Christmas, winter-bird count and beginning of January

After a trip to Ecuador I had to work a couple of days before a short Christmas break. On the 22nd of December I went to put more food to our feeder in Tiviä and surprisingly heard a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker calling there. I also saw a small flock of Black Grouses and on the next day there was a Nuthatch visiting the feeder.

On Christmas Eve we went to Saari to twitch. On the way we saw a flock of Black Grouses and while we were driving towards Selänne we saw a White-tailed Eagle flying on the sky. In Selänne we found lots of Yellowhammers and also a female Chaffinch. While we were talking with the person who was living there and having the feeder, the Collared Dove arrived to a spruce to the garden. But soon it flew towards the biggest farm that was on the neighbor.

We still visited our own feeder and saw a flock of Long-tailed Tits and a Nuthatch there. The the rest of the day we were in Tarvaslampi with Hanna’s family. There we saw a Pygmy Owl, a Grey-headed Woodpecker and had sauna and ate well.

On Christmas Day I did winter-bird count. I saw 12 Black Grouses, 3 Rock Doves, a Grey-headed Woodpecker, 5 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 3 Goldcrests, 62 Blue, 95 Great and 3 Willow Tits, 2 Treecreepers, a Great Grey Shrike, 6 Jays, 15 Magpies, 54 Jackdaws, 8 Hooded Crows, 7 Ravens, 4 Tree Sparrows, 17 Greenfinches, 35 Bullfinches and 14 Yellowhammers.

On Boxing Day we went to Rautjärvi Simpele Kokkolanjoki where we found a male Pochard in Uudensillankoski. We also saw 2 Whooper Swans, 11 Mallards, 3 Dippers and so on. And on the 28th day the Pochard was still there.


On the 31st of December we drove towards Helsinki. On the way we stopped in Kokkolanjoki and found no Pochard anymore but in Kangaskoski we found a male Long-tailed Duck. In Imatra Vuoksi we saw a Little Grebe and a couple of Tufted Ducks and a Goshawk. In the afternoon we were in familiar Skyline Hotel where we had booked a room. In the evening we went to movies and then went to sleep early. It was again good to sleep near the airport as there weren’t too many fireworks.

Little Grebe

The year was changing and there wasn’t many good birding moments during the year so it was good that the year was finally over. Of course I did three excellent trips to other countries and after all I had 1405 World year -ticks!

On the 1st of January 2023 we woke up early and soon were driving towards Hanko. We were there in Kalasatama about 8 a.m. and soon had seen a Blackbird, Mallards, Common and Herring Gulls, Goldeneyes, Hooded Crows and Jackdaws. Then we walked to Sunnantie where a group of twitchers were already standing.

We talked with some friends but soon some movement was seen under the bushes that were next to the feeder. Some were using thermal cameras and there was a bird or a mouse moving in the bush. After some waiting there was lighter and with our scopes it was possible to identify that it was indeed the bird we had been waiting – a Little Bunting,

On the same place we had also Great Tits, Bullfinches, Tree Sparrows, Long-tailed Ducks, Mute Swans and Siskin. Then from harbor we saw some Goosanders too. But soon we were driving towards Tallholmarna.

We saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker while driving but soon we were walking to the shore next to Neljän tuulen tupa. It was still quite dark but I started to scan the rocks and islets and after some searching found 3 Purple Sandpipers! We had got already 2 First of January –ticks before the sun had risen!

We made a decicion to concentrate only to ticks even though it might have been nice to just do birding in Hanko as the weather was excellent. But after we had seen a flying Velvet Scoter, we decided to start driving towards Espoo.

On a long drive we saw a Treecreeper flying across the road, a Great Grey Shrike on a top of a tree, Ravens, Rock Doves, Magpies, a Sparrowhawk and Yellowhammers before we parked to Soukka. While walking along slippery paths towards Kasavuori we heard some Goldcrests.

There were only handful of birders on the top and the weather was still too calm. Weather forecasts had promised much more wind and it was exactly what we needed to see eagles. Anyway soon we saw some White-tailed Eagles and also Great Black-backed Gulls, Greenfinches and a Goshawk but in a couple of hours we saw nothing else. We really had hoped to see a Greater Spotted Eagle or at least a Golden Eagle!

Finally we had to give up as there had been a couple of Razorbills local in Porkkala for whole day. So we drove a long drive to Luotsikärki where luckily Mika Bruun showed us the birds right away.

We still had time so we drove to Sunds tower and kept on searching for eagles. Again several White-tailed Eagles were seen and finally after an hour Jörgen Palmgren found an adult Golden Eagle perched on a top of one spruce. But Greater Spotted Eagle wasn’t flying at all during the day. Of course on the next day it was seen again. The last year-ticks we got were Parrot Crossbills, a Crested and a Blue Tit and a Black Woodpecker.

But anyway our First of January had been excellent and we had got 4 new ticks – my record is now 153 species.
In the evening we had a long drive back home. On the way we twitched once again the same Eagle Owl in Lappeenranta.

Hawk OwlIn Parikkala it was much more winter than in South. On the 3rd day I saw Jays, a Dipper in Tyrjä and a Grey-headed Woodpecker on our feeder and on the 4th day Black Grouses in Tiviä and the same Hawk Owl again next to main road 6.

On the 6th of January we visited Kokkolanjoki again. On the way we saw a Pygmy Owl flying across the road. But along the river we saw only 8 Dippers and a Great Grey Shrike.

