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101Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Oulu.Day 2/3Oulu.Day 4/5Kuusamo.Day 6Ivalo.Day 7/9Varanger Fjord andvicinity.Day 10Ivalo.Day 11Fly London.Accommodation Comfortable tourist hotels, all withprivate facilities.Food All included in the price.GradingGrade A. Easy birdwatching walksonly. Focus Breeding birds of the taiga forests,fjords and Arctic uplands.LeaderAri Latja or Toni Eskelin.Single room supplement£395.Web quick search: NOR03NORWAYRUSSIAFINLANDLAKEINARIJAVIIVALOKUUSAMOOULUVARANGER FJORD Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationNorway & Finland - An Arctic SpringAn 11-day holiday to enjoy the breeding birds of the taiga forests, spectacular fjords and Arctic uplands of Finland and Norway.Thursday 9th May - Sunday 19th May Cost: £3,395The extremely popular Naturetrek tourto northern Finland each Easter,which we have run for many yearsnow, visits this beautiful country at a timewhen the frozen Arctic wilderness iswaking from a long winter slumber andgreeting the beginning of a new spring. Sixweeks later, the transition into summer hasprecipitated one of the great Europeannatural history spectacles as a myriad ofplants, insects, birds and mammals seekto take advantage of the lengthening daysand milder weather to reproduce and raiseprogeny. With an urgency engendered bythe shortness of the Arctic summer, newlyarrived migrant birds waste no time inestablishing territories and laying eggs,whilst each day new plants burst intoflower to add colour to the northern spring.It is with great pleasure therefore that wereturn, during this late spring to earlysummer period, to savour the sights andsounds of this vibrant season with anexciting tour which embraces the very bestbirdwatching locations in Arctic Finlandand Norway.Our holiday begins with a flight fromLondon to Oulu (via Helsinki), a town onthe north-eastern shore of the Gulf ofBothnia. Oulu is surrounded by extensiveboreal forest in which live many of the highArctic birds most sought after by Britishbirdwatchers, in particular the owls. Whilstowl numbers fluctuate from year to year,the breeding species here include Eagle,Ural, Great Grey, Tengmalm's, Hawk,Short-eared and Pygmy Owl, offeringplenty of scope for our 'owling' activities.Black Grouse, Capercaillie and bothThree-toed and Black Woodpeckersfeature among the other residents of theOulu area and we will also visit LiminkaBay, Finland's most important wetlandarea, where a host of waders andwaterbirds may harbour a few surprisemigrants whilst local attractions includeCommon Crane, Terek Sandpiper andCitrine Wagtail.Next, we drive eastwards from Oulu,through a picturesque landscapeblanketed with forests and studded withlakes, to the small town of Kuusamo wherewe stay for two nights. Situated close toboth the Russian border and the ArcticCircle, Kuusamo's wild taiga forests offersome superlative birdwatching, withSiberian Jay, Siberian Tit, Pine Grosbeak,Two-barred Crossbill and Rustic Buntingbeing amongst the eastern specialities tolook for. With luck we may also find a Red-flanked Bluetail, a veritable gem of a birdwell worth the effort entailed to reach thehillside forests where the electric bluemales proclaim their arrival with bursts ofmelodious song. Not far from the town isthe magnificent wilderness of OulankaNational Park. Lying close to the ArcticCircle, Oulanka contains a wonderfullydiverse range of habitats that includesvast expanses of ancient taiga forest,deep valleys, bogs and meadowsextending over 270 square kilometres ofland along the Oulankajoki River. A dayspent in this pristine national park will befilled with many exciting bird observationsand we hope to also glimpse some of thepark's mammals which include Reindeer,Elk, Beaver, Red Squirrel and Pine Marten.From here we drive north to Ivalo, inFinland, where we stay for a night beforecontinuing to Varanger Fjord. Leaving theforests behind, we enter the great 'fellcountry' of Arctic Norway, an undulatingterrain of bare hills which overlooks bogsand lakes where the exquisite Black-throated Diver breeds. Fringed by thicketsof Mountain Birch, the blue waters ofVaranger Fjord and the surrounding tundrarepresent one of the most accessibleexamples of Arctic habitat on the mainlandof Europe. This is the haunt of divers,Steller's and King Eiders, White-tailed Eagle, Rough-legged Buzzard, Snowy Owl,Glaucous and Iceland Gulls, Long-tailedSkua, Bluethroat, Red-throated Pipit,Shorelark and Snow Bunting whilstexploration of the surrounding tundra andthe salmon-rich Teno River should producecolonies of Arctic Terns, various breedingwaders, and maybe a glimpse of the localpair of Gyr Falcons. Weather permitting,we will take a boat trip to visit one of theoffshore seabird islands which containgreat colonies of Kittiwakes, Shags, and auks, including numbers of Brünnich'sGuillemots and Puffins. The spectacle of these noisy, bustlingseabird islets is matched the following dayby the wildness of the scenery as wefollow the peninsula from Vardo toHamninberg, the furthest point of theEuropean mainland where pristinebeaches and sheltered bays contrast withstretches of dark bogs and tundra,populated by song-flighting waders. The frenetic pace of the Arctic summer will continue for several more months but,after drinking our fill of this annualspectacle, it will sadly be time to retraceour steps to Ivalo where we catch a return flight to London.Great Grey Owl Red-flankedBluetailBlack-throated Diver

