Wednesday 4 July 2012

More from Finland

The wonderful weather we enjoyed in May in Finland seems a long time ago, as our miserable rainy British summer continues. Here are a few more photos from our sunny days around Kuusamo, just south of the Arctic Circle, and almost on the Russian border. Here's a male Hazel Grouse, perched up in a budding birch. 

 After the owls, the grouse were the family that excited the group most. These two Capercaillie, male and female, were feeding by the side of the road, but flew as we approached and perched up high. Thanks to Miles, one of the Ornitholidays group, for sending me these two. Black Grouse are also flourishing in Finland, but the Willow Grouse is declining. The Willow Grouse is the same species as our Red Grouse, but on the continent it turns white in winter, and is often known as Willow Ptarmigan. 

Next comes a portrait of an Arctic Tern, taken close to our hotel by the lake in Kuusamo. Most of my photos are taken through the telescope ('digiscoped') but this tern was close enough not to need the scope treatment. After breeding, these record-breaking fliers migrate to the southern hemisphere, and many reach Antarctic waters. Hence, of all species on earth, the Arctic Tern sees the most daylight. 

The Siberian Jay is a species I especially wanted to see, having missed them on Arctic Norway tours in the 1980s and 90s. Bold during the winter, these subtly-coloured jays become silent and secretive in the breeding season. We increased our photo chances by throwing the pair scraps from our breakfast buffet. After eating the first few offerings, they disappeared to cache our later missiles for their future enjoyment.   

Our last two days were spent in the Helsinki area, where the sun still shone, and the days were positively hot. The Thrush-Nightingale is a close relative of our nightingale, also with a loud song. It is not often as obliging as this one, as it perched in the open, close to the path.