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Finland in August 2013


Gregor

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Gregor

Hi Safaritalkers

 

First post for me. I had a trip last fall to the border between Finland and Russia, that I hope you can enjoy. This was to a place that for years have hides for photographers and they put out food to attract the the wild bears.

I wrote this in swedish for my blog, and use google translate here. I´m to lazy to rewrite it all into my bad english.

 

 

14 to 18 August 2013
Vartius, Finland
Traveling to Wild Brown Bear Lodge
DAY 1
I met up with Roland, Petter, Lars and Johan at Arlanda airport in Stockholm. Roland has been twice to Finland and photographed the bears and is our "tour guide". Roland works as a lighting technician, and he mainly film. Petter has he been to this place once before, like Lars. Petter is active in Södertelge photoclub. Lars is John's father. They have for many years been avid ornithologists, and together riding kingdom and around the globe in search of to see and photograph birds. Thus, we are all quite serious in our intent as a hobby nature photographers.
We started by taking a coffee break at the airport , waiting for boarding . I started by ordering a sandwich and chai tea . The girl who worked at the diner , asked my name. A little puzzled, I said my name to her. She said: "Would Gregor like to have a dirty chai " ? Surprised , I looked first at her and then at Roland who was standing beside me. We burst out in a big laughter . The girl, a very pretty black girl , laughed and tried lightly blushing declare what "dirty chai " is, this is when you have espresso in chai tea. This then set the level for the trip, very playful and good laughs . After an hour on the flight to Helsinki , one hour to Kajanni and then an hour to where we arrived at Wild Brown Bear in Vartius . This is a few kilometers from the Russian border in roughly the same latitude as Umeå (350 km south of arctic circle). Once we were there we were able to install our stuff in a quite ok, but somewhat spartan accommodations. The lodge is generally characterized by functionalism. A quick meal and then where it directly out to the hides . We walked about 700 meters through a typical Finnish primeval forest , the forest type that is most in Sweden . Nicely anyway. Since we came to an opening with marsh that stretched out as open fields , forest and a pond. Very beautiful and you could immediately see the potential for great photos . Bears coming out of the forest , reflecting in the pond, and sneaks away across the open marsh and into the fog. Dreaming can you do about wolves , lynx, wolverines and eagles. But getting to see any of them (exempt for bear) is very unusual.
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Me and Roland installed ourselves in a hide, and began to wait. While waiting in a hide is hard to describe. While it is always exciting and at any time can a bear or other animal to appear and present a photo opportunity, it is calm and relaxing. Sitting and doing nothing, really. We sat there and waited and whispered to each other, when suddenly we saw a bear! Targeted quickly up the camera and shot away. Composed and rattled off a new burst.
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But wait , what's that in the bear ears ? The bear is marked with large red plastic pieces , and has a large satellite transmitter around the neck. Awesome anyway, but it takes away a bit of the impression . Bear came back in the evening moved back and forth in the area. And we could take a lot of pictures. Darkness fell . Outside, we could hear the sound of the bear gnawed on the bone , but we saw nothing anymore. At half past eleven we fell asleep . Next morning at 4 am , we went up . And waited. Dawn thought I must be the best time. But Roland said he had never seen anything in the morning on his previous trips. It was only half an hour to go until 7 am and we were about to prepare to pack up , when a bear appeared on the scene . It took a turn and passed by us and away . Unmarked Bear this time . Could see the camera display that it looked promising and now it was fun to go back to the lodge to see the evening and the morning's pictures in the computer. Pretty cool actually . You can not guarantee to see anything at all. We're talking about relatively rare and elusive animals. And here I had pictures of two bears :)
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Lodge-life the days we were there was quite similar. We got there at half past eight, after leaving the hides at seven. Had breakfast, slept a few hours and then had a little "workshop" where we looked at each other's pictures, and gave each other small editing tips. At 19.00 pm it was back to the hides.

 

DAY 2

 

to be continued...

Edited by Gregor
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Treepol

Thanks for taking the time to post this report to Safaritalk.

 

Great photos of both the bear and the forest.

 

Do you think a visit in late September-early October would be OK, or is that too late - I'm thinking of the weather - temperature and hours of daylight.

Edited by Treepol
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This place is open until last september. And I think it is good sightings then. A few weeks later the bears go hibernating. Sun rises at 6,45 and sets at 18.15. Autumn this time of year is often really beautiful. With strong colors in the leaf tree. If it is nice it can be 20 degrees celsius if you sit in the sun. But it can also be heavy overcast blocking all sun, temperature around zero and change between rain and snow all the time. So it is unpredictable.

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Google did a pretty decent job with Swedish. Very interesting to have a report from that area. Welcome to Safaritalk.

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Game Warden

@@Gregor Welcome to Safaritalk: glad to have you here :) looking forward to the rest of the report.

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Day 2

 

This evening I had a hide for my self. The evening started normally pretty quiet, but half past seven the show started. A big bear took the stage and in two hours he walked around in front of our hides, and gave us several number of possibilities for amazing pictures. All our cameras went hot and SMSs between us was lyrical. After a while came the text message: "Can someone call the artist agency? Time to replace the artist ... "

 

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One lesson that I think comes up in many contexts is that it is not what you see that is dangerous. It is what you don´t see.

 

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When the bear went away for a while two wolverines appeared. They were incredible funny and amusing. I love their style. Runs around with a jumping, jerky style, stops, looks round about and continue. Our "tour guide" Roland Ulfeld has done a movie about these events and you can see the funny wolverine movement patterns.