On the 7th day we drove to Saari together with Arttu Valonen. We were there too early so we decided to try to drive through some fields if we could find a Great Grey Owl somewhere. Then in Jyrkilä we saw a Great Grey Owl in flight but unfortunately it flew to the forest and we got no pictures.

At 9 a.m. we were in Selänne and while we were talking to the feeder-keeper again we saw the Collared Dove flying towards the farm. Also the same Chaffinch was seen again, a Willow Tit was calling and a Coal Tit was visiting the feeder.

Next we decided to go to see Siberian Jays and as the forest-roads were too snowy, we had to walk several kilometers to get there. While walking we found some Crested Tits, a Goshawk and a couple of Hazel Hens. But Siberian Jays were missing, we walked in the forest for some time but found nothing.

Around Siikalahti we found a Sparrowhawk in Kannas and I saw a Pygmy Owl briefly in flight but then nothing else was found.

On the 8th day we decided to try Siberian Jays again with Arttu. We managed to drive another road until the place but again jays were missing. Luckily we found a Three-toed Woodpecker.

Other birds we saw during the morning were a Great Grey Shrike in Koirniemi and a Blackbird and 2 Grey-headed Woodpeckers in Tarvaslampi. But the weather was really poor so nothing else was found.

White-backed woodpeckerOn the 11th of January I spent lunch-hour in Moskuunniemi and watched Harri Partanen’s feeder. It was busy and I saw Yellowhammers, Siskins, a Common Redpoll, Long-tailed Tits and a Brambling. Also a White-tailed Eagle flew over. Then in our own feeder in Tiviä I saw a female White-backed Woodpecker.

The rest of the week weather was getting worse and worse. But on Saturday the 14th we still went to ski 12 kilometers in Kinnarsalmi-Tönkivaara. We saw a female Capercaillie and a Goshawk and some forest-tits.

On the 15th day I decided to ski to Siberian Jay forests and even though the weather was awful I managed to find 4 Siberian Jays. I also saw a flock of Black Grouses, a Hazel Hen and a Crested Tit.


Independence day rally again in Kouvola

On the 5th of December we drove to Kouvola after my work-day. When we were finally at Hanna’s sister Elissa’s apartment we ate well and then I still went to some night-birding with Teo Ylätalo. While we were birding and saw a single Long-eared Owl sisters could plan their first independence-day rally.

On the 6th of December we woke up at 5:20 and at 6 o’clock Teo came to pick me up. We started from the owl-place but of course we couldn’t find it. We checked many fields but found absolutely nothing and finally at 8:15 we were picking up Antti Vänskä and then headed to Tanttari.

When sun was rising we heard the first birds – Bullfinches. And soon we started to find other common birds too but also a Wren, a Grey-headed Woodpecker, a Hazel Hen and a Pygmy Owl.

We continued to Kymi-river and found a Kingfisher and a Grey Heron easily and of course some Whooper Swans, Mallards, Goldeneyes and Goosanders. Abd after some more places along the river we had seen also a Common Scoter, a couple of Velvet Scoters and a Great Grey Shrike. Then a couple of Dippers were also seen easily.

But then neither Collared Doves or a Nutcracker were found. Only a flock of Common Crossbills were seen before we started to drive towards south. A Hawk Owl was found easily and we also saw a flock of Black Grouses before we continued to Raussila where we had got info about Stock Doves and Grey Partridges. They were both found surprisingly easily so we had time to drive until Tammijärvi where a Smew and a couple of Sparrowhawks were seen.

Collared Doves didn’t show up on the second try either but a Chaffinch was found while searching for them. Then another visit to Raussila area gave us a Common Kestrel and soon we had to hurry to see Pheasants. Then we finally made it to rubbish tip where all Jackdaws and Hooded Crows had already left but luckily we still saw a couple of Goshawks, a Common Buzzard and also surprisingly a couple of Linnets.

Then sun had already set and the last hour and a half we tried to find Long-eared Owls but without luck. At 4:30 p.m. the rally ended and at 5 o’clock we were in Anjalankoski ABC where we first had pizza and the the results were given. There had been only 5 teams in the race, 3 in Kouvola, biking in Kotka and one along the coast.

Surprisingly Team Gulls had got 54 species and won. We had also had a pretty good day but still missed some too easy birds like a Fieldfare, a Long-tailed Tit or some woodpeckers and so on. Anyway we had got 52 species and came second. Third team had some species less and then Hanna and Elissa had found 39 species in Kouvola. They also had a couple of “aces” and several species that we had missed. So they had managed quite well as the first-timers.

In the evening we had a long drive to Parikkala where everything is already covered with snow and ice so there won’t be much bird-news before spring…



On the 30th of October we checked some places near Siikalahti and Tyrjä and still saw a a flock of 40 Barnacle Geese, Wigeons, a White-tailed Eagle, a Great Grey Shrike and then a Dipperin Tyrjä-river,

We hadn’t planned any race for this November but when it seemed that a couple of birders started to keep their lists, I also decided to count species that I can find in Parikkala. On the 2nd of November I saw the first better species when Common and Velvet Scoters were seen in Vartialahti, a Great Crested Grebe, a White-tailed Eagle and Cormorants in Härskiinmutka and the same Dipper in Tyrjä. On the 3rd day there were still 77 Whooper Swans, 4 Wigeons and a Smew in Siikalahti and on the 4th I saw Black-headed Gulls in a a couple of places, a Great Grey Shrike in Rautalahti and a small flock of Waxwings in Kirkonkylä.

