Islands awakening

You know I love Suomenlinna. It’s even my favourite place in Helsinki, ahead of Seurasaari.

There’s magic on these four islands that form a UNESCO World Heritage site. I love Finland for its serenity and simplicity, and Suomenlinna truly exemplifies these traits, provided you go there at the right time. Avoid the sunny weekend days, embrace the weekday evenings, and you shall be rewarded. Its status attracts visitors, but they are spread on a large surface, so it’s not hard to find yourself alone, facing the waves or the city.

Out of my Hundred pictures for a hundred years, 14 were taken there, on the way there or on the way back from there. Can you find them all?

After winter, when days lengthened and birds returned to the archipelago, I visited several times, going there directly from the office to enjoy the sunset.

The main attraction was of course the pair of Eurasian eagle-owls (Bubo bubo) that raised 3 youngsters. I chronicled my first encounter with them here (check the article, it’s the spiritual predecessor to the present story), but I visited them several more times.
The second time, I saw an adult with a dead bird in the beak.

Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo)

The most intense observation happened on the shortest night of the year, in June. I was in the area, but it was already dark, and I couldn’t see any owl. After some time, I noticed something on a ship… it was an owlet, waiting! A few more minutes, and I found two more, on the same ship or on a railing nearby. I was thrilled! 15 minutes from the city center, a pair of owls were raising chicks in plain sight 😮
I observed them for some time, but it was too dark for pictures. Then a swift shape flew in and landed on the deck. The adult was delivering a prey, and one of the owlet didn’t hesitate: it jumped and tried to swallow it. It took some time until it managed it, and by that time, the adult had flown and perched on the crane nearby. This time I made a picture!

Eurasian eagle-owl

I showed the birds to Bjørn when he visited, before going to Rauma.

Eurasian eagle-owl

An ubiquitous inhabitant of the islands is the Barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis). The Finnish population is steadily growing, and they are everywhere in the capital area, provided they can find grass.

Barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis)

Barnacle goose

Lying in goose poo to get eye level shots was not the funniest experience I’ve had, but the gooslings are too cute to miss such an opportunity. Furthermore, Suomenlinna at dawn is really quiet, and there was no one to witness my disgrace.

Barnacle goose

Barnacle goose

Sunlines, the company operating the ferries to Suomenlinna, have three different ships. Surprisingly, gulls seem to really appreciate only one, and they are always fishing in its wake: it’s a pleasure to observe them, and chances are high one can make a good picture there! That’s where it all started: my first trip with my new telelens, in 2015, was there, and my first bird pictures were Common gulls (Larus canus) from the ferry.

Common gull (Larus canus)

Common gull

I was happy to see many Barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) in Suomenlinna this spring and summer, and I could approach them easily, lying on my belly and crawling.

Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)

Barn swallow

Common gull

The real star, though, was the Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea). I had been dreaming of that bird since I had left Finland for the first time, but finally I could reconnect with it and get some better shots than those I did back then.

Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea)

Arctic tern

As a conclusion, I’ll add that, as you can guess, Suomenlinna is also a good place for sunset colors 😉

White wagtail (Motacilla alba)


Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed, I hope your dared click the links (some link to old stories, in case you want to have a good laugh at my then-nascent photo skills :D).
I would like to thank Bernadet for the kind words she wrote on her blog (use Google Translate if, like me, you don’t understand anything :p). My wish is to make you travel a bit when you read my posts; seeing that it actually works (beyond expectations, I must say) was overwhelming! Thank you ❤
The article ->> here.


Follow me on Facebook for more wonders from Finland, at Samuel Bloch – Eiwar Photography

Bird inventory


6 thoughts on “Islands awakening

  1. Seeing my name and link mentioned in your post makes me feel very grateful. Thank you so much, Samuel. When I started my blog I wished that I could inspire others to see the beauty and wonders around them. And my wishes were granted. That’s what makes me happy. :o) Then I started writing about Liguria and Bretagne and all those really beautiful places I visited. Which made me happy as well since I am reliving my trips when preparing a post. Probably one day I’ll be writing about Finland. :o)

    Liked by 1 person

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