31 May 2016

31 May 16 - Oulu Bay & Driving to Kuusumo, Finland

After a few hours sleep, the others managed to get up earlier than me & wander out to the tower hide near to our accommodation. But they had been dozing in the car while I was driving back from the Oriental Cuckoo. They had returned by the time I woke up after a luxurious six hours kip. Nothing too special missed on the Bird front, but some distant Elk turned out to be the only sighting for the trip. After some food, we packed the car to head off for Kuusamo. But the first stop was the Temmesjokisuu tower hide to the North of our accommodation.
Map of Oulu Bay: Our accommodation was at the Southern most point of the Bay
Map of Southern Oulu Bay: We then tried the tower hide at Temmesjokisuu
We ended up taking the wrong dirt track leading to the Temmesjokisuu tower hide, which just mean a longer walk along the edge of a reedbed before finding the dirt track we should have taken. After that is was another 1/2 mile before we reached the tower hide with superb, but distant, views over the bay.
White Wagtail: In the car park at the end of the dirt track
Northern White-faced Darter: One bonus of our extended walk was seeing five of these superb Dragonflies. They are similar to the White-faced Darters found in the UK, but have a red-brown pterostigma & larger spots of red on the middle segments on the abdomen
While the view from the tower hide was excellent, everything was well beyond the range of even the SX60 camera. There were a couple of White-tailed Sea-eagles perched up & a pair of hunting Marsh Harriers. Along the edge of the water were a flock of at least a hundred Cranes, as well as, small numbers of Greylag Geese, Teal & other Waterbirds. All to quickly we decided we should head on to check out the next site along the edge of the Bay.
Scarlet Rosefinch: A shy singing brown male showing they also can look grotty abroad
The next stop was a pool next to the edge of Oulu Bay near to the oilport. This was a potential area for seeing Terek Sandpipers, but nothing that exciting was there on our visit. But we did enjoy the singing Redwing nearby. Not having had the time to listen to any recordings of any of the local breeding Birds, then there were a number of songs I didn't recognise on the trip. But once the songster was seen it was quickly figured out as they were generally species that I see, but I rarely hear singing, in the UK.
Redwing: Far less common than its larger relative the Fieldfare
Fieldfare: The commonest Passerine we saw in the trip especially when driving. But with low Bird densities & it being a familiar Wintering species, this was the only opportunity I had for a photo
The first part of the three hour drive was through urban & farmland areas, but it got a bit more interesting as we got closer to Kuusamo. The roads were excellent, well constructed & not too much traffic. However, the speed limits were frustratingly low & the present of occasional poorly marked speed cameras helped to encourage me to keep close to the speed limit. About half way to Kuusamo I had to pull over to prove I was a tourist.
Reindeer: The first ones of the trip were just feeding along the edge of the main road. At least I pulled off the road for these photos, unlike many of the grockles who stop suddenly in the middle of the road in the New Forest for the ponies
As we got closer to Kuusamo, we found a few more roadside lakes. On one there was a small colony of breeding Little Gulls & Black-headed Gulls. On another some very distant Black-throated Divers, along with a solitary male Velvet Scoter: perhaps the female was incubating nearby.
Velvet Scoter: Male
We reached Kuusamo after another hour of driving. The first stop was a large supermarket on the edge of the town for fuel & food for the chalet. Then in was onto the chalet alongside a large lake at Ollilan Lomamajat, about twenty kilometers out of town which was to be our base for the next couple of nights. The owner of the chalet gave us some suggestions of potential places to look for Capercaillie & Hazelhen, but it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. It didn't help that it was now early evening & generally Bird activity noticeably dropped off in the evenings, but the mozzies were still nice & active. It seemed a good point to cook some food when some light rain set in for a couple of hours. Afterwards, I nipped out to have a walk around the forest edge in the hope of a Hazelhen. That was a long shot, although the owner did reckon there were a couple of females in his extensive lakeside woods. But there was a closer Black-throated Diver: just a shame it the light was so gloomy.
Black-throated Diver: Great to see them in full breeding plumage
Black-throated Diver: The first time I've seen them looking like this