7th - 19th June 2003

Keith Grant

Markku Hukkanen (7th - 8th)

Harri Taavetti (9th - 19th)

Daily Diary:

Saturday 7th June Arrival

Bright, mild, some cloud

All our various flight connections worked well and we arrived at the Hotelli Vihiluoto in good time for dinner. Three bags failed at various points but all appeared at the hotel during dinner. Two of the group who had managed an earlier connection, went for a short birding walk in the area around the hotel.

Sunday 8th June South to Vihanti & Pyhajoki, north to Kiiminki

Sunny & mild, weak front midday, 15°C

We gathered outside at 6 o'clock and made the short drive to Vihiluoto Harbour. The bright early morning sunshine meant our views across the bay to the distant reed-fringed shore were superb. Whooper Swans, Shovelers and Tufted Ducks were immediately obvious. Careful searching found several Common Terns amongst the gulls; then distant rafts of Smew and Velvet Scoter were found with the telescopes. Three Spotted Redshank flew over us, superb in their black breeding plumage. We then drove on to explore the agricultural fields near Teppola. Many Curlew and Lapwing were on territory in the wet fields and ditches. A Snipe was seen, perched on an electric pole, and a Common Redshank flew past us at one point. A nice male Ortolan Bunting was found, perched up in a hedgerow, singing nicely, and a little further on, a Short-eared Owl was circling. We then headed back for our 8 o'clock breakfast.

The feeders outside the hotel had a procession of birds arriving. Greenfinches, Common Redpolls and Common Rosefinch were joined by a Red Squirrel picking up fallen seeds on the ground.

When we were ready, we headed south-west, firstly to Vihanti where a pair of Hawk Owls were attending a nest-hole. This was the most southerly pair since 1996, being seen in previous trips in the Kuusamo or Ivalo areas. A well-grown chick could be seen peering out from the nest hole (an old Black Woodpecker hole facing the road), as the adult pair stood guard from nearby trees. A male Red-backed Shrike was also in the area. In the same region, a pair of Great Grey Owls was using an old Buzzard nest. We had great views of both adults! Near Pyhajoki, we found a second nesting Great Grey Owl, this time using an old cat basket fixed on the side of a tree and visible across a clearing from the road. The adult was incubating and again could be clearly seen through the 'scopes.

A cafe lunch and we headed back towards Oulu, to the Siikajoki area, to check on a Ural Owl chick which had recently fledged from an old Goshawk nest. Markku searched for the chick, which he had ringed a few days previously. The juvenile was found sitting partway up a tree, but not before Markku had been attacked by the adult - hence his leather protective gear! Standing in the background, we all had excellent views of both adult and juvenile. Finally, we headed to the north-east of Oulu, to Kiiminki and a Tengmalm's Owl nesting site. By quietly scratching the trunk, this exquisite bird pops its head out of the nest-box, looking rather vague at being disturbed from its slumbers, but essential to check that its main predator, a Pine Marten, isn't climbing the tree. Again, excellent views through the telescopes, and back to the hotel for dinner. A long day but superb species!

Monday 9th June Liminka Bay, Oulu area & Kempele Bay

Some cloud, wind rising & front approaching pm, 18°C

A 7:30 breakfast and we were off to explore the Liminka Bay area. Checking some woods and fields, we found relatively little, though Northern Chequered Skipper butterflies were quite numerous. We then headed for a tower hide at Sannanlahti, overlooking the bay. A small hamlet at Varjakka reminded us of a New England fishing village, except for the Rosefinches, Pied & Spotted Flycatchers and Common Redstart in the trees and a Wheatear on the quayside. We found a pair of Taiga Bean Geese with goslings walking off across a field, and this was the first breeding record in the area for many years. We had lunch at the nature centre before walking out to another tower hide overlooking the bay. From the two tower hides we found two White-tailed Eagles sitting on a rock pile and many breeding-plumaged Spotted Redshanks. We eventually had good views of breeding-plumaged Black-tailed Godwits, and then found a Pintail with chicks and several drake Garganey along the water's edge. Common Cranes were in good numbers with parties seen in the distance and eventually a small flock flew almost over us. A Honey-buzzard was then spotted in the far distance and gradually circled close to us, to eventually fly right past us whilst two Marsh Harriers quartered the marsh, flushing godwits, redshanks and other shorebirds. The adult Little Gulls looked superb in the excellent sunlight as they floated past, dipping for morsels off the water surface. A few Greylag Geese with goslings, and rather more Teal, Wigeon and Shovelers completed the waterfowl present.

We returned to the hotel for a rest before going out for dinner but a phone-call from Harri, who had found a Terek Sandpiper nearby, soon had most of us back at the minibuses! Walking out to Kempele Bay, we found Great Crested Grebes on the water and Redshank, Greenshank, and other shorebirds along the coastline. A Red-necked Phalarope appeared and the Terek Sandpiper was found very distantly and rather too briefly, disappearing into channels between the sandbars. A second visit was required!

We were treated to a traditional farmhouse dinner at Helman's and Annie's farmstead near Kempele and then headed back to the hotel after a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Tuesday 10th June North-east to Kuusamo

Mainly cloudy, cold wind, temperature dropping

A pre-breakfast few revisited Kempele Bay, this time walking halfway along the shore. The Terek Sandpiper was again found at the far end, appearing and disappearing into channels and into the shoreline vegetation. We all eventually had quite decent, if distant, views of the bird. A Little Ringed Plover was also found close to us, and various other ducks and shorebirds were present.