On the 5th of November I did winter-bird count and walked again 17 kilometers. I saw only 7 Whooper Swans, 2 Barnacle Geese, a Tufted Duck, 3 Goldeneyes, 193 Goosanders, even 75 Black Grouses, 5 Cormorants, 4 White-tailed Eagles, a Goshawk, 17 Common and 5 Herring Gulls, a Hawk Owl in Huhmarinen, 5 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a White Wagtail that was a big surprise in our own beach, a couple of Redwings in Mantilanniemi, even 15 Goldcrests, 79 Blue, 153 Great and only 2 Willow Tits, 6 Treecreepers, 20 Jays, 16 Magpies, 42 Jackdaws, 5 Hooded Crows, even 23 Ravens, 6 Tree Sparrows, 19 Greenfinches, 66 Siskins, 36 Common Redpolls and a single Arctic Redpoll, 20 Bullfinches and 40 Yellowhammers.

On the 6th day we visited Saari with Harri Partanen and saw still a flock of 50 Barnacle Geese with a young White-fronted Goose in Pohjanranta, some Scaups and Tufted Ducks, a Long-tailed Duck, White-tailed Eagles, a Great Grey Shrike, maybe the last House Sparrow of Parikkala and also a hybrid sparrow in Pohjasuo and 5 Bramblings in a flock of Greenfinches in Akanvaara Tetrisuo. But after this trip it really started to be dark and quiet!

On the 12th day we drove to Joensuu to celebrate PKLTY (North Karelia bird association) 50-year parties and BirdLife meeting. On the way we saw in Kitee a Capercaillie, a Goshawk and a Fieldfare. Weekend was nice. It was good to see many old friends.

On the 14th of November a Black-headed Gull was still in Särkisalmi and there was also a Grey-headed Woodpecker. But the bird of the day was a shrike that Harri Partanen had found on the previous day. In the evening he had sent a picture of a flying shrike to me and the bird really looked interesting. I asked for more pictures and it was clear that better pictures were needed. So on my lunch-hour I drove to Tiviä and found the bird immediately when it flew over the road. It was carrying a mole and landed to a bush quite far. But I managed to watch it with my scope and also get some bad pictures but the bird really looked good Northern Shrike candidate. Unfortunately I had to hurry back to work.

So I had to come back to Tyrjä on every lunch-hour and luckily I found the bird easily on most of my visits. Finally I managed to get better pictures even though the bird was extremely shy and always flew very far. On the 15th day I also saw the last Tufted Duck and a Velvet Scoter around. On the 17th day it was too windy for the shrike but Harri Hölttä found a Hawk Owl that I also managed to see while driving to Särkisalmi. It was next to main road 6. On the 18th day I saw the shrike again so on the next day, on Saturday, we came with Hanna to try to get more pictures and maybe even some DNA. Hanna managed to get pretty close to the bird and we also found a couple of pellets.

We continued to watch Siberian Jays and found the last 4 birds easily. We also found a Three-toed Woodpecker, a Crested Tit and a couple of Capercaillies. And in Kangaskylä we saw a Nuthatch that Hanna had found earlier.

On the 20nd day I visited the same forests again and saw a flock of Common Crossbills. Only other birds I saw was a White-tailed Eagle and the same Hawk Owl that had decided to stay around.

On the 26th I found a couple of White-backed Woodpeckers in Tiviä and on the next day we put up a feeder for them. Then we found also a Nuthatch couple there. So on the next morning on the 27th of November we were there with mist-net as we hoped to ring there Nuthatches with color-rings. We also saw a couple of White-backed Woodpeckers and 2 Willow and about 10 Long-tailed Tits and heard a Nuthatch but they weren’t visiting the feeder yet. So we ringed only about 10 Great and Blue Tits and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. One Blue Tit was wearing our old ring and then we also caught a Treecreeper that we had ringed already 3 years ago! Then we went to try to ring the Hawk Owl but it didn’t care about our fake-mouse as there were also real ones to catch.

On the next day the nuthatches were already visiting our feeder as were a White-backed and a Grey-headead Woodpecker, a Raven and a couple of Jays too. I couldn’t find any more November ticks so after all I saw only 58 species. But this was really bad November – which wasn’t a surprise as the whole year has been the poorest ever!

On the 3rd of December we checked the last open places in Simpelejärvi with Harri Hölttä but found only a Whooper Swan, Goosanders, 23 Mallards and some Common and Herring Gulls and a Great Grey Shrike. The same Hawk Owl was now in Kukonkanta and then in a visit to Tarvaslampi I saw a Blackbird – a species that I hadn’t seen in whole November at all.

On the 4th of December we went to ring the nuthatches and it was easy. The got color-rings so they will be easy to follow if they stay around. We also saw Long-tailed Tits, a Grey-headed Woodpecker and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker but ringed only Great and Blue Tits.


Again autumn holiday in Säppi island

Twitching on the way

On the 13th of October I ended my work-day at 1 p.m. and at home I packed our car full of stuff. Just before 3 p.m. I drove to pick up Hanna and we still had to visit home briefly before we could start driving about 3:30 p.m.

