Tour At A Glance

Cost:

2899.00

Deposit:

450.00

Single Room Supplement:

375.00

Tour Code:

Advanced with long hours in the field including early starts and late finishes.

Group Size:

Eight plus one Leader. Fourten plus two leaders

King Eider Terek Sandpiper Hawk Owl Siberian Jay

Finland & Norway - Arctic Magic

Date: Tour not currently operating
Leaders: Markku Hukkanen & David Pearce

Itinerary

 

DAYS ONE - THREE
Fly London/Helsinki/Oulu. Upon arrival, we will be met by our guide and transfer the short distance to our hotel. Oulu area is best known for its breeding owls, which include Eurasian Eagle Owl, Ural Owl, Great Grey Owl, Tengmalm’s Owl, Short- eared Owl and Pygmy Owl, most years also Hawk Owl and Long-eared Owl  all of these species are however dependent upon the vole situation. We shall spend some of these days in the forest and have an excellent chance of seeing these, at close range. Other possible forest species are Black Grouse, Capercaillie, Black, and Three-toed Woodpeckers. Just south of Oulu, we visit Limminganlahti - an important wetland reserve that is home to a multitude of wildfowl and shorebirds including Eurasian Curlew, Common Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Ruff, Common Crane, Little Ringed Plover, Caspian Tern, Black-tailed Godwit and Northern Shoveler, Red-breasted Merganser and Garganey. Broad-billed Sandpipers should be migrating in late May, as well as small numbers of Dotterels. Terek Sandipper, Pallid Harrier and Citrine Wagtail are rare breeding birds in the area and are naturally our targets, too.
Overnights at Airport Hotel Vihiluoto
 
DAY FOUR - SIX
We drive east through the beautiful northern landscape blanketed with forests and bogs, lakes and rivers to Kuusamo, a small city near the Russian border. We make stops en route for birds at some impressive wet bogs and large lakes, where we have good chances to see Smew, Common Crane, Osprey, Common Scoter and Whimbrel, amongst others. We can expect to encounter a veritable feast of eastern specialities in the expansive taiga forests. Species such as Red- flanked Bluetail, Rustic and Little Buntings, Two-barred Crossbill, Pine Grosbeak, Siberian Jay, Siberian Tit, Black Woodpecker, Rough-legged Buzzard and Bohemian Waxwing all breed here. The climb up Valtevaarra Hill for Red-flanked Bluetail is steep and the birds are never guaranteed to be singing, though the views are magnificent. Hawk Owls breed in the area and we have been lucky enough to find a pair at the nest in previous years. Whilst in the area, we take advantage of the twenty-four hour daylight for a night time forest safari and “grouse drive”. Black Grouse, Willow Grouse, Hazel Hen and Capercaillie all normally provide excellent views. Red-necked Grebe, Little Gull, Pied Flycatcher and Common Redstart are also present. 
Overnights at Sokos Hotel Kuusamo.
 
DAY SEVEN
Following breakfast, we drive north to Ivalo. Time allowing, we might have a short evening excursion for some of the local specialities.
Dinner and accommodation at Hotel Ivalo
 
DAY EIGHT  
We take another long drive north to the Varanger Peninsula and the shores of the Barents Sea. On the way we will make birding stops in the pine forests and roadside bogs of the north. Birds possible to see include many of the Taiga species such as Siberian Jay and Pine Grosbeak and wetland species of which displaying Jack Snipe is of special interest. Also a visit to a roadside bog should produce our first Lapland Buntings. As we enter Norway, we will visit Tana River Delta, which is a traditional breeding site for Gyr Falcon and where large numbers of Goosander and Arctic Tern may be present, as well as Temminck’s Stint. From the delta we continue over high altitude tundra to Båtsfjord, a small harbour town on the northern edge of Varanger peninsula. The tundra is home for Rock Ptarmigan and Gyr Falcon. Also the magnificent Snowy Owl is sometimes seen on the fells. The rocky coastline and tundra offer many excellent birding locations. Sea watching site offers chances to see Glaucous and Iceland Gulls and Black-legged Kittiwakes. On the other hand, the conditions can be harsh even at this time of year, so it might require plenty of clothes to go sea watching on the arctic coast! 
Dinner and accommodation at Euro Polar Hotel in Båtsfjord, Varanger Peninsula.
 
