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TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT

Northern Finland

19th to 25th May, 2003


Principal Leader:
Tim Earl

Local leader: Markku Hukkanen of Finnature

HIGHLIGHTS

Three owl species per day for the first two days - Great Grey Owl, Ural Owl and two hunting Hawk Owls on 20th; Tengmalm's Boreal Owl, Pygmy Owl and two hunting Short-eared Owls on the 21st.

A Black Woodpecker waiting to enter its nest hole watched by us, two Red-backed Shrikes, three Whinchat and several singing Tree Pipits.

A total of 36 Common Cranes feeding in a line along a hedge on the fabulous marshes at Liminganlahden Opastuskeskus. We saw 40 Cranes in the day.

A flock of 150 Little Gulls feeding on emerging insects at Papin Järvi (lake) and hosts more, some with beautiful salmon-pink breasts, breeding on a lake in Kuusamo..

Fourteen Caspian Terns roosting at Hietasaari Island.

Four woodpecker species in one site - Wryneck, Great Spotted, Black and Three-toed - in Kiiminki Forest.

Displaying Black Grouse, a stunning male Capercaillie, two Willow Grouse and a single Hazel Hen on our early-morning game-bird excursion.

A sitting Eagle Owl whose chick occasionally showed itself at a nest-site near Kuusamo.

About 30 white Mountain Hares in one morning.

Daily diary

Monday 19 May

Kempeleen Bay is the perfect pick-you-up for a couple of international flights. Within minutes of arriving in Oulu we were on top of a birdwatching tower revelling in Ruff, delighting in ducks (Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Soveller, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Smew (six females) Red-breasted Merganser and Goosander), singing with Sedge Warblers, and wondering at the wide range of waders (Oystercatcher, Golden and Ringed Plover, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Dunlin, displaying and drumming Snipe).

Five Cranes flew past, sadly at some distance, while mixed flocks of Black and Common Terns fed in the shallow waters of the bay.

In fairness, the flights from Heathrow via Helsinki had been uneventful and even pleasant. Pied Flycatchers were singing in the hotel grounds along with Redwing and chattering Fieldfare. And one of the highlights of the day, a male Hen Harrier, flew past after dinner when some of us were recovering bags from the minibus.

No mammals had been seen during the short time in Finland but a Camberwell Beauty narrowly avoided becoming windscreen-jam by slipping over the bus roof.

All in all, it was an optimistic start to the holiday.

Tuesday 20 May
Top-class birds dominated the day which was quite outstanding. Hazel Hen, Common Crane, three species of owl, a Black Woodpecker and five Elk were among the star-studded list with which we ended the day.

A pre-breakfast walk added Spotted Flycatcher, Bullfinch (the first of many), Redpoll, Whooper Swan, and Common Sandpiper to our tally. It was also the best part of the day for weather too as cloud was already beginning to build, later to produce grey skies and occasional showers.

Finland's vole population peaks every four or five years with a corresponding influx of owls. It was our luck that this trip coincided with an owl-year and we set off south to a vole-rich region with great hopes.

They were not dashed. Two Hawk Owls in different sites were each watched for a considerable time, and nesting Great Grey and Ural Owls were found by Markku.

He also took us to a Black Woodpecker area where one turned up after a few minutes and flew around a clearing, settling for a while on a number of trees. Your author decided it was nervous about visiting a possible nest-site and we hid in the minibus to watch. Within seconds it landed close to the hole in question and after a couple of minutes popped inside, not to be seen again.

It was the second woodpecker seen there - a Great Spotted male was watched as it ate seeds from within a fir-cone it had jammed into a hole. Pam spotted the unusual behaviour and pointed it out for us all to see.

The same site was occupied by a couple of Red-backed Shrike males, one of which sand from the top of a pile of sticks the whole time we were there. A Whinchat joined in the chorus occasionally and Tree Pipits added their warbling love-songs from intricate display flights.

The journey south had been good too - Rooks are rare in Finland but we passed through an area which home to a rookery and saw plenty. We stopped to watch our first Common Cranes and discovered a singing Hazel Hen in the wood behind us. Their songs are high-pitched, not unlike a Goldcrest, and we were lucky to get reasonable views of the bird on the ground and perched in a tree.

A late lunch was planned and we managed to visit a couple of lakes at Raahe first, enjoying stunning views of Slavonian Grebe in full breeding plumage, plus our first House and Sand martins.

The afternoon was spent at two sites within the Ruukki Forest where a pair of abandoned Goshawk nests were being used by Ural Owl and Great Grey Owl respectively. Nest watching can be dull - often the incubating bird looks stuffed - but at both the females looked down at us and blinked a little. A Great Grey chick also put in an appearance.

