TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT
9th - 21st June 2001
Saturday 9th June: Arrival
We arrived at Oulu in time for dinner, after which a few minutes outside on the lawn overlooking the shore produced two Woodcock roding overhead, several Curlew chasing off a male Marsh Harrier, Whooper Swans calling in the distance and brief views of Red-breasted Merganser flying past - a great appetiser for what was to come!
Sunday 10th June: Oulu
The weather was overcast with some rain, sometimes heavy. We started with Wryneck and Pied Flycatcher outside the front of the hotel. Most of the morning was spent in the Lumijoki and Siikajoki areas where we searched the mixture of agricultural and forest areas. We found a male Ortolan Bunting in full song and heard a Bittern booming in the distance. Small parties of Cranes and Greylag Geese flew over. Off the small harbour, there were Velvet Scoter amongst the more numerous Tufted Ducks, Goldeneye and Red-breasted Mergansers. We returned to Liminka to walk out along the boardwalk to the hide overlooking Liminka Bay. Here there were numerous waterfowl, including a good number of Smew offshore. Two distant Red-necked Grebes were also seen, as were Little and Caspian Terns, and good numbers of Little Gulls in immaculate breeding plumage. A few Garganey were also found, including a duck with several ducklings. After lunch in the reserve centre, we headed south to Kestila where, this year, the nearest known Ural Owl was breeding. The female was in the nesting cavity in a hollow dead tree and for almost an hour we watched just her tail and wing tip protruding from the hollow! Some people had brief views of the top of her head so, with two birding groups present, it was decided for one of the guides to approach the nest to try to get her to turn around. As it happened she took no notice until she suddenly decided to leave by climbing up the 'chimney' of the hollow tree. We all then had excellent views of her sitting quietly nearby, and some also managed to see one of the chicks looking out of the nest. We then all quickly left her to return and we returned ourselves to Oulu for a home-cooked dinner at a local farmstead. The weather was brightening by now so we took the opportunity to head for the sandpits at Haukipudas, just north of Oulu. A male Black Grouse appeared, quickly followed by two hybrid Black Grouse x Capercaillie males - what confiding birds they were, allowing us to approach in the vehicles to within 40 metres or so. Our final stop was a refuse tip near Oulu where we had excellent views of two Eagle Owls sitting and hunting rats at the edge of the forest. A long day with some superb species amongst the 103 seen or heard, we finally got back to the hotel soon after midnight and it was still light enough to read!
Monday 11th June: Oulu
The weather was appallingly wet and dismal all day, with just an occasional bright spell when the clouds lifted and the sun did show itself briefly. Some of us were awoken by a singing Common Rosefinch just outside our hotel windows, but in any case we all had a late breakfast, after which we headed just along the coast to Kempele. Here there were two excellent though distant Slavonian Grebes in full breeding plumage, several Common Scoters, and our first Arctic Terns amongst the Common Terns. An abortive search for Capercaillie was followed by a journey north to Kemi, where this year's nearest territory for Pygmy Owl was located. At the coast, we met up with the other group again and borrowed their short ladder, also finding two Terek Sandpipers on the shore and a displaying Temminck's Stint. The Pygmy Owl nestbox was eventually located, despite inaccurate directions, and once the rain stopped briefly, we each quietly climbed the few rungs to look inside. I think everyone had the same reaction on seeing the adult sitting quietly looking up at us looking down at it! This, Europe's smallest owl, is exquisite! Moving on, we returned to the Haukipudas area and approached a Three-toed Woodpecker nesting site - interestingly, in the very same tree as two years ago. The male was seen from the track as we unloaded from the vehicles, but it was the female that we watched bringing food for the young over the next three quarters of an hour or so. Again, a very confiding bird allowing us to stand within 20 metres or so of the nest. A quieter day than yesterday, a very wet day, but nonetheless some prime species seen.
Tuesday 12th June: North-east to Kuusamo
Before embarking on the main journey north-east, we checked an agricultural area close to the hotel, finding breeding Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank and having good views of a singing male Common Rose-finch, though unfortunately a brown first-year bird. A small party of Pintail also dropped into the meadows. We made various detours en route, first of all stopping near Pudasjarvi where a walk out along a boardwalk to a tower platform overlooking a reserve produced Great Grey Shrike, a single Crane feeding quietly in the middle distance and a White Wagtail's nest containing young on the platform itself. Fuel and a coffee stop, then another detour where we tried searching a roadside area of forest for Red-flanked Bluetail. We heard a singing male but it always moved ahead of us. We eventually gave up and had our picnic lunch overlooking a small lake and bog where a pair of Common Gulls were nesting. A Golden Plover was also here and there were several parties of Crossbills flying over. With the morning drizzle clearing, the afternoon became increasingly bright and sunny, and we stopped in Taivalkoski to find a fine singing Thrush Nightingale. This lone male was well north of its usual range. We arrived at our hotel in Kuusamo in good time for dinner. The good weather encouraged us to venture out in the late evening for a Great Grey Owl which, though not breeding this year, was being seen regularly hunting a small roadside field. No luck with this species (despite some of the team staying till well after midnight!) but we did find a nice Short-eared Owl sitting quietly at the edge of the forest.