DAYS NINE & TEN 
We drive again over the fjells and via the Teno River Delta to the Varanger Fjord itself. En route, as well as during next few days, we search for shorebirds such as Whimbrel, Red-necked Phalarope, Temminck’s and perhaps Little Stint, Ruff and Bar-tailed Godwit, as well as species such as Red and Black-throated Divers, Steller's and King Eiders, Velvet Scoter, Rough-legged Buzzard, Long-tailed and Arctic Skuas, Glaucous and Iceland Gulls, Snowy and Short-eared Owl, Bluethroat, Arctic Redpoll, Shore Lark and Snow Bunting. We will make an half a day excursion by boat [weather permitting] to the large seabird colonies on the islets of Reinoya and Hornoya, home of thousands of northern birds. The Hornoya Nature Reserve is the easternmost of the protected bird colonies in Norway, home of about twenty five thousand pairs of Black-legged Kittiwakes and one hundred and fifty pairs of European Shag. Large numbers of northern alcids breed here; Brunnich’s Guillemots, Common Guillemots, Black Guillemots, Razorbills and several thousand pairs of Atlantic Puffins! There are wonderful opportunities here for photographing birds. There will be nice walk all the way up to the top of the island where there is lighthouse. From there we will get excellent views of the Arctic Ocean- with a lot of fishing boats. The arctic waters are also home to seals, which we may see from the boat to the island. We will also make an excursion to Hamningberg -the very end of Europe connected by road from Vardö. The road to Hamningberg is something special. The expression "the end of world" comes in mind when you travel here. The landscape is wild and calm with a lot of variations in between... Sometimes it looks like you are on the moon, the next minute you can mistake the beaches for the Mediterranean! We take several short excursions by foot to the Tundra and to the bogs. The latter especially should be teeming with birdlife; breeding Red-throated Diver and arctic shorebirds. We will do some sea watching from Hamningberg, hoping to see Northern Gannets, Blue Fulmars, Arctic and Long-tailed Skuas or even Beluga Whales!
Overnights Hotel Vardö.
 
DAY ELEVEN
Today we travel along Varanger Fjord before heading back towards the Finnish border, making birding stops en route, catching up with any species we may have missed.
Dinner and accommodation at Tana Bru.
 
DAY TWELVE
Time permitting; we will bird locally before transferring to Ivalo for the flight to Helsinki and the onward connection to London arriving in the evening. The tour will conclude upon arrival.
 

 

Additional Information

 

 

WHAT’S INCLUDED
Return flights London/Helsinki, internal flights, eleven nights en suite accommodation, airport taxes, dinners and breakfasts throughout, services of leaders, transport, boat trip and reserve entrance fees.
 
NOT INCLUDED
Transport to/ from UK airport and any overnight stay that might be involved, travel insurance, lunches, drinks and items of a purely personal nature.
 
PASSPORT, VISA & HEALTH
Visas are not required by UK nationals. Passports must have 6 months validity beyond the return travel date. Standard health and innoculation requirements apply for UK nationals, visit www.masta-travel-health.com to check these and if necessary, download a free health brief to take to a travel appointment at your local medical practice. 
 

 

Tour Reports

 

2001  2003  2005

 

Testimonials

 

“An excellent and rewarding two weeks. Keep up the good work and hope to travel with you again soon” A.O. Lincoln

 

“I enjoyed the ability of the leaders to find the more elusive species.” P.B. County Tipperary.

 

“Thanks for a most enjoyable holiday” W.G. County Tipperary.

 

“A most enjoyable trip” B.S. Surrey.

 

"It was a very enjoyable trip though as expected hard work with the predicted late nights and early mornings. Markku was a very good leader who worked tirelessly to show us the birds but was also very personable too. The owls were the undoubted highlight as we had wonderful views of Great Grey, Ural, Tengmalm's, Pygmy and Hawk but we also enjoyed the regions only known pair of Terek Sandpiper and after much effort Hazel Grouse and Capercaillie. Red-flanked Bluetail was found but other passerines were not so forthcoming unfortunately as with a late spring some had not arrived - it seems there is no perfect time to visit Finland!! Other important species seen included Corn Crake, White-tailed Eagle and Three-toed Woodpecker. The food was far better than functional - that description does it a disservice as it was rather better than that and we had some very tasty dinners. All in all it was a good trip and we are already looking forward to planning our next one. S & A N. Norfolk

 

"Just to say how much I enjoyed the Finland tour despite the early starts and rubbish tip!! Markku was great and please pass on my thanks to him" C H Orkney

 

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