But it was the birds near the nests which delighted us. The Ural Owl male hooted a couple of times, not at us but when a Goshawk called, and a Capercaillie was flushed from a partly completed clutch of six eggs as we stood watching the Great Grey Owl. A Wood Warbler was found near the nest and several Crossbills flew over.

Wednesday 21 May

A more gentle day as we dropped the early morning walk and headed off for the Liminka Bay and its fabulous interpretation centre (Liminganlahden Opastuskeskus). A couple of Short-eared Owls were seen hunting, one close to the hotel as we left, the other in the Liminka area.

Our first stop just behind the airport at the Papin Järvi (lake) was super. A Red-throated Diver swam in to investigate us while a flock of about 150 Little Gulls swooped like terns on emerging insects on the lake's surface. Our second Wood Warbler was singing in the trees behind us.

A search for a coffee stop was eventually successful, as was our visit to a Tengmalm's Boreal Owl nest box which, happily, was occupied. The top of the adult's head could be seen, indicating that the chicks were well grown and numerous, filling the box. Hearing us, the bird stuck its head out giving excellent views of its rather startled looking face and bright yellow staring eyes.

But it was the fabulous Liminka Bay area which was our main venue for the day. After a super white-fish soup lunch we set off to a tower where a happy time was spent searching the marshes for such goodies as Black-tailed Godwit, 36 Common Cranes feeding along a hedge, pairs of Pintail playing catch-me-if-you-can, Ravens and Marsh Harriers being mobbed by nesting waders, all with the background noise of singing Sedge and Willow Warblers, Reed Buntings and love-sick Moor Frogs.

The day ended with a traditional Finnish meal in a farm close byÖ although far enough for us to see five Whooper Swans on the return journey. A Common Redstart was found in the farm garden.

Highlight of the evening was our sixth species of owl in two days - a Pygmy Owl responded instantly to Markku's whistle and perched above us as a thundery storm broke.

Thursday 22 May

Travelling days can be short on birds but a pre-breakfast outing and a visit to one of The Travelling Naturalist's favourite sites, a sewage farm, plus good birds on the journey, made sure that this was yet another A-class day.

The Teppola fields close to the Hotelli Vihiluoto have produced some great birds in the past and our pre-breakfast outing started there. Finding Ortolan, Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer, three Short-eared Owls and our second Meadow Pipit of the trip maintained their reputation.

We moved on to an observation tower on Hietasaari Island from which 14 roosting Caspian Terns were found. They were sitting with Common and Little Terns which were dwarfed by the red-billed giants. Two Temminck's Stints were also found along with Greenshank and Green Sandpiper.

Breakfast was followed by a visit to the Oulu sewage farm, a modern, smell-less site with correspondingly fewer birds. (Why do we have to suffer awful smells for the best sewage farm birding?) We did a sea-watch from the west side of the farm, getting good views of Velvet Scoter, Swift and another Caspian Tern. Six Arctic Terns were found on the farm, keeping company with three more Temminck's Stints, three Turnstone and eight Ringed Plover.

The Kiiminki Forest, where we had watched Pygmy Owl the evening before, was our next venue, this time in search of Three-toed Woodpecker which gave us fleeting views. Two Wrynecks joined a Great Spotted Woodpecker in a tree nearby and a curious female Black Woodpecker popped her head out of a hole as if to ask what was standing at the base of 'my tree'.

An Osprey passing overhead was mobbed by a Sparrowhawk while a Hazel Hen and several Lesser Whitethroats were heard singing.

Eventually, we set off on the journey to Kuusamo where we were to spend the next three nights. Stops were made every 50km or so and a number of birds were recorded as a result, among them a flock of Long-tailed Ducks, 35 Whooper Swans and our first Honey Buzzard.

An early dinner was eaten with some excitement as we contemplated the following morning's early start in search of the area's grouse species.

Friday 23 May

At first it seemed quite funny, being attacked by an aggressive male Capercaillie, getting wonderful views of the bird. But gradually we realised that this was not a happy event and tried to retreat with the angry male in pursuit.

The group had been walking along a cross-country ski-trail when Markku noticed the bird close to us at the top of a bank. We froze in excitement and to our delight the Capercaillie walked up to the edge of the bank, giving us a full view of its iridescent plumage, while issuing clicking and grunting noises, its tail fanned.

Slowly the huge bird zig-zagged down the bank getting ever closer. Cameras clicked and binoculars were trained on the bird. Suddenly it flew down onto the path and ran towards us. Markku grabbed a piece of spruce branch and fended the bird off.

Although Capercaillies have vicious beaks and are capable of giving a nasty bruise with a slap of their wings, it was not our safety he was worried about but that of the bird. It could easily damage a wing hitting out at our legs. The Capercaillie was not going to be distracted, however, and every time he was lured away from the group the bird returned to attack again.

We had to get out instead. Grabbing tripods and camera equipment we retreated down the track while the bird was lured off the other way. Markku then sprinted to join us and we hurried out of its territory.

