27 March 2016

Øvre Pasvik - birding the arctic taiga - Gullfest pt.2

Hawk Owl about to strike

In the Pasvik taiga forest the arctic bird festival Gullfest turned into an Owlfest! The Pasvik section of Gullfest was an epilogue of Gullfest where we aimed to show our invited guests some of the finest birding in the arctic. The taiga forest of Pasvik is the northernmost coniferous forest in the world. The taiga forest stretches from Pasvik and all the way to the Pacific coast in the far east. The birding here is spectacular, when you where to look, that is. To maximise the niceness and chances of great experiences we teamed up with our Pasvik friends Ben Arne Sotkajærvi aka Mr.Pasvik and the good folks at Øvre Pasvik Camping.

Pasvik complements the Varanger Peninsula in a spectacular way. On the Varanger Peninsula you can experience the tundra and the harsh arctic coast. In the deep Pasvik forest the taiga birding will provide you with some of the coolest bird species in the arctic. This year is good for mice which in turn is great for owls. We had stunning views of 10 or so Hawk Owls and we could enjoy singing Tengmalm´s Owl by the fireplace in the evening. 

On our two day Pasvik Gullfest epilogue we enjoyed epic birding, featuring stunning views of top birds like Siberian Tit, Pine Grosbeak, Siberian Jay, Silver Willow Tit, Hawk Owl, Black Grouse, and a few more. We also had the chance to join our friends in Pasvik on ice fishing, and we did a snow mobile trip to Treriksrøysa, the Norway - Finland - Russia border. There are a lot of good things in progress in Pasvik and the development of Varanger as a premium arctic birding destination will be highly improved by bringing more attention to Pasvik. If you bought our new Birding Varanger guide book you will also find maps and site descriptions of the key sites in Pasvik. 

A very big thanks goes to our friends in Pasvik who made this a very mamorable experience for all: Ben Arne Sotkajærvi is a hunter and birder who spends a lot of time outdoors in the taiga forest. Thanks Ben Arne for inviting us all to your very cool basecamp in Vaggetem in Øvre Pasvik! Please follow Ben Arne on Twitter @mrPasvik, for more news and views from the Pasvik taiga! You can also find Ben Arne on facebook. Also thanks to Hanne Tove and the good folks at Øvre Pasvik Camping. It was our base camp for the Pasvik days of Gullfest. Based in Vaggetem it is great place to stay if taiga birding is on the menu! Check out Pasvik Camping on facebook too.

We are still in the video-making mode, and here is our "fast production" from the Pasvik birding section of Gullfest. Also: click on any image for bigger, slide show views of the photos in this blogpost.

Birding Pasvik, Gullfest pt.2 - the movie


Hawk Owl looking for mice

Darren Woodhead field painting Hawk Owl

Ice Fishing at Vaggetem with Ben Arne Sotkajærvi and our friends at Øvre Pasvik Camping

Visiting the new "Porten til Treriksrøysa" (the gate to Treriksrøysa) wind shelter on our way to the Norway - Finland - Russia border. Biotope design. Built by Ben Arne Sotkajærvi. Commishioned by Øvre Pasvik Nasjonalparkstyre.

Taiga birding: ´Silver Willow Tit´ - the eastern subspecies of Willow tit Poecile montanus loennbergii

Siberian Jay at Treriksrøysa

Siberian Jays by Darren Woodhead

Siberian Jay at Ellentjernkoia, Øvre Pasvik

Hawk Owl in full attack mode

A very big thanks to everyone who followed Gullfest 2016 on Twitter at #Gullfest2016 and on the Biotope facebook or the Birding Varanger Facebook

Here is the Gullfest part 1 blogpost: the Vardø, Arctic Coast birding section

Varanger is an arctic birding destination in the making. Stay tuned for more niceness!

Tormod A. / Biotope