Peregrine Bird Tours
Bird Tours
Peregrine Bird Tours

Finland and Arctic Norway

Our tour to Finland and Arctic Norway was a most enjoyable tour, it went smoothly from beginning to end, the weather was surprisingly good, the food was excellent and best of all, we saw almost all of the local specialities. Despite it being a very bad year for both voles and lemmings, we enjoyed truly memorable encounters with Great Grey, Ural, Northern Hawk, Tengmalm's, Eurasian Pygmy and Short-eared Owls. Other highlights included Red and Black-throated Loons, King and Steller's Eiders, Long-tailed Duck, Montagu's Harrier, an extremely rare bird in Finland, Willow and Rock Ptarmigans, Western Capercaillie and Black and Hazel Grouse, Red-necked Phalarope, lekking Ruffs, Heuglin's Gull, Arctic and Long-tailed Skuas, Bohemian Waxwing, Red-flanked Bluetail, Siberian Tit, Siberian Jay, Pine Grosbeak and Little and Rustic Buntings. Our mammal tally was exceptional and highlights included Wolf, Red Fox, Brown Bear, Stoat, Wolverine and Eurasian Otter.

Following a long and tiring flight from Australia we arrived at Helsinki Airport in the capital city of Finland. We then took a short flight to Oulu, in Finnish Lapland. Following lunch we drove to a Ural Owl territory where we watched two fully fledged chicks. A little later our local guide Antero found an adult female sitting in a nearby tree, unfortunately she did not stay long, before flying away, in an attempt to lure us from her nest. A little later we enjoyed magnificent scope views of a female Great Grey Owl sitting on a nest, with two chicks in it. During our first afternoon of birding two of the very important birds were already in the bag. In the surrounding farmland there was also a supporting cast of more common birds which included Mallard, Western Marsh and Hen Harriers, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Merlin, Common Crane, Northern Lapwing, Little-ringed Plover, Eurasian Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Black-headed and Common Gulls, Feral Pigeon, Barn Swallow, Northern House Martin, White Wagtail, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Fieldfare, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Great Tit, Common Magpie, Eurasian Jay, Western Jackdaw, Rook, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, Common Chaffinch and Eurasian Siskin. Best of the supporting cast was a male Ortolan Bunting in full song. We also enjoyed our first sighting of a Brown Hare, our first mammal for the tour.

The main emphasis the following day was also owls and once again we saw both Great Grey and Ural Owls, getting much better looks at an adult female Ural Owl. We also enjoyed great looks at a female Eurasian Pygmy-Owl in a nest box. Other new birds seen today included Whooper Swan, Common Goldeneye, a Eurasian Woodcock which flew over our heads, a roding Common Snipe, European Herring Gull, Common Wood Pigeon, Common Swift, European Robin, Pied Flycatcher, Crested Tit, Great Grey and Red-backed Shrikes, Common Raven, Eurasian Bullfinch, Common Crossbill and Common Rosefinch. Other highlights today included both Black and Hazel Grouse, Black and Eurasian Short-toed Woodpeckers, a Red-breasted Flycatcher, a species which does not normally occur this far north, and another bird which does not normally occur around Oulu, the Siberian Jay. We also enjoyed good looks at our first Elk today.

The following day was mainly spent birding a mixture of farmland, woodland and lakes in and around Oulu. New birds came thick and fast, and included such splendid birds as Great Crested Grebe, Greylag Goose, Gadwall, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Eurasian Wigeon, Eurasian Teal, Tufted Duck, Common Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, White-tailed Eagle, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Common Ringed Plover, Temminck's Stint, Wood, Green and Common Sandpipers, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Common, Arctic and Little Terns, Stock Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Common Skylark, Common Sand Martin, Tree Pipit, Western Yellow Wagtail, Whinchat, European Blackbird, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, Wood Warbler, Blue Tit, the very beautiful Scandinavian race of Long-tailed Tit and Yellowhammer. However, special mention should go to three very important species, which we saw today; the dainty and uncommon Little Gull, the leks of Ruffs were a treat to behold and best of all, a pair of splendid Montagu's Harriers, probably the only breeding pair in Finland, which we saw exceptionally well. Following dinner we drove to the nest box of a Tengmalm's Owl, arriving at 10.30 pm. On the way we enjoyed great looks at a couple of Short-eared Owls, quartering roadside farmland. We then waited for the female to leave the nest box, or the male to arrive with food. We stood patiently to attention and vigilantly watched the hole in the nest box. Although it was approaching the middle of the night it was still very light, which felt rather strange. At four minutes to midnight the female suddenly stuck her head out of the nest hole, she stayed there for some time and had a good look at us. Then just as suddenly she took flight and flew off into the night, although it was still light.

Much of the following day was taken up by the long and mainly uneventful drive eastwards across Finland to Viiksimo, on the border with Russia. However, we did see the first of many Mountain Hares along the roadside. We then checked in at the Boreal Wildlife Centre, where we added European Greenfinch to our ever growing list. Following a late lunch we drove to a modern well equipped wildlife viewing hide, complete with heating and beds. On the way we enjoyed super looks at a splendid female Western Capercaillie, which stood motionless in the centre of the road allowing us to enjoyed great looks at this very uncommon species.

For once birds took a back seat, we were here to look for mammals. Three very special mammals, Brown Bear, Wolverine and Wolf. We entered the hide at 4.15 in the afternoon and we would not be leaving the hide during the next 15 hours. When we entered the hide we could see the large salmon carcases that were being used for bait. It attracted large numbers of gulls, at one time there was approximately 150 gulls present directly in front of the hide, made up of 5 different species; the majority where Black-headed Gulls, there were also plenty of European Herring and Common Gulls, with smaller numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls. There was also one surprise; a single Heuglin's Gull, which we all saw exceptionally well. Large numbers of Common Ravens began flying into the viewing area in front of the hide, and at one time there was over 50 present. For most of the night, which of course was like a summers day in Melbourne, we were joined by a sub-adult White-tailed Eagle which we enjoyed watching flying around, sitting on the ground and perched in nearby trees. A solitary Black Kite, a rare resident in Finland, also spent much of the night with us. On one occasion a Whimbrel flew down amongst the gulls and one more species was added to our trip list. However, it was the mammals who took centre stage, we watched six Brown Bears, who spent long periods of the night just a few metres from us directly in front of the hide. A small pack of four Wolves suddenly appeared, they were busy hunting, so they were not on show for very long, but they were very striking and two of them were particularly pale individuals. In the early hours of the morning we enjoyed two quick sightings of solitary Wolverines, who ran across an open area before disappearing into the forest. Our night time vigil had been very successful and we were all very pleased with the sightings.

