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Finland’s wide variety of wildlife and unspoiled wilderness make it the perfect country for bird watching excursions. There are an estimated 460 species of bird residing in Finland including snowy owls, golden eagles and capercaillie. Its north-easterly location means there are some species that aren’t found anywhere else in Europe and, in the summer, the sun stays up so late that you can go birding well into the night. These are some of the best areas in Finland for getting some great bird photos.
This island nature centre, whose name translates to ‘magpie’, on the Baltic Sea just off the coast of Helsinki offers a green learning experience and natural wildlife close to the capital city. There is a nature trail, bird watching point and bird guide available, although part of the island is closed off during nesting periods.
All of Finland’s national parks offer bird watching opportunities, but Nuuksio near Espoo in particular is a paradise for rare species, including European nightjars and woodlarks. The lakes and crags make ideal places for watching both land and water birds.
This large, flat wetland area near the south coast is one of the best spots in southern Finland for seeing birds during their migration periods. There are multiple bird watching towers set up across the water, reedbeds and meadows to observe the nesting and migrating birds without disturbing them.
The Vimpa islands on the Hamina Archipelago are popular for fishing trips but offer excellent bird watching too. Millions of arctic birds pass over the islands during the migration periods, including white-tailed eagles, which can be seen from the bird watching towers. Rental cabins are available to use as a base for these trips.
Often considered one of the best bird watching locations in all of Europe. The Kokemäenjoki river delta in southwest Finland is the largest delta in Europe which is why both birds and bird watchers flock to the wetlands. Especially during the migration seasons it is possible to see swans, waterfowl, geese, ducks, gulls and songbirds, among many others.
Another of Finland’s most highly recommended birding sites, Liminka Bay near Oulu is the largest bay on the Gulf of Bothnia with up to 200 bird species to see. As early as August, birds will start migrating south and you can spot Caspian terns, white-tailed eagles, black grouse and so many flocks of geese you will lose count.
The far north of Lapland is home to birds too. Kaamanen near the city of Inari is particularly renowned for its variety of bird species which are difficult to spot elsewhere and is especially popular with bird photographers. Bird species include pine grosbeaks, Siberian jays, grey-headed chickadees, willow warblers, and willow grouse. There are also rare opportunities for seeing Finland’s magnificent owls such as the mouse or short-eared owls. The locals take great pride in their wildlife and set up feeding spots for observation.
The area around the city of Oulu attracts millions of migratory birds every year and is home to around eight species of owl. The port area is one of the best places for seeing the terek sandpiper. Arctic terns and Temminck’s stints have also been known to nest around the inlet.
Finland’s most southerly fell is fairly remote and more forested than the surrounding Oulu region, but makes for a good stop off for birders travelling between sites. Among the birds to be seen here are hazel hens, pine grosbeaks, red-flanked bluetails, pied flycatchers, woodpeckers and cuckoos.
In this north-western province close to the Russian border you can see buzzards, goldeneyes, chiffchaffs, finches, crows, sandpipers and more. Owls, including great grey owls, also emerge during the summer but a guide is usually needed due to their natural elusiveness.
It may seem odd to recommend a bear centre for bird watching, but the remote location coupled with discreet watch stations are also ideal for birding. From the centre’s 22 photography sites you can potentially see owls during the autumn, including great grey, pygmy, Tengmalm’s and ural owls.
Finland’s finest bog and the largest raised bog in Europe provides a highly different bird watching opportunity. The duckboards laid out over the area and the bird watching towers giving views across the entire bog allow visitors to see cranes and geese which stop by during migration.