Back for breakfast where a bright male Bullfinch was on the feeder and the usual Red Squirrel below. We loaded up the vehicles and headed north-east out of Oulu. Near Alakylä, Haukipudas, we pulled off the road down a narrow trail. As we got out, a Rustic Bunting was singing but didn't really show itself. Here, a nest-box in the forest contained a Pygmy Owl with young. We carefully all looked in, the adult and well-grown young just looking up at us. We replaced the lid and quietly retired. Moving on, not far along the road, we turned off through some stone workings and along a river course. A Common Rosefinch was singing vigorously as we got out the vehicles - again, a brown male. Maybe, the brown males tend to remain unmated and therefore tend to sing the most at this time of year and are therefore most usually seen. We stood quietly in a nearby stand of trees watching the nest hole of a Three-toed Woodpecker, the young calling continuously inside. As we waited, a Black Woodpecker landed in a nearby tree. Looking round the trunk at us, it allowed everyone good views until it flew off a short distance. It then flew back overhead and away, just the female Three-toed Woodpecker arrived to feed the chicks. The male arrived a short while later and in the course of about half an hour, we had several visits by the adults, affording everyone superb views. We tried a second Pygmy Owl site near Kiiminki but to no avail, though we did find Tree Pipit, Spotted Flycatcher and Whinchat in the clearing.

After lunch at Pudasjärvi, we turned off the main road to the trail running roughly parallel. We made several stops for Hazel Grouse and Black Grouse (well, a 'Greyhen' actually) flushed off the road by the first vehicle but not particularly good views of either. Other stops just provided good views of Willow Tits. Returning to the main road, we stopped at Kovajärvi to find three Black-throated Divers and at least four Smew on the lake. A Woodcock flew over, then on to Kuusamo to find our hotel.

Wednesday 11th June Oulanka National Park

Sunny am, cloudy pm, cool in wind

A 7am breakfast enabled us to be off by 8 o'clock, stopping first near Ruka. We parked at the foot of the hill leading up to the radio masts and ski lift. Crossing the road and walking a short way down the trail, we wondered why Harri armed himself with a broken branch, but this soon became clear when Old Grumpy, a rogue Capercaillie male, immediately came to meet us! We kept together while he went through his posturing display, Harri literally pushing him away as he got too close! As we retired, he really became aggressive, and Harri did a sterling rearguard action. We drove up to the top of the hill to take in the view and a quick photo-stop, then moved on to Valtavaara where a Red Squirrel, Bullfinches and Siskins were coming down to a feeding station by a roadside pulloff, but no sign of Siberian Jay. We then headed on to the Oulanka National Park where we had a brief restroom & coffee break at the Information Centre. We walked out along the trail following the Oulanka River for about a kilometre or so. A pair of Dippers was feeding along the river, delivering food to a nest-site under an overhang on a rocky bluff, whilst Siskins, Spotted Flycatchers and a Redstart sang in the trees. This year, the Calypso Orchids were superb, and Alpine Butterwort was also found. Returning to the Centre, we stopped again to view the Dippers, then on to have lunch at a café-restaurant where the garden-feeders were again attracting Siskins, Greenfinches, Bullfinches, Brambling and Yellowhammer. A Common Buzzard flew over in the distance.

We then explored the forest trails in the vehicles, stopping every so often to check birds or sounds. One lake had numbers of very nice Little Gulls dipping for food off the surface and the Wigeon, Goldeneye and Velvet Scoter all looked superb. From the nearby ridge, we could see the yellow-topped posts marking the no-entry zone alongside the border with Russia, and in the distance, a Russian watchtower. We started to head back, stopping to check a site with good numbers of Lady's Slipper Orchids, but these were just erupting from the ground and were not yet in bud, let alone flowering. We got back to the hotel just before 5pm. After dinner, one minibus made the short drive to Jyrkänkoski where a Blyth's Reed Warbler had been reported. This was another bird way north of its normal range, but despite singing from a thicket, proved very difficult to see. Several, very brief, views were obtained by a few observers as the bird moved about on the ground within the thicket. En route, a Whimbrel was found perched up on top of a telegraph pole.

Thursday 12th June Iivaara

Overcast, raining most of the day, cold, 6°C

We woke to find the weather forecast was indeed correct - overcast, grey, and raining. After breakfast, we headed for Iivaara, to the south-east of Kuusamo. Walking out along the boardwalk, a Rustic Bunting was heard calling as we crossed the bridge and a lovely male was found in the riverside willows. We walked on along the boardwalk and trail until we heard a Red-flanked Bluetail singing from the hillside above us. Walking slowly up the hill through the forest, we found the bird perched up on a treetop. This was unfortunately a first-year male, yet to acquire his stunning blue plumage. Even so, he was a very nice bird indeed, showing his blue tail and buff flanks. We returned slowly, hearing a Little Bunting in full song. Again, there he was perched up on a treetop, and he eventually allowed most to view him through the telescopes. Getting back to the vehicles, we went the short distance to a nest-box containing a brood of Siberian Tits. Waiting here for about 20 minutes, we saw three feeding visits by the parents.

Markku was ringing Siberian Tits as part of a long-term study just to the north of Kuusamo, so we headed back through town, stopping briefly for a snack and coffee. He had caught a pair of adults and we watched him weigh and measure them, having already been ringed in previous years. After quick photographs, we went to the nest-box where a brood of about eight chicks were partly feathered. We had our picnic lunch overlooking a nearby lake where a male black Ruff, Wood Sandpiper and a pair of Garganey were present.

Back to Kuusamo to have a quick look at the refuse dump where the many gulls included Herring, Lesser Black-backed, Great Black-backed, Common and Black-headed. Finally, we went to view Kuusamo Lake where we found a few superb breeding-plumaged Red-necked Grebes, a single Great Crested Grebe, a male Smew, Wigeon and Teal, and a lone Muskrat swimming across the water. Back to the hotel mid-afternoon to dry off, warm up, have a siesta or wander into town.

