GALLERY: Birds of Suomenoja wetlands

The Espoo wildlife refuge is a great location to spot some of Finland's most colourful and quirky birds.

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Black-headed gull / Credit: Paul Stevens

Suomenoja wetland area in Espoo is the cite of a former sewage treatment plant which has become a paradise for many bird species.

One of the most well-known birds at Suomenoja is the black headed gull. The colony at Suomenoja can be thousands strong and are a key species at the wetlands because they give an early warning to other birds when a predator approaches, by rising up into the air together and calling loudly.

Both species of swan have been regular visitors to Suomenoja in recent years, but only mute swans have successfully nested and bred there.

Mallards live at Suomenoja almost all year round, only leaving when the water surface freezes during winter; and one of the first species to return in spring is the goldeneye. The males provide entertainment with their crazy squabbles over access to the females and their wonderful mating displays of neck stretching.

Coots are dedicated parents and will defend their nests against anything that comes near, even if it is much bigger than themselves, such as a swan.

From a distance a gadwall male looks much like the Finnish translation of its name harmaasorsa – or grey duck – but up close it is surprisingly colourful and intricately patterned.

Pochards move around in large groups that for some unknown reason are dominated by males, so when it comes to mating it is lady’s choice.

The distinctive feature of the shoveler is it its beak. This long, wide beak is great for sifting food from the water.

Moorhens are not often seen, as they spend a lot of time deep in the reeds, but when they appear in the open their bright red and yellow beaks stand out. Also hopping around the reeds are white wagtails (also known as pied wagtails). These small birds and searching for morsels of food in the shallow water.

The star and stunning beauty of the place though, is the Slavonian or horned grebe with its dramatic markings and strong colours.

There are many other birds at Suomenoja with at least 35 species having been see there since 1965.

This gallery comes from the lens of Espoo-based wildlife photographer Paul Stevens. Follow him on Instagram and Facebook.