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.
After a quick jump to Budapest, where I stayed with my friend Marci and had a blast in his studio, I flew to Stockholm for work. The bad idea was to fly to Helsinki on Sunday evening only to fly out again to Sweden on the morning after; it would have made much more sense to fly directly to Stockholm and sleep a bit longer than 3 hours. Still learning.
After two days of work with a new RELEX customer, my colleague Pessi and I were exhausted, but we had a bit of free time before the flight back, and I had never seen Stockholm… so we left the office and had a one-hour walk in the city. It had snowed since the morning, and my excitement had grown consequently: you know, I love the white stuff 😉
January the sixth, first outing out the year. The weather forecast announces a schizophrenic weekend: Saturday will be cloudy and possibly rainy, with temperatures above zero, while Sunday promises to be sunny and coldish, with temperatures dipping below freezing, a little. My plan is the following: Viikki with clouds, Suomenlinna for sunrise.
A week ago, a Black redstart (Phenicurus ochruros) was reported in Viikki, in the reedbed, and has been so since then, every day. This redstart is not very common in Finland, especially in winter, but the Viikki bird is even more special: it belongs to subspecies phoenicuroides, which means it comes from central Asia, somewhere between Mongolia and Iran. That’s a long trip, and not in the right direction for a migrating species.
I want to see that pretty fellow, and then go to Suomenlinna on the day after to enjoy the sun.
On Saturday, I have no reason to hurry, since the weather is so bad. Not much rain on the radar though, fortunately. I leave at 10, and enter the area with no precise direction to the bird. I see some people around, but no gathering. While I’m at the Pornaistenniemi hide, a woman enters, and we start chatting. My Finnish hasn’t improved during my holidays, but I understand that she has seen the redstart that day, and that if I walk to the north, about 400 meters, I will find it. First, I will found people watching it, of course.
Black redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
[English version] This article is about an expedition report I read recently, which shook me. It’s about a father and his daughter traveling by canoe through Finland, and it’s absolutely beautiful. A lot of strong emotions await the reader, unfortunately it’s written only in French, and I don’t know what it would look like once you send it through Google Translate. Still, they have some mind-blowing drone pictures, so it’s worth a visit. Click here.
“Je suis bouleversé. Français installé en Finlande, j’ai les larmes aux yeux de voir tant de gentillesse, de bonté, de bonheur dans mon pays d’adoption. J’admire ces relations que vous avez pu tisser. Quelle aventure. Vous êtes magnifiques.
Ce sont les mots qui me sont venus après lecture de la 39ème page du carnet de voyage de Yann et Amélie en Finlande.
Photo : Yann – SupervagabondS en Suomi
Finnish word of the day: saaristo = archipelago
In the middle of summer, my family came for a visit to Finland. This time it wasn’t about skiing, it wasn’t about figure skating, it was about sailing. Usually, it’s difficult to gather the whole family, because my brothers always have a sailing competition here, a sailing competition there… and in the end, there’s often someone missing. This time, everyone was there! That’s a growth, from my usual solo/duo trips.