Musk ox in Dovre

In mid Norway close to city Domsås there is a mountain range called Dovre. It is a fantastic area with high mountains (highest is "Snöhetta") and open highlands that like many other places in Norway are dominated of gravel and lichen. What makes Dovre more unique and interesting than many of Norways mountain areas, is a today very unusual mammal, an "ice-age" relict, - the musk ox.

Etiketter: musk ox dovre norway

We were nine people from the photographic society Biofoto joining for a long-weekend with photo activities at Putten Seter in mountain area Rondane. It is mid-September and winter is knocking on the door up here. These weeks are normally the first with really frosty days, which is a necessity for creating colourful vegetation. This year (2012) is not extreme in that way, but still a fantastic clear and colourful sight. Particularly contrasting and picturesque is the orange "dwarf" birch to the bright white rein lichen.

I love the mountains and every season has its beauty. Autumn is perhaps the most nuanced season, in my opinion.

Rondane and Dovre are two mountain ranges in mid Norway close to the small town Domsås. It is a fantastic area with high mountains (the highest is "Snöhetta") and open highlands that like many other places in Norway are dominated with stone, gravel and lichen. What makes Dovre more unique and interesting than its neighbor mountains, is its number of a today very unusual mammal, an "ice-age" relict, the musk ox.

The musk ox number in Dovre is around 400 animals which, more or less, is the whole Scandinavia population (there are about ten oxen in Tännäs, Sweden and some random animals that have "escaped" from the Dovre group). Sadly, the mortality has been higher than the nativity the last year, due to some sort of lung disease (pneumonia?). These animals are used to and dependent of cold and harsh conditions for survival. Some scientists think that global warming can be a part of the increased mortality.

To see and possibly photograph a musk ox was my main goal with this tour. And we were very lucky when we walked in to the musk ox terrain this cold sunny morning. Not far from the E6 highway we saw the first two. Than two more and far away a small group that seemed to have calves in it. All of us were happy and half of our group stopped and slowly walked back.

We in the other half continued and after some kilometers we run into a group of four adults behind a ridge. We halted and had some nice minutes to view, study and photograph them. They were wonderfully contrasting against the white lichen on the ground. Their long coat-like fur reach almost to the ground making my mind dreaming of pre-historic times and comparing them with animals like the mammoth.

When I photograph animals, I ideally want to come so close that I can see them in their eye, to "see" what they feel, like the ox that showed its strange blue coloured tongue. But I also like the opposite to close-ups, when the animal is so far away so they just are a small part of the landscape, an ingredient in their natural biotope.

Two of us went further out against a cluster of small moving dots on a hillside, a larger group of oxen. Just before the edge of a gorge we stopped. Half the group moved down the hillside to graze on  the abundance of still green vegetation in bottom of the ravine. All the time they were aware of our presence but they continued their grassing, coming closer and closer with just the gorge and the stream between us. This was an amazing experience for a first-timer!

There were other interesting formations to photograph up here than the myskoxe. Here a "slow-shot" of  water in a sculptured ravine close to the village Hövringen in Rondane.

Thewater in mountain streams and creeks are in most cases gin-clear. This propery makes it extra interesting to photograph with long shutter speed, I think, as the white water really is white due to its clearness. Furius water rapids turn into soft "coton-streams".

Further into the Rondande ountain (Rondane is located close to and east of Dovre, on the Swedish side of highway E6), there is a resting place with huts called "Per Gynt hytta". Some of the houses are made after old house building traditions, like this stone house. These houses really go well with the surroundings

An old slightly thrilling mill house close to city Otta, Norway.

Far up on the north part of Dovre mountain lies this house, compleatly alone surrounded by an old "sheep-fence". Strange and peculiar!

Here are some of the participants, on Biofoto's tour to Dovre and Rondane, admiring a beautiful view close to Dovres highest mountain, Snöhetta.

Just amazingly colourful veiws! This photo is also from  Dovre.

This is Musk oxen country! Harsh highlands with this white rein lichen so caracteristic for this type of mountain.

It is mid September. If it will rain or snow is just a matter of altitude. The winter is coming closer every day.

Here mountain "Snöhetta" with its snowy summit to the left, reaching above 2000 meter.