Mute swan in Lauttasaari, Helsinki, Finland

Best places for wildlife photography in Helsinki region

01 May 2019, by Oana Badiu

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 beautiful places to go photograph. Here are the best places for wildlife photography in Helsinki region!

Great crested grebe in Seurasaari, Helsinki, Finland

1. Seurasaari, Helsinki

Sunset in 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.

Common tern, Seurasaari, Helsinki

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

Great spotted woodpecker, Seurasaari, Helsinki

Flying canada goose, Seurasaari, Helsinki

Eurasian oystercatcher, Seurasaari, Helsinki

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.

Great tit landing on a hand, Seurasaari, Helsinki

During spring time you can see also common mergansers pairs, great crested grebes, tufted ducks and even the common eider duck.

Common mergansers, Seurasaari, Helsinki

Great crested grebe, Seurasaari, Helsinki

In June the barnacle geese chicks are hatching and while island gets filled with super cute and fluffy geese.

Barnacle goose chicks, Seurasaari, Helsinki

Seurasaari has also other animals like the yellow-necked mouse, red fox and probably the most iconic of all, the red squirrel.

Red squirrel and autumn colors, Seurasaari, Helsinki

If you go for a walk in Seurasaari at sunset it's guaranteed that you will get some awesome pictures of animals!

Mute swan, Seurasaari, Helsinki

2. Hanasaari, Espoo

Sunset at Hanasaari, Espoo, Finland

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.

Barnacle goose chicks under mama's wing, Hanasaari, Espoo

Common chaffinch, Hanasaari, Espoo

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.

Great cormorant, Hanasaari, Espoo

Great spotted woodpecker, Hanasaari, Espoo

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.

Northern goshawk, Hanasaari, Finland

3. Viikki and Lammassaari, Helsinki

Path in Viikki from 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.

Greylag goose landing, Viikki, Helsinki

Goldeneye duck male, Viikki, Helsinki

4. Suomenoja lintuallas, Espoo

Eurasian coots fighting over territory, 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.

Black-headed gulls, Suomenoja Lintuallas, Espoo

One of the iconic birds here is the eurasian coot, which sometimes can be found nesting quite close to the shore.

Eurasian coot, Suomenoja Lintuallas, Espoo

Eurasian coots with chicks, Suomenoja Lintuallas, Espoo

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.

Common pochard, Suomenoja Lintuallas, Espoo

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.

Muskrat, Suomenoja Lintuallas, Espoo

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.

European hare, Suomenoja Lintuallas, Espoo

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.

Mute swans during spring courtship dance, Lauttasaari, Helsinki

Fights break quite often during this time.

Mute swans fighting, Lauttasaari, Helsinki

The puffed up swans swimming through the sea ice at sunset looks amazing!

Mute swan swimming through the ice, Lauttasaari, Helsinki

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!

Great cormorant, Suomenlinna, Helsinki

Besides the wildlife, you can get great pictures of Helsinki center!

Helsinki center st sunset

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.

Whopper swan, Laajalahti, close to Otaniemi, Espoo

Great spotted woodpecker, Laajalahti, close to Gallen-Kallela Museum, Espoo

Common mergansers, Laajalahti, close to Gallen-Kallela Museum, Espoo

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.

White-tailed deer, Porkkalanniemi, Kirkkonummi

Roe deer, Porkkalanniemi, Kirkkonummi

During spring and autumn migration whopper swans gather here as well.

Whopper swans, Porkkalanniemi, Kirkkonummi

Whopper swans, Porkkalanniemi, Kirkkonummi

If you are really lucky you might see moose. I saw a moose mother with her calf once, unfortunately it was quite dark and they were quite far, so I couldn't get a picture. I also read that you might encounter wolfs and even bears in the area.

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