After our usual 7pm dinner, we did the checklist and arranged a further trip out to nearby bogs for Broad-billed Sandpiper and/or Jack Snipe. Despite having information that both species were seen within the previous two hours, we failed to find either! However, with much improved weather, the adult Little Gulls were superb in the late evening sunshine, as were Wood Sandpipers, our first Golden Plovers and Smew in the distance. Back to the hotel around midnight.

Friday 13th June Across the Arctic Circle to Ivalo

Clear & sunny am, overcast pm, 8°C though feeling cold throughout

We left Kuusamo by 8:45am with clear skies and sunshine, though a brisk northerly wind made it feel quite cold. Our first stop was just to the east of town, to overlook the fields at Säynäjä. A Crane was the only bird of note, feeding quite close to us on a newly cultivated patch. We stopped for coffee as we crossed the Arctic Circle just south of Kemijärvi, then continued north through Sodankyla. We stopped at Ilmakki Aapa and walked across the bog on the boardwalk to the tower hide. The Bog Rosemary and Bogbean were only just beginning to flower and there were no damselflies or butterflies visible - not really surprising considering the apparent temperature! Pairs of Wood Sandpipers and Yellow Wagtails were near the tower, and Smew, Common Scoter, Goldeneye and yet more Tufted Duck were on the lake. A Hawk Owl could be seen on a dead tree on the far side of the lake. Our lunch stop beside the Kitinen River enabled us to warm up, and undertake a bit of retail therapy for t-shirts, postcards etc. The bird-feeders were again a magnet for finches, and a rather pregnant Red Squirrel was also spending time here, making the most of a free food source.

After lunch, we tried a Black Woodpecker site just across the river. No sign of the woodpeckers but a nice party of Waxwings was feeding in the Aspen trees, but just as we were boarding the vehicles, a Black Woodpecker called in the distance. Time was pressing, so we carried on northwards, making a short detour into the Sompio Natural Park and to scan the Sompiojärvi, where a Cuckoo flew past us and there were various distant shorebirds and ducks. We arrived at Ivalo at around 6:15pm.

Saturday 14th June Ivalo area

Overcast, showers, odd sunny spell, 8-10°C though feeling colder in the wind

We went straight out after breakfast, heading back to the south, seeing a Rough-legged Buzzard circling near the road en route. We walked one of the marked trails in the Urho Kekkonen National Park, but it was very quiet except for the ubiquitous Willow Warblers and Bramblings. A flock of about 20 Taiga Bean Geese flew north overhead. We looked around the Information Centre briefly before taking the vehicles into the forest at Purnumukka. There was a nice male Three-toed Woodpecker here, but a female Pine Grosbeak appeared too briefly and the subsequent search through the forest failed to re-find it. Two Siberian Jays then appeared and again allowed everyone to view them at their leisure. We had our picnic lunch here, dodging the rain showers which were perilously close to sleet!

The cafe on the hilltop at Kaunispää provided a welcome hot drink and snack, before we did a slow circuit round the hill. Two Dotterels were found, initially quite close and they stayed in view whilst the whole group watched through the telescopes. Walking back to the vehicles, we found a Wheatear but little else. The neighbouring hilltop at Urupää was just accessible by vehicle - the track being very churned up to start with. However, both vehicles reached the summit, immediately finding a male Ptarmigan nearby. He allowed really close views for everyone, and allowed a careful close approach by the photographers. This was a relatively quiet day, but with some really good species, and we were back in good time for an early dinner.

Sunday 15th June North again to Norway

Overcast, occasional sunny spell, very cold

We managed a 7o'clock breakfast and headed north soon after 8, our first stop being Haapalahti marsh, north of Inari. An Osprey flew over here, quickly returning with a fish slung underneath, a Snipe was drumming overhead and there were several Arctic Terns fishing. Next stop was at Kaamanen for coffee, restrooms and a very good bird feeding station with Bramblings, Siskins, Redpolls and, best of all, two female-type Pine Grosbeaks. The coffee was good too!

After a quick top up with diesel, munchies and scarves at Utsjoki, we crossed the border and followed the Tana River on the Norwegian side, crossing at Tana Bru and headed for Hoyholman. The great cliff overlooking the river this year hosted a pair of Gyr Falcons. We had great views of the female and at least two chicks could occasionally been seen near the edge of the nest. At Hoyholman itself, we found several Temminck's Stints displaying along the grassy banks alongside the road. An Oystercatcher was sitting tight on its nest, only leaving and exposing 3 eggs when we slowed the vehicles too close. A small Arctic Tern colony was also scattered through the grass. We had our picnic lunches at the car parking area at the end of the road. We could see many Goosanders loafing on a distant sandbank, together with Cormorants and several Common Seals.

We then headed back to Tana Bru and on over the ridge and down to Varanger Fjord itself. A brief stop at Varangerbotn. for coffee and also to check the mudflats at the head of the fjord. There were many superb Bar-tailed Godwits in full breeding dress feeding here, also Red-necked Phalarope and Redshanks. At Nesseby Church, we found further Bar-tailed Godwits and Redshank, small numbers of Shelduck and a pod of dolphins thought to be White-beaked Dolphins. On then along the north coast, stopping briefly when a Long-tailed Skua flew alongside and landed near the shore. Further on, at Komagvaer, we again stopped to check through the flocks of Eiders offshore, quickly finding three Steller's Eiders which unfortunately were brown female-type birds. Several divers were found, a Great Northern, two Black-throated and a Red-throat, and good numbers of Long-tailed Ducks were a little further offshore. Then an adult drake King Eider was found amongst the nearest eider flock, and an immature brown bird a little further off. On then to Vardo to check in to the hotel and dinner.

Monday 16th June Hornoya Island, Vardo & Kiberg area

Overcast, some drizzle, slightly less cold (but not much!)

