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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 will set out at night in search of short-eared owls and gyrfalcons, taking advantage of the glorious light of dawn and dusk. We will embark on an expedition into the waters of the Barents Sea to photograph a spectacular colony of gannets, as well as observe whales and other seabirds. We will explore Ovre Pasvik National Park to spot species such as the whooper swan, western capercaillie and willow ptarmigan. We will be 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!

  • 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-Varagnerbunto-Nesseby-Vadso-Ekkeroy-Hornoya-Vardo-Ovre Pasvik-Ivalo

Day 1

Our arrival in Ivalo, 250 km north of the Arctic Circle and nestled in the Finnish taiga, is scheduled for late afternoon. From here we head north to our destination: the Varanger Peninsula.

On the way, we will stop in Kaamanen, where the local restaurant provides feeders for birds such as the Siberian jay, the Siberian tit and the pine grosbeak, which we will use the next morning.

Even if we arrive at night, we will enjoy spectacular lighting conditions for our photo session in the restaurant thanks to the phenomenon of the midnight sun. After dinner in front of the large window, from which we can observe the activity of the passerine birds, we drive to our accommodation in the Finnish forests, just a few kilometers from the restaurant that we will visit again the next morning.

Day 2

We have breakfast in Kaamanen, where we will enjoy the sunrise and photograph not only birds, but also various squirrels that will get our attention with their acrobatics.

After lunch at the restaurant, we will drive to our accommodation in Kongsfjord, along a scenic road where we will stop depending on the species we see along the way.

We will try to photograph the white-throated dipper that visits the waters under a bridge to bathe and feed. Later we will keep driving, never taking our eyes off the road and always keeping an eye on our surroundings to look for herds of reindeer in the area.

We will continue along the great Tana River, flanked by majestic vertical cliffs where gyrfalcons and rough-legged buzzards usually nest. Once we reach the birch belt and before we enter the tundra, we will keep an eye on our surroundings, because it is possible to spot the northern hawk-owl in the daylight perched on the most exposed branches.

At dinner time we will arrive at the Kongsfjord Guesthouse, where we will spend the next few days. After enjoying traditional Nordic dishes, we will continue our exploration of Kongsfjord to observe various species such as black-throated loons, red-throated loons, red-necked phalaropes, purple sandpipers, and Temminck’s stints.

Day 3

We will have an early breakfast at Kongsfjord guesthouse and then head towards Båtsfjord for a photo session of a lek of ruffs as well as other typical species of the Arctic tundra that we will encounter during the tour, such as the snow bunting and the rock ptarmigan.

In Båtsfjord harbor we can observe from the jetties some seabirds, like the common eider and the long-tailed duck.

After lunch we will take a 3-hour boat trip to the gannet colony of Syltefjord. During the trip along the coast of Makkaurhalvøya Nature Reserve we will observe hundreds of them perched on the cliffs above the waters of the Barents Sea. With a little luck, we will also have the opportunity to observe pelagic birds such as the northern fulmar and the European storm petrel.

We will also be on the lookout for cetaceans, as it is not hard to see sei whales and white-beaked dolphins swimming in the Arctic waters. On our way back to Kongsfjord for dinner we will scout the surrounding lakes for possible sightings of red-throated loons and black-throated loons, which are frequent visitors to the small tundra lagoons.

Day 4

After breakfast in Kongsfjord we leave for Berlevåg to look for the white-tailed eagle, the long-tailed skua, and the Arctic tern.

As soon as we reach Berlevåg harbor, we will enjoy the flight of about a hundred black-legged kittiwakes, great black-backed gulls and European herring gulls, as well as the sighting of common eiders and long-tailed ducks.

After lunch in the village, we will return to Kongsfjord and take a short walk in the surroundings of our accommodation and into the territory of the gyrfalcon. Here we will also look for other small birds, such as the ring ouzel and the red-throated pipit, which reveal their location as they move from rock to rock. We will hike a little further north and visit aseries of abandoned bunkers and structures from the Second World War.

