Longer twitching trip

On Friday the 21st of July on my lunch-hour I decided that we will go to the first real twitching trip of the year once I get away from work. I had a plan that we would drive to Raahe where a Paddyfield Warbler and a Lanceolated Warbler had been singing in a same place. Warbler would be a lifer for Hanna and it was also one of a few species that I had only heard in Finland. With both these species I would also get my 300th species in PPLY-area (Oulu area bird association). Then we would do some birding and then drive back via Sotkamo (Sociable Plover) and Lieksa (Avocets). Unfortunately there were no reports of Lanceolated Warbler and Avocets for a couple of days.

Once I got from work we left driving even though the weather forecast was getting worse. It was raining so badly in Parikkala that we almost gave up. But luckily the rain stopped pretty soon and once we drove more and more also the forecast started to look more promising.

After almost 500 kilometers we were finally in Pattijoki Kotiranta and we continued along a small road until a pasture. There we parked and wore wading-trousers and started to walk towards the sea.

After a kilometer or so walking and wading we were in a right place. There we soon saw a White-tailed Eagle, an Arctic Skua and a Little Tern and heard a Caspian Tern. But there were nothing singing in the reeds.

After some searching we found a family of Sedge Warblers and saw a pale-looking warbler in flight. Then after some waiting we heard a Paddifield Warbler starting to sing. It was singing very shortly and then stayed quiet again until it finally started to sing well. And once it had again been quiet for some time it suddenly flew to a top of a reed and started to sing there. We managed to get some pretty good pictures of this bird.

It was about 9 p.m. so it wasn’t good time for Lanceolated Warbler yet, so we started to walk back towards our car. And then I got a message that a White-rumped Sandpiper had been found in Pori. Soon I got more information and the finder was Juha Niemi who had found the same species also 29 years ago! So the identification was 100% sure. So we decided to change our plans and headed to Raahe where we bought some snacks and so on and started to long (again about 500 kilometers) drive towards Pori.

Finally at 2:30 a.m. we were in Kuuminainen where we continued along a small track toward the sea. We had planned to stop to a parking place that had been told in Lintutiedotus-messages and then sleep for an hour or so as it was the darkest time of the night. We thought that there was nobody now as the birds had been seen still at 10:36 p.m. and then we thought everyone had left. But once we got to the parking place, it was completely full! We managed to find another good place to park our car and then we met a few friends of ours who told that there had been also a message that told that the bird had been seen also at midnight. So we had to start walking towards the sea.

After 1.5 kilometers walk we finally saw people standing against the dark sea. We slowly walked there and then heard where the bird had been seen and soon could find some waders walking between the rocks. It was very dark but somehow we could identify Ruffs, some shanks and Dunlins.

After about 30 minutes Aleksanteri Pikkarainen and Andreas Lindén found a good-looking bird but it took some time to find as they were standing in different places and their notes were different as the bird was in different side of some rocks as they looked it from different angles. But finally we also managed to see the correct bird while it was hiding behind some rocks.

The bird looked good but it was still too dark. And of course we were quite far from it as we didn’t want to disturb the birds. There were more and more twitchers coming all the time. After all this was only 9th White-rumped Sandpiper ever in Finland and the first twitchable for 29 years! Finally the bird climbed to a rock and stopped there and we could see it well enough so I was sure I had just seen my 400th species in Finland!

About 30 minutes later it started to get a little bit lighter and then it was easier to find this skulking bird that was almost all the time behind some rocks. And finally sun started to rise and we could see it better and better.

Other birds we saw were about 20 Dunlins, 4 Curlew Sandpipers, a Ringed Plover, 4 Spotted Redshanks, 2 Grey Plovers and so on. Then after some more waiting White-rumped Sandpiper finally stopped to a rock again and I managed to get some kind of pictures of it. And then suddenly some Dunlins flushed to the sky and also White-rumped Sandpiper flew after them but soon landed back even though the Dunlins disappeared to the sky.

While watching the bird we of course chatted with many friends that were also present. Aleksanteri Pikkarainen also took a picture of us only ones who had got the 400th Finnish-tick – me and famous bird-photographer Tomi Muukkonen.

We started to feel so tired that we had to start walking back towards our car. We heard some Redpolls on the way and they sounded like Lesser Redpolls. Once we were back in the parking place we got a message that White-rumped Sandpiper had left with some Dunlins.

We drove a little and then stopped and put up our hammocks to the forest and soon we were asleep. After a couple of hours it started to rain a little so we had to put up tarps too. But then we slept until 11 a.m.

Once we had packed our camp we continued to Kaarluoto bird-tower where we saw more than 200 Greylag Geese and 20 Grey Herons and so on. Then we decided to drive to Reposaari where we managed to twitch a Mandarin Duck in Junnilanjärvi. Then we still tried to find a Little Grebe in Kirrinsanta without luck.

