Suomen Luonto
English summaries 4/2001

When everything was rationed

By: Tuija Pitkänen
Page: 18

Suomen Asutusmuseo, Finland\'s \"settlement museum\", which is located at Alapitkä, Lapinlahti reminds people of the post-war years, when Finland was forced to find homes for those Finns displaced from the Karelian area of the Soviet Union immediately after the second world war. Restored by voluntary labour, the Mure farm takes us back to the poverty of the days of \"ecoliving\" that hallmarked the 1940s and 1950s.

The Mure family consisted of a mother and five children. Despite the shortage of everything, like families on other farms given to displaced persons, this family strove towards self-sufficiency. The farm horse constituted a grand work mate out in the fields. Bent nails were straightened and reused, hairs from the horse\'s tail were sold to brush makers, feathers and down collected from the chicken pen were put to good use, and both clothes and rugs were made by the settlers themselves.

The buildings, farm yard and surroundings of the Mure farm will be cared for in the future, too, in the old nature-respecting fashion. This summer, lambs will frolic, while acting as natural lawn mowers, and chickens will cluck in the yard. In the kitchen garden, potatoes and beet root will be sprouting and peas will be supported by the same kind of sticks as in the past.

Family happiness kept secret

By: Jouko Kuosmanen
Page: 29

Pine martens are denizens of the forest which rarely show themselves to people. The animal is notable for its extreme caution, for which it has a special reason in spring - the birth of its young. Generally four in number, the young are most often born in a hollow tree. Pine martens have so-called delayed pregnancy, litters being born at the most auspicious time of year for growth.

Young pine martens grow at a remarkable rate. To avoid harm, they already go their separate ways in the early autumn. By the end of winter there are some 10,000 pine martens in Finland, the densest part of the population being in the southern parts of the country. Pine martens are at home in old-growth forests dominated by coniferous species and well supplied with sturdy branched trees for climbing about on and hollow trunks for use as resting and breeding places.

The species\' usual prey is the red squirrel, but it will also eat voles, carrion and, in summer, berries, as well as large sized insects.

Robust males can reach as much as two and a half kilos, while females generally weigh around a kilo. Both sexes almost always use the ground for moving from place to place. However, when hunting prey or fleeing from an enemy, a pine marten may scramble through the crowns of trees in the forest canopy. It is nocturnal by habit, spending the day hiding high up in a hollow tree. During cold weather, it will go under the snow into burrows in the ground. An arresting feature of the species is a throat patch whose colour varies from white in young animals to almost orange in older individuals.

They came back

By: Matti Leinonen
Page: 4

In 1949, ornithologist Einari Merikallio assessed that there were only fifteen breeding pairs of whooper swans left in Finland, these being thinly scattered over Lapland, Kuusamo and northern Karelia in impenetrable mires and wilderness areas. Veterinary officer and author Yrjö Kokko moved to the far north after the second world war, his dream being to locate the few remaining pairs of the species and to save the latter from extinction in Finland. He had to tramp the wilds of Lapland for five years before he found the first nesting pair.

In two of his many books, \"The Whooper Swan,\" (1950) and \"They Are Coming back\" (1954), Kokko taught Finns to love and respect the whooper swan. Riding on the wings of popularity, he began a national media war through the columns of newspapers and magazines to save the swan, leading to an eventual ban on swan shooting. Gradually information began to trickle in from readers on nesting pairs out in the wilds.

Kokko drew the correct conclusion that the whooper swan is not naturally a shy bird of the wilderness, rather man has forced it to seek sanctuary there. Thus, the fate of this large bird is wholly dependent on people\'s attitudes and behaviour. It may justifiably be said that Kokko single-handedly saved the whooper swan from vanishing from the Finnish fauna altogether. This summer, over 2000 pairs will be nesting here, the total population now numbering at least 10,000 individuals.

Greeting the spring

By: Alice Karlsson
Page: 22

We await the arrival of spring with impatience, especially when this season appears to be in no hurry at all. Alice Karlsson accompanied photographer Peter Kuokka to the Hanko bird observation station at Finland\'s southernmost point on the Hankoniemi peninsula, to catch the first signs of spring. As the season begins, first single birds and then gradually, as warm winds blow, increasingly larger number of migrants, can be seen here. This year, the shelduck and ringed plover were among the early sightings.

Tringa, the ornithological society for the Helsinki region, purchased a house at the tip of Tulliniemi in 1979. In recent years, this observation point has been almost continually manned and the records cover 284 of the 432 bird species on the Finnish list. Observations are recorded in note books and by computer, enthusiasts competing for the most observations and for rare species.

Teksti: Leigh Plester