) I immersed myself into the forest, half-expecting to find a lynx, or well, maybe a hare.

The forests here, at least in winter, are almost magical, and incredibly silent. And the further inside you go into them, the less you seem to hear. There’s not even the sound of birds. But you still see many footprints. Where do all the animals go?

I didn’t find a lynx, but I wonder what would I do if I really found one. They do not attack humans, or so I’m told, but they are pretty strong, and they can take down even an elk. I am smaller than an elk, and I am pretty sure that if I got on the bad side of a lynx, he could kill me too. Well, I guess I’ll worry about that when or if I ever see one.

I kept walking, until I reached the coast, down at Marum, where there’s a small natural reserve. There I saw the last animals of the day: wild ducks and swans, placidly floating on the sea as the sun hovered on the horizon. In summer, this is a sandy beach usually filled with people, but right now there was snow covering the sand and no one around.

It was time to go back; I suppose I had seen enough animals for one day.