Kuusamo Special Forest Birds And Stunning Scenery Finland May 2018

Kuusamo Lake 2018 1

Early morning at our lovely hotel in Kuusamo, Finland, stunning.

Kuusamo is an area of forested hills and lakes and holds many special birds; we spent three nights here to ensure we had plenty of time to really enjoy it. An early morning “grouse drive” was just spectacular, flat clam conditions and blue skies allowed perfect reflections in the lakes and the air was just so clean. It was a joy being out in the forest pre-breakfast, two Capercaillie showed briefly, gorgeous breeding plumaged Black-throated Divers were on the mill-pond waters, Greenshank displayed overhead, a Whimbrel stood on a dead tree, Common Redstarts sang all along the tracks. A gang of Parrot Crossbills put in a brief appearance as we turned back towards the hotel for a super breakfast.

We took a wonderful walk through the pine forest to look for more special birds. A damp birch wood by a lovely river looked perfect for Rustic Bunting; Tuomas’s went to check it out and bingo, Rustic Bunting! We carefully followed Tuomas through the young birches and waited. We first heard the “tick” call of the bunting then it was there in a small pine! What a stunning looking bird the male Rustic Bunting is, not easy to photograph though as it was always on the move.

Picnic Finland 2018

We made it to the top of the hill and the views were amazing.

Walking further into the forest the path climbed uphill and we could here Brambling singing and Siskins calling but we were looking for another special bird. A rather soft song reached us through the tall spruce trees, Red-flanked Bluetail! The song came closer but we could not see this Robin sized beauty, very frustrating. We walked up and down but despite the bird still singing no sight of it, now it was getting maddening. Finally we spotted it, on top of a tree further away than it sounded, whew, the views were poor but we were just happy to get our bins on it. A little further up the path another male Bluetail was singing and this one sounded really close, and it was! What a stunning little bird, blue, orange and white, we were stunned by the beauty and the close eye-level views this male was a real show off!

Red-flanked Bluetail Finland 2018 1

We sat quietly and watched this bird feeding and singing in the low birch trees and on the ground a thrilling encounter. Further up a Hawk Owl posed for us in the sunshine, a thrill to come across one in the forest. The views from the hill top were breath-taking with a vast vista of forests and lakes laid out below us.

Three toed Woodpecker Finland 2018 PG

What fantastic views of Three-toed Woodpecker - photo by Paul Graber.

Our great friend, Finn Hannu Jannes, was staying at the same hotel with his group of birders in Kuusamo and of course we swopped information. One day Hannu had taken a wrong turn in the forest, easy to do it all looks the same, and as he turned around he hear a call. Stopping to listen Hannu found a Three-toed Woodpecker a species none of us had a site for this year! We visited the spot the next day just in case the bird was still about, amazingly it was! This smart black, white and yellow woody put on an amazing show for us. A species we had more or less written off this tour was now drumming on a dead tree right in front of us in full view. We could even count the toes the views were so good. But the Three-toed Woodpecker was up for more this lovely bird flew low over our heads and landed low down near the ground. We watched and the bird dropped onto the ground and hammered away at a tree stump and then pulled out a large white grub which it swallowed whole! What a privilege to watch all this behaviour – thanks Hannu!

Siberian Jay adult 1

We enjoyed super views of Siberian Jays at two sites near Kuusamo.

Here are a few of the wonderful species of bird that we encountered on this year’s trip…

Red-throated Diver, Black-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, White-billed Diver, Red-necked Grebe, Whooper Swan, Taiga Bean Goose, Tundra Bean Goose, Garganey, King Eider, Long-tailed Duck, Velvet Scoter, Smew, Honey Buzzard, White-tailed Eagle, Hen Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Rough-legged Buzzard, Golden Eagle, Merlin, Hobby, Peregrine, Gyr Falcon, Hazel Grouse, Willow Grouse, Ptarmigan, Black Grouse, Capercaille, Common Crane, Avocet, Dotterel, Temminck’s Stint, Purple Sandpiper, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Ruff, Jack Snipe, Woodcock, Whimbrel, Spotted Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope, Arctic Skua, Pomarine Skua, Long-tailed Skua, Little Gull, Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, Brunninch’s Guillemot, Black Guillemot, Puffin, Hawk Owl, European Pygmy Owl, Ural Owl, Great Grey Owl, Short-eared Owl, Tengmalm’s Owl, Snowy Owl, Wryneck, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, White-backed Woodpecker, Three-toed Woodpecker, Shore Lark, Red-throated Pipit, Waxwing, Dipper, Thrush Nightingale, Red-spotted Bluethroat, Red-flanked Bluetail, Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Greenish Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Siberian Tit, Crested Tit, Great Grey Shrike, Siberian Jay, Brambling, Mealy Redpoll, Arctic Redpoll, Parrot Crossbill, Common Rosefinch, Pine Grosbeak, Lapland Bunting, Snow Bunting, Ortolan Bunting, Rustic Bunting, Little Bunting.

What an amazing list of highlights! Huge thanks to Rachel and Mike, Paul and Shirley, Hugh, Kirsten and all our amazing friends in Finland and Norway that made this a simply superb trip. Do come and join us in 2019 you will love it! Please email us here for details….


For details of this and all our Birdwatching Trips, small groups just six guests with at least two guides to give the best experience. We look forward to enjoying great birds with you.

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