But then we had to start a long (again about 500 kilometers) drive back to Parikkala. When we were driving I realized that we were driving through Tampere. And so soon after Tampere we parked to Kangasala Kirkkojärvi and walked to the tower when we managed to twitch a long-staying Red-crested Pochard and also a Common Shelduck in a couple of minutes.

Then we still had a long drive back to home. In Parikkala we still did some shopping and then went to put our mist-nets ready.

On the 23rd of July we woke up at 3 a.m. and soon we were opening the mist-nets. We were sure we would catch plenty of birds but again we had to be disappointed. We caught only a Song Thrush, 3 Sedge Warblers, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 3 Common Whitethroats, a Blue Tit control, a Siskin and 4 Reed Bunting. Luckily we heard a singing Greenish Warbler that was a new Parikkala year-tick to me. It is easy to say that we should have stayed somewhere in western coast for another day and Hanna could have done SSP-ringing during the week while I am at work.

In the evening we still visited Siikalahti where we saw a family of Red-backed Shrikes, a couple of Spotted Redshanks and 4 Grey Herons and already 15 White Egrets.

In the end of July interesting observations were on the 24th day a Dunlin in Saari Pohjanranta, on the 25th day 2 Little Ringed Plovers and a Temminck’s Stint in Suurisuo and 6 Dunlins in Siikalahti. On the 26th day there was a Garganey in Suurisuo and on the 30th a Temminck’s Stint again. On the 30th of July I also saw 20 migrating Velvet Scoters in Siikalahti and also already 13 Great Egrets, 2 Golden Plovers, a Whimbrel, a Dunlin, 5 Stock Doves, a young Great Grey Shrike, an Icterine Warbler, 2 Golden Orioles and the best birds were 2 Grey Wagtails that we saw flying over dam-road. It was a new Siikalahti-tick! On the last day of July there were still tens of Barnacle Geese in the village but soon they were about to leave. In Suurisuo I saw a Pintail and in Kukonkanta I heard a Ringed Plover.

On the 1st of August there were already 16 Great Egrets in Siikalahti and on the 4th a Little Ringed Plover in Suurisuo. On the 5th day I saw the first Hen Harrier of the season, but then it was time to go home to get my luggage and start walking towards the railway-station. While I was walking I heard a Great Egret calling from the sky. I was about to start almost 3 weeks trip to West-Papua!


Summertime – quiet time

In the beginning of June I saw the first better birds on the 2nd day when in Siikalahti I saw a second year Heuglin’s Gull, in Suurisuo a Pintail, in Saari Pohjanranta a Black Kite and then in the evening I heard a Great Snipe in an ordinary place. On the 3rd of June there was 3 Ringed Plovers in Suurisuo and in Joukio there was already the first little juvenile with Barnacle Geese. In the afternoon we went to ring a couple of young Ural Owls in Savonlinna Punkaharju Kurkiniemi. We also checked the only owl-nest in Parikkala and there were also 2 young Ural Owls watching from their nest. Unfortunately they were breeding in an impossible trunk to ring them.

On the 5th day we had SSP-ringing and it was the worst morning ever: 1r+1c Common Whitethroats, 2 Garden Warblers, a Willow Warbler and a Pied Flycatcher. A Long-eared Owl was seen and Corn Crake and Golden Oriole were heard. There were also some Common Crossbills migrating.

From 6th to 22nd of June we were in Northern Finland and Varanger Norway. There will be a trip-report soon. Unfortunately we had some problems with our home-sites right now.

When we were back in Parikkala, I dropped Hanna who was sick to Parikkala and continued straight to Imatra Kurkisuo where a Short-toed Eagle had been seen for a couple of days. It was seen again while I was still driving but luckily a couple of friends of mine stayed there and once I got there they helped me to see the bird too. After maybe 30 minutes waiting it was finally flying again.

The Short-toed Eagle was seen most of the time for the next 2 hours. A couple of times it landed behind the forest but soon it was again hanging in the wind. This stunning 3rd year bird was a new South-Karelia tick.

Then we still continued with Sampsa Cairenius and Rami Lindroos to Joutseno Kotasaari where we managed to see a Penduline Tit very briefly. It was very windy so we didn’t see anything else.

When Hanna was OK again we tried to twitch the eagle on the 24th day. Hanna’s sister Elissa and brother Miika were with us and we stayed in Karhusuo for several hours but the eagle was already gone. We did see a family of Great Grey Shrikes.

On the 25th day we did duck-counts in Saari but saw nothing interesting. On the 26th day we had SSP again: a Robin, 2 Common Whitethoats, 3+1c Sedge Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher, 7+1c Great Tits, 5 Blue Tits and 2 Reed Buntings. Common Crossbills were migrating and we also found a nest of a Wryneck.

