TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT
8th - 20th June 2002
Saturday 8th June Arrival.
After an uneventful flight from Heathrow, we arrived at Oulu to meet up with Matti. A short drive and we checked in to our hotel in good time for dinner. A brief watch from the hotel verandah and garden yielded Common Snipe drumming, a Woodcock roding, distant views of the bay and both Willow Warbler and Redwing singing from the nearby willows.
Sunday 9th June Liminka & Lumijoki areas
Sunny and warm
A 7 o'clock breakfast and we were ready to depart by 8 o'clock. We headed south and west to the Liminka and Lumijoki areas. First stop was at a nest site for Great Grey Owl. Three young were visible in the nest through the telescopes, and a careful search yielded a fourth fledged youngster in a nearby tree and one of the adults sitting quietly and keeping an eye (well, two yellow eyes really) on what we were doing. Views through the telescopes were excellent. We withdrew quietly and moved on to another forested area where a pair of Ural Owls had bred. These chicks had in fact fledged already and another careful search of the wood yielded only one of the adults. Good if brief views initially, but it generally kept ahead of us. Further brief views of the bird in flight, and we again withdrew quietly to walk a short distance to a nest-hole of a Three-toed Woodpecker. We could hear the young calling continuously and it wasn't long before an adult bird arrived to feed them. Excellent close views and we waited for a second visit when the adult bird again fed the young in the hole, then searched a tree right in front of us before returning to the young twice more - really stunning views. We drove back to the Visitor Centre at Liminka for lunch, before walking out along the boardwalk to the hides overlooking Liminka Bay. Sedge Warblers, Reed Buntings in full song, then Black-tailed Godwits in full breeding plumage. There were many Ruffs, the sparring males making a fine sight. Over 50 Spotted Redshanks, a nice close Wood Sandpiper, more distant Little Gulls, and a single Black Tern were present, as well as Whooper Swans and good numbers of ducks which included Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler, and Tufted Ducks. We returned to the hotel for an afternoon rest, before moving out again to look at a nest-box occupied by Tengmalm's Owl. With no sign of the adults, Matti looked in the box, reporting three young and showing us one of these exquisite youngsters. We then moved on to a local farmstead for a traditional home-cooked dinner. Birding from the vehicles on the way back to the hotel provided Short-eared Owls and several Lapwing chicks with their parents. An excellent finish to our first full day's birding.
Monday 10th June Oulu area
Warm, sunny and clear.
We departed after breakfast and headed for another part of the shoreline overlooking Oulu Bay. Walking out through the forest, we briefly saw Tree Pipit and heard Wood Warblers singing. The shore was alive with birds, including many shorebirds and ducks. Of particular note, a Goosander with a large brood of small ducklings were feeding around the distant rocks, a Terek Sandpiper was feeding actively along the water's edge quite close to us, and a Little Tern was resting amongst the Common Terns on the sandbars. A Brent Goose (of the dark-bellied race) was a real surprise this far north in Finland and a superb Little Gull was hawking for insects around us. We then moved on to a second location and, scanning the bay, found White-tailed Eagle in the distance. The several blue butterflies turned out to be Mazarine Blue. We then walked out across a boggy area, wellington boots definitely needed for this(!), to search for Citrine Wagtail. Excellent views of this, plus several Yellow Wagtails, all of the Scandinavian grey-headed race. The many hundreds of dragonflies hawking over the pools were Four-spotted Chasers. We then headed back to a café for a well-deserved lunch before driving east of Oulu for Black Woodpecker. The young had fledged but we did see one of the adults fly over. Good views also of Great Spotted Woodpecker and brief views of a pair of Bullfinches. We then returned quite early to the hotel for a rest before dinner. A short walk afterwards gave us views of Common Sandpiper, brief views of Common Rosefinch, Redpoll and Siskin, and we heard Garden Warbler in full song.
Tuesday 11th June North-east to Kuusamo
Sunny and warm.
We packed the minibuses after breakfast and drove just along the road to overlook the bay from Kempele quay. There were displaying pairs of Great Crested Grebes, a number of Smew, a family group of Greylag Geese, a single Red-necked and a pair of Slavonian Grebes. We then started on our journey north-east towards Kuusamo. We made various detours, first to a Pygmy Owl nest-box containing five youngsters. The adult was sitting quietly in a nearby tree, allowing excellent views through the telescopes. A Willow Tit was seen on the way back to the buses. Then a brief stop at a footbridge over some river rapids, but there were only a few Goosanders and Common Sandpipers. Moorland Clouded Yellow butterflies were in evidence alongside the road. Lunch at a café, then we stopped at a roadside pull-in for Little Bunting where we had brief and rather difficult views of a male. The flock of Crossbills which flew over could have been either Common or Parrot, and must therefore remain unidentified. Another detour and we were overlooking a lake from a tower hide. A pair of Ruddy Ducks were found amongst the other waterfowl and I wonder if this is the start of an expansion of this North American species right across Siberia from its original introduction into England! On another trail, we found a superb pair of Red-backed Shrikes and a Waxwing, very close and again superb views through the telescopes. A Black Woodpecker was present a little further on. We then drove on to the hotel on the outskirts of Kuusamo late in the afternoon, meeting up again for the checklist and dinner later in the evening.
Wednesday 12th June Oulanka National Park
Warm & sunny again; slight breeze, some cloud.