We took the boat out to Hornoya Island and were, as usual, hit by the spectacle that only a large seabird colony can project. As we approached the jetty, Black Guillemots and Puffins skittered out of the way across the waves. Several Black Guillemots were loafing on the rocks near the landing stage and above us on the cliffs, Kittiwakes were most noticeable, with Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins also coming and going. Careful searching revealed good numbers of Brünnich's Guillemots, and we could all examine the detailed plumage differences through the telescopes. Walking slowly up the marked footpath, we passed really very close to many birds. Broods of Rock Pipits had just fledged and at least one Red-throated Pipit was spotted on the grassy plateau of the island. A Fulmar was also patrolling the cliff. Nests of Herring Gulls containing chicks and eggs were seen on the plateau. The rain held off for most of our visit and we were duly collected by the boat after about two hours.

We returned to Vardo for an excellent fish lunch in a cafe-bar. We then decided to explore the immediate area. Looking out from the east point of Vardo island, many seabirds were passing back and forth from Hornoya. Two Glaucous Gulls were seen, as was a single Long-tailed Skua. A flock of 19 King Eiders were in the east bay, including a nice adult male. We then went back through the tunnel and explored the shore around Kiberg and Indre Kiberg. A small flock of Steller's Eiders was diving just offshore, popping back up like corks. Long-tailed Ducks were also offshore and eventually, all came ashore to loaf around on some rocks. We moved down in the lee of a barn to get closer, and suddenly found ourselves very close to a male Ruff with bright chestnut plumes, breeding-plumaged Golden Plover and Turnstone, and Ringed Plovers and a Redshank. We then briefly explored along a track heading inland where Snow Buntings showed well and a pair of Red-throated Divers was on a distant lake. We thought a distant goose flock contained both Tundra and Taiga Bean Geese but we were really too far away to be sure. Finally, a Rough-legged Buzzard circled close by, and it wasn't until we drove further on to turn around that we found a nest on a low rocky outcrop.

Tuesday 17th June Along the north coast to Hamningberg

Overcast, light breeze, sunny from mid-pm though still cold

We headed west along the coast after breakfast and, at our first stop, a Short-eared Owl flew past, carrying prey, and we found Shore Larks alongside the road, the male creeping round in the vegetation and sometimes quite hard to find. Up and over the first hill and then into Lapland Bunting habitat. A stunning pair were found alongside the road and at times came to within a few metres of the vehicles. We stopped for a Red-necked Phalarope in a roadside pool but two other cars appeared and we had to move on to let them pass. Stopping periodically to check the various lakes, bays and beaches, we had views of Red-throated & Black-throated Divers, Goosanders and Red-breasted Mergansers. There were good numbers of Long-tailed Ducks in some places, and at one point we found an immature White-billed Diver. Several White-tailed Eagles included immature birds and a more mature bird with more white in the tail, this perching on the cliffs for quite a while and allowing us to view it through the telescopes. Both Willow Grouse and Ptarmigan were found together on one ridge, allowing good comparative views. Two Barnacle Geese also flew over, heading north-west. A large area of willow scrub alongside a river contained several Bluethroats and at one point we were surrounded by at least three males, performing their display flights and singing from tops of bushes and fence posts. A male Red-throated Pipit appeared and again came very close, and a pair of Temminck's Stints and several Redshank were alongside the river itself. We also suddenly realised that a Mink was searching the rocky embankment along the roadside. Much searching through the various redpolls seen unfortunately failed to identify any Arctic Redpolls, all being Mealy or Common Redpolls.

As we approached Hamningberg itself, we could see thousands of seabirds, mostly Kittiwakes, on the sea and streaming past the peninsula. Several Gannets were obvious and with patience, most of us found Fulmars, including the northern 'blue' plumage type. Arctic Skuas were of course ever present, but several Pomarine Skuas were seen moving eastwards and a single Long-tailed Skua passed westwards. We had our picnic lunches at Hamningberg and checked the other bay across the isthmus, finding two adult White-billed Divers just offshore. We headed back, checking occasional flocks of gulls and also searching for Arctic Redpoll again. We arrived back at Vardo soon after 5pm and in our first sunshine for some days!

Wednesday 18th June Return south to Ivalo

Overcast, showers, less chilly, brightening pm, cloudless & warm at Ivalo

We departed from Vardo after breakfast, first exploring the north end of Vardo Island. Redwing, Snow Bunting, Red-throated Pipit and Twite all showed well. We then headed for Varangerfjord, stopping periodically. The inland bluff at Komagvaer probably provided us with one of the best 10 minutes of birding of the trip. Ring Ouzel appeared almost immediately, interrupted by an immature Peregrine landing on the skyline. This was quickly mobbed by a Long-tailed Skua, whilst a Rough-legged Buzzard perched at the other end of the cliff. As soon as the Peregrine and skua had departed, the Ring Ouzel reappeared and a Raven came in to feed its brood of well-grown young in the nest in front of us. A distant field held just a single Tundra Bean Goose.

The beach at Komagvaer was checked, then we moved on, stopping briefly to view the nest of a White-tailed Eagle. A single well-grown chick could be seen laying in the nest, but no sign of the parents until we had continued on, passing presumably the two of them on the beach.

Ekkeroy had Ruff, Bar-tailed Godwits and other shorebirds in the bay. We walked through the village and round to the Kittiwake colony, but aborted this due to incoming rain. Moving on, and after a brief stop at Vadso to check the shorebirds in the bay, then Vestre Jacobselv where an odd white-winged gull had been reported. Our opinion was that it was a Herring Gull with abnormally white plumage, rather than Glaucous or Iceland Gull. We had lunch here, then moved on as another shower of rain hit us. A quick break at Varangerbotn, then across the border to Finland at Nuorgam, and we headed on to Utsjoki for another break, checking also the bird feeders. Further south, a Spotted Redshank was on territory when we stopped to check the bogland north of Inari, and we finished the day with an excellent visit and dinner at the Inari Reindeer Farm. Back to Hotel Ivalo.