The following morning we drove northwards to Kuusamo, close to the Russian border, where we checked into our very smart hotel and then had lunch. In the afternoon we enjoyed great scope views of both male and female Velvet Scoter, a pair of Willow Ptarmigans which flushed right next to us, superb close looks at a pair of fabulous White-throated Dippers, both Willow and Siberian Tits and we also saw the very handsome Little Bunting.

On our final day in Kuusamo we checked out a few of the areas many lakes, were we were rewarded with great looks at four new birds; the superb Black-throated Loon, the lovely Red-necked Grebe, a magnificent male Smew, looking resplendent in full breeding plumage and we also enjoyed good looks at an Osprey in flight. We then took the opportunity to stretch our legs on a gentle uphill walk, in search of Red-flanked Bluetail. In no time at all we were soon enjoying great scope views of a singing male, at the top of a nearby pine tree. Other new birds during the walk included Golden Eagle, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Brambling and Common Reed and Rustic Buntings. Following dinner we drove to a Black Grouse lek, where we counted 29 birds performing their strange jousting tournament.

Much of the following day was taken up by the long drive northwards to Ivalo, in Finnish Lapland, stopping en route at the Arctic Circle, where we toasted our crossing of the Arctic Circle, with a local brew. We broke the long drive with two birding stops; the finds at Ilmakkiaapa Swamp, where Meadow Pipit was a new bird for us and the second stop was at Kilopaa Fell. Here we walked to the top of the fell in search of the only species of grouse which we had still not seen, the Rock Ptarmigan. On the way up we enjoyed great scope views of Common Redpoll and a cracking Bluethroat, who sang to us from the top of a bush. On reaching the top of the fell we soon located Rock Ptarmigan, which we saw very well indeed. We also enjoyed great close looks at Willow Ptarmigan at one time the two species of ptarmigan where no more that 100 metres apart! On our way down the fell, we added one more bird to our trip list, a solitary European Golden-Plover.

The following day was very much a travel day, as we drove northwards from Ivalo to Batsfjord. However, it turned out to be the best birding day of the whole tour. Our first new bird for the day was a magnificent Rough-legged Buzzard, seen along the roadside. A little later a Common Redstart flew across the road in front of the bus. We stopped at a roadside cafe which had a feeder and here we enjoyed superb looks at both male and female Pine Grosbeaks. We were also very pleased to watch a European Red Squirrel, who was feeding on leftovers on the ground, below the feeder. Continuing our drive northwards, our bus came to a screeching halt and we enjoyed great looks at a wonderful Northern Hawk-Owl. A little further north we stopped at an area of boggy terrain, where we managed to add Lapland Bunting to our every growing birdlist. We then crossed the border into Arctic Norway and drove to the Veranger Peninsula, where we stopped at some steep cliffs, where there was a nesting pair of Peregrine Falcons and we saw a single Peregrine very well as it flew along the cliffs. We then visited Hoyholmen a very attractive area where we saw many new birds including large flocks of Common Eiders and a small flock of King Eiders, there were large numbers of Great Black-backed Gulls and Black-legged Kittiwakes, we also saw both light and dark morph Arctic Skuas and a single Black Guillemot. We saw our first Grey Seal, in the water just offshore. We then drove up on to the Gednje Plateau an area of high altitude tundra, with numerous bogs and lakes, the birding here was truly excellent. New birds included a pair of very uncommon Greater Scaup, good close looks at several Long-tailed Ducks, a few pair of Goosanders, a Dunlin in full breeding plumage, delightful Red-necked Phalaropes pirouetting along the edge of the lakes, brilliant Long-tailed Skuas, a Red-throated Pipit sporting a brick-red throat, and one or two Northern Wheatears. As we neared Batsfjord we found a stunning pair of Red-throated Loons, on a small lake.

The following day began with more birding on the Gednje Plateau, where we enjoyed fine looks at the beautiful Snow Bunting. We then did a sea-watch from the Berlevag Lighthouse. Here we saw Northern Gannet, Great Cormorant, European Shag and Common Guillemot. A little further along the beach, we found a small flock of Purple Sandpipers. We then drove to the Varanger Bird Sanctuary, where new birds for the tour included a flock of 10 or so Red Knots and an Arctic Redpoll. As we were driving to Vardo, for a three nights stay a Ruddy Turnstone flew in front of our bus. In the evening a short walk around Vardo harbour produced a solitary Brunnick's Guillemot.

We spent the following day birding close to Vardo, new birds here included a few very smart Sanderlings, a few Little Stints, a couple of Bar-tailed Godwits, the very uncommon Ring Ouzel and equally uncommon Twite. We also played hide and seek with a very handsome and very curious Stoat, which showed itself wonderfully for us. We also saw a Harbour Porpoise and a Minke Whale, in one of the fjords.

The following morning we visited the famous seabird breeding island of Hornoy, where we enjoyed a smorgasbord of breeding seabirds at point blank range, which included Common and Brunnick's Guillemots, Razorbill, Atlantic Puffin, Eurasian Shag and Black-legged Kittiwake. Other birds of interest here included several Red-throated Pipits, a few Twite and I was lucky enough to have a Gyrfalcon fly right past me. We also very much enjoyed watching a Eurasian Otter, which put on a tremendous display for us, swimming around just offshore, we even watched it swim to a small island and eat a fish it had caught. In the afternoon fortune shone on us, but not the sun, and in the harbour of the small fishing village of Kiberg we found an immature Steller's Eider, which rounded off a perfect day, perfectly.

The next day we awoke to find a wet and windy day, our first such day of the tour. As we were to spend most of the day in the bus, as we drove from Vardo in Norway, southwards to Ivalo, in Finland, it wasn't too bad. As we drove south we checked the farmers fields at Ekkeroy, where we found a total of six bean geese, four Taiga Bean Geese and Two Tundra Bean Geese. These were the only new birds of the day. We also enjoyed good prolonged looks at a Red Fox, while birding in this area.