The big male continued to grunt and cluck in anger long after we were out of sight.

Markku explained that the increase in summer houses built in the woods near Kuusamo meant that many of the Capercaillies' lekking sites had been destroyed and congregations of birds split up. Unable to lek with others, lone male Capercaillies become increasingly bad-tempered and aggressive, attacking anything or anyone who sets foot in their territories. It is an increasingly well-known phenomenon.

It was the third species of grouse we had encountered since leaving the hotel at 5am. Black Grouse were lekking on the road in front of us as we entered one section of forest; others were watched more distantly on fields as they spread their tails flashing white coverts at each other. We saw an amazing 26 males and five females before the lekking was over and they retreated into the forest to do other things.

A pair of Cranes had become caught in the pre-mating excitement and flew around one of the fields in an extraordinary, bat-like display flight.

As the morning drew on (but still well before our 8am breakfast at the hotel) we went searching suitable marshes for Willow Grouse, the northern equivalent of the British Red Grouse. We finally found two at the end of a road through a housing estate on the outskirts of Kuusamo. They were engaged in a territorial fight and chased each other around the marshy area opposite the houses, occasionally dropping to the ground to fight.

Their 'ge-back, ge-back, ge-back' calls sounded identical to moorland Red Grouse, but white wings and bodies turning red, seemed completely different, as was the habitat.

Before leaving the estate we drove a little further and parked on the edge of an enchanting lake. What those houses must be worth with Willow Grouse opposite and a magical lake behind, we could only wonder.

Small reedy islands were being used by hosts of Little Gulls, their mates feeding over the lake surface further away. Some had beautiful salmon-pink breasts and looked stunning in their breeding plumage. Many duck were present but suddenly your author noticed a pair of Red-necked Grebes among the other residents. A second pair was found.

Sean gave a shout of delight when a Muskrat was found swimming across the surface and then climbing onto an islet to nibble at weeds. It was his 'bird of the morning' he said later. Two more were found before we left.

The lake was swarming with martins and swallows but when many settled on wires behind us we were able to distinguish House and Sand Martin as well as Swallows. While watching these, Andy suddenly noticed a Great Spotted Woodpecker at the very highest tip of a spruce tree. As we watched it was joined by a female and the pair soon flew off.

Pam found a beautiful male Grey-headed race of Yellow Wagtail and just as we were getting back into the minibus a stunning Black-throated Diver was found causing a further delay to breakfast.

We had seen two Mountain Hares before breakfast and a further three were found afterwards as we set off for Valtavaara hill and a search for Siberian Jay. We were successful although Parrot Crossbills were heard only. A Short-eared Owl flapped past leisurely, apparently out of habitat over the spruce forest.

A Dipper was found at the Kitka River where rustic loos were used - each cubicle had a hole in a bench seat with a long drop beneath it.

We entered the Oulanka National Park and stopped for coffee at the interpretation centre before driving deep into the forest close to the Russian border where we waited in hope for raptors. They never appeared but we were well entertained by a flock of 15 Velvet Scoter, a female Smew, many Goldeneye, and several Little Gulls.

The site was so wonderful that we decided to return after lunch (rather than return to the hotel for a snooze). We were already late for out typical Finnish meal of Reindeer stew and mashed potatoes but became further delayed when we arrived at the farm-house restaurant to find flocks of birds beneath a popular feeder. At least 15 Bullfinches, a few Chaffinches and several Brambling were feeding on seeds dropped onto the ground but they were vastly outnumbered by Siskins. A Tree Sparrow, rare in northern Finland, and several Redpolls were found on the feeder too.

We returned to the lake but nothing new was found but a Hazel Hen off the road as we drove out of the park.

As if all this were not enough for one day we decided to go out after dinner to search for Jack Snipe and Broad-billed Sandpiper. The latter had not been seen in the area yet but a few bursts of a Jack Snipe's clopping display sound were heard. The birds were probably put off by the constant cold drizzle we seemed to have attracted. Our bonus of the evening was in the form of four Red-necked Phalaropes which were bobbing on the lake, two male Smew, one of the most beautiful ducks, and a pair of Gadwall.

Saturday 24 May

Another early morning drive for singing Red-flanked Bluetails was unsuccessful given the miserable drizzle and low-cloud, but as usual had its compensations: no fewer than 30 Mountain Hares were seen. Each was moulting into its brown summer coat but their white ears and tails were diagnostic as to the species. Lots of Reindeer were also seen and a female Elk, with her calf, wandered across the road in front of the bus. A Bank Vole was also seen and a Red Squirrel made up the day's super mammal list.

Tips are regular features in Travelling Naturalist tours - little wonder given the range of birds which can be found at them. Kuusamo rubbish dump produced Glaucous, Great and Lesser Black-backed Gull. We were able to study the differences between the Scandinavian and Siberian races of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, and the central Finnish race of the Herring Gull.

