English summaries 6/2002
Cranes in the forest
Text Alice Karlsson, photos Markku and Heikki Nikki
Cranes normally return to Finland from their wintering quarters in Spain and North Africa in April. Their breeding displays include loud, penetrating calls. Young hatch at the end of May or beginning of June. Then the parents become very quiet and secretive. The crane is monogamous, the members of a pair remaining together until parted by death. Normally a crane family will be composed of two adults and two young, the latter remaining with their parents for a whole year. The parents teach their young the migration route and the resting places along it.
Cranes feed on dragonfly nymphs, adult dragonflies, moths, flies, frogs and lizards. When the occasion arises they will also take fish or voles. The largest prey observed has been the muskrat. For a start the parents feed their young, which grow rapidly. A newly hatched chick weighs only around 100 grams, but by 10-11 weeks old the bird will already have reached 3-4 kilos.
Cranes inhabit bogs and mires, shore meadows and even paludified forest with a thin growth of trees. However, it is difficult to observe these large birds, if they are living in forest, as they are extremely wary and able to hide themselves well. In Finland´s second bird atlas survey the number of nesting cranes was estimated at around 6,000 pairs. According to a count carried out in 2001, however, the actual number is approximately 19 000. Cranes have completely disappeared from the southern parts of Europe, in addition to suffering reduction in central Europe. Finland´s crane population is stable; the birds have replied to the loss of bogs and mires (due to drainage) by increasingly often moving their nest sites to meadows on lake shores.
All set for a cyanophyte summer
By Antti Halkka
A cyanophyte bloom is developing in Finland´s southern marine areas. The last one occurred in 1997. If the present summer continues as warm as it has been, cyanophyte alga rafts can be expected towards the end of June to early July period, achieving a peak at the end of July. According to a forecast by the Finnish Environment Institute, exceptionally large cyanophyte blooms should also be looked out for in the southern Baltic.
Owing to an oxygen lack in the sea bed of the Baltic, large amounts of phosphorus have been released into the water. For example, the concentration of phosphorus in the Gulf of Finland has risen to two to three times its normal level. The phosphorus concentration of the surface waters has increased by 30-50 percent. In the Gulf of Bothnia and North Quarken areas oxygen has been present in the bottom waters, so that major cyanophyte blooms are not expected there. Cyanophytic algae are often toxic. Their toxins cause symptoms resembling influenza (flu), i.e. a headache, fever, and an upset stomach. Water containing cyanophytes should be avoided for use in the sauna, for instance, and one should not risk swimming in such water.
Hannu Hautala´s hat shelf
By Teuvo Suominen
The renowned wildlife photographer Hannu Hautala is also known for his impressive collection of hats. His collection was completed on 25th May, when an honorary doctorate was bestowed on him by the University of Oulu.
Now 61 years old, Hautala has published over 30 books. These have been widely translated into other languages, from English, French and Italian to Japanese.
Hautala´s formal education ceased at the primary school level. He had been fascinated by nature since a child and at the age of around twenty he began to take wildlife photography seriously. Publishing his first book in 1968, he became a full time professional wildlife photographer just a few years later. From the economic standpoint his situation improved radically in 1984, with the appearance of his book on the Siberian jay; this has been printed in four languages and some 50 000 copies have been sold. In 1987 Hautala received a State 15-year visual arts bursary.
Hannu Hautala lives and photographs in Kuusamo, at the southern tip of Lapland, right next to the Russian border. At one time Hautala dreamed of dropping dead in a mire with his boots on, thereby providing a feast for bears. Now he wants his ashes to be scattered over his favourite terrain, the forests of Kuusamo. But only, of course, when the time comes.
Arctic route takes you to fells in three countries
Text and photos: Markus Sirkka
The Arctic route starts at Kautokeino (Norway), passes through Kilpisjärvi (Finland) and Abisko (Sweden) and ends up at either Sulitjelma (Norway) or Kvikkjok (Sweden). It covers 800 kilometres. The route runs largely above the tree line and along it one finds glaciers, luxuriant river valleys, fell meadows full of flowers, and even in August (late summer) fell lakes still partly coated by ice.
