Post Congress Field Trip: Above the Polar Circle 15-23/7

ATTENTION: Due to the fact that accommodations are few and far between, we have to limit the amount of participants on this feld trip, and at the moment we can’t take on any more. BUT you are welcome to join us if you have your own car and accommodation.

This field trip will take us to the most northern part of Sweden and also into Finland. You are of course welcome to join a post congress field trip without participating on the ECOO.

Snow-capped mountains, wide stretches of boreal forest as far as the eye can see, Reindeers and Midnight Sun. This is like nothing you have ever experienced if you have not been this far up north before.

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Male Treeline Emerald S. sahlbergi.

We will visit parts of the tundra and adjacent wetlands with species such as Somatochlora sahlbergi and Somatochlora alpestris, boreal forests with Coenagrion johanssoni and Coenagrion hastulatum and the wide, running waters with Ophiogomphus cecilia. Up here, Aeshna caerulea is the most common odonate.

For the birdwatchers there are good chances to see species such as Willow Ptarmigan, Long-tailed Skua, Siberian Jay, Siberian Tit, several owls, Rustic Bunting and Lapland Bunting.

Some expected species: Coenagrion hastulatum, Coenagrion johanssoni, Aeshna grandis, Aeshna caerulea, Aeshna juncea, Aeshna subarctica, Ophiogomphus cecilia, Cordulia aenea, Somatochlora metallica, Somatochlora arctica, Somatochlora alpestris, Somatochlora sahlbergi, Leucorrhinia dubia, Leucorrhinia rubicunda.

General info on this trip

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Ware the Reindeer!

This trip will last for a week, but you can of course stay for longer. We have to know quite a bit in advance who will be joining this trip so cabins can be prepared, cars hired and the planning to get to and from the train stations or airports feasible. It is important to know that the distances up there are huge, so we will not be able to pick people up on a whim.

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And there they are!

The field trip starts and ends at Kiruna. You have to arrange for your own trip there and back. It is essential that you let us know as soon as possible if you would like to join us on this field trip so we can rent cars and make reservations for accommodation.

We will depart from Kiruna Airport on Friday, 15th at 17:00 and return there on Saturday, 23rd at 09:00. We will arrange additional pickup in the centre of the town of Kiruna if anyone arrives by train or at another time or date.

You can take the train to Kiruna (it takes 20-24 hrs) to get there from where the ECOO is being held, unfortunately it’s seldom not much cheaper than going by air. You can check out tickets and schedules here.

If you are going by air, we recommend you to book the flight with SAS from Stockholm-Arlanda to Kiruna on Friday, 15th at 15:05 (arrives at 16:35) and return with SAS from Kiruna on Saturday, 23rd at 10:35 or 15.45 (at the moment the latter is cheaper). There are multiple connections between Stockholm and Malmo/Copenhagen in both directions.

To get from Tyringe to Copenhagen you take the train all the way there from Tyringe (see How to get there here). To get to Malmo Airport you have to first take the train to Lund or Malmo, and then Air Port Coach to the airport (info here).

You can of course stay longer in the Arctic but the official field trip ends on the 23rd.

We will split the costs for rental cars, petrol and accommodation, and where possible also for food.

Since we are quite a few participants we have to make reservations for accommodation in advance. We will rent small cabins or similar at 2-3 places during the week (definitely Karesuando and Piilijärvi, perhaps Vittangi and Abisko). There will be opportunity for camping as well, but then you have to bring your own camping gear and be extra prepared for biting insects. We prefer cabins for many reasons, and we will later provide info on the costs.

Mosquitos and gnats

Great Grey Owl.

Great Grey Owl.

As you probably well know, biting insects is a part of the everyday life in the arctic. They can be a real nuisance, so you HAVE TO have a protective head gear and repellents. The good news is that they some years can be almost totally absent and the problem is mostly local (i e at some sites there will be almost none, and other they can be a pest). If we are lucky we will not have any problems at all, but you must be prepared to tackle it just in case.

Target species
Focus will be on the arctic dragonflies, especially Treeline Emerald Somatochlora sahlbergi. We also have the opportunity to spend some time on other wildlife such as birds and mammals and also plants, but the dragonflies are the main event, and the weather will decide what we do and when. Birding will at some sites be done early in the morning, so it maximizes the chances to see the most wanted species as well as not interfering with the dragonflies.

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Male Arctic Bluet C. johanssoni.

There are some hotspots and crucial places we have to visit; they are described shortly below. These are all sites we probably will or have to visit. Depending on weather and how lucky we are with the target species we will spend the rest of the time visiting promising habitats or re-visiting some sites in better weather.