Wednesday 13th June: Kuusamo
A late breakfast today before heading to Valtavaara; we parked in a lay-by beside the road, two Siberian Jays immediately descended out of the forest to see what we were offering. A few raisins were their reward and ours was a superb view down to just a few metres. We then tried for Red-flanked Bluetail again, this time walking a kilometre or so along a hill top trail. Parts were very steep but everyone managed to reach the lake shore. Though no sign nor sound of the Bluetail, nor of Hazel Grouse, we did find a pair of Wood Sandpipers at the lake and again several Crossbills flew over. We then moved on to have an excellent cafe-style lunch at the Oulanka National Park and we spent the afternoon exploring the forest here. The clouds and showers of the morning cleared away during the afternoon, it again becoming warm and sunny. A particular lake had good numbers of Common & Arctic Terns and Little Gulls feeding over it. We had excellent views in bright sunshine of various Velvet Scoter and several Red-necked Phalaropes spinning on the water. We stopped at a known Tengmalm's Owl nest hole but the bird was either not at home or sitting tight; however, an inquisitive Black Woodpecker showed itself well, much to the delight of everyone. We drove right up to the edge of the border zone with Russia, took the obligatory photographs and headed back. A slight rise gave us excellent views over the forest and we soon picked up an adult Golden Eagle soaring in the distance. Another lake and we found the eagle sitting quietly in a dead tree. Here there were more Velvet Scoter, a nice Slavonian Grebe, some distant Smew and a singing Common Rosefinch, this time a superb scarlet bird. After the initial disappointments (I still don't think Red-flanked Bluetail really exists! [KG]), we had another excellent day and arrived back just in time for dinner.
As we failed to find the Great Grey Owl previously, Markus arranged to be telephoned if it was found by another group. Sure enough, the telephone rang soon after 11pm and most of the group had stunning views of it hunting around a farmstead next to the road. All were back in bed soon after midnight.
Thursday 14th June: Kuusamo
Although it was bright and sunny first thing, it quickly became overcast and a surprisingly cold wind sprung up. At breakfast, everyone was still on a high from the previous night's Great Grey Owl. We then set off east-wards and managed a complete circuit around the lakes on this side of Kuusamo. We aborted our first attempt to see Rustic Bunting at a known site, instead moving on to find an adult Hawk Owl sitting on the top of a dead pine. We then found a second bird, also sitting up on a treetop. This pair was apparently guarding a brood of recently fledged young, though we didn't search for these. Driving the forest trails, we also found several Great Grey Shrikes, Redstart, Tree Pipits and a Whooper Swan with brood of five cygnets. An old Black Woodpecker hole in a dead tree had masses of downy feathers around the entrance, probably from a recently fledged brood of owls. We then found our own Rustic Bunting later in the afternoon, having really close views of a stunning male, at one point sitting on telephone wires just in front of us, followed quickly by a family group of Common Crossbills in a small cone-laden spruce. Finally, back on the outskirts of Kuusamo, we watched a male Little Bunting in full song, and then found Red-necked Grebes and Black-throated Divers on the lake. Return in good time for dinner and a quiet evening!
Friday 15th June: Kuusamo to Ivalo
Overcast conditions during the morning gradually brightened until we had a virtually cloudless sky from mid-afternoon onwards. We headed north-west for Kemijarvi to join the Great North Road at Sodankyla. The various stops included a photo-stop at the Arctic Circle where we sampled a very nice Cloudberry liqueur, and an excellent coffee and rhubarb cake at Pelkosenniemi. In the Sodankyla district, we stopped at a lake to view a Red-throated Diver on its nest and a Goshawk nest where there were brief views of the white downy chick in the nest. Although we also heard the adult calling occasionally, there was no sighting of her. Green Hairstreak butterflies were seen and also Leucorrhinia pectoralis, one of the species of White-faced Darter, though only the female was caught and closely inspected. After a late lunch at a cafe on the Kitinen River north of Sodankyla, we checked an owl nest-hole. A quick tap and a scratch on the trunk and up popped a Tengmalm's Owl, peering out of the hole to see who had disturbed it. We then moved on to a Strict Nature Reserve where Waxwings perched nicely on the treetops and a small party of very distant Bean Geese were found on the far side of the lake. As we returned to the main road, a pair of Peregrines were playing in the air nearby and a very nice Spotted Redshank mobbed the vehicles, presumably with chicks nearby. Arrived at our hotel at Ivalo in time for dinner.
