1 Jun 2016

1 June 16 - June Started Early

June started early with an 03:00 departure to allow us to drive on the dirt track back roads near to our chalet, about twenty kilometres SE of Kuusamo. We were hoping to find a Hazelhen on these quiet back roads, but unfortunately, we were not that lucky.
We found this great view over the lake next to the accommodation as we crossed a nearby bridge
Looking South from the same bridge
Nearby we found three male Smew on a lake which apparently breed in small numbers in the area.
Smew: Male. They were surprisingly jumpy considering they were at the back of the lake. But they gave a brief & much closer flight view as they circled on the lake
Whooper Swan: Nearby were two Whooper Swans
We also saw a few Mountain Hares. Closer to Oulu, we had seen a number of Brown Hares, but all the Hares we saw in the Kuusamo were Mountain Hares: we were far enough North for Mountain Hares to be found at low level (Kuusamo is about 260m above sea level). The adults all seemed a bit too keen to get off the road as they saw us, even when we stopped at a reasonable distance. So perhaps the suffer from being hunted at some times of the year.
Mountain Hare: Great to see this superb Mammal. Sadly, I only seen a few in the UK & none have been really close. They are still a heavily persecuted Hare wherever there are Grouse shooting interests in the UK
Mountain Hare: The black ears with the white edges, white bellies & white legs were great to see
Mountain Hare: Eventually, I saw this youngster disappear off the road & then freeze not too far in. Like the pale eye ring
We spent some hours birding in one of the Gosney's hillside sites, but it was surprising at how quiet the forests were: apart from the ever present mozzies. Frustratingly, we flushed a Hazelhen as we were walking up the main path on the hillside, but it didn't fly until after I had walked past it & the first I knew was of a shout behind me: I never saw it.
Reindeer: Youngster. Getting desperate for another Mammal to add to this post. They weren't very common. On one occasion, we saw a couple in an office car park just feeding on vegetation. An early morning youngster
Reindeer: We saw a few each day in the Kuusamo area, including this roadside party
Reindeer: Male
In the afternoon, we tried a lake on the edge of Kuusamo. The highlight of the visit was a distant breeding plumage Red-necked Grebe.
Red-necked Grebe: Nice to see it in summer plumage rather than the winter plumage I normally see at Studland. Unfortunately, it was well beyond realistic photographic range & all I could end up with was a record shot from the SX60 on a ridiculous 130x magnification, with a delayed timing to try reducing vibration on this high magnification
The mid afternoon rain set in again & make it even harder to find Bird activity. So we decided to try a layby site to the North of the Ruka ski centre, where we had a chance of seeing Siberian Jay. We ended up putting food into the empty feeders & sat it the car, hoping that some Siberian Jays would appear. At least, we managed to stay dry & catch up on some food & drinks, but no sign of the hoped for World Tick. Finally, it stopped raining & there was a chance to walk one of the hillside paths. By now it was early evening & as the Bird activity seemed to drop off in the evening, we were not surprised we didn't see that much. Time to call it a day, head back to the chalet for an early night. We had a 01:45 alarm call to get some breakfast, before heading off to Kuusamo to meet our guide for the Kuusamo guided tour the following morning.
Whooper Swan: Party of a twenty strong flock on the way back to the chalet