I had been nervous in the afternoon as the same Pygmy Cormorant that I had already dipped in Espoo had been found in Kotka. It felt like Kotka was further away than ever and of course Pygmy Cormorant had disappeared but luckily it came back later and when we had only 15 minutes to drive Hanna’s brother Miika was there and promised to stay there until we arrive.

Our car had started to make strange noise but finally we parked to Kyminsuu and we met some friendly twitchers on the parking place who told us which way to go and showed us the bird already from the road. It was my Finnish-tick number 399. Pygmy Cormorant was pretty close so I hurried to get my camera too and soon we were on the beach with Miika and tried to get some pictures. And the bird really looked small while sitting next to Goosanders.

We were watching the Pygmy Cormorant for 15 minutes until it flew towards Hovinsaari and disappeared to the darkness. After we had walked back to our car, we tested that it was still working before we started a long drive – now towards right direction.

We drove until Tampere where we decided to take a room from Scandic Hotel. We got a comfy room and were sleeping soon.

In Pori

On the 14th of October we woke up early and were soon driving towards Pori with our noisy car. In Pori we had quick breakfast and then continued to Konepajanranta where we soon met Teo Ylätalo and Elissa Soikkeli who had left very early from Kouvola. It was 7:30 a.m. and still dark when we walked to the beach to watch gulls.

Our goal was to find a possible Yellow-legged Gull that Petteri Mäkelä had found. I am not expert with gulls as I don’t see any big gulls in Parikkala so we hoped that there would be some local or any other “laridist” twitching but there were nobody else. So we started scanning the gulls and surprisingly easily found the right-looking gull. We compared it to the pictures that had been taken and once also Andreas Lindén and Jyri Strandberg had arrived and were with us, we could be sure that we had the right bird.

The light was still bad but we took lots of pictures before a White-tailed Eagle arrived and most gulls were gone – the Yellow-legged Gull candidate with them. We still found a young Lesser Black-backed Gull but when more twitchers arrived the right bird was still not found (only in the evening).

With Hanna we had to visit Police as we finally were in a city in work-day and we had to get new passports. We were extremely lucky to get everything done there in 15 minutes as normally it should take hours. Luckily they had some problems with their computers but they managed to make everything we needed. So we got first on the line even though we had no reservation.

So soon we met Teo and Elli again and continued to do some birding. We started in Kaarluoto where we saw 3 Great Egrets, 2 Greylag Geese and a Hen Harrier and heard a couple of Bearded Reedlings and then continued to Teemuluoto where a Great Grey Shrike and a flock of Bearded Reedlings were seen.

Then it was time to go shopping. We had to buy more food so we would have enough for more than 2 weeks. When both cars were absolutely full, we started driving towards Kuuminainen and Salokangas harbor.

On the harbor we met Veikka Kosonen and Oskari Saunisto who had left early from Savonlinna and soon also Petteri Mäkelä and Tomas Swahn arrived. Soon Tommi Salokangas arrived to his boat and we started to fill the bottom of the boat with our stuff. We were soon ready but one car was still missing. I called to my brother Pirkka and he told that they were still 15 minutes away from the harbor. Tommi wasn’t very happy for the delay but we couldn’t do anything but wait. Finally Pirkka arrived with Ahti Ihonen and Pyry Laurikka. Pirkka had picked them up from Helsinki after the night-train had arrived there from Kemijärvi. Finally we had packed everything and the trip to Säppi begun.

To Säppi

The sea was calm and we were soon in Säppi before 4 p.m. Boat was emptied quickly but it took some time to carry everything to the station.

As there had once again been several birders cancelling there was room in station side of the building so Pyry went there with Ahti, Petteri and Tomas so we had a little bit more room on the family-side too.

Once we were all ready and the first flock of Purple Sandpipers had been seen on Ulkolasku rock, the ringers and assistants left to put mist-nets ready to Peräkulma and the rest of us started to walk around the island – as there was still time to check most of the places.

The best birds we saw were a late Whinchat and a Greenshank and several Woodcocks. Once it was already dark a small team left to catch birds with nets, headlights and a couple of thermal cameras. And they managed to catch a couple of Jack Snipes, a Woodcock and a Purple Sandpiper! Then we still caught a Tengmalm’s Owl from mist-nets that were in the garden, so the beginning had been quite good.

Hard work

But if the trip had started well, it continued very average. The days were always the same: Ringers woke up very early and they were in Peräkulma with open mist-nets half an hour before sunrise, about then also their assistants started to walk towards the nets and about then the rest of us woke up so we were ready to watch migration in Prakala 2 hours from the sunrise. And then one person didn’t really wake up at all on the first days…

It was boring on the mist-nets. On some mornings there were quite a few birds but the selection of species was very ordinary. So once the morning seawatch was over some assistants and even another ringer, Pirkka, was ready to join the walk around the island.

The island was walked around with many birders every day and we really checked every bush, but sea-buckthorn bushes were very dense and full of berries this year so they made some parts very difficult.

Better observations were a Grey Plover, a couple of Ringed Plovers, Ruffs, different numbers of Purple Sandpipers and Dunlins every day, Jack Snipes, a Stock Dove, a couple of Short-eared Owls, a few Arctic Skuas , some Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a late Lesser Whitethroat, Parrot Crossbills and the same Whinchat and Greenshank still. On a couple of day we saw corvid-migration and it was nice to see more than 100 Rooks migrating one day.

Still there was nothing better on the mist-nets but on a couple of evenings we were again trying to catch waders and on one rainy evening we caught 7 Jack Snipes, a Common Snipe and a couple of Purple Sandpipers and on the another evening 4 Purple Sandpipers.

