Field Journal: Viikki Nature Reserve

One of the most memorable places I visited the last time I was in Helsinki was the Viikki Nature Reserve and I wanted to return again this trip. Although we spent time exploring the Kivinokka area this summer, it isn’t technically part of the nature reserve. There are many different habitats in the nature reserve and last trip I walked through the north part of Viikki which is fields and some woods. I thought I remembered walking on a boardwalk through reed wetlands, but couldn’t remember where that was. I made my best guess and we decided to walk from Klädesfabriksparken towards Kuusiluoto which was shown on the map as a boardwalk. 

Before entering the reserve, we walked through a park where we saw a group of barnacle geese with goslings and then crossed over a bridge. From the bridge I noticed a small group of hooded crows…

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Field Journal: Harakka Island, Helsinki

Harakka Island is a stone’s throw from the shore in Helsinki and as we waited for the boat to arrive to shuttle us there, I watched large groups of Barnacle Geese wandering around the park and swimming in the water. Some had goslings, but they stayed apart from a large group of geese without young. Walking down to the dock, a Common Tern sat on the hand rail, occasionally leaving to dive after fish in the water below. Along the shore oystercatchers stood with, but apart from the geese and out in the water Common Mergansers swam. 

Our first stop after arriving on the island was to visit the nature center located in a small building a short walk up the hill. Inside they had microscopes set up to see the aquatic life found in the water and other curiosities found on and around the island. The workers told us…

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Field Journal: Kivinokka, Helsinki

While we were in Helsinki we visited the Kivinokka area a couple of times because we were staying within easy walking distance of it. The last time I visited Finland I had taken a short trip to Kivinokka and remembered seeing a lot of birds in the forest area. It’s just outside the boundary of the Viikki Nature Reserve, but included on the maps of the area and has trails and a viewing platform to look out over the reed beds. 

It was much as I remembered. Most of the peninsula is dotted with Finnish summer cabins, tiny buildings with no electricity or water, tucked away among the forest. Many were red, some blue, green or yellow, but all were enviable as somewhere to spend a weekend or an entire week. Along the water I spotted Barnacle Geese with goslings swimming among the boats. Docked were some beautiful, wooden…

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The Finnish Museum of Natural History

In the middle of July we made a trip to Finland, my second visit to the country I had first visited in 2008, and was eager to return and explore more. One of the first things we did was visit the Finnish Museum of Natural History in Helsinki. It had been a few years since I first visited and I found my memory to not be very good. There were some things I remembered clearly, probably thanks to photos I had taken, but otherwise it was like visiting the museum anew. 

We began on the bottom floor and I was immediately wrapped up by the extensive display of bones. There were dozens of complete skeletons set up for everything from narwhal to bat. I particularly appreciated a Great Gray Owl skeleton on a branch next to a Great Gray Owl mount. The…

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