Big brown bears 2006
Brown bear family

Vili the friendly reindeer
Wolverines
Big brown bears 2015
Red squirrels & bullfinch
When people think of brown bears, it's usually the grizzlies of Canada, Alaska and the north-western US that spring to mind. But we have brown bears in Europe and Scandinavia too and in July 2006 I travelled to eastern Finland, close to the border with Russia, to watch bears from a forest hide. It was baited with fish and attracted a higher density of bears than would normally be seen in the wild, including females with cubs.
 
I then continued my journey about 2.5 hours south to another location in the hope of seeing wolverines, but there we didn't have such good sightings - two nights in the hides brought us some more distant bears but no wolverines.
 
So in July 2015 I returned to Finland, this time a little further south again but still close to the Russian border. On this visit we had some great views of wolverines from another baited hide but unfortunately without enough light to get many decent photographs.
 
It turned out that some wolverines don't quite deserve their ferocious reputation because when a brown bear turned up to investigate the food on the first night, the wolverine we were watching made a hasty exit and that was the last we saw of our target species. However a second night in the hide brought another couple of bears, one of which spent over an hour wandering around.
Big brown bears 2006
                                            
Brown bear family
The cubs in this family were about 18 months old.

Brown bear cubs
The cubs instinctively climbed the nearest tree whenever there was danger, such as a large male bear approaching, but for much of the time the youngsters were relaxed enough to forage independently of their mothers.
                       
Vili the friendly reindeer
Vili lived at the lodge where we stayed on my first trip in 2006. He was supposed to be part of a semi-wild herd of reindeer, free-ranging around the forests, but had decided he would rather stay at the lodge and even followed us when we went for a walk one day. He often stood with his head in the minibus, probably to shade his head from the sun.

Wolverines


Big brown bears 2015
Several different bears visited the baited site, but the one that spent the most time there had an unusual coat pattern, with a low 'collar' of pale fur. It spent over an hour investigating the bait trees and logs before having a drink from the lake and making its way over to the other side of the water using a fallen-tree 'bridge'.

Red squirrels & bullfinch
There were several bird feeders at the lodge where we were based for my 2015 trip. Most of the species using them were familiar garden birds, but the bullfinch is one species I've never seen in my garden at home so I snapped this rather smart male.
 
The feeders also attracted cute red squirrels.
                 

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Last updated 11 March 2016