Five large mammals and birds. Five powerful experiences in Åsnen.
There are about 300,000-400,000 moose in Sweden. The largest deer species in the world can grow to a withers height of two metres and are found in the Åsnen forests and on the edges of the wetlands in the area. Toftåsa myr, Getnö and the western shore of Lake Åsnen are good places for moose spotting. The animals are especially active at dawn and dusk.
The moose is characterised by a dark brown body and legs that look like they are wearing light socks, as well as by a long nose and the bull’s heavy antlers that are shed in winter. The animals weigh 200-400 kg on average but some bulls weigh over half a ton. In spite of its impressive size, it seems like the moose flow through the forest. The animals are remarkably nimble and cover long distances quickly. When threatened, moose can reach speeds of up to 60 km/h. In summer, the animals feast on the shoots, leaves and twigs of leafy trees, whilst their winter feed consists of pine and berry twigs. Unlike many other deer species, the moose often lives on its own, the exception being snowy winters when many moose sometimes gather to graze. The rut and breeding season occurs in autumn and in early summer, moose cows give birth to 1-2 calves.
A flying giant with a wingspan of almost 2.5 metres. The white-tailed eagle feeds mainly on fish but also catches seabirds. In the 1970’s, environmental pollution nearly eradicated the species in Sweden. This sad trend has since been reversed, partly thanks to the provision of uncontaminated winter feeding. Today there are an estimated 700 breeding couples in Sweden, several of whom live in the Åsnen area. Husebymaden and lake Lidhemssjön are good places to spot eagles.
With a wingspan of up to 170 centimetres, the osprey also has a place amongst Åsnen’s largest birds of prey. The bird is one of the hallmark species of the lake and is found throughout the area. Its angled wings and prominent knuckles give it a unique silhouette amongst Sweden’s birds of prey. Åsnen is ideal for the species with shallow waters and rich in fish and undisturbed islands. After spending the winter in West Africa the first ospreys reach the lake at the turn of March-April. The journey is a yearly round trip of about ten thousand kilometres.
On windless nights, the melancholy calls of the black-throated diver can be heard from more than ten kilometres away. There is something timeless and mystical about the bird. Its ancestors lived as early as 40 million years ago. Few creatures are so well adapted to a life in water. Their bodies are long and flat, covered in feathers so slick that they resemble a wetsuit. The black-throated diver has its feet positioned far back which makes it a skilled swimmer. The bird takes long and frequent dives when looking for fish. It prefers to nest on the edges of the small islands and islets of Lake Åsnen. The black-throated diver can live to be more than 25 years old. Couples spend their entire lives together.
Up to 130 centimetres tall, on long, lanky legs and with a wingspan of just over two metres. The crane is the tallest bird in Sweden. Once having been a wilderness bird living primarily in the north of Sweden, the species have conquered the country. In many places, they now also live close to humans. Cranes are common in the Åsnen area and often seen on beaches, bogs and farmland. Several couples breed at Husebymaden for example.