Pam found a single Red-necked Phalarope spinning in circles on the surface of a little pool and producing a sense of wonder in us that Nature can be so diverse. A Dunlin in breeding plumage and several Ravens added to the list.

Our next stop was at a beautiful ancient bog where waders such as Golden Plover, Spotted Redshank and Whimbrel were nesting - sadly, the Broad-billed Sandpipers we had hoped to see had still not arrived from their Middle Eastern wintering quarters. The terrain was extremely wet - one of the reasons we recommend a pair of Wellingtons for this trip. There was thus some mirth when the Great and Glorious Leader, a man known to have a laugh or two on our tours, was forced to take of his hiking boots and walk across the near-frozen sphagnum moss in bare feet. Even a distant Black-throated Diver appeared to be laughing as it howled out its mating cries.

We returned to the hotel to eat our picnic lunches.

The afternoon was to be spent searching likely territories for Siberian Tit but in the event two things stopped that: the first site we visited had the tits nesting in a box - we had great views of one returning to the nest - and a call came through to tell us that an Eagle Owl nest had been found in a gorge.

We met a group of Americans, also being looked after by Finnature, and joined them in a trek to the site in order to keep disturbance to a minimum. Scopes were trained on an owl and turns were taken to watch the bird. Some lucky observers saw a chick emerge from under the parent's feathers.

It was a fitting end to this owl-orientated trip to northern Finland and we returned to the hotel for a celebratory meal, a little later than the planned 4pm.

Sunday 25 May

We left the hotel at 8.30am for the drive back to Oulu with a couple of birding stops planned. A Red Squirrel and several Reindeer were seen from the bus before we reached Ylikiiminki nature reserve about 60km from Oulu.

This was a beautiful area made the better by bright sunshine and a deep blue sky. Whooper Swans and Cranes were nesting and a pair of Taiga Bean Geese seemed to be settled too until they flew off with three other birds.

Careful searching for raptors drew a blank - as a group they are difficult in this part of Finland - but we enjoyed out last views of Curlew, Whinchat, Tree and Meadow Pipit.

We ended the trip at Papin Järvi (lake) just behind the airport. Indeed, this was the last place we saw as the jet back to Helsinki took off. We could not see the Red-throated Diver seen from its banks a few minutes earlier but the memories came flooding back as the lake slipped behind us.

Annotated list of species

BIRDS

DIVERS Gaviiformes Gaviidae

1 Red-throated diver Gavia stellata

Papin Järvi (lake), one on 21st and 25th.

2 Black-throated diver Gavia arctica

Tolpanniemi Lake, Kuusamo, one on 23rd; Kurkijarvi forest, three on 24th.

GREBES Podicipediformes Podicipedidae

3 Red-necked grebe Podiceps grisegena

Tolpanniemi Lake, Kuusamo, four on 23rd.

4 Slavonian grebe Podiceps auritus

Raahe lakes, two pairs on 20th.

SWANS, GEESE & DUCKS Anseriformes Anatidae

5 Whooper swan Cygnus cygnus

Pairs at Hotelli Vihiluoto and south of Oulu on 20th; journey to Kuusamo, 40 on 22nd; and Ylikiiminki bog, a pair nesting on 25th.

6 Taiga bean goose Anser fabalis

One on the pre-breakfast trip on 24th; and Ylikiiminki bog, five on 25th.

7 Greylag goose Anser anser

Common daily in Oulu.

8 Eurasian wigeon Anas penelope

Kempeleen Bay, Oulu, three on 19th; Raahe lakes, four on 20th; Papin Järvi (lake), 10 on 21st; journey to Kuusamo, one on 22nd.

9 Gadwall Anas strepera

Ahvenlahti marsh, two pairs on 23rd.

10 Common teal Anas crecca

Kempeleen Bay, Oulu, two on 19th and 20th; Liminganlahden Opastuskeskus, six on 21st; various sites, six on 22nd; Ylikiiminki bog, on 25th.

11 Mallard Anas platyrhynchos

A few daily in Oulu and Kuusamo areas.

12 Northern pintail Anas acuta

Liminganlahden Opastuskeskus, 10 on 21st; Kuusamo rubbish tip, drake on 24th.

13 Garganey Anas querquedula

Papin Järvi (lake), one drake, Liminganlahden Opastuskeskus, one duck on 21st.

14 Northern shoveler Anas clypeata

Kempeleen Bay, Oulu, two on 19th; Raahe lakes, 10 on 20th; Papin Järvi (lake) and Liminka Bay, 30 on 21st; 30 on 22nd; common in the Kuusamo area.

15 Tufted duck Aythya fuligula

A few daily in Oulu and Kuusamo areas.

16 Long-tailed duck Clangula hyemalis

Journey to Kuusamo, 15 on a lake on 22nd.

