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FINNMARK SPRING WILDLIFE

DISCOVERING THE MIGRATORY BIRDS OF NORTHERN NORWAY

A unique experience in search of migratory birds and the wildest species of the Arctic in spring.

A trip for all nature lovers, wildlife photographers, and ornithologists.

DURATION: 8 days
MAXIMUM NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS: 5
DATES: May 14-21
ACCOMMODATION: Hotel – Guesthouse
TRANSPORTATION: SKUA Nature van – Boat
MEALS: Restaurants – Packed lunch
DIFFICULTY: Easy – Support from guides expert about the area
INFORMATION: SKUA headquarters: info@skuanature.com – +39 0141 918349

ALWAYS CHECK “VIAGGIARE SICURI”: http://www.viaggiaresicuri.it/

VISAS AND VACCINATIONS: In accordance with the applicable health regulations: https://www.viaggiavventurenelmondo.it/info/covid

The migration of birds is a natural wonder. With the onset of spring and the thaw, the tundra vegetation returns and various species such as the horned lark, the Eurasian dotterel and the long-tailed jaeger come to this unique habitat to spend the summer and raise the next generation. Ruffs set up their leks and are the stars of the season with their nuptial plumage, while reindeer and moose roam freely on the plateaus of the Varanger Peninsula. The arrival of thousands of migratory birds transforms Hornøya Island into the crown jewel of northern Norway. Species you can photograph up close include puffins, European shags, murres, and razorbills. The midnight sun shines above the Arctic Circle, and the sky is filled with terns flying and the calls of loons. During the endless 24 hours of daylight, we set out at night in search of short-eared owls and gyrfalcons, taking advantage of the glorious light of dawn and dusk. We are always accompanied by our expert guides to discover these and many other species of birds that come to Norway during the breeding season such as the red-necked phalarope, the Eurasian oystercatcher, and the European golden plover. More than 100 species like the white-throated dipper and the white-tailed eagle are waiting for you. Do not miss this wonderful opportunity, contact us now!

BASIC FEE: 2.245€ (flight not included)
COMMON FUND: 0€

  • On-site transportation and excursions
  • Driver and expert guide in birdwatching, wildlife, and photography
  • Access to optical equipment (telescope) and field identification guides
  • Accommodation for 8 days
  • Menus and other meals
  • Round-trip flights
  • Supplement for private bedroom
  • Travel insurance
  • Tips
  • group life
  • photography
  • ornithology
  • wildlife
  • spring
  • expert guides

Itinerary

Ivalo-Kaamanen-Kongsfjord-Batsfjord-Syltefjord-Berlevag-Veines-Nesseby-Vardo-Vadso-Hornoya-Ekkeroy-Ivalo

Day 1

We will arrive in Ivalo in the late afternoon, 250 km north of the Arctic Circle and nestled in the Finnish taiga. From here we will drive north to our destination: the northern Varanger Peninsula. On the way, we will take a break in Kaamanen, where the local restaurant has set up bird feeders frequented by species such as the Siberian jay, great grey owl, and pine grosbeak. Although we arrive in the evening, thanks to the phenomenon of the midnight sun, we will enjoy spectacular light conditions for our photo session of these tireless birds. After our dinner in front of a large glass window through which we can observe their activities, we will return to the Finnish forests for the night, just a few kilometers from this exceptional feeding ground, which we will visit again the next morning

Day 2

We will have breakfast at the restaurant, where we will spend the morning photographing Siberian jays and pine grosbeaks. After lunch we will drive on a scenic road to our accommodation in Kongsfjord, where we will make a few stops in case we spot interesting species. Near a small bridge we will stop to observe the white-throated dipper, which visits this spot for bathing and feeding. Later we continue without taking our eyes off the road to check the surroundings as we might see herds of reindeer. The moment of greatest attention will be near Tana, where a pair of northern hawk-owls was easily photographed last winter, and we will try to locate it. We will have dinner at Kongsfjord Guesthouse, where we will spend the next days. After enjoying some Nordic dishes, we will continue our exploration of Kongsfjord to observe different species such as black-throated and red-throated loons, red-necked phalarope, purple sandpiper, and Temminck’s stint.

Day 3

We will have breakfast at dawn at Kongsfjord Guesthouse so we can begin our photo session of groups of ruffs during their courtship ritual (the males fight over the females in specific areas called “leks”). After waiting, we drive to the harbor of Båtsfjord, where we can observe some seabirds from the jetties. Approaching Båtsfjord we will make some stops to observe characteristic species of the Arctic tundra such as snow buntings, rock ptarmigans and horned larks. After lunch we will take a 3-hour boat trip to the gannet colony of Syltefjord. On the way along the coast of Makkaurhalvøya Nature Reserve we will observe hundreds of animals perched on the cliffs above the waters of the Barents Sea. With luck, we will also have the opportunity to see pelagic birds such as the northern fulmar and the elusive European storm petrel. We will also be on the lookout for whales, as it is not hard to spot dolphins and whales swimming on the surface of the water.

On the way back to Kongsfjord, where we will have our dinner, we will search the surrounding lakes for black-throated and red-throated loons which are common in the small tundra lagoons. Other species we may see on the way back to our accommodation include the European golden plover and the merlin.

