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FINLAND

Owls

7–10 May 2021
Extension to 12 May 2021

Based in Oulu for three nights, we will search for Eurasian Pygmy-owl, Ural, Great Grey and Boreal Owls and the less-predictable Northern Hawk Owl, whose numbers fluctuate with rodent populations. Other targets include Hazel Grouse, Terek Sandpiper and Black and Eurasian Three-toed Woodpeckers. A two-day extension to Kuusamo will target Siberian Jay, Red-flanked Bluetail and Grey-headed Chickadee (Siberian Tit).

Day 1 Scheduled flights from London to Oulu via Helsinki, arriving mid-afternoon followed by a transfer to a local hotel which will be our base for the next three nights. The hotel has a fantastic wetland behind it and, after checking in we will start our birding here. Species we should see include Western Yellow (Grey-headed) Wagtail, Whooper Swan, Common Goldeneye, Common Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Garganey, Red-breasted and Common Mergansers, Little, Common and Arctic Terns, Temminck’s Stint, Eurasian Curlew, Little Gull, Common Crane, Eurasian Marsh-harrier, both Ruff and Spotted Redshank in full breeding plumage and, if we are lucky, maybe a Marsh Sandpiper. Our search for owls will start this evening and, hopefully, before retiring for the night we will have at least one species ‘in the bag’.

Days 2–3 The trees around the car park of the hotel are always worth a look and we should see European Pied Flycatcher, Redwing, Fieldfare and Mistle Thrush regularly during the course of our stay, giving excellent photographic opportunities. After breakfast on both of these days our search for owls will continue: Great Grey, Short-eared, Boreal and Ural Owls 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 two days we may also see Hen and Pallid Harriers, Terek Sandpiper, Eurasian Woodcock, Black and Eurasian Three-toed Woodpeckers, Common Redpoll, Black and Hazel Grouse, Eurasian Wryneck, Crested Tit and Red and Parrot Crossbills.

Day 4 After a good morning’s birding and lunch, those not taking the extension will return to the airport for the flight to London via Helsinki. Those taking the extension will transfer to Kuusamo.

EXTENSION

Day 4 After spending the morning birding around Oulu, we will drive eastwards to Kuusamo, an exciting birding destination known for its natural beauty and our base for the next two nights. We will make several forest, lake and roadside stops along the way, looking for species such as Rustic Bunting, Smew, Velvet Scoter and (Red-spotted) Bluethroat, with the added bonus of further chances for Boreal Owl, Eurasian Pygmy-owl and Northern Hawk Owl. We should also start to encounter grazing Reindeer at the roadsides.

Day 5 We will start today with an early morning grouse drive to look for species such as Willow Ptarmigan, Black Grouse, Western Capercaillie and the elusive Hazel Grouse. An enviable number of eastern and northern species breed in the Kuusamo area and we will spend the remainder of the day looking for Grey-headed Chickadee (Siberian Tit), Siberian Jay and Red-flanked Bluetail, which occurs here at the extreme western edge of its range. We face an uphill climb to see this bird, but the track is fairly even and stepped for most of the way. We should also see Arctic Hares in this area. Other species we will be on the lookout for today include Little Bunting, Red-necked Grebe, Arctic Loon, Common Rosefinch, Golden Eagle and Rough-legged Hawk.

Day 6 After a morning spent birding in the forests around Kuusamo we will drive back to Oulu to catch our return 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.

Boreal Owl

Boreal Owl

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