Birding through Finland (& Norway)

Published by Surfbirds Admin (surfbirds AT


Stefano e Daniela Fantini- Italy

Getting ready

The huge work of planning the trip began about seven months before taking off. During this time I collected reports and info from any resource I could find. Obviously almost all brochures and info was written in English and I had to translate everything. I quickly gave up the idea of taking part in an organised tour because of the high costs. That's why I spent so much time in planning, contacting people, getting reservation and so on. We chose this time for the trip because we intended to get the best from spring singers and hoped to avoid mosquitoes.

We were not very lucky with the weather (often cloudy and sometimes raining and snowing), but we enjoyed very much the untouched Finnish wilderness and we got a very good day in Norway (Varanger). At the end we have had 135 species with more than 50 new for us.


I MUST thank many people who helped me in making my trip real. First of all, my heart-thanking for Patricia Galloway, who brought me the brochure by Finnair-Finnature. That pictures and words were inviting JUST ME there. Most of all I have to mention Simon Wooley and Bernhard Herren, whom supplied me with 'golden' info, brochures and magazines about birdwatching in Finland. Another particular mention is for Reijo Anttonen & Kerstin, who gave us a very friendly welcome in Porvoo. Last (in order of time) our best thanks to Peter Rostin for the very peaceful and home-like accommodation in Kuusamo.

Then a big thank you to

- all the people who guided us in finding birds

Hanna and Janne Aalto (Parikkala area)

Heikki Seppänen (Kuusamo area)

Jari Peltomaki (Finnature guide)

- all of our contacts there: Ilpo Hall (Helsinki), Olli Karhu (Ivalo), Olavi Nyyssänen (Sodänkyla), Heikki Karhu (Ivalo), Harri Högmander (Jyväskylä), Alf Tore Mjøs (Norway)

- all contacts in and abroad: Pascal Boulesteix, Roberto Garavaglia, Menotti Passarella.

Bibliography and Internet resources

General information can be found at:,,,,,

Birdwatching info at:,,,,,,

Accomodation: (Ivalo), (Kuusamo),, (Virolahti),, (near Sodankylä), Miekkaniemi Bed&Breakfast (Viitasaari), Helsinki Expert (Helsinki), Rastila Camping (Helsinki), Vestre Jakobselv Campground c/o Bernt Helmersen, Postboks 59, 9810 Vadsø - Norway

Other trip reports:,,,,,,

Information about Finnmark & Varangerfjord:,,,,,

Useful magazines:

Alula: issues no. 2/1996 (Värtsilä), no. 2/1995 (Aland), no. 1/1995 (Kuusamo)
Birding in Finland, by Dave Gosney 1991

The trip: from 26th May to 9th June

We left Italy early in the morning but we had been able to reach Helsinki only at 8.30 pm because of flight problems. In this way we lose the first half day.

27th May

Weather: cold and cloudy.

We left our Guest House (which I do not feel to suggest to anyone) in the centre of Helsinki and spent a couple of hours in turning around the town. At 11 am we took the boat for Korkesaari Zoo and already we have had some birding (Common Gull, Herring Gull, Hooded Crow, Swift, White Wagtail, Fieldfare Great and Blue Tit).

When we landed we quickly realised that some good new birds were near: Lesser Black-backed Gull, Barnacle Goose. During our visit we had also: Common Tern, Tufted Duck, House Sparrow, White Wagtail, Hooded Crow, Pied Flycatcher, Jackdaw, Oystercatcher, Common Starling, Fieldfare, Magpie, House Martin, Barn Swallow, Swift, Chaffinch and Blackbird. In the jails we saw Eagle Owl, Snowy Owl, Great Grey Owl, Ural Owl and Hawk Owl (click here for more images from the jailhouse): we still did not know that it was our only opportunity to see them.

