Trip Report: Finland and Northern Norway, May 31 - June 12, 1999
Barry Cooper & Gail Mackiernan, Maryland, USA;
This report describes a trip we made to Finland and arctic Norway
in June 1999. Our targets were the many species which are more
characteristic of regions to the east, which in Europe are easiest to
find in Finland, as well as the excellent suite of owls, raptors,
grouse, waders and seabirds which frequent the vast forests,
wetlands, tundra and fjords of these two beautiful countries.
North of Helsinki, the area is covered with extensive
birch/pine/spruce taiga forest (most managed for timber
production) interpersed with thousands of lakes and bogs. North
of Ivalo one reaches tundra, with stunted birch woods in
sheltered areas and along streams. This is Lapland, where
reindeer outnumber people by a factor of ten. The Varanger
Peninsula of Norway was still partially frozen when we arrived in
early June, ice floes piled in huge windrows along the Tana River,
and the road over the high interior passed through extensive
snow fields with still-frozen lakes. We were too early to be
plagued by mosquitoes or blackflies, a problem later in the
summer. Once north of the arctic circle it was daylight for 24
hours, and even as far south as Helsinki there was only a brief
twilight as the sun dipped below the horizon for a few hours.
The weather was suprisingly warm and muggy during our stay
around Helsinki with high temperatures in upper 70's to low 80's (°F).
It was rather cold and rained continously in Kuusamo. From
Ivalo north to Varanger, the weather was generally sunny and
pleasant with little wind. Temperatures varied between a high of
about 40 and 55°F but at no time were we unduly cold.
We flew to Helsinki from London on SAS, after a brief visit with
relatives in England, and rented a car from Budget at the airport.
After a few days in Helsinki we flew to Oulu on Finnair, rented a
car, drove to Norway, and then flew back to Helsinki from Ivalo,
near the Norwegian border. The internal flight was surprisingly
inexpensive, and there was no additional charge for the "open-jaw"
flight or the car drop-off at Ivalo. We found both Finland
and Norway to be very safe modern countries with good highway
systems. Around Helsinki, particularly in the rush-hour, there
was some heavy traffic and congested highways. Aside from this,
the well-maintained roads were very quiet.
The per-day costs of the trip, such as car rental, gasoline, etc. were
fairly high. We found that the best deal for accommodation was to
rent a small self-contained cottage in a campground (see list
below). These typically provided all cooking gear and dishes,
bedding except for sheets and were heated. Apart from the
relatively low cost, these had the advantage of being in quite birdy
locations. While eating out at restaurants is pricy, we found we
could cook something quickly and inexpensively in our cottage.
The almost 24 hour daylight makes for long days birding and
problematic sleeping conditions. In fact, many species (such as
game-birds and songbirds) are more active during the "night" and
it can pay off to be birding all night, at least on a couple of
occasions. For example we slept during the afternoon and then
birded constantly from 6.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m. while at Kuusamo.
Hiring a local guide for some forest species (such as owls) is
absolutely necessary. We hired paid guides on two half days and
one whole day. In addition, we had made acquaintance with three
very good Finnish birders who took us around for another two
days. The average cost for paid guides was about $150 per day -
rather high for two people. Finally, most Finnish birders
maintain constant contact with each other in the field via mobile
phones. These can be hired from your car rental company and can
be very useful in getting the latest bird info, particularly as most
local birders speak some level of English. Of course, this assumes
you have developed a list of local contacts. The phone can also be
great for changing or confirming reservations, etc. There is also a
birding pager service, of course in Finnish, but folks with pagers
seemed very willing to share "breaking information" with
Our paid guides were as follows:
- Heikki SeppŠnen (Kuusamo area) - 040-058-2058 (mobile phone)
- Ollie Karhu (Ivalo) - 040-755-5264 (mobile phone)
- Petri Lampala (thru Finnature) (Oulu) - 040-591-9120 (mobile phone)
Flew to Helsinki and drove to Espoo Camping Oittaa
(which itself has good birding habitat on a lake).