Saturday 16th June: Ivalo
Overcast again today and the temperature had dropped to around 8°C this morning, quite a difference from yesterday. We explored a couple of forest tracks to the south of Ivalo, eventually having views of Mealy Redpolls in the trees rather than simply flying over! Bramblings abounded, and we struck lucky when a superb male Pine Grosbeak landed in a treetop nearby. After a picnic lunch, the clouds lifted and conditions brightened considerably. Two Rough-legged Buzzards were seen circling and a party of Goosanders flew over. We checked several boggy areas, finding a distant Broad-billed Sandpiper displaying. Donning wellington boots, we walked out carefully, using the small willows to mark a less wet route and eventually had the bird displaying right overhead. We then headed back to the hotel for dinner.
Sunday 17th June: North to the Arctic Ocean
Overcast for most of the day, though it brightened briefly in the afternoon at Høyholman. We travelled north, stopping briefly for our first Long-tailed Ducks between Inari and Utsjoki. Crossing the border into Norway, we headed downstream, following the course of the Tana River, stopping first to view a Gyr Falcon's nest. We could see two half-grown chicks but no sign of the adults. We had our picnic lunch here, then carried on to Høyholman where there were displaying Temminck's Stints on either side of the road across the sand flats and a single Little Stint at the water's edge. We found an Oystercatcher nest with three eggs right on the roadside and also an adult female with green colour rings ('8' on left leg, 'A' on right). About 300 male Goosanders were loafing on an island and a distant flock of Bar-tailed Godwits were on the shore; Arctic Terns were also nesting in the dunes. Climbing steadily to beyond the tree-line, we found a pair of Scaup, two very close Red-necked Phalaropes, a Merlin perched on the lake shore and several Bluethroats. A Lapland Bunting was watched singing from wires, and a pair of Long-tailed Skuas sat nearby. Then a Golden Eagle soared over the road as we returned to find one of the adult Gyr Falcons sitting on the cliff top. We then headed for the Varangerfjord and the North Norway coast. A very brief stop at Ekkeroy and we immediately found a flock of Steller's Eiders amongst the seaweed. Arrival at Vardø in time for dinner.
Monday 18th June: Vardø - Hamningberg
The weather was bright and sunny all day, and a real pleasure, though the breeze was rather cold. We spent an hour before breakfast on the peninsula to the west of the town, finding Snow and Lapland Buntings and several Twite. Common Eider, Goosander and Red-breasted Mergansers were near the shore and we eventually found two female King Eiders loafing on rocks. After breakfast, we headed west along the coast, checking pools, lakes and the seashore as we went. Breeding-plumaged Black-throated and Red-throated Divers were seen, though one Black-throated Diver close inshore in the bay seemed sick. We were checking the large gulls and were discussing the possibility of hybrid Herring x Glaucous Gulls when everything lifted off as a White-tailed Eagle landed on the rocks just in front of us. Excellent views of a Red-throated Pipit only a matter of metres from the bus were followed by a close male Lapland Bunting for those who didn't get the previous birds. Hundreds of Goosanders and Red-breasted Mergansers were all along the coast, and packs of Common Eiders, good numbers of Long-tailed Ducks and rather fewer Common Scoters all showed well in the excellent light. We found several Arctic Skuas loafing near the road, and saw various others throughout the day. One of the vehicles had a lone Pomarine Skua fly over. A commotion on the sea attracted our attention just in time to see a Common Seal lunge right out of the water at a Herring Gull! We had lunch at Hamningberg, sitting in the sunshine and watching thousands of Kittiwakes and numerous Gannets passing close by the peninsula. We returned the same way, finding a rather distant Shore Lark and watching a pair of Ringed Plovers nesting beside the road. Return in time to watch the ferry depart before dinner.
