NH expedition to the raised bog Bolshoe

Colorful poster, nature, berries, moss, water, sphagnum, rare species

In August, 26 the raised bog Bolshoe was visited by NH team. Our biointelligence troop consisted of team leader and biologist Maxim, carto- and photographer Mike and special guest Ilia. He's a chemical guru from AtlantNIRO (Atlantic Scientific Research Institute for Marine Fishery and Oceanography).

At first, what is a raised bog in common sense? If you think that it's a big muddy puddle you are wrong. There is no dirt, no angry spirits of water or something like else. This is a Kingdom of silence, calmness, and beauty built upon the colorful carpet of sphagnum. If you want to understand the Nature in all aspects you should visit a raised bog.

Oak leaves on colorful carpet of sphagnum

Secondly, what is «Bolshoe»? It means big. And this is truth. We estimated the bog area as occupying about 4 sq. kilometers, the perimeter is over 10 kilometers. You can even see it on an overview map of the whole Kaliningrad region.

Raised bog on the map, Kaliningrad, Russia

So, let's do a virtual visit to the bog via our photo-report.

Initially, the weather wasn't favoring for our mission but natural philosophers aren't afraid of rain, nor strong wind, nor even snow.

Green-grass field, sky and clouds

We had to cross deep ditches several times on the way. Don't worry, no one fell down and no one got hurt. We are very cautious researchers.

Grass in the ditch, flowers

Unlike the raised bog, swamp is a really muddy puddle. This is not Peppa Pig in slop but our coordinator of the project Maxim. By the way, he immediately found a rare species of duckweed in this puddle. The ducks were disappointed and flew away.

Photo of Maxim Napreenko on lowland bog

One more researcher is Mike. It's me. I took photos and collected GPS-points for the future map in this expedition. Later, I used GIS and Photoshop to process raw field data. Some of the results you can see in this article.

Mike is a GPS/Map specialist and nature photographer

We have nearly come. Look at the ground. This dense green carpet is a moss named Sphagnum. It means that the bog is close to us.

Green moss called sphagnum

It's a very interesting plant. In the years of wars, it was used as antiseptic for wound healing. Also, being in the form of the peat Sphagnum is a great fuel. You can even buy peat briquettes, put them into your fireplace and enjoy. But peat extraction industry adversely affects the raised bogs and the environment. Also, Sphagnum is a valuable eco-material for the construction sector.

Sphagnum close up shot

Do not confuse bog blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum) and ordinary bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus). This are different plants. Bog blueberry, bilberry and cowbilberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) give us a great opportunity to increase the concentration of vitamins in our weak nerd bodies. Bog berries for botanists are like steroids for sportsmen.

Bog blueberry

Well, we arrived at the destination of our expedition. This is a raised bog — the complicated living system. At the mechanics level, it's a hummock-ridge complex. It's too hard to explain in words what the raised bog is. You have to walk here, to fall in hollows and water pools, eat sour cranberry (Oxycoccus palustris), and breathe in a heady aroma of Labrador tea (Ledum palustre). So, what are you waiting for?

Raised bog Bolshoe in Chernyakhovsk, Kaliningrad Region, Russia

Also, a bog is a place where chemistry meets biology. In the photo: a very close cooperation between biologist Maxim and chemist Ilia. Conception of a new scientific article.

Chemistry meets biology. Cooperation between scientists on raised bog Bolshoe

Initially, cranberry has a pretty shitty taste but after first ground frosts the taste changes significantly and cranberry becomes a delicious and valuable product.

Cranberry on the raised bog Bolshoe. Natural Heritage's photo

Another rare species in Kaliningrad region — rannoch-rush (Scheuchzeria palustris).

Photo of rannoch-rush (Scheuchzeria palustris L).

We walked аlong and across the Bolshoe bog all day and enjoyed the virgin nature. But the evening came and we had to back home. The bog said «goodbye» to us via delightful sunset.

Delightful sunset on raised bog Bolshoe in Kaliningrad Region. Photo of sunset

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