On the 27th of June I saw a family of House Sparrows in Kangaskylä – they aren’t completely extinct yet. In Siikalahti I saw 2 male and 1 female Gadwalls, a Dunlin, a Stock Dove, a family of Thrush Nightingales and in the evening heard a Common Grasshopper Warbler. After midnight I still heard 3 young Long-eared Owls in Kaukola and then still continued to Saari where I heard several Corn Crakes, a Grasshopper Warbler, a couple of Nightjars and a Great Snipe before I finally heard a Black Redstart that Karri Kuitunen had found on the previous night in Kangas. During the day I had surprisingly 2 Oystercatchers in Kangaskylä.

At night 29th and 30th of June we twitched a Quail that Erkko Elonen had found in Koitsanlahti Kapakkasuo. We also heard young Long-eared Owls. Then on the last day there was a Grey Heron in Kirkkoranta and we heard a migrating Whimbrel through open window at home.

On the 1st of July we did another night-trip to Saari. In Rautalahti we heard a River Warbler, but then we heard only Corn Crakes and some Blyth’s Reed Warblers and saw a Long-eared Owl until in Tarassiinlahti we finally heard a Marsh Warbler which was a year-tick. Then another Marsh Warbler was heard in Karinmäki and then we heard more Corn Crakes, Blyth’s Reed Warblers and some young Long-eared Owls, only one Spotted Crake and then another River Warbler but nothing rare was found.

On the 2nd day we saw a male Hen Harrier, 2 Temminck’s Stint and 3 Dunlins and a young Grey-headed Woodpecker in Siikalahti. And on the next days the same Dunlins were still there but nothing new was found.

On the 5th of July we left together with Harri Hölttä towards Luumäki very early at night. When we finally were in Taavetti we immediately heard a Yellow-browed Warbler that Pekka Karhu had found earlier. We listened to this actively singing bird for some time before continued to Joutseno Kotasaari to search for Penduline Tit. Tit was not found but we heard a Reed Warbler and saw a Spotted Redshank, a Ringed Plover, a flock of 700 Starlings and I managed to see a female Citrine Wagtail very briefly.

On the 6th day I saw a young Little Ringed Plover in Kukonkanta where they had been breeding. On the 8th day we did a forest-trip but only a Hazel Hen, a couple of young Goshawks, some tits and Wrens were heard. Then just 200 meters outside Parikkala in Savonlinna Punkaharju Riukonkangas we found a Wood Lark. During the day we did a short field-trip and found a couple of surprises – a Hen Harrier in Lahdensuo and a Great Grey Shrike in Kullinsuo. Anyway the best observation of the day was a Broad-bordered Bee-Hawk (butterfly) that we saw in Siikalahti.

On the 9th day we had SSP again: a Common Snipe, a Whinchat, a Song Thrush, a Sedge Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat, 11 Common Whitethroats, 4 Pied Flycatchers, 3+1c Blue Tits, a Chaffinch, a Siskin, 2 Common Rosefinches, and 7+1c Reed Buntings which the control was very nice as it wore a ring with a text Budapest – it had been ringed in Hungary!

During the day we went to ring some nestlings of Pied Flycatchers in Tarvaslampi. Then we continued to Saari where in Akonpohja we saw a family of Gadwalls and in Jyrkilä we found a good flooding field with 17 Greenshanks, 8 Spotted Redshanks and 50 Wood Sandpipers.

On the 11th of July we visited to floods in Jyrkilä again and counted 110 Wood Sandpipers, 19 Greenshanks, 2 Spotted Redshanks amd a Dunlin. In Pohjanranta we saw 6 Stock Doves. On the 12th day in evening in Siikalahti we saw the first Great Egret of the season and again a Great Grey Shrike. It is really not normal to see Great Grey Shrikes in summertime. On the 13th of July Hanna stayed whole night in a hide and managed to photograph a Spotted Crake. In the morning she got also pictures of a Wood Pigeon.

On the 14th of July we headed to night-trip to Saari again. We started in Pieni-Matko where we ringed a Grasshopper Warbler and a Corn Crake. The rest of the trip wasn’t very good, just Corn Crakes, young Long-eared Owls, some Spotted Crakes and Nightjars and then one of the River Warblers that we had found earlier. Only one Blyth’s Reed Warbler was heard so it seems that singer-time is over.

On the 15th day the flood in Jyrkilä had dried and there was only some Wood Sandpipers and a single Little Ringed Plover. On the 16th day we had SSP again and 5 Robins, a Blyth’s Reed Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat, 2+3c Common Whitethroats, a Chiffchaff, 4 Willow Warblers, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Blue Tit control, a Chaffinch, 2 Siskins and 8 Reed Buntings were caught. Common Crossbills were migrating, a Corn Crake calling and a Golden Oriole still singing.