Tuesday 19th June: Hornøya Island and south into Varangerfjord
Another almost cloudless day, positively hot at times. Our pre-breakfast walk took us to the edge of town near the hotel. A family of Eiders with Mum, two nannies and 12 small ducklings were watched swimming across the Sound towards us. On the open ground near the drying racks, we found Red-throated, Rock and Meadow Pipit, all on territory and singing, often from the same rock. This was a very useful comparison. After a leisurely breakfast, we took the boat across to Hornøya Island on a completely flat sea. Auks became more numerous and we were soon identifying Razorbill, Puffin, and all three species of Guillemot - Black, Common and our prime target, Brünnich's Guillemot. Landing on the island, the seabird colonies were spead out before us on the cliff. Herring Gulls on the flatter ground, Puffins on the slopes and Kittiwakes and Common Guillemots on the cliffs. We quickly found further Brünnich's Guillemots on the ledges, at this range readily identified by their shorter, stouter bills with the pale line near the gape. The pure white flanks were especially useful with birds on the water, those of Common Guillemot being streaked with grey. The Common Guillemots here were the darker northern race, as opposed to the brown southern race which breed in the UK. Also, many of the birds here were of the 'bridled' form, numbers of which increase the further north one travels. We walked up the path, past nesting Shags, Herring and Great Black-blacked Gulls. The view from the lighthouse at the top of the island was excellent due to the exceptionally clear conditions. Our three hours on the island went very quickly and we were soon back in the boat for the ten-minute journey back to Vardø. We had an excellent buffet lunch in a local restaurant in town and then into the vehicles to explore the coast to the south into Varangerfjord. At Kiberg, there was a nice flock of 150 Steller's Eiders loafing on two offshore islands. Various Ruff were arguing over patches of seaweed, and several Red-necked Phalaropes were spinning at the water edge. We checked each beach and bay as we moved south. A White-tailed Eagle was found attending its nest containing one youngster. Amongst the many Ruffs, we also found Dunlin, Temminck Stints, Bar-tailed Godwits and Turnstones. A lone Fulmar on the sea was probably a sick bird. We finally checked an inland cliff and scree face for a reported Ring Ouzel, but, though unsuccessful with this species, we did find a Raven nest with at least one youngster.
Wednesday 20th June: Return to Ivalo
This was another virtually cloudless day for our journey back into Finland. We spent the morning exploring further along the Varangerfjord, stopping first to view the White-tailed Eagle on its nest. A return visit to the scree face was successful this time with several views of the pair of Ring Ouzels, the male twice flying over us to collect food from fields nearby and the female seen on the scree itself. We stopped several times to look for waders on the seaweed and also checked a superb area of tundra, finding Long-tailed Skua, Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone and a pair of superb Shore Larks, all on territory. Whimbrels and Golden Plovers were also present. Lunch at Nesseby, then on to Utsjoki to search a nearby hilltop. Though no sign of Dotterel, we did find a pair of very close Golden Plovers. We had dinner at a reindeer farm near Inari, in a traditional wigwam-style cabin and were treated to several traditional Sami folk tunes. Back to Ivalo for the night.
Thursday 21st June: Departure
Yet another cloudless morning and after a leisurely breakfast, we managed two hours gentle birding before needing to leave for the airport. A very nice male Little Bunting was found beside the road, followed very quickly by an Arctic Warbler, singing and showing well in the telescope. Butterflies were obviously appearing and we found several Pearl-bordered Fritillaries. Bramblings showed well, singing in the sunshine. We then checked Olli's old feeding station, but with no regular food now being provided, this was largely deserted. There was a deserted Siberian Tit nest in a nest-box and we had brief views of Pied Flycatcher. Departure for the airport during the late morning.
Red-throated Diver: Noted on 3 days with 1 on nest on 15th, at least 7 on 18th, 2 on 19th.
Black-throated Diver: Noted on 4 days with a pair during evening on 12th, 3 at Kuusamo on 14th, 1 on 17th & 18th.
Great Northern Diver: Noted only on 1 day, an immature on 18th.
White-billed Diver: Noted only on 1 day, an immature on 18th.
Red-necked Grebe: Noted on 2 days with 2 at Liminka on 10th, 2 Kuusamo on 14th.
Great Crested Grebe: Noted on 2 days, numerous on 10th & 11th.
Slavonian Grebe: Noted on 2 days with 2 on 11th, 1 on 13th.
Northern Fulmar: Noted on 2 days with 1 on 19th, 2 at Nesseby on 20th.
Northern Gannet: Noted only on 1 day, on 18th.
Great Cormorant: Noted on 4 days, 17th - 20th.
European Shag: Noted on 2 days, 18th - 19th.
Great Bittern: Noted only on 1 day, various birds heard booming on 10th.
Whooper Swan: Noted regularly on 8 days, 9th -12th, a pair nesting on 13th, a family of 5 plus another pair on 14th, several on 15th, 1 at Ivalo on 17th.
Taiga [Bean] Goose: Noted on 5 days with at least 13 probably of this species on 15th, 2 on 17th, 8 flew E on 18th, 9 flew over on 19th, 1 briefly before disappearing into reeds on 20th.
Greylag Goose: Noted on 2 days with 7 overhead on 10th, 6 on 11th.
Common Shelduck: Noted on 2 days with a pair on 10th, 3 at Nesseby on 20th.
Eurasian Wigeon: Noted on 4 days, 9th - 11th, and 2 males on 13th.
Eurasian/Common Teal: Noted on 4 days with 1 distantly on 12th, 25 on 13th, several on 15th, 1 from vehicle on 20th.
Mallard: Noted on 4 days, 10th - 12th, and 3 on 17th.
Northern Pintail: Noted on 3 days with 3 on 10th, 6 at Oulu on 12th, a male on 18th.
Garganey: Noted only on 1 day, several including duck with ducklings on 10th.
Northern Shoveler: Noted on 3 days, 10th - 12th.