28th May

Weather: cold and cloudy (some rain).

bird photo - Red-necked GrebeMoved towards Parikkala, with a short stop at Porvoo (beautiful - the old city!). We reached Siikalahti at 5 pm and we headed for the bird tower. Here we felt like to be home for the quantity of waterbirds, but we had other 6 new entries in our life list: Little Gull, Horned Grebe, White-backed Woodpecker, Smew, Whooper Swan. In the wood near the bird-tower we had a Phylloscopus', which we identified only at home as Greenish Warbler.

We stopped at the tower for a couple of hours and we got also: Shoveler, Mallard, Coot, Garganey, Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Black-headed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Cuckoo, Great Crested Grebe, Great Reed Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Chiffchaff, Marsh Harrier, Hobby, Yellow and White Wagtails, Bittern, Lapwing.

After having discovered all possible birds here, we drove towards Kerimäki in order to see the largest wooden church of the world. Unfortunately we reached the church some minutes after it has been closed. During the driving we added Great Spotted Woodpecker and Collared Dove. How nice to practice birdwatching after 9pm with sun light!

29th May

Weather: cold and cloudy (some rain).

Janne told us to visit a small (very small) lake along the main road no. 6 at Särkisalmi. With great pleasure we had there close views of other new species: Red-necked Grebe and Red-breasted Merganser, along with Goldeneye, Common Tern, White Wagtail and Marsh Warbler.

bird photo - Black WoodpeckerFrom Särkisalmi we headed North-East on the road no. 6, to make a round trip near the Russian border (Kesusmaa, Rasvaniemi, Kannas). This itinerary gave us the possibility of getting Common Rosefinch, Red-backed Shrike, Sand Martin, Yellowhammer (very common everywhere), Whinchat, Brambling, Osprey, Curlew (also very common).

We spend the rest of the morning again in Siikalahti, but did not find any new species.

At 3 pm we had been guided by Janne in search of new species: a wonderful sighting of Black Woodpecker at the nest feeding his three young, then a 25-member group of Cranes, completely satisfied our wishes.

30th May

The transfer to Oulu took almost the whole day.

We reached Liminganlahti at about 7 pm, but we had not been satisfied from that place, which is world-knew ad a bird paradise. Probably Spring still had not broke and we find there only: Whooper Swan, Black-Tailed Godwit, Redshank, Coot, Shelduck, Bean Goose, Mallard, Pintail, Shoveler, Wheatear, Marsh Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Pied Flycatcher.

At 9 pm we had appointment with a Finnature guide to spend the night searching for Owls. What a delusion! We have been carried out by the guide for the whole night without finding any kind of Owl. We even tried to contact Hazel Grouse with tapeplaying with no success. So our 1.000 FIM (!!) had gone for a Three-toed Woodpecker, a couple of Woodcock and a male of Capercaillie. Despite this, the night without darkness had been a great experience.

31st May

This day begun very early. We left our useless guide at about 5 in the morning. We drive towards another bird tower in Liminka bay and had: Ortolan Bunting, Jay, Rook, Lapwing, many Curlews, Reed Bunting, Lapwing, Tufted Duck and a wonderful male of Red-breasted Merganser.

Unsatisfied of this important bird area, we took the car and drove until Kuusamo-Kitka, where we realised that we would very appreciated our staying in a wonderful cabin just on the lake. In few minutes here we had: Rough-legged Buzzard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Redstart, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Siskin, Greenfinch, Hooded Crow, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Common Sanpiper and Curlew.

In the afternoon we decided to explore the lakes to North-West of Kitka. In a round trip of about 20 km we found out: Smew (4 females and 2 males), a Capercaillie female, Goosander, Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Wood Sandpiper, Yellow Wagtail, Redwing, Common and Arctic Tern, Ruff.