Kirkkonummi Headland, Porkkala Tower and
surrounding areas with Annika Forsten. In late afternoon
visited Nuuksio National Park NW of Espoo, and in evening a
very good scrub/marsh habitat adjacent to the Vermo Racetrack
near Helsinki for night singers. Night at Camping Oittaa.
Birded all day until about 10.00 p.m. with Heikki
Lokki in forested area near Hattula (about one hour north of
Helsinki). Night at Camping Oittaa.
Revisited Porkkala area, Vermo Racetrack and then
birded Haltiala, a wooded park south of the airport. In p.m made a
unsuccessful try for a Red-footed Falcon NW of Espoo.
Early a.m. flight from Helsinki to Oulu. Morning
birding in forested areas near Oulu with Petri and in the
afternoon drove to Kuusamo in rain. We were met at the
Oivanki Youth Centre by the manager, Tiina Mäkelä. She
graciously invited us to her home for coffee and snacks, while we
waited for her husband, Jyrki -- a keen birder who was scouting
for the next week's Big Bird Race -- to return. In the evening, Jyrki
took us out for a few hours to some special local spots. Night
spent at the Youth Center.
6/5/99 - 6/6/99
Birded various forests, lakes and meadows
around Kuusamo including Valtavarra Ridge, Kuusamo sewage
farm, Toranki and Oulanki. Heikki Seppänen was our guide for
what turned out to be nearly 24 hours' of birding (we had rain off
and on the entire time, which nevertheless did not slow us down
Despite essentially no sleep, we did some early a.m.
birding around Kuusamo searching for certain elusive species,
and then drove north to Ivalo stopping en route to bird at various
locations close to the road, including Kiilopaa hill to try for
Ptarmigan. Naturally it was bright sunlight throughout this travel
day! Had reindeer steak for supper at the Hotel Kultahippu, where
the local gold-panners trade golddust for booze (Ivalo is a center
for gold prospecting, sort of a Finnish Klondike). Overnight at
Campground NŠverniemen Lomakylä in Ivalo.
Morning birding with Olli Karhu in forested areas
near Ivalo and Ivalo Sewage Works. In afternoon drove north to
Vadsø stopping on route to bird at the Tana River, Nesseby and
Store Ekkeroy. Overnight at Camping Jacobselv near Vadsø (for
the following two nights also). Weather was clear and
comfortable throughout our stay in Finnmark.
Stopped at various locations along the Varangerfjord
including Nesseby and Vardø. To get to Vardø (an island) you
have to drive through a dark tunnel which appears to have been
made out of an extra-large sewer pipe! We scoped the channel
between Vardø and Hroyna Island, but did not have time for a
boat trip out (recommended to see all the seabirds). Drove
to Hamningberg ( literally the end of the road on the Arctic Ocean)
and returned to Vadsø.
Drove to Batsfjord, a surprisingly large and modern
fishing town on the Arctic Ocean coast, stopping at Tana River
delta and various sites on the still-frozen tundra. In the
afternoon, returned to Vadsø with stops at Nesseby and Store
Drove from Vadsø to Ivalo with various road
birding stops. Flight from Ivalo to Helsinki and overnight at
Camping Oittaa. Visited Espoon Suomenoja and Espoo Laajalahti
in late pm.
Birded Porkkala Tower and surrounding areas. Flight to England.
- Red-throated Diver
Seven birds migrating pass Kirkkonummi Headland on 1st, and a
pair on small lake near Batsfjord.
- Black-throated Diver
Approximately 80 birds migrating pass Kirkkonummi Headland
on 1st, and quite common on lakes in Kuusamo and on the Varangerfjorden.
- White-billed Diver
Satisfactory views of two first or second summer birds on the
Varangerfjord near Nesseby on the 9th and 10th.
