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: Late Summer Dragons at Magnuson

A month ago I attended a dragonfly class at Magnuson Park with dragonfly expert, Dennis Paulson. He talked about the dragonfly’s life cycle during the class portion, then we went out to Magnuson Park in Seattle to look at the odes. The season had already begun to fade as many he had seen just a week ago were no longer flying. We did see many blue-eyed darners, cardinal meadowhawks, eight-spotted skimmers, blue dashers and western pondhawks. A single black saddlebag patrolled the pond. There were a few tule bluet and California spreadwing damselflies as well. I spotted one unfortunate blue-eyed darner which had become trapped in the water, only its head was above the surface as it tried to fly out, unsuccessfully. Paulson said that happens sometimes when the males fight, one will become stuck in the water and die. Some of the ponds had dried out, as they…

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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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Field Journal: Alki Octopus

The very low tides I enjoyed at Scenic Beach State Park over the weekend continued and I didn’t want to miss out. So on the Monday after returning from Hood Canal, I took my daughter to Alki Beach in Seattle to explore. I had already had some great finds at Alki during the low tides at the end of May and it seems I always find something interesting there. The Seattle Aquarium’s Beach Naturalists were already searching and I was bitterly disappointed to hear from them that a Humpback Whale and swam by not more than a half an hour before we arrived. Fortunately, Alki Beach could never disappoint entirely, and there was much yet to be discovered. 

My daughter and I first searched the long stretch of rocks, but remembering the moon snail I’d found on the outgoing tide last time we turned towards the…

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Diary of an Urban Wild Garden: Spring Nesting

This spring our wildlife garden has seen a lot of activity. Last year, during my 365 Nature Project, we watched a Bewick’s Wren pair make a nest in our backyard nest box, while a pair of American Robins built a nest in our front yard. This year the wrens returned, but opted for a different nest box. In our backyard I have put up a red box, which the wrens chose last year. I also have a blue box hanging from the garage which has never been used. Then there’s the wood box built by my husband, also never used. Last year I found another wood box at a thrift store and stashed it in the garage. It’s meant to be mounted on a post and this spring I just wedged it into our forsythia for a lack of anywhere better to put it.

To my surprise,…

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