10–15 September 2017
The Oulu region of Finland is a great autumn destination for birders. Thousands of waterfowl, waders and cranes use the wetlands as their last feeding site before migrating south. This tour will also visit some forested areas for such resident species as Black Woodpecker, Siberian Jay, Eurasian Nutcracker and Black and Hazel Grouse. Depending on the year, owls such as Northern Hawk and Great Grey are also possible.
Day 1 We will take a flight from London to Oulu, where we will be met by our guide. We will then make the 5-minute transfer from the airport to our hotel, situated right on the shore of the Kempele Bay wetland area and our base for the next five nights. There will be some time for birding before dinner, and on Kempele Bay we may find Red-necked Grebe and a few lingering Caspian Terns.
Day 2 Following an early breakfast, we will begin our first full day by visiting undoubtedly the best wetland in the whole of Finland – Liminka Bay. This wetland is renowned for its huge numbers of waterfowl: in September, the number of ducks reaches 5000 individuals, with hundreds of Northern Pintail, Smew and other northern species. Whooper Swans are starting to gather in the area in big numbers while the first flocks of Taiga Bean-geese are often found around mid-September. Raptors are numerous: several White-tailed Eagles patrol the area and Peregrine Falcons are often seen causing panic among the duck flocks. Near the shore it is often possible to see early autumn vagrants such as Long-tailed Tit, sometimes hundreds of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Eurasian Nutcracker and huge flocks of Red Crossbills. To round off our first morning’s birding we will enjoy lunch at the Liminka Bay visitor centre. In the afternoon we will check out the nearby fields in the hope of finding some migrating raptors; with a bit of luck, we may come across a Pallid Harrier or a Golden Eagle. In the evening we will travel to the nearby Tyrnävä and Muhos fields for one of the highlights of this trip – the breathtaking evening flight of over 10,000 Common Cranes! We can also expect to see some other interesting species here, such as Ruff, European Golden-plover and perhaps hunting Short-eared Owls and Northern Shrikes.
Day 3 Today we will take a 25-minute ferry crossing to the island of Hailuoto, where we will spend the whole day checking out the best birding sites before returning to the hotel for our evening meal. The island is surrounded by shallow sandy beaches and grassy meadows and wetlands, so it is no surprise that Hailuoto is a great place to see waders. In September there will still be hundreds of Dunlin and a handful of Little Stints, Black-bellied (Grey) Plovers and Sanderlings on the shores. We may also spot some rarer species such as a Eurasian Dotterel, a late Red-necked Phalarope or a Jack Snipe hiding in the grass.
Day 4 We will take a two-hour drive north today to visit an old-growth taiga forest in Syöte National Park. Within the area’s extensive spruce forests we will look for some typical species, such as Hazel Grouse, Black Grouse, Black Woodpecker and possibly Siberian Jay and Grey-headed Chickadee. If we are very lucky, the last Red-flanked Bluetails may still be on their breeding grounds during our visit. We will take our lunch today at the Syöte visitor centre, and in the late afternoon we will head back to Oulu for dinner at the hotel.
Day 5 This morning we will drive south along the coast to Siikajoki. We will visit a forested area that is good for Eurasian Capercaillie, Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker and owls. Although the latter can be difficult outside the breeding season, we hope to spot a Northern Hawk Owl or a Great Grey Owl. The whole morning will be spent at Siikajoki, after which we will make our way back to Oulu, stopping en route to check out some fields and coastal spots for such species as (Red-spotted) Bluethroat. In the evening we will drive back to Muhos to take another look at the always-enjoyable Common Crane roosting flight.
Day 6 We will spend the first half of our final day birding in the Oulu area to try and catch up with any species we may have missed earlier in the trip before returning to Oulu Airport for our flight back to London. There is also the possibility of a Brown Bear watching/photography extension in Kuhmo, for details please contact the Birdfinders office.
General Information This tour focuses both on birds and other wildlife with the pace mainly moderate but long hours will be spent in the field, with some early mornings and late evenings. Clothing and footwear suitable for walking and adverse weather should be brought. Finland has a high cost of living and everything is expensive compared with the UK, especially alcohol.
Group Size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 4; maximum group size: 12 with one leaders.