Pungent smell

 

 

Vorsø 1975-87
Following periods of scanty rain, the naked trees in the western cormorant sub-colony are white, tinted by the guano, and almost blinding in the sunshine. The contrast is tremendous, when a black thundercloud builds up behind the trees. – July 21, 1985. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

(May 1984)

 

In May, Vorsø is marked by smells. At this time, almost all cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo ssp. sinensis) have young, and on warm days, a heavy, pungent smell of fish is permeating the island, coming from the guano. On our counting trips to the old eastern forest, Østerskov, semi-digested fish are streaming down from the nests, regurgitated by young, which have been frightened by our presence. Experience has taught us to keep our mouth shut in this sub-colony, when looking up! The regurgitated fish rot on the forest floor, adding to the pungent smell.

Following periods of scanty rain, the naked trees in the western sub-colony are white, tinted by the guano, and almost blinding in the sunshine. The contrast is tremendous, when a black thundercloud builds up behind the trees.

In the old western forest, Vesterskov, a different, garlic-like smell permeates the forest, emitted by ramsons (Allium ursinum), which covers large areas of the forest floor here. This species is often spreading at the expense of other plants. This fact was already noticed by famous Swedish naturalist Carl von Linné (1707-1778) – also called Carolus Linnaeus – on his journey to Gotland in 1741: ”The farmers told me about this plant that where it grows, it will expel other plants, of which we had clear evidence, because beneath bushes, where ramsons was growing, no other plants were found.” (Linnæus, C. 1745. Carl Linnæi Öländska och Gotländska Resa förrättad År 1741. – New ed. Wahlström & Widstrand, 1975, in Swedish).

The white umbels of ramsons (Allium ursinum) is a sight to behold. They soon fade, however, the leaves wither, and the stem lies flat on the ground. The seeds are surrounded by an oil-rich shell, appreciated by ants, which carry them away, thus contributing to its dispersal.

Some of the ramsons in Vesterskov not only has white umbels – their leaves are also white, spattered by cormorant guano. Ramsons may be able to expel other plants, but on the other hand, it is not able to withstand the caustic guano, and many of the spattered plants die. Sic transit gloria mundi.

 

 

Vorsø 1975-87
Semi-digested fish are streaming down from the cormorant nests, regurgitated by young, which have been frightened by our presence. In this picture, a selection of regurgitated, less digested fish. The flatfish above are common dabs (Limanda limanda), while the two fish below are viviparous eelpouts (Zoarces viviparus). – April 25, 1982. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Vorsø 1988-99 
The white umbels of ramsons (Allium ursinum) is a sight to behold. In this picture are also dog’s mercury (Mercurialis perennis) and leaves of creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens). – Vorsø, May 18, 1988. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Vorsø 2000-15
Ramsons may be able to expel other plants, but on the other hand, it is not able to withstand the caustic cormorant guano, and many of the spattered plants die. Sic transit gloria mundi. – May 6, 2007. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

(Uploaded February 2017)