On the 18th of October I had a Common Guillemot on the morning seawatch but it turned to fly straight away so nobody else managed to identify it. We also saw an Arctic Skua and a Peregrine Falcon. Both a Whinchat and a Greenshank were seen the last time and on the mist-nets ringers caught a Siberian Chiffchaff which wasn’t good bird enough to go to twitch. During the day Petteri left to work so there was one birder less in the island.

Something rare finally

On the next day, 19th of October, island felt even emptier and while we were walking around it I said that “as long as there are no Snow Buntings, we still have some hope”. And after maybe 20 steps we flushed a small flock of Snow Buntings. But soon after that while we were walking in Hanhisto we flushed 3 birds which 2 of them were easy to identify as a Reed Buntings but one looked interesting. I tried to tell others to follow it so I could take pictures of it but for some reason nobody else really picked it up. And soon it landed behind some reeds.

I was sure it had looked like a small lark but of course it had looked weird because of it had been flying with buntings and therefore like buntings – here and there. But I had seen pale stomach and the shape of the bird quite well. So the rest of us walked to the other side of the birds landing place and me and Veikka stayed with our cameras ready. Surprisingly the bird flushed from very different place than we expected so we weren’t ready yet to get pictures. But luckily the bird was in flight again and flew back to the place where it had been flushed and this time I managed to get some pretty good shots. And the bird was easy to identify as a Short-toed Lark which I had already in the first situation said that it could be.

Short-toed Lark was seen much better on soon and we got pretty good pictures even though it was already getting very dark. And everyone who came to try managed to see it,

When we were still watching the pictures Veikka came to tell that on the previous day they had together with Oskari seen a bird on the shore that they hadn’t identified. They had digiscoped a video and shown it to the ringer but in bright daylight and bad video it had been identified as a Skylark, but now it was easy to see that Short-toed Lark had been present already then.

Little something

On the 20th day we had some geese migration and the best bird was easy to tell as a young Pomarine Skua flew in front of us and landed to the sea. It stayed for so long that even a couple of us managed to walk from Peräkulma to see it. Luckily it was again then in flight and then after all landed further to the sea and was never seen again.

The Short-toed Lark was still present and we managed to get some more pictures of this very shy bird. Purple sandpipers feeding on algae piles were on the contrary very photogenic.

Hard work continues

On the 21st day Jani Vastamäki came to a daytrip with his own boat. But even though the weather was once again excellent, we saw almost nothing. It was so warm that gloves weren’t needs at all on the morning seawatch and while walking around the island we all had too much clothes. Dragonflies and butterflies were still flying and the best identifies species were Siberian Winter Damsel and Queen of Spain Fritillary. But all better birds were missing. We saw again a strange-looking Chiffchaff that was partly leucistic.

On the 22nd day Pirkka and Ahti left and two ringer-students arrived: Joonatan Toivanen and Riku Kangasniemi. 3 more students were supposed to arrive too but they were coming later.
If some birds have to be mentioned from these boring days – a Pink-footed Goose was seen in a flock of Bean Geese, a Shoveler was also seen migrating, some Grey Herons were seen and again a Siberian Chiffchaff was caught but still nobody was interested to go to see it as far as Peräkulma.

On the 24th day we found an unringed Siberian Chiffchaff in Kräveli and soon after that a very late Common Whitethroat in Takalahti. They both cheered us a little and in the evening we caught one more Tengmalm’s Owl and while I was taking it away from the mist-net I saw a Long-eared Owl flying above me.

On the 25th I got one more Säppi-tick when a Pine Grosbeak was seen on morning watch. Also a Short-eared Owl and a late adult Dunlin were seen. I got pretty good pictures of both Dunlin and Purple Sandpipers in Kräveli.

Still a small price

On the 26th day the same Dunlin was seen again and we counted 114 Razorbills and 9 Black Guillemots. So there was some movements on the sea in some mornings. Already the 3rd observation of a calling Tree or Olive-backed Pipit of the trip was made but this time it was finally found visible in Peräkulma and some pictures were got and it looked good for an Olive-backed Pipit. I was still wearing far too much clothes but luckily youngsters waited for me as I changed and then I followed these lifer-twitchers by running to Peräkulma. The bird had been seen flying close to the reed but after that several unidentified birds had been seen flying here and there. So we waited also Teo to join us before we walked through the meadow and flushed the bird to the trees where it stayed visible for some time moving from tree top to another. We managed to see it quite well and get some pictures too and it was a lifer for all the youngsters.

When the last birders arrived, we still managed to see the Olive-backed Pipit and later saw it once briefly on the round too.

In the evening Petteri, Juho Tirkkonen and the rest 3 ringer-trainers arrived and they went immediately to twitch the pipit but they couldn’t find it anymore.

Last days

On the 27th day Petteri still found the Olive-backed Pipit but again it disappeared before others saw it. The rest of the day was again boring even though there were maybe more birders in the island than ever on our visits. In the evening we found out that the forecast for the weekend was so awful that we had to leave already on the next day – 2 days earlier than we had planned.

On the 28th of October I had packed everything ready very early and went to seawatch one more time. With only a couple of other birders we saw a Common Guillemot and a Twite but also quite good number of Razorbills again. Soon after the watch Tommi’s boat arrived and we had to pack everything to the bottom again. Only Juho and the ringer-students were left to Säppi.

