We headed east at this point along a river towards Varangerbotn, with plans to then head north along the Tana River towards Batsfjord. For the last few weeks Northern Hawk-Owls have been reported along this road fairly regularly, and these were a much wanted bird. Pure luck of course, when we booked this shebang months ago we had no idea. Anyhow, they were there, and we were going to see them, except we drove the length of the road without seeing one. Mucho disappointment. After a windswept Finnish cheese and undetermined meat roll which culminated in a snowstorm, we retraced our steps, stopping for a mosey at Harrelv, which was a sadlyalso Hawk-Owl free zone. A few kilometers down the road though and our luck changed - a Hawk-Owl on a post! Bradders jr. threw the car into the driveway (ish) of a cabin, and we snuck down the road to take a look at it, crossing our fingers that it wouldn't fly off. It didn't!
Wow! What a bird! It managed to look both fierce and comical at the same time, kind of like Monty Panesar does. It wasn't really bothered about us, probably regarded us as cold-sensitive wimps. Hawk-Owl is one of the few birds in the Collins that comes with a health warning; no doubt it took one look at us, decided it could 'have us' without any significant trouble, and then carried on doing what it was doing, which wasn't much. Basically a study in ignoring us, with a few pointed stares just in case we thought we were safe.
Back to the car, and a major issue. It's stuck in snow. We start digging, this has shades of Lithuania all over again. That was a lot worse though, with the engine block stuck on snow and the tyres spinning uselessly. Here we had both wheels on the ground, but still no traction; the car just couldn't get up the feeble slope. Help was at hand though, in the form of a passing Norwegian; quite a young chap in sunglasses and a T-shirt - much cooler than us. He said that it would be easier to back it out. Bradders dutifully started to perform a three point turn in true British style. No, no, no, said Norwegian dude, just spin it round. Spinning a car round is not in the Bradders jr. vocabulary (nor the sr. I suspect!), and a blank look conviced Norwegian dude it was time to take charge. Bradders got out, he got in. Handbrake on, full lock, a few revs and the car span 180 degrees. Norwegian dude then proceeded to drive further down the slope. I must admit that at this point I cringed slightly, we hadn't been able to get it out about 2 ft from the road, and the car was now closer to 32 ft from the road. What had we allowed to happen?! Norwegian dude, casuing further angst, then went further away from the road, gave himself a bit of a run-up, and simply reversed it out onto the road. Dumb tourists 0; Norwegian Rally Driver 1.
This incident caused Bradders to turn into an OAP behind the wheel, which was most unfortunate, as when I spotted a second Hawk-Owl only a few minutes later, rather than practice the swift handbrake turn he had just learned, he drove on for about 60km, before finding a nice roundabout to turn around on. We arrived back at the spot approximately two hours later to find the Owl luckily still in its tree, and promptly overshot it. Another 40km further on (3 hours later) we turned around again, and this time managed to stop quite near it, getting great views. This one was a little further back from the road, but was at least facing us. It even started singing! "Ulululululululululululu"
Very cool birds indeed, and we found it hard to leave. The thought of Lapin Kulta made the decision a little easier, and so with elation tinged with slight regret we continued back to Tana Bru, and then headed east towards Vestre Jakobselv, which was to be our base for the next two days. Stay tuned for day three - the complete lack of migrants in Wanstead means I'll be drip-feeding this stuff for a while.