Bicycling brings the nature closer and Vaasa has numerous routes on offer. Many people enjoy bicycling along the shoreline of the Eteläinen kaupunkiselkä-bay, in the forests by the Pilvilampi lake or the route via Singsby and Karperö. The landscape along the river in Vähäkyrö offer particularly stunning views from the bicycle saddle.
The national bicycle week is held 11-19.5.2013 with this years theme being Childrens right to bicycling. It is the first time this event is arranged in Vaasa.The programme is available in Finnish and Swedish.
The Eteläinen kaupunginselkä bay. Photo Malin Henriksson.
This spring has been unusually cold, which naturally has delayed the arrival of several species of migrating birds. Some of the first to arrive in our country are the Northern lapwing, stock pigeon, Eurasian skylark and the rook. During April, the number of species increased significantly and among the new arrivals were common goldeneye, Eurasian curlew, the European robin as well as various species of gulls, thrush and chaffinch. The forests, on the other hand, awoke during the latter half of April.
In May, a number of new bird species will be added to the NatureVaasa site. The added species are: European Herring Gull, Common Merganser, Ruddy Turnstone, Common Pigeon, Whooper Swan, Wood Sandpiper, Meadow Pipit, Eurasian Coot, Three-toed Woodpecker and Common Kestrel.
Northern lapwing in a field during spring. Photo Jan Nyman.
For many, the spring sun awakens a curiosity about the surrounding nature. The team behind NatureVaasa wishes that more people will discover the rich nature right in our back yards. Therefore, the site is now expanding, presenting 14 nature types, found under the Nature-tab where you can learn about the distinguishing features of everything from lush waterfronts to sparse pine forests. Naturally, information about where the individual nature types can be found in Vaasa will also be presented. All that is left is to pack your rucksack and head outdoors.
Hiking through the reed belt towards Ryövarinkari. Photo: Christine Bonn.
As winter slowly gives way to spring, the forest is still fairly quiet. By the end of February, the three-toed woodpecker can be seen foraging in gloomy spruce forests and the powerful call of the Eurasian Jay can be heard from a tree top. In the beginning of March courting behavior of tits and greenfinches significantly increase sound levels. By the end of March the first common blackbirds return from winter migration. Arriving early they tend to occupy the best habitats, signaling their arrival by their strong, whistling song. Blackbirds mostly tend to sing in the evening when it also is possible in mixed type forests to observe flying squirrels hunting for food in the spring twilight.
Flying squirrel. Photo Jouni Kannonlahti
There are many various ways to determine when winter begins and ends, but February is, by every definition, a winter month. December, January and February are traditionally regarded as winter months, which also correlates well with the climatological winter, during which the average temperature remains below freezing for a prolonged period of time. Astronomical winter is defined as lasting from the winter solstice to the vernal equinox.
Snow covered grounds, icy waters and the possibility for cross country skiing as well as ice skating are strongly associated with winter. This year, even though reports of weak ice have been frequent, there are still other ways to enjoy the beauty of the season. As the temperature shifts listen to how the sound of the snow beneath your feet changes, enjoy the light reflected in the white plains or study the fascinating structure of snowflakes up close. Snowflakes form when ice crystals in clouds clump together and the size of the flake depends on temperature. Warmer weather results in larger flakes that often stick to each other and form flakes with a diameter of several centimeters. Theoretically speaking, two snowflakes can be identical but finding them is practically impossible. Theoretically speaking, two snowflakes can be identical but finding them is practically impossible.
Frost-covered plant. Photo: Malin Henriksson
Christmas is upon us and autumn gloom and berry picking already seem distant. Before long the crust of the snow will glisten in the rays of the spring sun and the eager chirping of small birds will once again be heard, but until then we who work with NatureVaasa would like to take this opportunity to extend our thanks for all the feedback we have received during the year. During 2013, NatureVaasa will expand to include new themes and bird species, hopefully bringing joy and being of use to readers.
We want to wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year, with many pleasant nature experiences!