Soon we were in Kuuminainen and we packed our cars and then drove to Pori to eat pizza together. Then it was time to say goodbye and Petteri still went to help Veikka and Oskari to get a Caspian Gull as a lifer.

Again twitch on the way

With Hanna, Teo, Elissa, Pyry and Tomas we started to drive towards Helsinki. Our car was again noisy but now it had even more serious problem – it was losing power on uphills and in higher speed. So we had to drive slowly. So we told Teo to keep on driving – we were coming as soon behind as possible.

After all we managed to get to Helsinki Töölönlahti same time with the others as they had dropped Tomas to Espoo. We walked to Tokoinranta but there were almost no gulls. While Pyry was leading us, we continued towards Töölönlahti and saw plenty of birders on the other side of the bay and there were lots of gulls in front of them and with them was a young Mediterranean Gull too – a lifer to everyone else except me.

We decided to drive to the other side of the bay but all the birders and also gulls were gone. But we found a Little Grebe there which nobody had seen earlier. But I would have preferred pictures of Mediterranean Gull but we were all happy that we had at least seen it.

Slowly we drove the long way to Parikkala where we were in the evening. And the weekend went by resting. It had been hard holiday but not as good as we had hoped. Let’s see what we will do next year in the same time? Luckily our car wasn’t completely broken but it was fixed on Monday and is working again.

- J.A.

The greyness of autumn

September wasn’t the month to remember. On the first days I finally managed to photograph a Red-footed Falcon in Tetrisuo. But on the 2nd say I tried to twitch a Red Kite in Luumäki without luck. It had been there for a couple of days and had been seen still in the morning but then it was never seen again.

On the 3rd day I heard a Rustic Bunting and a Red-breasted Flycatcher and saw a couple of migrating Ringed Plovers. And on the 4th day we were ringing in Siikalahti and caught a Wren, a Dunnock, 8 Robins, 2 Sedge Warblers, a Lesser and a Common Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warblers and Blackcaps, 6 Willow Warblers, Blue and 4 Great Tits, 10 Chaffinches, 2 Yellowhammers and 4 Rustic Buntings. We also saw a Bluethroat, a Coal Tit and 4 migrating Rustic Buntings and counted 639 Cranes and 19 Great Egrets and so on.

On the 6th we tried to twitch a Montagu’s Harrier in Kerimäki Kitkasuo with Elissa Soikkeli but again had no luck. In Savonlinna city we managed to find a Mandarin Duck easily.

Next trip to mention started on the 9th of September when we drove to Joensuu Eno Palovaara and put up some mist-nets. Already in the evening we caught a Tengmalm’s Owl.

And on the morning of 10th the first bird on the net was a Red-flanked Bluetail! Other birds we caught were 2 Tree Pipits, 8 Dunnocks and Robins, a Bluethroat, a Redwing, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 3 Chiffchaffs, 5 Willow Warblers, a Goldcrest, 3 Great Tits, a Common and a Lesser Redpoll, 11 Reed and 50+2c Rustic Buntings. In the evening we saw and heard a Pygmy Owl and heard a Tengmalm’s Owl but didn’t catch them.

On the 11th day we doubled our mist-nets but caught about same amount of birds: 9 Dunnocks, 15+1c Robins, 4 Bluetails, 5 Chiffchaffs, 6 Willow Warblers, 4 Goldcrests, 4 Great Tits, a Willow Tit, a Chaffinch, 11 Common Redpolls, 14 Reed and 48 Rustic Buntings. And the best bird we caught was a Yellow-browed Warbler! We also saw at least 80 migrating Rustic Buntings and 11 Parrot Crossbills and so on.

On the 12th day we saw even 22 Great Egrets and 841 Cranes in Siikalahti and on the 13th day I counted 63 Cormorants in Härskiinmutka.

On the 17th day we were ringing in Siikalahti again and caught a Wren, 3 Dummocks, a Blackbird, a Fieldfare, 3 Lesser and 1 Common Whitethroat, 2 Blackcaps, 4 Chiffchaffs, 4 Willow Warblers, a Goldcrest, 7 Great Tits, 14 Chaffinches, a Yellowhammer, 6 Reed and 2 Rustic Buntings. Also 6 migrating Rustic Buntings were seen.

On the 18th day we caught a Tree Pipit, 2 Dunnocks, 2 Robins, 4 Blackbirds, 4 Chiffchaffs, 2 Blue and 3 Great Tits, a Treecreeper, 3+1c Chaffinches and 2 Reed Buntings. Only 3 migrating Rustic Buntings were seen and the best bird was a 2nd c-y male Pallid Harrier. In the afternoon a trip to Saari was very poor.

On the 20th of September a nice flick of 750 Brent Geese, 2 Bitterns, 798 Cranes and 18 Great Egrets were seen in the evening in Siikalahti. On the 22nd I saw 2 Bewick’s Swans, 40 Velvet Scoters and 860 Cranes.

On the 24th we were ringing again and caught a Blackbird control, 2 Wrens, 11 Robins, a Fieldfare, a Song Thrush, a Blackcap, 6 Chiffchaffs, 2+1c Blue and 16+2c Great Tits, a Willow Tit, a Chaffinch, 12 Yellowhammers and 5 Reed Buntings. Other birds seen were a Bewick’s Swans, 268 Brent Geese, 15300 other geese, 40 Velvet Scoters, a Red-throated Diver and a young Pallid Harrier and so on. Hanna also managed to photograph a Water Rail extremely well.

