2012 Finland

I've included a bit more logistical detail for this trip; because it's a trip several people have contacted me about, asking for details. Ironically, it wasn't quite as successful as I'd hoped it would be.

2 June

Kelvin and I caught the Finnair flight to Helsinki, which arrived late evening. The Holiday Inn took some finding, eventually we realised that you had to catch a free bus. Too tired, and tight, for a proper meal it was over priced sandwiches and expensive beer.

3 June

We were picked up by Milda and Laimonas, in the morning and headed for Porosalani. We stopped on the way for an unsuccessful attempt for Blyth's reed warbler, in the rain.

Fieldfare was a common species.


Our first 'target' species was Saimaa ringed seal - an inland subspecies of ringed seal, with an estimated population of 300. We were lucky, apparently they're easy to miss, we saw 5. Quite rightly, the boatman wouldn't approach closely, and the boat was rocking, which provides two convenient excuses for the poor photo!

We also saw:
9 black-throated divers, ospreys, whooper swans, goosanders and red-necked grebes.

We stayed at Rantasalmi campsite, in a small hut. This became our usual type of accommodation; although this was the luxury model as it had it's own toilet. An evening walk produced a singing common rosefinch; wood warbler; a lots of singing redwings.

4 June - 5 June

After a walk around the campsite, where we saw wood warblers, spotted flycatchers and willow warblers we headed to Era Eero.

Era -Eero

Time for my main 'target species'! Our time here was organised by Finn Nature http://www.finnature.fi
After a bit of time watching red squirrel, and a chat with the guide and owner, we entered the 'pro' hide, in the late afternoon.
There was limited entertainment, especially as we were trying to be silent! But never mind, I was confident that we'd be successful early and then be able to sleep!
We did see a few things such as a black-throated diver.

This great spotted woodpecker was very keen on the bait.

As the night went on, my confidence began to wane. By the end of our shift, about 8 am, moral was pretty low, to put it mildly!

Luckily the hides weren't booked up, so we could negotiate some more time, but it was very expensive and was eating into our time to do other things. A big bash to the wallet and a change of hide - to the slightly more luxurious and better sound proofed hide. As the day we went on moral got lower and lower. We livened up a bit when a black kite flew past, but a couple of green sandpipers and a goosander didn't help much.

Laimonas was asleep; Milda at the other end of the hide; and Kelvin and I were discussing our worst ever dips - and how this was one of them - when I looked to my left only two see a wolverine, very close!

It was 1635 and we'd been in the hides for 25 hours. It ran around, grabbed some and food and sadly was soon gone. It was both superb and frustrating. We spent another hour and a half in the hide and then it was time to decide to either spent another 12 hours, and a lot of money, or quit. We decided to quit.

The night was spent in another hut at Timitraniemi Camping

6 June

Kussamo Area

The highlight for me here was 2 pairs of Siberian tits, at nest boxes.

We also saw a singing little bunting and a red squirrel.

We then headed towards Oulanaka, seeing a hazel grouse en-route.


We located Calypso orchids by the method of looking for a well trodden route off the main path.


We heard singing red-flanked bluetail, but unfortunately only Laimonas managed to see it. We did get good views of two Siberian jays. On the way back we saw two mountain hares and this, fairly showy, cuckoo.

7 June

Kuusamo area

We'd stayed the night in at the house of a friend of Milda. A singing brambling was seen near the house. Wandering further afield we saw four mountain hares

wrneck, redstart, tree pipit, whinchat and grey-headed wagtail.


Two Siberian jays and a red squirrel were the, slightly disappointing, highlights here.

Kuusamo area

Several hours wandering around produced yet more Siberian jays; it's hard to get bored of these superb birds; as well as singing green and wood sandpipers, pied flycatcher

a pair of red-necked grebes and a showy merlin. We also heard black grouse and crane. Periods of sunshine produced one Camberwell beauty and lots of green hairstreaks.

We then drove to Oulu

While eating, Kelvin and I helped Milda with her English: by teaching her the hierarchy of swear words from dam upwards!

Kelvin and I were then dropped off at the ABC service station ready for a 3 a.m. start for our owl watching trip. We already knew it was a poor vole year and hence a poor owl year. This meant no realistic chance of the bird I most wanted to see: hawk owl. When we met up with an English couple, waiting for the same tour, our morale took another dive: ural owl was difficult and pygmy and Tengmalm's weren't leaving the nest box!

8 June

Oulu Area

The first stop was for Ural owl; we spent about three quarters of an hour wandering around a mosquito hell, without success. Rarely have I spent so much money having such a bad time!

The next step, for great grey owl, was much better. The female was very showy; two young were in the nest and one on the floor. Our guide managed to get the later one back in the nest.

We them moved on to the next stop, seeing 3 cranes and 2 northern bullfinches before getting to another nest box. This time with a Tengmalm's owl inside. This failoed to come out, so we had to climb a tree and then - and this was the difficult bit - peer through the hole. Far from ideal.

The next owl was pygmy owl. Again this could only be seen in the box. Although this time we could lift up the lid. Cute, but again not how I really wanted to see an owl.

We also managed to see a fair few other birds. The highlight was superb views of a female three-toed woodpecker.

Also pied and spotted flycatchers, red-backed shrike, wryneck, a female capercaille - seen briefly, by the road - and a black woodpecker at the hole.

Then it was a long drive to Helsinki - enlivened only by a couple of black-throated divers.

9 June


Everyone, apart from me, got brief views of Blyth's reed warbler. We also saw thrush nightingale, barnacle geese and common redpoll.