7 o'clock breakfast as usual and we were off to explore the area in and around the Oulanka National Park, to the north of Kuusamo. At our first stop we found a nice pair of Waxwings catching flies from the tree-tops. We tried another area alongside the road, but found only Brambling, Redstart and Siskin, together with Chequered Skipper, Lapland Ringlet and Swallowtail butterflies. The park information centre provided some presents for small people back home, before we walked the riverside trail. This was pretty quiet until we reached the cascade where we found a pair of Dippers attending a nest - excellent views from just across the river. We then drove over to a café for an excellent home-cooked lunch. Building and decorating was still in the process of being finished off, but this didn't detract from our enjoyment of an excellent lunch. In the garden afterwards, several Geranium Argus butterflies were egg-laying, and a Common Buzzard was circling the distant trees. We then headed back into the Park to explore more of the tracks. We found three Siberian Jays sitting quietly and ultimately finished close to the border zone with Russia. Several Siberian Tits and Redpolls were feeding in the trees here as everyone went up to the barrier for photographs. A final stop by a large lake provided Smew and several pairs of Velvet Scoters. Back to the hotel in good time for the checklist and dinner, and then most of us went out again for several hours. More or less repeating today's circuit, we stopped first of all to overlook the nest-site of an Eagle Owl. Two chicks were visible but no sign of the adults - probably watching us from another position on the rock face! A second stop for Hazel Grouse provided two very brief views as one bird flew across the track and then back again. It refused an encore so we moved on and watched the midnight sun from a tower hide overlooking a bog and shallow lake. Teal, Wigeon, Goldeneye, Spotted Redshank and Wood Sandpipers were all quickly seen. Then, most unexpectedly, a Red-necked Phalarope was found feeding along the edge of the channel. A fitting end to a long day when many species were being particularly elusive!
Thursday 13th June South & east of Kuusamo
Sunny spells, thunder & rain late pm.
Another quite difficult day with birds relatively few and far between. We had a late breakfast due to the excursion late last night, but set off by 10am. We initially travelled east from Kuusamo, exploring the minor tracks along the lake-shore. Very little to report until we found a nice Black-throated Diver in breeding plumage just offshore in one particular bay. Unfortunately, it kept diving and travelled long distances underwater, making it almost impossible to track with the telescopes. The large earthen mounds in the pools were Muskrat lodges, and these were particularly numerous and often used as nesting platforms by Whooper Swans. We moved on, making regular stops, and then took to the tracks as we again approached the border zone. We again found Willow Tits, a Little Bunting briefly, male Whinchat, excellent Little Gulls and male Bramblings, then a picnic lunch sitting in the shade of some trees. White-faced Darter dragonflies gave good views sitting low down on a pole, showing their almost velvet-red markings. Heading back south and west after lunch, we again stopped regularly, finding a nicely perched Merlin, further Bramblings, and at last good views of Little Bunting, the grey-headed race of Yellow Wagtail and further good views of Waxwings. A slight diversion, until we ran out of track(!), did provide us with the opportunity to look into an old woodpecker hole, finding a female Goldeneye sitting tight. The showers then set in on a more permanent basis and the few bolts of lightning encouraged us homewards. Return in good time for dinner.
Friday 14th June Across the Arctic Circle to Ivalo
Raining in morning, clearing to sunny pm.
Breakfast at our normal time and we were packed and ready to depart soon after 8 o'clock. It had rained overnight and there was a really chilly wind keeping the temperature down. A thermometer display showed +6°C, but I'm sure the wind chill brought this down lower! This was rather a shock from the 18° - 24°C of our first few days! Our first detour took us back to a ridge we had checked previously, but with the cold wind blowing, very little bird activity was noted, other than the ubiquitous Willow Warbler, Bramblings, Siskin and Redstart. We tried a track on the sheltered side of the ridge, finding a very nice area of pine forest in calm conditions, but again very little bird activity other than a Green Sandpiper very briefly and hearing a Black-throated Diver giving its evocative wailing call. We then headed north again, stopping briefly for coffee as we crossed the Arctic Circle just south of Kemijärvi. Another stop overlooking a lake enabled close views of Whooper Swans through the telescopes. The clouds had disappeared and the sun was shining by the time we stopped briefly again, alongside the reserve at Ilmakki Aapa where we found Lapwing and two species of dragonfly, White-faced Darters and the small blue Northern Damselflies. An Osprey flying over here was a nice surprise. We stopped for lunch at a café just up the road beside the Kittinen River. Our final stop was at the Urho Kekkonen National Park to the south of Ivalo, where we walked out on one of the signposted paths and had super views of a Hawk Owl perched up on the tree tops. With the temperature back up to around 16°C, there were also good numbers of Common Hawker dragonflies in the forest. Arrival in Ivalo in time for the checklist and dinner.
Saturday 15th June Ivalo & Inari area.
Sunny and warm, again.
