20/12/2023
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Finland in spring: northern owls and specialities

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Dates: 23-29 May 2024
Price: £3,095 including international flights (single room supplement £320)
Deposit: £500

 

Finland's breathtaking landscapes, vast taiga forests, lakes, marshes and tundra are largely uninhabited – except by the thousands of birds which make these northern territories their summer home. In forests and bogs the silence is broken only by the song of Bluethroats, Redwings, Wood & Broad–billed Sandpipers, and the eerie drumming of Jack Snipe. Timed to coincide with the height of the breeding season, this holiday will offer you the chance of seeing nearly 200 bird species – an exciting possibility, especially for a Northern European destination. 

The specially designed programme encompasses four areas in southern, central and north–eastern Finland which host a particularly impressive variety of birdlife. We commence our tour in the Bay of Liminka at Oulu, on the edge of the Gulf of Bothnia. Here, less than 150 km from the Arctic Circle, the internationally famous wetland reserve of Liminganlahti lies on the migratory flyway of thousands of waders, cranes and wildfowl, including Velvet Scoter and Smew, with Terek Sandpiper being a rare breeding species of this area. 

In the forests around Oulu, we shall look forward to going out on an 'owl prowl' in the company of our experienced Finnature Leader, who will be aiming to bring us close views of Tengmalm's, Pygmy, Ural & Great Grey Owls. At Kuusamo, amidst taiga forest, lakes and bogs, we shall keep a sharp watch for Hazel Grouse, Three–toed Woodpecker, Hawk Owl, Siberian Tit and Siberian Jay; the bogs and fjells may hold Taiga Bean Geese Jack Snipe, Broad–billed Sandpiper and Little Bunting and there's also a chance of seeing summer plumaged Red–flanked Bluetail, Bluethroat and Lapland Bunting, with Ruffs never far away. The whole area is simply vibrating with birdlife!


Close encounters with the resident sought-after owl species, like this Great Grey, will hopefully be some of the main highlights of the tour (Helge Sorensen).

 

Days 1 to 3: On the morning of Day 1 we'll catch a flight from UK to Oulu on the Gulf of Bothnia. We will have much of the day available for birding, perhaps part of it in the wetlands and then later an owl prowl to look for Ural & Tengmalm's Owls. These days will be spent birdwatching in environs of Oulu. 

Here is the fabulous and internationally important wetland of Liminganlahti (Liminka for short), which is teeming with birds – Cranes, Smew, Whooper Swans, Wood Sandpiper, Ruff, Little Gulls, Marsh Harriers and one of the few places in Finland where Black–tailed Godwits breed. In nearby forests we hope to find Pygmy, Tengmalm's, Ural & Great Grey Owls, Black and Three–toed Woodpecker. While in forest clearings Wrynecks, Red–backed Shrikes, Whinchats, Ortolan Bunting are the star attractions. In recent years a few pairs of Pallid Harriers have bred.

Overnights – Oulu.

 

Days 4 to 6: We drive northeastwards to Kuusamo, a marvellous birdwatching area of taiga forest and hundreds of small lakes. We will explore nearby forests, including that of Valtavaara, as well as lakes and bogs, in search of breeding birds such as Taiga Bean Goose, Hazel Grouse, Capercaillie, Black Grouse, Hawk Owl, Parrot Crossbill, Bohemian Waxwing, Red–flanked Bluetail, Siberian Jay, Siberian Tit and Little Bunting. On the lakes we are likely to see breeding Velvet Scoter, Black–throated Divers, Red–necked Grebes and Little Gulls.

Overnights – Kuusamo.

 

Day 7: If time permits, we will birdwatch around Kuusamo before catching a flight to Helsinki to connect with our flight to the UK.

 

Leaders: Neil Glenn / Gerry Griffiths & Finnature Leader
Max. Group: 12: plus 2 Leaders (2 Vehicles)

 


This tour is operated for Birdwatch and BirdGuides by Avian Adventures (ATOL licence 3367). It is fully inclusive of Economy class scheduled return flights (UK–Helsinki–UK), accommodation based on twin occupancy, all meals, ground transportation in Finland and services of leaders and guides. Not included are travel insurance, drinks and items of a personal nature. For more information or to make a reservation, call on 01384 372018 or check out: https://www.avianadventures.co.uk/articles_387125.html.

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