I find species limits in Redpolls even more confusing than those in large white-headed gulls. But we had a stab at differentiating Arctic Redpoll from Mealy...

We had at least 50 Pine Grosbeaks at Njelan Tullen Tupa. All at point-blank range. For oodles of images, click here.

In snowscapes, above all, context is everything. Click for landscape images.

BLOG  26 March 2015

Northern Exposure

Just back from a very good trip to Finnish Lapland and Norwegian Finnmark. Our aims were two-fold: to see both the solar eclipse and Aurora borealison the same day, and to see some fabulous Arctic birds. In the event, the weather conspired against us, but we just about managed everything - if imperfectly. Nevertheless, I came back with about 200GB of images, which include an impressively large number of crackers. On this page, I will summarise the highlights. Follow the links to explore each species or species group in more detail - and with many more photos!  Alternatively, view galleries on my separate photographic website: Norway and Finland.

James Lowen 

I have become a fervent anti-guller, but found myself rather smitten by numerous Glaucous Gulls. Click here for more.

As for the Lapland Lightshows, we had mixed luck. But at least we had luck...

Siberian Tits were fun. As were Willow, Great and Blue. Click here for more.


Red Squirrels were somewhat easier to identify - even if they weren't exactly red. Click here for more Tufty.

We flew with Norwegian Air via Helsinki into Ivalo, just shy of the Arctic Circle. We first spent 24 wonderful hours at Neljan Tullen Tupa, which is a wood-rich lodge with basic accommodation, hearty food (Reindeer stew!) and a brilliant bird feeding station. Here the targets were Pine Grosbeak, Siberian Jay and Siberian Tit - all of which were world ticks for me. In the event, the Jay eluded us first time round, but we saw it in the final hour of the trip, on the way back from Varanger. Ah... Varanger! Well into the Arctic Circle, this famous fjord is typically visited during the summer. Our aim was contrary: the experience the wildlife of this winter wonderland. We stayed at the excellent Ekkeroy Holiday House, about 15km east of the town of Vadso.  I strongly recommend the self-catering accommodation here: classy yet homely, with wonderful views over the fjord to the north and south. The owners' ethos is strongly environmental, the walls are coverd in local history and the shelves replete with visitor information. In Vadso, we took a very good trip around the harbour on the floating hide (converted electric boat) operated by Arntzen Arctic Adventures. The owner-guide - Øyvind - sensitively manoeuvred the boat around the water, enabling us to get close enough to a variety of northern ducks (notably King Eider and Steller's Eider) to photograph them. The poor light was not in our favour, but, thanks to Øyvind, we still had an excellent trip and came away with some decent images. We also enjoyed the stunning hides designed by architects Tormod Amundsen and Elin Taranger of Biotope. Tormod recently gave a lecture tour in the UK and organised the now widely known Gullfest the previous weekend. I should be writing a couple of magazine articles about the trip - but, dear reader, you get this series of blogpost for free...


King Eider was the waterfowl highlight, but Steller's Eider and Long-tailed Duck ran them close.

Click here for more.