On Friday the 4th of July I finally had a week off from work. We left right away towards north with Hanna. We had a tight schedule as I didn’t want to miss a WC football match, so we drove straight to Pudasjärvi Syöte to my brother Rikus summer-cottage. Riku had left the key for us so 15 minutes before the first match of the evening started, we were ready there.
On the 5th of July we slept long and during late morning we went to walk to Vattukuru, but it was quiet. Only a goshawk with a prey was seen. During the day we slept again until Riku arrived with his daughters. In the evening we were eating, chatting and of course watching football again.
On the 6th of July we left early towards Kemijärvi and one the way in Taivalkoski we saw a couple of female Capercaillies and in Posio a Short-eared Owl. During the day we celebrated my other brother Pirkkas son, our god-children Tuukkas confirmation. There were only most of the closest relatives so the day was very nice. In the evening we put up a tent outside and went to sleep.
On the 7th of July we slept long again and didn’t hurry at all as we hadn’t been together with Pirkkas family for too long time. But finally we did some plans and after 10 a.m. left towards Finland’s arm. It was a long drive but finally in Muonio we turned to Pallas. We drove up to the hotel and soon we found a couple of Grey Wagtails! They were probably breeding on the hotel roof?
We ate very well on the restaurant and celebrated our 14th anniversary which was on the next day. The food was really excellent! Hanna had Reindeer and I had a Pallas-steak. Then we left to walk 8 kilometers long track up to Taivaskero. There were surprisingly many insects but we managed to find 4 families of Dotterels, 4 Snow Buntings, 6 Northern Wheatears and 2 Bluethroats. There were also many Reindeers on the top of Taivaskero where was more wind to keep insects away.
After that we still walked a little bit in a forest along Pallas-river but found nothing special; only a couple of orchids were found. We still went to see Pallas-lake but didn’t find a good place to overnight so we continued towards north.
In Muonio Kätkäsuvanto we stopped to twitch a Little Bunting that had been heard a couple of days earlier. Surprisingly the bird started to sing right at midnight and we even managed to see it shortly. We still drove a long way and then finally stopped to a place where we found a good place to put up the tent. Hanna saw a couple of Ring Ouzels briefly but they vanished too soon. But when we were going to sleep a Ring Ouzel started to sing and soon there were 3 of them singing nearby! But there were so many mosquitoes outside our tent that we stayed in and started to sleep.
Twite and Ptarmigan
On the 8th of July we woke up when it started to be too hot inside the tent. We still had some driving to Kilpisjärvi but most of the drive we had something to do as our car was full of mosquitos, even though we tried to get in very quickly. Finally we turned to biologic station and there we soon found the famous feeder where has been a couple of Twites visiting in previous summers and also this summer. We met a worker who told that some birders have been trying to see the Twites for a couple of days and sometimes they have been lucky sometimes not. But only after 30 minutes or so first a couple of Redpolls arrived to the feeder and soon after them one Twite came too!
So soon we were ready to go to try to find an accommodation for the next 2 days as I wanted to see the semi-finals. Luckily we found a nice enough cottage from Arctic Polar.
We slept a couple of hours and then went to walk to Saana. First we walked on the willow-forest on under the cliffs but found nothing interesting. Then we started climbing up to Saana. On the way we heard a couple of Ring Ouzels. Hanna of course photographed also some flowers.
Once we got high enough, we walked to the rocky plateau which looked perfect for Ptarmigan. We had to walk quite a lot before we finally found one. When Hanna arrived to take pictures of it, she flushed 4 tiny chicks that probably left from the nest. So we just took a couple of pictures and let the mom collect her babies that luckily had stopped only 1 meter from us.
Once we were back in our cottage I watched the beginning of the first semi-final but there was no need to stay up for too long as Germany really beat Brazil bad.
On the 9th of July we slept long and then did a short morning trip and saw a Merlin, a Rough-legged Buzzard and heard one more Ring Ouzel. After we had eaten, we left to walk to Malla. We walked 12 kilometers in very hot weather until Kitsi water-fall. The landscape was beautiful but not many birds were found; a Rough-legged Buzzard, a Merlin, a Ring Ouzel and some Bluethroats. In the evening I watched the second semi-final where Argentina won Holland in penalties.
On the 10th of July we slept only until 3:45 a.m. and at 5 a.m. we were on the parking place of Halti hiking tracks. We had packed everything with us and soon started a long walk towards the wilderness. Right away we heard some birds calling from the birches and realized that there was a flock of Two-barred Crossbills – 10 birds. Also lots of Redpolls, Bramblings and some Bluethroates were heard while we started to walk in a hard rocky path. Once we were walking pass the first small lakes we found 2 Redshanks, 2 Greenshanks and heard a Wood Sandpiper. After 2 hours walking we found the first Lapland Buntings and soon there were quite a few of them around. After one more hour we found a couple of small pools and found a Red-necked Phalarope and soon after that we found 3 Long-tailed Skuas which at least a couple seemed to be breeding.