- Great Crested Grebe
Recorded around Helsinki.
- Red-necked Grebe
Four breeding plumage birds seen on presumed breeding lake at
Kuusamo plus single bird at Kirkkonummi Headland.
- Slavonian Grebe
Three summer plumage birds at Espoon Suomenoja.
Just single bird seen off Vardø.
Maximum seen 20 at Kirkkonummi Headland.
Only two birds seen in channel between Vardø and Hrnoya Island.
- Grey Heron
Up to three birds seen on two dates.
- Mute Swan
Only recorded at Kirkkonummi Headland.
- Whooper Swan
Recorded on four dated with maximum of 25 birds at Kuusamo on the 7th.
- Bean Goose
Up to 40 birds. "Taiga Geese" seen on meadows about one
kilometer from the Russian boarder at Kuusamo on 7th. Also
party of five birds seen a few miles north of Ivalo on the 11th.
- Greylag Goose
Four birds seen near Oulu on the 4th.
- Barnacle Goose
Six birds coming in off the sea at Kirkkonummi Headland on the
1st and a pair on the Tana River on the 10th.
- Brent Goose
Five in off the sea at Kirkkonummi Headland on the 1st and a
pair at Hamninberg on the 11th.
Up to six birds recorded on eight dates.
Up to four birds seen on three dates.
Up to eight birds seen on five dates.
Recorded almost daily in small numbers.
Up to four birds seen on two dates.
Six birds seen at Espoon Suomenoja on the 11th.
Up to three birds recorded on two dates.
- Tufted Duck
Two birds seen at along the Varangerfjorden on the 1st.
Abundent specie along the Varangerfjorden and off Kirkkonummi Headland.
- Steller's Eider
A party of 13 drakes at Nesseby on the 9th and a party of four
drakes and a duck off Store Ekkeroy on the 10th. A very attractive
species and one of the highlights of the trip.
- King Eider
At least 21 birds including several adult drakes seen well in the
channel between Vardø and Hrnoya Island on the 9th.
- Long-tailed Duck
Single bird seen off Kirkkonummi Headland on the first and daily
maximum of up to 50 birds seen three dates along the Varangerfjord.
- Common Scoter
Up to six birds seen on three dates.
- White-winged Scoter
Up to 12 birds seen on four dates.
Common breeding bird particularly on the lakes in the Kuusamo
region. Family party of female and small young seen at Espoon
Seen only on the lakes in the Kuusamo region with three birds on
the 6th, six birds including three drakes on the 7th and single bird
on the 8th.
- Red-breasted Merganser
Fairly common with maximum of 30 birds on the 9th.
Common particularly along the Varangerfjord with numbers
estimated to be in the low hundreds.
- Honey Buzzard
Excellent views of a single bird low over Camping Oittaa on the
31st plus a single bird seen from the Porkkala Tower on the 3rd.
- White-tailed Eagle
Excellent views of an adult bird seen at approximately 10.00 p.m.
near Store Ekkeroy on the 10th. This bird was being mobbed
rather cautiously by a Raven. Superb views both in flight and
perched of an immature bird at approximately 5.00 a.m. on the
11th near Nesseby. The eagle was being aggressively mobbed by a
Rough-legged Buzzard and put on a superb aerial display by
flipping over on its back and striking out with its talons every
time the buzzard stooped at it. The buzzard prudently kept just
out of reach. Without doubt, the bird of the trip.
- Hen Harrier
Pair seen on the 8th near Ivalo. This included accidentally flushing
the female off its nest which contained three eggs.
Female at its nest at Hattula on the 2nd. Good flight views obtained.
- Sparrow Hawk
Single bird seen on two dates.
- Rough-legged Buzzard
Recorded on four dates with all birds north of the Arctic Circle.
Daily maximum five birds.
Two birds seen on the 3rd south of Helsinki were the only sightings.
