Welcome to Birdquest
Sunday 22nd May - Saturday 4th June 2016
This year’s Birdquest tour to Finland and Norway went pretty much to plan, although awful weather at the end of the tour probably cost us one or two species. As ever owls were high on everyone's wish list, and once again we succeeded in having really good sightings of all the target species, including an impressive female Great Grey Owl with two small chicks, a pair of splendid Ural Owls, a diminutive Eurasian Pygmy Owl in its nest box, a very cute Boreal (Tengmalm's) Owl, and three fierce looking Northern Hawk Owls in the north. The gamebirds, despite the fact that they have suffered poor breeding success for the last three years, proved very co-operative and we had great views of a rogue male Western Capercaillie, displaying Black Grouse, a pair of confiding Hazel Grouse, and good views of several Willow and Rock Ptarmigans. Other species worth a mention were a splendid pair of Citrine Wagtails, great views of adult summer White-billed Diver, White-backed, Lesser Spotted, Black, Grey-headed and Three-toed Woodpeckers, several King Eiders, including splendid adult male, several Eurasian Dotterels, displaying Terek Sandpiper, Broad-billed Sandpiper in song flight, the enigmatic and elusive Pine Grosbeak, a total of three Red-flanked Bluetails, including two adult males, Icterine, Blyth’s Reed, Marsh and Greenish Warblers, Siberian Jay, Grey-headed Chickadee (aka Siberian Tit), and Little, Lapland, Ortolan and Snow Buntings. We also had several write-ins which included mega rarities with Eurasian Stone-curlew (19th for Finland), Gull-billed tern (third for Finland) and sixth or seventh Stejneger's Scoter (a potential split from White-winged Scoter) for Norway.
On the down side was the total absence of Steller's Eiders in Norway, which lead us to miss this species for the first time on a Birdquest tour. Apparently the last wintering birds had left the Norwegian coast exceptionally early this year.