On our last morning of the tour we drove slowly through the endless taiga forest that surrounds Ivalo, searching for any bird that we may not have already seen on the tour. It took a while, but at last we found a beautiful pair of Bohemian Waxwings that were busily nest building. Their delicate plumage was much admired and we felt that we were well rewarded for our mornings effort. Following lunch we drove to a nearby ski resort, where a pair of Eurasian Dotterel had been observed in the high altitude tundra. The weather was not good, banks of fog were sweeping across the uplands, even so, we made the decision to walk the tundra in search of this beautiful species of dotterel. We had walked for some time without any success, then the visibility improved, the fog lifted and Ted, as alert as ever! Spotted our quarry. We very much enjoyed watching a pair of birds, who were very tame. We were even able to watch them copulating! This was a very fitting end to a wonderful tour to Finnish Lapland and Arctic Norway.  

SYSTEMATIC LIST

GAVIIDAE
Red-throated Loon Gavia stellata A common summer breeding visitor to Arctic Norway, where
we saw it very well on several occasions.
Black-throated Loon Gavia arctica A fairly common summer breeding visitor to Finland and
Norway, which we also saw very well on several occasions.

PODICIPEDIDAE
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus A common summer breeding visitor to the southern half
of Finland. We saw a couple of birds at Oulu, plus a few more at Kuusamo.
Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena A localised fairly common summer breeding species to
the southern half of Finland. We enjoyed very good looks at half a dozen or so birds around
Kuusamo.

SULIDAE
Northern Gannet Morus bassanus A common resident along the coast of Norway, we observed
this species well at Berlevag Lighthouse and around Vardo.

PHALACROCORACIDAE
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo A locally common summer breeding visitor to the
northern coast of Norway, we also observed this species well at Berlevag Lighthouse.
European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis A fairly common summer breeding visitor to the
northern coast of Norway, we observed this species well at Berlevag Lighthouse around
Vardo and also at its breeding colonies on Hornoy Island.,

ANATIDAE
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus A fairly common summer breeding visitor to Finland and an
occasional summer visitor to Arctic Norway. We saw it very well on many occasions in
Finland, where it is the National Bird and we saw a few birds in Arctic Norway.
Taiga Bean-Goose Anser fabalis An uncommon summer breeding species to Finland and Arctic Norway. We were fortunate to observe four birds in farmland at Ekkeroy, in Norway.
Tundra Bean Goose Anser serrirostris A very uncommon summer breeding bird to the coast of
Arctic Norway. We found two birds amongst the Taiga Bean-Geese at Ekkeroy, in Norway.
Greylag Goose Anser anser A locally common summer breeding species to coastal Finland and
coastal Arctic Norway. We saw it very well around Oulu, in Finland and at Nesseby, in
Norway.
Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna An uncommon summer breeding species to coastal areas of
southern Finland. We were fortunate to enjoy really good looks at small numbers of birds,
close to Oulu.
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos An abundant breeding summer visitor to both Finland and Arctic
Norway, we observed it on almost every day of the tour.
Gadwall Anas strepera The Gadwall is a rare summer breeding visitor to a few highly localised
areas in southern Finland. It is slowly spreading northwards as a breeding visitor and it has
has only colonised Finland in the last few years. Therefore, we very fortunate to observe a
few of these birds in the Liminganlahti Wetlands.
Northern Pintail Anas acuta A locally common summer breeding visitor to both Finland and
Arctic Norway, we saw small numbers very well on a few occasions, in both Finland and
Norway.
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata A fairly common summer breeding visitor to southern Finland,
we observed small numbers in the Oulu area.
Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope A common summer breeding visitor to both Finland and Arctic
Norway, we enjoyed many good sightings during our time in Finland.
Eurasian Teal Anas crecca A common summer breeding visitor to both Finland and Arctic
Norway, we observed small numbers in both countries.
Greater Scaup Aythya marila A very uncommon summer breeding visitor to Finland and Arctic
Norway. We enjoyed scope views of a single pair on the Gednje Plateau, in Norway.
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula A common summer breeding visitor to both Finland and Arctic
Norway. We observed good numbers in both Finland and Norway.
Common Eider Somateria mollissima A common resident along the coast of Arctic Norway,
where we observed many hundreds of birds.
King Eider Somateria spectabilis An uncommon non-breeding, mainly winter visitor to the coast
of Arctic Norway. We predominantly found small flocks of birds in non-breeding plumage
along the coast of Arctic Norway. However, on one occasion we found a bird in breeding
plumage, amongst a flock of Common Eiders.
Steller's Eider Polysticta stelleri A rather rare mainly winter visitor, to the coasts of Arctic
Norway. Therefore, we were very fortunate to enjoy good close looks at a female in Kiberg
Harbour, in Norway.
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra A fairly common summer breeding visitor to northern Finland
and Arctic Norway. We observed small numbers in both Finland and Norway.
Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca An uncommon summer breeding visitor to northern Finland and
Arctic Norway. We observed a pair very well at Kuusamo, in Finland and a few birds at
Vardo, in Norway.
Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis An uncommon predominantly coastal species of northern
Finland and Arctic Norway. We enjoyed many good looks at this very attractive species of
duck, during our time in Arctic Norway.
Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula A locally common summer breeding visitor to Finland,
where we enjoyed many good sightings.
Smew Mergellus albellus An uncommon summer breeding visitor to localised areas of northern
Finland. We only observed male birds, as the females were probably sitting on eggs, we saw
small numbers at Kuusamo and at Ivalo.
Goosander Mergus merganser A locally common summer breeding visitor to both Finland and
Arctic Norway. We observed many large flocks along the coast of Arctic Norway.
Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator A locally common summer breeding visitor to both
Finland and Arctic Norway. We observed small numbers very well in both Finland and
Norway.

PANDIONIDAE
Osprey Pandion haliaetus A fairly common summer breeding visitor to Finland, we observed one
bird close to Kuusamo and a second bird at Ilmakkiaapa Swamp, near Sodankyla.

