From 1 to 9 June I joined as partipant and bus driver the Birding Breaks tour to Finnish Lapland and the Varanger fjord.
We started in the lake district near Kuusamo, Finland. To hear ‘our’ winter birds like Redwing (Turdus iliacus/Koperwiek) and Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris/Kramsvogel) sing and defend their nest against obtrusive Hooded Crows (Corvus cornix/Bonte Kraai) is an amazing experience. It somehow closes the circle. Despite intensive efforts we didn’t see any owls. But we did see several singing Red-flanked Bluetails (Tarsiger cyanurus/Blauwstaart) at the well-known hills of Valtavaara. Other personal highlights were Velvet Scoters (Melanitta fusca/Grote Zeeëend) and Little Gulls (Larus minutus/Dwergmeeuw) in full summer plumage.
Another colorful surprise was the beautiful Calypso Orchid (Calypso bulbosa/Bosnimf). They are only to be found in undisturbed northern forests, such as those in Oulanka National Park, close to the Russian border. It is the only species classified in the genus Calypso, which takes its name from the Greek signifying concealment, as they tend to favor sheltered areas on conifer forest floors.
With respect to photography I had to make compromises, but all in all this was more than compensated by traveling with a diverse group of experts. On my own I probably overlooked these tiny shadow-lovers.