Only recorded on two dates from Hattula south.
Single bird seen on the 3rd.
- Hazel Grouse
A pair seen well dust-bathing in the road at Hattula on the 2nd
and single bird seen briefly on the 6th at the Valtavarra Ridge.
- Willow Grouse
Four birds seen between 5th and 7th at Kuusamo and three birds
seen on the 10th near Batsfjord.
- Black Grouse
A lek actually in our campground at the Ovanti Youth Center
just outside of Kuusamo. Altogether ten birds seen between 5th
and 7th at Kuusamo and several other birds heard calling at leks.
Brilliant views of a single male displaying at approx 11.00 p.m on
the 4th just outside the Ovanti Youth Center at Kuusamo. Also
great views of female flushed from its nest on the 5th at
Kuusamo. The bird simply walked off its nest and walked a short
distance away. Undoubtably one of the star birds of the trip.
Seen only on two dates around Helsinki.
Heard calling on four dates around Kirkkonummi Headland and
Porkkala Tower, probably involving at least three different birds.
In view of the declining status of this species no attempt was
made to tape any out (although we were sorely tempted!)
Small numbers seen south of Helsinki.
Small numbers seen south of Helsinki.
Seven birds seen on the 3rd on the drive to Kirkkonummi
Headland and approximately 100 birds seen near Oulu on the 4th.
Recorded in small numbers on four dates.
- Little Ringed Plover
Two birds seen on the 11th at Espoon Suomenoja.
- Ringed Plover
Recorded on six dates with daily maximum of 30 birds.
A single bird seen only in poor flight views flushed near the
summit of Kiilopaa hill south of Ivalo. Presence of a number of
hikers at the summit in the afternoon undoubtedly affected our
chances for good looks at both this species and Ptarmigan; an early
morning try is strongly recommended.
- Golden Plover
Up to twelve birds recorded on five dates with all birds north of
the Arctic Circle.
- Grey Plover
100 birds migrating pass Kirkkonummi Headland on the 1st.
Otherwise two single birds north of the Arctic Circle.
Small numbers seen on nine dates.
- Temminck's Stint
Single bird on the 2nd at Hattula, five birds seen at Kuusamo on
the 5th, 20 birds seen at Ivalo sewage lagoons on the 8th, 15 birds
seen on the drive along the Varangerfjord and out to
Hamningberg on the 9th and 15 birds seen on the drive along the
Tana River and out to Batsfjord on the 10th. Many birds were
giving their curious batlike display flight.
- Purple Sandpiper
A party of eight birds in alternate plumage at Hamningberg on the 8th.
Up to twenty birds seen on four dates.
- Broad-billed Sandpiper
Twenty birds migrating pass Kirkkonummi Headland on the 1st,
a pair at Hattula on the 2nd, two birds at Kuusamo on the 5th and
two birds at Ivalo on the 8th. These latter birds were displaying
and in song flight over an Arctic marsh - superb.
Quite common at Kuusamo and north of the Arctic Circle with
daily maximum of at least fifty birds. Many males, in an amazing
array of plumages, seen lekking - quite spectacular.
- Common Snipe
Up to eight birds seen on four dates and Kuusamo and north of
the Arctic Circle.
- Jack Snipe
A single bird displaying at Kuusamo at 1.00 a.m on the 7th.
Single bird seen on the 2nd.
- Bar-tailed Godwit
Seen on four dates with daily maximum of ten birds.
Seen on four dates with daily maximum of two birds.
Fairly common and recorded almost daily.
- Spotted Redshank
Two birds seen at Kuusamo on the 5th and 8th. All were in
Seen on three dates with daily maximum of four birds.
- Green Sandpiper
Two birds displaying at Kuusamo on the 6th and a single bird
recorded on the 11th.
- Wood Sandpiper
Fairly common at Kuusamo and Ivalo with daily maximum of
ten birds. Many birds were displaying.
