Finnmark in May

We had an assignment on eight days of birding in Finnmark in the second half of May, starting in the Pasvik Valley and the Varanger peninsula working our way westward to Porsanger.

One of the target species in Pasvik was the Siberian Tit (lappmeis), and we found it in the upper part of the valley near Nyrud.

A striking occurrence of Capercaillie (storfugl) surprised us; females (røy) were sitting in the roadside all the way up the valley. The males (tiur) were harder to find, but one was lekking in a distant open field.

Black Grouse (orrfugl) was also present in good numbers, and so was Willow Grouse (lirype).

A much more difficult species to find this time of the year is the Hazel Grouse (jerpe), but we were lucky and found a rather elusive pair.

Much of the ponds and lakes where still covered with ice, but along the Pasvik River we found Greenshanks (gluttsnipe), Wood Sandpipers (grønnstilk) and loads of Spotted Redshanks (sotsnipe).

A collapse in the rodent population made it hard to find any owls – the only species we saw on the trip was Short-eared Owl (jordugle), even one hunting in the dense forest.

There are plenty of Moose (elg) in the valley. 

A more surprising animal to be found here is the Musk Rat (bisam). A small population of this American species origins from animals introduced to Western Russia for fur.

From the Pasvik valley we continued to Vadsø and the Varanger Peninsula, where the Stellers Eider (stellerand) was another target species. We found them in the Vadsø harbour, and also in some huge, distant rafts along the Varangerfjord.

A resting Long-tailed Duck (havelle) at Vadsø.

Male Wigeon (brunnakke) at Varangerbotn.

A very surprising find was a pair of Garganeys (knekkand) at Hamningberg!

White-tailed Eagles (havørn) are common along the Varangerfjord. Here an immature bird.

A single adult Lesser Black-backed Gull (sildemåke) on his permanent seating in Vardø. This bird is single a long-stayer, coming back to Vardø every summer, usually sitting on the same pole.

Resting Dunlins (myrsnipe) at the Tana Outlet. They were the dominant waders along the coast, in flocks of hundreds.

Purple Sandpipers (fjæreplytt) also occurred in good numbers.

Short-eared Owls (jordugle) were on the move on the peninsula.

Small flocks of Bohemian Waxwings (sidensvans) were seen regularly.

It was full winter in the higher elevated areas of the Varanger Peninsula, with most areas still covered with snow. However, Rock Ptarmigans (fjellrype) bobbled over with hormones and were fully occupied claiming their territories.

Lapland Buntings (lappspurv) were feeding on the bare patches alongside the road.

Our last leg took us to Porsanger. At Vaekker we found the biggest rarity on the trip: a visiting Yankee: Lesser Yellowlegs (gulbeinsnipe)!

A nice flock of Red Knots (polarsnipe) also rested at Vaekker.

The main target on the last leg was the Lesser White-fronted Geese (dverggås) at Valdakmyra in Porsanger. We were lucky and got a nice view of a few pairs on close range!