On the 18th of July I was once again visiting the only are of Siikalahti where it is possible to see some waders and while walking through a field I flushed a Great Snipe! Finally Siikalahti-tick! On the next day I saw a young Hazel Hen in Siikalahti and in the afternoon we went to check one nest that our friend had found and there were 2 young Common Buzzards that were already flying. We also saw 4 young Capercaillies. In the evening we visited Siikalahti where we saw 4 Great Egrets, our friends had seen more.


May birding

Spring was coming slowly but every day something new was seen. On the 13th of May we were in Siikalahti from 6:20 a.m. to 1 p.m. and saw 71 Black-throated Divers, a Red-throated Diver and heard a couple of Bluethroats. A Pallid Harrier looking bird was seen a little bit too far. In the evening we had to come back to twitch a family of 4 Red-breasted Geese that Jarmo Pirhonen found.

On the 14th day we did the first SSP-ringing and it was surprisingly dry and green in our mist-netting area. We caught 2 Fieldfares, a Lesser and 2 Common Whitethroats, 2 Willow Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher, a Common Redstart and a Chaffinch and controlled a Great Tit. While ringing we head a Siberian Chiffchaff singing shortly and a Little Ringed Plover migrating and then in one migrating flock of Barnacle Goose we saw 2 Red-breasted Geese.

During the midday we were in Siikalahti and there was saw a 1st summer fulvescens-type of Greater Spotted Eagle. In the evening we still headed to Saari and on the way we saw some Long-tailed Ducks, Common Scoters and 2 Greater Scaups in Härskiinmutka and one more Red-breasted Goose in a big flock of Barnacle Geese in Lääviensuo. In Pohjanranta we still saw 4 Temminck’s Stints and a Marsh Sandpiper and later we still found a couple of Short-eared Owls and Great Snipes.

On the 15th day only bird to mention was late at night when I heard a Nightjar in Sounio and on the 16th day I saw a couple of Honey Buzzards and heard a Wryneck in Siikalahti. In the afternoon we went to Saari with Arttu Valonen and the tour started well when a Great Reed Warbler was singing in Akonpohja. Also 4 Gadwalls were seen there and later we found a couple of Common Rosefinches but nothing else really.

On the 17th day Swifts had arrives and geese were really migrating big time! I saw 4 Brent Geese too but all the time sky was full of flocks of Barnacle Geese. A late Merlin was also seen. In the evening we checked some owl-nestboxes but they were all empty. A Red-backed Shrike and a Spotted Flycatcher were seen and at night we still visited Siikalahti where we heard a Spotted Crake and saw a Long-eared Owl.

On the 18th day we were in Oravaniemi Ehro for whole morning but saw only 24 Velvet Scoters, 4 Greater Scaups and 3 Red-throated Divers. A Black Kite was flying around and a too distant eagle was seen but it really looked like a Lesser Spotted Eagle. During the day we twitched a Stone Curlew in Tohmajärvi Värtsilä Hopeakallio with Arttu. It was quite distant so pictures were really bad. On the way back to Parikkala we saw a Hen Harrier and a Red-backed Shrike. In the evening we still saw a Short-eared Owl in Tetrisuo.

On the 19th day the first Garden Warbler was heard in Moskuunniemi and a Reed Warbler in Siikalahti. In Saari Akonpohja we saw 3 Gadwalls and in Pohjanranta a Black Kite, a couple of Temminck’s Stint and at night we still heard a Great Snipe and saw a Long-eared Owl.

Hanna stayed a night in a hide again and tried to photograph ducks and waders. I went early to Siikalahti again and saw a couple of Oystercatchers, 74 Black-throated Divers and 112 Ruffs. Then I went to pick up Hanna from Saari but there we saw nothing new. In the evening we went to Papinlahti to make everything ready for SSP and heard a Corn Crake there.

On the 12th of May we had the worst SSP ever – only one Willow Warbler and one Common Whitethroat were ringed and one Common Whitethroat was controlled. A Golden Oriole was singing and during the day in Siikalahti we saw 14 Honey Buzzards and heard an Icterine Warbler.

On the 22nd day a Blyth’s Reed Warbler was singing in Kukonkanta and on my lunch-hour I hurried to twitch a Broad-billed Sandpiper in Pohjanranta. In the evening I visited Siikalahti-tower where are less birds than ever! Only ducks were a Gadwall couple. The funniest observation was an Elk family that crossed the bay.

