Probably, for an ordinary city person, the forest looks like calm and quiet environment. However, real life is always full of action. And if you look around a bit closer, every day can be an adventure if you want it to be. There are so many places to explore and new things to learn from nature. I’m happy to live surrounded by woods. My home is located in a boreal forest in Southern Finland and I can see this natural life day by day. Would you like to know more about this life? I’m here to share my observations with you.
I already wrote about the boreal forest in my previous post and you should know, that the forest sleeps most of the year. And yes, it is really quiet during winter time. But as soon as the sun comes back and snow began melting, life in the forest awakes. Summer is full of life, bright flowers, and fast growth. Forest has only five months or even less to live the fullest. Then autumn comes and forest falls asleep. In a series of my posts, I will tell you, what’s happening in the forest during these amazing summer months.
Today I’m starting from the beginning – from the first warm rays of sunlight. Usually, spring comes around March equinox, when the day is getting longer than night. Forest is covered with a thick blanket of snow. In our forest, one meter of snow is typical for March. Nights are still cold, sometimes the temperature drops to -15C. But sun warms up the air during the day, so many birds already came back to their homes.
Blackbirds and whooper swans come first. As soon as the snow has melted under old spruces, blackbirds jump on the ground and try to find anything eatable. The forest is still quiet, but evenings are filled with first voices of blackbirds. Swans fly over frozen lakes with a loud cry in search of open water. Shallow backwaters with currents are not frozen by this time and big birds are trying to find any feed on the bottom.
In early April sun is often shining bright and the sky is blue. Temperature raises up to +10C degrees and open water in the lake is getting wider. The population of backwaters grows extremely fast. Ducks, swans and great crested grebes are sharing limited open waters and it often causes a hot fight. Loud geese and cranes are flying to the north in the sky. Sometimes, when the sky is clear, you can even hear geese flying in the night.
Forest is getting louder by the middle of April. Blue and great tits are jumping between spruces. Chaffinches and tiny kinglets fill the forest with cheerful singing. Hazel grouses are whistling, sitting on spruce branches. At night the snow freezes and forms a strong crust. Grouses cannot break it and sometimes get frozen. More often they try to find any hole and fly directly to windows of buildings. Hitting, they just turn their necks. It’s time to help birds with feeding and keep windows closed and curtained.
Time of hunger
Not only birds live in the forest, but mammals are not that noticeable. You can see red squirrels jumping between crowns of trees and that’s it. However, you can easily find many traces on melting snow. Deers, foxes, hares are typical mammals in our forest. Sometimes you can meet steps of lynx or giant footprints of moose. But you hardly ever meet them in person. Early spring is a hard time for animals. Feed is very limited. Deers walk on the top of rocks, where the snow already melted away and they can find moss and lichens. Hares are still white and it is almost impossible to see them on white snow background. You can meet them gnawing bark of branches of fallen trees. Bark on the top is soft and fresh – the best snack, that hares can find in the forest now.
Trees are still sleeping. Only willows start awakening. Some of them already show white furry catkins, whilst some catkins were visible since last autumn. Air is dry and spruce cones open scales and scatter seeds. You can find a lot of spruce seeds on white snow, but only very few of them can grow up to giant trees.
Sun shines warmer and snow is melting fast. The forest is changing color. From black and white monochrome palette it turns to green or brown. Forest is awakening. But this is the next story.