Finland, the modern, high-tech North European nation covers a large portion of Fennoscavia, sharing its Eastern border with Russia, while limits with Norway in the North, and Sweden in the North West. Finland gained its independence about 100 years ago, and since then has become a modern, rich and liberal country, being a Western country of reference in many aspects.
Lapland, the only accessible Arctic regió on the mainland Europe, is one of those magic places which every birdwatcher should visit onze. Here the sun never sets for months on end, fuelling the spectacular, but all too brief explosió of life that makes the Arctic summer so special.
This tour is very carefully timed so that we will be visiting Finland and Finnmark early enough to give us an enhanced opportunity to see owls and other forest specialities, and at the same time avoid the plagues of mosquitoes that torment the visitor once the warmer weather sets in.
We shall begin our trip through Finland in Oulu area, visiting the forests, marshes and lakes of the Gulf of Oulu, hosting a great variety of wildlfowl at this time of the year. Here we should have good chances for owls, including Eurasian Pygmy, Ural, Tengmalm’s or even the amazing Great Grey. Here we may see Spotted Redshanks are already moving South from their nesting territories along with several other waders, Common Cranes, Garganeys and some of the Northernmost Eurasian Bitterns while other species are still in their way North. Around Oulu we will look for Terek’s Sandpiper and Pallid Harriers, both having small nesting populations in Finland. Our tour will stop for a few days in Kuusamo, near the Russian border, where we will look for a long list of specialities that inhabit the boreal forests. In these endless conifer woodlands we shall find Rustic & Little Buntings, Hazel & Willow Grouses, Siberian Jay, Parrot Crossbill, Red-flanked Bluetail, Greenish Warbler and Tree-toed Woodpecker along with Red-necked Grebe, Smew and Taiga Bean Goose.
In our way North we will make a short stop around Ivalo, where our chances to connect with Siberian Tit, Western Capercaillie, Little Bunting, Bohemian Waxwing and Broad-billed Sandpiper will be high.
In the far North landscapes of Norwegian Finnmark, we will look for a long set of species living in the vasts landscapes of tundra and fjörds. Here we will look for Brünnich’s Guillemot, Snow & Lapland Buntings, Yellow-billed (or White-billed) Divers, Long-tailed Skua, Dotterel, Temmick’s Stint, “blue” Fulmars, Red-spotted Bluethroat, Red-throated Pipit, Arctic Tern, Rock Ptarmigan, Gyr Falcon, and Steller’s Eider.
Our journey the this Arctic region will end in Ivalo. This small Finnish town will provide us with our last birding of the tour, and here we expect good views on Pine Grosbeaks as well as a final chance to enjoy Grouses and Divers on the variety of woodlands and lakes surrounding it.
Carles Oliver has been leading tours in Finland and Scandinavia since 2015. The Arctic lonely landscapes and the low density but excellent quality of birds in the boreal forest are one of the most exciting but challenging points of this tour for any birdwatcher, including the guides! This is a tour of early weak ups (we have 24 hours of daylight, and bird activity extends all along them), good accommodations (please remember that are exploring rather remote areas) and excellent roads.
Day 1. Oulu
Afternoon arrival to Oulu, where all tour participants will assemble if not did it in Helsinki Airport (not many flights per day linking both cities).
Check in at our accommodation and some birding before going to bed. This first day we will have time to enjoy the wonderful “evening” light of the area while having first looks to summer plumaged Ruffs but also European Reed Buntings, Sedge Warblers, Common Snipes, Little Gulls, Common Cranes, Whooper Swans. If being lucky we will enjoy one of the few Pallid Harriers nesting in Finland (10 pairs in 2018).
Here we will have also views on some common birds such as Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Starlings & Rook, absent from the rest of the itinerary!
Day 2. Oulu – Kuusamo
Early morning start. This day we will do some owling around Oulu, where we will have first chances for a number of species. Species are variable depending on the year but main targets here are Ural, Eurasian Pygmy & Great Grey Owl. Northern Hawk Owl is also possible. Still, we must advice that owl populations are highly variable depending on the year. We will so our best to have all species, although this is really difficult!
We will also visit a number of places offering good chances for Common Rosefinch, Velvet Scoter, Black-tailed Godwit and the extremelly scarce Terek’s Sandpiper!
Afternoon transfer to Kuusamo and check-in in our hotel.