Thursday 19th June Departure

Sunny & warm under a cloudless sky!

Breakfast as usual and we spent the hour and a half on the outskirts of Ivalo before our final packing. An Arctic Warbler at our first stop showed well but was continually chased by a very aggressive Willow Warbler. Finally things settled down and we all had good views of the Arctic Warbler, singing in the various roadside trees. Moving up the road about a kilometre, we tried for Little Bunting but all was quiet. We therefore came back to the town and tried another area. Walking a short way down a track, we quickly found a male Little Bunting singing nearby. He showed briefly but then moved off. A hundred metres or so further on, we found another Little Bunting which this time allowed us decent views through the telescopes. Butterflies were on the wing and we saw several browns, which were either Arctic or Lapland Ringlets, and a single Green Hairstreak. Common Cranes calling in the distance made a fitting end to our trip.

We returned to the hotel for our final checklist and to pack tripods etc, before departing for the airport and our flight to Helsinki and beyond.

Species Lists:

The various species lists below use the following references.

Birds: We use the suggested world-wide English names and systematic order as found in World Bird Species Checklist: with alternate English & scientific names (Wells, M.G., 1998).

Mammals: Collins Field Guide, Mammals of Britain & Europe (Macdonald, D. & Barrett, P., 1995).

Amphibians & Reptiles: Collins Field Guide, Reptiles & Amphibians, Britain & Europe, 2nd edition, (Arnold, N. & Ovenden, D., 2002).

Butterflies: Collins Field Guide, Butterflies of Britain & Europe (Tolman, T. & Lewington, R., 1997).

Dragonflies & Damselflies: The Dragonflies of Europe (Askew, R. R., 1988).


Red-throated Diver: Noted on 4 days with ones & two on 15th, 16th, & 18th, and at least 50 en route to Hamningberg on 17th.

Black-throated Diver: Noted on 5 days with 3 on 10th, 1 on 12th, 2 on 15th, 1 Hamningberg on 17th, several en route on 18th.

Great Northern Diver: Noted on 2 days with 1 on 15th, 1 Hamningberg on 17th.

White-billed Diver: an immature and 2 adults at Hamningberg on 17th.

Red-necked Grebe: 3 Kuusamo Lake on 12th.

Great Crested Grebe: Noted on 2 days with several Kempele Bay on 9th, 1 Kuusamo Lake on 12th.

Northern Fulmar: Noted on 2 days with several Hornoya on 16th, good numbers Hamningberg on 17th.

Northern Gannet: Noted on 2 days with 1 off Vardo east point on 16th, at least 12 Hamningberg on 17th.

Great Cormorant: Noted on 5 days with 2 Vihiluoto Harbour on 8th, Hoyholman on 15th, few Hornoya on 16th, several Hamningberg on 17th, Vardo on 18th.

European Shag: Noted on 3 days with nesting birds on Hornoya on 16th, several Hamningberg on 17th, Vardo on 18th.

Whooper Swan: Noted on 6 days with many on 8th, many Liminka on 9th, many in Kempele few on lakes on 10th, 1 on 12th, a few en route on 13th, few en route on 15th.

Taiga [Bean] Goose: Noted on 3 days with a pair plus goslings on 9th (first record here for many years), c.20 flew north over Urho on 14th, a mixed flock of 30 'Bean Geese' contained at least some of this species on 16th.

Tundra [Bean] Goose: Noted on 2 days with a mixed flock of 30 'Bean Geese' contained at least some of this species on 16th, 1 Komagvaer on 18th.

Greylag Goose: Noted on 3 days with 2 on 7th, few on 8th, several Liminka on 9th.

Barnacle Goose: 2 flew NW along north coast on 17th.

Common Shelduck: at least 10 Nesseby on 15th.

Eurasian Wigeon: Noted on 6 days with many Liminka on 9th, Kempele on 10th, Oulanka NP on 11th, Kuusamo on 12th, Sompiojärvi on 13th, en route north of Inari on 18th.

Eurasian/Common Teal: Noted on 8 days with several on 7th, many Liminka on 9th, Kempele on 10th, Oulanka NP on 11th, Kuusamo on 12th, Sompiojärvi on 13th, at least 10 Haapalahti on 15th, a pair Kiberg on 16th.

Mallard: Noted on 8 days.

Northern Pintail: Noted on 3 days with a pair Teppola fields on 8th, several plus brood Liminka on 9th, en route north of Inari on 18th.

Garganey: Noted on 2 days with 5 males Liminka on 9th, a pair Oivanki on 12th.

Northern Shoveler: Noted regularly on 4 days, 7th - 10th.

Tufted Duck: Noted regularly on 8 days.

Common Eider: Hundreds noted on 4 days in Norway.

King Eider: Noted on 4 days with an adult male plus one other Komagvaer on 15th, c.25 Vardo & Kiberg on 16th, c.40 Hamningberg on 17th, Varangerfjord on 18th.

Steller's Eider: Noted on 3 days with 3 females Komagvaer on 15th, c.12 Indre Kiberg on 16th, Vadso on 18th.

Long-tailed Duck: Noted on 4 days with several hundred each day in Norway.

Common/Black Scoter: Noted on 3 days with 5 Ilmakki on 13th, c.20 Komagvaer on 15th, Varangerfjord on 18th.

Velvet/White-winged Scoter: Noted on 3 days with c.6 Vihiluoto Hbr on 8th, Oulanka NP on 11th, 2 Kiberg bay on 16th.

Common Goldeneye: Noted most days.

Smew: Noted on 6 days with c.10 Vihiluoto Hbr on 8th, 4 en route to Kuusamo on 10th, a male Kuusamo on 11th & 12th, a few on 13th, a female north of Inari on 18th.

