Project Description

Watch at close range and let yourself be enchanted as an exciting nature spectacle is played out in front your eyes – Whooper Swans in courtship with their mates, and fighting off other couples.

The Whooper Swan is Finland’s national bird. They return to Kuusamo towards the end of March when most of the lakes are still frozen. Many gather in the open water in front of our photography hides as the spring unfolds so that, at its best, there are more than 50 individuals.

During the spring, many different species visit our waterfowl photography site: Cranes, White-tailed Eagles, Snow Buntings, Curlews, Bean Gooses and several different duck species, as well as waders.

THE PACE PICKS UP AS SPRING ADVANCES AND MIGRATORY BIRDS ARRIVE

When Whooper Swans return from their wintering grounds, they are the first to find the open water. They are aggressive defenders of their territory, and guard their own patch vigorously. This creates many opportunities to witness and capture the border disputes between the Whooper Swan couples.

White-tailed Eagles are standard visitors on the lake from late March to early May. On a snowy day, up to four eagles may grace the site with their presence at the same time.

In early April, flocks of Snow Buntings on their way further north stop to feed and rest before continuing their journey to the breeding grounds in the arctic hills in Lapland.

Cranes and Bean Geese arrive after mid-April, and a group of 10 to 20 birds congregate on the edge of the ice. If spring is late in starting, the site may also have Curlews in mid-May.

ABOUT THE HIDES

There is a total of eight hides (1 to 4 people), of which three are sitting-level (6 people) and five sleeping-level (6 people). The hides are all slightly different, and positioned strategically on the site. If you have special needs requirements for the hide, please let us know when booking.

Total capacity: 13 people

Equipment:

  • One lens hole per person. If a seat in the hide is vacant, its lens hole is available for use
  • Bring your own tripod head/video head to fix your camera onto a wooden shelf or a heavy, moveable metal plate in the hide. Note: Tripods cannot be used
  • You can also use a bean bag
  • There is a dry toilet in the big hide (4 people)
  • There are no toilets at the small hides. We provide a portable travel urinal
  • Each hide has a gel heater

Photography season: 1 April to 10 May
Photography session: Sessions of 4 to 6 hours both in the morning and in the evening
Location:  A 35-min-drive (35 km) from the centre of Kuusamo, with a 150-metre-walk to the hide

Price for independent photography session: 140 € / photographer / day
Price (briefing included): 190 € / photographer/ day

Extra services:

  • Guiding services 400 € / day
  • Briefing for first-time visitors 50 € / photographer, 100 € / group

CANCELLATION POLICY DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

If the customer is prevented from using the service they have booked due to the prevailing travel restrictions, they are entitled to a cancellation, in which case we will cancel the booking and refund the money excluding the 50€ handling and money transfer costs. Alternatively, the reservation can be transferred to another time at no cost. The reservation can also be changed to an open reservation, in which case the payment will be used for a new reservation up to one year from the original date of the reservation.

Good to know (FAQ)

Do I need a briefing?

Briefing is mandatory for all photographers with no previous experience on photographing from a photography hide. The briefing, carried out by a professional guide, includes valuable photography tips: how to work in the hide, how to use the heater, how to interpret the behavior of the birds, how to check the backgrounds, where to place the food, etc. This information will significantly improve first-time results.

Do I have the hide for myself?

Most of the hides are for 1 or 2 people, with one big hide for 4 people, so there may be other photographers in the hide with you. If you want a private hide, or a photography session for your group only, it is available at an additional cost.

What is the difference between a sitting-level and a sleeping-level hide?

Our sleeping-level hides are designed to give an angle of view as close as possible to the level of the birds. In early spring the hides are on the ice, but as spring progresses we take them to the shore. The working position in the sleeping-level hide can sometimes become strenuous or tiring. Observing the birds is also more challenging than at sitting level, but when successful, the images are more spectacular due to the more advantageous photographing angle. Sitting-level hides, with the exception of the four-person-hide, are also placed on ice, where the photography position is more comfortable than in the sleeping-level hides. If you want a sleeping or sitting level hide, let us know in advance, we will try our best to accommodate your wishes.

What time of the year can you photograph?

The photography season on this site is in the spring (about 1 April to 10 May). The length of the season varies slightly from year to year depending on the arrival of Whooper Swans in Kuusamo, as well as the melting of the ice in front of the hides. Some of the hides will be placed on the ice during the photography session, so the season may end earlier if the spring is warmer than normal and the ice melts quickly.

How long does one photography session last?

The photography session lasts 4 to 6 hours. The waterfowl hides have the option of either a morning session (around 4 to 9 am) or an evening session (around 4 to 9 pm).

What kind of clothing do I need for the photography hide?

In April and May, there may still be frost at night, which is why we recommend warm winter clothes such as wool socks, gloves, a hat and thermal layers, with winter boots and jacket. It’s possible to heat the hides with gel heaters. If you do not have your own, we have warm boots and winter overalls that you can rent.

What is the distance to the birds and what kind of lens and equipment do I need to take with me?

The hides are on the shore of a lake, and also on the ice, in front of an open water area, which is where the swans are. Grain is put out for the swans and cranes, as well as fish for the eagles, approx 20 to 40 metres from the hides.

We recommend 100-400mm / 150-600mm zoom lenses or 300-600mm telephoto lenses + extenders (optional). For birds in the landscape, it’s possible to use shorter lenses, for example 70-200 mm.

WATERFOWL HIDE BOOKING CALENDER – MAKE BOOKING

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Price: 140 euros / person / day.
Extra services:

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INQUIRIES AND BOOKINGS

Olli Lamminsalo ja Mikko Oivukka
info@kuusamonaturephotography.fi

Check more photos taken from the hides at our:  Flickr -gallery

CHECK ALL OUR PHOTOGRAPHY POSSIBILITIES HERE!