For the long the 700km up north we left Joensuu at 1.30 am and arrived at our first destination: Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, too much commercial nonsense if you ask me. Taking a photo with Santa Claus for 25 euros, why not? :) However, this was our (and mine) first experience of crossing the arctic circle, and yeah, after crossing it I really felt like I was in a different world! After Rovaniemi, we visited Lainio Snow Village, ca. 30km west of Kittilä. That was a really nice visit, seeing nice sculptures and you could also spend a night in the snow village, sleeping on a matress above a pile of ice! Beforehand, I saw on tiira that the Azure Tit that has been present in Lapland was still there, and I was only 30km away from it... too bad it was in the other direction, so no chance for me..
Crossing the arctic circle near Rovaniemi
A room in the snow village, how comfortable!
After visiting these places we arrived in Levi around 17.00. We had a nice cottage with 13 people and enjoyed our first meal in Lapland together. The next morning, the 3rd of March, we were up for a Husky safari. But first I had a small walk and saw my first new bird in Lapland: a Siberian Jay! It was at some feeders in front of a house, very nice and unexpected! After this, we went for the husky tour. This is one of the things you have to do when you are in Lapland. In pairs we could get on a sledge with five huskies in front and start the safari. Driving the sledge through this amazing Lappish landscape was amazing!
My first Siberian Jay (Perisoreus infaustus)
The Husky Safari
Hazel Grouse (Tetrastes bonasia), female and male
Dipper (Cinclus cinclus)
Thursday morning I made a hike to the top of a hill next to the Levi fell, wonderful views! Thursday afternoon we did a skiing track of 15 km, very nice weather but few birds, just had 2 Siberian Tits, nice to see them again.
Friday morning we tried a new hiking track on the eastern side of the village. Some of my friends had seen 2 Willow Grouse there and photographed them very well... So I wanted to see if i could find them. Unfortunately they were no where to be found. We did see good numbers of Siberian Jays (at least 6-8 birds). Next to this I had a singing Pine Grosbeak, nice surprise. The best surprise of all came at the end of the hike.... I suddenly spotted a Hawk Owl perched in a dead tree! Amazing! It was being mobbed by Siberian Jays continuously. After this successfull hike we proceeded to the city where we spend the rest of the afternoon in the spa, very relaxing.
Siberian Jays (Perisoreus infaustus)
The Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula)
Levi at night, during a snow-shoe trek
Ski piste at Levi