ACCIPITRIDAE
White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla A rare resident of coastal areas of southern Finland and
an uncommon summer visitor to northern Finland and Arctic Norway. We saw this species
very well on many occasions, especially in Arctic Norway.
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos An uncommon resident of Finland, we observed one bird in
flight, close to Kuusamo.
Black Kite Milvus migrans The Black Kite is a very uncommon summer visitor to a small area of
eastern Finland. We observed a single bird extremely well during our time in the hide at the
Boreal Wildlife Centre, at Viiksimo.
Western Marsh-Harrier Circus aeruginosus This species is an uncommon summer visitor to
coastal areas of Finland, we observed it on two separate occasions, close to Oulu.
Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus The Hen Harrier is also an uncommon summer visitor to Finland, we
saw a male very well on one occasion, close to Oulu.
Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus The Montagu's Harrier does not normally occur in Finland
or Norway; we were very fortunate to enjoy very good close looks at a breeding pair, which
was the only known breeding pair in Finland! The observation occurred close to Oulu.
Colonel George Montagu (1751-1815) was a soldier and natural history writer and served as
a lieutenant-colonel in the English army during the American Revolution. He was later
court-martialed for what was referred to as `provocative marital skirmishing`! He then
devoted his life to ornithology and following a long and distinguished career in the south of
England, at the age of 64, he unfortunately died of lockjaw (tetanus) after stepping on a
rusty nail.
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo A fairly common summer visitor to the southern two thirds of
Finland. We enjoyed two separate sightings close to Oulu.
Rough-legged Buzzard Buteo lagopus The Rough-legged Buzzard is an uncommon summer
visitor to the northern half of Finland and Arctic Norway. Numbers vary from year to year
depending on the vole and lemming cycles. As this was a very poor year for voles and
lemmings, the Rough-legged Buzzard was particularly scarce this year. We observed a bird
at close quarters, not far from Inari, in northern Finland and this was followed by a second
sighting, close to Vardo, in Norway.
Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus This species is a fairly common summer visitor to the
southern two thirds of Finland. On one occasion a bird flew across the road in front of our
vehicle close to Kuusamo and landed in a conifer by the side of the road. By the time we
had got out of our vehicle, the bird was nowhere to be seen, however, we did find a raptors
nest in the conifer, which we presumed to be the sparrowhawks nest.

FALCONIDAE
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus A common summer visitor to Finland, which we saw well on
several occasions.
Merlin Falco columbarius The Merlin is an uncommon summer visitor to both Finland and Arctic
Norway. We enjoyed a few good sightings of this diminutive species of falcon, we saw it
particularly well on one occasion, in flight and perched, close to Vardo.
Gyrfalcon Falco rusticolus This stunning species of falcon is a scarce winter visitor to the
northern two thirds of Finland and a scarce summer breeding visitor to Arctic Norway. I had
a bird fly right past me while we were birding on Hornoy Island, just offshore from Vardo.
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus The widespread Peregrine Falcon is a scarce summer
breeding visitor to both Finland and Arctic Norway. We saw a single bird in flight at a known
Peregrine nest, close to Luoftjok, in Norway.

TETRAONIDAE
Willow Ptarmigan Lagopus lagopus The Willow Ptarmigan is a locally common resident of both
Finland and Arctic Norway, we saw it very well on a few occasions during our time in
Finland.
Rock Ptarmigan Lagopus muta This species is a locally common resident in the far north of
Finland and in Arctic Norway. We observed a bird at incredibly close quarters on Kilopaa
Fell, near Ivalo, in Finland and Ted and I flushed a pair on the Gednje Plateau, in Norway.
Western Capercaillie Tetrao urogallus An uncommon resident of Finland, we were very
fortunate to enjoy close prolonged looks at a female which stood in the road in front of us, as
we were driving to the Boreal Wildlife Centre Hide, at Viiksimo.
Black Grouse Tetrao tetrix The Black Grouse is an uncommon resident of Finland, we observed
a bird from the bus, which was feeding in dense forest, not far from Oulu. Our second
sighting of this species was an unforgeable experience, when one evening we drove out to a
large lek, approximately an hours drive from Kuusamo. The Black Grouse's remarkable
courtship ceremonies take place at communal display grounds, known as leks. The males
arrive about a month before the females. At the lek, males joust with males and, to a lesser
extent, females with females. The fighting is mostly mock, with opponents hopping up and
down, their tails fully spread; occasional the battles become more serious as birds try to
force their way towards the centre of the lek, the best place for securing matings. This
species was voted bird of the tour by tour participants.
Hazel Grouse Bonasa bonasia An uncommon resident of Finland, this shy bird is easily
overlooked. We had a couple of brief sightings, one at Oulu and a second, at Kuusamo.                                   

GRUIDAE
Common Crane Grus grus A localised and uncommon summer breeding bird in Finland. We saw
a few small flocks in farmland, during our time in Finland.

HAEMATOPODIDAE
Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus A common summer breeding visitor to coastal
areas of Finland and Arctic Norway, which we saw very well in both countries, on many
occasions.

CHARADRIIDAE
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus This species is a common summer breeding visitor to
Finland. We enjoyed many good sightings of this species while birding in central Finland.
European Golden-Plover Pluvialis apricaria This species is a fairly common summer breeding
visitor to both Finland and Arctic Norway, where we saw it well on several occasions.
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius A fairly common summer breeding visitor to the
southern half of Finland. We enjoyed good looks at a single bird at Oulu.
Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula This species is a common summer breeding visitor
to both Finland and Arctic Norway. We saw it in both Finland and Norway on many
occasions.
Eurasian Dotterel Charadrius morinellus A scarce and highly localised summer breeding visitor
to the far north of Finland and Arctic Norway. We were very fortunate on the last day of the
tour, to observe a pair of very tame birds, on the Arctic tundra close to Ivalo.

