Finland - Bears and Birds - May 2013

Published by Mike Neale (mcnswiss AT

Participants: Pieter Bouma - Report Writer


Photos with this report (click to enlarge)

Brown Bear
Brown Bear

Monday 13 May 2013. Day of arrival. Viikki / Vanhankaupunginlathi. Here we saw Citrine Wagtail and the nest of the Penduline Tit.

Tuesday 14 May 2013. Drive to Vartius. Vartius is the "village" to which Ari Sääski's Wild Brown Bear eco center belongs. First night in the hide was cold and miserable.

Wednesday 15 May 2013. Second day in Ari Sääski's Wild Brown Bear eco center. During the second night we saw the bear (on the early morning of 16 may 2013).

Thursday 16 May 2013. We stayed at the French Lady's Taiga Spirit in the village of Lentiira. Most of the birds were seen along the unsurfaced road to Viiksimo, where we ended up drinking coffee at the Boreal Wildlife Center. In the evening the owner (Katie?) brought us close to the Russian border where we taped for and saw male Capercaillies (one seen briefly displaying in a tree and flying off and another one responded from the forest to the tape). This was at the location with the "submarine hide". When we drove back late in the evening we saw several Black Grouse (especially males) and a few female Capercaillies along the unsurfaced road to Viiksimo on our way to Taiga Spirit.

Friday 17 May 2013. We made a tour around Lentiira and came through the tiny village of Niva. Near this village we had prolonged views of a pair of Black-throated Diver. The road between Niva and the main road (the "912") was unsurfaced and yielded quite a few female Capercaillies and also a few Hazel Grouse. In the evening we drove again to Viiksimo and saw a few female Capercaillies, a few Black Grouse (both male and female) and a few Hazel Grouse along the unsurfaced road.

Saturday 18 May 2013. We left Taiga Spirit very early in the morning and before we reached the turn off to the Viiksimo (the unsurfaced road) we saw a displaying male Capercaillie along the main road (the "912" between Lentiira and the turn off to Viiksimo). For me, this was the single best sighting of the whole Finland trip (I was stunned). Along the unsurfaced road to Viiksimo we saw a few Black Grouse. At least 2 males responded to taping by starting to display from trees.

We left Mid-Finland and drove south to the area of Tohmajärvi and Värtsilä. First we visited the bird tower at the Tohmajärvi Lake, where the old lady told us of the Great Spotted Eagle that was seen there that same morning and that there was a Red-breasted Goose near Värtsilä. After that we went to the church cemetary a little further along the road to tape for Icterine Warbler. Then we continued to Värtsilä. We went first to the bird tower in the fields where all the Finnish birders were scanning the skies for migrating raptors. One of the birders told us about the White-backed Woodpecker along the river "near the white building". We taped for it from the property of Sinilintu Inn (no luck). Then we continued to the unsurfaced road along the south side of Lake Sääperi, where the geese were. After a while we saw the Red-breasted Goose among the Barnacle Geese. Then we continued to the possible Great Snipe location along the road north of the lake. No luck with the snipe, but I was lucky enough to see a Corncrake flapping over the long grass and sticking its head up for a few seconds after landing.

We returned to the birding tower of Tohmajärvi, where we met local birder Tuomo Eronen. He took us to a few locations with possible Blyth's Reed Warbler, but no luck. The evening visit to the possible Great Snipe location near Värtsilä yielded Short-eared Owl and Grey-headed Woodpecker.

Sunday 19 May 2013. After a short visit to the bird tower at the Tohmajärvi Lake (no luck) we drove to Parikkala. First stop was a birding tower at lake Päätyenlahti, which yielded nothing special (Sedge Warbler and footrot I remember). Next was a birding tower near Tarnala (just north of Parikkala), which yielded nothing special either (just Kestrel). The drive through the black soil fields (unsurfaced road) should have yielded Dotterel, but again nothing special. But, luckily, the next stop was the jackpot: Lake Siikalahti near Parikkala. Gosney suggests that this is the best bird lake in Finland and it is certainly very good: great views of Little Gull, Ruff, Slavonian Grebe, White-backed Woodpecker and Wryneck. In the evening we tried a partly unsurfaced road along the Russian border for Great Snipe, but no luck.

Monday 20 May 2013. The next morning we went back to Lake Siikalahti near Parikkala, but this time the visit was disappointing. The drive to the forests northwest of Parikkala was disappointing too (despite a promising woodpecker tree). The visit to a forest further still (the arboretum of Punkaharju) didn't yield anything special either (certainly no Ural Owl). The evening visit to Lake Siikalahti near Parikkala was, in fact, the best part of the day with a second view of the White-backed Woodpecker (my first) and great views of the Slavonian Grebes.

Tuesday 21 May 2013. Drive back to Helsinki. Another visit to Viikki / Vanhankaupunginlathi yielded nothing, except another view of the Penduline Tit nest.

Top Birds seen:

Black-throated Diver
Slavonian Grebe
Short-eared Owl
Black Grouse
Little Gull
White-backed Woodpecker and Red-necked Grebe

Others :

Mute Swan, Whooper Swan, Greylag Goose, Bean Goose (both Taiga- and Tundra Bean Goose), Barnacle Goose, Red-breasted Goose, Mallard, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Smew, Goosander, Great Crested Grebe, Hazel Grouse, Grey Heron, Osprey, Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Hobby, Kestrel, Coot, Crane, Common Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Temminck's Stint, Turnstone, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Redshank, Greenshank, Curlew, Whimbrel, Snipe, Woodcock, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Caspian Tern, Common Tern, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Cuckoo, Swift, Tree Pipit, White Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail (ssp. thunbergi), Citrine Wagtail, House Martin, Barn Swallow, Waxwing, Robin, Thrush Nightingale, (Red-spotted) Bluethroat, Common Redstart, Winchat, Redwing, Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Willow Warbler, Wood Warbler, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Jay, Jackdaw, Magpie, Hooded Crow, Raven, Great Grey Shrike, Red-backed Shrike, Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Siskin, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting.