2015 Lapland


24 May

We flew to Skelleftea, in Sweden, mainly because of the cheapness of the flights. After picking up our hire car, and then changing it for a larger one, we started heading north. We were keen to get on so we didn't stop for anything but saw a distant crane, whooper swans, fieldfares, jackdaws(ssp soemmeringii) hooded crows, greenshank and a goosander.

Entering Finland was a simple case of driving across a bridge. 


Driving near Ranta, we a pale 'blob' turned out to be a superb male pallid harrier. We saw it a couple of times in flight, but sadly not well enough to get photos.

A stop near Niskanperatie proved to be productive. It appeared to be almost covered with grey-headed wagtails, wood sandpipers and Temminck's stints. The highlights were 21 broad-billed sandpipers - sadly rather distant - and 4 red-necked phalaropes. Over 100 whooper swans were seen and other birds included ruff, little gulls, short-eared owl, red-breasted merganser and goldeneye. 

While driving we nearly ran over a very lucky red squirrel, saw lots of mountain hares and saw 2 adult and one young moose. 

Birds seen while driving to from Niskanpertie to Pyhatunturi included another short-eared owl, woodcock, a briefly seen black grouse and this female capercaille right by the road.

Our accommodation at Pyha Suites was excellent value, comfortable and only £56 for four us.

25 May


Highlights here, for me, were superb views of 5 Siberian tits

and this beautiful Kentish glory moth.

We also saw Siberian jay,

grey-headed wagtail

a pair of smew, wood sandpiper, bluethoat, bramblings, willow tit. goldcrests, siskins, tree pipits and pied flycatcher.


I saw five waxwings (more were present), 3 Siberian tits, grey-headed wagtails and a raven.

Kitienen Valley

Five cranes. osprey, arctic terns and wood sandpiper.

We then drove north to Ivalo, passing the Arctic Circle, and being reminded, despite the mild weather where we were.

Shortly after arrival at Ivalo, we booked into the reasonably priced Navernieni Holiday Centre. By then we were too knackered to do anything apart from relax and drink a few, rather expensive, beers.

26 May


A convenient place to drive up a mountain. The highlight here was excellent views of a pair of willow grouse. We also saw both arctic and common redpolls, plus many that could have been either, bluethroat, golden plover and three dotterel flew over.


The highlight here was an incredibly showy ptarmigan. 

We also saw about 7 willow grouse,

 golden plover, bluethroat and willow tit

as well as redpolls, apparently of both species. 

Another 'chilled' evening drinking beer before a fairly early night as the alarms were set for 0130.

We were on the road by 0235.

Neijan Tuulen Tupa

We were at these famous feeders by 0330. Even this far north, the light wasn't great for photography.

The highlight here was definitely two pine grosbeaks. Presumably a female and a first-year male.

While we were waiting for these, I spent most of my time photographing red squirrels.

We also saw 2 Siberian jays, Siberian tits, brambling

On the drive to the Norwegian border we saw rough-legged buzzard, 2 red-throated divers and a moose.

Mount Ailigas

Another mountain look was quite productive with several bluethroats

three ptarmigans, two red-throated divers and best of all - but rather distant - was a male Lapland bunting.


Things got even better shortly after entering Norway. We were driving along when suddenly we spotted something on a sign post. I'm not sure who first shouted hawk owl. I had the good sense not to screech to a halt, but my attempt to avoid skidding meant that I stopped right near it and it flew off. Hawk owl was my first new species of the trip and my number one target. In fact a strong contender for the bird I most wanted to see in the world! Luckily, after some searching, I found another bird, rather distantly, on a nest. Shortly after that the original bird returned and gave excellent views. Absolutely fantastic!


It took a while but eventually a long-tailed skua flew over. We finally saw about six but they were either distant or brief. I could only manage this disappointing shot.

We also saw two arctic skuas, four long-tailed ducks, two red-throated divers, two dotterel, bluethroats, shorelarks, at least two snow buntings

On the road to Vadso we saw rough-legged buzzard

and two white-tailed eagles.


Here, as well as seeing black-throated diver and arctic skua, we got excellent views of a red-necked phalarope.

We saw lots of eiders while driving along Varanger Fjord.

We checked into Vadso Fljord Hotel.

Behind the hotel we got good views of this red-throated pipit.

It was then off to the harbour to look for the other one of my 'big targets' Steller's eider. We quickly found five! Sadly there were no males. When it comes to ducks, females really don't do the job! 

Surprisingly, we also saw 14 king eiders.

On our trip to the supermarket we were rather shocked by the price of beer but that was as nothing compared to the shock of finding out that at 8.05 we were too late to buy it.

28th May

We woke up to rain, so an outrageous lie-in until 6.40 and a leisurely breakfast including eggs with caviar. The rain died down but it was rather grotty and cool all day.

Ekkeroy Island

Actually a peninsular rather than an island.

We spent a few hours by the kittiwake island hoping it would be visited by a gyr falcon. Sadly this was not the case. We did see three more Steller's eiders (frustratingly still no males!), razorbill, arctic terns, black-throated diver, arctic skuas, 25 purple sandpipers, long-tailed duck and black guillemot. Some dolphins swam past but only gave very frustratingly brief views.

On the road north we saw white-tailed eagle, 

glaucous gull, redwing and this presumed glaucous x herring gull hybrid.

At Kiberg we had yet another 'female' type Steller's eider. I was beginning to wonder if a male would ever come.

Vardo Island

8 female type Steller's eiders - it was now getting silly! Good views of a long-tailed duck in the harbour.

We also saw puffin, black guillemot and lots of distant auk sp.


glaucous gull


We'd failed earlier but the bearded seal was laying around.


We were back to the supermarket in time to buy some horribly expensive beer and then had another attempt to see a male Steller's eider. Success! Indeed we saw three!

29 May


Up at 445. We started the day getting views of the Steller's eiders which were now considerably closer and in much better light than yesterday. Superb. 

Moors behind Vadso

4 black-throated divers,2 red-throated divers, 3 bluethroats, 3 long-tailed ducks

We saw at least ten white-tailed eagles on the road to Vardo.


Quite a few Brunnich’s guillemots among the impressive razorbill and guillemot colony.

Also rock pipit, guillemot and a grey seal. We’d been told there were harp seals on the other side of the island and we should ask for the boat to go that way but they couldn’t or wouldn’t which they blamed on the sea, although it seemed pretty calm to us.

While driving we saw a few white-tailed eagles, rough-legged buzzard, willow grouse.

Road to Kirkenes

Following gen we'd received from the Vadso hotel we quickly located our third hawk owl of the trip. 

Back at the Ivalo campsite we watched mountain hares and red squirrels while we sat drinking beer in the glorious weather.

On the road south we saw two roe deer and then two black woodpeckers, at the nest.

The rest of the journey was fairly uneventful although we did see a few things: crane, whooper swans, distant velvet scoters, little gull and wood sandpiper.

We failed to find suitable accommodation in Finland. It was getting quite late when we crossed the Swedish border but we soon came across the, definitely recommended, Sangis Camping. Two little ringed plovers were running around in their grounds.

31 May

Driving to the airport, we saw a honey buzzard, woodcock and whooper swans. Then sadly it was home time!