In this flurry of New Zealand-related articles, let’s take a break and go back in time, to the most beautiful country in the world: Finland.
These days, I’ve found myself missing this place. First came the northern light pictures all over social media, and then the autumn colors in the forest. It’s not that New Zealand is bad, but Finland… awww, there’s something special about that place.
In the beginning of July, I spent a weekend on Kylmäpihlaja. This small island, located out of Rauma, in the Bothnian Sea National Park, is home to a lighthouse, and birds. Lots of birds.
I had been there about a year before, with my friend Bjørn, but we had spent only a few hours on the island, in the middle of the day. The profusion of birdlife had made me want to spend more time there.
Reading Saana’s article, I had planned to sleep in the hydrocopter shed. Mistake! The shed didn’t exist anymore… I asked everyone on the island, but noone had ever heard about it. I faced a hard decision: sleep at the hotel, inside the lighthouse (probably very comfy, but also very expensive), go back to another island or even worse, to Rauma (not really what I had planned)… or sleep outside, under the stars.
I checked and double checked the weather forecast, and no cloud was expected at any time during the weekend… guess what I chose!
The trouble was to find a shelter from the persistent wind. Kylmäpihlaja (the cold rowan tree, in English) is nothing but a rock with little, low vegetation. Even if I had had a tent, I wouldn’t have had anywhere to set it.
I stayed awake the first night, and went to sleep only after sunrise. That way, I escaped the coldest hours; under the sun, protected from the wind by sea buckthorn and juniper bushes, I slept well. I tried to sleep during the darkest hours of the second night, but that was a mistake: the wind had changed direction, and I felt really cold. It was so bad, I couldn’t find the strength to get out of the sleeping bag for sunrise.
That’s it for the bad aspects of this trip. The rest was pure wonder.
In this abnormally warm and sunny summer, I enjoyed twilights of a rare intensity, with light of amazing quality ideal for creative photography. The downside? I had nothing to do in the middle of the day, when the sun was high.
As expected, the island teemed with birds, many of which had chicks: Arctic terns (Sterna paradisaea), Common redshanks (Tringa totanus) and Black guillemots (Cepphus grylle) tried to steal the show, but Common eiders (Somateria mollissima) and Common gulls (Larus canus) resisted well.
Below are some of my favourite images, with minimal commentary. Feel free to comment, and enjoy.
SCENE I: opening light
SCENE II: dusk
SCENE III: after the storm
SCENE I: a new dawn
SCENE II: action
SCENE III: explosion of gold
SCENE I: closing the curtain
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