Having eaten pizza at 3pm the previous day and having only an assortment of snacks to see us through to the morning, after leaving the bear hide we opted for one last try at Valtavaara before getting breakfast. This time we had glimpses of Three-toed Woodpecker although Bluetail remained elusive, probably with most birds not yet back on territory.
The Red Squirrel, grey coloured in winter is
shedding the thicker coat for summer red.
Interesting lichens and mosses can be found on the trees there.
Being a Saturday even fewer places were open. We couldn't wait for the French Cafe to open at 11m and ended up with a burger before travelling the 311km to Wildlife Safaris Finland.
Along the way we encountered between Suomussalmi and Kuusamo, a piece of spatial art that speaks to passers-by according to the artists website. The work has become the symbol of Korpi-Kainuu. In question is the small-by-little refined piece of spatial art 'Silent People'. A mute crowd of near on 1000 human figures in a field.
They looked like scare crows to me.
We arrived at Kuikka Basecamp. From there we were driven another 10km to the hides. We were the only visitors that night and it felt a little unnerving as we drove passed the Finnish markers for no man's land towards the border with Russia.
The hide had three areas for sleeping and fabric covered panels for cameras to be
used without disturbing wildlife. It would get very cold over night.
The toilet again had a black polystyrene seat and emptied beneath the hide.
Ravens were first to the carcass
A Brown Bear was the first mammal to the carcass
It did its best to take the carcass away
We could see a Wolverine visit the carcass in the dark
- challenging conditions for my camera.
Soon after it had left Chris picked up some movement way back against the treeline. Those trees are on the Russian side of the border and that's where the animals seemed to have come from. In the dark it was possible to see the pale grey figures of 4 Wolves. They gradually approached the baited area.
The wolves appeared to be two adults and two yearlings
The palest animal spent a lot of time sniffing around the area,
possibly ensuring that the Wolverine had gone.
They never approached the carcass with just the darker adult female risking a bite before they moved off into the nearby woods.
As the sun arose birds began to return
A Wolverine was again seen on the carcass.
Ravens kept their distance.
While the Wolverine fed a single Wolf appeared but kept well away.
The Wolf smelt around all the areas where the previous four had been spending time.
Eventually it tore off an entire limb as it ripped into the flesh, and left.
The Wolf headed off in the direction that the four had gone.
Then when we were sure there were no animals close by we left our hide.
Most of the others were much smaller, probably equipt just with chairs for shorter viewing sessions.
And we started to make our way back to the main roads, first negotiating
the barrier of the Finnish nomansland.
As we travelled the smaller forest roads we saw more Taiga speciality species.
Female Black Grouse
Trees were coming into leaf as our trip progressed.
We'd arranged to meet up with Sami & Janna, Finnish ringers working on Black-tailed Godwit and Lapwing projects. We first met them when in Georgia in 2016. Chris had asked for their help in seeing Pygmy Owl and we went out on a box check for one of Sami's colleagues. The usual routine is to site three boxes close together then the resident owl has a choice of three possible nest sites. This owl had chosen the last box checked.
Pygmy Owl female on eggs.
The boxes are hollowed out tree trunks with the cavity placed so that the front wall
is thicker than the other three sides.
Thanks to Sami we had finally seen Pygmy Owl. After the box check we celebrated with a very traditional Finnish meal in a very old, very rustic restaurant that we would never have found on our own.
So, finally we have managed to see all the Northern owl species.