Today, I would like to share with you a few more pictures of last autumn. Overall, I didn’t spend much time outside, for it rained a lot, especially… on weekends, of course. However, I spent a weekend at a friend’s cottage near Riihimäki.
We stopped in Hyvinkää, a small town.
October last year. Not so long before, I was visiting Lapland with friends from France. There, the woods had gleamed of the many colors of autumn. Then we had flown back to Helsinki, to find that autumn had arrived there as well. A few weeks later, my friend Hauke was visiting Finland, for his graduation. We had met at Aalto University 3 years prior, and so a chapter was closed.
After the party, he stayed at my place for a couple of days. As often when I have guests, I suggested a little adventure; that’s how we found ourselves westbound, in a rental car, for a walk in Teijo National Park. This is a forest-and-lake area (like many in Finland, let’s be honest), which emblem is the Grey-headed woodpecker (Picus canus). We didn’t see that bird, but we had a good hike.
I wanted to go to Lapland in winter, because I never had. I thought I might as well take a few friends from France with me, and add a few Northern Lights in the mix. Here is a wrap-up, with some detailed info about the planning and activities of this 1-week dream trip (all prices are for 4 people unless stated otherwise).
All the previous articles dedicated to this adventure:
Holiday on ice | Fluffiness against the cold | The greatest lie in the north
Winter is long in the north (7 months): how does one choose when to go?
My idea was that I wanted both day and night. We needed night to see the Northern Lights, but if we had been there in January, with only a couple of hours of daylight each day but clouds all the time, we would have got bored very quickly. In the end, I chose March, which was also my choice last year for Varanger. We had approximately 12 hours of night and 12 hours of light (and excellent weather 😉 ).
After the birds and the northern lights, let me show you the rest of our trip in Lapland. Between Ivalo and Karasjok, we saw, well… mostly snow and trees, but also magical lights. Behold!
When I planned my latest holidays, I knew they would revolve around taiga birds. The main target, for my friends and I, was the northern lights, but we also needed some activity during the day (it’s difficult to stay outside all night when it’s twenty degrees below the freezing point). I’m not much into husky-this or reindeer-that (because of the price, mainly), so I did some birdwatching. Surprised, aren’t you?
What does a birder think about when they hear “taiga birds”? Well, probably something along the lines of Pine grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator), Siberian tit (Poecile cinctus), Siberian jay (Perisoreus infaustus)… or maybe Willow grouse (Lagopus lagopus) or Black grouse (Lyrurus tetrix).
The former are easier, because they come to feeders during winter, and they are also more iconic because they can only be found (far) in the north. That said, I’m no stranger to these species. My first encounter with the tit happened during a hike in Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park with my friend Vincent; in Varanger, in March, I saw it again, and was really impressed by the grosbeak, which I dubbed Prince of the Woods; finally the infamous kuukkeli was caught in autumn this year. The thrill of the lifer gone, remained the need for more/better pictures, or any picture at all in the tit’s case; luckily, I had good addresses to visit 😉
Siberian tit (Poecile cinctus)
I still had memories from September. An arch of light overhead, linking east and west. Green ribbons dancing in the night, immortalized in my photographs. Yes, northern lights were colorful!
Then my parents came back from Lapland, and described grey and white traces against a black canvas. “No no, the ones I saw were green, I’m sure of this”.
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)
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.
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 🙂