Natural Features of Ilmakkiaapa
Ilmakkiaapa is Part of the Mire Reservation Programme
The Mire Reservation Programme was created to protect the versatile indigenous mire landscape of this country. Many of our finest natural state mires belong to this programme. The aim is to protect the water balance, flora and fauna of these areas. Mire reserves also help to preserve the regions' berry picking and reindeer management practices.
Aapa Mires of the Peräpohjola Region
In Ilmakkiaapa, watery flarks and drier strings alternate, making patterns along the mire's surface. The aapa mire, which gently follows the contours of the terrain, is a combination of bog types specific to Northern Finland, and heavy spring floods and winter freezes have contributed to their creation. Floodwater prevents the growth of sphagnum mosses, thus creating prospects for growth for vegetation characteristic of these mires: numerous species of sedge, cottongrass and bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliata). Dwarf birches (Betula nana), marsh Labrador tea (Rhododendron tomentosum) and other dwarf shrubs grow on the frost covered strings. The types of mire here include sedge meadow, flark fen and ‘nevaräme', which is a swamp with both open areas and pine growth.
In the early summer, cloudberries (Rubus chamaemorus), bogbeans with star shaped flowers and decorous cotton grasses form wide extravagant growths. In the autumn, when migratory birds have left, the whole marsh is aglow with hews of yellow, red and brown. The best time to go and pick cranberries (Vaccinium oxycoccos) on the mire is after the first few frosts.
Resting Places and Nesting Sites of Birds
In the spring and early summer Ilmakkiaapa serves as the site for marsh birds to rest and nest. The common crane (Grus grus), whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus), bean goose (Anser fabalis) and many species of waders and water birds are then everyday guests of the mire. In Ilmakkiaapa a trekker may also get a chance to observe the tournaments of colourful ruff cocks (Philomachus pugnax). The time for waders does not last long, because many of them already begin their return journey before midsummer.
The bird species spotted in Ilmakkiaapa include:
- long-tailed duck (Clangula hyemalis)
- jack snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus)
- broad-billed sandpiper (Limicola falcinellus)
- golden plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
- common crane (Grus grus)
- whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus)
- bean goose (Anser fabalis)
- common scoter (Melanitta nigra)
- peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)
- little gull (Larus minutus)
- little bunting (Emberiza pusilla)
- velvet scoter (Melanitta fusca)
- smew (Mergus albellus)
- hen harrier (Circus cyaneus)
- ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
- red-necked phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)
For information on bird sightings in the Sodankylä region, see the Sodankylä Spotters' web page (linnut.sodankyla.fi).