Tufted Duck: Noted on 8 days, regularly seen 9th -13th, & 15th - 17th.
Greater Scaup: Noted only on 1 day, a pair on 17th.
Common Eider: Noted on 4 days, many on 17th - 20th.
King Eider: Noted only on 1 day, a male & 2 females on 18th.
Steller's Eider: Noted on 2 days with 18 males at Ekkeroy on 17th, 150 plus another 16 on 19th.
Long-tailed Duck: Noted on 4 days with several pairs on roadside lakes on 17th, at least 70 between Vardø & Hamningberg on 18th, several on 19th & 20th.
Common Scoter: Noted on 3 days with 4 on 11th, c12 on 18th, several on 19th.
Velvet Scoter: Noted on 4 days with a pair on 10th, 15+ on 13th, several on 14th, 4 on 19th.
Common Goldeneye: Noted regualrly on 8 days, 10th - 16th, & 20th.
Smew: Noted on 3 days with 25 on 10th, 2 males on 11th, 8 on 13th.
Red-breasted Merganser: Noted regularly on 8 days, 9th - 11th, 16th - 20th.
Goosander: Noted regularly on 7 days, 1 on 10th, a nice pair plus another female on 14th, 12 flew over on 16th, then very numerous on 17th - 20th.
White-tailed Eagle: Noted on 3 days in Vardø area, an adult on the shore on 18th, an adult & young in nest on 19th & 20th.
Hen Harrier: Noted on 2 days with a female on 10th, another on 16th.
[Eurasian] Marsh Harrier: Noted regularly on 4 days, 9th - 12th.
Eurasian Sparrowhawk: Noted only on 1 day, 1 on 10th.
Northern Goshawk: Noted only on 1 day, chicks in nest plus adult heard on 15th.
Common Buzzard: Noted on 2 days with 1 on 11th, 1 distantly on 13th.
Rough-legged Buzzard: Noted on 7 days with 1 overhead on 15th, 2 overhead on 16th, c5 during day on 17th, c6 during day on 18th, 1 on 19th, c5 on 20th, 1 on 21st.
Golden Eagle: Noted on 2 days with 1 adult on 13th, another on 17th.
Common/Eurasian Kestrel: Noted on 4 days, single birds 9th,10th,12th & 14th.
Merlin: Noted only on 1 day, 1 on 17th.
Eurasian Hobby: Noted only on 1 day, 1 over the second vehicle on 10th.
Peregrine: Noted only on 1 day, a pair on 15th.
Gyr Falcon: Noted only on 1 day, an adult plus 2 chicks on 17th.
Black Grouse: Noted only on 1 day, a male plus two hybrid Black Grouse x Capercaillie on 10th.
Common Crane: Noted on 2 days with 17+ on 10th, 1 on 12th.
Eurasian/Common Coot: Noted on 2 days, 10th & 11th.
Eurasian Oystercatcher: Noted on 4 days, 17th - 20th, including nest & 3 eggs at Høyholman.
Northern Lapwing: Noted on 3 days, 10th - 12th.
European Golden Plover: Noted on 6 days with 4 on 10th, 1 on 12th, 2 on 14th, c10 on 17th, several on 18th & 20th.
[Greater] Ringed Plover: Noted on 7 days, 10th, 13th, 15th, & 17th - 20th.
Black-tailed Godwit: Noted only on 1 day, 1 on 12th - usually more numerous in Oulu area.
Bar-tailed Godwit: Noted on 4 days with 49 at Høyholman & at least 1 at Ekkeroy on 17th, 1 at Vardø on 18th, 3 on 19th, good numbers on 20th.
Eurasian Whimbrel: Noted on 4 days with 2+ on 12th, 1 at Høyholman on 17th, 2 on 20th, 1 on 21st.
Eurasian Curlew: Noted on 4 days, 9th - 12th, including chicks on 10th.
Spotted Redshank: Noted on 2 days with 1 mobbing the vehicles, presumably with chicks nearby, on 15th, 1 on 17th.
Common Redshank: Noted on 6 days, 10th, 12th, 17th - 20th.
Common Greenshank: Noted on 3 days with singles on 10th, 11th & 13th.
Green Sandpiper: Noted on 3 days with singles on 11th, 13th & 14th.
Wood Sandpiper: Noted on 5 days, up to 3 on 11th, 13th & 15th - 17th.
Common Sandpiper: Noted on 6 days with ones and twos on 10th - 12th, 15th, 16th & 21st.
Terek Sandpiper: Noted only on 1 day, 2 on 11th.
Ruddy Turnstone: Noted on 4 days, up to 3 on 17th - 20th.
Red-necked Phalarope: Noted on 4 days with at least 4 on 13th, 7 on 17th, 2 on 18th, 9 on 19th.
Eurasian Woodcock: Noted on 4 days with ones or twos roding overhead on 9th - 12th.
