Norway nature

Articles in ‘Norway nature’

Magpies loved in Norway

February 25th, 2011

The magpie, along with other members of the crow family, is often reviled and the object of superstitious beliefs.  This interesting extract from The Naturalist of Norway by John Bowden, published in 1869, shows how attitudes to birds can vary among cultures, including within Europe.

The magpie is common in all parts of Norway.  It is a special favourite among the peasants who would not harm it on any consideration.  The Lapps esteem it highly, and do their best to entice it about their tents.  During the long and wearisome winter of Norway, the magpie is to the Norwegian bönder what the redbreast is to the country people of England.  This bird is allowed to come into the peasant’s cottage; it is regularly fed, and if any mischievous person were to molest it, he would bring down a storm about his ears which he would not forget in a hurry.

Bowden also found that Norwegian magpies, as well as becoming very tame, had special powers attributed to them, verging on the magical:

In country districts here, the people put hens’ eggs under the magpie and consider the chickens hatched in such a way will be prolific layers.

But people were aware of the risks:

When this is done, the magpie is carefully watched at hatching time, and the chickens are removed as soon as they come out of their shells, otherwise the magpie would devour them.

Photo by zimpenfish

Reptile smuggler given away by tarantula

October 27th, 2009 Customs officials first suspected the 22-year old Norwegian, who’d just stepped off a ferry from Denmark, when they spotted a tarantula scuttling inside his bag.  They then noticed “his whole body was in constant motion”. The wriggling movement was due to the 14 baby royal pythons tucked away in socks strapped to the man’s torso.  That wasn’t all: when the officials made him drop his trousers they found 10 cans taped to his legs, each containing an albino leopard gecko.  As Norway bans the import of reptiles, including unendangered species like these, he has been fined 12,500 Norwegian crowns (£1,800).

Ecological changes in the Arctic

September 11th, 2009 A review article in this week’s Science on the impact of climate change on the Arctic notes that ecosystems are changing fast, and that could portend more shifts in other parts of the world. The authors list numerous examples. Ringed seal pups in the Canadian Arctic have lost birth lairs to early spring melts, while warmer winters have allowed reindeer in Norway to thrive. Arctic fox populations are dropping as red foxes move north. And caribou calving has fallen out of sync with peak plant growth in Greenland, possibly explaining why calf survival has declined. More here

European wildlife news 1

September 2nd, 2009
  • Fin whales have not returned this year to the Bay of Biscay in as many numbers as usual, raising concerns over the state of the fish stocks they feed on, and the health of this important marine ecosystem. Here
  • Sweden has introduced a shoot to kill and cull campaign in an attempt to reduce the number of vehicle accidents and damage to forests due to the increasing moose population in the country.  42 people have been killed and almost 2,000 people have been injured in road collisions involving the animals over the past five years. Here
  • Thousands of birds have died as a result of one of Norway’s worst oil disasters which happened 100 miles south of Norway’s capital city, Oslo, after an oil tanker ran aground in bad weather. Birdwatch
  • France faces an invasion of Chinese hornets that could hasten the decline of the honeybee population. BBC