The Arctic route passes through several national parks. In addition to a wide array of fell plants, the hiker may encounter Norway lemmings, reindeer, rough-legged buzzards, golden plovers, dotterels, willow grouse and ptarmigan. If lucky, he may also spot an arctic fox, wolverine, golden eagle, snowy owl or gyr falcon.
Few people contemplate walking the whole distance (800 km), but there is a wide range of choices when selecting part of the route. Some sections are also navigable in winter. Sometimes the large number of fellow travellers one meets on the trail at Kungsleden (Sweden) detracts from oneís enjoyment of the hike, and the 70-km section in Finland is also extremely popular with backpackers. The routeís strenuousness varies considerably, while the weather can be fickle this far north and so close to the Barents Sea. Along the trail there over 40 huts and cabins, most of which are locked and have to be reserved in advance in order to obtain the key. Neither Sweden nor Norway has the Finnish system of unlocked huts where hikers can spend the night for nothing.
Everyman´s rights in the great outdoors
By Juha Valste
In Fennoscandia an Everyman´s rights (rights of access) law is in force enabling everyone to wander around without permission on somebody elseís land, or on the water, to pick wild mushrooms and berries, and to temporarily camp. However, this legal right also carries with it certain obligations and responsibilities. Damage to property is prohibited, as is littering, disturbing people in nearby dwellings or saunas, or camping close to these, and the unauthorised lighting of camp fires. Everyman´s rights also applies to foreigners visiting the Nordic region.
Everyman´s rights is an ancient custom in these parts. It is based on ownership of the land by those tilling, or otherwise benefiting from it, or by the State. Years ago there were few large ëland baronsí who, in any case, did not own either the villages or the fields and forest holdings belonging to small scale farmers. In relation to the surface area people were few. In Finland the concept of private area does not exist, so that no-one can legally prevent anotherís access to his or her property. Various kinds of No entry -notices, fences and other attempts to prevent free movement are commonplace, but these can be safely ignored without fear of prosecution. Threatening, or driving away, a person who has wandered on to your land is an offence under the law.
Access and camping may, however, be officially prevented, but this is most often in connection with a nature reserve or military area. The law requires such areas to be clearly signposted in the terrain as well as marked on maps. Notice boards proclaiming an area to which access is denied must state the reason for this.
Plants can be sweet-smelling confidence tricksters too
By Seppo Vuokko
Orchids are related to the lilies. They are distinguished by their specially evolved blooms. In these, the anthers and stigma have grown together to form a peg-like or knob-like column. This has a sticky surface plus two sack-like pollinia which are also tacky at their point of contact. An insect entering the flower in the hope of obtaining nectar from it unwittingly acquires two extra antennae - the pollinia - on leaving, which it conveniently transports to the next flower for fertilisation purposes.
It is estimated that there are 18 000–25 000 different species of orchids in the world. This makes the family Orchideae roughly as large as the composite family, or the grass and sedge family. The family is extremely tropical and only 35 species of orchids are found in Finland.
Orchids are known in Finnish by a name (kämmekät) referring to the palm-of-the-hand-like form of the tubers belonging to some species. In the early purple orchid (Orchis mascula), though, the two roughly oval tubers resemble (not to put too fine a point on it) a pair of testicles. This explains why the generic and the family names are based on the word orchis, Greek for testis.
Many of our most beautiful orchids are accomplished confidence tricksters. Despite their promisingly colourful appearance and plenty of sweet perfume, they do not offer their pollinators any nectar. The elder-flowered orchid (Dactylorhiza sambucina) has eye-catching red and yellow blossoms, making sure that bumble bees do not quickly learn to avoid its nectarless flowers. Lady´s slipper orchid (Cypridium calceolus) attracts mining bees with the insects´ own scent. Fly orchids (insectifera) put out the scent of female field digger wasps (Gorytes campestris), which turns on the males; to ensure complete success, the plant´s flowers even look like sexy female digger wasps!
Orchid seeds are extremely small, around half a million of them fitting into one gram. These have no reserve food, so that upon germinating they immediately need the right kind of fungal mycelium to enable them to grow. The fungus unstintingly nourishes the seedling for a year, or sometimes longer. Then, as the orchid´s first leaves become operational, the fungus begins to derive benefit from its long investment in this symbiotic relationship.
Teksti: Leigh Plester