- Common Sandpiper
Up to two birds seen on five dates.
Up to six birds seen on three dates.
- Red-necked Phalarope
Five seen on the 7th on the tundra just north of Ivalo. Seen daily
around Varanger between 8th and the 10th with most birds being
seen at the Nesseby pond. Daily maximum was about 30 birds.
- Arctic Skua
Single bird migrating passed Kirkkonummi Headland on the 1st.
Otherwise seen daily around Varanger/Batsfjord region where it
was fairly common and clearly breeding. Daily maximum estimated at 25 birds.
- Long-tailed Skua
Another highlight of the trip. Loose colony on the tundra above
Batsfjord with an estimated twelve birds all in full breeding
plumage. One bird put on spectacular aerial display as it drove a
Arctic Skua out of its territory. Two were seen and photographed
collecting nesting material along the main road, a very strange sight.
- Little Gull
Estimated 20 birds on the 2nd at Hattula. Suprisingly common at
Kuusamo with birds apparently breeding on many of the lakes.
We estimated 100+ daily and the true numbers were obviously
much larger given the large number of lakes in this region.
- Black-headed Gull
Common and recorded on every day.
- Common Gull
Common species seen daily.
- Lesser Black-backed Gull
Up to eight birds recorded on six date, all of the dark fuscus
subspecies. None seen above the Arctic Circle.
- Heuglin's (Siberian) Gull
An immature of this enigmatic gull was seen and photographed
at the Oulu landfill.
- Herring Gull
A common species recorded on seven dates. It was interesting to
note that at Kuusamo, about a third of the birds had yellow legs,
although all other features were identical to their pink-legged
- Glaucous Gull
Single bird seen near Hamninberg on the 9th.
- Great Black-backed Gull
Fairly common being more numerous in the North.
Only seen in the Varanger area, especially at Store Ekkerroy where
it was truly abundant with tens of thousands seen at its breeding
- Caspian Tern
Single bird seen over the lake at Espoo Camping Oiitaa on the 31st.
- Common Tern
Small numbers seen as far north as Ivalo. This species was greatly
outnumbered by the Arctic Tern.
- Arctic Tern
One of the most abundant species breeding on almost every lake
visited from Kuusamo northwards. Breeding commonly also in
the fields and tundra around Varanger.
As we did not visit Hrnoya Island, our identified alcid numbers
are very low. We did see very large numbers of largely unidentified
alcids while scoping the channel between Vardø and Hrnoya. Small
numbers of this species recorded daily around Varanger.
Small numbers recorded daily around Varanger; also seen in the
channel at Vardø on the 9th.
Small numbers identified in the channel between Vardø and Hrnoya on the 9th.
- Black Guillemot
Up to 100 seen daily around Varanger.
- Stock Dove
Four birds seen on the 1st between Cmping Oiitaa and the Kirkkonummi Headland.
- Wood Pigeon
Small numbers seen four dates all south of the Arctic Circle.
- Collared Dove
Single bird seen on the 8th at Ivalo where it is a local rarity.
Seen or heard almost daily as far north as Ivalo.
- Hawk Owl
A pair at nest near Ivalo on the 8th. Both birds aggressively
mobbed us by noisily diving-bombing at our heads. Quite
spectacular and superb views both in flight and perched. A close
second (to the Sea Eagle) as bird of the trip. Had we not seen this
species well in America previously, no doubt this would have
- Pygmy Owl
An adult at nest containing seven young at Hattula on the 2nd
and an adult at a nest with nine young near Oulu on the 9th. The
adult birds were seen very well both in the field and later in the hand.
- Ural Owl
Two nests with three adult birds seen very well in the field and in
the hand on the 2nd at Hattula. Another major highlight of the trip.
- Great Grey Owl
Female on nest and excellent views of male perched in adjacent
tree (in heavy rain) on the 4th near Oulu. Again one of the trip
- Tengmalm's Owl.
