THE SOMERSET BIRDER
 
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Finland
23-30 May 2015

I had always wanted to go to Finland but been put off by the need to be shown the owls - there's no chance you'd find them otherwise, and the prices of the week long guided trips are huge. The possibility of arranging the trip ourselves but attending just a couple of Finnature day tours was attractive and this is the result. For a short while we wondered about whether to combine Northern Norway into the trip, but instead booked a night at a wild Brown Bear hide at Martinselkonen. We were very glad we choose this option rather than sitting in a car for a large proportion of the week!

Itinerary

23 May 2015
Fly from Heathrow to Helsinki and from Helsinki to Oulu. Pick up hire car and drive to Liminka Bay Nature Centre.

24 May 2015
Days birding around the Gulf of Bothnia and Oulu.

25 May 2015
Finnature guided days birding around Oulu

26 May 2015
Drive to Martinselkonen Erakeskus and overnight at a wild Brown Bear feeding station.

27 May 2015
Drive from Martinselkonen to Oulu and north to the Arctic Circle birding in the rain! Overnight at the Holiday Club Kuusamon Tropiikki.

28 May 2015
Birding around Kuusamo, including Valtavaara. Failed to find Livaara (Directions in Dave Gosneys - Finding Birds in South Finland are crap, it's 22km along the track NOT 14.5km. There is a turn off at 14.5km but it's the wrong one).

29 May 2015
Finnature guided days birding around Kuusamo.

30 May 2015
Travel from Kuusamo to Oulu. A couple of hours birding around Oulu, follwed by flight home to Heathrow via Helsinki.

The Finnature Guided Birdwatching Excursions

Bascially, they cost €220 each per day. That's the most important thing you need to know! The first trip at Oulu began disasterously. It was very clear that our guide had not visited any of the owl boxes before. He was finding his way to each site via a hand written list of co-ordinates in his note book, whilst trying to find them on his phones GPS. Once he found the sites, he wandered off into the woods to try and find the box before calling us in. His Pygmy Owl call was rubbish, and (unsurprisingly) failed. He did, however, make us for a poor early start by finding a recently fledged Tengmalm's Owl and the day got better from then on.

The Kuusamo trip was better planned, although the guide failed to find some target birds, dispite trying hard at multiple sites. It was clear that he was a more experienced birder than the Oulu guide. Even though you apparently contribute to conservation through the tours (marketing speak) there's no denying that they are far, far too expensive. But ultimately, if you want to see the birds, you have no choice. We really enjoyed the birds we saw on the tours and we would definitely have not seen them without.

The Birds

Black-throated Diver
Great Crested Grebe
Red-necked Grebe
Whooper Swan
Shelduck
Mallard
Pintail
Shoveler
Wigeon
Teal
Garganey
Pochard
Tufted Duck
Common Scoter
Velvet Scoter
Goldeneye
Smew
Goosander
Red-breasted Merganser
White-tailed Eagle
Osprey
Marsh Harrier
Pallid Harrier - more than one, Liminka Bay
Capercaillie - in the road north of Kuusamo
Black Grouse
Willow Grouse
Hazel Grouse - Valtavaara
Coot
Common Crane
Oystercatcher
Little-ringed Plover
Lapwing
Turnstone
Dunlin
Broad-billed Sandpiper - flock of 8 and a single flying over, Kuusamo
Temminks Stint
Green Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Terek Sandpiper - single near oil port, Oulu
Redshank
Greenshank
Black-tailed Godwit
Curlew
Whimbrel
Woodcock
Ruff
Black-headed Gull
Common Gull
Caspian Gull
Herring Gull
Baltic Gull
Little Gull
Common Tern
Arctic Tern
Gull-billed Tern
Woodpigeon
Cuckoo
Northern Hawk Owl - pairs near Oulu and Kuusamo
Pygmy Owl - in a box near Oulu and male Livaara
Great Grey Owl - Oulu
Ural Owl - Oulu
Tengmalm's Owl - fledged chick Oulu and in a box, Kuusamo
Swift
Black Woodpecker - Oulu
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Three-toed Woodpecker - Oulu
Skylark
Sand Martin
Barn Swallow
Red-rumped Swallow - two near Liminka Nature Centre on 24/5/15
House Martin
Scandanavian Rock Pipit
Meadow Pipit
Tree Pipit
White Wagtail
Yellow (Grey-heeded) Wagtail
Wren
Waxwing
Robin
Red-flanked Bluetail - pair nest building, Livaara
Common Redstart
Northern Wheatear
Whinchat
Redwing
Fieldfare
Blackbird
Sedge Warbler
Lesser Whitethroat
Blackcap
Willow Warbler
Chiffchaff
Greenish Warbler - singing from randon forest near Arctic Circle
Goldcrest
Spotted Flycatcher
Pied Flycatcher
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Willow Tit
Siberian Tit - in a box at Livaara
Siberian Jay - Kuusamo
Magpie
Jay
Jackdaw
Rook
Hooded Crow
Raven
Starling
House Sparrow
Chaffinch
Brambling
Common Redpoll
Greenfinch
Goldfinch
Linnet
Brambling
Siskin
Bullfinch
Common Crossbill
Parrot Crossbill - Oulu
Two-barred Crossbill - Livaara
Common Rosefinch
Reed Bunting
Little Bunting - Kuusamo
Ortolan Bunting
Yellowhammer

The Photos


Brown Bear at Martinselkonen


Three-toed Woodpecker


Two different male Capercaillies on the road north of Oulu


Common Scoter on Papinjarvi Lake, Oulu


Great Grey Owl near Oulu


Hawk Owls near Oulu


Hazel Grouse at Valtavaara


Little Gull at Kuusamo


Pallid Harrier near Liminka


Parrot Crossbill near Oulu


Pied Flycatcher, Liminka Bay


Pygmy Owl at Lavaara


Red-necked Grebe near Kuusamo


One of two Red-rumped Swallows we found at Liminka Bay Nature Centre


Siberian Jay near Kuusamo


Siberian Tit at Livaara


Tengmalm's Owls near Kuusamo and Oulu


Ural Owl near Oulu

 

 

 
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