SCOLOPACIDAE
Eurasian Woodcock Scolopax rusticola This species is a fairly common summer breeding visitor
to the southern half of Finland. We observed a few birds in flight during the early days of
the tour.
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago This species is a common summer breeding visitor to both
Finland and Arctic Norway. We enjoyed good sightings in both countries throughout the
tour.
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata A common summer breeding visitor to the southern two
thirds of Finland and a very uncommon summer breeding visitor to Arctic Norway. We saw
it on a daily basis, during the first week of the tour, in central Finland.
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus A fairly common summer breeding visitor to the northern two
thirds of Finland and to Arctic Norway. We saw it on a few occasions in both Finland and
Norway.
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa A very rare summer breeding visitor to only Oulu, in Finland.
A bird was observed well on the first day of the tour at Oulu.
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica An uncommon summer breeding visitor to the far north of
Finland and the southern areas of Arctic Norway. We saw small numbers very well at a
couple of places in coastal Norway.
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos A fairly common summer breeding visitor to both Finland
and Arctic Norway; we saw small numbers close to Oulu and Palomaa in Finland and in
Luoftjok, in Norway.
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus A fairly common summer breeding visitor to Finland,
somewhat surprisingly, we only observed this species on one occasion, at Oulu.
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola A common summer breeding visitor to both Finland and Arctic
Norway. We saw it very well in both countries, on numerous occasions.
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia An uncommon summer breeding visitor to Finland,
where we saw it well on a few occasions.
Common Redshank Tringa totanus A common summer breeding visitor to coastal Finland and
Arctic Norway, we saw it well in both countries on a number of occasions.
Red Knot Calidris canutus The majority of Siberian breeding Red Knots migrate to their
wintering grounds through Scandinavia. We saw a flock of a dozen birds or so in flight, in
the Varangar Bird Sanctuary and we also saw a few birds along the shoreline in the
Varangerfjord, in Arctic Norway.
Sanderling Calidris alba The only area where this species breeds in Europe, is in Spitsbergen,
birds on migration pass through Scandinavia. Small numbers were present along the
shoreline in the Varangerfjord, near Vardo, in Norway.
Little Stint Calidris minuta An uncommon summer breeding visitor to Arctic Norway. Once
again, we found small numbers along the shoreline in the Varangerfjord, near Vardo, in
Norway.
Temminck's Stint Calidris temminckii An uncommon breeding summer visitor to coastal Finland
and inland areas of northern Finland and Arctic Norway. We saw it in both countries but it
was far more numerous in Arctic Norway. We very much enjoyed watching them fluttering
around like butterflies, during their display flights. Coenraad Jacob Temminck (1778-1858)
was a Dutch ornithologist, illustrator and collector. He was appointed the first Director of
the Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie, in Leiden, in 1820 and held that post until his
death. He was a wealthy man who had a very large collection of specimens and live birds.
His first task as an ornithologist was to catalogue his father's very extensive collection. His
father was Jacob Temminck, for whom Le Vaillant collected specimens.
Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima An uncommon summer breeding visitor to the very far north
of Finland and an uncommon winter visitor to coastal Arctic Norway. We observed small
numbers feeding along the shoreline on a daily basis in the Varangerfjord.
Dunlin Calidris alpina The Dunlin is a common summer breeding visitor to coastal Finland and
Arctic Norway. We enjoyed small numbers on the Gednje Plateau and feeding along the
shoreline of the Varangerfjord.
Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus An uncommon and localised summer breeding
visitor to the northern half of Finland. A single bird was observed well on the first day of
the tour at Oulu.
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres A common summer breeding visitor to coastal areas of
Finland and Arctic Norway. Once again we saw small numbers feeding along the
Varangerfjord.
Ruff Philomachus pugnax An uncommon summer breeding visitor to Finland and Arctic Norway.
We saw if very well in both countries and enjoyed great views of lekking birds, as we
admired the full range of colour variants.
Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus A fairly common summer breeding visitor to northern
Finland and Arctic Norway. We very much enjoyed watching these birds pirouetting along
the edge of a lake in the Varanger Bird Sanctuary. We also observed them on small lakes on
the Gednje Plateau and along the coast of the Varangerfjord.

LARIDAE
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus A common resident in coastal Finland and a
common summer visitor to the southern half of Finland. It proved to be the commonest gull
during the first half of the tour.
Common Gull Larus canus A fairly common summer visitor in both Finland and Arctic Norway,
which we saw on most days of the tour.
European Herring Gull Larus argentatus A common summer breeding visitor to Finland and a
common resident in Arctic Norway. We saw this species on almost a daily basis.
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus A common summer breeding visitor to southern Finland
and Arctic Norway, which we saw well in both countries.
Heuglin's Gull Larus heuglini This species is a rare visitor to eastern Finland and it may even
breed in very small numbers. We were very fortunate to observe a single bird amongst the 
many Lesser Black-backed Gulls present at the Boreal Wildlife Centre, at Viiksimo.
Theodor von Heuglin (1824-1876) was born in Ditzingen, Germany, where the local school
is named after him. He became a mining engineer and ornithologist. He is recorded as
exploring Central Africa and Ethiopia in 1861. He also explored in eastern Africa and he
published an account of its birds, Ornithologie Nordost Afrika, in 1869. Heuglin was a
vocal opponent of evolutionary theories, perhaps since he was the son of the local priest in
Ditzingen. He died of pneumonia and is buried in Stuttgart.
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus A common resident of Arctic Norway, we saw large 
numbers on a daily basis, throughout our time there.
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus An uncommon summer breeding visitor to Finland; we very 
much enjoyed watching these beautiful birds during our time in Finland.
Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla An abundant summer breeding visitor to Arctic Norway, 
which we saw on a daily basis during our time there.

STERNIDAE
Little Tern Sternula albifrons This species is a rare summer breeding visitor to Finland and only 
breeds in the Liminganlahti Wetlands, where we saw a couple very well.
Common Tern Sterna hirundo A fairly common summer breeding visitor to Finland and Arctic 
Norway. We saw good numbers nesting in the area around Oulu.
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea An abundant breeding summer visitor to coastal areas of southern
Finland, inland areas of northern Finland and to Arctic Norway. We observed it on most 
days of the tour.

STERCORARIIDAE
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus A fairly common summer breeding visitor to coastal areas of
Finland and Arctic Norway. We found lots of birds nesting during our time in Arctic
Norway.
Long-tailed Skua Stercorarius longicaudus An uncommon summer breeding visitor to Arctic
Norway, it was a real treat to see this incredibly graceful bird flying above the Arctic Tundra 
of the Gednje Plateau.