Red-breasted Merganser: Noted most days.

Goosander: Noted on 7 days.

Osprey: 1 Haapalahti on 15th.

European Honey-Buzzard: 1 Liminka on 9th.

White-tailed Eagle: Noted on 4 days with 2 Liminka on 9th, 1 Varanger Fjord on 15th, 3 Hamningberg on 17th, 2 plus nest with eaglet on 18th.

[Eurasian] Marsh Harrier: Noted on 2 days with 1 Vihiluoto hotel on 7th, 2 Liminka on 9th.

Northern Goshawk: 1 across road on 12th.

Common Buzzard: 1 Oulanka NP on 11th.

Rough-legged Buzzard: Noted on 5 days with 2 on 8th, 1 Urho on 14th, several en route on 15th, a nest near Kiberg on 16th, 3 on 18th.

Golden Eagle: 1 north of Inari on 18th.

Common/Eurasian Kestrel: Noted on 3 days with 1 Teppola fileds on 7th, 1 distantly Liminka on 9th, 1 en route on 10th.

Gyr Falcon: A female plus at least 2 chicks at nest Hoyholman on 15th.

Peregrine Falcon: an immature at Komagvaer plus an adult at Vestre Jakobselv on 18th.

Willow Grouse / Willow Ptarmigan: Noted on 2 days with 1 on roadside on 13th, 1 near Vardo on 17th.

[Rock] Ptarmigan: Noted on 2 days with 1 Urupää on 14th, 1 near Vardo on 17th.

Black Grouse: A female on roadside on 10th.

Western/Eurasian Capercaillie: Noted on 2 days with a male rather close (!!) at Ruka on 11th, a female Purnumukka on 14th.

Hazel Grouse: 1 on roadside on 10th.

Common Crane: Noted on 3 days with many Liminka on 9th, 1 close to road on 13th, heard at Ivalo on 19th.

Eurasian/Common Coot: Liminka on 9th.

Eurasian Oystercatcher: Noted on 7 days.

Northern Lapwing: Noted on 5 days.

European Golden Plover: Noted on 4 days with 2 on 12th, 1 Sompiojärvi on 13th, 1 Indre Kiberg on 16th, & 18th.

Grey Plover: 1 in breeding plumage Varanger Fjord on 15th.

[Greater] Ringed Plover: Noted most days.

Little [Ringed] Plover: 1 Kempele on 10th.

Eurasian/Mountain Dotterel: 2 Kaunispaa on 14th.

Black-tailed Godwit: Breeding birds at Liminka on 9th.

Bar-tailed Godwit: Noted on 4 days with good numbers Varanger Fjord on 15th, 1 Kiberg beach on 16th, 2 Hamningberg on 17th, many Varanger Fjord on 18th.

[Eurasian] Whimbrel: Noted on 5 days with 1 in the evening on 11th, heard & seen on 12th, 1 on 13th, heard Vardo on 16th, heard Ivalo on 19th.

Eurasian Curlew: Noted on 5 days, 7th - 10th, & 12th.

Spotted Redshank: Noted on 6 days with 4 Vihiluoto Hbr on 7th, 3 Vihiluoto Hbr on 8th, at least 60 Liminka on 9th, Kempele on 10th, heard Komagvaer on 15th, an adult on territory north of Inari on 18th.

Common Redshank: Noted on 8 days, Oulu area 7th - 10th, then in Norway 15th - 18th.

Common Greenshank: Noted on 9 days with 2 Vihiluoto Hbr on 7th, heard on 8th, several on 9th, 2 Kempele on 10th, couple on 12th, 1 Ivalo on 14th & 15th, 2 Kiberg on 16th, 1 Ivalo R on 19th.

Wood Sandpiper: Noted on 6 days with 1 on 9th, 1 Kuusamo on 10th, 1 Oivanki on 12th, 2 Ilmakki on 13th, several on 15th, 1 Hamningberg on 17th.

Common Sandpiper: Noted on 6 days with 2 Vihiluoto Hbr on 7th, 1 Vihiluoto Hbr on 8th, 1 Liminka on 9th, 1 Oulanka R on 11th, 1 Sompiojärvi on 13th, en route on 18th.

Terek Sandpiper: Noted on 2 days at Kempele Bay, with 1 distantly & briefly on 9th, rather better views though still distant on 10th.

Ruddy Turnstone: Noted on 3 days with 1 Varanger Fjord on 15th, 5 on beaches on 16th, Varanger Fjord on 18th.

Red-necked Phalarope: Noted on 5 days with 1 Kempele Bay on 9th, at least 8 Varanger Fjord on 15th, 1 on roadside pool on 16th, several on roadside pools on 17th, Varanger Fjord on 18th.

Eurasian Woodcock: Noted on 3 days with 1 hotel on 7th, 2 on 8th, 1 lake on 10th.

Common Snipe: Noted on 7 days.

Temminck's Stint: Noted on 2 days with at least 7 Hoyholman on 15th, a pair near Hamningberg on 17th.

Dunlin: Noted on 3 days with a breeding-plumaged male displaying near Kiberg on 16th, 1 near Vardo on 17th, others at Ekkeroy & Vadso on 18th.

Ruff: Noted on 7 days with 1 Liminka on 9th, 3 Kempele on 10th, a black male Oivanki on 12th, a female on the coast on 15th, 2 males on 16th, a female near Hamningberg on 17th, 2 males Ekkeroy on 18th.

Pomarine Skua/Jaeger: 5 flew east past Hamningberg on 17th.

Arctic Skua / Parasitic Jaeger: Noted regularly on 4 days in Norway, 15th - 18th.

Long-tailed Skua/Jaeger: Noted on 4 days with 1 Varanger Fjord on 15th, 1 Vardo (East Point) on 16th, 1 flew west past Hamningberg on 17th, 1 mobbing Peregrine at Komagvaer on 18th.

