THE ÅSNEN BIG FIVE: Moose, white-tailed eagle, crane, osprey and black-throated diver. Four giant birds and one mammal. Five awesome experiences in the Åsnen region. Go dust those binoculars and off into the wilderness!

Åsnen Big Five Moose Photo: Nils-Arne Thunell

The greatest, the strongest – and a strict vegetarian. 

Sweden is home to 300,000 to 400,000 moose. 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 lakes and wetlands in the area. For those wanting to spot the king of the forest, Toftåsa myr (the Toftåsa marsh), Getnö and the western Åsnen shores are recommended. The animals are especially active at dawn and dusk. They are easily recognised by their brown body and thin legs that look like white stockings, their long nose and of course the majestic antlers of the bull that fall off during winter time. The average moose weighs between 200-400 kg, but some bulls weigh over half a ton. In spite of their impressive size, moose are also swift runners, used to moving over great distances in short time. When threatened, fully grown moose may reach speeds of up to 60 km/h. Its main diet consists of leaves, young twigs and branches during the summer, and conifer and berry twigs during the winter. In contrast to other deer, the moose usually keeps to itself, and it is only during exceptionally harsh winters that several may unite to graze together. The rut and breeding season occurs in autumn. October marks the start of the moose hunting season. In the early summertime, moose cows give birth to 1–2 calves.

Åsnen Big Five Havsörn. Photo: Tobias Ivarsson

Sweden’s largest predatory bird.

The White-Tailed Eagle has the majestic wingspan of almost 2.5 metres. Its main diet consists of fish, but it is also known to prey on smaller birds. During the 1970s, the species almost went extinct due to pollution, but 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. The Husebymaden nature reserve and the lake Lidhemsjön are good locations for eagle watching.

Åsnen Big Five Fiskgjuse. Photo: Hugo Ivarsson

White-brown gloriousness.

With a wingspan of up to 170 centimetres, the osprey also qualifies as one of the larges birds of prey around lake Åsnen. This bird is characteristic for the lake and widely spread in the region. Its cocked wings and protruding knuckles make its silhouette unique among Sweden’s birds. The lake offers shallow waters around undisturbed islands, teeming with fish – the perfect hunting ground for the osprey. 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.

Åsnen Biv Five Trana. Photo Tobias Ivarsson

The tallest of them all! 

Standing on long, lanky legs, they can be up to 130 cm tall, with a wingspan of just two metres. The crane is the tallest of Swedish birds. Originally haling from the wilderness of northern Sweden, the species has since also conquered the southern parts of Sweden, often even daringly close to human dwellings. The crane is a common visitor to the beaches, fields and marshland of the Åsnen-area. Several crane couples currently reside in the Husebymaden nature reserve.

Åsnen Big Five Storlom. Photo Tobias Ivarsson

The master diver 

On quiet nights, the cry of the black-throated diver can be heard as far as 10 kilometers. This bird’s ancestors lived 40 million years ago, adding to his mystical and timeless air. Few creatures are as perfectly adjusted to their habitat as this bird, who with his swimsuit-like plumage and swimmer’s feet, located far back on its streamlined body, is a true swimming artist. On the hunt for fish, the bird dives often and stays submerged for long periods of time. Couples of black-throated divers nest along the shores of the Åsnen archipelago and often stay together for their entire lives, which may last up to 25 years.