Day 4

After breakfast in Kongsfjord, we will drive to Berlevag to observe white-tailed eagles, long-tailed jaegers, and Arctic terns. Once we reach Berlevag harbor, we can observe the flight of hundreds of black-legged kittiwakes, great black-backed gulls, and European herring gulls, as well as common eiders and long-tailed ducks. After lunch on site, we will return to Kongsfjord for a short walk near our accommodation and make our way to the gyrfalcon area. Here we also go in search of other small birds like the ring ouzel and the red-throated pipit, which reveal their location as they move from rock to rock. We will continue north to visit a series of abandoned bunkers and structures from World War II. These fragments of European wartime history are buried under snow and ice in winter, but each spring they reappear, offering the opportunity to walk through their corridors and rooms. On the way back and before dinner, we will visit the mixed colony of Arctic terns and common terns nesting on the artificial beach created by Skua Nature. We celebrate our last evening in Kongsfjord with a barbecue on the jetty closest to the platform where cormorants and Eurasian oystercatchers nest. After dinner we make one last trip to the ruff’s leks around Kongsfjord for a photo session with the midnight sun just before bedtime.

Day 5

We will have a rich and energetic breakfast to prepare for a long and exciting day. We will leave early and stop once again at the site of the northern hawk owl, where we will try to take the desired shot. We will continue to the wooden birdwatching stations of Varangerbunto built by the community, where we will spend the whole morning. They offer the opportunity to observe marine species such as the common eider, velvet and common scoters, as well as some waders such as the Temminck’s stint and the Eurasian oystercatcher. After our lunch at the lookout, we continue our journey along the scenic road towards Ekkeroy. Along the way, we will keep an eye out for birds we can see from the car, including the white-tailed eagle and the rough-legged buzzard. Once in Ekkeroy, we will leave our luggage in the rooms and prepare for the rest of the afternoon. We will go in search of the short-eared owl and visit places frequented by this species, such as Nesseby and the Vardo area. If we are not successful, after dinner we will continue our search near the fishing villages, which together with the pink and orange lights will offer us incredible photo opportunities.

Day 6

We will reach Vardø through an underwater tunnel connecting this small island to the mainland and have breakfast. We will take a boat to Hornøya Island, where more than 100,000 seabirds nest each season. Hornøya is a unique place where birdwatchers can admire the impressive flocks of puffins, razorbills, and common and thick-billed murres on a walkway. During our visit to Hornøya, we witness the courtship rituals of these birds as they exchange gifts or fight over territory. On the island we will have a packed lunch, so we can be as flexible as we like during our photo session and return to Vardo with the last boat. In the afternoon we will visit some points of great ornithological interest, including the harbor itself, where Iceland and glaucous gulls can be seen, and the northwestern part, where various birds rest on their migratory routes: the European golden plover, redwing, red-throated pipit, and many others. Before dinner we will visit an impressive colony of thousands of black-legged kittiwakes on a nearby cliff. It will not be difficult to observe different species of jaegers bothering the gulls to steal their food. After dinner, we will take a short walk around Vardo in search of waders, anatids and the coveted short-eared owl before returning to Ekkeroy for the night.

Day 7

We will have breakfast in Vardo and then start a second photo session of migratory birds in Hornøya, where we will enjoy a walk around the island. After returning to Vardo, we will go in search of another group of ruffs that our team has sighted in the same area in previous years and have another photo session there. After dinner, we head to an area where we will wait for the arrival of the Arctic hare in its molting phase. The guide will instruct us in the methodology of photographing such a restless animal. Once we have taken our photos, we will return to Ekkeroy for the night.

Day 8

At dawn we will set off for Ivalo. Along the scenic route we will do our morning photo session, where the reindeer and with a little luck the moose will give us a few last shots. We will get to the airport around noon and say goodbye until our next adventure.

Midnight sun
The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon that can be observed north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle, where the sun is visible 24 hours a day around the summer solstice. This phenomenon is a direct result of the interaction between the translational motion and the Earth’s axial tilt: the Earth rotates around the Sun at an angle of about 24°, so the Northern Hemisphere is more exposed to the sun between May and August, in summer. The further north we are, the more intense the interaction, so that beyond the Arctic Circle the sun never disappears below the horizon during the boreal summer.

Whooper swan, common eider, common scoter, long-tailed duck, goosander, smew, rock ptarmigan, red-throated loon, black-throated loon, northern fulmar, gyrfalcon, European golden plover, red-necked phalarope, ruff, long-tailed jaeger, glaucous gull, Iceland gull, black-legged kittiwake, Arctic tern, puffin, black guillemot, thick-billed murre, razorbill, northern hawk-owl, horned lark, red-throated pipit, grey-headed chickadee, Siberian jay, Arctic redpoll, pine grosbeak, short-eared owl, short-eared owl, northern gannet, reindeer, moose, Arctic hare.

  • Photo lenses: Lenses with a focal length of at least 400mm are recommended for nature photography. For landscape photography, a wide-angle lens is ideal.
  • Clothing suitable for outdoor activities. Temperatures are above 0°C and can reach 10-15°C. It is very important to choose clothes that provide comfort and safety.
  • Mosquito repellent, sunscreen and/or moisturizer.

Birdwatching, van rides, boat rides, visit to Hornøya, visit to Kaamanen, excursion to bunkers, Arctic barbecue.

  • Check possible documents required due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Travel insurance is required.
  • We strongly recommend booking flights that allow for refunds in case of cancellation or change.

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