I met a Scottish bird photographer, who was particularly interested in photographing nesting birds, at Valtavaara and he told me of his previous trips to Karigasniemi which made up my mind to go. I arrived late in the evening of the 13th June and parked up by the roadside next to a large bog. In the morning I did a short walk along the road and soon picked up a small wader feeding in the wet grassland by the roadside - Broad-billed Sandpiper, a good start! The grass was about 10cm long so the bird was always partly obscured and, having taken hundreds of photos of them in Estonia, I decided to move on.
|Spring water passing by the road at Karigasniemi|
Parking by the entrance to the Kevo NP I explored the area on foot. More roadside pools produced at least 7 Red-necked Phalarope and countless Wood Sandpiper which were display calling from all directions.
There were a few ducks on the pools; a pair of Pintail, 8 Goldeneye and a pair of Wigeon. In the bushes Bluethroats were out in force with at least 6 birds singing along a km of roadside. Brambling and Redwing were the new Thrush Nightingale and Common Rosefinch and the former were singing everywhere whilst the latter have now entirely disappeared.
There were large number of wagtails, mostly thunbergi, the Grey-headed version of our Yellow Wagtail but also plenty of White Wagtails. I attempted to photograph all the variations in Yellow Wagtails on my trip round Europe to was keen to get decent photos of both the male and female.
|Grey-headed Wagtail - male upper, both sexes show variable dark upper breast markings|
I decided to walk some of Mount Ailigas in glorious sunshine. On the way up through the dwarf birch scrub there were even more Bluethroat and I spent sometime attempting to get a bird doing its display flight, not perfect but a reasonable attempt I think.
|Bluethroat upper male giving display flight|
As I ascended the track over the heather moorland, which looked a lot like home, there were few birds to see (much like home!) but a Whimbrel called and Golden Plover were about the only other bird I saw. In the past Long-tailed Skua have nested on the slopes of Mount Ailigas but no sign today.
I parked up by the spring water that flows past the road and watched the Wood Sandpipers and wagtails, a Sedge Warbler was a surprise moving through the scrub and several Sand Martin flew over. Whilst sat at the roadside a British registration vehicle passed and pulled over, it was Ewan the photographer I had met at Valtavaara. We exchanges our recent sightings and in passing he mentioned an area nearby where he had seen some decent birds last year, it was by a Sami village called Erotusaita, it sounded worth a look so off I went. Whilst we were talking I saw a movement and white in the bushes; Stoat still in ermine, another mammal for the trip.
|Stoat in winter ermine|
|The Sami village of Erotusaita|
|Reindeer pens at Erotusaita|
I curtailed my trip to the bog and spent the next few hours photographing the skuas and waders.
There were 8 Long-tailed Skua and as I looked at them more closely it looked like 6 adults, and heavily marked bird that I took to be a 2nd calendar year and another almost adult like but with a slight breast band and pale bill base that is perhaps a 3rd calendar year. What superb birds they are!
|Long-tailed Skua - adult|
|Long-tailed Skua 2nd calendar year|
|Long-tailed Skua adult in foreground with 3rd calendar year behind|
|Ringed Plover of the northern breeding race tundrae|
I'm spending the next couple of days around Ivalo, Pam arrives on a flight on Monday and we will then be heading up to Varanger for the final leg of the journey.
|the journey so far|
Correction: Steve Mann has kindly pointed out that the English name for the thunbergi race of Yellow Wagtail is Grey-headed not Ashy-headed as I keep calling them. Ashy-headed is of course the Italian race cinereocapilla which I have previously featured