February Zoom Meeting Review – Mary Braddock – Finland and Norway: the Lands of Northern Light

For the last of our winter Zoom meetings, we welcomed back Mary Braddock, who presented another set of marvellous slides plus informative commentary.  The talk started at the Arctic Circle, went north through Finland’s lakes and forests and then east across Norway’s north coast before returning south.  By combining trips taken at different times of year, Mary showed us something of these spectacular landscapes under different conditions, together with species that either survive there year-round, or migrate from warmer climes to feast on the bounty of the short summer.
Some familiar birds were thus presented in their brightest breeding plumage, unfamiliar to us in the UK, and the lovely song of a Redwing was one of several recordings presented.  Mary also drew our attention to those creatures whose colouration gives camouflage against either the winter or summer landscapes – or both, changing with the seasons.  That the timing of those seasons is itself changing (with climate change) was one aspect of global problems that was mentioned.  Another was the geopolitical reality that this northernmost area of Europe has a substantial border with Russia (indeed, the distances between the circumpolar nations are relatively small), leading to regional tensions.

My favourite slides included: beautiful studies of family groups of European Brown Bears and Great Grey Owls; the sharply-detailed plumage of Lapland Buntings and Snow Buntings; the low-growing shrub Dwarf Cornel; and a Goldeneye, well-defined against a white-grey backdrop in which the boundaries (water-ice-snow-mist-cloud) could not be distinguished.  But everyone would probably have a different list…  It seems very likely that we will invite Mary back for a fourth visit. You can see more superb photos on Mary’s Flickr page (albums): https://www.flickr.com/photos/nwsurreywildlife/

Tony Corps