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Capercaillie. Photo by Gina NicholFINLAND!
Owls, Grouse, & more
May 28 - June 3, 2018

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June 3 - 9, 2018>

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2017 Trip Reports:  FINLAND>      NORWAY>


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. Owl, grouse, woodpeckers and waders abound here along with a selection of eastern passerines offering birding rewards like nowhere else in Europe.

Great Gray Owl by Jari Peltomäki

Our tour is designed for the best chances to see Europe’s famed owls: Eurasian Eagle Owl, Great Gray Owl, Ural Owl, Tawny Owl, Tengmalm’s (Boreal) Owl and Pygmy Owl. Our local guides monitor these species throughout the winter and early spring and have the best knowledge on 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.

For more adventure, this tour joins our Norway tour to explore north of the Arctic Circle in Lapland and the great wilderness of the Varanger peninsula. Here, spectacular mountain peaks, steep fjords and glaciers offer opportunities to see White-tailed Eagle, Rock Ptarmigan, Dotterel, Red-necked Phalarope and thousands of ducks and seabirds. The towering sea cliffs of Hornoya, the “bird island” are home to breeding Thick-billed Murre, Shag, Atlantic Puffin, and Black-legged Kittiwake creating an awesome spectacle. The rocky coast and Barent’s Sea offer Yellow-billed Loon, King and Steller’s Eider, Long-tailed Jaeger and more.

Join us for an arctic birding adventure
that features stunning landscapes and
fantastic photo opps for birders!

Smew by Jari PeltomäkiPART l ~ FINLAND:
Owls, Grouse & more!
May 28 - June 3,2018 

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
Ural 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.

Hazel Grouse. Photo by Gina Nichol.

While 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.

Day 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
Siberian Jay by Gina NicholFor 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.



Whooper Swan by Gina Nichol.


Photos, top to bottom: Great Gray Owl by Jari Peltomäki; Capercaillie by Gina Nichol; Smew and Ural Owl by Jari Peltomäki;
Hazel Grouse, Siberian Jay and Whooper Swan by Gina Nichol.

Atlantic Puffin by Gina Nichol.PART ll ~ NORWAY:
VARANGER Peninsula,
June 3 - 9, 2018

Our Norway tour explores Lapland north of the Arctic Circle and the great wilderness of the Varanger peninsula. Here, spectacular mountain peaks, steep fjord bottoms and glaciers offer opportunities to see White-tailed Eagle, Ptarmigan, Dotterel, Red-necked Phalarope and thousands of ducks and seabirds. The towering sea cliffs of Hornoya, the “bird island”, are home to breeding Thick-billed Murre, Shag, Puffin, and Kittiwake creating an awesome spectacle. The rocky coast and Barent’s Sea offer Yellow-billed Loon, King and Steller’s Eider, Long-tailed Jaeger and more. It is the perfect complement to our Finland tour. Join us for an arctic birding adventure like no other!

Day 7 – If you are not coming from our Finland tour, plan to arrive in Kuusamo, Finland (Airport Code: KAO) to meet our group in the morning. We will do some birding in Kuusamo Region and continue on to Lapland and Norway later in the day. We will arrive in Ivalo late in the day. Time permitting; we might visit some of the famous bog lands of the area. Night Ivalo.


Day 8
Dotterel by Gina NicholToday 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. Two nights Båtsfjord.

Yellow-billed Loon by Steve Bird.

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
European ShagToday 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!


Bluethroat by Steve Bird.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: Atlantic Puffin and Dotterel by Gina Nichol; Yellow-billed Loon by Steve Bird; Shag by Gina Nichol; Bluethroat by Steve Bird; Birders in Varanger by Gina Nichol.  Below,
King Eiders by Steve Bird.


King Eiders by Steve Bird.FINLAND!
Registration Form>    
Contact to reserve your space!

Owls, Grouse, Woodpeckers & more!
May 28 - June
3, 2018

TOUR PRICE:  $3250.00 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: $395.00 per person, subject to availability.

NORWAY: Lapland/Varanger
June 3 - 9, 2018

TOUR PRICE:  $3295.00 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: $395.00 per person, subject to availability.

Deposit: $500.00 per person per tour. Note: Tour deposits can be paid by credit card via PayPal.  Use this link to make your credit card payment.  Please advise 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 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, 2018. 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. 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. Sunrise Birding, LLC cannot 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.

Insurance: Sunrise Birding, LLC recommends that you purchase a travel protection plan to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. Travel protection plans can include coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation, Trip Delay, Baggage Delay and more.

For more information on the available plans or to enroll, click on the link below or contact Travelex Insurance Services at 800-228-9792 and reference location number 07-0025.

The product descriptions provided here are only brief summaries. The full coverage terms and details, including limitations and exclusions, are contained in the insurance policy. Travelex CA Agency License #0D10209. All products listed are underwritten by, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company. 11.17 E7N

Questions? Contact Gina Nichol at 
Phone: 203.453.6724