Why come nature watching in Finland?

As the easternmost country in Europe, Finland has many species of birds that are not easy to get to see elsewhere, e.g. Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Red-flanked Bluetail, Arctic Warbler, Pine Grosbeak, Yellow-breasted Bunting and Little Bunting.

The fact that Finland is located in the coniferous forest zone means that there are good chances of seeing many of the northern forest species. Of the game birds, the Capercaillie, Black Grouse, Hazel Hen, Willow Grouse and Ptarmigan are frequently to be seen, and of the woodpeckers one finds the Grey-headed, Three-toed, White-backed and Black varieties. The most interesting species of all, however, are owls, of which there can be as many as 10 species nesting in Finland in a good year, ranging from the tiny Pygmy Owl to the huge white Snowy Owl. The pine forests and mountain birch zone of Northern Finland have numerous species with a markedly northern distribution, such as the Parrot Crossbill, Lapland Bunting, Siberian Jay and Siberian Tit.

Many birds of open habitats, e.g. the Ortolan Bunting, have become rarer in other parts of Europe but are still relatively common in Finland, while the largest of our terns, the Caspian Tern, is an example of the impressive range of seabirds. The waders that nest on our bogs are also of interest, as many of them are seen in other parts of Europe only in the course of migration or in their winter plumage. These include the Broad-billed Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope, Jack Snipe, Wood Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint and Ruff.

The sight of a Crane or a Whooper swan, the Finnish national bird, building its nest is something one can never forget. Similarly diurnal birds of prey such as the Gyrfalcon; that magnificent master of the wildernesses, the Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle and Rough-legged Buzzard of Forest Lapland abound. Finland’s popularity with ornithologists is also greatly enhanced by the incomparable sights provided in late May and again in September-October by the mass migration offshore and water birds over the country on their way to and from the arctic. The best times for seeing this are the middle of May in Southern Finland and the end of May in the Oulu area, while the summer migrants and eastern rarities reach Lapland some time in the middle of June. July and August are usually somewhat quieter nesting months. There are often interesting rare eastern species such as Richard’s Pipit or Yellow-browed Warbler to be seen in September or October. Autumn is also the best time for seeing eastern migrants such as the Waxwing, three species of crossbill, the Pine Grosbeak and the nutcracker on their invasion.

A virtual birdwatching tour of Finland

Great Grey Owl Strix nebulosa © Jari Peltomaki

Unspoiled nature and the peace of the countryside. When you arrive in Finland on a birdwatching tour you will be coming to a country with an unspoiled natural environment, to enjoy the wind sighing in the forests, the light sparkling on the surfaces of the lakes and the freshness of the clean air. Finland has 69% of its area covered by forests and 10% by water (a total of 187,888 lakes). The majority of the forests are owned by ordinary private citizens, and the Right of Common Access allows everyone to benefit from nature by walking, skiing, hiking, canoeing, rowing, gathering mushrooms or berries or watching the birds in the countryside wherever they please provided they do not cause any damage to the environment or any inconvenience to the landowners. Separate permits are required for hunting and fishing.

You will also find peace and quiet in the Finnish countryside. As the country is very sparsely populated (only 17 inhabitants per square kilometre on average); it is easy to find a peaceful spot where you can hear nothing but the sounds of nature itself without any human disturbance. You can study the birds of the area entirely on your own if you so wish – by hiring a cottage in the depths of the countryside and sitting out on its porch. It is in the countryside that you will meet up with the historical roots of everything that is Finnish. The whole panorama of the peasant farming culture will be there before your eyes. You can enjoy tasty Finnish food prepared from high-quality, pure local ingredients, and will have the opportunity to experience the closeness to nature that is characteristic of the traditional Finnish way of life.

Djupivogur might be an interesting choice for birdwatchers because visitors can experience unspoiled nature and see most species of Icelandic birds in their natural environment. The birdlife around there is of great variety, as is the landscape of this area with its three fjords, Berufjordur, Hamarsfjordur and Alftafjordur. Valleys are separated by mountains, which rise steeply from the fjords. There is a wide variety of natural features around Djupivogur which play their part in supporting the the variety of diverse array of local birds and wildlife. Alftafjordur and Hamarsfjordur are important stop-overs for birds like the common eider, the common scoter and many species of ducks and waders. Up to 3.600 black-tailed godwits have been seen there at the same time. The black-tailed godwits have been studied and ringed for many years and the area is therefore, very important. It is also listed as an IBA by Birdlife International. Marsh, ponds and beaches near Djupivogur are ideal for breeding and many species can be found there. Ducks like the common shelduck, northern shoveler breed there and also birds like the slavonian grebe. Mammals such as seals and reindeer can also be seen there frequently. Some areas around Djupivogur are internationally recognised and must be protected.

Major Source:  Fatbirder

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Map Source:   Wiki Commons

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