Tern Island

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Tärnskär (“Tern Island”) is a low seal-like grey cliff on the outer margin of the Stockholm archipelago. My buddy Dendro-Åke only goes there when an eastern wind is blowing, because if your engine dies and there’s any other wind, you end up on the other side of the Baltic.


The archipelago is a really amazing land/seascape. Imagine a flat gneiss and granite plateau criss-crossed by huge faults and crevices. Now run a few glaciations across it, sanding it down real good, so that everything is rounded. There are huge level differences, but nothing pointy or jutting, and the floors of the great crevices are filled with sediment from the sanding-down. Finally cover this piece of terrain with water so only the highest rounded cliffs break the surface — and voilà, you’ve got yourself the landscape I’ve lived most of my life in.

Common Orange Lichen?

Yesterday my dad took us to Tärnskär in his fast motorboat. It was my first visit in 20 years. We swam the lagoon, lazed in the sun, went exploring, and had a barbecue dinner. Summer is the only time you want to try to even get ashore on Tärnskär. But there’s quite a varied and abundant flora, and the gulls nest there on the edge of the open sea.

Please help me identify the flower and lichen!

Purple-loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria, Fackelblomster. (Thanks Pär!)




4 thoughts on “Tern Island

  1. What a wonderful spot. A sailboat would get you there more slowly, of course, but has the advantage that if your engine dies, you don’t notice until you’re back at the marina. 😉


  2. if your engine dies and there’s any other wind, you end up on the other side of the Baltic.

    And the problem with that is …?

    I’m not a botanist, so I can’t identify the flower, but you might find it through NatureGate, which has a neat online key for recognising Finnish flowers.

    For those unfortunate enough not to be able to explore the Finnish or Swedish archipelagos, Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book (Sommarboken) is a beautiful evocation of the whole gestalt.


  3. Looks very similar to the place where I’m in just now: Trutkobbarna (Seagull Rocks) at the tip of the Porkkala Peninsula (about 59.9N, 24.5E). The name is in Swedish, which is normal for this locality.

    And I mean JUST NOW, when I’m sitting half-naked in my motorboat, typing this message with my netbook, and tethered to the Internet via mobile phone.

    Next I’ll pump up my inflatable canoe and go exploring…


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