Saturday, 7 October 2017

Finland Autumn Safari

1-7 Oct - A few days with Finnature for their autumn bird photography trip. The main objective was their forest Golden Eagle hide, where the Eagles are supplied with carrion and come most days at some stage - though due to the predominantly dull and wet weather during the week, we had to wait a long time. The birds showed up the first day, but kept their distance in the treetops - the next day they didn't show at all in persistent rain - although there was a succession of forest birds to keep us entertained, in the form of Willow Tits, Bramblings and Jays. Finally, on the third attempt, the weather brightened up and things looked more promising. At lunchtime, a Golden Eagle swooped in, and over the course of the next hour made several low passes looking at the food put out - its amazing wingspan being very impressive. Finally it landed and we hardly dared breathe - it was only 20m away, we kept absolutely still, feeling its piercing gaze could surely see us through the reflective glass in the hide windows? The eagle started to feed but did not settle for photos so close - but we got some shots of the adult female (which accompanied the first, immature bird) perched in the clearing and on an adjacent pine.
A truly memorable moment to see the Eagles so close, and what a truly impressive creature. The Oulu area is also good for wetlands, with Liminka bay and adjacent fields - large numbers of Eurasian Cranes still present this autumn, together with herds of Whooper Swans, including non-breeders that stay year-round. We finally had a clear morning on the 6th, and there was an impressive movement of southbound migrants - including 4 Rough-legged Buzzards, also flocks of Bean Geese, and Redwings, Fieldfares and Bramblings. We also found Black Woodpecker and Crested Tit in the forest. The last morning outside the hotel (at a reedbed on the coast) was also productive with migrant 2 Great Grey Shrikes and 6 Smew offshore, together with Goosander, all moving S from their northern breeding grounds. Other raptors seen included Merlin, Goshawk and Sparrowhawk. The autumn tree colours were very impressive, especially birches, some trees almost glowing yellow even in the cloudy weather.

No comments: