Suomen Luonto
English summaries 3/2001

Crow the hero and swallow the quitter
By: Tapani Niemi
Page: 24

Finns have always been fascinated by bird lore. We still have a tendency to seek from the bird world national symbols, poetic sayings, aesthetic experiences, and even a psychological character image with which to identify.

Juha Hakala, from Helsinki, and Mikko Jokinen, from Kolari have asked local residents how they regard birds as cultural beings. There are many examples in which the Finnish language takes a stand on the character of birds and their fundamental purpose. For instance, we say that a certain thing (heat from a living room fire, for example) is "going to the magpies", (in this case, it is going up the chimney and being wasted). A person we know can be "as wise an owl", "as stupid as a chicken", "as noble as an eagle", or "as happy as a chaffinch". Some of these sayings come from the Bible, others from European folklore, while each of us forms our own personal concept of different birds.

Cheap binoculars give you an image - but what kind of one?
By: Juha Valste
Page: 54

Binoculars form one of the rambler's basic items of equipment. A suitable pair for your purposes can be found by trying out, and comparing, several makes and models. Good quality binoculars produce an image that is razor sharp, clear, and of the right colour. They have to withstand knocks and preferably also water and they should not be too heavy. They should sit well in the hands and have a feeling of solidity. Good quality models also carry a lifetime guarantee, or at least one extending over several decades.

We tested a few models in the middle price bracket. Seven people compared these, four of them being ornithologists. Eight traditional porro prism binoculars (Panora 7 x 50 ja 8 x 40, Kite Vireo 8 x 40 WA, Kite Birdwatcher 8 x 42, Olympus DPS R 7 x 35, Olympus DPS R 8 x 40, Olympus EXPS 8 x 42, Olympus EXPS 10 x 42) were compared. In addition, we were given a few compact models to test, these being the Kite 8 x 23, 8 x 25 ja 8 x 22 (roof prism), Olympus 8 x 25 WIDE PC ja 8-15 x 25 WIDE PC (zoom binoculars) and Lotus 8 x 26 (roof prism).

The jury considered the best binoculars to be the Olympus EXPS models. The Kite Birdwatcher 8 x 42 was nowhere near as good. None of the compact binoculars came even close to these three traditional porro prismed binoculars. Quality, however, costs. All three models retail at around one thousand marks (approx. EUR 170) each. A utility Olympus DPS or Kite Vireo will cost you only about half as much.

The annual spring parade of icicles
By: Esko Kuusisto
Page: 36

Icicles hanging from the roof are a form of spring art. They are produced as a result of cooperation, or conflict, between the sun and frost. A classic place for icicles to form is rainwater guttering from which water is steadily dripping.

No two icicles are ever exactly alike. When water drips and runs in profusion, slim icicles of even thickness are formed. But when only a little water comes off the roof or guttering, or there is an abrupt fall in temperature, stunted-looking icicles are the result. The surface of a recently formed icicle is wavy, but as the icicle ages, its surface becomes smooth. Wind may cause the ice to "grow" slantwise. Giant icicles are found on cliffs (for example, along roadsides).

Over the last couple of decades icicles have also been studied scientifically. Mathematical growth models have been created for them and the distance between them has been carefully measured. The research is not just for fun - it is extremely sensible when one considers that the most serious icicle catastrophe can cause millions of marks-worth of damage.

Björkby, a model village
By: Vesa Heinonen
Page: 4

Designated village of the year 2000, Björköby owes its vivacity to the natural beauty of the archipelago in the North Quark. This village of 420 people lies off the Vaasa coast on the island of Björköby, 16 km north of Raippaluoto. Suomen Kylätoimikunta ry (Finland's village committee society) based its choice on the communal effort made by the villagers towards creating jobs, while looking after their cultural landscape and environment.

Although most of the villagers work in the city of Vaasa, the village boasts a factory that manufactures fishing gear, a carpentry and joinery business, and a boat builder's, not to mention fishermen, sea captains and seamen. In summer many farmers are involved in the provision of tourism services. In a small rural community like this, everybody knows everybody else, and the village's social security system works well. Combined efforts have led to a cafè being established, while a salting plant has been turned into a tourist feature. Björköby also possesses a bar selling fish delicacies, two shops, a day care centre, and a junior school.

During the Swedish occupation, the people of Björköby took care of the post between Finland and Sweden. This is still celebrated in the form of an annual "post rower" event. The island also has long traditions in nature conservation. As long ago as the 1960s and 1970s the villages voluntarily decided to protect the beaches and to manage local waters for the sake of their fish stocks. Even further back, in 1933, a bird sanctuary was set up at Björkögrundet which was then merged with the Valassaari nature reserve in 1977. Just recently, the North Quark area has been proposed as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Is a wildlife photograph authentic?
By: Mikko Niskasaari
Page: 18

Last autumn, there was lively discussion in Finland about whether there is actually such a thing as a "nature photo". At the heart of the debate was renowned wildlife photographer Hannu Hautala's "Moments in Nature" book, in which some of the illustrations had been electronically manipulated.

Researcher Juha Suonpää feels that the authenticity of a photograph is bound to the authenticity of nature conservation, making the matter very complicated. Authenticity is a matter based on agreement, as is also what in all conscience can be manipulated and what not. Thus far, an unmounted original colour slide has been sound proof of its genuineness. Digital cameras have no film and the original disappears. Hautala feels it is more important to discuss the content of a picture in general. Unnatural pictures ought not to be created, he says.

According to the ethical rules of the Finnish Nature Photographers' Association (Suomen Luonnonvalokuvaajat ry), when a picture is published there should be a note to the effect that the image has been manipulated, or an admission that the subject has been photographed in confinement in a zoo, for example.

Teksti: Leigh Plester