Finland is known for its pristine forests, lakes and incredible wildlife and Helsinki is no exception. Even if it's the capital region and the most densely populated area in Finland, Helsinki and its adjacent cities, Espoo and Vantaa, are full of wildlife and great photography opportunities .
Here are the best places for wildlife photography in Helsinki region!
1. Seurasaari, Helsinki
Seurasaari is my favorite place in Finland and it's really close to the city center! This little island has lots of wildlife, beautiful shores and an open air museum! It's a great place to go all year round, but it's especially great for birds during spring and autumn migration.
Birds like common tern, canada goose, barnacle goose, great crested grebes, mute swans, great spotted woodpecker, eurasian oystercatcher, great tit, blue tit, common chaffinch, blackbird and many more birds can be spotted here during spring and summer
Some of these birds are so used to humans that they will actually seek you out and wait for you to give them some food. It's quite common for people to come to Seurasaari with sunflower seeds (especially made for birds) and wait until a tit will land on their hand.
During spring time you can see also common mergansers pairs, great crested grebes, tufted ducks and even the common eider duck.
In June the barnacle geese chicks are hatching and while island gets filled with super cute and fluffy geese.
Seurasaari has also other animals like the yellow-necked mouse, red fox and probably the most iconic of all, the red squirrel.
If you go for a walk in Seurasaari at sunset it's guaranteed that you will get some awesome pictures of animals!
2. Hanasaari, Espoo
Hanasaari is a small island in Espoo, at the border with Helsinki and I like to come here after work to walk a bit and see if there are any birds to photograph. Usually there are lots of ducks, geese, swans, woodpeckers, tits and chaffinches.
In spring and autumn there are also great cormorants fishing close to the shore and resting on the nearby rocks. The picture below is one of the first pictures I have taken with a DSLR, almost 3 years ago.
Sometimes there are some surprises. One evening I was walking around, looking for mice and I spotted quite far away a hawk being harassed by 2 crows. As they were really far away I didn't pay much attention and I continued my way. After a corner, all of a sudden I see a big hawk flying away with a crow in its claws.
3. Viikki and Lammassaari, Helsinki
Viikki is a protected wetland in the heart of Helsinki and a great habitat for birds. There is a free bird hide in the area and wooden paths that lead through the tall grass towards Lammassaari. The area is home to some impressive number of small birds, like the birded tit. Unfortunately I was not able to photograph one so far, however you can see barnacle geese, goldeneye ducks, eurasian coots and greylag geese. From Lammassaari's bird tower there is a view to a protected area where you can spot cranes in the spring time.
4. Suomenoja lintuallas, Espoo
Suomenoja Lintuallas is a human-made lake, next to a factory, which used to be used for organic waste disposal, making the lake very fertile. Lintuallas is a great place for bird watching and you can spot quite many birds here, considering its size. The most common birds here are the black-headed gulls, which nest here in great numbers.
One of the iconic birds here is the eurasian coot, which sometimes can be found nesting quite close to the shore.
Other birds that can be spotted here are tufted ducks, horned grebe, little grebe, moorhen, goldeneyes, white wagtail, wood pigeon, blackbird, blue and great tit, eurasian wigeon, northern shoveler, common pochard and others.
Other than birds you might be surprised sometimes by the muskrat. Its eye vision is not very good, so if you stay still it might swim right towards you.
Just before sunset you might be able to spot also the European Hare, that comes out from its hiding place and heads towards the parks.
5. Lauttasaari, Helsinki
There are many birds around the shores of Lauttasaari, but probably the most beautiful time here is early spring, after a cold winter, when the sea ice hasn't fully melted. Many different birds gather around Särkiniemi and the swans are displaying their courtship dance.
Fights break quite often during this time.
The puffed up swans swimming through the sea ice at sunset looks amazing!
6. Suomenlinna, Helsinki
Besides the Suomenlinna fortress, this great island in Helsinki center can be reached by ferry and it's a great place for birds!
Besides the wildlife, you can get great pictures of Helsinki center!
7. Laajalahti, Espoo
Another great place for water birds is around Laajalahti in Espoo. Besides the usual water birds, like canada goose, in the spring time you might be able to spot the national bird of Finland, the whopper swan and common mergansers.
8. Porkkalanniemi, Kirkkonummi
About 45 km from Helsinki center you can find Porkkalanniemi, which is very famous for white tailed deer and roe deer. During the day the deer are hiding in the forest and they come close to the roads only at sunrise and sunset. It is best to use your car as a hide to be able to photograph deer, otherwise they start running as soon as you get out of the car.
During spring and autumn migration whopper swans gather here as well.
If you are really lucky and you go there before sunrise you might see moose. Moose usually roam closer to the road only before sunrise, when there are no cars. I took the following pictures during one misty morning.
Porkkalanniemi has a rich wildlife, so you might encounter also foxes.