We have now been organising trips to the wonderful Finnish forests in the depths of winter for a number of years now. This trip will take us to a couple of different regions where amongst our many opportunities will be the elaborate courtship ritual of displaying Black Grouse at their traditional lek. Snow cover will still be on the ground and this is the perfect setting for photographing this beautiful Grouse.
We could also be lucky and get the opportunity to photograph hunting owls – Hawk Owl and Great Grey Owl skimming across the snowfields being our primary goal in this respect. Each year is different though with these silent hunters so we will have alternative options with the more regularly visiting Golden Eagle, Dippers fishing where the ice has melted on nearby streams, and feeding stations for local specialities such as Siberian Jay and Siberian Tit along with a whole array of other passerines.
We will also be exploring the landscape opportunities of these northern forests with a visit to the wonderful Riissintinturi National Park and will always be on the lookout for spectacular Northern Lights during evenings.
Itinerary Open +Close -
Day 1: Travel to Kussumo airport and transfer to our overnight base in Oulanka National Park.
Days 2-3: Our priority will be hunting boreal owls especially hawk and pygmy owls. We will also be visiting Riisitunturi National Park for some spectacular landscape opportunities. A local stream offering great opportunities for fishing black-bellied dippers and feeding stations offering siberian jay and siberian tit are also on the agenda. We will look to spend at least one day here in a hide setup for golden eagle which looks great in the snowy setting if you want to further target this species. This hide is excellent for black woodpecker, siberian jay and great spotted woodpecker too.
Day 4: We will transfer to our base at Utajarvi.
Days 5-6: At Utajarvi our main target for the second part of this trip is the spectacular courtship ritual of black grouse at a traditional lek. This beautiful grouse is still fairly common in northern Finland and we will be spending the three early mornings photographing the males as they perform their elaborate display. Snow cover will still be on the ground which is the perfect setting for obtaining unique images. Each morning is a very early start as we have to be in the hides before first light as the grouse turn up while it is still dark. Our sessions in the hides will be over by 9.00am so we will then spend the rest of the day looking for great grey and hawk owls in the Oulu region. To photograph these boreal owls is hard to predict but by the time we arrive our local guides will know what is working well and where.
If the owls are not around we will have the chance to photograph golden eagles from carefully positioned hides for the rest of the day. Finland is hard to predict during the winter and our local guides could have other options for us and in the past we have photographed capercaillie and willow grouse at short notice. We will make plans for each of these 3 days in this area on a nightly basis to meet individual priorities and preferences. Northern lights and stunning winter landscapes are both a possibility and an option too.
Day 7: We will have one more early morning session with the black grouse and we will then head to Oulu airport for our return flight back to Helsinki for your return flight back to the UK.
The very nature of wildlife in winter in a country like Finland means that although the overall shape of this itinerary is fixed what the precise opportunities and therefore priorities/options will be on the ground can only be 100% finalised when the trip itself is running. The priority is displaying black grouse and hunting boreal owls and everything will be done to achieve this but some years are distinctly better than others as far as overall success. We’ve designed the trip to be sure however that there are plenty of alternative options to ensure a rewarding trip and photographic experience with plenty of great image opportunities whatever happens.
What our customers say
“Danny was always available for help and advice when needed. This was my first time I had photographed wildlife in a very snowy context, a context that provided exposure challenges. By the end of the holiday I felt I had much more knowledge, experience and confidence to photograph in such a context.”
“This trip was all about some hard to find Northern winter species, and it delivered good numbers and great variety of these”
“An enjoyable trip which was relaxed, good fun, leisurely paced, resulting in both great species and great images”
“The holiday more than exceeded my expectations”
“It was a most enjoyable holiday full of photographic opportunities and good fun. My thanks to all at Natures Images and Finnature for another great holiday”