Common Snipe: Noted on 8 days, 10th - 12th, 14th, 17th - 20th.
Little Stint: Noted only on 1 day, 1 at Høyholman on 17th.
Temminck's Stint: Noted on 5 days with displaying birds on 11th & 13th, many including displaying birds at Høyholman on 17th, also on 18th & 19th.
Dunlin: Noted on 4 days, 17th - 20th.
Broad-billed Sandpiper: Noted only on 1 day, 1 displaying overhead on 16th.
Ruff: Noted on 5 days, with a lone male on 11th, then regularly on 17th -20th, including lekking males on several occasions.
Pomarine Skua: Noted only on 1 day, 1 on 17th.
Arctic Skua: Noted on 4 days, 17th - 20th.
Long-tailed Skua: Noted on 2 days with 2 on 17th, 1 very close on 20th.
Common Gull: Noted on 8 days including nesting pairs, 10th - 12th, 15th, 17th - 20th.
Herring Gull: Noted on 8 days, 9th - 12th & 17th - 20th.
Lesser Black-backed Gull: Noted only on 1 day, on 10th.
Great Black-backed Gull: Noted on 4 days, 17th - 20th.
Glaucous Gull: Noted only on 1 day, an immature on 18th.
Black-headed Gull: Noted on 10 days, 9th - 17th, then 2 at Nesseby on 20th.
Little Gull: Noted on 3 days, 10th, 13th & 14th.
[Black-legged] Kittiwake: Noted on 4 days, very numerous 17th - 20th, including nesting birds on warehouse at Vardø and large numbers on Hornøya Island.
Caspian Tern: Noted only on 1 day, 1 at Liminka on 10th.
Common Tern: Noted on 5 days, regularly seen 10th, 11th & 13th, then 1 at Vardø Harbour on 17th & 20th.
Arctic Tern: Noted on 6 days with ones or twos only on 11th & 13th, then more numerous 17th - 20th, including nesting birds at Høyholman and Vardø area.
Little Tern: Noted only on 1 day, 2 at Liminka on 10th.
Common Guillemot: Noted only on 1 day, numerous off Vardø and Hornøya on 19th.
Brünnich's Guillemot: Noted only on 1 day, many on and around Hornøya on 19th.
Razorbill: Noted on 2 days with several on 18th, numerous on 19th.
Black Guillemot: Noted on 2 days with several on 18th & 19th.
Atlantic Puffin: Noted only on 1 day, numerous on 19th.
Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon: Noted on 7 days, all were feral birds in and around towns.
[Common] Wood Pigeon: Noted on 5 days.
Common Cuckoo: Noted on 9 days.
Eurasian Eagle Owl: Noted only on 1 day, 2 on 10th.
Ural Owl: Noted only on 1 day, an adult plus chicks in the nest-box on 10th.
Great Grey Owl: An adult seen well around midnight on 13th/14th.
Northern Hawk Owl: Noted only on 1 day, an adult pair on 14th.
Eurasian Pygmy Owl: Noted only on 1 day, an adult in a nest-box with young on 11th.
Tengmalm's/Boreal Owl: Noted only on 1 day, 1 at nest-hole on 15th.
Short-eared Owl: Noted on 3 days with 1 distantly at the 'Eagle Owl site' on 10th, 1 during late evening on 12th and early hours on 13th.
Common Swift: Noted on 5 days, 9th -13th.
Eurasian Wryneck: Noted only on 1 day, 1 beside the hotel on 10th.
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Noted on 4 days, 11th - 14th.
Three-toed Woodpecker: Noted on 2 days with a pair at nest feeding young on 11th, 1 on 13th.
Black Woodpecker: Noted only on 1 day, 1 very close on 13th.
[Eurasian] Sky Lark: Noted on 3 days, 10th, 18th & 19th.
Shore/Horned Lark: Noted on 2 days with a distant male on 18th, a pair plus another on 20th.
[European] Sand Martin: Noted on 5 days, 11th, 13th - 15th & 20th.
Barn Swallow: Noted on 9 days, 9th -17th.
[Common] House Martin: Noted on 7 days, 10th, 11th, 13th - 16th & 21st.
Yellow Wagtail: Noted on 6 days, 10th - 12th & 14th - 16th, all birds were the Scandinavian & N Russian race, Motacilla flava thunbergi , known as Grey-headed Wagtail.
White Wagtail: Noted each day.
Meadow Pipit: Noted on 9 days, 10th - 12th & 15th - 20th.
Tree Pipit: Noted on 3 days with singing birds on 13th, several on 14th, singing on 15th.
Red-throated Pipit: Noted on 2 days with at least 4 on 18th, several good views on 19th.
Rock Pipit: Noted only on 19th.
Northern/Great Grey Shrike: Noted on 2 days with 1 on 12th, at least 5 on 14th.
