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Great Gray Owl by Jari PeltomäkiFINLAND!
Owls, Grouse, & more
May 28 - June 3, 2017


Combine this tour with
NORWAY: LAPLAND &
the VARANGER Peninsula

June 3 - 9, 2017>

Trip Cost & Travel Planning>>

Registration Form>>

Contact gina@sunrisebirding.com to reserve your space!

 

Wild and unspoiled, Finland is home to some of Europe’s most sought after birds. In the easternmost region of Europe, Finland sits at the western edge of the vast Siberian boreal forest and offers a variety of northern forest birds rarely found in other parts of Europe. Ten species of owls, five grouse, seven woodpeckers and 27 species of wader, a selection of eastern passerines offer birding rewards like nowhere else in Europe.

 

Hazel Grouse by Jari PeltomäkiOur tour is designed for the best chances to see Eurasian Eagle Owl, Great Gray Owl, Ural Owl, Tawny Owl, Tengmalm’s (Boreal) Owl and Pygmy Owl are among these and our local guide knows where to find these magnificent birds. In addition to owls, we’ll search out to Hazel Grouse, Willow Grouse and Capercaillie in the forests around Kuusamo as well as Three-toed Woodpecker, Siberian Jay, Siberian Tit, Pine Grosbeak, Red-flanked Bluetail, Arctic Warbler, and Little and Rustic Buntings to name a few.


Gyrfalcon by Jari PeltomäkiFor more adventure, we’ve added an extension to explore north of the Arctic Circle in Lapland and the great wilderness of the Varanger peninsula in Norway. Here the landscape of barren treeless tundra echoes with the sound of breeding waders. Spectacular mountain peaks, steep fjord bottoms and glaciers offer opportunities to see White-tailed Eagle, Ptarmigan, Dotterel, Red-necked Phalarope and maybe a Snowy Owl. The towering sea cliffs are home to Thick-billed Murre and quite often the spectacular Gyrfalcon, while the rocky coast and Barent’s Sea play host to Yellow-billed Loon, King and Steller’s Eider, Long-tailed Jaeger and more.


Join us for a northern birding adventure like no other
in Finland and Norway.

NOTE: This tour is in two parts, Part I is in northern Finland. 
Part II heads further north to the Varanger Peninsula in northern Norway.


Ural Owl by Jari PeltomäkiPART l ~ FINLAND: Owls, Grouse & more!
May 28-June 3,2017 

Day 1
Our tour starts in the city of Oulu in northern Finland. Oulu is serviced by Finnair and Norwegian air via connecting flights from Helsinki, Finland. There are plenty of flight options as Oulu is Finland's second busiest airport. The city is located on the shores of the Bay of Bothnia in the Oulunjoki River delta. Oulu is the largest city in Northern Finland and the capital of northern Scandinavia. A thriving city, Oulu is the gateway to the nature of the region. Today is purely an arrival day but if we have enough time, we will make an excursion to see some local species. Three nights Oulu.

 

Days 2-3
Northern Hawk Owl by Jari PeltomäkiThe Oulu Region is best known for its breeding owls, which include Eagle, Ural, Great Gray, Tengmalm’s, Short-eared and Pygmy Owl, and in most years Hawk and Long-eared Owl. A good vole year will offer our best chances for seeing these birds and our local guides know where to find them.


The huge Great Gray Owl is one of the most sought after of this family and we’ll hope to experience those piercing yellow eyes looking at us from the branches of a dead tree. At the other end of the scale is Europe’s smallest owl, Eurasian Pygmy Owl, which can often be whistled out of the tree canopy. With Ural, Tengmalm’s, Eagle, Long and Short-eared and stunning Hawk Owls possible, our time here is sure to be unforgettable. We shall spend these two days in the forest and have an excellent chance of seeing the birds at close range. As we search, we’ll hope to encounter the other forest species here including Black Grouse, Capercaillie, Black Woodpecker, and Three-toed Woodpecker.

 

Broad-billed Sandpiper by Jari PeltomäkiWhile in Oulu, we will also visit Finland's most important wetland, the Bay of Liminka, a globally important waterfowl habitat. Here we will scan for Curlew, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Ruff, Little Ringed Plover, Caspian Tern, Black-tailed Godwit, Shoveler and Garganey. Bitterns can be heard booming and Red-backed Shrike breeds here. Numerous migratory birds come here to rest and Terek Sandpiper and Citrine Wagtail are rare breeding birds in the area. In the Bay of Liminka there are seven observation towers providing ideal vantage points. There are also vast areas of peat lands that serve as important nesting sites for Common Crane, Taiga Bean Goose, Wood and Broad-billed Sandpipers and Jack Snipe.