Despite a long history of over-huntingand other human pressures, themighty Musk Ox still roams thewindswept mountains and tundra of thehigh Arctic. Although the core of theirdistribution remains in Greenland andnorthern Canada, small remnantpopulations also occur in Alaska, Russiaand Norway, the descendants of animals re-introduced to their former range in the midto late 20th century. The Norwegianpopulation was re-introduced in 1932, androams the beautiful alpine and subalpineuplands of the Dovre Mountains,approximately 200 kilometres from thecoastal town of Trondheim. Theseimpressive and formidable animals - whichlook not unlike shaggy carpets on legs -live alongside an impressive range ofsought-after Arctic bird species such asDotterel, Gyr Falcon and Long-tailed Skua,together creating the perfect wildlifecombination and the focus of this uniqueand exciting Naturetrek tour.Winter lingers for a long while in theNorwegian mountains, but by mid-June thesnow has usually melted from all but theupper slopes, the valleys are bursting intoflower and numerous birds are busilysinging, staking out territories and gearingup for the short, but frenetic, breedingseason ahead. Those birds that choose tobreed on the upper slopes, such as Dotterel,Golden Plover, Ring Ouzel and Wheatear,are often found in impressive numbers in thevalleys at this time of year waiting for thesnow to melt and their breeding grounds tofinally open up. Any lingering snow will notaffect our plans, however, for the areas ofthe Dovre Mountains that we need to exploreare easily accessed from Trondheim andcriss-crossed by a network of cleared,sealed roads.Our tour starts with a short, and direct, flightto Trondheim, a pleasant coastal townwhich sits on the edge of Norway's intricateand mountainous coastline. FromTrondheim we head inland and climb upthrough the Dovre Mountains to the villageof Kongsvold, an attractive community ofwooden houses with white picket fences,backed by spectacular mountain sceneryand within earshot of singing Bluethroats.You may even be fortunate enough to see adistant Musk Ox from your bedroomwindow! A comfortable mountain hotel willbe our base for the next four nights.We will spend the following day exploringthe alpine habitats, pools and marshes ofthe Dovre Mountains in search of some ofthe typical birds of the Scandinavianuplands. Waterbirds such as Red-throatedand Black-throated Divers, Scaup, Velvetand Common Scoters, Long-tailed Duckand Red-necked Phalarope are frequentlyseen. Waders include Temminck's Stint,Wood Sandpiper, Golden Plover, Dottereland Whimbrel, while Bluethroat, LaplandBunting and Shore Lark are all possible.Overhead soar Gyr Falcon, Golden Eagleand Rough-legged Buzzard and, for thefortunate, perhaps even a Short-eared Owlquartering the heather-clad slopes. In theevening we will visit a nearby wetland towatch lekking Great Snipe, which is surelyone of Europe's most bizarre, butenjoyable, ornithological sights.From the smaller inhabitants of themountains we next turn our attention to thelargest. We will spend most of the followingday heading up into the mountains on a'Musk Ox safari'. While nothing can beguaranteed in the world of wildlife-watching,we would be very unlucky not to see thisimpressive animal. The Musk Ox is actuallymore closely related to sheep and goatsthan to cows and has evolved to withstandbrutally cold temperatures of minus 50ºC orless. The Norwegian population currentlystands at about 215 animals and in thesummer they typically live in herds ofbetween 10 and 15 individuals. In additionto the Musk Oxen we'll keep our eyes openfor Reindeer, Mountain Hare and a variety ofbirds. Both Lynx and Wolverine also live inthese mountains but they are both veryelusive and only seen by the fortunate few.We will spend our final full day birdwatchingin the mountains, visiting such sites asFokstrumyra and the spectacularVinstradalen Plateau. These areas are hometo many of the species mentioned above,as well as to Ptarmigan, Willow Grouse, HenHarrier, Long-tailed Skua and Ring Ouzel.Finally, we must leave the Dovre Mountainsbehind and return to Trondheim for our flighthome. We should, however, have timebefore we leave to enjoy a little lowlandwildlife-watching, perhaps ending the tourwith a Slavonian Grebe resplendent in itscolourful breeding dress or perhaps a hugeElk crossing the road.Norway - Musk Oxen & MountainsA 6-day holiday to Norway's Dovre Mountains in search of Musk Oxen and upland birds.Thursday 20th June - Tuesday 25th June Cost: £1,795Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Trondheim; transferKongsvold.Day 2Birdwatching, DovreMountains.Day 3 Musk Ox safari, DovreMountains.Day 4 Birdwatching, DovreMountains.Day 5Trondheim.Day 6Fly London.AccommodationComfortable mountain hotel withprivate facilities.FoodAll included in the price.GradingGrade A. Easy walks, althoughsometimes on rough terrain.FocusBirds, mammals and mountainscenery.LeaderTerje Kolass.Single room supplement£295.Web quick search: NOR08102Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryOSLOBERGENKONGSVOLDTRONDHEIMSWEDENNORWAYNORTHSEANORTHSEADOVRE MOUNTAINSMusk OxDotterelSlavonian Grebe