1st June

Cloudy but warm.

bird photo - BullfinchFollowing D.Gosney report, we reached the birdtower at Toranki Lake, but were deluded again. We could find there only Little Gull, Black-headed Gull, Teal, Wigeon, Goldeneye and a Marsh Harrier female. After that we headed for Koskenkylä and, at the end of the road we had: Yellow Wagtail, Bullfinch, Swallow, House Martin, Redstart, Common Crossbill, Chiffchaff. We decided to stop there some minutes and have lunch. What a good idea! A Great-spotted Woodpecker had chosen the same place to have lunch and showed itself at less than 3 meters while we kept shocked inside the car.

Getting back towards Kuusamo, we had been able to find the way to Kiurusuo (not easy to describe) and there we soon have a wonderful male of Black Grouse flying. After few minutes of stopping at the lake: a couple of Black-throated Loons, a pair of Arctic Tern and a pair of Common Scoter, Goldeneye, Cuckoo, Common Sandpiper and male Ruff.

2nd June

Following again the D.Gosney report, we tried Valtavaara ridge. Even here the Spring had not still arrived and so we found out no Bluetail neither Parrot Crossbill. The only species we found were Siskin, Redstart, Raven, Goldcrest, Brambling. Nevertheless we got satisfaction from the beautiful landscape from Valtavaara ridge in a sunny day.

3rd June

In the early morning we left our comfortable cottage (thank you again, Peter!) and headed for Ivalo. A two-hours stop at Kiilopää gave us other two very good new species: Arctic Redpoll and Bluethroat, along with Redwing, Magpie, Brambling and Chiffchaff. No traces of Lapland or Snow Bunting.

We reached Ukonjärvi Camping at about 8 pm. A short walk around the camping produced: Arctic Tern, Rough-legged Buzzard, Common Sandpiper, Redwing, Curlew, Arctic Redpoll and Bluethroat again, Pied Flycatcher, Brambling and my first Waxwing (easy to approach).

4th June

From Ivalo, we reached the Norwegian border in a couple of hours and at about 12am got to Varangerbotn. We did not find anything special at the beginning of the bay, so we drove towards Nesseby. Along the road we had some stops to see: Eider, Stellers Eider, Velvet Scoter, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Red-breasted Merganser, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Shelduck.

bird photo - Red-necked PhalaropeAt Nesseby church pond we finally found just what was written in several reports: Red-necked Phalarope (3 pairs) and Ruff, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, White Wagtail, Kittiwake, Arctic Tern.

At Vadsø we soon realised that many new species were easy to find: Dunlin, Turnstone, Ruff and Wheatear were everywhere. Found many Purple Sanpiper and then Bar-tailed Godwit and Horned Lark. But the top specie we had that day is White-tailed Eagle. A wonderful sighting of an adult with a captured fish, mobbed by Hooded Crows!

The road that leads from Nesseby to Vardø follows the coast line and is very good for birdwatching.

12 Km after Vadsø there is an island named Ekkeroy. It has a Kittiwake colony and we found there also Black Guillemot, Meadow Pipit a group of seven Knots along with Eider, Steller's Eider, Wheatear, Arctic Tern, Great Black-backed, Herring and Common Gulls, House Sparrow, Ringed Plover.

5th June

We had thought to reach Vardø and have a look at Hornoya island, but a snow storm forced us to change our plans. During the driving we watched a pair of Rough-legged Buzzard (probably near their nest). We had also Whimbrel, Pomarine and Parasitic Skuas, White-tailed Eagle, Glaucous Gull, Snow Bunting.

bird photo - Arctic SkuaIn the afternoon (at about 6 pm) the snow had stopped and we were under a heavy cloudy sky. Getting back to Vadsø we added two new species: Red-throated Pipit and a wonderful Short-eared Owl. Once in Vadsø we decided to watch more accurately the birds near Statoil petrol station. We found there: Little and Temminck's Stint, Bar-tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Herring and Common Gull. All these species within 15 metres of the shore.

