Enontekiö Lapland and Northern Norway from 20th to 26th of August 2002

A trip to Enontekiö and Alta begins

After a hard bird-work-summer it was time to start a hard bird-holiday and we left north to Enontekiö where my brother Pirkka lives and from there we continued to Altafjorden and Lyngen.

With Hanna we left from Oulu on the 20th of August by bus and after a couple of changes of buses we were finally in Enotekiö Hetta. We still had time to visit a new Joentekiäinen bird-tower but only interesting birds were some Waxwings and a Hen Harrier. Anyway the scenery was beautiful.

Walking in fjelds

On the 21st of August after a long night sleep we left at 6 a.m. towards Ketomella. On the way we stopped a couple of times and had a Red-throated Pipit in Vuontisjärvi and a family of Great Grey Shrikes in Peltovuoma. Finally Pirkka dropped us to the place where our long walk started; Pirkka had to go to work. We had planned to walk 30 kilometres along Ounas-Pallas National Park trail back to Hetta.

I was carrying my scope and in the beginnig we were walking through some pineforests and small bogs where we saw several flocks of migrating Common Crossbills, some Siberian Jays, lots of Mistle Thrushes and Waxwings and so on. Soon we came to National Park and the forests changed to birch-forest and after some climbing there was no trees at all anymore. There we saw plenty of Lapland Buntings, a couple of Kestrels, Hen Harriers and Rough-legged Buzzards; it seemed there were many Lemming eaters around.

Soon we found the first Peregrine Falcon that was mobbed by 2 Kestrels and a little bit later we found a sub-adult Golden Eagle soaring far over fjelds.

After some climbing along the hillsides of Ounasfjeld we found a family of Snow Buntings from the top of Pyhäkero. There we walked a lot in rocky ground and it was really hard work because of it was getting very warm. But finally we found a couple of families of Ptarmigans, 2 males, 2 females and altogether 13 young birds. Males were calling and somewhere further a third male was calling too. We of course photographed these birds well before we continued walking.

Later we still found a family of Golden Plovers and after 30 kilometres walking we were on the shore of Lake Ounas and we got a taxi-boat to the other side of the lake to Hetta.

To Altafjorden

The next day we were just relaxing after a hard walking day. Of course we visited Sotkajärvi bird-tower in the evening and saw 2 Peregrine Falcons and on the way back to Hetta we saw a Three-toed Woodpecker in Muotkajärvi.

On the 23rd of August we left towards Norway. After we had crossed the border, we started to collect Norway-ticks. I had been in Norway only in spring so there were plenty of new ticks coming: Mistle Thrush, House Martin, Pintail… In Kautokeino we stopped and visited Juhls silver-workshop.

When we started to get near Altafjorden the scenery changed: pine-forest, lush leaf-forests and high mountains. A Black-throated Diver and Waxwings were seen before we finally saw the Arctic Sea in Alta and there we saw Black Guillemots, Red-throated Divers, hundreds of Eiders and so on.

It was already getting late so we stopped only in good looking places. We photographed a tame young Shelduck and the first porpoises were seen on the sea.

Finally we parked to Längenesjolmen (Isnestoften) to a shore where we had on our previous visit seen an Iceland Gull. It was the westernmost spit of Finnmark so Pirkka hoped to get still some Finnmark-ticks there. The scenery was amazing, high mountains were rising straight from the sea around us.

We put up the tent very close to the sea and still walked for some time on the beach. Hanna was collecting seashells but soon the sun set down and we went to sleep.

Around the fjords

On the 24th of August we woke up very early and it took 15 minutes to get out. There was already lots of action in the air! Greylag Geese were calling and Arctic Skuas were mobbing a Peregrine Falcon. It didn’t take long that we were completely awake!

Soon we found the first Kittiwakes, a Long-tailed Duck, Cormorants, 2 Shags, 2 White-tailed Eagles flew over us and we heard Two-barred Crossbills calling from the sky.

Hanna went to walk to the beach but the tide was very high now so she just photographed some Eiders. We stayed there watching to the sea for several hours and saw still a Dunlin, a Merlin, a Common Scoter and a Yellowhammer and so on.

