In spite of its rough characteristics, the island coloured by the sea buckthorn is full of life, especially during the nesting time of birds.
The birdlife of Kylmäpihlaja was charted in summer 2001. Raimo Sundelin found 28 nesting bird species on the island. Four of the most characteristic birds of the island are: eider, Arctic tern, ringed plover and house martin.
Juniper-filled areas and the peacefulness that has lasted for decades have brought a large eider population to the island. In 2001, over 75 eider couples nested in Kylmäpihlaja. Along with the island of Kylmän-Santakari, Kylmäpihlaja is the most suitable island for eiders in the southern Rauma archipelago.
The Arctic terns arrive to the southern rocks of the island to nest from as far as southern Africa. The colony consisted of 25-30 couples in the summer of 2001 and in 2003 the population was even larger. As the terns defend their nests aggressively, there are subtenants enjoying the peace by the colony: several couples of ringed plovers and common redshanks, three couples each.
The pilot station building has gathered almost twenty couples of house martins under its eaves. One couple wants to admire the sea a bit more widely and they have nested in the lighthouse tower, at the height of 25 metres. Even over 50 couples have been known to nest under the eaves prior to the renovation in the 1980s.
Velvet scoters have so far had the peace to nest, 5 couples, but will they tolerate the tourism, as they nest late in the summer? Other anseriformes species with a few nesting couples are mallard, goosander, red-breasted merganser, European wigeon and tufted duck.
Black guillemot used to be a permanent resident on the breakwater, but the minks and possibly net fishing destroyed the permanent population. Now minks have been hunted, fishing has decreased and black guillemots have returned: one in the summer of 2001 and three in the summer of 2002.
The only species of the passeriformes specialised in the archipelago, water pipit, nests in Kylmäpihlaja. Other species of passeriformes are: chaffinch, greenfinch, white wagtail, wheatear, meadow pipit, robin, willow warbler, lesser whitethroat, barn swallow, sand martin, common rosefinch and whitethroat.
The island is a wonderful place to observe the migration of the birds, such as the massive migrations of eiders and cormorants in the spring. During two years, over 160 bird species have been observed on the island.
The plants have appeared on the island in a very typical way for an island risen from the sea. The decomposing kelp has increased the amount of ground and the nitrogenous droppings of birds have increased the nutrient content of it.
Lichen and algae appeared first, and then plants that tolerate salt water. The island rose, the soil area grew and rainwater ponds and peat-covered areas formed. New plants were carried to the island by the wind, the sea and the birds.
Sea buckhorn took root in the ground and it became the most prominent plant of the island. The orange berries filled with vitamin C are noticeable in Semptember and October, whether you are a crow, a thrush or a human. Picking the berries is allowed, but squeezing is prohibited. Sea buckthorn is the symbolic plant of Rauma and the symbolic plant of Satakunta region.
In summer 2001 Irmeli Suokas inventoried the plants on the island: 162 plant species were found. Characteristic and noticeable growths, in addition to sea buckthorn, are partly impenetrable junipers and crowberry mats on the rocks. A few pines, birches and even a small spruce grow on the island. And of course some rowan trees (pihlaja). Deschampsia bottnica, a plant growing only by the Bothnian Sea, can be found on the shores.
Other typical plant species for the outer archipelago are: chives, Angelica archangelica subsp litoralis, sea aster, sea club-rush, seaside centaury, dwarf cornel, wild strawberry, lady’s bedstraw, sea milkweed, woad, yellow loosestrife, purple loosestrife, Odontites litoralis, grass of Parnassus, sea plaintain, Eged’s silverweed, goldmoss stonecrop, sea campion, sea arrowgrass, garden speedwell and heartsease.
Plants that have arrived on the island with humans are at least bergenia, lupin and apple tree. A few isolated plants of several species grow on the island. Such species are for example copse bindweed, cold-weather eyebright, figwort, catsfoot, bog sedge and common polypody.
Original text: Raimo Sundelin