We headed north to an excellent marsh at Haapalahti, just beyond Inari,. There were drumming Snipe here, many Arctic Terns and we had several in-flight views of Broad-billed Sandpipers. Unfortunately, these flew in and dropped into the marsh amongst the rushes and were lost to sight. There were also several lovely male Bluethroats singing in nearby trees and one performed a stunning parachuting 'leaf-fall' display flight several times. After this, we explored some of the forest trails. A Pied Flycatcher was nesting in a mail-box covered by a reindeer skin, and we peeked in to see the nest containing a clutch of pale blue eggs. A little later, we were watching a Wheatear when a dust-devil swirled right through the group. We then headed back to Inari for the option to look round the Sami Museum before having lunch there. This is a really excellent museum illustrating the history and life-style of the Sami peoples. After lunch, we returned to Ivalo and further south still, to a hilltop at Urupää. We managed to drive right up to the top and then walked carefully, checking the ridges and valleys. Several pairs of Whimbrel were immediately apparent, followed by Golden Plovers. A brief view of a pair of Dotterels flying off towards the next hilltop lowered our spirits but these lifted as we then stumbled upon a really close Ptarmigan - down to some 4m or so, allowing good shots for the photographers. We then found a male Dotterel, which also allowed good views through the binoculars before flying a short distance back up the hill. It immediately settled into the sparse vegetation and had obviously settled on to a nest. This bird then allowed an exceptionally close approach (for us rather than the Dotterel, which is a notoriously confiding species at the nest). As we returned towards Ivalo, we took a detour to explore another forest trail. Unfortunately, the mature trees had been logged out, leaving only the smaller ones. However, almost at the far end of this trail, we suddenly came across a pair of crossbills feeding in the treetops. Excellent views of first the male Parrot Crossbill, then the female, before both flew off over the next ridge. Return in time for dinner.
Sunday 16th June Further north still and into Norway.
Rain overnight, sunny spells during day, getting colder.
We packed the buses and were away soon after breakfast. We made several brief stops north of Inari, having great views of one of the male Lapland Buntings heard singing and a really close view of a Rough-legged Buzzard circling and hovering alongside the road. At Utsjoki, we stopped to top up our coffee and diesel levels before crossing the border into Norway. Following the Tana River, we checked our regular cliff-face but learnt that the young Gyr Falcons had probably been robbed from the nest the previous week, and there was no sign of the adults! So we carried on to the reserve at Høyholman for lunch. The road out across the sandflats, as usual, provided some excellent birding. Oystercatchers were nesting amongst the chippings along the edge of the road itself and we found two nests with eggs. There was a scattering of Common Gulls and Arctic Terns breeding, as well as a single dark-phase Arctic Skua which tried to distract Matti by an elaborate wing-feigning display. Two White-tailed Eagles perched near the river and were joined by a third bird. As the roadside became sandier and overgrown with grasses, so we started finding Temminck's Stints trilling and giving their lark-like display flight. There were also excellent views of Little Stints, forming a good chance to compare the id features of both species of stint, and breeding-plumaged Dunlin and Golden Plovers. At Høyholman itself, a Red-throated Diver flew down channel and soon after, a pair of Black Guillemots flew in the opposite direction, these latter birds landing in the water just offshore. We could also see several hundred Goosanders loafing on a sand bank and, right in the distance, a group of Common Seals were wallowing in the shallows. After our sandwiches, we retraced our steps, again checking the Gyr cliff where we watched three White-tailed Eagles circling overhead, before heading for Varangerfjord. We again stopped periodically, having close views of Bar-tailed Godwits in their red breeding plumage at Vadsø, and in checking various groups of Eiders loafing close inshore, we eventually found one of our target birds - Steller's Eider. An immature male was found and as we got all the telescopes on to it, an adult male swam into view and eventually came ashore, allowing good though rather distant views of it on a rock. We then headed directly to Vardø.
Monday 17th June Hornøya Island & Ekkerøy.
Sunny spells, brief shower.
Our pre-breakfast walk took us to the edge of town. Various broods of Eider were present along the shore, and Ringed Plover, Turnstone and Ruff were feeding on a small beach. As we walked out on to the open area beyond the town, we found Meadow Pipits, Fieldfares, Redwings and several Snow Buntings. These latter birds were quite flighty and did not allow close approach, but we eventually obtained some views through the telescopes. On the way back for breakfast, most went on ahead but those trailing along in the rear were suddenly treated to a very close Red-throated Pipit. A leisurely breakfast and we were ready to board the boat to take us the short distance across to Hornøya Island. Distant views of King Eiders were followed by hundreds of auks scattering as the boat approached the landing jetty. On the island, we were immediately presented with a view of the cliffs. The sight, sound and smell of a seabird colony is etched on everyone's senses. The Kittiwakes were most obviously the noisiest inhabitants of 'Seabird City', but careful searching of the ledges containing Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins, soon revealed Brünnich's Guillemots. We walked slowly along the path, photographing those most photogenic, and being able to watch carefully the various species on the sea just below us. Just a few Black Guillemots were present, and while some of the group carried on up the hill to the lighthouse, the few who stayed behind managed to find an Otter hunting the water's edge along the foot of the rocks. Two species of pipit were present, Rock Pipits along the rocks and Red-throated Pipit for others up near the light. A pair of Ravens loitered around the breeding cliffs, and occasionally tried unsuccessfully to dislodge young Kittiwakes from their ledges. The boatman returned for us on time at 11.30 and, after a short detour to view the King Eiders, we returned to Vardø and managed about an hour's birding from the buses out towards the Vardø lighthouse. Using the buses as mobile hides and also enabling us to travel further out across the open ground than we had walked early this morning, we found Red-necked Phalaropes and Bluethroat, and at last had good views of Red-throated Pipits and Snow Buntings. We then had a really excellent fish lunch in town before spending an hour exploring the town itself or having a rest back at our hotel. We all met again and took the buses southwards as far as Ekkerøy. Here we found further Red-necked Phalaropes in breeding plumage, a flock of Bar-tailed Godwits, several Sanderling and Dunlin, and a single Grey Plover, all in breeding plumage. We then headed slowly back towards Vardø, stopping every so often to search the shoreline and coastal fields. An immature male King Eider amongst a flock of Common Eider was a surprise. The nesting Arctic Terns, some very close to the road, again enabled photography from the vehicle. Arctic Skuas were seen regularly, either on the ground or flying over, but the real surprise, however, was a pair of Bar-headed Geese alongside a small lagoon behind the beach. These were in immaculate plumage and we assume probably belonged to the population of feral-breeding birds from elsewhere in Norway and Sweden. Time was marching on, and we eventually had to drive straight back to the hotel for the checklist and dinner. A superb day.
