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!
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.
Great Crested Grebe
Pallid Harrier - more than one, Liminka Bay
Capercaillie - in the road north of Kuusamo
Hazel Grouse - Valtavaara
- flock of 8 and a single flying over, Kuusamo
Terek Sandpiper - single near oil port, Oulu
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
Black Woodpecker - Oulu
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Three-toed Woodpecker - Oulu
Red-rumped Swallow - two near Liminka Nature Centre on 24/5/15
Scandanavian Rock Pipit
Yellow (Grey-heeded) Wagtail
Red-flanked Bluetail - pair nest building, Livaara
Greenish Warbler - singing from randon forest near Arctic Circle
Siberian Tit - in a box at Livaara
Siberian Jay - Kuusamo
Parrot Crossbill - Oulu
Two-barred Crossbill - Livaara
Little Bunting - Kuusamo
Brown Bear at Martinselkonen
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