Common/Mew Gull: Noted on 9 days.

Herring Gull: Noted most days.

Lesser Black-backed Gull: Noted on 3 days, in Kuusamo & Ivalo areas, 12th, 13th & 15th.

Great Black-backed Gull: Noted on 6 days.

Glaucous Gull: 2 off Vardo (East Point) on 16th.

Black-headed Gull: Noted on 7 days.

Little Gull: Noted on 5 days Oulo - Ivalo, 9th -13th, mostly exquisite breeding-plumaged adults.

[Black-legged] Kittiwake: Noted on 4 days in Norway, including breeding colonies at Hornoya Island and Ekkeroy.

Common Tern: Noted on 6 days, regular in the south, but up to 2 birds in Vardo Harbour.

Arctic Tern: Noted on 9 days with breeding colonies found throughout from Oulu north to Norway.

Razorbill: Noted on 3 days in Norway, breeds Hornoya.

Brünnich's Guillemot: Good numbers seen on Hornoya Island on 16th.

Common Guillemot: Noted on 2 days in Norway, breeds Hornoya..

Black Guillemot: Noted on 4 days in Norway.

Atlantic Puffin: Noted on 2 days in Norway, breeds Hornoya.

Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon: Feral birds around the towns noted on 8 days.

Stock Dove: Noted on 2 days with 1 Oulu area on 8th, 1 Liminka on 9th.

[Common] Wood Pigeon: Noted on 6 days.

Eurasian Collared Dove: Several on 9th.

Common Cuckoo: Noted on 6 days with several seen & heard on 8th, several on 9th, 2 on 11th, heard Iivaara on 12th, 1 Sompiojärvi on 13th, 1 en route on 15th.

Common Pheasant: 1 on fields on 8th.

Ural Owl: An adult plus fledged chick on 8th.

Great Grey Owl: 2 adults near nest plus another on nesting basket on 8th.

[Northern] Hawk Owl: Noted on 3 days with adult pair plus at least one young in hole on 8th, 1 distantly Ilmakki on 13th, adult plus calling young Haapalahti on 15th.

Eurasian Pygmy-owl: Adult with well-grown young in nestbox on 10th.

Tengmalm's/Boreal Owl: Adult at nestbox on 8th.

Short-eared Owl: Noted on 4 days with 1 over fields Teppola on 8th, 1 Varangerbotn on 15th, 1 near Vardo on 17th, Ivalo on 19th.

Common Swift: Noted on 7 days, 7th - 13th.

Great Spotted Woodpecker: Noted on 4 days with a few on 8th, 1 at hotel on 9th, 1 on 10th, 1 Valta on 11th.

Three-toed Woodpecker: Noted on 2 days with a pair feeding young in nest on 10th, a male Purnumukka on 14th.

Black Woodpecker: Noted on 2 days with 1 on 10th, heard Kitinen R on 13th.

[Eurasian/Common] Sky Lark: Noted on 4 days, 7th - 9th, several near Vardo on 17th.

Shore/Horned Lark: A male near Vardo on 17th.

[European] Sand Martin: Noted on 6 days with small colony en route on 8th, several on 9th, several Oulanka NP many Kuusamo on 11th, then several on 12th, 13th, & 15th.

Barn Swallow: Noted most days, right up to Hamningberg.

[Common] House Martin: Noted most days, right up to Hamningberg.

Grey-headed Wagtail: This, the Scandinavian race of Yellow Wagtail, Motacilla flava thunbergi, was noted on 5 days with 3 on 11th, heard on 12th, several on 13th, female at Ivalo on 14th, 1 on 15th.

White Wagtail: Noted each day.

Meadow Pipit: Noted on 7 days, Oulu area on 8th, then daily Ivalo & Norway 13th - 18th.

Tree Pipit: Noted on 5 days with a few on 8th, several on 9th & 10th, singing on 11th, heard singing Ivalo on 19th.

Red-throated Pipit: Noted on 3 days with 1 at Hornoya on 16th, excellent views of several near Hamningberg on 17th, Vardo on 18th.

Rock Pipit: Breeding birds had fledged young on Hornoya on 16th.

Red-backed Shrike: A male very near the Hawk Owl nesthole on 8th.

Bohemian Waxwing: Noted on 5 days with several including a nice pair on roadside on 11th, few on 12th, at least 6 on 13th, nice views on 14th, several en route on 15th.

[White-throated] Dipper: A pair feeding young in nest Oulanka NP on 11th.

Dunnock / Hedge Accentor: Heard singing on 14th.

Ring Ouzel: Nice views at Komagvaer on 18th.

Fieldfare: Noted each day.

Redwing: Noted most days, though it took us ages to get good views of any!

Song Thrush: Noted on 3 days with birds heard singing Oulanka NP on 11th, several on 13th & 14th.

Mistle Thrush: Noted on 5 days with 1 near the woodpeckers on 10th, several on 11th, heard on 12th, 2 across road en route on 13th, Ivalo on 14th.

Bluethroat: Noted on 2 days with excellent views of several males and a female near Hamningberg on 17th, Vardo on 18th.

Red-flanked Bluetail: A brown male showed well up the hill at Iivaara on 12th.

Common Redstart: Noted on 5 days with heard at 2 sites on 8th, a male Liminka on 9th, heard singing Oulanka NP on 11th, 1 Kuusamo on 12th, heard singing on 14th.

Whinchat: Noted on 4 days with several on 8th & 9th, a pair on 10th, few on 12th.

Northern Wheatear: Noted on 6 days with several during day on 9th, a male Purnumukka on 14th, 1 en route on 15th, several on 16th, several Hamningberg on 17th, en route on 18th.

Sedge Warbler: Noted on 3 days, Oulu area, 8th - 10th.