On the 23rd day I saw a Temminck’s Stint and head a couple of Golden Orioles on my lunch-hour and . In the afternoon we headed to Saari with Arttu but all geese had gone. Only a couple of Tundra Bean Geese were still seen and a couple of bigger flocks of Yellow Wagtails were still found on the fields. In the evening we were in Hernesaari but there were too many mosquitoes so we had to give up before the sunset. We still twitched a River Warbler in Ristimäki and then checked some more places but all I found were a Blyth’s Reed Warbler, a Long-eared Owl and a Spotted Crake.

On the 24th day we were in the evening in Härskiinmutka where were less mosquitoes and we surprisingly saw 4 Great Egrets flying towards southwest. At night I heard a River Warbler and saw a Ural Owl and a flock of Barnacle and Brent Geese.

On the 25th day we went early in the morning to Soininmäki forest and there we tried to twitch a Greenih Warbler that Arttu head heard on the previous morning. But only better bird we found was a Red-breasted Flycatcher which was my 200th species in Parikkala this year! On my lunch-break I saw a Red-backed Shrike in Siikalahti and in the afternoon we headed to Saari to make duck-counts. We saw 4 Gadwalls, 6 Garganeys and a Black Kite again and heard altogether 5 Golden Orioles. Then we decided to drive to Kitee Kesälahti Pivanganpolku where we twitched a Firecrest. Unfortunately it started to rain almost immediately after we had heard and seen this nice bird.

On the 26th of May I saw 2 Black Kites in Siikalahti and a Redshank, a Ringed Plover and a Heuglin’s Gull in Pohjanranta. At night a couple of new Great Snipes, a Common Grasshopped Warbler, some Corn Crakes and Nightjars and a Long-eared Owl were found. On the 27th day we went to Punkaharju to check the last empty nestboxes. In Haukmäki we heard a Red-breasted Flycatcher and saw a Greenish Warbler. In the afternoon we twitched another Firecrest that was found in Joutseno – it was the first ever in South Karelia. Then we still went to Kotasaari where a Great Reed Warbler was singing, to Konnunsuo where a Hen Harrier and a couple of Ortolan Buntings were found and to Imatra Immalanjärvi where a Common and a Great Reed Warbler were heard. In the evening we still did a boat-trip with Arttu to Kurhonselkä where we saw some gulls, terns and breeding Barnacle Geese and so on.

On the 28th day the morning was spent in Ehro but only one flock of Long-tailed Ducks were migrating. We continued in Siikalahti where we saw a bit more than a thousand Brent Geese and more than hundred Whooper Swans, again a Black Kite, a Hen Harrier and so on. In the afternoon I showed to our good old friend Harri Orenius a White-backed Woodpecker, a Ural and a Tengmalm’s Owl and a Nuthatch on their nests. On the 29th day a couple of Black Kites were seen in Siikalahti and a new River Warbler was heard in Tiviä.

On the 30th and 31st night we did a long tour with Arttu but all we found were Spotted Crakes, Water Rails, Corn Crakes, a Long- and a Short-eared Owl, a Great Snipe, Blyth’s Reed Warblers and a couple of River Warblers – so nothing new. On the last day of May I still saw a Red-backed Shrike in Lahdensuo and a 2 Temminck’s Stint in Suurisuo. We ended the month by twitching a probable Lesser Scaup in Kouvola Lappalanjärvi. It was a bit late so there wasn’t enough light to see it well so I couldn’t celebrate my 400th Finnish-tick yet. I hope there are some good pictures taken earlier. The bill looked good for Lesser Scaup but otherwise it was too much Greater Scaup-like. After all I did put it to my log as a Greater Scaup.


Bird-tower competition week

On the 5th of May my brother had arrived on the previous evening from Kemijärvi. On my lunch hour we were in Siikalahti but in cold northern wind we saw nothing special – but of course many year-ticks for Pirkka. After my work the weather was even worse so we just went to twitch a Tengmalm’s and a Ural Owl from their nests and when Hanna was free from work and also the weather was getting better we headed to Saari. On the way we checked Slavonian Grebes in Valkialampi, in Akonpohja we saw a couple of Gadwalls and a Black-tailed Godwit, in Akanvaara Tetrisuo a Hobby, in Suurenjärvenliete a couple of Gadwalls, a Garganey, a Redshank, 50 Lapland Buntings and 42 Greenshanks, in Kanavalampi both a Bar-tailed and a Black-tailed Godwit and a couple of Spotted Redshanks, in Karinmäki a Whimbrel and a Northern Wheatear and we ended the trip with the best birds of the trip in Pohjanranta where we saw a couple of Marsh Sandpipers.