Tuesday 18th June North-west to Hamningberg.
Mainly sunny, clouding over & becoming cold late pm.
Our early morning drive took us to the other side of Vardø island, overlooking the sound to the mainland. We quickly found a small party of six King Eiders which included three immature males. A pair of Red-necked Phalaropes looked great in the sunshine through the telescopes. After breakfast, we headed slowly north-west towards Hamningberg. Stopping periodically to check the various lakes, bays and beaches, we had distant views of Red-throated Divers, an adult and immature Great Northern Diver were rather closer inshore, and in one bay, there were good numbers of Long-tailed Ducks amongst the many Goosanders and Red-breasted Mergansers. A White-tailed Eagle circled high overhead but a distant large falcon must remain unidentified. We pulled into a parking area near some willow clumps and quickly attracted small numbers of redpolls, including some really bright males of both Common and Arctic Redpolls, enabling a good comparison between the two species. A male Ruff was feeding along the riverbank here and he allowed a very close approach, looking very smart with his black chest and white head-dress. We had lunch at Hamningberg, quite literally at the end of the road, and watched thousands of Kittiwakes streaming past the point. With these were Arctic Skuas, doing what skuas do best, and four species of auk. Small numbers of Gannets were also feeding offshore. A few Twite were also found here, feeding on the dandelions and grasses along the road edge. On the way back, we continued to check the gull flocks, finding also Sanderling in breeding plumage and a superb adult White-tailed Eagle sitting on a rock between the road and the shore. What a bird! At one stop, a Fox came and stood expectantly at the roadside, and was rewarded with some chicken remains from our picnic. By this time, rain had set in so we headed back to the hotel. As we crested the last hill, we could see the ferry approaching from Vadsø and we were back at the hotel in good time to watch the docking maneouvre as the ferry did a 180° turn within the confines of Vardø harbour.
Wednesday 19th June Southwards back to Ivalo.
Overcast, sunny spells, rain mid-late afternoon.
We departed Vardø after breakfast and very quickly found a female Steller's Eider in Kiberg harbour and an immature Glaucous Gull on one of the quayside rooftops. A Ringed Plover was sitting on its nest just beside us as we stopped to check through another flock of gulls. Out in Kiberg bay, off Indre Kiberg, there were several Red-throated Divers and some Long-tailed Ducks. The next bay contained rather more Long-tailed Ducks, four Velvet Scoter and a male and two female Steller's Eiders amongst the Common Eider. Our second Glaucous Gull flew in to land on the beach with a small flock of other gulls. Various Red-necked Phalaropes were on the roadside pools and amongst the seaweed along the shore. We saw the first of several Rough-legged Buzzards hovering near the road, then found our second perched at the top of some inland cliffs. We also succeeded in attracting a Willow Grouse out of an area of willows so that it showed well as it walked along the roadside before disappearing into further willows. We then turned inland along a track which took us up and over several raised beaches and out on to the tundra. Excellent views here of Shore Lark, Lapland Bunting, Golden Plover, Arctic Skuas and Common Gull on its nest. A brief stop at Vadsø to top up with diesel and we headed for Nesseby for lunch. The wind had risen markedly and, blowing from the east, had turned very cold, so we ate our picnics in the minibuses with Matti waiting on us with tea and coffee flasks. Heading on, we took the Kirkenes road along the south side of Varangerfjord with its dramatic scenery and such a marked change in vegetation on this north-facing slope from that on the other side. Having stopped briefly at the Näätämo river to stretch our legs and look at the rapids, we could see large salmon in the deep pools below the falls, though unfortunately none were jumping. We then crossed into Finland and made steady progress southwards along the road running the length of Lake Inari. We arrived at the Reindeer Farm outside Inari in time to feed their trained reindeer and to have our Sami dinner; then on to Ivalo for our last night.
Thursday 20th June Return home.
Sun & cloud, 16°C.
A leisurely breakfast and we utilised the two or so hours before our flight by searching areas near Ivalo. First, a superb Arctic Warbler showed very well, singing and displaying in the roadside trees. No sign of the Little Bunting just up the road so we then drove out to an old feeding station amongst the pines. A nest-box contained an old Siberian Tit nest and Pied Flycatchers were feeding young in another. A Rough-legged Buzzard was calling nearby and we watched it circling overhead. A Greenshank called repeatedly and we also heard Redstart, Cuckoo and of course, Brambling. Time was getting on so we returned to the hotel to do our final packing. Off to the airport and we were greeted by a large male reindeer wandering around outside checkin! With bags checked right through to Heathrow, we had time for a coffee and snack before moving through into departures for our flight to Helsinki and home.
