I planned the whole winter a trip to Kuusamo in Northeastern Finland. My plan was to photo shoot lekking Cappercaillies and Smews in the first open water spots surrounded by ice. I had a picture of partly unsharp top shots in my mind of fighting Cappercaillies with a lot of action!! And of smews sitting on ice edge in soft morning light! During wintertime i called my friend Olli Lamminsalo many times and asked about lekking and ice situation. Couple last times Olli answered that the lek is going on and ice had started to melt, welcome!! Eventually i bought flight tickets for this many times delayed trip. Flight tickets nowadays are cheaper than travelling by car! After this i started getting excited of the trip and began checking the weather forecasts. First warm weather prognosis changed to an early spring heat wave. When i arrived in Kuusamo the temperature was 24 degrees centigrade. Quite summerly and hot weather but the landscape was still springlike with no leaves in the trees.
The first day we built platform for a Hawk owl hide to shoot the bird at nest. When that job was finished i took heading to Cappercaillie hide. That was a beautiful night with changing weathers and late night sunlight, lot of birdsong in the air and distant thunderstorm.
Unfortunately no lekking, no fights or females that night. Only one male Cappercaillie had his pale one man show.
Because the lek was so bland i decided to observe and photograph the Hawk owl at nest. The day was really quiet and not much happened. The female was brooding and left the nest twice and once the male took a mole to the female. I spent nine hours in the tent hide sitting on a very uncomfortable, hard and low chair in hot sunshine. But the day was still more than worth it, really interesting just watching the female and taking few photos.
Next night i spent in my friends house in Kuusamo. Wake up at 3am and 45 minute drive to Lämsänkylä, near Russian border, to meet Olli Lamminsalo. We planned to make a half day hike to Iivaara hill. The target was to find Red-flanked bluetail. We were hiking and listening to the early spring symphony and just when we reached first hill top we heard what we were looking for, Red-flanked bluetail. There were four males and at least one female at that area. We stayed there hiding in the bushes when we saw it. That was like an award of hard climbing when it hopped from branch to branch, just few meters a way from us.
That was a dream start for the day which was planned to continue with Smew photo shooting in late evening light. I was in the Smew hide already at 6.30 pm. The evening was really beautiful with clear skies and really light, almost calm winds. The heat wave had melted the ice and waters were totally open. Smews had already left that part of the shore, so that wasn’t a success. If you try to photograph something i am afraid you will have to see the object. That minimum requirement didn’t full fill this time but i was still satisfied. I photo shot Gulls, Goldeneyes and Common sandpipers.
That was a real all-round trip with a lot of photographing in different surroundings. Because I didn’t get much sleep during these four days i was tired but happy!
Big thanks to Olli Lamminsalo!