Aeshna caerulea is the most common odonate and a species we will see everywhere. The same goes for species such as Bluethroat Luscinia suecica and Reindeer Rangifer tarandus. Depending on how the Lemmings (Lemmus lemmus and Myopus schisticolor) are faring there will either be very few or a lot of raptors and owls. We are as dependent on the Lemmings having a good year as the weather when it comes to see some species.

Please let us know well beforehand if you have a wish list with species, be it plants, birds or butterflies. We will do our best to receive the latest information on some of the more rare species, such as Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla and Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis.

Short info on some of the sites below. Link to map is in the paragraph. Järvi = lake.

Kilpisjärvi

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A Sahlbergi-site at Kilpisjärvi.

This is the easiest to access and at least at the moment THE best site for S. sahlbergi. It is in Finland and quite a way to travel but it is worth it. On the site there are also other Odonates such as S. alpestris and A. subarctica. The site consists of several small lakes or pools just at the treeline. From the road where we will walk from it is ca 20 min uphill and then you are there. There is no accommodation in the area, so it is camping or a day trip there and back from cabins in Karesuando.

Pulsujärvi
This is a huge and unique area with the largest inland sand dunes in Scandinavia as well as some of the largest areas with palsa mires. Some years S. sahlbergi is abundant, some years it seems to be totally absent. There are some other odonates as well, but aside from S. sahlbergi the area is most known for the butterfly Oeneis bore and an impressive birdlife. As always in the arctic there are huge seasonal variations.

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Palsa mires at Pulsujärvi.

From where we park it takes ca 40 min to reach the first palsa mires. If you walk a couple of km extra you will reach the area with the most densely populated breeding grounds for shorebirds in Sweden. Species that breeds here and in the vicinity includes species such as Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii, Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica, Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus, Long-tailed Skua Stercorarius longicaudus and Lapland Bunting Calcarius lapponicus.

There is no accommodation in the area, so we have to camp at the site or (preferably) go on a day trip there and back. Pulsujärvi is so unique and evoking that we will have to visit it even if we already have seen S. sahlbergi somewhere else.

Viikusjärvi

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Siberian Tit at Viikusjärvi.

This is part of a huge nature reserve consisting of old forest and bogs. There are probably interesting Odonates such as C. johanssoni in the area, but we will mainly visit it to look for forest birds during weather less suitable for dragonflies. Birds to look for here includes Siberian Jay Perisoreus infaustus, Siberian Tit Poecile cinctus and Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica.

Piilijärvi
Another site with old forest and nice looking bogs. Good chances for some more of the wanted birds such as Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus and Pine Grosbeak Pinicola enucleator. Cabins on a walking distance.

Vittangi

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Old forest N Vittangi.

In the vicinity of this village there are lots of sites to visit. In the area several of the most northerly observations of some Odonates have been made, such as C. johanssoni, C. lunulatum, A. grandis and C. aenea. C. johanssoni, C. hastulatum and L. dubia are common here, and the fact that the observations are the most northerly ever made is probably more because of lack of data than anything else. We have throughout this trip the chance to make several observations like this and add important data to the Swedish knowledge of Odonates. Vittangi have cabins and camping as well as shops, pizzeria etc.

Luleå and Kiruna
These are the two largest towns up there and where there are airports. They are staging areas for us, nothing else. In the vicinity of Luleå we will or can, if you are interested, make contact with local guides to show us some owls, at least Great Grey Owl Strix nebulosa.

Torne River (Torne älv), W Pajala

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Male Green Snaketail, W Pajala.

Torne is the largest river up there and the most northerly site for Ophiogomphus cecilia. If we pass by we will definitely look for it and also if we have the time try to find it at new locations along the river closer to Vittangi.

Råne River (Råne älv)
Along this river O. cecilia occurs as well as C. virgo. From the area some of the most northerly sightings of C. boltonii and S. flavomaculata has been made. We will only visit Råne if we fly to Luleå though.

Karesuando
A village on the border to Finland. A staging area where we will stay for at least one night.

Pirttivuopio
A very good site for S. alpestris and in the vicinity there have also been recent observations of S. sahlbergi. A. juncea, L. dubia, L. rubicunda and Siberian Jay are common.

Abisko
This is a legendary national park and very well visited by tourists all year around. There are lots and lots to see here, from snow-capped mountains to extremely rare plants and butterflies, but there are no dragonflies here that we will not see anywhere else. Hence we will only visit Abisko if we have the time for it.

Organisers of the field trip: Magnus Billqvist & Ola Elleström.

Questions about this field trip?
Contact Magnus, you can also send him a message already today if you are interested in this field trip.

Nikkaloukta

 

One thought on “Post Congress Field Trip: Above the Polar Circle 15-23/7

  1. Pingback: More info on the Arctic Field Trip | ECOO 2016

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