On the 6th day was Bird-towere competition and our team had us three and Matti Lötjönen and Harri Hölttä. Morning was cold but calm so the visibility was really good. In a couple of hours we saw a lot of species and the best one was a Little Grebe that Pirkka found. Other nice birds were a male Long-tailed Duck that was calling, a flock of migrating Common Scoters, a Gadwall, a couple of Garganeys and so on. Surprisingly there weren’t any Pintails anymore. Pretty soon it came difficult to find new species but of course we saw some like a flock of 3 Black-tailed Godwits, a Red-throated Diver, 2 Lapland Buntings, a Common Crossbill, a Linnet, a Black Woodpecker and a Spotted Redshank and so on. When the day got a little bit warmer some raptors were seen but only better one was a Black Kite. A Short-eared Owl was a nice surprise and finally also a Greater Spotted Eagle was seen migrating. Pretty soon after the eagle it started snowing very hard! So it wasn’t a surprise that even after the weather got better, we got no more new species and 1 p.m. the race was over. After all we had seen 90 species and the first time ever we were third in Parikkala as Pohjanranta got even 97 and Tarassiinlahti 91 species.

In the afternoon we dropped Hanna to Suurenjärvenliete and there we immediately saw a Peregrine flying over us. While we were fixing Hanna’s tent Pirkka saw a male Citrine Wagtail briefly but luckily it was refound soon with a female! Hanna was already in the hide and soon the flock of wagtails were feeding right in front of her and Hanna could photograph both Citrine Wagtails the rest of the evening! In Suurenjärvenliete we saw also 77 Greenshanks, in Kanavalampi we saw a pair of Gadwalls and 2 male Pochards, the same Bar-tailed Godwit and a Redshank and a Merlin and another Merlin was in Pohjanranta. On the way back to Parikkala we still saw a female Capercaillie. At night we still visited Siikalahti where we heard Jacksnipes in a couple of places and saw a Long-eared Owl.

On the 7th of May we slept longer and then went to see that a Little Ringed Plover was still in Kukonkanta and close to Siikalahti we saw a Stock Dove and a Nuthatch. On dam-road we were mostly talking with other birders but luckily Perttu Valonen was still focused on birds and found a White Stork migrating. We also heard a Redshank and I saw a Cuckoo migrating but otherwise it was pretty quiet. So we went to eat and then Pirkka had to start a long way back to Lapland. But he stopped some times on the way and in Sotkamo he found a Sociable Lapwing!

After I had slept long I went to pick up Hanna. In Kanavalampi there were still a couple of Gadwalls and in Jyrkilä I saw a Short-eared Owl.

On the 8th day I twitched a Wryneck in Moskuunniemi and in the afternoon we were checking empty owl nest-boxes. On the 9th day together with Harri Partanen we drove to Pohjanranta where a couple of Red-breasted Geese and a Marsh Sandpiper had been seen. There were lots of Barnacle Geese swimming but I found one Red-breasted Goose easily. After some time I found also another nice bird from the flock – a female Common Shelduck – which is much more difficult bird here than a Red-breasted Goose. We still checked Pohjasuo and found another or the same Red-breasted Goose there.

On the 10th day a Sedge Warbler was singing in Siikalahti and a Lesser Whitethroat in Kannas. In the afternoon we did waterbird counts in Saari and the best birds were an Oystercatcher in Tarassii, two pairs of Gadwalls and a pair of Slavonian Grebes in Akonpohja and in Pohjanranta there was a Marsh Sandpiper. There were also thousands of Barnacle Geese everywhere but nothing else really. At night we still went to listen to some places with Harri Partanen but only better birds we heard were a couple of Thrush Nightingales in Siikalahti. But we saw a Tawny Owl in Sammallampi and a Long-eared Owl in Kontiolampi.

On the 11th of May a Common Whitethroat was singing in Siikalahti and a Little Ringed Plover and a female Hen Harrier were migrating. In the evening more empty owl nest-boxes were checked. And on the 12th day only birds to mention were a Wryneck in Siikalahti and a Slavonian Grebe in Vartialahti,


Spring is here

On the 11th of April it really started to feel like spring in Parikkala. In Siikalahti I saw Canada Geese, Teals, Mallards, Goldeneyes, White-tailed Eagles, Marsh Harriers, Sparrowhawks, a Rough-legged Buzzard, an Osprey, a Kestrel, Cranes, Common Snipes, Black-headed Gulls, Stock Doves, Meadow Pipits, White Wagtail, Fieldfares, Redwings and Mistle Thrushes, Starlings, Chaffinches, Reed Buntings and so on. In Särkisalmi there were Goosanders and a Common and a Lesser Black-backed Gull.

On the 12th day new arrivals were Wigeons, Pintails, a Water Rail. a Golden Plover, a Curlew, a Green Sandpiper and a Wood Lark. In Särkisalmi I saw a Smew couple and in Tetrisuo there were 3 Hen Harriers chasing voles. Next day in Siikalahti I saw a Song Thrush and in Tetrisuo a flock of 10 Lapland Buntings. On the 14th day a Merlin was in Siikalahti and in Tetrisuo a Greylag Goose and a Brambling and it seemed many species were getting more numerous.

