Heron snatching – an unusual crime at the lovely Djurgården
As many other Stockholmers, i was born in the short gamekeeper Lill-Jan’s forest at the north end of Djurgården, which made me appreciate nature from an early age. The invaluable asset of having access to an area the size of Djurgården from my childhood years made me realize that the area was in need of protection. This realization became my mission in life. My first idea was to make the park into an “ekopark”, which means that it is a protected nature area. In 1995, the park became Sweden’s, and the world’s, first national city park, and the name today is the Royal national park. The park is 27 square kilometers, and includes Skeppsholmen, Djurgården, Haga-Brunnsviken, Ulriksdal och Fjäderholmarna.
Of course, the island South Djurgården, in tourist context called Royal Djurgården, has a special place in my heart. This because I helped restore the old wetland to a valid birds lake – called Isbladskärret. Today, this is one of Stockholm’s most visited birds lake.
As an out-and-out birdwatcher, I could see that Skansen’s free-flying herons really liked to come back to the swamp by Blockhusudden to eat small fishes. I was thinking to myself, “maybe we can make them breed here”, thought and done! By springtime 1987, myself and a friend put up six platforms in the alder trees on the island in the lake to help the birds. Nothing happened – during the first year. But by 1989, two bird couples came and build two mighty nestes on the platforms. And that was just the start. After a couple of years, ALL the herons at Skansen had moved from the colony to “my” platforms and nearby trees. After some time, I could count over 60 nests in the new colony. The old herons spend their winters at the lake Råstasjön in Solna, where they got fish from the council. After the hard winter in 2012-2013, there were only around 20 couples left, but now the colony is yet again growing in numbers. I have, on numerous occasions, talked about the “heron snatching”, but I still haven’t got any comments from Skansen… yet.
If you wish, please take a walk around Isbladskärret at crown princess Victoria and prince Daniel’s the Path of Love, and gaze upon the herons, and other birds. The herons can be seen all year around if the winter is mild, but they are best seen in April to August.
My tips at Djurgården:
- Take a seat in king Carl XIV Johan’s carriage and take a stroll around his landscape. The ride starts from Royal Djurgården Visitor Center, and will take you along the water of Djurgårdsbrunssviken out to Blockhusudden. Be sure to admire Rosendal castle on your way! The castle is the best example of Swedish empire style, also known as Carl Johan style.
- Take a seat in king Oscar II’s carriage and welcome spring! According to tradition, you will go around The Kings Oak next to Manilla. Don’t miss the biggest oak tree on Djurgården, the Oak of Prince Eugen, at Waldemarsudde. Djurgården has one of Europe’s biggest cohesive stand of giant oak trees.