ALCIDAE
Common Guillemot Uria aalge A locally abundant summer breeding visitor to Arctic Norway, 
where we observed many hundreds of birds.
Brunnich's Guillemot Uria lomvia A locally abundant summer breeding visitor to Arctic Norway. 
We observed a single bird in the harbour at Vardo and then we saw many birds amongst the
Common Guillemot breeding colonies on Hornoy Island, a little offshore from Vardo.
Morten Thrane Brunnich (1737-1827) was bird curator in Copenhagen and worked on
Guillemots. He is described by the Danish bibliographer Jean Anker as the `founder of
Danish faunistic zoology` and was a highly praised systematist. He wrote Ornitholgia
borealis in 1764, which was a description of a private collection of birds of Denmark,
Iceland and other parts of northern Europe.
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle A locally common summer breeding visitor to coastal Finland
and coastal Arctic Norway. We observed small numbers just offshore in Arctic Norway.
Razorbill Alca torda A locally abundant summer breeding visitor to coastal areas of southern
Finland and coastal areas of Arctic Norway. We enjoyed excellent looks at the 500 or so
pairs that were breeding on Hornoy Island.
Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica A locally abundant summer breeding visitor to coastal Arctic
Norway. We were able to get very close to some of the 5,000 - 10,000 pairs that nest on
Hornoy Island.

COLUMBIDAE
Feral Pigeon Columba livia An abundant resident throughout the southern two thirds of Finland,
where we saw it well.
Stock Dove Columba oenas A very uncommon breeding summer visitor to southern Finland,
reaching the northern edge of its range at Oulu, where fortunately, we saw one very well in
flight.
Common Wood-Pigeon Columba palumbus A common summer breeding visitor to the southern
two thirds of Finland, where we saw it well on many occasions.

STRIGIDAE
Great Grey Owl Strix nebulosa An uncommon resident in Finland, we saw an adult female sitting
on a nest with two chicks, not far from Oulu.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis An uncommon resident of southern Finland, we enjoyed good scope
views of an adult female and enjoyed close looks at two fledged young, not far from Oulu.
Northern Hawk Owl Surnia ulula An uncommon resident of Finland and Arctic Norway, which
we saw well in both countries.
Tengmalm's Owl Aegolius funereus A fairly common resident of Finland, we saw a female
peering out from a nest box for quite some time, before flying off into the forest not far from
Oulu. Peter Gustaf Tengmalm (1754-1803) was born in Stockholm and studied medicine at
Uppsal University. He spent his spare time studying birds and became an accomplished
taxidermist. In 1792 he travelled to Scotland and England meeting other naturalists
including Joseph Banks. He contributed papers on both medicine and ornithology to the
Royal Swedish acdemy of Sciences, becoming a member in 1797. He died of dysentery
which he caught from his patients during an epidemic. He was interested in owls and
improved upon Linnaeus owl classification in a paper to the Academy of Sciences. Johann
Friedrich Gmelin named the Tengmalm's Owl after him in 1788 (Strix tengmalmi) in the
mistaken belief that Tengmalm had been the first to describe it.
Eurasian Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium passerinum An uncommon resident of the southern two thirds
of Finland. We enjoyed very good looks at a female inside a nest box, not far from Oulu.
Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus A fairly common summer breeding visitor to both Finland and
Arctic Norway. We saw two separate birds flying over farmland, close to Oulu, in Finland
and then we saw a single bird flying over farmland close to Vardo, in Norway.                                                          

APODIDAE
Common Swift Apus apus A common summer breeding visitor to Finland, which we saw well on
several occasions.

PICIDAE
Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius A fairly common resident of Finland, we enjoyed great
looks at a bird at a nest hole, not far from Oulu.
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major A common resident of Finland, we saw a bird
close to Oulu, which was followed by a second sighting at the Boreal Wildlife Centre, at
Viiksimo.
Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus A fairly common resident of Finland, we
saw a bird very well indeed at a nest hole, not far from Oulu.

ALAUDIDAE
Common Skylark Alauda arvensis A common summer breeding visitor to Finland and Arctic
Norway. Somewhat surprisingly, we only observed this bird on one occasion, in farmland
not far from Oulu.

HIRUNDINIDAE
Common Sand Martin Riparia riparia A common summer breeding visitor to Finland and a very
uncommon summer breeding visitor to Arctic Norway. We observed many small flocks in
central Finland and we were very fortunate to observe a single bird, not far from Vardo, in
Norway.
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica A common breeding summer visitor to the southern two thirds of
Finland and a very rare summer breeding visitor to one small area of Arctic Norway. We
saw it on a daily basis in central Finland and then we were very fortunate to observe a single
bird at Nesseby, the only area where this bird breeds in Arctic Norway.
Northern House Martin Delichon urbicum A common summer breeding visitor to Finland,
where we saw it well on many occasions.

MOTACILLIDAE
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis A common breeding summer visitor to both Finland and Arctic
Norway. We saw it well in both countries but it was particularly numerous in Arctic
Norway.
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis A common summer breeding visitor to Finland, we saw it well on one
occasion close to Oulu.
Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus An uncommon summer breeding visitor to the extreme far
north of Finland and Arctic Norway. We saw a few small flocks during our time in Arctic
Norway.
White Wagtail Motacilla alba A common summer breeding visitor to both Finland and Arctic
Norway, which we saw on every day of the tour.
Western Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava A locally common summer breeding visitor to Finland,
which we saw well on a number of occasions.

REGULIDAE
Goldcrest Regulus regulus A common summer visitor throughout the northern half of Finland,
where we saw it well on several occasions.
BOMBYCILLIDAE
Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus A fairly common summer breeding visitor to the
northern half of Finland. We watched a pair nest building, on the last day of the tour, close
to Ivalo.

CINCLIDAE
White-throated Dipper Cinclus cinclus A fairly common localised resident in parts of northern
Finland and Arctic Norway. We very much enjoyed watching a pair of these birds at their
nest site, not far from Kuusamo.

