Conveniently located close to the capital of Finland is a true haven for both birds and bird-watchers alike. Suomenojan lintuallas – the Suomenoja Bird Pond – is one of Finland’s most important nesting sites for many migratory bird species, including several endangered ones. Walking along the trail around the pond is like going on a bird safari – how many species can you spot? Here’s a guide to help you plan your visit.
With Spring the Birds Return
After the long, dark and cold winter spring finally arrives in Finland. And with spring comes the return of numerous species of migratory birds that have been spending their winter in warmer countries.
Spring is also the time for nesting and Suomenoja Bird Pond is one of Finland’s most popular nesting sites.
Every spring thousands of birds flock to this bird paradise that bursts into life with them. The contrast to the quiet winter season is truly remarkable: from silence to a non-stop cacophony of tweeting, cawing, shrieking, chirping and singing. From spring to autumn this place doesn’t sleep.
A Piece of Nature in the Capital Region
You might assume such a haven for birds would be far away from any city. But Suomenoja Bird Pond is actually located in the capital region of Finland, on Espoo’s shoreline.
It’s also located right next to a giant power plant and now it’s next to a huge construction site as well. In addition to the new metro, they’re building apartments for 17.000 people.
The pond is also not as natural as it might seem watching the birds. It’s actually man-made and was previously used for disposing organic waste (lovely). Though it might not sound super appealing, this is what made the pond so fertile and ultimately what attracted the birds.
And speaking of the not-so-appealing aspects of visiting this place. Next to the pond and the power plant is a wastewater treatment plant. Just a heads-up: some days the smell is barely noticeable, others it’s absolutely horrendous on the side of the pond that’s closest to the power plant.
1,6 Kilometres of Bird Action
One of the things that make Suomenoja Bird Pond so popular is the fact that there’s a lovely gravel trail all the way around the pond. In fact, many people just come here for the nice trail, completely oblivious of the birds.
There are dog walkers, people on their bikes and people doing Nordic walking in addition to the bird enthusiasts. It’s the kind of place you’ll enjoy even if you’re not at all interested in birds.
What Kind of Species Can You See at Suomenoja Bird Pond
For those interested in birds this is a real paradise. The sheer amount of birds and different species is astounding.
Suomenoja Bird Pond can boast with Finland’s second largest colony of black-headed gulls. During good years there can be up to nearly 4.000 of them, although in recent years it’s been closer to 2.000. And the black-headed gulls in turn attract a myriad other birds. The black-headed gulls act as kind of a security system for the other birds, alerting them to any potential danger lurking nearby.
The black-headed gulls are impossible to miss and they’ll probably be the first birds you spot coming here. But look closer and you’ll see plenty of other birds as well. For example, you might spot the horned grebe, Eurasian coot, goldeneye, common pochard, northern shoveler, Eurasian wigeon or moorhen – just to name a few examples.
What’s so special is that all of the birds – even the endangered and rare ones – are fairly easy to spot, even without binoculars.
In addition to the birds there’s also other things to see. In summer, beautiful and colourful wild flowers line the path and butterflies flutter by. If you’re visiting in the evening there’s a chance you’ll spot one of the several muskrats swimming around. And believe it or not, once I actually saw the super rare flying squirrel!
How to Visit Suomenoja Bird Pond
The best way to visit is to circle the pond by foot, following the trail. From spring to autumn you’ll find information boards with incredible photographs of the different creatures that live in the area. There’s also some information about the different birds (in Finnish).
There are a few benches where you can rest your legs and two bird-watching towers.
The birds are often quite close, so no additional gadgets are necessary. However, if you’re a serious bird enthusiast and want to make sure you can spot as many species as possible you might want to bring a pair of binoculars.
Tips on How to Visit Responsibly
Remember that there are also a lot of vulnerable bird species here, so be considerate, especially during nesting time. Let’s try to help preserve this place as it is.
Respect the animals and keep a distance.
In case you’re walking your dog here always keep it on a leash, especially during nesting time.
Don’t litter – follow the ‘trash in trash out’ rule. The nearest trashcans are along the rantaraitti seaside promenade, so you don’t even have to carry it far.
Is There a Café?
There’s no café or vendors along the trail around the pond. However, not far away is the Suomenoja marina where you can find a cute café called Café Cabriela.
And in case you feel like walking a bit further along the Rantaraitti there’s a super cosy café at Villa Rulludd. I love their cinnamon buns!
The new metro station is located literally just a few steps from the trail around the pond. When it opens in two years there’ll probably be more snack options to choose from.
How to Get to Suomenoja Bird Pond
There are plenty of options for anyone planning a trip to Suomenoja Bird Pond. I highly recommend combining a visit to the pond with a longer walk or bike ride along the Rantaraitti Seaside Promenade that stretches along almost the whole Espoo shoreline.
The Bird Pond is located along Rantaraitti right between Matinkylä and Hyljelahti in a part of Espoo called Suomenoja. However, please note that the city of Espoo is currently rebranding this area, changing the name from Suomenoja to Finnoo, which might cause some confusion.
If you don’t want to walk or ride a bike, you can take one of the three buses that stop nearby. The bus stop is just a few short steps from the trail.
The buses that stop here are bus 111, bus 143 and bus 147.
If you’re arriving by car, there’s a parking lot. You’ll find it by the roundabout located where Hyljeluodontie and Suomenlahdentie meet (there’s a parking sign). It’s fairly big, but during spring it does get crowded. In case you can’t find a spot here, you can also try to find a spot by the power plant at Hylkeenpyytäjäntie.
In a few years when the metro opens it will be super convenient to get here with the metro, as the metro station is just a few metres from the trail.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Suomenoja Bird Pond
If you’re here for the birds the best time to visit is from around April to September. Spring is one of the most magical times here.
During late spring and early summer is when you’ll have the best chance to spot some cute chicks after they’ve hatched – especially on the side of the pond that’s closest to the power plant there’s usually lots of downy chicks.
In case the birdwatching isn’t the most important thing to you, but you do want to enjoy the nature, autumn at Suomenoja Bird Pond is highly underrated. The whole trail is lined with lots of birch trees and other leafy trees. When autumn arrives this is one of my favourite places to enjoy the “ruska” (colourful fall foliage).
Winter is the only season I don’t recommend a visit. The trail is hard to walk during winter and there’s really not that much to see.
How About What Time of Day?
Usually early morning and late evening tend to be recommended to avoid crowds. However, bird watchers seem to be morning people (or at least that’s the impression I get) so that rule doesn’t really apply here. During the bird season it seems that no matter how early or late I go, there are always plenty of people around. So just choose the time that suits you best.
Although there are lots of visitors every day they all spread out over along the 1,6 kilometres long trail, so you can always find a spot.
My personal opinion is that sunset is the best time to visit, as the colours from the setting sun seem to make this place even prettier. Watching the sunset from one of the bird towers is pretty magical.
Fast Facts About Suomenoja Bird Pond
The most important facts about Suomenoja Bird Pond in a nutshell:
- Suomenoja Bird Pond is one of Finland’s most important nesting sites.
- Thousands and thousands of bird flock to this fairly small pond making it a great place for bird-watching.
- Visiting is free of charge and it’s open 24/7. However, it’s not lit during night, so visiting when there’s natural light is recommended.
- You can spot a myriad different species from black-headed gull and swan to horned grebe and even muskrat.
- The trail circling the pond is 1,6 kilometres long.
- There are two bird towers and several benches along the trail.
- During the bird-watching season you’ll also find information boards with beautiful photos of different species you can spot here.
- You can arrive by bus, by car, walking or biking along rantaraitti and in two years even by metro.