6th June

The day after, the sun was shining bright and we decided to try again to move northwards. We reached Hamningberg at about 11am. During the driving we had: Parasitic Skua, Snow Bunting, Lapland Bunting, Rough-legged Buzzard, Wheatear, Herring, Great Black-blacked and Common Gull, Arctic Tern, Kittiwake, Eider, Steller's Eider, hundreds of Goosanders and a wonderful pair of Long-tailed Duck. In Hamningberg we looked out for about an hour. We found Black Guillemot, Gannet, Cormorant, House Martin, Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone.

We headed back to Vardø and the boat took us to Hornoya. We landed in a bird paradise, where thousands and thousands of birds were nesting.

bird photo - GuillemotsKittiwakes, Guillemots, Brunnich's Guillemots, Puffins and Razorbills were crying and flying all around. Shags were also nesting here. What a nice sighting! We had also: Great Black-backed, Herring and Common Gulls, Eider, Rock Pipit.

7th June

Time for birdwatching was ended. We spent the day in travelling southwards and in doing shopping at Napapiiri.

8th June

Our travel plan towards Helsinki included a stop at Viitasaari. While Daniela was having a rest I spent about an hour in search of birds nearby our Bed & Breakfast. With some 'pishing' I found Fieldfare, Blackbird, Redwing, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Siskin, Pied Flycatcher and a Great-spotted Woodpecker. There was also Common Starling, Hooded Crow, Magpie, Swift, Swallow and White Wagtail. During my short walk in the pine wood I quickly realised that mosquitoes were becoming very noising and I felt happy to move out from there.