An adult and juvenile looking out of nest hole at Hattula on the 2nd.
Recorded in fair numbers on seven dates in the south around Helsinki.
An adult well seen at its nest at Hattula on the 2nd.
- Grey-headed Woodpecker
Two birds seen on 1st at Nuuksio National Park, about 20K nw of
- Black Woodpecker
Two birds seen at the Espoo Campground on the 1st and single
bird at Hattula on the 2nd.
- Great Spotted Woodpecker
Quite common in the south around Helsinki and recorded on five dates.
- Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
A pair seen well at Hattula on the 2nd.
- Three-toed Woodpecker
An adult female seen around its nestsite at Hattula on the 2nd.
Recorded daily in the south around Helsinki and two birds on the
7th near Kuusamo.
- Shore Lark
The only record was of a single singing bird on the tundra above Batsfjord.
- Sand Martin
Recorded on four dates.
Fairly common and recorded on six dates and as far north as Ivalo.
- House Martin
The most numerous hirundine and recorded on all but one day.
The only hirundine recorded at Varanger.
- Tree Pipit
Small numbers recorded daily in the south with daily maximum
four birds. Single bird recorded on the 6th on the drive between
Kuusamo and Ivalo.
- Meadow Pipit
Seen on four dates all north of the Arctic Circle with daily
maximum of only three birds.
- Red-throated Pipit
Seen daily at Varanger/Batsfjord with daily maximum eight birds.
- Rock Pipit
Up to three birds seen on two dates at Varanger.
- Yellow Wagtail
Recorded on four dates with daily maximum of ten birds. The
birds were of the grey-headed race thunbergi.
- White Wagtail
A common species and seen virtually every day.
Three birds seen on the 5th at Kuusamo and three more on the
8th at Ivalo.
Fairly common in the south around Helsinki and four birds seen
as far north as Kuusamo.
Just a single bird seen near Kirkkonummi Headland.
Recorded regularly in the south and four birds seen as far north as
- Thrush Nightingale
Single bird seen and heard at Espoo Camping on the 31st. Quite
common at the Vermo Racetrack with eight birds on the 1st and
15 birds on the 3rd. Also heard at Espoo Campground on the 11th
Four birds seen on the 7th at Kuusamo, five birds on the 8th at
Ivalo and five birds on the 9th in the Varanger area.
- Red-flanked Bluetail
A pair seen at close range but very briefly at Valtavarra Ridge on
Seen on two dates with a daily maximum of 6 birds around Kuusamo.
Recorded on just two dates with daily maximum of two birds.
Single bird seen suprisingly at Varanger on the 9th.
- Northern Wheatear
Daily maximum of ten birds and seen on five dates with the
preponderance of records in the Varanger area.
Fairly common in the south around Helsinki.
Common throughout Finland and seen daily.
- Song Thrush
Heard singing on all three dates at Kuusamo.
Less numerous than the Fieldfare, but again quite common
throughout Finland and seen on every day.
- Mistle Thrush
Three birds seen on the 7th at Kuusamo.
- Grasshopper Warbler
Just a single bird seen and heard singing on the 3rd at the Vermo Racetrack.
- River Warbler
One seen on the 1st at the Vermo Racetrack, one on the 2nd at
Hattula, two birds on the 3rd at the Vermo Racetrack and one bird
on the 12th at bridge between Bergstad and Estinklyä
- Sedge Warbler
Fairly common in the South around Helsinki, but also heard
singing at Ivalo and Varanger.
- Blyth's Reed Warbler
Excellent views of a pair at the Vermo Racetrack on the 1st and
3rd with the male singing and female nest building.
- Marsh Warbler
Suprisingly good numbers of singing males well seen at the
Vermo Racetrack with four birds on the 1st and about twelve
birds on the 3rd. Also single bird heard on the 11th.
- Reed Warbler
Six birds seen at Espoon Suomenoja and Espoo Laajalahti on the 11th.
