Julian Sykes Wildlife Holidays

Finland - Owls and Growls

This fairly intensive week is designed to give us the best opportunity for finding lots of owls and aguably two of the most sort-after predators in Northern Europe. With the help of our local guides we have a very good chance of locating these normally 'hard to find' species around their home territories.

During our time in Finland and with the exceptionally long days we will be making full use of the daylight (within reason!). We shall visit flooded forests looking specialist Arctic breeding waders, iconic passerines such as Red-flanked Bluetail, Greenish Warbler and Rustic Bunting. We shall also be visiting 'leks' of Black Grouse and Capercaillie hoping to see their incredible courtships as well as Hazelhen - the ultimate 'Taiga Forest' skulker!.

N.B. each year there are certain fluctuations in population size within these key species and no guarantees can be made of success for any particular species. However we are confident of success with most targets.

Our focus slightly changes now with our last few in the Kontiovaara region, hoping to see two of their great predators - Wolverine and European Brown Bear. Nights will be spent in excellent purpose-built hides where carrion has been specifically put out for them on a daily basis so these opportunistic hunters know where to find a tasty meal. During our three visits we have a very good chance of seeing and even photographing these sought-after mammals along with the possibility of European Elk, Red Fox and even Golden Eagle looking for an easy meal - you never know your luck!

European Flying Squirrel as frequent these vast forests but it depends year on year as to whether there are any reliable and accessible resting holes, which we can visit at dusk to see them leave on their nocturnal forays - this rare mammal is by no means guaranteed!

This is not to be missed!

*By joining this tour you will be supporting a local nest box scheme for primarily the rarer breeding owls, giving them further nesting opportunities for our enjoyment*

Day 1 :- Arrive into Helsinki and then an internal flight to the northern Finnish town of Oulu, where we will check into the hotel right next to the airport, consequently maximising our potential time in the field. Although this is essentially a travelling day we shall be spending some time searching the surrounding area for specialty species, with hopefully 'at least' one target bird under our belt.

Days 2 & 3 :- These two days will be spent searching for owls, from the magnificent Great Grey, Eurasian Eagle and Ural Owls, to the diminuative Tengmalm's and Pygmy Owls which in previous years have all bred in this area. We will have the assistance of an expert and more importantly 'well-informed' local guide so locating these should not be too difficult and demanding. These extensive 'taiga' forests are also home to good numbers of 'peckers' with Black and Three-toed Woodpeckers being at their breeding nest-holes. Other species we hope to see as we travel around should include Whooper Swan, Hen Harrier, White-tailed Eagle, Broad-billed and Terek Sandpipers, Temminck's Stint and Siberian Gull.

After lunch on the third day we will make the 3 hour transfer north to Kuusamo looking for bird en-route.

Day 4 :- We have a full day around Kuusamo, which is very near the Russian border and has a distinct siberian feel as it holds many of the extreme 'northern taiga' specialties such as Siberian Jay, Siberian Tit, Siberian Gull, Red-flanked Bluetail, Pine Grosbeak and Rustic Bunting. This is lekking season and we shall make an early morning visit to a couple of sites to hopefully watch the amazing courtship of both Black Grouse and Capercaillie, along with finding Hazelhen and Willow Grouse. Despite being quite long this day will leave another lasting memory of life in these harsh surroundings.

Days 5 - 7 :- Today we are moving again and following some final pre-breakfast  birding around Kuusamo targeting any species that we have missed, we shall then continue our adventure south to the Kontiovaara region and the town of Lieksa. This is simply one of the best site for Wolverines in the region and we shall spend two evenings in a purpose built hide just 30Km from our hotel in the town of Lieksa.
Once checked into our hotel and after a late lunch, we shall take our first evening in the hide which is just a short drive of around 30 minutes. The hide allows excellent opportunities to watch wildlife from the comfort of log cabins and professional hides in a natural environment.

Wolverines are fed throughout the year and are regular visitors, with Brown Bear being an occasional visitor at this time of year. We spend a full night in the hide, we shall then return to our hotel during the morning for breakfast and time to rest.
After having had sufficient time to rest in our hotel during the morning, we shall then take a leisurely afternoon and some lunch, before heading off once again to spend a second night in the hide. Once again, we shall be on high alert for mammals, though of course there are also good chances of some night birds too.

After the rigors of a pretty intense wildlife week today will be more relaxed with some diurnal mammal and bird watching around the forests of the area until early afternoon. We shall then take a break for a few hours until it starts to get dusk and go out searching for one of the rarest mammals in Europe - Siberian Flying Squirrel. The chances of seeing one is very slim and all depends on the skills of the local guides who know which holes they sleep in during the day. At the very least we should see evidence of them in the surrounding forest.

Day 8 :- After some more local birding we shall make our way to Joensuu airport, which will take us to Helsinki and on to the UK

Three centre accommodation in good standard hotels with some en-suite facilities and serving excellent cuisine. Even the nights in the hide will be surprisingly comfortable although our hotel in the centre of Lieksa does not have en-suite rooms it does have a sauna block with personal showers for your use.

What's been said...

This is the first time we have run this short break and we are very excited about the prospects and chances of success in seeing most of these enigmatic species. We hope you are also enthused by its potential.

Julian Sykes



Cost £2190
Based on sharing a twin/double room.

Single Supplement - £270
Deposit - £500
Minimum Group Size - 6

Price Includes:

  • 7 nights accommodation at local hotels with en-suite facilities.
  • All meals
  • All transport costs
  • Use of mammal watching hides
  • Information pack
  • Daily check list
  • Use of field guides & maps

Price does not Include:

  • All flights
  • Travel and contents insurance.
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Items of a personal nature.
  • Tips/gratuities

Flight are not included in the price quoted, however we are happy to help arrange these for you if required at no extra cost.

4th - 11th June 2016
(see icon guide)

Highlights -

  • Wolverine & Brown Bear from comfortable purpose-built hides
  • Outside chance of Flying Squirrel
  • Potentially 7 species of owl
  • Rare European woodpeckers
  • Fabulous Taiga Forest and glacial lakes
  • Hazelhen, Capercaillie & Black Grouse
  • Rare breeding birds - Red-flanked Bluetail, Rustic & Little Buntings

Target Species:

  • Wolverine
  • European Brown Bear
  • Flying Squirrel
  • Eurasian Elk
  • White tailed Eagle
  • Pallid Harrier
  • Willow Grouse
  • Black Grouse
  • Hazelhen
  • Capercaillie
  • Broad-billed Sandpiper
  • Terek Sandpiper
  • Siberian Gull
  • Great Grey Owl
  • Ural Owl
  • Hawk Owl
  • Tengmalm's Owl
  • Pygmy Owl
  • Short-eared Owl
  • Wryneck
  • Three-toed Woodpecker
  • Black Woodpecker
  • Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
  • Thrush Nightingale
  • Red-flanked Bluetail
  • Blyth's Reed Warbler
  • Siberian Tit
  • Siberian Jay
  • Little Bunting
  • Rustic Bunting

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