Bohemian Waxwing: Noted on 2 days with 5 on 15th, several on 21st.
Dunnock / Hedge Accentor: Noted on 3 days, on 10th, a pair on 14th, heard singing on 17th.
Ring Ouzel: Noted only on 1 day, a pair on 20th.
[Common] Blackbird: Noted only on 10th.
Fieldfare: Noted most days.
Redwing: Noted most days.
Song Thrush: Noted only on 1 day, singing on 12th.
Mistle Thrush: Noted on 5 days, 11th - 14th & 16th.
[European] Robin: Noted on 2 days with 1 on 10th, several singing on 12th.
Thrush Nightingale: Noted only on 1 day, 1 on 12th.
Bluethroat: Noted on 4 days with at least 5 on 16th, many on 17th, 2 on 19th, heard singing on 21st.
Red-flanked Bluetail: Noted only on 1 day, heard singing distantly on 12th.
Common Redstart: Noted on 8 days with 1 on 10th, heard singing on 12th, a male close by on 13th, male on 14th, several on 15th, several on 16th, 1 at Utsjoki on 17th, singing on 21st.
Whinchat: Noted on 4 days, 10th, 12th, a pair on 13th & 1 on 15th.
Northern Wheatear: Noted on 9 days with 1 Helsinki airport on 9th, then on 10th, and various birds on 14th - 20th.
Sedge Warbler: Noted on 4 days, 9th, 10th, 12th & 14th.
Willow Warbler: Noted most days.
Common/Eurasian Chiffchaff: Noted on 2 days, 10th & 11th only.
Arctic Warbler: Noted on 2 days with male seen in song on 14th and another on 21st.
Garden Warbler: Noted on 3 days, 10th, 12th & 16th.
Common Whitethroat: Noted only on 10th.
Lesser Whitethroat: Noted only on 10th.
Goldcrest: Noted on 3 days, several seen or heard 11th - 13th.
Spotted Flycatcher: Noted on 6 days, 9th - 12th, 14th & 15th, usually singles.
[European] Pied Flycatcher: Noted on 5 days, 10th - 12th, several on 15th, a female on 21st.
Willow Tit: Noted on 5 days, 11th - 15th.
Siberian Tit: Noted on 2 days with 2 on 13th, several very close on 16th.
Great Tit: Noted on 6 days, 10th, 12th, 13th, 15th, 16th & 21st.
Blue Tit: Noted on 3 days, 10th - 12th.
Eurasian Jay: Noted on 3 days, 10th, 1 on 12th, 2 on 15th.
Siberian Jay: Noted only on 1 day, 2 very close on 13th.
Black-billed/Eurasian Magpie: Noted most days.
Eurasian/Western Jackdaw: Noted on 2 days, 10th & 11th around Oulu.
Rook: Noted on 2 days, 10th & 11th around Oulu.
Hooded Crow: Noted most days.
Common Raven: Noted on 8 days, ones or twos on 10th - 12th, 14th, & 17th, then several on 18th, several including nest with chick on 19th, a pair at nest plus others on 20th.
Common Starling: Noted on 5 days, common at Helsinki airport on 9th, then seen 10th - 12th, & 1 on 15th.
Yellowhammer: Noted on 6 days, 10th - 15th.
Ortolan Bunting: Noted only on 1 day, a male in song on 10th.
Little Bunting: Noted on 2 days with male in song at Kuusamo on 14th, a male at Ivalo on 21st.
Rustic Bunting: Noted only on 1 day, a male near Kuusamo on 14th.
Reed Bunting: Noted on 6 days, 9th - 10th, 12th, 14th - 16th.
Lapland Bunting/Longspur: Noted on 3 days with 1 seen & another heard singing on 17th, several on 18th, a male on 20th.
Snow Bunting: Noted on 3 days, several on each day 18th - 20th.
Common/European Chaffinch: Noted on 6 days, 9th - 14th.
Brambling: Noted on 8 days, regularly seen or heard singing on 12th - 17th, 20th & 21st.
European Greenfinch: Noted on 3 days with several on 12th & 13th, then 2 at the bird table on 15th.
Eurasian Siskin: Noted on 6 days with a pair on 10th, 3 on 11th, several on 12th - 15th.
Arctic Redpoll: Noted only on 1 day, 1 on 18th.
Common/Mealy Redpoll: Noted on 9 days, usually heard or seen flying over, on 13th - 21st.
Twite: Noted on 2 days with at least 3 on 18th & 19th.
Common Rosefinch: Noted on 6 days with several singing plus a male seen well on 10th, singing on 11th, a brown male singing & several others on 12th, a lovely red male on 13th, another male on 14th, singing male on 15th.
Pine Grosbeak: Noted only on 1 day, a male very close on 16th.
