Suomen Luonto
English summaries 8/2000

Harvesting the "silver-sides"
By Juho Rahkonen

p. 4-11

Lake Päijänne is not only Finland's deepest, but also its third largest, lake. Its waters have become purer since the 1960s and nowadays the Helsinki Metropolitan Area obtains its raw water from this lake. Along with the improved water quality, it has now become more pleasurable to eat fish caught in Päijänne.

There are 15 professional fishermen working Lake Päijänne, who mainly trawl for vendace, or European cisco, but also to some extent for whitefish. The catch varies considerably from year to year and in some years it is difficult to make a living from this job. Professional fishing is a tough occupation in connection with which fish-finding echo sounders are now used, as well as radar and satellite geographical positioning equipment.

The best time for vendace fishing is at dawn and dusk; during the midsummer period it is well worth trawling at midnight as well. Vendace shoals follow the movement of plankton in the water.

The professionals are worried about their future. Keeping the ecosystem healthy is essential if they themselves are to survive economically. If the lake water becomes polluted (as it was in the 1960s), the fish will vanish. Fortunately, the same water is drunk by people in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area - it is doubtful whether the politicians will permit their drinking water supply to become contaminated!

Purring birds stake out territories
By Juho Rahkonen

p. 18-19

The nightjar is a nocturnal bird whose purring voice echoes secretively across pine heathlands. The highest nightjar population is that of southeastern Finland, where the Kymenlaakso ornithological society encountered as many as 810 territories in 1998. In the densest areas, territories may lie only a little over 100 metres away from one another.

Nightjars are ringed in southeastern Finland using mist-nets set up in their territories. The birds are then measured, fitted with a ring, and released unharmed. Nightjars from Finland migrate to tropical Africa.

Growing flowers for butterflies
By Matti Torkkomäki

P. 20-23

When obtaining flowers for the yard or garden, one should consider how well these will attract butterflies. Natural flowering meadows have dwindled alarmingly, so that the yard and garden have become important substitutes. A nicely trimmed lawn is not much use as a butterfly attractant, however.

In the writer's experience, the best butterfly flowers of late summer are hemp-agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum) and leopard plant (Ligularia clivorum). Caucasian stone crop (Sedum spurium) and hydrangea (Hydrangea sp.) are also favoured. The well-known lilac and garden honeysuckle (Lonicera caprifolium) entice early summer butterflies into the garden. Helsinki's Public Works Department has published a rather long list of the best butterflies flowers on the net. The address to visit is:

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder!
By Jouko Kuosmanen

p. 24-29

The toad inhabits southern and central Finland as far north as southern Lapland, occurring rather sporadically in the northernmost part of its range. In the opinion of some ugly and disgusting, it is in other people's opinion an irresistibly charming and philosophical creature, differing markedly from its neurotic relatives, the frogs. Toads do not jump hither and thither, but plod methodically forwards on their four legs. Toads like to sit in the same spot for hours on end, looking out at the world through their lovely eyes (e.g. SL magazine picture on p. 27). Their skin is covered with warty excrescences. When threatened, the animal can exude a toxic substance from its skin which smarts if it comes in contact with mucus membranes. A dog, for instance, will not pick up a toad in its mouth a second time. Toads can live for up to 20 years and may become a familiar visitor at, for example, a summer house.

Ephialtes - deceivers all
By Erkki Makkonen

p. 30-31

There are four species of what in Finland are known as "deceiver wasps". Their scientific name of Ephialtes comes from the well-known traitor of Ancient Greece, who informed Xerxes' Persian warriors of the route around the Thermopylae pass and its Spartan defenders. The black, red-legged Ephialtes ichneumon can sink its ovipositor into thick wood on to the back of a larva boring through the material. It lays an egg which as a larva uses the host grub as its larder. Adult Ephialtes wasps drink nectar from flowers.

Springs teem with life
By Jari Ilmonen

P. 32-35

The clear water of springs provides a home for a fair number of six- and eight-legged animal species. These live among the mosses and litter at the edges of the pool formed by a spring, as well as in the tree trunks that have fallen into the water, among the damp moss fringing the upwelling water, and at the bottom of the brook flowing out of the spring. There are fewer species in this kind of habitat than there are in other water bodies but these are specialised. The fauna includes crustaceans, oligochaetes, and water mites, together with the larvae of stoneflies, caddisflies, midges and other two-winged files, beetles and their grubs.

Finland's northernmost national landscape
By Matti Mela

P. 36-40

The mighty river separating Finland from Norway is known as the Tenojoki (often simply called "the Teno"). Its most important tributary is the Utsjoki (Ohcejohka in Saami). The Utsjoki valley has been chosen as one of Finland's national landscapes. This valley formed some 70 million years ago, when great rifts appeared in the region's bedrock. Later, during the Ice Ages, the glaciers crept along these valleys. At the time when the latest continental glacier was melting, a large number of "ridges" (technically speaking eskers) and other typical periglacial formations were laid down which can still be seen today. After the Ice Age, the sea extended deep into the valleys of the Tenojoki and Utsjoki.

Nowadays, lakes lie at the bottom of the Utsjoki valley, these being linked by narrow, rapids-strewn stretches of flowing water. The width of the valley varies from a few hundred metres to a couple of kilometres. Its sides rise steeply to form the fell uplands, the height differential between the river bed and the sides of the valley being over 100 metres and to the nearest fells 300 metres. Lower down in the river valley there is dense, extremely old Scots pine forest with thick trunks. Further up, there is only mountain birch which eventually peters out into bare areas close to the summits. The flora is intriguing due to its proximity to the Arctic Ocean and to the region's easterly location.

Mankind and buildings form part of the heritage landscape here. The first road was constructed to the area as recently ago as in the 1950s, which explains why the Germans were unable to destroy the buildings during World War II. There are around a dozen intact clumps of buildings classed as historically valuable in the Utsjoki valley.

Roving through Finland, part 3.
By Markus Sirkka

P. 46-49

This is the final third of the walk, with summer already grading into autumn. "I come in contact with some great fishing waters, some comfortable places in which to spend the night, a burnt forest, a tree stand felled by a storm…During the entire trip people have been friendly and helpful", Sirkka reports. The writer kept a journal of his long walk, recording the condition of the hiking trails and of places at which to spend the night, and other features encountered along the way. This was handed over in the form of a report to the Finnish Ski Track Association and various Provincial associations.

Sirkka notes that, all in all, Finland is a suitable country for the kind of hiker seeking peace and seclusion. More people were met on the trail in Kuusamo, but otherwise he was able to backpack along the trail in peace.