Photo: Aaro Toivio
Söderfjärden in Vaasa is known for being a major staging area for cranes during spring as well as autumn. September-October is the busiest time during the migration period and cranes gather en masse in Söderfjärdens expansive farmlands to rest and forage for food. Cranes mostly feed is harvested fields but are also known to cause damage to nearby cultivations. As a result, recent years have seen attempts at attracting the birds to an assigned crane field where they can forage without causing damage. As night falls, the cranes travel to the nearby archipelago where they spend the night. The evening flight is an impressive sight, as hundreds of cranes take off from the fields and head for the archipelago. The majority of cranes migrate during September and the last few individuals leave Söderfjärden at the end of October.
Cranes. Photo Jouni Kannonlahti.
While the summer is still warm, many birds are already heading towards south. The autumn migration of waders begins already in June and continues actively as long as until September. Species from the genus Tringa and ruffs are migrating presently. In the end of July terns, black-headed gulls and passerines also begin their autumn migration.
The spotted redshank can be seen in Vaasa only during migration.
Photo Jan Nyman.
The Irish Damselfly (Coenagrion lunulatum) was photographed i Suvilahti in late may 2010. The species is rare in southern and central parts of Finland. Photo Aaro Toivio.
Now is the best time for butterflies and dragonflies. Meadows and roadsides are good butterfly spots and dragonflies can be found nearby water bodies and wetlands. A book about butterflies in Vaasa was published in 2007 in Finnish (Vaasan perhoset, Seppo Kontiokari).
The Purple-edged Copper (Lycaena hippothoe) was seen in Gerby in early July 2010. In Finland, the species has had a strong decline and is a near threatened species according to Finland´s threat classification system. Photo Aaro Toivio.
New bird species added to the Vaasa birdlife-pages.
Generic woodland birds: Brambling, European pied flycatcher
Coniferous forest birds: Tengmalm's owl, Common raven,
Common redstart, Ural owl
Deciduous forest birds: Blyth's reed warbler
Wetland birds: Yellow wagtail, Northern shoveler, Black-headed gull,
Little gull, Western marsh harrier
Cultural landscape birds: Common linnet, Rook,
Little ringed plover, Common rosefinch
Shorebirds: Canada goose, Greylag goose
Breeding season in June-July is the busiest time of year for birds. After the young leave the nest for a new and foreign world, they may sometimes get separated from the rest of the brood and be found alone on garden lawns. Although the chick may seem abandoned, the mother is usually not far away observing her offspring, which therefore is not in need of any help. A chick that has wandered off to a dangerous location may be carefully moved under a bush or to a tree branch. Usually, these bold little birds found are white wagtails, finches, thrushes, magpies, crows or common gulls.
Fieldfare-chick. Photo Jan Nyman
Summer is almost upon us but it is still possible to observe various species of fish in streams and ditches, travelling to small lakes and wetland to spawn. Northern pike, European perch and the common roach are all fish species displaying this type of behavior. As small water bodies warm up faster than the sea the fry are able to develop and grow in a secluded environment.
Northern pike making the journey to its spawning ground. Photo Malin Henriksson
Over 10 000 visitors on the NatureVaasa-website
It has been roughly a year since the Vaasa City Planning Office launched the NatureVaasa-website. We have also been collecting site traffic statistics for almost the same amount of time and are now pleased to announce that the site has been visited over 10 000 times! We see a clear trend of increasing site traffic during spring, which is natural as people move outside more during this time of year. Currently, the site gets about 100 visits per day, with the birdlife-and natural environments-section being the most popular. The Finnish language pages draws the most traffic while the English and Swedish pages combined draw roughly 40% of site visits.
The written feedback we have received has been exceptionally positive and we often get questions regarding specific bird species. We reply to every written feedback if an e-mail address has been submitted.
In parallel with our regular professional obligations we will continue developing the NatureVaasa-site. Currently we are working on adding a number of bird species as well as brand new pages detailing the various nature types existing in Vaasa, all of which is enabled by nature survey work conducted by the City Planning Office.