Days 3 & 4. Kuusamo
Two full days in Kuusamo to explore boreal forests looking for Red-flanked Bluetail, Hazel Grouse, Pygmy Owl, Capercaillie, Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker, Scandinavian Willow Tit, Arctic & Greenish Warblers, Bohemian Waxwing or Pine Grosbeak among other jewels.
During these days we will walk one or two trails to have better options for Red-flanked Bluetail and, if really lucky, Two-barred Crossbill.
Open areas would provide with Little Bunting, Rustic Bunting while the several lakes here can host Black-throated Diver, Smews, Velvet Scoters, Red-necked Grebes, Whooper Swans or Heuglhin’s Gull.
Days 5 & 6. Kuusamo – Ivalo – Varanger (Norway)
After leaving Kuusamo during the morning we will head to Ivalo where we will have an overnight.
During the morning day 6 we will explore boreal forests having good densities of Siberian Jay and Western Capercaillie. This area will also give us further options for Northern Hawk Owl while Siberian Tit, Bohemian Waxwing and Arctic Warbler are also possible around.
Some exploring in different bogs will allow us chances for Northern Grey Shrike, Jack Snipe and Broad-billed Sandpiper.
Afternoon transfer to Varanger, in Norway, and check-in at our hotel.
Days 7, 8 & 9. Varanger (Finnmark, Norway)
During these three days we will explore Varanger. One of the mornings we will enjoy the amazing see bird colony at Hornoya, where tens of thousands of auks and see birds nest, including the scarce Brünnich’s Guillemot. This is also an excellent place to see Gir Falcon!
The wonderful tundra areas here hosts good population of Lapland & Snow Buntings, Long-tailed & Arctic Skuas, Temminck’s Stints, Red-throated Pipits, Horned Larks, Rock Ptarmigan, Willow Grouse, Dotterel while herds of Reindeers can be seen all around.
Low bushered areas or patches of bushy Willows host Arctic Redpoll and Bluethroats and, in the coastal areas we will enjoy with Red-throated Divers, Red-necked Phalaropes, Long-tailed Duck, Arctic Skuas, Black Guillemots, Goosanders and Atlantic Fulmars (blue form). White-tailed Eagles are a common view as it is Long-legged Buzzards.
But some of the main targets here will be Gyr Falcon along with the scarce King & Steller’s Eiders and Yellow-billed Divers. Chances for summer staying Glaucous or Iceland Gulls are also to take in count!
Afternoon day 9 transfer to Ivalo.
Day 10. Ivalo
Very last morning of the trip. We will spend the last hours birdwatching in a pair of selected locations around Ivalo providing good chances for Broad-billed Sandpiper, Jack Snipe, Little Bunting and Rustic Bunting before our morning flight from Ivalo to Helsinki (normally fights are about 10:00).
9 nights of accommodation in twin / double room, breakfasts, lunches and evening meals, birding guides, ground transport, boat tiquets, reservee entrances/ fees and travel insurace. Pricing includes VAT.
Flight tiquets to Oulu / from Ivalo. Alcoholic and soft drinks are no inclòs, any other item not listed as “INCLUDED”
Tour participants will assemble in International Helsinki Airport for early afternoon flight to Oulu or in Oulu Airport itself. For American & Canadian clients we also offer the option to include flight tickets from Barcelona to Helsinki.
We will be sleeping in hotels and B&B along the itinerary. Hotel in Kuusamo (2 nights) being Original Sokos Hotel or similar. Hotel in Ivalo (overnight) is Ivalo Hotel or similar. Hotel in Batsfjord (overnight) is Batsfjord Brygge or similar. Rooms are always in-suite, comfortable and clean. Last overnight in B&B near Inari. Evening meals always in the accommodation.
Despite being June, temperarutes can be low. You can expect between 10ºC and 20ºC most of the days. Still, temperatures can also be below 5ºC. Weather is variable most of days and it is not uncommon to experience all four seasons in a single day. Anti-mosquitoe lotion is also important in some of the habitats, especially around Kuusamo & Ivalo.
PASSPORT, VISA & HEALTH
Citizens within Schengen area are not required for any Passport. Nor Finland neither Norway requests Visa to UK, US nor Canadian citizens. All Passports must have 6 months validity beyond the return date. We recommend you to contact your local health authorities to get updated information before travel.
2018 Tour Report
Dates: 11th to 20th June, 2018.
Tour participants: 4