Field Journal: Puurijarvi-Isosuo National Park

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This summer when I was in Finland, I had the opportunity to do some solo exploring from Helsinki so I planned out a four day trip that would take me to as many of...
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Field Journal: Syöte National Park

Located on the divide between the Finnish Lakeland and the Lapland lies Syöte National Park. The name ‘Syöte’ comes from the ancient Sami language, meaning ‘blessed’, and the indigenous Sami people have used the land for thousands of years. Traces of ancient Sami use can still be found in the park, but there are many other traces of land use from more recent times.

In the 1500’s, people began settling in the area, bringing their slash-and-burn tradition with them. They began clearing the land of trees to use as agriculture, often times accidentally setting forests…

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Field Journal: Dragons of Finland

I admit, Finland may not be the most popular country to visit for dragonflies. Most people head to warmer locations like Costa Rica which has 270 species or Australia which has 320 species. Finland meanwhile, has a mere 62 species of dragonflies and damselflies. Although I didn’t expect to see many, if any, dragonflies last time I visited Finland, I was treated to an abundance of dragons and even a swarm over a boulder lined pond. Finding a lot of dragonflies in Finland, especially north in the Lapland, was surprising, but perhaps it should not have been.

Yes Finland is cold, with a long dark winter and short summer. But this country has something special that makes it well worth the short breeding season for dragonflies: many lakes and mires. After forests, mires cover the most amount of Finland, although less…

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Field Journal: A New Nudibranch

This time of the year, I check my tide app almost as much as my weather app. Low tide in Seattle means the chance to find marine life that is harder to spot when the waves are higher up on our beaches. My standard go-to beach to explore during these low tides is Alki Beach, but yesterday I went somewhere different to look for nudibranchs and whatever else I might find.

In a little known park, under the dock where a ferry arrives and departs many times a day, live bright colored Orange Sea Pens. These large animals consist of a colony of small polyps and resemble, as the name implies, a feather quill. They wave back and forth in the tide, which becomes rough during the arrival and departure of the large…

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Field Journal: Slime Mold Diversity + Dragonflies

There is one constant about being a naturalist, it is always surprising. A couple of weeks ago I went to the beach for low tide and was surprised when I found no sign of the shaggy mouse nudibranch, or their eggs, which I commonly find this time of the year under rocks. On the other hand, I went looking for slime molds this weekend, not expecting to find many because of the long, dry spring, and yet I found them everywhere.

I have not had good luck taking photos of slime molds before because they are usually found in the forest, which are quite dark here. Compounding the challenge of photographing something small, in a dark landscape, my lens is long and filters out even more precious light. But I prefer to travel light and so I don’t carry a flash system, tripod…

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Field Journal: Caddisfly Swarms

There are downsides and upsides to walking the same route with great frequency. Sometimes it can become tedious and feel repetitive, but then there are the times when I get to see things that only happen for a brief time. Yesterday I got to witness something I’d never seen along my walk before, a mass of caddisflies.

I noticed them almost immediately, swarms of small, black insects dancing right on the shoreline over the water. At first I didn’t know what they were, so I went down to the beach and watched them flying around. They were close enough I could reach out and grab them. When I did I found an insect with very long antennae and slender black wings that extended past the abdomen. The eyes were set on the sides of the head, similar to damselflies and they had a…

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