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Finnish Taiga

FINNISH TAIGA IN SPRING.

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In Spring 2016 I went back to Northern Finland, to Kuusamo to be exact. I booked a  fotoworkshop with Finnature for a week, to be able to make some good pictures of displaying Black Grouse and Capercaillie, preferably on snow.

 After arrival in Kuusamo we first used hides on a still half frozen lake, where Whooper Swans and Cranes were gathering. Luckely, there was heavy snowfall, which gave the atmosphere something mystical.

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The lek where the Black Grouse were having their display and fights, was a fantastic spot! A large open area between a line of pine trees, and covered with a layer of 40 cm snow! At 03.00 hrs at night we drove to this area and stayed in the hides till the display was over, usually around 07.30 hrs. I could follow and picture the whole proces, from challenging each other to fiersome fights.

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Not too far from the Black Grouse lek, there was a Hawk Owl all ready for a couple of months. We could lure it with pieces of dead mice, which gave us the possibillity to picture this fantastic bird.

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 Quite a bit more difficult than picturing Black Grouse, was trying to make decent photo's of the mystical forest dweller, called " Capercaillie"..... To get a glimpse of this largest grouse of Europe, we had to stay in a hide in the forest for whole night, starting from 6 pm till 7.30 am....!

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a very elusive male Capercaillie in the early morning....

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 a truely mysterious bird...

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an angry male Bullfinch.....

During my stay in Northern Finland winter came to a sudden end and due to high temperatures snow disapeared very rapidly! Four days after visiting the Black Grouse lek I went back, just to see that a thick layer of snow was completely gone...! Black Grouse males were still in heat and tostesteronlevels were high.....

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visible breath in the morning frost....

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fighting and jumpin'........

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steam in backlight....

After a great week in Kuusamo and surrounding areas, I rented a car and drove to Kajaani Airport, 250 km more south, to pick up my nephew Eli. He had a desire seeing Brown Bears in the wild and that was just what we are planning to go for.... Heading for Vartius, close to the Russian Border, we have been sitting in various hides for 6 nights in a row...

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After sunset at a lake in Finnish Karelia...

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From out of the hides we had a view on a very nice taiga landscape, with a forest pond, with still some ice on it, despite high temperatures. First night in the hide my nephew saw his first wild bear, a huge male (see picture below, where it pops out of the forest)

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Close to Kuhmo there is an area with lakes and rapids. It is called Lentuakoski. Because of fast melting snow the river which connects two lakes contained lots of water and the current was strong.

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lots of fast flowing water at the rapids....

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a Grey Squirrel....

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displaying Goldeneye pair on a forest pond during the blue hour before sunrise......

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Taiga in the early morning (double exposure)

Our fifth night we were very lucky with a large Brown Bear appearing during most beautiful evening light. Next morning, still sitting in the hide at around 5 pm, we saw one of the most elusive and rare predators of the North, the Wolverine...!

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one bear for the price of two... Thanks to absolutely no wind what so ever..

Wolverine wandering around in a colorful landscape, with some mist hanging above the surface of the forest pond...

Every night sitting for 14 hours in a hide gives you great opportunities to see interesting wildlife, but you don't get enough sleep and also your body gets stiff. So we went to a national park, to stretch our legs. It is called Hiiden Portii National Park, 50 km from Kuhmo, with a beautiful gorge. Because of the melting ice in the canyon, colors were very beautiful.

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 Last night in the hides: 3 different bears showed up...!

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a huge male Brown Bear (Ursus arctos)....

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Just before dark a female came carefully out of the bush...

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Displaying male Goldeneye during blue hour in the early morning....

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Goldeneye low key.....