Seurasaari, located north-west of the center of Helsinki, is a place loved by tourists and locals alike, for it is a beautiful island where you can lose yourself in the forest. I was about to say that it’s also a patch of wilderness inside the city, but I realized the animals there are anything but wild: remember the raccoon-dog?
In the afternoon, especially on week-ends, it’s not a peaceful place either, rather a crowded one. People come here to walk, run, swim or simply sit on the rocks and chat. Visitors can also enjoy the open-air museum, which consists of old buidings, most of them authentic and coming from all around Finland. You need to pay to enter some of them (and you have women in old costumes telling you about the houses), but all of them can be seen from the outside for free.
Seurasaari is famous for its squirrels. There are feeders aimed at them, and they visit them regularly. They got used to the people, and offer good sights, even if it’s incredibly difficult to make a good portrait of them.
They are so funny, and when they stand and stare at you, oh how human they look!
The true magic of Seurasaari, though, unveils at dawn. The forest’s tranquility is only troubled by a few joggers and by the people doing some maintenance work before the arrival of hords of tourists.
Birds are as used to visitors as squirrels are, and when these Great tits (Parus major) flew around me, trying to reach my head or landing at my feet, I felt like a Disney princess!
These next pictures are dedicated to Lo, who loves to have “her” birds talk 😉
Of course, the island teems with birdlife: the other day, we saw a Black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius) feeding on a tall, leaf-less tree near the restaurant. If not for the noise of bark chunks falling to the ground, we would have never spotted it, despite its impressive size. Gulls, ducks, wagtails and warblers are present on the island as well, and I saw Red crossbills (Loxia curvirostra) perched atop fir trees, once.
BONUS: tourists getting acquainted with the local not-so-wild life