Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND

Russian Arctic

Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla ©Graham Checkley Website

By the Russian Arctic we mean the Republic of Kerelia and the 'Oblasts' of Murmansk, Vologda and Arkhangel'sk, the Autonomous Oblast of Nenetsia and the island of Novaya Zemlya.

The Russian arctic is one of the richest ornithological regions in Europe. On the shore of Arctic Seas are situated a real kingdom of ducks, gulls, terns and many other sea birds. This magnificent site, in combination with harsh northern nature, will leave you with beautiful impressions.

This region includes areas of dark coniferous forests (in the south) and tundra zone. Multicolored lichen-covered stones and unusual tree forms will be all around you during the entire trip. Lakes and rivers here seem to be quite wild and untouched. Even arctic tundra, nearby, turns out to be full of its own unique life. So in the forests you can meet up with a chorus of small birds, and on the sea islands it’s possible to observe the noisy seabird rookeries with there thousands of Guillemots and Kittiwakes.

Top Sites

Kandalakshsky Reserve


Satellite View

Kandalakshsky reserve consists of two parts. One encompasses White Sea shoreline and a group of islands in Kandalakshsky bay. Forest birds and also sea birds can be found here. On the shore it’s possible to see rare birds of prey, such as White-tailed Eagle and Osprey: this two species regularly breed in this part of reserve. In the littoral zone large number of Charadriiformes species forage for food, the most numerous are Pied Oystercatchers and Turnstones. Cranes breed on the sedge swamps. Beautiful birds such as Razorbills, Guillemots and Whooper Swans, inhabit some islands of Kandalakshsky bay. The most attractive species among the ducks is Eider, which is usually thought of as a symbol of Arctic Seas. Moreover, near the shore it is easy to see Black Scoter and Red-breasted Merganser.

The other part of reserve situated in the Barents Sea, in the tundra faunal zone. On the reserve islands are large rookeries. Primary bird species here are Common Guillemot, Thick-billed Guillemot and Kittiwake. On the Ainovy islands you can find breeding sites for Puffin and Eider. Also it’s possible to see Ruffs, which are known by their wonderful breeding plumage, and Red-necked Phalaropes. Small passerine birds are not so various here, but alert birdwatchers can find typical Arctic inhabitants such as Lapland Bunting and Snow Bunting.

Olonetskaya Valley

It’s possible to recommend visiting Olonetskaya Valley to anybody who enjoys observing birds during their spring migration. In this site, at the end of April and beginning of May there appear great flocks of Geese and other waterfowl. These flocks consist mostly of two species – White-fronted Geese and Bean Geese. Ornithologists usually record here about 1.5 millions of these Geese throughout the migration period. Moreover, you can see other Grey Geese, Lesser White-fronted Goose, Canada Goose, Brent Goose, Barnacle Goose and some diving and river ducks species. At the same time, it’s possible to see Cranes, large groups of predatory birds, sandpipers etc.

Vodlozersky National Park


Satellite View

Vodlozero Lake is one of the largest lakes in Europe. 10% of Vodlozersky National Park is covered by water. Untouched by humans, rivers, lakes and wetlands attract a lot of birds. Different species of Geese, Swans, Ducks and other water birds make their stops during migrations. Large number of predator birds breeds on the banks and in surrounding forests. Among them there are such rare species as White-tailed Eagle, Golden Eagle, Spotted Eagle and Peregrine. Red-throated and Black-throated Divers and Bewick’s swans can be found on the large lakes of the National Park.

In the coniferous taiga forests a lot of Galliformes birds can be found – Capercailyes, Willow grouse and others. Among passerine birds most of the species are typical European ones, but some of them originate from Siberian avifauna, for example, Red-flanked Bluetail and Lanceolated Warbler.


Olga Batova


Ecological Travel Center - Moscow



Useful Reading

A Field Guide to Birds of Russia and Adjacent Territories

V. Flint, R. Boehme, Y. Kostin, A. Kuznetsov Paperback - 440 pages (December 1983) Princeton University Press

ISBN: 0691024308

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Where to Watch Birds in Europe & Russia

Nigel Wheatly Paperback - 416 pages (28 April, 2000) Christopher Helm

ISBN: 0713648708

Buy this book from NHBS.com


Arctic Breeding Birds Survey


The survey developed from and primarily depends on voluntarily contribution of Arctic researchers willing to share their observations on bird breeding performance with view of creating general picture in a cooperative effort. If you require further information or have any comments on the project or site contents please contact project co-ordinators:
Mikhail Soloviev, Dept. of Vertebrate Zoology, Biological Faculty, Moscow State Univ., Moscow 119899 Russia Phone: +7 095 9394424 e-mail: soloviev@soil.msu.ru

Pavel Tomkovich, Zoological Museum, Moscow State University, Bolshaya Nikitskaya Str., 6, Moscow 103009, Russia Phone: +7 095 2034366, Fax: +7 095 2032717 e-mail: tomkovic@1.zoomus.bio.msu.ru

Forums & Mailing Lists

Birds in Russia

Mailing List

To post to list: BirdsinRussia@yahoogroups.com

List contact: BirdsinRussia-owner@yahoogroups.com

To subscribe to list: BirdsinRussia-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Information and discussion list on all aspects of biology, ecology, behaviour, number, distribution, migrations and conservation etc. of all bird species of Eastern Europe and Northern Asia (within the borders of the ex-USSR). Founder Jevgeni Shergalin.

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Ecological Travel Center - Birds of Arctic - Lena Delta

Tour Operator

Great Siberian river Lena (4270 km long) forms the biggest delta in Russia which covers over 32 sq. kms. Numerous channels flow (around 6500) to create a network, with over 1500 islands and 30,000 lakes…

Trip Reports


Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

Photographers & Artists

Photographer - Mikhail Shlemov


Wildlife Photos by Mikhail Shlemov from Nenets Autonomous Okrug…