Finland - Easter on the Artic Circle - Birdwatching

As the lengthening days of Spring signal the approach of Summer to the Arctic tundra, we headed far north for a long week-end to Finland.  The thought of spending Easter on the Arctic Circle was exciting and we hoped to see lots of owls and many other birds.  Unfortunately, we saw an awful lot of snow and and very little else.  

Normally, we put together our own itineraries for trips.  This time though, we were short on time to plan and we travelled on a small group trip organised by Naturetrek. 

My blog will always give you an honest account.  This was my first birdwatching holiday and it will definitely be my last.  It was so bad, it was actually funny though, so read more and enjoy a laugh with me!

 

Easter on the Arctic Circle Owl
Finland Itinerary

Best time to visit Finland

If you want to see lots of birds, don’t go in early April!  Finland is without doubt a beautiful country and I would like to go back one day on a holiday with a focus other than birdwatching just to prove to myself what I missed on this trip.

My Packing List

My trip would probably have been more fun if I had had a really powerful pair of binoculars and a massive telephoto lens.  With my tiny par of travel binoculars and an ordinary SLR camera, it was really quite difficult to spot birds from a distance.

If you do venture this far North in early Spring, definitely make sure you take all the warm gear you can lay your hands on.  For a birdwatching trip, you definitely needed thermal undies, snow boots, a down jacket, warm hat, gloves and several pairs of warm socks.  There was an awful lot of standing around in deep snow waiting for something to happen!

Owless Oulu

Flora and Fauna

If I was a more experienced birdwatcher and if I had had better equipment with me, it might have been possible to see more birds than I did, but the list below just about sums it up:

  • Pygmy owl
  • Northern Hawk Owl
  • Tengelman’s Owl
  • Red grouse
  • Siberian jays
  • Whooper Swans
  • Goosander
  • Siskins
  • A bluetit
Arrival in Oulu Northern Hawk Owl
Northern Hawk Owl
Arctic Circle Whooper Swans - Finland
Whooper Swans

Foodie Firsts

  • Reindeer

Read my full trip to Finland:

Easter on the Arctic Circle Owl

Easter on the Arctic Circle

As the lengthening days of Spring signal the approach of Summer to the Arctic tundra, we are heading far north for a long week-end to Finland to spend Easter on the Arctic Circle in search of owls, many other birds and (hopefully) reindeers.

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Finland
Arrival in Oulu Northern Hawk Owl

Arrival in Oulu

Arrival in Oulu – The light was beginning to fade by the time we got to the snow covered forest. The Northern Hawk Owl sat obligingly at the top of one of the tallest fir trees in the forest and – despite the failing light – I did manage to get a photo of him, although it was so cold that I hard to work hard to make my finger press the shutter button. With hindsight, this eventually turned out to be the highlight of the whole trip!

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Finland
Owless Oulu

Owless Oulu

It was hard to see how this trip could get any worse, but the suggestion was then made that a trip to the rubbish dump might be just the thing to raise the spirits. Seriously?! Yes – this was serious. Rubbish dumps are a food source of course, so there just may be some gulls there …  Yes, you guessed it, we waited two hours at the rubbish dump, but it was another no show.

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Finland
Arctic Circle Finland can be beautiful Europe

Putting a Pin in the Map at the Arctic Circle

We drove right up to the Arctic Circle in the afternoon, which took a long time, but it was sort of satisfying to be able to say we had actually been there and could justifiably put a pin in the map. Scary thought – if I am getting satisfaction from putting a pin in a map, maybe there is something of a twitcher in me? Let’s move on …

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Finland
Homeward Bound Finland can be really beautiful

Homeward Bound – Thank Goodness!

A 5.30 start was again scheduled – we didn’t go. Good move – bacon was back on the breakfast menu this morning and was still quite hot early on. Temperatures on the vans were -14 this morning and the only bird anyone saw was the red grouse, again. No Snowy Owls then (which was the one bird we had really both been hoping to see).

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Finland