Saturday, 9 February 2013

LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM ALAND

Åland is an archipelago lying off the southwestern corner of Finland and occupies a position of strategic importance, as they command one of the entrances to the port of Stockholm, as well as the approaches to the Gulf of Bothnia, in addition to being situated near the Gulf of Finland. Åland's economy is heavily dominated by shipping, representing about 40% of the economy, with several international carriers owned and operated off Åland. One can imagine the importance of lighthouses to the island’s history - here are some details of the two tallest towers on the card.
The tall and slim Sälskär Lighthouse is considered to be one of the Baltic Sea’s most beautiful lighthouses.  The 31 m (102 ft.) round white brick tower is situated in Hammarland in the northern part of Åland (60° 24,7’ N 19° 35,8’ E).
The Lågskär Lighthouse is a 23 m (75 ft.) square red concrete tower located in a small island about 15 km (9 mi) south of Mariehamn (59° 50,5’ N 19° 55,0’ E). The island has for a long time been a site for bird observations, and nowadays the old keeper's houses are used by visiting ornithologists.
Aland Post issued beautiful WWF bird stamps featuring Eagle Owls in 1996 and repeated the theme on January, 2 2001 with this four sea duck stamps. The depicted bird species is nowadays very rare in Westerns Europe. The Steller's Eider (Polysticta stelleri) normally breeds along the Siberian coast of the Arctic Ocean, in Northern Alaska and partly even in north-eastern Norway.  At the same time small flocks of the Steller's Eider are regular winter guests in the Baltic Sea and particularly on land. Since the mid 1979s a flock of around one-hundred birds pass the winter at Lagsker, approximately 30 km south of Mariehamn. The bird is named after the German naturalist Georg Steller, considered a pioneer of Alaskan natural history.

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