And the difference is

You know you’re in the mountains when a herd of reindeer runs past your window while you’re having breakfast!

Today’s planned excursions were the Hamrafjället and Vättafjället mountains. Hamrafjället is something that no botanist should pass by, in fact the nature is so special that it’s protected as a nature reserve. Just a few metres from the parking lot, and I already found an orchid that is definitely no orchid I’ve ever seen – a hybrid if there ever was one. Part spotted heath orchid, part… frog orchid? A bit further up, I found an orchid that was a genuine species, and a new one for me. Small white orchid (Pseudorchis albida), just the one, so I didn’t have many options for shooting it. And it also seems to be a touch past its prime. Regardless, it counts!

Despite the multitude of flowers in the forest, the first real attraction on the excursion was a large marshy area just below the forest line with no less than six different species of orchids plus other flowers. Despite this, I did surprisingly little shooting, just a few frames to add some species to my collection but nothing serious. Until I found two butterflies resting on a fragrant orchid, that is. The butterflies were clearly alive as they moved a little every once in a while, but otherwise they were just sitting tight on the flower and didn’t even mind me removing some grass blades. Shooting was tricky though, because the flower was constantly swaying in the wind. I rattled off a good few frames (try 42) to make sure that I got at least one which is sharp, and that’s just about the result I got. Glad it’s digital!


Time flies on these excursions, and this one had taken over 5 hours even if the distance was just a couple of kilometres. I headed back to cabin for a much needed late lunch, and then drove to Tänndalen to catch the trailhead for the Vättafjället excursion, where my guide book had promised that some common spotted orchids would be growing next to the path. Even if I earlier swore that I’ve finally confirmed my discovery of the Dactylorhiza maculata ssp. fuchsii, later on I got some second thoughts about it. So this time… if I see something that reminds me of the species, then surely it must be it! As it happened, I saw one about 20 metres from the parking. And search as I might, it was the only one – the rest of them were more or less definitely Dactylorhiza maculata ssp. maculata. So is this the real McCoy then? I still don’t know! Why can’t I find something that would fulfil all the 4 signs I have for separating these two species from each other?

Another slightly questionable new species I found was Norwegian wintergreen (Pyrola norvegica). Just as with the spotted orchids, P. norvegica and P. rotundifolia were long considered to be the one and same species. The flower looks about the same, but the easiest thing is to look at the leaves – P. norvegica has shiny oval shaped leaves and this wintergreen I found certainly had such. It also looks like the round-leaved wintergreens don’t like the mountains, so the Norwegian (sub-)species takes over instead.

I have taken 249 pictures in two days, that’s a new record for me. The number of keepers is slightly less impressive though…!

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