TURDIDAE
Redwing Turdus iliacus A common summer breeding visitor to both Finland and Arctic Norway,
where we saw it on most days of the tour.
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus A fairly common summer breeding visitor to Finland, which we
saw well on several occasions.
Fieldfare Turdus pilaris A common summer breeding visitor to both Finland and Arctic Norway,
which we saw on almost every day of the tour.
European Blackbird Turdus merula A common summer breeding visitor to the southern half of
Finland, we saw a few birds well around Oulu.
Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus An uncommon summer breeding visitor to Arctic Norway. We saw
a bird very fleetingly at Varangerfjord, near Vardo, in Norway.

SYLVIIDAE
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus A common summer breeding visitor to both Finland and
Arctic Norway, where we saw it on most days of the tour.
Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix An uncommon summer breeding visitor to southern
Finland, we saw a single bird at very close quarters, in woodland close to Oulu.
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla A common summer breeding visitor to coastal Finland, it reaches the
northern edge of its range at Oulu, where I saw a pair, while watching a Great Spotted
Woodpecker.
Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca A common summer breeding visitor to the southern half of
Finland. One bird flew in front of the bus close to Oulu and a second bird did the same
thing close to Kuusamo.

MUSCICAPIDAE
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata A common summer breeding visitor to Finland, which we
saw well on several occasions.
Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca A common summer breeding visitor to Finland, which we
saw very well on numerous occasions.
Red-breasted Flycatcher Ficedula parva A fairly common summer breeding visitor to the
southern third of Finland. Therefore, we were very fortunate to enjoy very good looks at an
immature male, not far from Oulu, where the bird does not normally occur.
European Robin Erithacus rubecula A common summer visitor to the southern half of Finland,
we saw a bird very briefly, close to Oulu.
Bluethroat Luscinia svecica A fairly common summer visitor to northern Finland and Arctic
Norway, we saw it very well in both countries on a number of occasions.
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus This species has only recently colonised one area in the
far east of Finland, around Kuusamo. So we were very fortunate to enjoy good looks at a
singing male during our time there.
Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus A common summer breeding visitor to Finland ,
which we saw well on a few occasions.
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe A common summer breeding visitor to both Finland and
Arctic Norway. We saw small numbers very well during our time in Norway.
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra A locally common summer visitor to Finland, we saw a couple very
well not far from Oulu.

AEGITHALIDAE
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus There is an isolated race of Long-tailed Tits at Oulu and we
were very fortunate to observe a pair of birds in the woodland there, for an extended period
of time.

PARIDAE
Great Tit Parus major A common resident in both Finland and Arctic Norway, which we saw well
on numerous occasions in Finland.
Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus A common resident in southern Finland, which we saw well on a few
occasions.
Crested Tit Lophophanes cristatus A fairly common resident of coniferous forests in southern
Finland. We saw a bird very well on one occasion, close to Oulu.
Willow Tit Poecile montanus A common resident of Finland, we saw it very well on one occasion,
in the company of a Siberian Tit, not far from Kuusamo.
Siberian Tit Poecile cinctus An uncommon resident of northern Finland and Arctic Norway. We
enjoyed two sightings during our time in Finland, the first at Kuusamo and the second, at
Ivalo.

LANIIDAE
Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor An uncommon breeding summer visitor in Finland. We saw
it well close to Oulu and again at Ivalo.
Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio An uncommon summer breeding visitor to southern Finland ,
which reaches the northern edge of its range at Oulu. Fortunately, we observed a single bird
very well at Oulu.

CORVIDAE
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius A common resident in southern Finland, we observed a few
birds during our time around Oulu.
Siberian Jay Perisoreus infaustus An uncommon resident of the northern two thirds of Finland,
we saw it very well at Oulu and again at Ivalo.
Common Magpie Pica pica A common resident in both Finland and Arctic Norway, where we
saw it on every day of the tour.
Western Jackdaw Corvus monedula A common resident in the southern half of Finland, it
reaches the northern edge of its range at Oulu, where we saw several large flocks.
Rook Corvus frugilegus A common but highly localised summer breeding visitor, to three separate
areas in southern Finland. It reaches the northern edge of its range at Oulu, where we saw
several large flocks.
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix A common resident throughout both Finland and Arctic Norway,
which we saw on every day of the tour.
Common Raven Corvus corax An uncommon resident throughout Finland and Arctic Norway,
where we saw it well on many occasions.

PASSERIDAE
House Sparrow Passer domesticus A common resident throughout Finland and Arctic Norway,
where we saw it well on many occasions.

FRINGILLIDAE
Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs A very common summer breeding visitor to Finland,
where we saw it very well during our time there.
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla A fairly common summer visitor to Finland and a fairly
common resident in Arctic Norway, we saw it very well in both countries on a number of
occasions.
Twite Carduelis flavirostris An uncommon summer breeding visitor to coastal areas of Arctic
Norway, we encountered small numbers along the coast of the Varangerfjord, near Vardo.
Common Redpoll Acanthis flammea A common resident of both Finland and Arctic Norway, we
saw it well on Kilopaa Fell and at Ivalo.
Arctic Redpoll Acanthis hornemanni An uncommon resident of Arctic Norway, I saw a couple of
birds in the Varangar Bird Sanctuary.
European Greenfinch Chloris chloris A common summer breeding visitor to Finland and Arctic
Norway. We saw it in both countries on a number of occasions.
Eurasian Siskin Spinus spinus A fairly common summer visitor to the southern two thirds of
Finland, where we saw it well on a few occasions.
Eurasian Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula A fairly common resident of Finland, we saw this beautiful
bird at Oulu and again at Kuusamo.
Pine Grosbeak Pinicola enucleator An uncommon resident of Northern Finland, we enjoyed
great looks at both males and females at a bird feeder near Kaamanen.
Common Crossbill Loxia curvirostra A locally fairly common resident of Finland, which we saw
well on one occasion, close to Oulu.
Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus A fairly common summer breeding visitor to the
southern two thirds of Finland. We enjoyed great looks at a singing male, close to Oulu.