Smew by Jari PeltomäkiDay 4
Today, we will drive eastward to the small city of Kuusamo near the Russian border. Our journey will take us through the beautiful northern landscape of forests, bog lands, lakes and rivers. We’ll make some birding and scenery stops along the way arriving in late afternoon. Kuusamo is known for its natural beauty. The city lies on an elevated plateau where 90% of the land area is forested with pine and spruce as well as some deciduous trees. Fells and forests stretch as far as the eye can see with lakes, rivers and rapids adding a sparkling component to the spectacular countryside. Forestry, reindeer husbandry, winter sports, and tourism are the main activities here and we will explore the area in its spring finery. Three nights Kuusamo.


Days 5-6
For the next two days, we can expect to encounter a real feast for the eye in the expansive taiga forests. Eastern specialties are on tap here including Red-flanked Bluetail, Rustic Bunting, Red, Parrot, Two-barred (White-winged) Crossbill, Siberian Jay, Black and Three-toed Woodpecker, Black Grouse, Willow Grouse, Hazel Hen, Capercaillie, Red-necked Grebe and Little Gull, all of which breed here. This is the only European nesting area for a number of eastern specialties such as Gray-headed Chickadee (Siberian Tit), Greenish and Arctic Warbler, Red-flanked Bluetail, Little and Rustic Buntings which will be given high priority. The terrain is mostly easy to walk but will involve one or two uphill climbs particularly for Red-flanked Bluetail.

 

This is the western-most extreme of this boreal Siberian forest type and it holds many rare plants and birds. During our stay we should find breeding Red-necked Grebe, Arctic Loon, wildfowl including Smew and White-winged (Velvet) Scoter. Shorebirds such as European Golden Plover, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper and Spotted Redshank are here as are Fieldfare, Willow and Crested Tits, and White-throated Dipper. In the bogs, we have more chances to find Jack Snipe and Broad-billed Sandpiper.

 

Day 7 – End of FINLAND: OWLS, GROUSE & MORE!

 


PART ll ~ NORWAY: LAPLAND & the VARANGER Peninsula,
June 3 - 9, 2017

Day 7 – Participants on Part I will depart from Kuusamo airport after breakfast. Those continuing on to Lapland and Norway will do some birding in Kuusamo Region and then we travel northward to Ivalo. Time permitting; we might visit some of the famous bog lands of the area. Night Ivalo.

 

Day 8
Today we will explore the vast open arctic landscape characterized by fells. Not technically mountains, these typical hills of Lapland look like gently rising cones of earth and provide spectacular vistas. The bogs and lakesides provide excellent birding locations with a strong likelihood of seeing Arctic Loon, Smew and Lapland Bunting (Longspur).

The Teno River is one of the most important salmon rivers in Europe and it is the border between Finland and Norway. We will drive along the river and visit the delta area in Norway, which is famous for its moulting Goosanders (Common Mergansers) and breeding waders and its colony of Arctic Terns. Here we also have fair chances to see some seals and there is a traditional breeding site of Gyrfalcon on the nearby rocks!

From the delta we will continue over to the high altitude tundra and to Båtsfjord, a small harbor town on the northern edge of Varanger peninsula. The tundra is the home of Ptarmigan and Gyrfalcon. Also Long-tailed Jaeger and Dotterel are often seen just by the roadside. With a bit of luck, the magnificent Snowy Owl is sometimes seen on the fells. Two nights Båtsfjord.


Day 9
Today we visit the other town on the northern side of Varanger, Berlevåg. The rocky coastline and tundra offer many excellent birding locations. The Kjölnes Lighthouse near the town is an excellent sea watching site offering good chances to see Yellow-billed Loon, Pomarine Jaeger, Great Skua, Glaucous and Iceland Gulls, Gannets and more. Depending on the snow cover, we will venture onto the barren fells to search for Dotterel, Long-tailed Jaeger, Lapland Bunting and Whimbrel.

 

Day 10
We will drive again over the fells and via the Teno Delta to the Varanger Fjord itself. Along the way we will search for waders, Red-throated and Arctic Loons, Steller's and King Eiders, Velvet Scoter, Rough-legged Buzzard, Glaucous and Iceland Gulls, Bluethroat, Arctic Redpoll, Red–throated Pipit, Shore Lark, Snow Bunting and others. Two nights Vardö.

 

Day 11
Today we plan to make a half-day excursion by boat to the large seabird colonies on the islets of Reinoya and Hornoya (weather permitting), home to thousands of northern birds. The Hornoya Nature Reserve is the easternmost of the protected bird colonies in Norway, home of about 25,000 pairs of Kittiwakes and 150 pairs of Shags. Northern Alcids breeds here: Thick-billed Murre, Common Murre, Black Guillemots, Razorbills and several thousand pairs of Puffins! There will be nice walk up to the top of the island where there is a lighthouse. From there we will have an excellent view to the Arctic Ocean - with a lot of fishing boats (some of them Russian). The arctic waters are also the home of seals, which we may see from the boat to the island.

