I had the opportunity to join a little adventure on short notice - a Guided Birdwatching-Tour to Finland (23. - 29th of May 2010) organized by the German Tour-Operator birdingtours, together with the knowledgeable and experienced local Guide Matti Kumolainen from Finnature.(check this site for excellent photos !). We were 11 people in total and I drove one car for the 1600 km's through the magnificent Taiga, starting near Oulu, at the Baltic sea and heading in north-eastern direction towards the region around Kuusamo, close to the Russian border and only less than 100km south of the polar circle. The bird life was stunning. Owls and Grouses among the main attractions. My bit of digiscoping aside unfortunately only could caught a few impressions... not the male Pine Grosbeak in a spectacular old boreal forest at a mountain top (Oulanka-National Park) - where we also saw and heard the first Red-flanked Bluetail of the journey. Not the magnificent (and widespread) Black-throated Divers (Gavia arctica) - one pair on each of the numerous lakes, apparently. And also not the Golden Eagle (adult) soaring right above us on a sunny day right next to the fence of the border to Russia, where the Taiga seems to continue for ever. The western end of Siberia.
This was an extraordinary experience !
Siberian Jays (Perisoreus infaustus) can be pretty tame. This one showed up at bird-feeder in a forest near Kuusamo, together with Siberian Tit (Poecile cinctus).
The European Elk (Alces alces) is widespread. Warning signs along the roads are supposed to help avoiding collisions with these giants - a bull can be as tall as 2,20 cm (shoulder height) and up to 550 kg heavy. This one crossed our road on the way back from Kuusamo on the morning of the 29th of May.(Photo: Ulrich Noack).
A male (Northern) Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula) on its post at a clearing in the boreal forest (above) and singing (below).
The song resembles somewhat a Whimbrel and you can listen to it here (click: Typical voice). It really fits into the whole scenery in this region of "infinite" forests, where the separation between day and night seems to be vanishing (24-05-2010, Kemi-area).
Female (Northern) Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula) on the nest (24-05-2010, Kemi-area).
Rustic Bunting (Emberiza rustica) here the male, occurs in the forest. The song sounds like an in between of Dunnock and Blackcap to me. The 200 or so pairs of Yellow-brested Bunting (Emberiza aureola) nesting in the Bay of Liminka up to a few years ago however, disappeared completely for reasons unknown.
Whooper Swans (Cygnus cygnus) - probably non-breeders roosting and feeding on a field, together with Common Cranes, Greylag- and Bean-Geese (A.f.fabalis). We saw about 1000 Ind. of Whooper Swans during that day.
To be continued.