Wednesday 4 July 2012

Varanger & Lapland June 2012

Spent an enjoyable couple of weeks up in the north at the beginning of last month. There were many highlights, despite the fairly poor weather conditions we experienced. Below are a small selection of the photos taken during the trip.

Hawk Owl

Hawk Owls were pretty easy to find around Varanger this year with six broods and two individuals found all by the roadside with no effort. We spent a lot of time with them and took a lot of photos so the above shots are just a small proportion of my favourites.

Hawk Owl familys

Most of the six families we found had around 4-5 young. Only one family still had young on the nest (an old Hooded Crow nest) and this was the highest family we found- right on the tree line in the tundra. The top photo is naturally my favourite- the perfect tree stump imitation which fooled us for a good few minutes!

Hawk Owl prey

We saw a few Voles up near the tundra- there was plenty of evidence they are having a good season from holes and runs everywhere. We also witnessed an adult Hawk Owl from the family with young still on the nest taking a Vole and stashing it in an old Thrush nest- perhaps another sign of there being so much prey they are storing them for the frequent rain showers?

Long-tailed Skua

An icontic tundra species and one I have wanted to visit on breeding grounds since I was young. Unfortunately never really felt I did them justice so a definite excuse to go back.


Red-spotted Bluethroat

Northern Willow Warbler

Exciting......hmmm no. They were everywhere though, even up on the tundra where it was freezing cold and largely still snow covered. Bizare for a bird what we think of as a summer visitor.

Willow Grouse

Stunning birds- this one decided an outside loo was the best vantage point.

Arctic Skua

Arctic Redpolls

Great birds that were actually a real challenge to photograph. They often appeared tame but weren't really and required a bit of pre-empting as to their next move. The bottom shot is my personal favourite of the trip I think....

Rough-legged Buzzard

Seen most days but very hard to get close to!

Male Brambling

A good sized flock was present at the feeding station at Kaamanen in Finland on the our last day (13th) which included a good proportion of the stunning summer plumaged males.


Took a lot of photos of these beauties but due to the difficult conditions (rain, darkness, etc) I only really got a couple of decent shots. Be good to go back in the winter.

Red Squirrel

Cute as ever. Slightly greyer than our own Red Squirrels.