On the 25th day it was very windy and we caught only a Robin, a Fieldfare, 3 Blue and a Willow Tit and 3 Yellowhammers. 128 Brent Geese and 886 Cranes were counted. And this time Hanna got pictures of a Bluethroat.

On the 26th day I was in Saari again but saw nothing special. On the 28th in Siikalahti 5 Bewicks Swans, 380 Wigeons, 115 Pintails, 30 Tufted Ducks, 4 Scaups, 250 Long-tailed Ducks and 40 Velvet Scoters were seen migrating. On the 30th of September there were still 3 Barn Swallows flying in Kangaskylä.

October started also quiet. On the 1st day only birds to mention in Saari were 2 male Pochards in Akonpohja and a couple of Parrot Crossbills in Pohjasuo. We were there counting geese but we found only a couple of thousands in our counting area. In the evening we were in Tarvaslampi where we caught a Tengmalm’s Owl that we had ringed 364 days earlier in the same place. Also a Tawny Owl was heard calling actively!

On the 2nd of October we were in Savonlinna Punkaharju Punkasalmi with Vekka Kosonen and Oskari Saunisto but thick fog was ruining the morning. Anyway we had good time chatting together. We also visited Laakkii where we saw a Grey-headed and a White-backed Woodpecker. When we were back in Parikkala we twitched a Mute Swan in Koitsanlahti and it was my Parikkala year-tick number 200.

On the 5th day I saw a Gadwall in Siikalahti and on the 6th I was dipping again – this time in Espoo. I tried to twitch a Pygmy Cormorant in Laajalahti but it left a few hours too early and never came back. I waited until the dark and saw a Little Grebe but unfortunately didn’t get a Finnish-tick.

After a couple of bad trips the next birds to mention were seen on the 7th day when still 6 Lapwings were seen in Saari Pohjanranta and on the 9th day when a Peregrine was seen on migration in Siikalahti. And finally in the end of the week our autumn holiday started!


Ringing SSP and Red-footed Falcon

After our trip to French Guiana we drove late in the evening back from Helsinki to Parikkala. On the way we saw a Nightjar in Hamina and an Eagle Owl that almost hit a truck that was driving in front of us in Rautjärvi Kangas.

We were in Parikkala 1 a.m. and we just dropped our luggage at home and then went to Papinlahti to put mist-nets ready. And then after a couple of hours sleeping we were ready to open the nets and SSP-ringing started. We caught a Redwing, a Sedge Warbler, 3 Blyth’s Reed Warblers, even 22 Lesser and 15 Common Whitethroats, 9 Garden and 4 Willow Warblers, 2 Pied Flycacthers, a Great Tit and 2 Common Rosefinches. We also saw a couple of Grey Herons and heard a Great Egret calling a couple of times.

I wasn’t very motivated in birding after the trip but luckily the better times were about to begin. On the 8th of September there were already 13 Great Egrets in Siikalahti and also a Great Bittern and a Grey Heron was seen. Young Water Rails were calling and a few Stock Doves were seen in flight. On the 9th day we were still suffering from jet-lag when we heard a Whimbrel migrating over our house.

On the 12th day there was a flock of 250 Siskins eating stones in our garden. Some of the birds were so tired of eating them that I had to carry them away from the road.

On the 13th day we did a trip to Saari and found 6 Greylag Geese in Pohjanranta and 10 Stock Doves in Pohjasuo. On the way back we drove to Tarvaspohja where some non-birder had claimed to seen a Purple Heron. Of course there was no Purple Heron but a young Grey Heron and a Great Egret.

On the 14th of September we had SSP again and we got a Tree Pipit, a Common Redstart 1 control, a Blackbird, a Song Thrush, a Blyth’s Reed Warbler, 10+1c Lesser and 3 Common Whitethroats, a Garden and 3 Willow Warblers and 3 Common Rosefinches. In the evening we saw 19 Great Egrets in Siikalahti.

On the 15th day I saw a Grey Heron and a Great Egret in Härskiinmutka. During my lunch-hour I saw a stunning Greater Spotted Eagle flying towards north in Siikalahti.

On the 17th and 18th morning there were flocks of Common Scoters in Härskiinmutka and about 20 Great Cormorants. On the 18th I also saw finally a Red-backed Shrike in Siikalahti – where have they been this year? And the next morning there were 25 Cormorants and 81 Great Crested Grebes in Härskiinmutka. One grebe had tiny youngsters on her back.

On the 20th of September we drove to Helsinki to Bird Fair where Hanna was again working. On the way in Pyhtää Siltakylä we saw a young Pallid or Montagu’s Harrier while driving on the motorway where it was impossible to stop or even slow down.

In Viikki Hanna went to the fair and I walked to Hakala bird-tower. On the last days there had been huge numbers of Red-footed Falcons migrating north in Latvia and Estonia and some had already been seen in Finland too. One had been seen from the Bird Fair too. So we were scanning the sky for several hours and saw quite a few small raptors but most of them were other species or then some clearly migrating ones were in a bad light and flying very fast towards north. But after all we managed to identify 2 Red-footed Falcons. Other birds we saw were 2 Dunlins, 2 Temminck Stints and some Spotted Redshanks and Golden Plovers.