17 Black scoter Melanitta nigra

Papin Järvi (lake), 30 on 21st and 25th.

18 White-winged scoter Melanitta fusca

From Oulu sewage farm, 20 on 22nd; Oulanka National Park, 15 on 24th.

19 Common goldeneye Bucephala clangula

Kempeleen Bay, Oulu, 30 on 19th; journey to Kuusamo, three on 22nd; Kuusamo area, abundant daily.

20 Smew Mergellus albellus

Kempeleen Bay, Oulu, six red-heads on 19th; one red-head on 23rd; Ahvenlahti lakes, three males on 24th.

21 Red-breasted merganser Mergus serrator

Common on Kempeleen Bay, Oulu.

22 Goosander Mergus merganser

Common daily in Oulu.

OSPREY Falconiformes Pandionidae

23 Osprey Pandion haliaetus

One near Liminka on 21st; Kiiminki Forest, one on 22nd.

HAWKS, EAGLES & KITES Falconiformes Accipitridae

24 European honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus

Hill 15km south of Kuusamo, one on 22nd.

25 Western marsh-harrier Circus aeruginosus

South of Oulu, one on 20th; Liminganlahden Opastuskeskus, two on 21st.

26 Northern harrier Circus cyaneus

Hotelli Vihiluoto, Oulu, male on 19th and 20th; female on 20th.

27 Eurasian sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus

Kiiminki Forest, one mobbing Osprey on 22nd.

28 Northern goshawk Accipiter gentilis

Ruukki forest, one calling on 20th.

29 Eurasian buzzard Buteo buteo

Liminka Bay area, one on 21st.

FALCONS Falconiformes Falconidae

30 Eurasian kestrel Falco tinnunculus

One or two daily in the Oulu area.

GROUSE & PTARMIGAN Galliformes Tetraonidae

31 Willow ptarmigan (Red grouse) Lagopus lagopus

Tolpanniemi Lake, Kuusamo, two males fighting, Ahvenlahti marsh, pair and a single male on 23rd.

32 Eurasian capercaillie Tetrao urogallus

Ruukki forest, female flushed from a nest with six eggs on 20th; Siikajoki (river), female flushed on 21st; Ruka Forest, male attacked the group on 23rd; Saynaja early morning drive, female by the side of the road on 24th.

33 Black grouse Tetrao tetrix

Säynaja fields, total of 26 males, five females on 23rd; Saynaja early morning drive, male on 24th.

34 Hazel grouse Bonasa bonasia

South of Oulu, one on 20th; Kiiminki Forest, one calling on 22nd; Oulanka National Park, one on 23rd; Valtavaara hill, two, plus one by the road on 24th.

PHEASANTS Galliformes Phasianidae

35 Ring-necked pheasant Phasianus colchicus

Singles on 20th and 25 th.

CRANES Gruiformes Gruidae

36 Common crane Grus grus

Kempeleen Bay, Oulu, five in flight on 19th; 10 in small parties on 20th; Liminganlahden Opastuskeskus, 36 on 21st; one on 22nd; Säynaja fields, three including two displaying on 23rd; Ylikiiminki bog, eight, plus three on the journey to Oulu on 25th.

RAILS, GALLINULES & COOTS Gruiformes Rallidae

37 Eurasian coot Fulica atra

Raahe lakes, 20 on 20th; Liminganlahden Opastuskeskus, 10 on 21st.

OYSTERCATCHERS Charadriiformes Haematopodidae

38 Eurasian oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus

One or two daily around Kempeleen Bay, Oulu.

LAPWINGS & PLOVERS Charadriiformes Charadriidae

39 Northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus

A few daily in Oulu.

40 Eurasian golden-plover Pluvialis apricaria

Kempeleen Bay, Oulu, three on 19th; Ahvenlahti, two on 23rd; Kurkijarvi bog, two on 24th.

41 Common ringed plover Charadrius hiaticula

Kempeleen Bay, Oulu, one on 19th and 20th; Oulu sewage farm, eight on 22nd.

SANDPIPERS Charadriiformes Scolopacidae

42 Jack snipe Lymnocryptes minimus

Ahvenlahti lakes, one distant drumming heard on 23rd.

43 Common snipe Gallinago gallinago

Kempeleen Bay, Oulu, at least 10 displaying on 19th; a few on 20th; Liminganlahden Opastuskeskus, several displaying on 21st and 22nd; Ahvenlahti bog, one displaying on 23rd.

44 Black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa

Liminganlahden Opastuskeskus, eight pairs on 21st.

45 Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus

Kurkijarvi bog, three on 24th.

46 Eurasian curlew Numenius arquata

Kempeleen Bay, Oulu, six on 19th; 20 on 20th; Liminganlahden Opastuskeskus, several displaying on 21st and 22nd; Ylikiiminki bog, pair on 25th.