EMBERIZIDAE
Common Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus A common summer breeding visitor to both
Finland and Arctic Norway, which we we saw well in Finland on a few occasions.
Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla A very uncommon summer breeding visitor to localised areas of
northern Finland. We observed two separate individuals in woodland close to Kuusamo.
Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis A fairly common summer visitor to the far north of Finland
and Arctic Norway. We watched a small flock of three birds feeding on the ground on the
Gednje Plateau.
Lapland Bunting Calcarius lapponicus A fairly common summer breeding visitor to the far north
of Finland and Arctic Norway. We saw our first individual close to Palomaa, in Finland and
then we enjoyed much closer looks at a few birds along the Varangerfjord, in coastal Norway.
Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica A fairly common summer breeding visitor to Finland, we
observed a pair very well close to Kuusamo.
Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana An uncommon summer breeding visitor to the southern two
thirds of Finland, we saw a singing male very well indeed, close to Oulu.
Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella A common resident in the southern two thirds of Finland and
a common summer breeding visitor to the northern third of Finland. We saw a couple of
birds very well at the Liminganlahti Wetlands and we saw a couple of birds at the Boreal
Wildlife Centre at Viiksimo.

MAMMALS


Wolf Carnis lupus Sadly, only 150 wolves remain in Finland, so we were very pleased to see a
pack of four Wolves hunting together, while we were in the Boreal Wildlife Centre Hide, at
Viiksimo. Two of the Wolves were extremely pale in colouration. In Europe Wolves are
largely nocturnal, due to persecution by man. A pack of Wolves is dominated by an 'alpha'
pair; other members of the pack are largely their adult offspring.
Red Fox Vulpes vulpes We saw a single animal in farmland at Ekkeroy, along the edge of
Varangerfjord. The Red Fox is the major vector of rabies in Europe; attempts to contain
rabies by killing foxes, had no noticeable effect. Recent attempts to control rabies by
feeding foxes an oral vaccine, delivered in bait such as chicken heads, has drastically
reduced the disease. The notorious habit of 'surplus killing' when foxes get into chicken
coups, pheasant rearing pens, or other similar situations where prey cannot escape, e.g.
ground nesting colonies of herons, is inappropriately judged according to human morals and
is often referred to as wicked or vindictive. In reality, it is a 'pathological' situation where
prey fails to run away, a circumstance not often met with in nature and the fox has not
evolved to cope with it.
Brown Bear Ursus arctos One of the great highlights of the tour was watching up to six different
Brown Bears that fed on the bait provided for them at the Boreal Wildlife Centre, at
Viiksimo. They spent a great deal of time just a few metres from us, directly in front of the
hide. We were even able to watch a pair mating just beside the hide. It is a little surprising
to learn that the main food items of such a large animal is made up predominantly of berries,
grasses, herbs and insects. Brown Bears hibernate during the winter months.
Stoat Mustela erminea Joanna saw one of these delightful animals not far from our hotel at
Kuusamo and we all got to see an extremely playful immature, which we played hide and
seek with, on a stone wall, close to Vardo. This beautiful animal may look very cuddly but
in reality it is a very ferocious carnivore, which preys mainly on rodents, hares and birds.
Females specialise in catching voles and males, hares and birds. Prey is followed by scent
and killed by a bite at the back of the neck. In summer the Stoats fur is chestnut-brown
above and yellowish-white below, in winter the fur is predominantly white.
Wolverine Gulo gulu One of the other highlights of the tour was the observation of a Wolverine,
we enjoyed two sightings, which may have been the same animal seen twice, or it may have
been two separate animals. It is the largest of all the mustelids and somewhat surprisingly, it
is mainly nocturnal during the summer months. When there is no snow on the ground it
feeds mainly on berries, alternatively, when there is snow on the ground it feeds mainly on
carrion, encountered during long daily wanderings. It also feeds on Reindeers trapped in
heavy snowdrifts and ptarmigan. Its habit of removing and eating bait from traps makes it
very unpopular with fur trappers and consequently it is hunted remorselessly. The
population is declining in Finland, where it is supposedly protected, but killing licences are
easily granted to Reindeer owners and illegal hunting using snowmobiles is commonplace.
Eurasian Otter Lutra lutra We enjoyed a prolonged look at an otter swimming just offshore at
Hornoy Island, we also watched it eating a fish, which it took onto a small island to eat. It is
largely nocturnal. It eats mainly fish, but will also eat birds, water voles, rats, amphibians,
crayfish, crabs, worms and insects.
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus We observed small numbers on a daily basis during our time
around the Varangerfjord. The grey Seal rests by day, at low tide and at sunset. It does not
need to eat every day. It is a coastal feeder and salmon is the main food item, followed by
cod.
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena Seen briefly on a couple of occasions in Varangerfjord.
The Harbour Porpoise rests by floating on the surface of the ocean, but appears not to sleep.
It feeds almost exclusively on Herring, which feeds at deeper depths during daylight hours,
but feeds close to the surface of the ocean at dawn and dusk, which is when the porpoise
hunt them.
Minke Whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata An individual was observed breaking the surface on a
number of occasions in the Varangerfjord. It is the most likely species of whale to be seen
from land in the northern hemisphere. They are migratory, spending the winter months in
their northern feeding grounds and the summer months in their southern breeding grounds.
Elk Alces alces We enjoyed a few good sightings during the tour of this massive species of deer. It
swims well and often enters water. It can unfortunately be a traffic hazard.
Eurasian Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris Observed well on one occasion, at the bird feeder at
Kaamanen. The European Red Squirrel is strictly a vegetarian and is most active during the
first three to four hours after dawn.
Muskrat Ondatra zibethicus This species originated in North America, it escaped from fur farms
in the early 1900s and has spread throughout much of Europe. It reached Finland in 1919
and is now widespread throughout the country. We observed large numbers swimming and
building lodges on the lakes around Kuusamo. It is a proficient swimmer and diver and eats
mainly vegetable matter.
Brown Hare Lepus europaeus The Brown Hare is a fairly common resident of the southern half of
Finland and we saw a few individuals around Oulu. It is predominantly nocturnal, but is
moderately active during daylight hours. It feeds mainly on grasses and agricultural crops
and is also known to tear bark from saplings. Courtship involves `boxing`. This Mad March
Hare behaviour is actually an unreceptive female chasing off males.
Mountain Hare Lepus timidus We enjoyed many sightings of this attractive species throughout
the tour. During the summer months it has a grey-black coat and in winter it is white. The
den is normally placed under cover of bushes or rocky outcrops. It survives predators by
outrunning them and it has been recorded travelling up to 64 kilometres per hour.

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