[Oulu (8th-11th), Kuusamo (11th-14th), Ivalo (14th-16th), Vardø (16th-19th), Ivalo (19th-20th)]
Red-throated Diver: Noted on 4 days with 1 Høyholman on 16th, 1 on 17th, 3 distant birds on the sea on 18th, 3 on 19th.
Black-throated Diver: Noted on 2 days with 1 in breeding plumage near Kuusamo on 13th, heard wailing on 14th.
Great Northern Diver: Noted only on 1 day, adult & immature on the sea on 18th.
Red-necked Grebe: Noted only on 1 day, 1 Kempele on 11th.
Great Crested Grebe: Noted on 3 days with 1 on 9th, 1 on 10th, many at Kempele including displaying birds on 11th.
Slavonian Grebe: Noted only on 1 day, 2 Kempele on 11th.
Northern Gannet: Noted only on 1 day, c.20 near Hamningberg on 18th.
Great Cormorant: Noted each day in Norway.
European Shag: Noted on 3 days in Norway including breeding birds on Hornøya on 17th.
Whooper Swan: Noted each day in Finland, breeding pairs using Muskrat lodges as nest platforms.
Bar-headed Goose: Noted only on 1 day, 2 near Ekkerøy on 17th.
Greylag Goose: Noted only on 1 day, a family group near Kempele on 11th.
Brent Goose: Noted only on 10th, a dark-bellied bird near Oulu.
Common Shelduck: Noted on 2 days at Liminka on 9th, Oulu on 10th.
Eurasian Wigeon: Noted on 5 days at Liminka on 9th, Oulu on 10th, Kempele on 11th, a few on 12th, c.30 Vadsø on 16th.
Eurasian/Common Teal: Noted on 4 days at Liminka on 9th, Oulu on 10th, Kempele on 11th, c.30 including female with ducklings on 12th.
Mallard: Noted on 7 days at Liminka on 9th, Oulu on 10th, Kempele on 11th, several on 12th & 14th, a pair on 15th, 1 Vadsø on 16th.
Northern Pintail: Noted on 4 days with 3 at Liminka on 9th, 2 Kempele on 11th, 3 Varangerfjord on 16th, 4 near Ekkerøy on 17th.
Northern Shoveler: Noted on 3 days with a male at Liminka on 9th, a pair Oulu plus many off Kempele on 10th & 11th.
Tufted Duck: Noted regularly on 8 days, 9th - 15th, & 20th, including ducklings on 12th.
Common Eider: Noted commonly each day in Norway, many crêches of ducklings.
King Eider: Noted on 2 days with c.40 off Hornøya plus an immature male Varangerfjord on 17th, 6 off Vardø on 18th.
Steller's Eider: Noted on 2 days with adult & immature males on 16th, a male & 3 female off Kiberg on 19th.
Long-tailed Duck: Noted on 3 days with many on 16th, at least 80 on the sea on 18th, 50 on 19th.
Velvet Scoter: Noted on 2 days with several pairs on 12th, 4 on 19th.
Common Goldeneye: Noted on 8 days with a few near Kempele on 10th & 11th, many including families of ducklings on 12th, several including female sitting in nest-hole near Kuusamo on 13th, also on 14th - 16th, & 18th.
Smew: Noted on 2 days with c.20 near Kempele on 11th, 12 near Kuusamo on 12th.
Red-breasted Merganser: Noted on 8 days at Oulu on 10th, Kempele on 11th, at least 2 females Kuusamo on 13th, then regularly each day 15th - 19th.
Goosander: Noted on 7 days at Oulu including young ducklings on 10th, Kempele on 11th, then regularly each day 15th - 19th.
Ruddy Duck: Noted only on 1 day, a pair en route south of Kuusamo on 11th.
Osprey: Noted only on 14th, 1 at Ilmakki Aapa.
White-tailed Eagle: Noted on 3 days with 1 near Oulu on 10th, at least 3 at the Tana River on 16th, 1 overhead in morning then an adult on shoreline rocks on 18th.
[Eurasian] Marsh Harrier: Noted on 2 days with 2 at Liminka on 9th, 1 Kempele on 10th.
Eurasian Sparrowhawk: A bird possibly this species noted on 13th.
Common Buzzard: Noted only on 12th, 1 distantly at Oulanka.
Rough-legged Buzzard: Noted on 4 days with 1 very distantly on 15th, at least 5 on 16th, 5 seen well on 19th, 1 Ivalo on 20th.
Common/Eurasian Kestrel: Noted only on 1 day, 1 distantly near Oulu on 9th.
Merlin: Noted only on 1 day, 1 perched near Kuusamo on 13th.
Willow Grouse: Noted only on 1 day, 1 on 19th.
[Rock] Ptarmigan: Noted only on 1 day, 1 very close on 15th.
Hazel Grouse: Noted only on 1 day, 1 seen briefly twice near Kuusamo on 12th.
Common Crane: Noted on 3 days with 90 at Liminka on 9th, a few Kempele on 10th, a pair near Kuusamo on 13th.
Eurasian/Common Coot: Noted on 2 days with 1 at Liminka on 9th, 1 Oulu on 10th.
Eurasian Oystercatcher: Noted on 6 days with small numbers on 9th & 10th, then 16th - 19th including nests with eggs on the roadside at Høyholman and the coastal beaches.