Blyth's Reed Warbler: One singing but seen only briefly on 11th.

Willow Warbler: Noted each day.

Common/Eurasian Chiffchaff: Heard singing near Kempele on 8th.

Arctic Warbler: Noted on 2 days with 1 Kuusamo on 12th, 1 seen well near Ivalo on 19th.

Garden Warbler: Noted on 3 days, Oulu area, 7th - 9th.

Common Whitethroat: A male seen plus others on 9th.

Lesser Whitethroat: Heard singing on 8th.

Goldcrest: Heard singing on 10th.

Spotted Flycatcher: Noted on 5 days, mainly Oulu & Kuusamo, 8th - 11th & 13th.

[European] Pied Flycatcher: Noted on 9 days, Finland only, not in Norway, 8th - 14th, then Utsjoki on 18th, Ivalo on 19th.

Willow Tit: Noted on 3 days with 4 en route on 10th, few on 11th & 14th.

Siberian Tit: Several on 12th, including adults caught for ringing and a nest box containing half-grown young.

Great Tit: Noted on 7 days.

Blue Tit: Noted on 4 days.

Eurasian Jay: Noted on 2 days with 2 en route on 10th, 1 across road en route on 13th.

Siberian Jay: Noted on 2 days with 1 over first bus en route on 12th, 2 Purnumukka on 14th.

Black-billed/Eurasian Magpie: Noted most days.

Western/Eurasian Jackdaw: Noted on 3 days, Oulu area only, 8th - 10th.

Rook: Noted on 3 days, Oulu area only, 8th - 10th.

Hooded Crow: Noted each day.

Common Raven: Noted most days including breeding pairs with young in nests and many birds around the refuse tip at Ivalo.

Common Starling: Several in Oulu area on 8th.

Yellowhammer: Noted on 4 days, Oulu area 8th & 9th, Kuusamo area 11th & 12th.

Ortolan Bunting: A male seen singing nicely in Oulu area on 8th.

Little Bunting: Noted on 2 days with a male seen singing nicely on 12th, 3 near Ivalo on 19th.

Rustic Bunting: Noted on 2 days with a male heard briefly on 10th, a male seen at Iivaara on 12th.

[Common] Reed Bunting: Noted on 8 days.

Lapland Bunting/Longspur: Noted on 2 days with several en route to Hamningberg on 17th, Vardo on 18th.

Snow Bunting: Noted on 3 days with several males on 16th, several Hamningberg on 17th, Vardo on 18th.

Common/European Chaffinch: Noted on 7 days as far north as Ivalo.

Brambling: Noted on 9 days throughout trip, except north coast of Norway.

European Greenfinch: Noted on 9 days (as Brambling).

Eurasian Siskin: Noted on 9 days (as Brambling).

Common/Mealy Redpoll: Noted most days.

Twite: 5 at Vardo on 18th.

Common Rosefinch: Noted on 4 days with a pair at the Vihiluoto hotel feeders 8th - 9th, a brown male singing near the woodpeckers on 10th, seen well at Oulanka feeders on 11th.

Pine Grosbeak: Noted on 2 days with a female briefly Purnumukka on 14th, 2 females at feeders at Kaamanen on 15th.

Common/Red Crossbill: Noted on 2 days with a family group Oulanka NP on 11th, seen briefly (unidentified Crossbill species) on 14th.

Common/Eurasian Bullfinch: Noted on 6 days.

House Sparrow: Noted most days.


Small White: Noted on 2 days, 8th & 9th.

Orange-tip: Noted only on 9th.

Green Hairstreak: 1 near Ivalo on 19th.

Camberwell Beauty: Noted only on 8th.

Comma: Noted only on 8th.

Lapland Ringlet or Arctic Ringlet: Several near Ivalo on 19th were one of these species.

Northern Chequered Skipper: Noted only on 9th.


Moor Frog: Noted only on 8th.


Red Fox: Noted on 2 days, in Ivalo & Vardo area on 15th, 1 near Hamningberg on 17th.

Stoat: 1 in Oulu area on 9th.

American Mink: 1 near Hamningberg on 17th.

Common Seal: Noted on 2 days with 3 Hoyholman on 15th, at least 6 Hamningberg on 17th.

Grey Seal: 1 off Hamningberg on 17th.

Harbour/Common Porpoise: Several off Hamningberg on 17th.

White-beaked Dolphin: A pod of at least 3 off Nesseby Church on 15th.

Elk / Moose: 1 stood and looked at us on the road on 8th.

Reindeer / Caribou: Noted most days.

Red Squirrel: Noted on 8 days, usually at bird feeders, as far north as Inari.

Muskrat: Noted on 2 days on the lakes around Kuusamo, 12th & 13th.

Brown Hare: Noted on 2 days with lots on 8th, and another in the hotel grounds on 9th.

Mountain/Blue Hare: 1 on the river shore outside Ivalo Hotel on 14th.

I hope you all enjoyed the trip and have returned home with your own special memories. The weather was bitterly cold most of the time, but even so, we did really well. The spring seemed to be delayed by a week or two (as I've noticed on all my earlier trips this spring) and most of the butterflies had not yet emerged. As always, no-one saw everything that we recorded, but that is birding!

Highlights, I guess, must include the owls on the first day, the various breeding-plumaged shorebirds, godwits, Ruffs, Spotted Redshank etc., and the exquisite Little Gulls. Further north, the seabird colony on Hornoya Island, the large numbers of eiders and mergansers, and the 'arctic ' buntings, all set in what is, in places, a lunar landscape.

Well done to all of you who made this trip the success it was, and our special thanks to Markku and Harri who shared their knowledge so freely.

I hope to see you all on another trip sometime in the not-too-distant future.

Keith Grant, June 2003
© The Travelling Naturalist 2003