May The 21st 2018 A Day That Will Live Long In The Memory

Ural Owl Finland

Ural Owl peers down at us as we marvel at her, magical.

This morning we went down to the woods for some lovely surprises. Our wonderful local guide, Tuomas, had arranged to meet up with local bird ringers carrying out their regular survey work; we were very privileged to join them. Meeting on a remote forest track it was great to meet up with Perti again, a very experienced ringer who has studied Ural Owls in particular for some fifty years! Perti is a mine of information and we could have listened to his tales about the owls for days, but he had work to do. We were to accompany him to check on a nest-box that he hoped contained a Ural Owl, very exciting. Perti carefully and slowly climbed to the nest-box and gently lifted the lid, big smile, yes the owl was there. Very gently lifting the owl from the box Perti climbed down to check the ring number and it was an old friend of his! A female Ural that he had ringed many years ago so was used to being handled by Perti. Surprisingly the nest box still contained eggs, Perti had hoped to find chicks old enough to ring! But he could see one egg was actually hatching so now knew just when to time his next visit to ring the chicks. A magical experience to see this owl expert at work in the field.

European Pygmy Owl Finland 201

He might be small but he is fearless - Pygmy Owl.

Next we met up with another local ringer and this time a tiny European Pygmy Owl nest box. We were very lucky as we found the male bird nearby and enjoyed super views of this pint sized owl.

Not far away, by a lovely lake there are a few in Finland, we watched a dead tree. Not any old dead tree of course, this one had some very special residents, White-backed Woodpeckers! We had great views of the female bird coming and going to the nest hole. The superb Leica telescopes allowed wonderful views from a safe distance so the birds were not disturbed at all.

Now you are probably thinking, well that was a pretty good day? And indeed we would agree had we stopped there sure all our six guests would have been delighted, but there was more, much more. After dinner we headed north from our new base at Oulu and met up with a third ringer for more adventures. First we visited an area of damp fields where we were spellbound by Common Snipe and Curlews displayed overhead as Ruff fed by the pools, Whinchat showed off and then a stunning male Pallid Harrier drifted ghost like over the grass, oh wow! This small yet superb raptor weaved across the grassland before melting into a stand of trees, did we just see that? Yes we did! A thrilling encounter in a stunning location with a fabulous sound track.

Great Grey Owl Finland

The just wonderful Great Grey Owl you have to see this bird.

Oh but there was more. A Short-eared Owl showed briefly as we made our way to a birchwood and our local expert took us to the nest of a Great grey Owl that was monitoring. The female bird was in small birch tree nearby staring at us with those yellow eyes, surely one of the best birds on the planet? Well we think so.

Tengmalms Owl 2018 1

Tengmalm's Owl showing very well at dusk, hence poor light.

Oh but there was more. Our ringer friend was going to ring a brood of Tengmalm’s Owls as part of his on-going studies of this species. What a fantastic experience to accompany him on this part of his work. The female Tengmalm’s Owl peered out of her nest box and then popped out. Luckily she landed close by, used to the experience for sure, and we soaked up the views of this often hard to see bird. The five chicks were quickly, measured and ringed and popped back in the box and we left quickly elated with the evening.

Oh but there was a little more. Driving back to our comfy hotel we saw an elk in a field by the road! Tuomas quickly turned around and we had a look at this huge mammal before it slipped away into the forest, yet another wow on a day full of wow!

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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