Northern Lapwing: Noted on 5 days at Liminka on 9th, Oulu on 10th & 11th, 1 Ilmakki Aapa on 14th, 1 Haapalahti on 15th.
European Golden Plover: Noted on 5 days with breeding-plumaged birds regularly seen and showing well 15th - 19th.
Grey Plover: Noted only on 1 day, 1 in breeding-plumage at Ekkerøy on 17th.
[Greater] Ringed Plover: Noted on 6 days with 5 Liminka on 9th, c.12 Oulu on 10th, then regularly seen 16th - 19th including birds on nests.
Eurasian Dotterel: Noted only on 1 day, a male very close, then went and settled on nest allowing exceptional views on 15th.
Black-tailed Godwit: Noted only on 1 day, breeding at Liminka on 9th.
Bar-tailed Godwit: Noted on 3 days with distant birds at Høyholman & close birds at Vadsø on 16th, c.30 Ekkerøy on 17th, 3 near Vardø on 18th.
[Eurasian] Whimbrel: Noted on 5 days with a pair near Kuusamo on 12th, several pairs on 15th, several on 16th, 1 on 17th, 1 on 19th.
Eurasian Curlew: Noted on 9 days, 8th - 13th, & 16th - 19th.
Spotted Redshank: Noted on 4 days with 53 at Liminka on 9th, Oulu on 10th, at least 6 on lagoon near Kuusamo just after midnight on 13th, 1 flew over on 15th.
Common Redshank: Noted on 6 days, 9th, 10th, 16th - 19th.
Common Greenshank: Noted on 5 days with 1 Liminka on 9th, 1 Oulu on 10th, heard calling near Kuusamo on 13th, heard on 15th, heard near Ivalo on 20th.
Green Sandpiper: Noted on 3 days with heard calling Kuusamo on 13th, heard on 14th, 2 flushed from roadside lake on 15th.
Wood Sandpiper: Noted on 4 days with 1 Liminka on 9th, several on lagoon just after midnight on 13th, several at Haapalahti & near hotel on 15th, 1 on 16th.
Common Sandpiper: Noted on 5 days with 1 Kempele on 10th, 1 Kempele 3 en route on 11th, 1 near Kuusamo on 13th, 2 on 16th, 2 on 18th.
Terek Sandpiper: Noted only on 1 day, 1 Oulu Bay on 10th.
Ruddy Turnstone: Noted on 4 days with 2 Oulu on 10th, an adult with downy chicks on 16th, a pair plus another on 17th, 2 on 18th.
Red-necked Phalarope: Noted on 5 days with 1 on lagoon near Kuusamo just after midnight on 13th, then seen commonly 16th - 19th.
Eurasian Woodcock: Noted on 3 days with 1 roding around the hotel, 8th - 10th.
Common Snipe: Noted on 7 days with drumming birds 8th - 10th, at Kuusamo on 12th, several perched and drumming display flight at Haapalahti on 15th, also on 18th & 19th.
Sanderling: Noted on 2 days with 4 Ekkerøy on 17th, 3 on 18th.
Little Stint: Noted only on 1 day, 3 Høyholman on 16th.
Temminck's Stint: Noted on 2 days with displaying males Høyholman on 16th, 2 displaying males also on 18th.
Dunlin: Noted on 4 days at Høyholman on 16th, 5 Ekkerøy on 17th, several on 18th & 19th.
Broad-billed Sandpiper: Noted only on 1 day, at least 5 at Haapalahti on 15th, but all in flight and landing in long rushes out of sight.
Ruff: Noted on 8 days, with many at Liminka on 9th, Oulu on 10th and Kempele on 11th, several on lagoon near Oulanka just after midnight on 13th, relatively few on 16th - 19th.
Arctic Skua / Parasitic Jaeger: Noted on 4 days at Høyholman & Varangerfjord on 16th, various pairs on 17th, regularly seen on land and at sea on 18th & 19th.
Common/Mew Gull: Noted most days.
Herring Gull: Noted on 6 days with several on 10th & 12th, then very common in Norway on 16th - 19th, including large breeding colony on Hornøya.
Lesser Black-backed Gull: Noted on 3 days with odd birds on 11th, 12th & 16th.
Great Black-backed Gull: Noted each day in Norway.
Glaucous Gull: Noted only on 1 day, 2 immature birds on 19th.
Black-headed Gull: Noted each day in Finland, 9th - 15th.
Little Gull: Noted each day in Finland with several distantly at Liminka on 9th, a superb adult very close Oulu Bay on 10th, breeding colonies on 11th - 14th, and an adult at Haapalahti on 15th.
[Black-legged] Kittiwake: Noted in their thousands each day in Norway, with breeding colonies at Hornøya and Ekkerøy.
Common Tern: Noted on 6 days with many at Liminka on 9th, Oulu on 10th, several Kempele on 11th, and Kuusamo on 13th & 14th, 1 Høyholman on 16th.
Arctic Tern: Noted on 5 days with several at Haapalahti on 15th, then many on 16th - 19th including breeding colonies.
Little Tern: Noted only on 1 day, 1 at Oulu Bay on 10th.
Black Tern: Noted only on 1 day, 1 at Liminka on 9th.
Common Guillemot: Noted on 2 days, 17th & 18th, breeding birds at Hornøya.