 

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When you sit like this in a hide and has such luck that we had, it is easy to quickly be spoiled. If you don´t see the bear every night you will be a little disappointed. But to see the wolverine was something extra. And these wolverines really danced for us. Back and forth and everywhere they were the rest of the evening. There were many nice photos. For a moment, the sun broke through and offered magically warm evening light.

 

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The evening drew to a close, and we had not even had time to grab a snack. Presented with some tea and a sandwich, and I sat there in the dusk and was amazed by the evening. To end this day, came the tagged bear up and wandered into the distance across the marsh. Which enchanting scenery and wildlife as it was.

 

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Next, Day 3

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wilddog

How fantastic! Thanks for sharing this very different safari.

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Game Warden

Would love to see a Wolverine. Do you know if any have been collared?

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IamFisheye

Great report, we have been thinking about doing one of these trips when money and time may allow.

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Hi GW

 

I don´t know how it is in Finland, but in Sweden they (goverment funded) study wolverines and the other predators quite a lot. And yes they have collars on some of them. Those we saw i Finland did not have collars.

 

http://www.wolverineproject.se/index.html

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Yes, i have seen it. Interesting. And it was inspiration for me to decided to post this trip report.

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Atravelynn

W o l v e r i n e s

 

You saw them, you photographed them. Congrats! Nice job on finding some bears without red plastic ears too. Most fascinating report!

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DAY 3

 

After yesterday, I was happy and felt that now I have got the pictures. If I don´t get anymore I´m more than happy with the trip. Everything else is a bonus. I and Petter sat together and the expectations and excitement were at its peak. Halfway through the night we saw a glimpse of the wolverines we watched the night before. We think it is a mother and here last year cub. The idea struck us both that it would be nice if she posed a bit on the small knoll which was right in front of our hide. And sure enough, after a while, she came out of the woods and took a quick turn over the knoll. All in all, she arrived at the scene a second or two.

 

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Then we sat there. Had it quite nice, whispered to each other and found one or two jokes. The only external entertainment was a gull that for two hours was trying to swallow a too large piece of bone. He was stubborn but to no success. But nothing more this evening. In the absence of other, I tried to shoot some crows that sat in the mist of one of the dead trees. Incidentally, it is a relative abundance of dead trees in this glade and all are torn by the Bears. I guess that's why they died.

 

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Until the night when we were already had packed up, a bear showed up. It was very dark outside, but both Petter and I tried a couple pictures despite the conditions.

 

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Next, Day 4

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Very cool trip report! Great photos of the Eurasian predators which often get little attention. Is it also normal to get a bear and 2 wolverines in a single day!?
Looking forward to more - and hopefully some wolves and lynx?

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Hi Marg

 

They had a Sauna. Something they called a smoke sauna. Never heard about it before. It is some kind of old custom sauna, that they were proud of. They have a large fire in a sauna without any kind of chimney. They let the fire burn for some hours and when the stones is hot, they sniff out the smoke. After that they sit in there and it is warm like a ordinary sauna. But for me the air still was very smokey/polluted and I it felt sticky in my lungs. So I skipped that, and took a nice swim in the lake just at the lodge instead. Cold and refreshing :)

 

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DAY 4

 

Another night by my myself. The night before had hardly nothing happened, and you wondered is it so again today. Time passed and precisely nothing happened. Not even a seagull or crow appeared. In the end, our friend wolverine emerge from the fog on a short visit, as if to say goodbye.

 

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Suddenly, I caught a glimpse of something bright far away. A wolf. I am fascinated by wolves and for me, the wolf is special than bear. Quickly, I turned up my telephoto lens and did no more than take pictures of the backside of the wolf when he disappeared into the woods. Typically. A tense anticipation. Fifteen minutes went by. No wolf. Then it came back. Vigilantly and with a liquid, stealthy step came the wolf out on the open Finnish marsh. The sun had already disappeared below the horizon and the light was dim, but enough to shoot. I was worried over how the images would be, iso 6400 and times of only 1/200 second with a 600 mm telephoto, makes it easy to get blurred photos. But in my opinion it was good. More than good, for me they are fantastic.

 

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One can see that wolves are cautious and vigilant. They move smoothly and stop and look and listen around. Really antithesis of wolverine movement patterns. At this moment, the wolf stopped to scout around. To photograph a wild wolf and capture this moment is a dream fulfilled for me.

 

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I could see how the wolf slowly disappeared into the sparse forest. One more time I would see him. He came back in the night. But then it was impossible to photograph. A very grainy video clip I got. Next morning it was quiet. We met outside the hides and took a little completion pictures of each other. Petter and Roland who sat in a hide in the woods unfortunately had not seen the wolf or anything at all last night. Lars and Johan was as lyrical as I over the wolf pictures we received. So is the game rules. Nothing can be expected. You get what you get. All we were very pleased with the trip and the photos we took.

 

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PS! We didn´t se any lynx. Once last year they had one at this place. Bears you normally see every night. The wolverines are also stationary and is seen every other day. Wolves are seen maybe 10 days a season.

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Hi Gregor,

 

welcome to Safaritalk and thanks for your report. Fantastic photos and a great safari. Living in Finland I feel that this is something that I have really missed! I guess it is always easy to miss things that you have in your own backyard... This is something that is now on my to-do list!

 

cheers,

Tom

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michael-ibk

Really enjoyed seeing bear, wolf and - especially - wolverine! Great report, thank you for sharing. You didn´t mention herbivores, what about deer or moose, none around?

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@@Gregor

Really enoyed this report. It is amazong seeing and photographing a wolf - and great to se the wolverine.

We did a trip to Finland in a similar area - we saw lots of bears but no wolverine or wolf!

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Well, no herbivores. Maybe it is a reason for them to stay away :)

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Great wolf photos! Short but very sweet trip report - hoping for more from you in the future! :)

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