Hungry bears in berry-less woods

This summer was exceptionally cold. As a result, there are practically no berries in the woods. That leads to a lot of hungry bears roaming the forests and occasionally exploring garbage dumpsters in a desperate attempt to put on some fat before the winter sets in. Lots of bear excrements in the woods between Malinovoye, where our dacha is, and Luvenga. The locals who are in the habit of taking early morning walks say there are four of them in the five-kilometer long and narrow strip of trees between the seacoast and the road. As of recent, they have been containing a lot of rowanberries, which is not at all typical bear food.

A pile of bear crap with undigested rowanberries for your aesthetic enjoyment

A story from Chernaya Rechka (“Black River”) in Karelia reached me yesterday. A black bear occupied a cranberry field and refused to leave even when the local women shouted at it – not a typical behaviour for this beast. Now these women are said to go cranberry picking accompanied by men with shotguns.

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White whales by the canal

Yesterday saw a group of four white whales, apparently hunting herring, by the canal in the west part of the city, swimming pretty close to fishermen’s boats..

Hunter-gatherer days: mussels, mushrooms, and two buckets of fucus

Inspired by Alexandra’s stories from the Chupa conference on the biological resources of the White Sea and especially its algae we went out to the littoral to collect said resources that presently appear to be on their way to becoming fashionable in the sense that there is a lot of talk about them being underutilized (see an article on the subject by Olga Maximova, an algologist from Moscow). more >>

A NEW BOOK: A WILD BIRD AND A CULTURED MAN

The Common Eider and Homo Sapiens: Fourteen Centuries Together

A popular science book by Alexandra Goryashko

Publication expected in 2019

The preparation of a popular science book on the world-wide history of the relationship between humans and the eiders – A Wild Bird and a Cultured Man (The Common Eider and Homo Sapiens: Fourteen Centuries Together) – for printing is nearing its end.

The author is the biologist and historian of science Alexandra Goryashko. This letter is to inform you about the upcoming publication which will be published in both Russian and English versions.

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First mosquitoes sighted, and the ants are up too

Snow is still all around but yesterday I saw two mosquitoes that were too small and quick to be photographed, and an anthill teeming with activity, which Alexandra captured with her camera. “Real” spring is close!

 

The eider book announcement

It is a pleasure for me to announce that my mate Alexandra’s mega-project of the last four or five years, the book on the relationship between the Common eider and Man, has its end in sight. My role was that of a translator and occasionally a lightning rod for the outbursts of the author’s anger at the world dearing to interfere with the process.

Below is a letter from Alexandra to all those interested in acquiring the book or perhaps helping financially in its printing.

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The source of potable water

Local tap water will not kill you. At least not immediately. And if it does its destructive power will be in its taste rather than chemical content. It is a proven fact that tea and coffee taste better from water obtained from one of several springs around the city. Here is how it is done at the City Park on the left side of the Niva river..

Black, white, and pink

Somewhat belated Season’s greetings!

After a long grey fall, the real winter has set in, with short days and lots of fluffy snow. As to the color scheme, it has been reduced to just three: black, white and, in the brief hour or less the sun is up, pink.

 

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Seen five White-throated dippers at a time

Normally this little and rare (several hundred pairs in the entire Murmansk Region) birdie lives in a rather dispersed fashion, with one to three pairs per 10km of stream. But today we have been observing at least five individuals at once, diving into bubbling water to get their bugs and worms and what not.

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Intense aurora borealis right over Kandalaksha last night

Last night, October 7, at about 10 pm, we were treated to spectacular northern lights display clearly visible right over the town despite light pollution. That may have been the brightest display I’ve ever seen. First we even thought the building was on fire.

Here are some photos taken with an ordinary camera.

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