Brünnich's Guillemot: Noted only on 1 day, breeding birds at Hornøya on 17th.
Razorbill: Noted on 2 days, 17th & 18th, breeding birds at Hornøya.
Black Guillemot: Noted on 4 days, first 2 at Høyholman on 16th, then regularly on the sea off Vardø and breeding birds at Hornøya, 17th - 19th.
Atlantic Puffin: Noted on 2 days, 17th & 18th, breeding birds at Hornøya.
Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon: Noted on 6 days.
Stock Dove: Noted only on 1 day, several at Liminka on 9th.
[Common] Wood Pigeon: Noted on 2 days with several at Liminka on 9th, 1 at Kuusamo on 13th.
Common Cuckoo: Noted most days, usually heard, some seen.
Eurasian Eagle Owl: Noted only on 1 day, nest with 2 young near Oulanka NP late on 12th.
Ural Owl: Noted only on 1 day, a pair near nest on 9th.
Great Grey Owl: Noted only on 1 day, an adult & 4 young at nest on 9th.
[Northern] Hawk Owl: Noted only on 1 day, 1 seen very well on 14th.
Eurasian Pygmy-owl: Noted only on 1 day, an adult plus nest-box full of chicks (5) near Oulu on 11th.
Tengmalm's/Boreal Owl: Noted only on 1 day, 3 young in nest-box on 9th.
Short-eared Owl: Noted on 3 days with 2 Oulu on 9th, 3 en route on 16th, 1 on 17th.
Common Swift: Noted on 5 days with the first immediately over Oulu airport on 8th, then many on 9th & 10th, several in screaming display flight over forest on 12th, several on 13th.
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Noted on 6 days.
Three-toed Woodpecker: Noted only on 1 day, an adult feeding young in nest-hole on 9th.
Black Woodpecker: Noted on 3 days with a brief flyover on 10th, then one seen well by most en route on 11th, a pair really close on 12th.
[Eurasian/Common] Sky Lark: Noted on 2 days, on 10th, and 3 singing birds at Hamningberg on 18th.
Shore/Horned Lark: Noted on 2 days with a male on roadside on 17th, 2 on 19th.
[European] Sand Martin: Noted on 4 days, 6 Oulu on 10th, 2 Kempele on 11th, also on 12th & 14th.
Barn Swallow: Noted on 8 days.
[Common] House Martin: Noted on 8 days.
Yellow Wagtail: Noted on 6 days, at Liminka on 9th, Oulu on 10th, then several pairs on 13th - 16th., those males seen well were of the northern Scandinavian race, Grey-headed Wagtail, Motacilla flava thunbergi.
Citrine Wagtail: Noted only on 1 day, a male near Oulu on 10th.
White Wagtail: Noted each day.
Tree Pipit: Noted on 3 days, 1 Oulu Bay on 10th, several on 12th, heard singing on 13th.
Meadow Pipit: Noted on 8 days.
Red-throated Pipit: Noted on 3 days at Vardø and Hornøya on 17th, Vardø & Hamningberg on 18th, also on 19th.
Rock Pipit: Noted only on 1 day, at Hornøya on 17th.
Red-backed Shrike: Noted only on 1 day, a pair very close en route on 11th.
[Bohemian] Waxwing: Noted on 4 days with 1 very close en route on 11th, good views on 12th, good views again on 13th, several on 15th.
[White-throated] Dipper: Noted only on 1 day, a pair attending a nest at Oulanka on 12th.
Dunnock / Hedge Accentor: Noted only on 1 day, heard singing en route on 11th.
Fieldfare: Noted each day.
Redwing: Noted each day.
Song Thrush: Noted on 4 days, usually heard singing, 10th, 11th, 14th & 20th.
Mistle Thrush: Noted on 4 days, 10th & 12th - 14th.
European Robin: Noted on 2 days, heard singing on 11th & 12th.
Bluethroat: Noted on 3 days, 4 males with 1 giving 'falling leaf' display flight on 15th, a pair Vardø on 17th, 1 on 18th.
Common Redstart: Noted on 5 days with heard and seen on 9th, a male on 12th, then singing on 14th, 15th & 20th.
Whinchat: Noted on 5 days with a male seen well on 9th, several en route on 11th, single males on 12th, 13th & 14th.
Northern Wheatear: Noted on 5 days with ones or twos 15th & 16th, 2 males at Vardø & 1 at Ekkerøy on 17th, 4 on 18th, 5 on 19th.
Sedge Warbler: Noted on 6 days.
Willow Warbler: Noted each day.
Common/Eurasian Chiffchaff: Noted on 2 days, heard singing on 9th & 10th.
Wood Warbler: Noted only on 1 day, heard singing on 10th.
Arctic Warbler: Noted on 2 days, seen briefly on 13th, seen well at Ivalo on 20th.
Garden Warbler: Noted on 2 days, heard singing on 10th, 1 seen well on 13th.
Spotted Flycatcher: Noted on 3 days, several on 9th - 11th.
[European] Pied Flycatcher: Noted on 6 days, breeding around the hotel at Kempele, 2 pairs at lunchtime Kittinen River on 14th, a female with eggs in a post-box under a reindeer skin on 15th, and a nesting pair on 20th.
Siberian Tit: Noted only on 1 day, at least 4 on 12th.
Willow Tit: Noted on 4 days, 1 seen well on 11th, then ones or twos on 12th - 14th.
