Suomenoja is a wetland located in Espoo, within the capital area of Finland. It's made of ponds, canals and reedbeds. Despite its location, in an urban area, Suomenoja shelters many freshwater species of birds, among them the flamboyant Horned grebe (cover). It's also home to many ducks, a large colony of Black-headed gulls, and song birds roost and nest in the adjacent reed and trees.
Being so conveniently located, easily reachable by public transportation, Suomenoja is a popular spot for walkers, joggers, birders and wildlife photographers. The pond is frozen in winter, but when spring comes, the ice melts and birds come back to nest in numbers. Since it was easy to get to from my apartment, I made it my location of choice in May and June 2018, visiting ten times over one and a half month. This assiduity allowed me to learn about the best places to approach and photograph birds.
Below is a photo essay summarizing my time there. CONTACT ME if you're interested in publishing this story.
CHAPTER ONE: EARLY DAYS
In the first days of May, trees had not grown leaves yet, hence the brown reflection and backround seen in this first series of images. My first visit produced the best encounter with the Horned grebe, on a foggy morning, and the only image of a Common pochard, a species which population is quickly declining. Birdlife Finland elected the species "Bird of the Year", to put it in the spotlight, raise awareness about its decline and encourage research on the topic.
CHAPTER TWO: THE ADVENT OF SPRING
As foliage finally flourished, the first ducklings to appear were the Common goldeneyes. Wandering along the shore with their mother, sometimes on its back, they were incredibly cute and engaging. Initially, they stayed at a distance, but they became bolder as they grew older.
CHAPTER THREE: THE OVERLOOKED
I dubbed these birds "the overlooked", for I often overlooked them in the beginning, favouring the colourful and rarer ducks that glided in front of my lens. Too small? Too common? These are never good reasons not to take a shot, and I'm glad I worked with Mute swans, Mallards, Common rosefinches and Sedge warblers too. The latter was a conspicuous singer that seemed to always perch behind a stick, making it a difficult target. With patience, observation and luck, I managed to capture it in gorgeous backlight, perched on a special plant.
CHAPTER FOUR: BABY BOOM
When I returned from Lapland in mid-June, I was delighted to see that baby gulls, Mallards and Shovelers had joined the goldeneyes on the pond. Lying in the mud among the reeds, I would see them appear very close, buzzing from left to right to catch insects on the surface. It was tough to capture these fast little balls of fluff, but they offered me many opportunities to improve. Even when I missed my pictures, it was a true joy to see them roam free like that.
CHAPTER FIVE: DRAMATIC LIGHT
Light is everything for photographer, and the warm, sunny summer we had in Finland that year offered some fabulous atmospheres to capture. I like to work on backlit subjects, and I was able to do just that many times in Suomenoja, usually for sunrise. The fluffy ducklings were perfect models, trapping the early light in their down feathers.