In the end of February, Bearded reedlings (Panurus biarmicus) were all the rage on Finnish nature social pages. Wherever I looked, I saw loads of pictures of these adorable buggers. Naturally, I wanted to make my own images, especially since I didn’t have any of that specific species at the time.
When I noticed my friend Mika had seen and shot them twice in Espoo, I asked him for some info. I had been to Laajalahti once, but hadn’t managed to spot any reedling. This time, though, the hottest place was Kaitalahti, much further west, and several sightings had been reported to Tiira, the Finnish bird sighting database. On a Saturday morning, I embarked on an epic bus trip through the second most populated municipality of Finland. One hour and forty minutes later, I was carefully treading my path over an icy road.
Bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus)
I recently finished reading the Fitz and the Fool trilogy from Robin Hobb, and the strong feelings this ending created in me pushed me to write down some thoughts. I’m aware this piece of writing is very far from my usual style, but somehow I felt the urge to share it; I hope you’ll tag along anyway and bear with me. If not, don’t worry, we’re going back to birds next week 😉
The Fitz and the Fool trilogy is the fifth series set in the Realm of the Elderlings universe, the third one to focus on the same cast of characters even though it brilliantly brings all the previous series together. It’s written at the first person, from Fitz’s point of view. A royal bastard, his life has been one of many torments.
The first series starts when the protagonist is maybe 2 years old, when he’s brought to court. Fitz and I grew up together, he much faster than I. Therefore, it’s no wonder that I sometimes recognized myself in him, in his attitude, in the thoughts he shared. How much influence did these books have on me, on the person I have become?
Last year, I decided I would visit all 40 national parks of Finland. I knew it would take some time, but it sounded like a fun project, and whenever I’ve been, I’ve discovered wonders. Remember Pallas-Yllästunturi? Pyhä-Luosto? Sipoo?
I’m still not there, but I recently added a new park to my list: Koli! Here is the story.
My parents were visiting Finland this February, and while I didn’t follow them to Lapland, I took them on a trip to North Carelia for their last weekend here. Koli is a very famous place in Finland, for the landscape there has inspired many artists, including the great composer Sibelius and painter Gallen-Kallela. In a sense, it’s the Skagen of Finland 😉
We took the train to Joensuu on Friday evening, slept there, and were off on an adventure in the morning. Koli lay some 60 km north, but we were not so much in a hurry. The weather was cold and sunny, proving once more that February was the most beautiful month of the year.
Camargue is the region defined by the delta of the Rhône river, in southern France. It’s a region of wetlands and fields, where nature and human activty often meld; specific breeds of bulls and horses are raised there, in partial liberty. I saw a few cows, but no horse. Anyway, cattle was not what had allured me there.
My first birding trip, with the LPO (the French bird protection society), had led me there. That was in 2004, and I had never returned before this winter.
From Grenoble, it’s a 3-hour drive to Le Sambuc, a quiet but windswept village in the Natural Regional Park. I had not left early, so I arrived in Camargue only a couple of hours before sunset.
I have now finished my trip report regarding our week in Lapland last September. My original idea was to go there for the ruska, the colors of autumn. Then I “hired” two friends from France, Sylvain and Alexis, and their first question was: “can we see northern lights?”. So obviously the lights became our secondary goal, one we didn’t really dare believing in given the weather, but which we eventually reached!
As a result, this trip was a real success, and we were all very happy about it.
Please find below links to all the articles I wrote. I’m very happy to hear any comment you may have, or to answer questions 🙂
In this article, I explain some practicalities about our journey. Welcome 🙂
After our glorious day in Lemmenjoki, we left with no hurry, and took the southern road to Kittilä. After an hour at high speed on this deserted drive through hills and swamp areas, asphalt gave way to soil and gravel, and we slowed down.
A replenishment stop in Sodankylä later, we were driving south, but soon we turned left.
Lemmenjoki National Park is the largest national park of Finland. With 2,860 km², it’s just ahead of Urho Kekkonen National Park (where we saw Kuukeli for the first time!) and its 2,550 km². The third one, Pallas-Yllästunturi, is far behind, with 1020 km².
More than its size, though, what strikes the traveller when he arrives in Lemmenjoki is the remoteness of the place. From Inari, we took a road to the south… and suddenly, we were alone. OK, sometimes you see a Hotel sign pointing straight into the forest, or some houses. We stopped before the park to meet Jouni. This was not a period of tremendous activity, but he tried to show us some birds. We saw a Black-throated diver (Gavia arctica) on the lake, and a pair of Whooper swans (Cygnus cygnus), but the best was the Siberian tit (Poecile cinctus), a tough cousin to the Great tit (Parus major) so common further south, but inhabiting only northern forests. It stayed high in the pines, but it showed well, and my two friends managed to see it correctly.
We are now back to Lapland, for the end of our September trip.
From Rovaniemi, we have driven north, and after 3 days, we have now reached the shores of Lake Inari. If you remember, the weather was not particularly good in the previous days: low clouds were our daily lot, complemented with permanent drizzle and soaked soils. It hasn’t improved.