 

We will also do an excursion to Hamninberg connected by a road with Vardö. The road to Hamninberg is something special. The expression "the end of Europe" comes to mind when you travel here. The landscape is wild and calm - with a lot of variations. Sometimes it looks like you are on the moon, the next minute you mistake the beaches for those in the Mediterranean! We can also make a short excursion on foot to the Tundra and to the bog lands. Here we hope to see breeding Red-throated Loons and arctic waders. We will do some sea watching from the Hamningberg, as well and look for Gannets, Fulmars, Skuas or even some whales!

 

Day 12
After breakfast we will start our drive back to Finland. We will make stops for bird watching and for a picnic lunch. Night Ivalo.


Day 13
After some morning birding, we need to say goodbye and start our homeward journey from Ivalo airport.


LEADERS: Gina Nichol, Steve Bird & local guides          


Photos, top to bottom: Great Gray Owl, Hazel Grouse, Gyrfalcon, Ural Owl, Hawk Owl, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Smew photos by Jari Peltomäki. Capercaillie, Dotterel, Yellow-billed Loon, King Eider, Bluethroat. Photos by Steve Bird. Steller's Eider by Jari Peltomäki.

FINLAND!
Registration Form>    
Contact gina@sunrisebirding.com to reserve your space!

Owls, Grouse, Woodpeckers & more!
May 28 - June
3, 2017

TOUR PRICE:  $3095 per person based on double occupancy.  Price based on exchange rates at the time the tour was posted (**see note below).
Note: This tour starts in Oulu (Airport code: OUL) and ends in Kuusamo (Airport Code: KAO).  Single supplement: $350 per person, subject to availability.

NORWAY: Lapland/Varanger
June 3 - 9, 2017

TOUR PRICE:  $3195 per person based on double occupancy.  Price based on exchange rates at the time the tour was posted (**see note below). Note:   This tour begins in Kuusamo (Airport Code: KAO) and ends in Ivalo (Airport Code: IVL).  Single supplement: $250 per person, subject to availability.

Deposit: $500.00 per person per tour. Note: Starting in 2016, tour deposits can be paid by credit card via PayPal.  Use this link to make your credit card payment.  Please advise gina@sunrisebirding.com when you have made payment. 

Group size: Minimum for tour to go ahead 8 and maximum 12.

Included in cost: Accommodation in double / twin en suite rooms with full board, group transportation on arrival, detailed pre-trip materials and checklists, services of local guide and tour leaders throughout the trip.

Not included: International flight, luggage charges, passport/visa fees, insurance, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature


Tour Code: This is a standard birding tour with all day birding. No particular strenuous walks are planned but there are some uphill treks.  Birding is mostly from open roads, wide tracks and even boats. To see a good amount of specialties you need to be prepared for full days. We will generally start early and either have an early breakfast or return for breakfast. Lunches will be either picnic or at the lodges depending on our schedule.

 

RESERVATIONS: Contact gina@sunrisebirding.com to reserve your space!  Then follow up with your completed registration form and deposit of $500 per person per tour within two weeks to secure your place. Credit card deposits are possible with no added fees.   Please inquire.   Reservations are held with a deposit on a first-come, first-served basis.    >Download & print the Registration Form 

Final payment is due by January 28, 2017. Check or bank transfer are preferred but credit card payments are possible (surcharges of up to 5% are added depending on amount to cover credit card company fees). 

 

**Please note: Tour prices are based on quoted costs from ground operators (in their local currency), estimated fuel costs, and the rate of exchange the time of itinerary publication. The erratic nature to global financial markets makes it difficult to predict changes in costs and foreign currency exchange rates over the long term. Since tours are priced well in advance of the actual operation of the tour, tour costs, fuel costs and exchange rates can change, sometimes drastically. Depending on the extent of such changes, it may be necessary to implement a surcharge on this tour. If a surcharge is necessary, every effort will be made to minimize the amount.

Cancellations and Refunds:  All cancellations must be made in writing.  In the event that you must cancel your booking at any stage, all payments you have made to Sunrise Birding, LLC will be retained by us, except at our discretion. Please ensure that you take out adequate insurance to cover this and any other eventuality as early as possible. You may have the opportunity to transfer your booking to another tour or another person, provided you are unavoidably prevented from coming on the tour. In this case, you will bear any extra costs that such changes may incur.

There are no refunds once the trip is confirmed to go ahead and no refunds will be made for unused meals, accommodations, or other trip features. 

Insurance:  The purchase of trip cancellation insurance to cover any eventuality is strongly recommended.  Sunrise Birding, LLC can not accept liability for airline cancellations or delays or penalties incurred by the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets or other expenses incurred by tour participants in preparing for this tour. 

 

Travelex

Questions? Contact Gina Nichol at gina@sunrisebirding.com 
Phone: 203.453.6724