- Icterine Warbler
Single birds on the 2nd at the Vermo Racetrack and 3rd at Hattala.
- Lesser Whitethroat
Seen on three dates in the South with daily maximum of four birds.
- Barred Warbler
Brief views of a singing male on the 12th near bridge between
Bergstad and Estinklyä.
Fairly common in the South around Helsinki with birds recorded
on six dates.
- Garden Warbler
Fairly common in the South around Helsinki with birds recorded
on six dates.
Only seen on one date around Helsinki.
- Greenish Warbler
Excellent views of a singing male near the Porkkala Tower on the 12th.
- Wood Warbler
Fairly common in suitable habitat around Helsinki with birds
seen on three dates and daily maximum of eight birds.
Suprisingly uncommon seen or heard on three dates only all in
- Willow Warbler
Extremely abundant throughout Finland and seen daily even as
far north as Varanger. Probably the most common landbird in Finland.
Uncommon seen and/or heard on two dates only.
- Spotted Flycatcher
Daily maximum of three birds and recorded on two dates in the South.
- Pied Flycatcher
Daily maximum of six birds and recorded on five dates and as far
North as Ivalo.
- Willow Tit
Single birds seen on the 7th at Ivalo and 10th by the Tanan River.
The birds appeared quite large and pale and were considered to be
of the race borealis.
- Siberian Tit
Superb views of three adults at nest at Kuusamo on the 5th and a
pair at a nest at Ivalo on the 8th - much hoped for and very nice birds.
- Crested Tit
Single birds seen on the 2nd at Hattula and 4th near Oulu.
- Blue Tit
Fairly common in the South around Helsinki.
- Great Tit
Fairly common in the South around Helsinki. Also recorded at Kuusamo.
Single bird recorded on the 3rd.
- Red-backed Shrike
Males seen on the 2nd at Hattala and on the 3rd.
Two per day on four dates in the South.
- Siberian Jay
After almost giving up hope, three birds seen at the parking lot on
the road across the Valtavarra Ridge on the 6th - excellent birds
and a great relief.
Common and widespread seen every day even as far North as Varanger.
Fairly common in the South around Helsinki but none seen farther north.
Seen only around Oulu.
- Hooded Crow
Common and widespread seen every day and as far North as Varanger.
Recorded on six dates from Kuusamo north to Varanger with
daily maximum of ten birds.
Common in the South and seen regularly in small numbers in
the Varanger area but not seen in the Kuusamo and Ivalo areas.
- House Sparrow
Common and widespread and seen in most areas visited except Kuusamo.
Very common in the South around Helsinki and quite common
as far north as Ivalo. Not seen north of Ivalo.
Seen in small numbers from Kuusamo northwards including the
Varanger area. Maximum daily count was only six birds seen but
with others head calling.
Common in the south around Helsinki. Also seen in small
numbers around Ivalo and Vadso.
Fairly common in the South with daily maximum of 25 birds and
birds seen as far north as Ivalo.
- Mealy Redpoll
Not seen at all in the South but quite common from Kuusamo
north to the Varanger area. Daily maximum was 10+ birds on
- Arctic Redpoll
The only place where this species was seen for certain was on the
tundra above Batsfjord where good views were obtained of about
10 birds seen feeding and singing in dwarf willow scrub.
Several parties totalling at least 40 birds seen around
Kirkkonummi Headland and Porkkala Tower on the 1st and
smaller numbers in the south on three other dates.
- Parrot Crossbill
A party of four birds seen and heard well at the Kirkkonummi
Headland on the 1st.
- Common Rosefinch
Quite common in the South with daily maximum of 15 birds seen
on the 3rd at the Vermo Racetrack.
Fairly common in the Kuusamo and Ivalo regions with daily
maximum of ten birds on the 7th. These birds were of the
Northern Scandinavian race and were distinctly larger, plumper,
and the males noticably brighter colored than their English
equivalents. Really very attractive birds.
