Our old apple tree lost one of its trunks in the storm some weeks ago, maybe that was a sign. Time to go.
My father was a forest man. ( In the header a photo from a walk in Fulltofta, where he worked) Since early childhood he roamed the forests, watching birds, collecting eggs (this was 70-80 years ago, when it was not forbidden to collect eggs) and learning about nature around him. He passed away last Friday. I had hoped for him to stay through spring, but at least I was fortunate enough to be with him his last hours.
We always talked about the forest and his work there, and what he had seen and observed during all those years, 50-60 all in all. He had witnessed many stories from the animal world, but also stories from the many young men he guided and taught. Sometimes he found dead people in the forest. A rugged story was about a 10 year old girl, Helen, who disappeared on her way home from school, in 1989. She was found a week later, murdered.
My father saw the car in the forest the day she was kidnapped, and as the car passed him he heard a child screaming from the trunk of the car. Unfortunately he did not get the number, and this haunted him for years. The police got his description of the car though, and it was sent out in media all over Sweden. My father cooperated with the police for some years after this, and he became friends with the head investigator. Not until 15 years later, they finally found the murderer, and the car fitting my father’s description.
This was one of the most talked about murder histories in Sweden. I remember it well. Nothing like this had ever happened here before.
He was a forest man, yes, and what he did not know about forests and its inhabitants was hardly worth knowing. I only wonder – who will I call now with all my questions?
I am not a bird photographer, but I sometimes try when they come to one of my feeders. I know my father would have liked them. So, here’s to you, sweet dad! Birds from my garden this winter.
Starlings were one of his favourites – and mine too. Nowadays some of them stay as the climate is changing for the warmer.
A brambling waiting for me to fill the feeder.
The Western jackdaw is a very intelligent and social bird. They often visit our garden to pick up what the smaller birds have left on the ground.
The hawfinch usually visits when there is snow and the temperature has fallen some degrees below zero. His company here is a European greenfinch.
A beautiful bird, only seen in my garden during winter.
At the end of my post, I want to share a story from his best friend, living in Canada and for many years a ranger in Banff national park. He is also the author of several nature books, Halle Flygare, Alberta:
When I was young, your dad and I roamed fields and forests looking for birds’ nests to collect eggs. One day we went to a big oak tree, where we knew a tawny owl had her nest. Your dad climbed the tree and found the nest, but the owl flew out and attacked me, hit my head and took my red cap. We found it later in the forest. We only took one, white egg for our collection.
Thanks to your dad I became interested in the natural world, collected eggs and bought myself bird books. This bird interest has stayed with me throughout my life and I have travelled the world on numerous guided bird adventures. My list of birds is now containing more than 3000 species.
Thank you, Hälle, for calling him every week, all these years, and thank you for sharing this story with us!