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Harakka Trees

The Occupied Branch

Sitting on the lowest branch of the birch on the hill on Harakka Island is not as easy as I expected. In May I spent two weeks gallery sitting for my exhibition The Tree Calendar in the Telegraph Gallery and waited until the very last day to go and record an image of the branch – without me sitting on it though. Why? Because the site was occupied by a goose couple who was nesting next to it. With a common eider that would have been no problem, they sit calmly even when you come fairly near them. But the goose guys are really aggressive, protecting the hen sitting on the eggs, or at least pretending to do so, by attacking everybody who tries to come near. I waited and hoped that the chicks would hatch out and start moving, but no. Today, on the last day of the exhibition, and the next to last day of the month, I decided I would have to accept the situation and record an image of the branch and the geese:

The Lowest branch in May…
…with the current occupants.

Even that simple endeavour produced quite a lot of drama, because there was an egg in the seagull’s nest next to the small oak where I was to place the camera tripod. I had an umbrella to cover my head and after a while the seagulls calmed down a little bit. And thus there was no actual battle, only threats, nor any casualties, luckily.

The seagull’s next with one egg…

This time of year the birds have taken over the island, and the siege will continue until midsummer, approximately. The geese are worst before the chicks hatch; when they can move the whole family is often slowly giving way to humans if you give them the time to do so. The seagulls, on the other hand are more relaxed when they sit in the nest, and trust that people won’t step on them. When the chicks are out, they are almost impossible to notice on the ground and the parents protect them with ear-piercing shrieks as soon as you come anywhere near. And these are the nests near the houses and the path to the pier. On the rocks there are other birds, but those I do not need to disturb now. – The series of monthly images can be viewed on the RC, here.

By Annette Arlander

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