Sunday 22 July 2018

Finland in June

Tengmalm's Owl.

Over the years there had been talk...
Talk from within the county's hides and upon the very reserves they look out over.
It came from dark corners of the city's taverns and the back rooms of Indian restaurants.
The whispers were of Finnish birds and of the 24 hours of summer daylight that is
available in which to discover them.

And the whispers grew louder...

Off to Finland we go!!!

Now then,
the logistics of planning and implementing a successful trip is usually heavily reliant upon a number of factors, namely online trip reports, guide books and Gosney dvd's. Much better than all of this, we were fortunate to have our very own tour guide/interpreter/fixer in the shape of Oxons much loved and respected tame Fin and honouree Moomin, Aulikki.

Kiitos Aulikki.

After several 'logistics' meetings at the Broad Face pub in Abingdon, our route through Finland was decided. We would spend the first few days near Helsinki staying at the home of some of Aulikki's
friends, whose hospitality was unrivalled. We would then bird in the capital and surrounding
sites guided by Aulikki's nephew and birding protégé Heikki whose patience and expertise was
very much welcomed and appreciated.

Myself, Andy and Aulikki would continue our jorney northwards skirting the wetlands to the
east before spending some time in northern Finland within the Kuusamo region. We were then to enter the Arctic Circle before crossing the boarder and heading on in to Norway, the second leg
of our Scandi adventure.

Our spacious cabin in the woods and base whilst in Kuussamo.

The view from the cabin with a wild Aulikki captured in her natural habitat.

There are few places I have been to that are truly quiet, and when I say quiet, I mean silent.
No distant rumble of traffic, no planes, nothing but pin dropping, epiphany inspiring,
deafening exquisite silence, the spell was only to be broken by bird song.

To be able to immerse ourselves within this world was enchanting, these ancient forests in fitful dormancy, awaiting the softening of spring to envelop the rawness of winter.

The Siberian Jays would visit us at the cabin most days, their inquisitive demeaner and relative tameness would suggest that the studying was mutual.

In recent years these birds have adopted bananas in to their diet, high energy tit bits bestowed from successive benevolent hikers -unfortunately it would seem that our pair had yet to meet such well meaning fruit baring ramblers.

Scandi Andy on the Bluetail trail.

Our adjacent lake would often host Goosander and Smew whilst several of the larger nearby lakes
would be home to Red-necked Grebes and Velvet Scoter. Further afield these waters were adorned
with deco-esq Black-throated Divers, straight lines and symmetry both above and below mirrored liquid skies.

Redundant Russian lookout towering over the eastern border.

Sitting almost equi-distance between Kuusamo and the Norwegian border was the roadside café
at Kaamanen, a nondescript building which not only provided a welcome stop off point on the journey but whose well stocked bird tables regularly attracted Pine Grosbeaks.

Pine Grosbeak Gallery:

These pastel, song thrush sized birds, are as beguiling as they were sporadic in their appearances
at the tables. The supporting cast of Brambling (finches decorated in colours nature usually consigns for creatures carrying venom) filled the spaces between the star attractions as did the Willow Tits which are of noticeably paler plumage than their U.K counterparts.
Taken on my mobile through the glass while munching chips (me not the Grosbeak).

All bird photographs courtesy of The Mauve Hawk.

Birding in Finland:

I hope to have captured the atmosphere and birding experiences during our time in some
of the most remote and beautiful parts of northern Europe and more importantly I hope you enjoy it.

Please view at 1080p50 HD

Finnish Highlights:

Whooper Swan
Barnacle Geese (predominately large feral flocks)
Steller's Eider
Common Scoter
Velvet Scoter

Black Grouse
Black-throated Diver
Slavonian Grebe
Red-necked Grebe
Steppe Eagle
Hen Harrier
Marsh Harrier
Honey Buzzard
Common Crane
Eurasian Dotterel
European Golden Plover

Broad-billed Sandpiper
Little Stint
Temminck's Stint
Wood Sandpiper
Green Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Red-necked Phalarope
Little Gull
Baltic Gull
Little Tern
Caspian Tern

Great Grey Owl
Ural Owl
Northern Hawk Owl
Tengmalm's Owl
Eurasian Pygmy Owl
Short-eared Owl
Black Woodpecker
Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker
Lesser-spotted Woodpecker
Tree Pipit
Thrush Nightingale
Red-flanked Bluetail

Great Reed Warbler
Icterine Warbler
Wood Warbler
Pied Flycatcher
Spotted Flycatcher
Willow Tit
Siberian Tit
Short-toed Treecreeper
Red-backed Shrike
Siberian Jay
Golden Oriole
Northern Bullfinch
Pine Grosbeak
Common Rosefinch
Little Bunting
Rustic Bunting

Badger & The Mauve Hawk birding the taiga forests of Kuusamo June 2017.

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