47 Spotted redshank Tringa erythropus

Kurkijarvi bog, one on 24th.

48 Common redshank Tringa totanus

Common in Oulu daily.

49 Common greenshank Tringa nebularia

Kempeleen Bay, Oulu, three on 19th; two on 20th; Liminganlahden Opastuskeskus, one on 21st; Hietasaari Island, two on 22nd; singles on 23rd and 24th.

50 Green sandpiper Tringa ochropus

Various sites, six on 20th; six on 21st; Hietasaari Island, two on 22nd.

51 Wood sandpiper Tringa glareola

Total of 15 on 23rd, 10 on 24th.

52 Common sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos

Hotelli Vihiluoto, Oulu, two on 20th; Papin Järvi (lake) eight, a few elsewhere on 21st.

53 Ruddy turnstone Arenaria interpres

Liminka Bay, three on 21st; Oulu sewage farm, three on 22nd.

54 Temminck's stint Calidris temminckii

Hietasaari Island, two, Oulu sewage farm, three on 22nd.

55 Dunlin Calidris alpina

Kempeleen Bay, Oulu, 37 on 19th, one on 20th; Kuusamo rubbish tip, one on 24th.

56 Ruff Philomachus pugnax

Kempeleen Bay, Oulu, at least 100 on 19th, 20 on 20th; Liminganlahden Opastuskeskus, 30 displaying plus many females on 21st; 15 on 22nd; female on 23rd; Ahvenlahti lakes, six males on 24th.

57 Red-necked phalarope Phalaropus lobatus

Ahvenlahti marsh, two pairs on 23rd; Kuusamo rubbish tip, one spinning on 24th.

GULLS Charadriiformes Laridae

58 Common gull Larus canus

Common around Oulu and Kuusamo daily.

59 Great black-backed gull Larus marinus

Hietasaari Island, three on 22nd; Kuusamo rubbish tip, six on 24th.

60 Glaucous gull Larus hyperboreus

Kuusamo rubbish tip, two juveniles on 24th.

61 Herring gull Larus argentatus

A few around Oulu daily. Kuusamo rubbish tip, mostly pink-legged L. a. argentatus (Baltic race) but also a few L. a. omissus (central Finnish race) on 24th.

62 Lesser black-backed gull Larus fuscus

Kuusamo rubbish tip, several L. f. fuscus (Baltic race), one L.f. Heuglini (Siberian race) on 24th.

63 Black-headed gull Larus ridibundus

Common daily in Oulu and Kuusamo areas.

64 Little gull Larus minutus

Raahe lakes, six on 20th; Papin Järvi (lake), 150 on 21st; Hietasaari Island, two, from Oulu sewage farm, five on 22nd; Lake Kuusamo, 200, Oulanka national park 50 on 23rd; Hotelli Kuusamo, two on 25th.

TERNS Charadriiformes Sternidae

65 Caspian tern Sterna caspia

Hietasaari Island, 14, from Oulu sewage farm, one on 22nd.

66 Common tern Sterna hirundo

Common daily in Oulu and Kuusamo areas.

67 Arctic tern Sterna paradisaea

Oulu sewage farm, six on 22nd; Ahvenlahti lakes, two on 23rd.

68 Little tern Sterna albifrons

Hietasaari Island, two, from Oulu sewage farm, three on 22nd.

69 Black tern Chlidonias niger

Tower near Hotelli Vihiluoto, 10 on 19th.

PIGEONS & DOVES Columbiformes Columbidae

70 Rock dove Columba livia

Kuusamo, 15 daily.

71 Common wood-pigeon Columba palumbus

Raahe lakes, two on 20th; Liminka Bay area 20 on 21st; Kiiminki Forest, two on 22nd; Saynaja forest, 17 on 24th.

CUCKOOS Cuculiformes Cuculidae

72 Common cuckoo Cuculus canorus

Ruukki forest, two calling on 20th; various sites, three on 21st; Kiiminki Forest, one on 22nd; common daily around Kuusamo.

OWLS Strigiformes Strigidae

73 Eurasian eagle-owl Bubo bubo

Oivanki gorge, one plus chick on 24th.

74 Ural owl Strix uralensis

Ruukki forest, one on the nest, another calling on 20th.

75 Great grey owl Strix nebulosa

Ruukki forest, one on the nest on 20th.

76 Northern hawk owl Surnia ulula

Singles at Vihanti forest and Pyhä River on 20th.

77 Eurasian pygmy-owl Glaucidium passerinum

Kiiminki Forest, Oulu, one on 21st.

78 Tengmalm's boreal owl Aegolius funereus

Siikajoki (river) forest, one on 21st.

79 Short-eared owl Asio flammeus

One near Hotelli Vihiluoto, another in the Liminka Bay area on 21st; Teppola fields (near the hotel) three on 22nd; Valtavaara hill, one on 23rd.