Bird List

1. Black-throated Loon, Gavia arctica,
2. Horned Grebe, Podiceps auritus,
3. Great Crested Grebe, Podiceps cristatus,
4. Red-necked Grebe, Podiceps grisegena,
5. Gannet, Morus bassanus,
6. Cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo,
7. Shag, Phalacrocorax aristotelis,
8. Bittern, Botaurus stellaris,
9. Whooper Swan, Cygnus cygnus,
10. Bean Goose, Anser fabalis,
11. Barnacle Goose, Branta leucopsis,
12. Shelduck, Tadorna tadorna,
13. Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos,
14. Pintail, Anas acuta,
15. Shoveler, Anas clypeata,
16. Wigeon, Anas penelope,
17. Teal, Anas crecca,
18. Garganey, Anas querquedula,
19. Pochard, Aythya ferina,
20. Tufted Duck, Aythya fuligula,
21. Eider, Somateria mollissima,
22. Steller's Eider, Polysticta stelleri,
23. Common Scoter, Melanitta nigra,
24. Velvet Scoter, Melanitta fusca,
25. Long-tailed Duck, Clangula hyemalis,
26. Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula,
27. Smew, Mergellus albellus,
28. Goosander, Mergus merganser,
29. Red-breasted Merganser, Mergus serrator,
30. White-tailed Eagle, Haliaeetus albicilla,
31. Osprey, Pandion haliaetus,
32. Marsh Harrier, Circus aeruginosus,
33. Rough-legged Buzzard, Buteo lagopus,
34. Hobby, Falco subbuteo,
35. Capercaillie, Tetrao urogallus,
36. Black Grouse, Tetrao tetrix,
37. Coot, Fulica atra,
38. Crane, Grus grus,
39. Oystercatcher, Haematopus ostralegus,
40. Ringed Plover, Charadrius hiaticula,
41. Golden Plover, Pluvialis apricaria,
42. Lapwing, Vanellus vanellus,
43. Knot, Calidris canutus,
44. Purple Sandpiper, Calidris maritima,
45. Turnstone, Arenaria interpres,
46. Dunlin, Calidris alpina,
47. Temminck's Stint, Calidris temminckii,
48. Little Stint, Calidris minuta,
49. Wood Sandpiper, Tringa glareola,
50. Common Sandpiper, Actitis hypoleucos,
51. Redshank, Tringa totanus,
52. Black-tailed Godwit, Limosa limosa,
53. Bar-tailed Godwit, Limosa lapponica,
54. Curlew, Numenius arquata,
55. Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus,
56. Woodcock, Scolopax rusticola,
57. Red-necked Phalarope, Phalaropus lobatus,
58. Ruff, Philomachus pugnax,
59. Pomarine Skua, Stercorarius pomarinus,
60. Parasitic Skua, Stercorarius parasiticus,
61. Black-headed Gull, Larus ridibundus,
62. Common Gull, Larus canus,
63. Herring Gull, Larus argentatus,
64. Lesser Black-backed Gull, Larus fuscus,
65. Great Black-backed Gull, Larus marinus,
66. Little Gull, Larus minutus,
67. Kittiwake, Rissa tridactyla,
68. Glaucous Gull, Larus hyperboreus,
69. Common Tern, Sterna hirundo,
70. Arctic Tern, Sterna paradisaea,
71. Caspian Tern, Sterna caspia,
72. Puffin, Fratercula arctica,
73. Black Guillemot, Cepphus grylle,
74. Guillemot, Uria aalge,
75. Brünnich's Guillemot, Uria lomvia,
76. Razorbill, Alca torda,
77. Wood Pigeon, Columba palumbus,
78. Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto,
79. Cuckoo, Cuculus canorus,
80. Short-eared Owl, Asio flammeus,
81. Swift, Apus apus,
82. Black Woodpecker, Dryocopus martius,
83. Great Spotted Woodpecker, Dendrocopos major,
84. White-backed Woodpecker, Dendrocopos leucotos,
85. Horned Lark, Eremophila alpestris,
86. Sand Martin, Riparia riparia,
87. Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica,
88. House Martin, Delichon urbica,
89. Rock Pipit, Anthus petrosus,
90. Meadow Pipit, Anthus pratensis,
91. Red-throated Pipit, Anthus cervinus,
92. White Wagtail, Motacilla alba alba,
93. Yellow Wagtail, Motacilla flava (thunbergi),
94. Waxwing, Bombycilla garrulus,
95. Bluethroat, Luscinia svecica svecica,
96. Redstart, Phoenicurus phoenicurus,
97. Wheatear, Oenanthe oenanthe,
98. Whinchat, Saxicola rubetra,
99. Redwing, Turdus iliacus,
100. Fieldfare, Turdus pilaris,
101. Blackbird, Turdus merula,
102. Sedge Warbler, Acrocephalus schoenobaneus,
103. Reed Warbler, Acrocephalus scirpaceus,
104. Marsh Warbler, Acrocephalus palustris,
105. Willow Warbler, Phylloscopus trochilus,
106. Chiffchaff, Phylloscopus collybita,
107. Greenish Warbler, Phylloscopus trochiloides,
108. Goldcrest, Regulus regulus,
109. Spotted Flycatcher, Muscicapa striata,
110. Pied Flycatcher, Ficedula hypoleuca,
111. Great Tit, Parus major,
112. Blue Tit, Parus caeruleus,
113. Willow Tit, Parus montanus,
114. Red-backed Shrike, Lanius collurio,
115. Magpie, Pica pica,
116. Jay, Garrulus glandarius,
117. Jackdaw, Corvus monedula,
118. Rook, Corvus frugilegus,
119. Hooded Crow, Corvus corone cornix,
120. Raven, Corvus corax,
121. Common Starling, Sturnus vulgaris,
122. House Sparrow, Passer domesticus,
123. Chaffinch, Fringilla coelebs,
124. Brambling, Fringilla montifringilla,
125. Arctic Redpoll, Carduelis hornemanni,
126. Greenfinch, Carduelis chloris,
127. Siskin, Carduelis spinus,
128. Bullfinch, Pyrrhula pyrrhula,
129. Common Crossbill, Loxia curvirostra,
130. Common Rosefinch, Carpodacus erythrinus,
131. Reed Bunting, Emberiza schoeniclus,
132. Snow Bunting, Plectrophenax nivalis,
133. Lapland Bunting, Calcarius lapponicus,
134. Ortolan Bunting, Emberiza hortulana,
135. Yellowhammer, Emberiza citrinella,