After all we had to keep on driving and we drove around many fjords. In Langfjordbotn (Finnöyra) we saw Bar-tailed Godwits and altogether we saw several Lapwings, Oystercatchers, Ringed Plovers, Dunlins, Spotted Redshanks, Shelduck families and Common Terns. A single Wood Pigeon flew over us too.

We also saw a Herring Gull carrying a huge sea star. Hanna would loved to see the seastar better but all other birds were chasing the gull so after all it flew in the middle of the fjord to eat it alone.

To Tromsø

We crossed to border to Tromsø province and the first spruce-forest producted some species that we hadn’t seen in Finnmark at all like a Robin. From Sorstrammen bridge we saw a couple of Grey Herons and about 20 Greylag Geese.

In Kväenangsfjället the road got higher to the mountains and there we saw a big falcon briefly and we were quite sure it was a Gyr Falcon. Unfortunately we saw it too briefly.

In Rodsund we saw a Bean Goose in a flock of Greylag Geese and then we got to our target place to Lyngen and there we drove to Spåkenes where was a hide for birders.

Spåkenes wader-place

The tide was starting so the waders were still pretty far: 2 Sanderlings, 25 Curlew Sandpipers, 15 Little Stints, 50 Knots, 500 Dunlins, 60 Ringed Plovers, a Turnstone, Ruffs and so on. Also 10 Arctic Skuas, 23 Shelducks, 35 Greylag Geese, a White-tailed Eagle, 3 Kittiwakes, a Merlin and 40 Velvet Scoters were seen.

The tide was getting higher and all waders were pushed closer and closer to us and soon there were only a couple of reefs that were full of birds. Then many birds had to leave to other places or to continue their migration.

We also continued and decided to stop after a couple of kilometres to watch to the sea. After some searching I found a small seabird floating far in the middle of the sea. Luckily it was coming closer slowly and after some waiting we could identify it as a young Puffin. It was a lifer to me and Hanna!

While we continued our way we laughed how we started to get used to mountains. Our last and 74th Norway-tick was a Rock Pigeon in Skibotn.

We crossed the border to Finland in the evening and the mountains changed to lower and more roundish fjelds. In Kilpisjärvi we started to plan where to tent. There we saw a tame young Peregrine Falcon perched no a top of an electric pole.

After all we decided to drive to the eastern part of Lake Siilas to tent. The place was perfect, Red-throated Divers were calling in flight while we fell asleep.


The 25th of August. Our last day was spent in Saana. We wanted to find some fjeld-specialities. There had been Ring Ouzels, Long-tailed Skuas, Dotterels and a Gyr Falcon earlier in summer.

We started early and after we had heard a Tree Pipit we started to climb up to Saana. After some walking in low birches, we started to walk in junipers. Pirkka had to go to do morning sit somewhere to bushes and right then we found a female Ring Ouzel! Almost in same time a Peregrine Falcon flew over us and a family of 9 Willow Grouse was running almost under our feet.

After we had photographed the Willow Grouses we found Pirkka and he was a little bit jealous but shit happens! But soon we heard something like a Raven calling from the top of the fjeld and it wasn’t a Raven but a Ptarmigan female with 6 chicks! These Ptarmigans wee very different in colouration than the ones we had seen in Ounaskero. These were much greyer.

From the top of Saana we found a couple of families of Snow Buntings. Meadow Pipits and Northern Wheatears were common; also a couple of Red-throated Pipits were heard. We decided to walk down to Lake Saana and from there we walked back to the Ring Ouzel place. And luckily we find the bird again and Pirkka was happy. Only a couple of Kestrels were seen anymore and after about 20 kilometres walking we were back to Pirkka’s car.

We still visited Kilpisjärvi research station before left to drive towards Hetta. Between Kilpisjärvi and Karesuvanto we saw 13 Rough-legged Buzzards and in Jietajänkä we saw a Great Grey Shrike.

Back to home

Next morning we took a bus to Rovaniemi and there we changed to a train. In Tervola we saw a Nutcracker from a window. It was a long way home but finally we made it in the evening.

Altogether we had seen 94 species of birds during our trip. And we had seen amazing landscapes! So we had really enjoyed!