Sunday, June 5, 2011

Scandinavian sights, Part 2: Walking Mount Fløyen in Bergen, Norway

OK, so we did get to do a little woods-walking on our trip after all. :P We spent a day in Bergen, Norway, and while we were there we took a tiny train up to the top of neighboring Mount Fløyen, then walked the mile or so back down winding paths through the woods. I know it's strange for me to post pictures that have buildings (and people) in them, but this will help set the stage -- the little building at the very top of the ridge is the train's destination, with Bergen's streets in the foreground, and all that forest in between:

And this forest was just beautiful:

Everything was all moss and leaves, and every surface green. The trees were positively shaggy with all that extra growing stuff:

I could've walked these woods for hours, but our time was limited. We did get to see some cool (and of course, completely new to us) wildlife while we were there, though!

This is one of the first birds we noticed when we got to the top of the mountain, a Great Tit (a relative of our chickadees and titmice):

This fellow was puffed up and singing loudly, and since neither Paul nor I knew what this bird actually was at the time, we called it by its song -- I'm guessing this is probably the only time anyone's ever said the phrase, "look, there's the Beepoo-beepoo again."

We saw another Great Tit further down the mountain, this one closer to us and less conspicuously gregarious:

Here's another bird that seemed to be pretty prevalent, and we saw it a few times -- a Chaffinch:

As a side note, I love that I can now put some bird faces (as it were) to formerly mysterious names -- I've heard the word "chaffinch" before, and probably read it in books, but never had any idea what such a bird would look like. As it turns out, it's pretty crazy-looking! Nice color combination, bird!

Here's a bird whose face I did know from pictures and illustrations, but which I'd never seen before in real life -- a European Robin: (and what a wonderfully shaggy tree it's chosen for its perch)

This Eurasian Blackbird was flitting from ground to rooftop, singing a surprisingly beautiful song for such a plain bird:

And it wasn't all birds in the forest, either. We were impressed by this big slug by the side of the path (possibly a Spanish Slug, which is apparently invasive):

There were flowers everywhere as well. I don't know what this flower is (I haven't been able to find an online source for identifying Norwegian wildflowers), but I love its delicate purple stripes:

(Updated 6/6/11: It looks like this is actually Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum), a species of geranium that's originally from Europe but which has naturalized in North America as well. Thanks for the ID help, hikeagiant2!)

It was a while into our walk before we realized that something felt a little strange about the Norwegian woods: We'd seen plenty of birds, but no mammals -- no squirrels or chipmunks or any of the other scurrying critters that are so ubiquitous in North America. In fact, we didn't see any mammals on our whole trip.... The internet tells me that squirrels at least do exist in Norway, so maybe it was just chance that we didn't see any, or maybe they're not as prevalent as they are here.

In any case, this was a great part of a fantastic trip. Have I mentioned that Norway is awesome?

After we left Bergen, our next stop was the famous fjord at Geiranger, but that's a post for another time! (Which is to say, tomorrow.)


  1. Very cool to see a chaffinch! When I lived in Germany, I was frequently 'accosted' by similar slugs - I say accosted because they were usually right in the middle of the path, and so (relatively) huge! If you had posed that robin, the shot could not have been better! The flower looks like our Herb Robert?

  2. Oo, good call, hikeagiant2, I think you're right about the flower! It looks like this is a geranium that shows up in several continents (although it's originally from Europe) -- who knew that I would learn a North American flower while hiking in Europe? :P

  3. So beautiful! And I don't believe it: my little brother lives in Bergen (violinist with the Philharmonic), and my parents—serious birders—were visiting at the exact same time you were. Wonder if you crossed paths!

  4. I'm Humingway's mom. Gorgeous photos! Did you hike uphill from Floyen towards Rundemanen? We repeatedly heard, but didn't see, a Cuckoo. We did see a beautifully colored and tassel-eared Red Squirrel on one of our hikes up Floyen, but also noticed the general lack of mammels (and insects) in Norway. We found the freshly killed remains of a puffin on Runde, totally picked clean with no damage to even the finest of its bones - peregrine followed by small rodents, maybe?

    I'm looking forward to seeing your next installment!

  5. I can't believe I misspelled 'mammal'.

  6. Peter: Wow, that is quite the coincidence! Even when multiple continents are involved, it seems it's still a small world. :P

    Peter's Mom: Hi! Unfortunately, no, we didn't get a chance to do more than wander around a tiny bit on the top of Floyen and then walk back down to Bergen again. We were on a cruise and only had the one day in Bergen. I would've loved to spend more time there, though -- it was quite an experience, being surrounded by wildlife that I only half recognized. Norway is a very cool place, and I'd love to go back someday!