We had high expectations for the weekend but after all the weather wasn’t as good as the forecasts had been. Saturday started well with a Peregrine and a Barnacle Goose in Tetrisuo and in Siikalahti better birds were a Pochard and a Wood Lark. Then I drove and checked several places nearby but found almost nothing. I even went to check Capercaillie lekking place but there were some people nearby and saw only 3 males perched on the trees. One of them was more active and I could get some distant pictures. In the afternoon we saw again a Nuthatch in Kannas and in Lahdensuo we found a strange-looking shrike which probably has again some Northern Shrike genes?

On the 16th day a Bittern was already calling and a couple of Grey Herons were migrating. There were already 8 Marsh Harriers and 13 Rough-legged Buzzards migrated but otherwise it was quiet in Siikalahti. So we headed to Saari where in Akanvaara Tetrisuo we found 9 Twites in a flock of Linnets. And then in the same place we found also 2 Shore Larks! These both species are very rare here in Parikkala. But then we checked all the other places and only better bird was a Rook in Kanavalampi. In the evening there was still a flock of 4 Greylag Geese in Tetrisuo.

During the beginning of the week I saw just the same species as before but we spent some time in Tetrisuo photographing Hen Harriers and Rough-legged Buzzards that were staying there because of numerous voles and northern wind. Also Skylarks and some Lapland Buntings were seen on the field. On the 19th day the only new species was a Dunnock and on the 20th day there were a couple of Great Crested Grebes in Särkisalmi and in the evening we saw a Greenshank and a couple of Woodcocks in Tetrisuo.

On the 21st of April a Black-throated Diver was in Särkisalmi and after the work we went to Saari. In Akonpohja we saw a Greylag Goose and an early Garganey. In Uukuniemi Suurenjärvenliete we found 3 Black-tailed Godwits, in Kanavalampi a Gadwall and in Riionsalmi we heard a Hawfinch. There was still some snow in Saari and the floods weren’t big yet but there were really lots of Green Sandpipers. We saw altogether 130 Green Sandpipers and in best place there were even 65 birds!

On the 22nd day we were in Siikalahti from 6:30 to 12. The weather was again much worse than had been promised and the wind was from north-east. But it was still very warm and therefore there were lots of people in the tower. 10 Cormorants, a female Pallid Harrier, 24 Rough-legged Buzzards, a Barn Swallow and a Hawfinch were the best birds. Also a Common Ringed Plover was found on one flood and a Peregrine we seen chasing pigeons and ducks.

Then we still headed to Saari with Veikka Kosonen and Oskari Saunisto but all the better birds had moved on and nothing new had arrived. The second Peregrine of the day was in Akanvaara Tetrisuo and again we counted more than 150 Green Sandpipers.

23rd day was colder and wind was northern so there were now room in the dam-road tower. I saw 2 Shovelers, 7 Cormorants, a Grey Heron, 14 Rough-legged Buzzards, a Wood Sandpiper and a Barn Swallow. Then together with Matti Lötjönen we saw a nice young Golden Eagle that was soaring right above us and while we were taking pictures of it, we suddenly saw another eagle coming to the picture! It was very pale and it really looked like a Lesser Spotted Eagle to me. It was quite high and soared only once when it was already very far but I thought I had seen enough for the positive identification. But in the evening while I was checking the pictures the bird started to look big-billed and also very long-winged. I sent pictures to some friends and got comments that it looked more like a fulvescens Greater Spotted Eagle. And after checking books I think that’s what it was.

Hanna had stayed one full day in a hide next to one flood in Saari and tried to get pictures of ducks and waders. In the afternoon I went to pick her up and then we checked all the best places again. The best birds were 3 Bewick’s Swans, a Black Kite and 3 Barn Swallows in Suurenjärvenliete, 2 Bewick’s Swans, 2 Common Redshanks and a migrating young Pallid Harrier in Pohjanranta and still there were lots of Green Sandpipers – 40 in the best place.

In the evening we still went to Siikalahti bird-tower and most of the bay was already open. There was a Slavonian and a Red-necked Grebe and then surprisingly a Greater Black-backed Gull with other gulls. An early Little Gull was also seen and there were already 42 Tufted Ducks too.

On the 24yh day on a morning visit in Särkisalmi I saw a Gadwall couple, 4 Common Scoters and already 20 Black-throated Divers. During my lunch-hour I saw only a Ruff and twitched a couple of Little Ringed Plovers in Kukonkanta. In the evening we went to change tires and on the way we saw a Northern Wheatear in Kukonkanta and in Särkisalmi we saw 9 Common Scoters and heard a Wren. At night I still went to Siikalahti and heard 2 Jack Snipes and a Ural Owl. Moor Frogs were already very noisy too. But the funniest observation was a migrating Gadwall that I heard calling from the sky.

