Jill and myself flew into Tampere Airport on the scheduled Ryan Air flight from Stanstead. We booked our hire car with Hertz and setoff for our long drive to Norway. We had no idea what we would see as the time of year was supposed to be bad for birding but we would try our best. We aimed to be at Oulu by day break but as we soon found out the roads were not that good with speed limits set at 100km and difficult winding roads
Monday 28th of July 2008
On the long drive north in the half light we had 2 SHORT EARED OWL perched on roadsigns but not much else which we could identify. We had a very small owl perched by the roadside but was not identified.In daylight we started to see Magpies and many HOODED CROWS and several RAVENS and 1 COMMON BUZZARD but nothing more . We stopped at the Arctic circle and bought a few souviners before haeding North. We had been told about the bird feeders at Kaamanen but we went to the wrong cafe so pushed on North to Utijoki where we visted the feeders at the Hotel. This was very good with ARTIC REDPOLL, MEALY and LESSER REDPOLL, BULLFINCH, GREENFINCH, TWITE and BRAMBLING and GREAT TIT but no PINE GROSBEAKS OR SIBERIAN TITS. We crossed the border into Norway and headed towards Nesseby which we expected to see Red Necked Phalarope but no sign of any and quite a dissapointment. We did add COMMON EIDER, LONG-TAILED DUCK, RINGED PLOVER, RED BREASTED MERGANSSER and GOSSANDER.
We pushed on past Vasdo onto Vardo in very poor weather conditions and saw very little until we arrived at Vardo Harbour. We had ARCTIC TERNS and few HERRING and GREAT BLACK BACKED GULLS before turning in for the night at Vardo HOTEL.
Tuesday 29th July 2008
We woke early despite our long drive the previous day and after breakfast we went down to the Quay to catch the boat to Hornoya Island. We got there at 8:40 am and we waited and no boatman arrived. I called the boatman at 9:30 asking wether they were going and he said yes of course at 9:00 which i replied its 9:30 and he said it was only 8:30 as Norway was only one hour difference from UK.
The boat was 250 Norwegian Kron which was a bit expensive but well worth the money. The boat trip lasted about 10 minutes and we were soon Landed on Hornoya Island a truely amazing place. There were birds everywhere. We soon ticked off BRUNNICHS GUILLEMOT which breeds at its most southerly point. The sea cliffs are home to thousands of sea birds including Puffin, Razorbill, Guillemot Kittiwake, Lesser Black Backed gulls. The cliffs are noisy with many birds feeding there young and puffins flying in with mouth fulls of sand eels. We were very fortunate with the weather as the skys were bright blue throughout the morning. Rock pipits and Red Throated pipts were both present as well as young Northern Wheatears.
We left the island around mid day and setoff along the coast road to Hamminberg. The open tundra seemed to be very quiet but we soon saw a fine Golden Polver close to roadside. There were reindeer almost everywhere either in large groups or singles in almost barren habitat.
We drove through an area none as Moon scape as the rock formation are almost out of this world. We soon found a small flock of Temmincks Stint roosting on telegraph poles and calling noisily. We stopped to see a redshank calling by a small river. We spent nearly two hours watching Red throated Pipit, Bluethroats , Reed buntings, willow Warblers,Temmincks Stints, Ringed Plover plus an obliging Mink which jill managed to photograph.
We left and continued on to Hamminberg but only added a Juv Purple Sandpiper which showed very well.On the drive back to Vardo we finally saw two distant white tailed eagles but they were along way off and not in photographic range. The White tailed eagle attracted the attention of several Arctic Skuas as it was mobbed as it passed by. We went back for our evening meal as the weather was poor and after dinner went to explore Vardo island. We had a small colony of Arctic terns but were very surprised to see no evidence of breeding. Redwings were quite common on the open tundra flying between isolated bushs.
Wednesday 30th July 2008
We woke to find the weather was very damp which meant we would not see much on our drive back. We decided to head straight for Vadso Island where we expected to see Red-necked Phalarope.We had a very bizzare event during the drive to Vadso as a police officer stepped into the road and stopped me for speeding, We were in the middle of nowhere and just passed the only two houses for miles. The officer said your 13 km to fast as i was going through a town. I nearly said what town but i realised best to agree with the officer. I was let off with a warning but he did say normally he would have fined me 2500 euro, but that meant arresting and taking away our passports. I then kept the speed on the limit and kept one eye on the speed at all times. On arrival at Vadso there was a brief break in the weather before the heavens opened up. This site was the last remaining airship stand where the great Airships of the past would dock . We walked to the small pool and found approximately 300 Red-necked Phalaropes all feeding together on a small pool. This was an amazing site with so many birds feeding and resting on the small lagoon. The weather was poor and we had to wait before taking pictures. Jill went back to the car and saw Red-throated Pipit and several Artic Redpolls.
We left Vadso island and headed west along the Varanger Fjord stopping briefly for the various scenic views. The weather improved throughout the day and just south of Varanger we had our first Rough legged Buzzards. Soon followed by two Golden Eagles. We stopped by a small river and found more Bluethroats along the rivers edge. We had a very long drive ahead as we were aiming to be near Kussammo by daybreak so would only stop if we saw anything interesting. We passed through some quite amazing scenry but saw hardly any birds. We decided to follow a dirt track which lead to an area of open tundra and willow scrub. The only bird of note was a breeding Ringed Plover which lead us away from the nest as it faked injury. We left after a bout 2 hours and pushed on south passing numerous lakes with nothing to note. Where are all the birds????.
We planned to visit the feeders