SWIFTS Apodiformes Apodidae

80 Common swift Apus apus

Hotelli Vihiluoto, one on 19th; Oulu sewage farm, two on 22nd; Oulu airport, one on 25th.

WOODPECKERS Piciformes Picidae

81 Eurasian wryneck Jynx torquilla

Kiiminki Forest, two on 22nd.

82 Great spotted woodpecker Dendrocopos major

Pyhä River, one on 20th; Kiiminki Forest, one on 22nd; Lake Kuusamo, two on 23rd, pair on 24th.

83 Three-toed woodpecker Picoides tridactylus

Kiiminki Forest, one on 22nd.

84 Black woodpecker Dryocopus martius

Pyhä River, one on 20th; Kiiminki Forest, a female on 22nd.

LARKS Passeriformes Alaudidae

85 Sky lark Alauda arvensis

A few daily.

SWALLOWS Passeriformes Hirundinidae

86 Sand martin (Bank swallow) Riparia riparia

Raahe lakes, 50 on 20th; Hietasaari Island, two, from Oulu sewage farm, 13 on 22nd; Lake Kuusamo, 50 on 23rd.

87 Barn swallow Hirundo rustica

Hotelli Vihiluoto, Oulu, six on 19th; Raahe lakes, 20 on 20th; common on 21st and 22nd; Oulanka national park, 20 on 23rd; a few on 25th.

88 House martin Delichon urbica

Raahe lakes, two on 20th; Lake Kuusamo, one on 23rd.

WAGTAILS & PIPITS Passeriformes Motacillidae

89 White wagtail Motacilla alba

Common daily in Oulu and Kuusamo areas.

90 Yellow wagtail Motacilla flava

Raahe lakes, two on 20th; 15 on 21st; various sites, six on 22nd (one of the Scandinavian race M.f. thunbergi); four on 23rd, six on 24th and two on 25th.

91 Tree pipit Anthus trivialis

Common daily in Oulu and Kuusamo areas.

92 Meadow pipit Anthus pratensis

Papin Järvi (lake), one on 21st; Teppola fields (near the hotel) one on 22nd; Ylikiiminki bog, several displaying males on 25th.

WAXWINGS Passeriformes Bombycillidae

93 Bohemian waxwing Bombycilla garrulus

Oulanka National Park, seven on 23rd; Saynaja forest, seven feeding close to the road on 24th.

DIPPERS Passeriformes Cinclidae

94 White-throated dipper Cinclus cinclus

Kitka River, one on 23rd.

THRUSHES Passeriformes Turdidae

95 Eurasian blackbird Turdus merula

Singles on 21st, and 23rd.

96 Fieldfare Turdus pilaris

Common daily in Oulu and Kuusamo areas.

97 Redwing Turdus iliacus

Common daily in Oulu and Kuusamo areas.

98 Song thrush Turdus philomelos

Various sites, six on 20th; two on 21st one on 23rd.

99 Mistle thrush Turdus viscivorus

One or two daily, Oulu and Kuusamo areas.

OLD WORLD WARBLERS Passeriformes Sylviidae

100 Sedge warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus

Kempeleen Bay, Oulu, three on 19th, one on 20th; Liminganlahden Opastuskeskus, 10 on 21st; Teppola fields (near the hotel) three singing on 22nd.

101 Willow warbler Phylloscopus trochilus

Abundant daily in Oulu and Kuusamo areas.

102 Wood warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix

Ruukki forest, one on 20th; Papin Järvi (lake), one on 21st and 25th; Hietasaari Island, one singing on 22nd.

103 Lesser whitethroat Sylvia curruca

Kempeleen Bay, Oulu, one on 19th; Liminganlahden Opastuskeskus, on 21st; Kiiminki Forest, six singing on 22nd.

OLD WORLD FLYCATCHERS Passeriformes Muscicapidae

104 Spotted flycatcher Muscicapa striata

Singles at Hotelli Vihiluoto and Raahe lakes on 20th; common on 21st and 22nd.

105 European pied flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca

Common daily in Oulu and Kuusamo areas.

106 European robin Erithacus rubecula

Various sites, six on 20th.

107 Thrush nightingale Luscinia luscinia

One heard on 21st.

108 Bluethroat Luscinia svecica

Liminka Bay, female on 21st.

109 Common redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus

At the Finnish farm over dinner, one on 21st; male at the restaurant on 23rd; Ravirata forest, two on 24th.

110 Whinchat Saxicola rubetra

Various sites, six on 20th; five on 21st; two on 22nd; a couple daily in the Kuusamo area.

111 Northern wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe

Liminka Bay area, two on 21st.

TITMICE Passeriformes Paridae

112 Willow tit Poecile montanus

Ruukki forest, two calling on 20th; singles on 21st; 23rd, 24th and 25th.

