Umeå truly lives up to its nickname, – the City of Birches – in autumn when the birches fill the landscape and streets in their bright, golden colors.
Spent the day out at Lake Nydala (a stone’s throw away from Campus), taking photographs in the mild autumn weather which is coming in. Temperature’s holding up at around 0 – 10 °C, so while I’m starting to feel a little chilly, the mallards I’ve run into seem to be having no troubles at all!
Picture of the day: Mallard, male & female. ISO 400, 178 mm, f/5.6, 1/200
Female mallard diving down for a quick snack. ISO 400, 321 mm, f/6.3, 1/160.
Lake Nydala measures up to just short 10 km of lit trails along its perimeter, making it ideal for any runner, but it also has a designated dog trail, a massive free-of-charge skiing trail, a maintained skiing trail for members, and a multitude of cozy fireplaces prepared to accommodate anything from a young couple to entire groups of a dozen or more students out for a picnic.
Picture of the day: German Shorthaired Pointer, ISO 720; 178 mm; f/5.6; 1/125
We had an interesting lecture about experimental design in ecology earlier to walk us through the do’s and whatnots of conducting your own experiment: might sound strict, but in the end it’s all about how to best get the answer to your peculiar question! In fact, it’s not that different from many other things in life – just follow the guidelines, consult others who know more than you, and put your creativity to good use.
In fact, scrolling through a couple of background papers, I realized some researchers had evaluated using pointing dogs to lessen the chance of missing a hiding bird that should be counted.
Might be a good solution when you’re looking for birds in this…!
View in towards Sarek from Prinskullen, just north of Kvikkjokk in the Scandinavian Mountain Chain.
Picture of the day: Common Goldeneye, ISO 400; 143 mm; f/5.6; 1/320
Being able to understand and apply different census methods & techniques is an irreplaceable skill to any wildlife manager – perhaps today more than ever!
Fortunately, the hassle of summarizing some distant data by hand is left behind at your old Stat. 101 course, and is replaced by real, relevant data sets; real questions and viable, computerized methods of summarizing your data using anything from excel to specialist software such as Mark (nifty programme which can automate a huge range of different types of Mark- and recapture).
In the end, we end up mostly counting not the animals that we see – but the ones we don’t!
As I mentioned earlier, a big part of the Census Techniques course is planning your own census – in the form of a project proposal to an agency! I’ll be working with monitoring the Willow Ptarmigan population, but good ornithologists might notice I’ve sneaked in an islandic subspecies of Rock Ptarmigan on the cover photo.
Other classmates have picked species ranging from a newly discovered bat (Myotis alcathoe) to the Arctic Fox or Atlantic Salmon – so we’ll be sure to see our fair share of different census techniques represented!
If you’d like a foreign experience during your foreign exchange year, look no further! Vaasa, home to no less than 6 different universities (!!) and Umeås twin city, lies just across kvarken and a ferry trip away from Umeå.
This makes it ideal for that relaxed weekend you’ve been planning to treat yourself to after that last gruelling ”tenta” – or wild night out in town whereafter you feel the need for a weekend getaway where you promise yourself there’s no chance you’ll be recognized! 😉
For anyone interested in birding or wildlife photography, the archipelargo brings amazing opportunities to photograph and experience Ostersjons sea birds, including the imported Canada Goose, which has developed a viable population which thrives in its new Nordic home (you’ll see these flying south over Umeå come autumn). You might also find yourself in the company of some seals!
There’s also a full load of outdoors activities for those interested in experiencing the Kvarken world heritage site first hand in both Finland and Sweden: Finnish Kvarken Archipelargo, Swedish High Coast. In fact, there’s a group from the class going hiking in the High Coast tomorrow!
Not to miss! Vaasa features a stunning waterfront right next to the city centre.
P.S. Don’t forget to get your Marimekko and all the Mumin-themed plattery, books, films and other apparel you (or any Mumin-fantast you know!) has ever dreamt of while you’re there.
The second year consists of a range of selective courses (<– Check it out!) that you can take part of to tailor your time at SLU to pursue your interests and suit your future needs! It’s also possible to, following American tradition, conduct a masters thesis running over a full academic year, or, like me, conduct two separate masters thesis in order to fulfill several programme requirements.
I’ve prior to applying to Fish and Wildlife taken a BSc. in Forestry here at SLUs Jägmästarprogramme (BSc. + MSc. Forestry), and quite recommend the lovely atmosphere here in Umeå. Rather uniquely (I’ve never heard of anything like it!), Umeå campus hosts two universities (The Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences & Umeå University) right next to eachother.
As such, Umeå is a vibrant, active city with lots of events for both international and domestic students (you’ll have no problems at all speaking in english to anyone you might meet)! It’s a city just the right size to provide all the amenities you’d want, but still stay small enough to stay cozy and easy to get to know. In particular, Umeå will treat those of you who love the great outdoors well, as it is renowned for its close proximity to nature: going hiking, cycling, skiing, climbing or just about any sport you might think of, is a breeze!
The Forestry Students Union provides all SLU students in Umeå with a students card, which is necessary to visit more or less all student events and parties organized by the different student unions, so don’t miss out; it also serves to get you those great students discounts!