Mammals and prime taiga spring birding
An itinerary built around watching Finnish Wolverines during the spring. To watch the world’s largest mustelid the best option is to spend some nights in specially designed hides. Furthermore, two other large carnivores – Brown Bear & Grey Wolf – might be viewed from the same hides. The hides are suitable for both photography and observation. We will look for a Siberian Flying Squirrel family as they leave their nesting tree. We will watch Saimaa-ringed Seals from a boat while cruising through the archipelago of the Linnansaari National Park. Observations of Forest Reindeer and Elk are all possible from our vehicle as we traverse the forests. Excursions to look for some specific Scandinavian bird species are all on the itinerary: five species of Nordic owls – Ural, Pygmy, Tengmalm’s, Hawk and Great Grey plus White-backed and Three-toed Woodpeckers, four species of grouse – Black, Hazel, Willow and Capercaillie. Passerines aren’t ignored and high on the list to find will be Red-breasted Flycatchers and Red-flanked Bluetails amongst many other species. So, an intensive, one week trip for those eager to see as much wildlife as possible occurring in Eastern Karelia and Finnish no man’s land!
With the disappearance of a snow covered landscape and an ever increasing amount of daylight, Finland changes rapidly in spring. From first light, passerines are actively calling in the forest, woodpeckers and owls busy feeding their chicks and grouse gathering near their leks to display. Migrating cranes, geese and swans will have returned from their wintering sites too. However it is not only the birds which are becoming more active: bears are awake and desperately hungry, Wolverines are on the move to find food for their new-born cubs, Saimaa-ringed Seals are sunbathing on lake boulders and Siberian Flying Squirrels are present in nesting holes in nearby trees.
Ending or starting with a cruise
During a boat trip through Linnansaari National Park, guided by a local expert, it is all about spotting the rare and endemic Saimaa Ringed Seal. At this time of year the seals are moulting so May-June is the best period to locate them. Together with European Beavers and some nice birds (Osprey, Black-throated Diver, European Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser), this cruise will be a splendid way to start or ending this Finnish wild life holiday.
Nights will be spent in specially designed hides which we will use from around 4pm until around 7am the following morning. Although there are a number of different hides based in different areas they all overlook regular feeding areas that are visited by the resident predators. Although moving slowly and whispering is standard hide behaviour most of the hides have enough room to move about without too many limitations. All of the hides are specially designed for photographers complete with tripod head mount screws and cloth sleeves to push a camera lens through. The hides cater for singles, duos and small groups. All have long-drop toilets, a bunkbed and a chair to sit on. Sleeping bags are provided as to are snacks and drinks.
To compensate spending a night in a small and basic hide it is possible to recover and rest till noon in nearby base camps or rustic hotels.