The plane bumped around in the turbulence as it descended at lunchtime the following day through the thick grey cloud into Ivalo airport. There was a noticeable drop in temperature on exiting the plane and a strong icy wind accompanied with drizzle as I had finally arrived inside the Arctic Circle. The arrival formalities were quickly over at this tiny airport and in no time the hire car was speeding northwards past the Finnish lakes and mixed forest of birch and pine. The first destination was going to be the accommodation were I was supposed to have stayed the previous night just to the north of Kaamanen to visit the well known feeding station. Some lunch was in order first and stew was quickly consumed while watching a constant stream of birds coming to the feeders outside the window. This appeared to be mainly a mix of Brambling in summer plumage and various Redpoll. The stay at the feeders was going to brief as there was still many miles to cover to the destination but I was due to visit on my return journey southward at the end of the week.
The feeder setup was a bit awkward for photography with its position and light at that time of day but a few photographs were to be had and I started on the Redpolls which I have not photographed previously. Separating out the different types of Redpoll is not an easy task and I think there were two types visting here which were Lesser Redpoll and Mealy Redpoll.
The Redpoll photography was briefly interrupted by the arrival of a beautiful looking Red Squirrel, although it stubbornly refused to sit in a better photographic setting than on the mountain of sunflower shells that accumulated below the feeders.
I returned from the brief distraction to the Redpoll photography.
Movement in the pine tree to the right caught the corner of my eye and a female Pine Grosbeak landed with and audible thump. A surprising large bird (small thrush size) but subtly beautiful with its mix of grey and rust colours.
Unfortunately it was all too soon time to leave and continue the journey northwards as there was still a good 3 hour drive to the final destination where I had an appointment with a pre-booked evening meal. The journey was relatively uneventful, except for wrestling with an automated petrol pump, as mile upon mile of forest were passed with a noticeable decline in the height of trees with the progress northwards. After passing over the border in to Norway, a brief stop was made at Varangerbotn to check out a small nature reserve behind the Sami Museum which appeared devoid of bird life except for a few Arctic Skuas harassing gulls at distance out across the rough waters of the fjord. I continued my journey, stopping briefly at the amazing sight of two White-tailed Sea Eagles casually sat on the beach unfortunately out of photography distance, before reaching my final destination of Vestre Jakobslev which would be my base for the rest of the week. Stepping out the warm comfort of the car I was greeted by a strong wind armed with cold knives under a leaden sky. I decided after a warming stew supper that the best approach would be to settle in and make a fresh start in the morning under hopefully some better conditions.