Common Crossbill: Noted on 4 days with at least 15 overhead on 12th, 6+ on 13th, 6+ on 14th, at least 20 on 16th.
Common/Eurasian Bullfinch: Noted on 4 days with several on 10th, 1 male on 12th, several on 13th, 2 on 14th.
House Sparrow: Noted on 9 days.
BUTTERFLIES & other insects:
Small White: Noted on 6 days, 10th, 12th, 13th, 15th, 19th & 20th.
Green-veined White: Noted on 3 days, 18th - 20th.
Green Hairstreak: Noted on 2 days, 13th & 15th.
Dewy Ringlet: Noted only on 18th.
Pearl-bordered Fritillary: Noted only on 1 day, many on 21st.
Common Hawker: Noted only on 10th.
Leucorrhinia pectoralis: Noted only on 1 day, a female of this 'White-faced Darter' species on 15th.
Western Hedgehog: Noted only on 1 day, 1 on 12th.
Red Fox: Noted on 2 days with 2 during journey on 17th, 1 at Ivalo on 21st.
Common Seal: Noted only on 1 day, 1 on 18th.
Elk: Noted on 3 days with several on roadside on 10th, cow & calf on 13th, 2 on 14th.
Reindeer: Noted on 10 days, 12th onwards.
Red Squirrel: Noted on 4 days, singles on 12th, 14th, 20th & 21st.
Brown Rat: Noted only at the refuse tip on 10th.
Muskrat: Noted only on 1 day, 1 on 12th.
Brown Hare: Noted on 2 days, singles on 10th & another near the hotel at Ivalo on 21st.
Mountain/Blue Hare: Noted on 2 days, singles on 14th & 16th.
Betulaceae: Dwarf Birch Betula nana 30.6
Caryophyllaceae: Moss Campion Silene acaulis 58.5
Red Campion Silene dioica 60.1
Alpine Catchfly Lychnis alpina 60.6
Ranunculaceae: Globe Flower Trollius europaeus 68.1
Kingcup / Marsh Marigold Caltha palustris 68.2
Cruciferae: Common Scurvy-grass Cochlearia officinalis 92.7
Crassulaceae: Roseroot Rhodiola rosea 100.6
Saxifragaceae: Mossy Saxifrage Saxifraga hypnoides 106.7
Tufted Saxifrage Saxifraga cespitosa 106.8
Rosaceae: Lady's Mantle species Alchemilla sp. 108
Cloudberry Rubus chamaemorus 110.8
Arctic Bramble Rubus arcticus 110.9
Marsh Cinquefoil Potentilla palustris 112.4
Mountain Avens Dryas octopetala 112.7
Alpine Cinquefoil Potentilla crantzii 114.3a
Bird Cherry Prunus padus 118.4
Leguminosae: Yellow Milk-vetch Oxytropis campestris 122.5
Geraniaceae: Wood Cranesbill Geranium sylvaticum 138.1
Violaceae: Yellow Wood Violet Viola biflora 150.7
Cornaceae: Dwarf Cornel Cornus suecica 158.3
Ericaceae: Mountain Heath Phillodoce caerulea 174.7
Bog Rosemary Andromeda polifolia 174.8
Bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus 176.1
Labrador Tea Ledum palustre 176.5
Trailing/Wild Azalea Loiseleuria procumbens 176.6
Empetraceae: Crowberry Empetrum nigrum 176.10
Primulaceae: Primula stricta 178.5b
Chickweed Wintergreen Trientalis europaea 180.3
Scrophulariaceae: Moor-king Pedicularis sceptrum-carolinum 220.5
Lentibulariaceae: Alpine Butterwort Pinguicula alpina 222.8a
Compositae: Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara 244.5
Liliaceae: Lily of the Valley Convallaria majalis 264.1
May Lily Maianthemum bifolium 264.2
Herb Paris Paris quadrifolia 272.3
This was another very successful if somewhat energetic trip to see many of the Siberian specialities which just extend their range into Finland. Though several species eluded us this time, we did add several which had eluded us in the past - as is usual with birding, you win some and you lose some! I'm sure we have all returned home with favorite memories - the nestbox with the Pygmy Owl looking up at us, the Ural Owl in her tree cavity with just her tail and wing tips showing, the Tengmalm's Owl which popped up and simply gazed at us from her nest-hole, the pair of Hawk Owls guarding their brood from the tree tops, and of course, that Great Grey Owl which managed to get almost everyone out of bed and at the vehicles before Markus! All were really special, as indeed was the seabird colony on Hornøya Island which as usual remains etched on all our senses! Finding the breeding grounds of many of the shorebirds and waterfowl which we, in the UK, know only as migrants or winter visitors was also really special - really red Bar-tailed Godwits for instance or, of course, the Ruffs in their breeding finery.
Markus and I hope that you all enjoyed the trip and I hope to see you all again in the not-too-distant future.
Keith Grant, July 2001