12–15 May 2017
Oulu and Kuusamo will be our bases as we search for Eurasian Pygmy-owl, Ural, Great Grey and Tengmalm’s Owls and the less-predictable Northern Hawk Owl; owl numbers fluctuate annually in response to variations in rodent populations. Hazel Grouse, Terek Sandpiper, Eurasian Three-toed and Black Woodpeckers, Siberian Jay, Grey-headed Chickadee (Siberian Tit), Red-flanked Bluetail, Rustic Bunting and Pine Grosbeak are all possible.
Day 1 Scheduled flights from London to Helsinki and then on to Oulu arriving mid-afternoon, when we will transfer to our local hotel for the next two nights. The search for owls will start this afternoon/evening and, hopefully, before retiring for the night, we will have at least one species 'in the bag'.
Day 2 After breakfast the search for owls will continue: Great Grey, Short-eared, Boreal and Ural Owls, Eurasian Eagle-owl and Eurasian Pygmy-owl all breed close to Oulu in good years and are normally relatively easy to locate with expert assistance, but Northern Hawk Owl takes a lot more hard work! During the course of the day we may also see Whooper Swan, Common Crane, Hen Harrier, Western Marsh-harrier, Terek Sandpiper, Temminck's Stint, Ruff, Eurasian Woodcock, Black and Eurasian Three-toed Woodpeckers and Common Redpoll.
Day 3 Today we will transfer to Kuusamo, near the Russian border, to search for Eurasian Capercaillie, Black, Hazel and Willow Grouse, Siberian Jay, Grey-headed Chickadee (Siberian Tit), Red-flanked Bluetail, three crossbill species, Rustic Bunting and, possibly, Pine Grosbeak. Many waterfowl are on migration at this time and we may also see 'Baltic' and 'Siberian' Gulls and Eurasian Wryneck. Overnight in Kuusamo.
Day 4 After some early-morning birding we will return to Oulu for our flight to London via Helsinki.
General Information The pace of the tour is mainly moderate but long hours will be spent in the field, with some early mornings and late evenings. Clothing and footwear suitable for walking and adverse weather should be brought. Finland has a high cost of living and everything is expensive compared with the UK, especially alcohol.
Group Size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 7; maximum group size: 14 with two leaders.