Watching Birds and Wildlife

Wetlands are a great destination for bird-watchers. Not only does a wetland established in a species-poor field offer welcome variety in the landscape but also a habitat for several species that have not been seen there before. Wetlands provide a fantastic opportunity to watch Horned Grebes building a nest or a Eurasian Hobby chasing dragonflies. On summer nights, you can hear a Reed Warbler’s even chattering from the reeds.

Horned Grebe on rural wetlands. Photograph: Mikko Alhainen

Horned Grebe on rural wetlands. Photograph: Mikko Alhainen

What makes a wetland built close to home more valuable to a bird-watcher is its easy accessibility and the fact that you no longer have to drive to the lake in the neighbouring municipality to see wetland species. Some wetlands also have bird-watching towers or lean-to shelters with a campfire site to serve recreational users. Wetlands built in your home district make wonderful destinations for bird-watching for the whole family or for school trips.

Northern Pintails on agricultural wetlands, the development of which was inspired by the Rural Wetlands Project. Photograph: Mikko Alhainen

Northern Pintails on agricultural wetlands, the development of which was inspired by the Rural Wetlands Project. Photograph: Mikko Alhainen

Although man-made wetlands are often also hunting destinations, bird-watchers have no need to avoid duck hunters, because there is space for everyone. Watching duck hunting and getting to know the hunters is an opportunity to learn to appreciate responsible Finnish hunting traditions and the considerable work hunters do voluntarily to maintain waterfowl habitats. Hunters are people who respect the environment and whose hard work in rural wetlands benefits a huge number of bird species.

However, if you prefer not to visit wetlands at the same time as duck hunters, this can be done: the duck hunting season doesn’t begin until the end of August, so trips to listen to the song of night birds will not be disturbed by shotguns. The best time to watch wetland birds is in the early and high summer, when you can be sure there are no hunters about. Even during the hunting season, duck hunting in Finland usually takes place just before twilight, so you are unlikely to bump into duck hunters at midday, even at the end of August.

Updated 23.7.2013