After one more hour walking we started to follow very faint patches that were mostly made by Reindeers. Unfortunately we had chosen to go under one mountain and close to one lake which was a mistake. The ground was extremely wet from the water that was coming down the hillside where still was quite a lot of snow. After an hour we somehow managed to get through without getting our shoes completely wet.
Then we still climbed a little bit higher and finally after 7 hours and 15 kilometers walking we decided to put up our tent. We cooked and while eating we saw a Dotterel in flight. Soon we were ready to go to sleep.
We woke up about at 8 p.m. and ate again. Then we packed only something to eat and drink into our back-backs and left to another long walk to the mountains. We still had a long way to walk to our main destination.
After some walking we found a Dotterel that had nest very close to us. So we continued soon. After a couple of hours walking we had found a Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlins, a Temminck Stint and 7 Whooper Swans. Finally we climbed up to the top of mountain where we found 2 small lakes. We first checked the rockier one but there were only 3 Long-tailed Ducks swimming. Then we walked to the shore of another one and right away we heard some strange wader calls. There it was – a Purple Sandpiper! Not many birders have seen this species in its breeding grounds in Finland! It was clearly having its nest nearby so we just took some photographs and left it. We had planned to stay along the lake for some time, but there were so amazing numbers of mosquitos that we had to start walking back right away.
Soon we found a flock of 21 Long-tailed Skuas but then only 1 new Ringed Plover was seen later. Somehow we managed to walk the way back to our tent very fast, so about at 2 a.m. we were going to sleep again.
We had been sleeping only a few hours when we woke up to a thunder-storm that was coming straight over us. When the lightning was getting too close to our tent we had to rush out as we were afraid of the lightning hit the tent. Of course we were soaking wet soon but luckily the storm moved away soon and it stopped raining. Anyway we had no idea if there were more rains coming as there was no phone or internet connection. So we decided to eat just a little and then wait for some time to get our clothes and tent dry and then packed everything and started a long way back at 8:15 a.m.
We decided to climb up to the mountain tops to get the connection and to avoid the wet part. Luckily it seemed that there were no more rains coming soon so it was ok to go high to the open tops. We heard a Dotterel calling somewhere and then ate well before started to walk down to the valley. There we heard the same breeding Long-tailed Skuas again and later we saw 3 Ringed Plovers and a Dunlin. After a couple of hours walking our feet started to hurt a lot! Sols were really in pain! The ground was so hard and rocky all the time that we really suffered so we had to start having breaks after every walked kilometer and I also did put my feet to extremely cold streams.
So after all it took much longer to come back even though we were walking quite a lot downhill. We saw one Redshank again and then once we got to the birch-forest there were some Bluethroats again. Finally we were back to our car after 4 p.m.
We did some shopping and soon started to drive towards south. On the way it started to rain very hard so we stopped to sleep in a cooler car for a couple of hours. In Hietajänkä we saw a female Peregrine hunting and then in Vähäniva we saw a completely wet Hawk Owl on the electric-wire. We stopped in Sotkajärvi but it was still raining and all the ducks were so far that we couldn’t identify most of them. There were also so many mosquitos that we really wanted to keep on going soon.
We had great pizzas in Olos in Restaurant Kammari and after all we drove until Sodankylä where we stopped to the driest-looking forest to put up the tent. Anyway there were so many mosquitos that we had to be quick to get in and soon we were asleep.
On the 12th of July we continued driving at 7 a.m. and at 9 a.m. we met Pirkka in Kemijärvi. With Pirkkas car we continued to a bog-area where we saw a Black Woodpecker before we stopped. We walked for some time into the middle of the bog and soon had a Peregrine alarming over us. It really looked good that it was breeding! After some more walking we realized that there were even 3 adult Peregrines on the sky but one of them was chased away. After some searching we finally found the nest and there were even 4 white furry nestlings! Pirkka ringed them while we were helping him – what a great moment!
We were happy when we drove back to Kemijärvi where we ate, chatted for some time and then we had to start driving again. We drove to Kuusamo where Hanna realized that there might be some orchids flowering in Oulanka. So we drove there and managed to find several species! Of course we visited Kiutaköngäs rapid too and saw a Siberian Jay and a Short-eared Owl before continued towards south.
While listening to the bronze-medal match we drove until Sotkamo where we decided to drive to Losonvaara to sleep. There had been even 6 Red-flanked Bluetails in spring but still one singing one week earlier. So after some time we had the tent up in the middle of nice spruce-forests and were ready to sleep.
Back to home
On the 13th of July we woke up at 5 a.m. when a Red-flanked Bluetail started to sing just over us. Anyway we were too tired to get out so we continued sleeping until 10 a.m. when the forest was quiet already. We cooked some food and saw and heard a Rustic Bunting while eating. Soon we were ready to start the last drive of the trip.
In the afternoon we were finally back at home after 2700 driven kilometers and 75 hiking in the wilderness. We hadn’t got any plans when we had left from home but we had really had a quite amazing trip after all! Our only hope had been to experience something new but after all Purple Sandpipers and a Twite had been species that we had never seen in summer in Finland before and ringing the nestlings of Peregrine had been really nice too. And I must say that we had also seen a Gyr Falcon on its nest but I won’t tell you anything more about it.