These fragments of European war history are buried under snow and ice in winter, but every spring they reappear, offering the opportunity to discover their corridors and halls. On the way back and before dinner, we will visit the mixed colony of Arctic and common terns nesting on the artificial beach of Kongsfjord, built as part of a conservation project by Skua Nature.

At the end of the day we will enjoy a barbecue in Veines on the pier closest to the platform where the great cormorants and Eurasian oystercatchers nest, so we can watch them while we eat dinner and say goodbye to Kongsfjord.

Day 5

We will have a hearty breakfast to recharge our batteries, for we have a long and exciting day ahead of us.

We leave early and keep an eye out for European golden plovers on the shore and double check the location of the northern hawk-owl, where we have a second chance to take the desired photo.

We will head towards the birdwatching stations of Varangerbunto, where we will spend the whole morning. These wooden huts built by the municipality offer the possibility to observe waterfowl species such as the common eider, the velvet and common scoter, as well as some wading bird species such as the Temminck’s stint and the Eurasian oystercatcher. After enjoying our packed lunch at the lookout, we continue our journey along the scenic road toward Vadsø.

As we drive, we keep an eye out for birds we can see from the van, such as the rock ptarmigan, white-tailed eagle, and rough-legged buzzard. Once in Vadsø, we leave the luggage in the rooms and prepare for the rest of the afternoon, when we will go in search of the short-eared owl.

We will visit the places most frequented by this species, such as Nesseby and the area around Vardø. If we do not see them, we will continue our search after dinner and explore new places like fishing villages, which together with the pink and orange lights will give us incredible photo compositions.

Day 6

We will reach Vardø through an underwater tunnel that connects this small island with the mainland, where we will stop for breakfast.

We will take a boat to the island of Hornøya, where more than 100,000 seabirds nest every spring, most of them migratory.

Hornøya is a unique place where birdwatchers can walk over a footbridge to admire the impressive groups of Atlantic puffins, razorbills, and common and thick-billed murres. On the island itself we will have a picnic lunch and spend the rest of the afternoon photographing at our own pace. We will retorn to Vardø on the last boat.

At sunset we will visit a point of great ornithological interest in the northwest, where various birds rest on their migratory routes, such as 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 perched on a cliff near Ekkerøy. It will not be difficult to observe different species of skuas bothering the gulls to steal their food.

After dinner we will go to an area where we will wait for the arrival of the molting mountain hare. The guide will instruct us in the methodology of photographing such a restless animal. Once we have taken our photos, we will return to Vadsø for the night.

Day 7

Early in the morning we will pack our luggage to leave our accommodation in Vadsø. We will have breakfast in Vardø and then start our last seabirds photo session in Hornøya.

After our packed lunch on the island, we will retorn to our van and head to Øvre Pasvik National Park, located on the border between Norway, Finland, and Russia.

The predominant biome in this park is taiga, characterized by pine forests, peat bogs and small ponds. On the way to the forest, we will pass through the area of Neiden, where nesting boxes have been placed, inhabited by smews and common goldeneyes, which can be found in the ponds next to the road, as well as black-throated loons. We will spend the whole afternoon exploring the forest and the small ponds, where we can find species such as the whooper swan and the jack snipe. We will have dinner in a typical Sami tent, which is open to the outside. There we will barbecue at a self-lit fire, accompanied by the lights of the midnight sun and only a few meters from our accommodation in the middle of the forest of Øvre Pasvik.

After dinner, we will go on a night expedition in search of the western capercaillie, hazel grouse, and black grouse. We will return to our accommodation for the night after trying to spot forest species such as the red crossbill, Eurasian three-toed woodpecker, and northern hawk-owl.

Day 8

 We will wake up early again with the first lights of the midnight sun in search of gallinaceous and forest birds.

Later we will make our way to Ivalo. Along the scenic route we will make a few stops to photograph different groups of reindeer, and with a little luck we will also spot moose hiding in the marshes. Around noon we will reach the airport 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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