- Lapland Bunting
Seen in small numbers on the tundra at Varanger and above
Batsfjord with five birds on the 9th and eight on the 10th. All
birds were in their beautiful summer plumage.
- Snow Bunting
Two pairs at Varanger on the 9th and a pair above Batsfjord on
the 10th. It was very nice to see the males in their striking
Common in the South around Helsinki.
- Ortolan Bunting
Two singing males seen near Oulu on the 4th.
- Little Bunting
Two singing males seen near Ivalo on the 8th.
- Reed Bunting
Small numbers seen throughout Finland and as far north as
Varanger. Daily maximum was four birds.
We missed several species which are at least "hoped-for"
in a June trip to Finland, and in some cases, the reasons might be
helpful to other birders. Essentially, we were too early for
Yellow-breasted Bunting which had not come in yet to Oulu; in addition,
there appear not to be as many reliable sites for this species as in
previous years. Rustic Buntings were literally just arriving at
Kuusamo, with no birds on stable territories; we chased several
reported singing males but with no luck. The first two weeks of
June are too early for Arctic Warbler, according to the Finns. We
didn't try for Terek Sandpiper at Oulu, but heard they were not in
yet (and also getting hard to find). Eagle Owls still had very young
chicks in the nest, and since they are prone to desertion we didn't
try to visit any nests and didn't connect with any birds "on spec."
Interestingly enough, in 1998 I was also in Finland in early June,
and that year the Eagle Owls had already fledged! So owls are
difficult to predict; weather rather than calendar is important.
Espoo Camping Oiitaa (self-catered cabins),
restaurant, laundry, good birding on site (Black Woodpecker,
Thrush Nightingale). Very convenient to important birding
sites, shopping, major freeways, even a McDonald's! Ask for
cabins on west side, as they are quieter. Contact:
ph: (358) 9-863-2585
Oivanki Youth Centre, excellent self-catered
apartment with all facilities, the manager's husband is a keen and
helpful birder, excellent birds on site (incl. lekking Black Grouse,
Capercaillie). We stayed there just before school was out, and were
the only guests, but later in the season youth groups stay here so it
might become crowded or noisy. Meals are available. Contact:
Tiina Mäkelä, manager,
ph: (358) 8-858-561
Campground Näverniemen Lomakylä. They have the
typical cabins, but we ended up in a self-catered motel room with
en suite bath for same price as they had overbooked the cabins.
Restaurant and store, on lake with some birds. Contact: ph: (358)
Camping Jakobselv, in Vestre Jacobselv. Self-catered
cabins, laundry. They also have guestrooms in the main
building. Convenient to major birding sites. Contact: Camping
Jakobselv, Lilledalsveien 6, 9810 Vestre Jakobselv, ph: (47)
This trip would not have been possible
without a considerable amount of help and encouragement from
Finnish birders. We would especially like to thank Annika
Forsten, Heikki Loki, Martin Helin, Jyrki Mäkelä, and Heikki
Seppänen, as well as Mark Suomala, of the Audubon Society of
New Hampshire (which runs a Finnish birding trip each year).
For a field guide we used the new Collins Field Guide to the Birds
of Europe, which is superb. Gustaf Aulén's Where to Watch Birds
in Scandinavia helped with many of the major sites. ID and site
articles in various issues of the Finnish magazine Aulula proved
useful as well. Finally, there are many excellent trip reports
posted on Urs Geiser's web site,
with links to other home pages,
such as Tommy Pedersen's Birding the Varanger Peninsula and
Morten Günther's Birding in Finnmark, both of which are
extremely important for the Norwegian segment of the trip. For
travel logistics, we consulted the Lonely Planet Guide for Finland.
Return to trip reports.
This page served with permission of the author
by Urs Geiser; email@example.com;
September 29, 2000