Great Tit: Noted on 7 days.
Blue Tit: Noted on 3 days, 9th - 11th.
Siberian Jay: Noted on 2 days with 3 on 12th, 1 over 2nd bus on 13th.
Black-billed/Eurasian Magpie: Noted each day.
Western/Eurasian Jackdaw: Noted on 2 days, 9th & 10th.
Rook: Noted on 3 days, 9th - 11th.
Hooded Crow: Noted each day.
Common Raven: Noted on 7 days with c.30 spiralling on 11th, family party on 13th, 1 on 15th, an adult with 5 young in nest on 16th, a pair on 17th, several pairs on 18th & 19th.
Yellowhammer: Noted on 4 days, 9th - 11th, & 13th.
Ortolan Bunting: Noted only on 1 day, a male watched singing on 9th.
Little Bunting: Noted on 2 days with a male en route on 11th, seen well at last on 13th.
Reed Bunting: Noted on 5 days with several at Liminka on 9th, en route on 11th, nice views of male singing on 15th, heard on 16th, a male on roadside on 17th.
Lapland Bunting/Longspur: Noted on 2 days with several males on roadside north of Inari on 16th, a close male on 19th.
Snow Bunting: Noted on 3 days with birds seen regularly around Vardø and along the north coast, 17th - 19th.
Common/European Chaffinch: Noted on 6 days, 8th - 12th, & 14th.
Brambling: Noted on 9 days, 11th - 16th, 18th - 20th.
European Greenfinch: Noted on 4 days, 9th - 11th, & 13th.
Eurasian Siskin: Noted on 9 days, 8th - 15th & 20th.
Arctic/Hoary Redpoll: Noted only on 1 day, c.6 seen well on 18th.
Common/Mealy Redpoll: Noted on 8 days, usually flying over calling 11th - 18th, but good views on 12th & 18th.
Twite: Noted on 2 days with 3 at Hamningberg on 18th, 3 Kiberg on 19th.
Common Rosefinch: Noted on 4 days, usually singing, 9th - 12th.
Parrot Crossbill: Noted only on 1 day, nice views through telescope of a pair on 15th.
Crossbill species: Noted on 2 days when c.30 flew over on 11th, and another flock on 13th.
Common/Eurasian Bullfinch: Noted on 2 days with a pair on 10th, several on 11th.
House Sparrow: Noted most days.
Red Fox: Noted on 2 days with 1 on 17th, 1 came to be fed on roadside on 18th.
Common Otter: Noted only on 1 day, 1 hunting along the sea edge on Hornøya on 17th.
Common Seal: Noted only on 1 day, a large group at Høyholman on 16th.
Elk / Moose: Noted on 2 days with 5 near Kempele on 9th, 1 seen well in marsh on 13th.
Reindeer / Caribou: Noted most days from just south of Kuusamo on 11th northwards.
Red Squirrel: Noted on 2 days with 1 near hotel on 11th, a single grey individual on 12th.
Muskrat: Noted on 2 days with various lodges noted (but no individuals seen) on 13th, 1 seen by some on 15th.
Mountain/Blue Hare: Noted on 2 days with 1 seen late evening on 12th, 1 youngster on 13th.
Swallowtail: Noted on 3 days, 10th, 12th, & 13th.
Brimstone: Noted on 4 days, 9th - 12th.
Small White: Noted on 4 days, 9th - 12th.
Orange-tip: Noted on 3 days, 9th - 11th.
Moorland Clouded Yellow: Noted on 2 days, 11th & 13th.
Green Hairstreak: Noted on 2 days, 9th & 12th.
Mazarine Blue: Noted only on 10th.
Geranium Argus: Noted only on 12th.
Small Tortoiseshell: Noted only on 18th, 1 at Hamningberg.
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary: Noted on 4 days, 10th - 13th.
Lapland Ringlet: Noted only on 12th.
Large Skipper: Noted on 2 days, 9th & 10th.
Chequered Skipper: Oulanka NP, 12th.
DRAGONFLIES & DAMSELFLIES:
Common Hawker: Noted only on 15th.
White-faced Darter: Noted on 3 days, 13th - 15th.
Four-spotted Chaser: Noted only on 10th.
Northern Damselfly: Noted only on 10th.
AMPHIBIANS & REPTILES:
Moor Frog: Noted only on 12th.
Another good trip with some memorable moments. We were extremely lucky with the weather, temperatures during the first week often up to 24°C. Some chill winds in Norway but the sun usually ameliorated these. As is always the case in the Arctic, some years are years of plenty but others are years of paucity. This year, Red-flanked Bluetail and both Yellow-breasted and Rustic Buntings were very difficult if not impossible to find. There were also relatively few Steller's Eiders this year at Varangerfjord. However, the views of breeding shorebirds and wildfowl were exceptional, seeing Dotterel, Oystercatcher and Ringed Plover at the nest, Turnstone and Lapwing with chicks, and both species of Godwits in full breeding plumage. Little Gulls were stunning, as were Terek Sandpiper and of course the owls in Finland and White-tailed Eagle and Rough-legged Buzzards in Norway. The discovery that the Gyr Falcon nestlings had failed, possibly been stolen, was really disappointing. However, this was an excellent trip with an excellent group, and I do hope to see you all again in the not-too-distant future. Our sincere thanks to Matti and Finnature for their expert knowledge and organisation.
Keith Grant, June 2002.