In the last post, I told you the tale of my visit to Dévaványa, in south-eastern Hungary. I mentioned the Greast bustards and the imperial eagles, but there's one thing I left out.
As the sun set, I heard a call I used to be familiar with, one not unlike that of a yelping dog: a Little owl (Athene noctua)!
When I still lived with my parents in France, we often heard them, and sometimes saw them perched on the neighbour's house. They've always shunned the nesting box we installed in the garden, but they were there. It's not a species we have in Finland, though, so hearing them again that day was a treat.
One and a half hour from Helsinki lies one of the largest and best preserved bogs of Southern Finland: Torronsuo. Protected by the eponymous national park, it is crossed by a boardwalk that let's you discover it up close. I visited it with my girlfriend Vivien and a friend on Midsummer evening. It was gorgeous day with a bit of a breeze, which meant the open areas were completely free of mosquitoes. The forest though... yeah, we didn't spend much time there!
I visited Suomenlinna several times in the beginning of June. Among the geese and the wheatears, one bird I didn't expect to shoot was the Common eider (Somateria mollissima). Sure, I've seen the species from there, but never close to shore. These times, however, I was lucky to get close and personal with a group of mothers collectively caring for their babies in what's called a crèche (from the French word for kindergarten). Baby eiders immediately leave the nest after hatching, and while some mothers care for them on their own, they often either abandon their brood in a crèche, or join it and care for them and others with other eider moms.
White-throated dippers (Cinclus cinclus) are common winter visitors to southern Finland. Many of the rapids in the region host a dipper (or more) for the season, usually attracting viewers and photographers: this species is a crowd favourite! I can totally understand that, seeing them plunge into cold water without breaking a sweat is a mesmerising spectacle for me too.
I have a secret spot, out of the city, which not many visit. I was there on a sunny February morning last winter. For a few hours, I sat in the snow and moved my toes inside my boots, but having two dippers chasing each other in front of me was well worth enduring such cold conditions. I hid under winter camouflage so the birds couldn't spot me, and it worked like a charm: they sometimes came very close!