Friday, 3 July 2009

Hidden gems

A White Wagtail in the Helsinki Sunshine
Due to traveling to the Taiga Forest I had to do without the luxury of internet whilst staying in a hotel completely on my own. There were no guests, no staff and no night as the sun didn't ever set. More about that in a second.

On my third morning in Helsinki (Wednesday) I broke with the crepuscular tradition and slept from around 1am until 7am. As it was my last morning, I decided last minute to walk 15 minutes, through a nearby park, to catch a boat to an island called Harakka that was described on the tourist map as a 'nature island'. On the way I picked up a male Pied Flycatcher in the park.

The island was literally minutes away by boat and it really was a little nature reserve. In reality, it was in the hands of the military until as recently as 1988. It's now managed by the city council and boasted a fairly large breeding colony of Common Gull. It had plenty of stunted bushes, clumps of trees and one side of it faced the Gulf of Helsinki. A classic migrant island. The visitor centre staff although being friendly, didn't have a clue as to the birds to be found on their own island. I found singing Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, a Northern Wheatear brood and off shore Eider.

Later, I was on another plane heading north to the Taiga for the bear spotted part of this trip. My first staging post was to stay in a really nice hotel some 80km from where I eventually needed to be. I went for a bike ride at midnight in broad daylight around the immediate vicinity. Picked up more hares and a roding Woodcock. Got back to the hotel at 1am, still in day light and after fannying around for about an hour, I decided to get my head down and this time have a reasonable sleep. That I did and I arose at 8am (late for me these days) and after breakfast met my guide who took me to meet my bear guide - via restaurants (got a female Rustic Bunting in the grounds of one), a husky centre and a carnivore museum.

I will let you know how I got on with the bears in a couple of days.
Flying the flag

1 comment:

holdingmoments said...

Sounds like an interestig trip so far.
Strange that the visitor centre staff didn't know what was on their island though. lol