113 Siberian tit Poecile cinctus

Ravirata Forest, one incubating nine eggs on 24th.

114 Great tit Parus major

A few daily, Oulu and Kuusamo areas.

115 Blue tit Cyanistes caeruleus

Hotelli Vihiluoto, Oulu, three on 19th; one on 21st; three on 22nd.

CREEPERS Passeriformes Certhiidae

116 Eurasian treecreeper Certhia familiaris

Ruukki forest, one calling on 20th.

SHRIKES Passeriformes Laniidae

117 Red-backed shrike Lanius collurio

Pyhä River, two on 20th.

JAYS & CROWS Passeriformes Corvidae

118 Siberian jay Perisoreus infaustus

Valtavaara hill, four on 23rd; three on 23rd.

119 Common magpie Pica pica

Common daily in Oulu and Kuusamo areas.

120 Eurasian jackdaw Corvus monedula

Common daily.

121 Rook Corvus frugilegus

Liminka, Oulu, 50 on 20th and 21st; Oulu, one on 22nd.

122 Carrion crow Corvus corone

Common daily in Oulu and Kuusamo areas.

123 Common raven Corvus corax

Various sites, three on 20th; seven on 21st; journey to Kuusamo, one on 22nd.

OLD WORLD SPARROWS Passeriformes Passeridae

124 House sparrow Passer domesticus

One or two daily, Oulu and Kuusamo areas.

125 Eurasian tree sparrow Passer montanus

Liikasenvara restaurant, one visiting feeder on 23rd.

FINCHES Passeriformes Fringillidae

126 Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs

Abundant daily in Oulu and Kuusamo areas.

127 Brambling Fringilla montifringilla

Hotelli Vihiluoto, male on 20th; one male on 21st; one seen another singing on 22nd; common on 23rd and 24th.

128 Red crossbill Loxia curvirostra

Ruukki forest, three on 20th; Kiiminki Forest, two on 22nd; 10 on 24th.

129 European greenfinch Carduelis chloris

Common daily in Oulu and Kuusamo areas.

130 Common redpoll Carduelis flammea

Hotelli Vihiluoto, Oulu, 10 on 20th; Papin Järvi (lake), 15 on 21st; Kiiminki Forest, six on 22nd; common daily in the Kuusamo area.

131 Eurasian siskin Carduelis spinus

Common daily in Oulu and Kuusamo areas; huge numbers in flocks under the trees in Ravirata forest on 24th.

132 Eurasian bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula

Common daily in Oulu.

TRUE BUNTINGS Passeriformes Emberizidae

133 Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella

Common around Oulu daily.

134 Ortolan bunting Emberiza hortulana

Teppola fields (near the hotel) one male on 22nd.

135 Reed bunting Emberiza schoeniclus

Kempeleen Bay, Oulu, six on 19th; Raahe lakes, a pair on 20th; Liminganlahden Opastuskeskus, 10 on 21st; Teppola fields (near the hotel) three on 22nd.

MAMMALS

RABBITS & HARES Lagomorpha Leporidae

1 Mountain hare Lepus timidus

Total of six on 23rd and 30 on 24th.

SQUIRRELS Rodentia Scuridae

2 Eurasian red squirrel Sciurus vulgaris

Liminka, one on 21st; Valtavaara, one on 23rd; Kuusamo rubbish tip, one on 24th, journey to Oulu, one on 25th.

MICE, RATS & VOLES Rodentia Muridae

3 Field vole Microtus agrestis

Vihanti forest, two of many on 20th.

4 Muskrat Ondatra zibethicus

Lake Kuusamo, three on 23rd; Kurkijarvui bog, three on 24th.

5 Bank vole Clethrionomys glareolus

Hotelli Vihiluoto, one on 21st; Valtavaaru hill, one under the bird feeders on 24th.

APES Primates Hominidae

6 Human Homo sapiens

Common daily, although fewer in the deep forests.

DEER Artiodactyla Cervidae

7 Elk (Moose) Alces alces

Pyhä River, five on 20th; Saynaja forest, mother and calf on 23rd.

8 Caribou (Reindeer) Rangifer tarandus

Journey from Oulu to Kuusamo, 15 on 22nd; total of 11 on 23rd, 42 on 24th.

HERPTILES

FROGS Ranidae

1 Moor frog Rana arvalis

Several calling at Liminganlahden marsh on 21st and Ahvenlahti Marsh on 23rd.

BUTTERFLIES

1 Brimstone Goneptryx rhamni

One on 21st.

2 Silver-studded blue Plebijus argus

One on 25th.

3 Camberwell beauty Nymphalis antiopa

One on 19th.

4 Small tortoiseshell Aglais urticae

Three on 21st.

5 Green hairstreak Common on 21st, one on 25th.

Tim Earl

Principal Leader


© The Travelling Naturalist 2003