I went to the Bird Fair for the last hour and of course met so many friends there that I couldn’t really do any shopping. Then we helped to pack everything there. My brother Pirkka had been in a meeting in Helsinki and we met him right after we had managed to pack everything. And nicely our phones told than a Laughing Dove that had been seen in several place around Helsinki on last couple of weeks had just been relocated in Sipoo Söderkulla. It was only 20 kilometers drive to Söderkulla and there Jari Kostet was photographing a tired-looking dove that is not tickable (yet) in Finland. We took of course some pictures and then talked with several birders that arrived before we had to start driving to Kirkkonummi.

In Kirkkonummi we stayed with our parents and on the 21st morning we headed towards south with Pirkka and my father. We started birding in Billskog on the border-field of Siuntio and Inkoo and easily found a Red-footed Falcon that had been found there on the previous evening. We also saw a flock of 30 Linnets and 12 Golden Plovers.

Then after some driving I noticed 2 harriers flying over a field in Kämpbacka. They landed to a field but unfortunately were flying again when we got our car parked. They flew directly away but we could identify one bird as a young Hen and another as a young Pallid Harrier. Hanna also got some pictures where identification was possible.

The weather had been too good to see many birds in Hanko but anyway we saw a Velvet Scoter, in Vedagrundet, a Grey Plover, an Oystercatcher and 14 Caspian Terns in Svanvik, 150 Yellow Wagtails in Täktom, a young and very tame Curlew Sandpiper in Långören and so on. Then we still went to eat in Hanko before driving back to Kirkkonummi.

In the afternoon we still headed to Espoo Laajalahti with 2 cars so we could continue to Parikkala straight from there. In Laajalahti we saw 7 Curlew Sandpipers, 7 Dunlins, 2 Little Stints, 2 Great Egrets and so on – and of course met many birders. Then we had to start a long way back to home and my father drove Pirkka somewhere with a transportation to the airport.

On the way back home we stopped in Loviisa Vanhakylä where earlier during the had been a record-flock of 22 Red-footed Falcons! There was a ringer trying to catch them but without success. Anyway we saw 10 falcons there and stayed the rest of the evening there trying to help the ringer and get pictures but without luck. After all we were at home about at midnight.

On the 22nd of September on my lunch-hour I checked every field nearby and finally in Tiviä Tarhamäki I saw a single Red-footed Falcon flying on the sky with a Common Kestrel, but soon it continued toward north-east. In the evening we went to check fields in Saari but found no Red-footed Falcons only 3 Hen Harriers and Great Grey Shrike and so on.

On the 23rd day I found a Red-footed Falcon in Kolmikanta Koskuinmäki and in Siikalahti there were also 3 of them. In the evening 2 more were found in Tetrisuo and finally we managed to get some pictures of one of the birds that was perched on a top of a tree.

On the 24th we were hoping that a Red Kite that had been seen flying south in Kitee and Kesälahti would continue to Siikalahti. I had only my lunch hour and then evening but still we saw 2 Black Kites migrating, 3 Red-footed Falcons were still around and then in the evening we counted Cranes and Great Egrets and saw 475 and 22 birds.

On the 25th I heard a Common Ringed Plover and saw 22 Golden Plovers migrating. In the afternoon in Saari we saw a flock of 15 Long-tailed Tits in Akonpohja and in Pohjanranta we found and adult and a young Caspian Terns! Also 2 Stock Doves, 165 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Great Egrets and a Grey Heron was seen there. But the rest of the places had almost nothing, just a Great Grey Shrike still in Akanvaara Tetrisuo.

On the 26th at least 2 Red-footed Falcons were still in Siikalahti and also a Cuckoo was migrating. We checked all the fields nearby but found nothing. In Kirkkoranta we saw 2 Great Egrets. And on the 27th we had the last SSP of the season. It was still very warm summer day so there were no surprises. We caught a Robin, 3 Common Redstarts, a Sedge Warbler, 6 Lesser and a Common Whitethroat, 5 Garden and 7 Willow Warblers, a Spotted Flycatcher, 1+1c Blue Tits, 1+1c Bullfinches and 3 Reed Buntings. When we were already taking away the mist-nets I found a Red-footed Falcon soaring on the sky. But it was flying so high that it disappeared to the clouds. Then we went to Siikalahti where in few hours we saw 2 or 3 Red-footed Falcons, a Bittern, 2 White-tailed Eagles, a Goshawk and 6 local and 14 migrating Honey Buzzards and so on.

On the 28th morning we were ringing again in Papinlahti but this time we were playing some autumn-project birds from the tapes. But it was very warm and foggy so there was still no migration. We caught a Tree Pipit, a Robin, a Sedge and 2 Blyth’s Reed Warblers, 3 Lesser and 2 Common Whitethroats, 7 Garden Warblers, a Chiffchaff, 15 Willow Warblers, 2 Greenfinches, 4 Bullfinches and 3 Reed Buntings.

During the day we were again for a few hours in Siikalahti and saw again a migrating Black Kite. It didn’t make me happy as the Red Kite had already moved through Parikkala and had been this morning for several hours in Lappeenranta Vihtola where many had seen it. This was only the 4th ever in South Karelia and the first twitchable – and still missing on my list. We also saw a Red-footed Falcon, 14 Tundra Bean Geese and a late Golden Oriole.

On the 29th I saw 28 Cormorants in Härskiinmutka and in the evening we counted 584 Cranes and 15 Great Egrets in Siikalahti. On the last days of September I saw nothing even I did some birding.