On the 25th of April in Särkisalmi I saw a Black-tailed Godwit that was on the ice with many ducks. In Siikalahti we saw a Common Sandpiper. On the 26th day the only year-tick was a Spotted Crake and on the 27th a Slavonian Grebe had moved to Särkisalmi and I heard also a Pied Flycatcher. On my lunch-hour I saw a Black Kite and a migrating Black-tailed Godwit and in the evening we made a trip to Saari with Harri Hölttä. In Akonpohja we heard a Willow Warbler and saw 2 male Pochards and a Heuglin’s Gull, in Akanvaara Tetrisuo 365 Golden Plovers, in Jyrkilä a Stock Dove, in Suurenjärvenliete a Black-tailed Godwit and a Common Redshank and in Tarassiinlahti a couple of Rooks.

On the 28th day in Härskiinmutka I saw 73 Common Scoters and also a Common Tern and a Hobby. During my lunch-hour I checked some other open-water places but found no Steller’s Eiders. Some parts of Lake Simpele were still frozen. I heard a couple of Tree Pipits in Oravaniemi. In the afternoon I heard a Whimbrel in Kullinsuo and in the evening we had to go to count ducks in Saari. There were lots of Pintails everywhere and also 5 Gadwalls in Kanavalampi. Only other good bird was a Peregrine in Pohjanranta. Hanna spend next 26 hours in hide tent photographing ducks.

Hanna had a cold night. Flood pools froze and even Lapwings had frost on their feathers. Later during the day Hanna photographed ducks, waders and adult and young White-tailed Eagles.

On the 29th day a Common Redstart was singing in our garden and in Härskiinmutka I saw a couples of Velvet Scoter and Red-breasted Merganser. In Moskuunniemi I heard a n early Blackcap. On my lunch-break I saw a couple of Gadwalls in Siikalahti and also a Pergrine, 21 Barn Swallos and 9 House Martins. It was very warm – even 20 degrees! In the afternoon I still did a trip to Saati where I saw 4 Gadwalls and a Redshank in Kanavalampi, a Whinchat and a couple of Northern Wheatears in Karinmäki and a Black Kite in Ollukka.

On the 30th day weather had changed completely and it was freezing cold wind and raining. I slept longer but when I woke up I found Veikka Kosonen and Oskari Saunisto from our garden. They had already started a young birders bird-race very early and had 57 species on their list. Last year they hadn’t got driving license yet so I had been helping them to win the race so they wanted me to join them again. The weather was poor so we started to try some more difficult birds but in this weather some of them weren’t seen, but we had a Little Ringed Plover in Kukonkanta, a Black-tailed Godwit and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in Siikalahti and then went to twitch 2 Great Egrets that Matti Lötjönen had found in Kirkkoranta. Then we checked some fields but found only another Little Ringed Plover. Then it was time to go to Saari and on the way we saw a couple of Slavonian Grebes in Valkialampi and a Capercaillie in their lekking place. In Akonpohja we found a Spotted Redshank, a Yellow Wagtail and another Little Ringed Plover. In Jyrkilä we saw a beautiful leucistic Black-headed Gull, in Suurenjärvenliete 3 Bewick’s Swans, a couple of Hobbies and Spotted Redshanks and even 72 Greenshanks, in Kanavalampi 4 Gadwalls and a Common Redshank, in Tarassiinlahti a Linnet, a Cormorant and a couple of Red-throated Divers and in Pohjanranta a Heuglin’s Gull. On the way we saw a Tenglmalm’s and a Ural Owl on their nests and in the evening we still headed to Siikalahti where a couple of Jack Snipes were lekking and also a Long-eared Owl was heard. during the day boys had got already 102 species.

On the 1st of May the weather was a little bit better so we started with a Common Redstart in our garden and a Blackcap and a Wood Warbler in Moskuunniemi. Then we saw a Nuthatch in Kangaskylä and then we headed to Siikalahti. We stayed on the dam-road for several hours and in northern wind there was not much migration but of course some new species were seen. A Grey Heron, a Black Kite, 3 Hen Harriers, a Rough-legged Buzzard, a Common Sandpiper, a couple of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, a Wood Lark, a flock of 10 Waxwings, a Linnet and a Goldfinch were birds to mention. In the afternoon we headed to forests but only new species we found was a Crested Tit, also a couple of Hazel Hens were heard. Then boys still continued to Savo to try to find more species from their home-ground. But they managed to get only a few species and after all they got 124 species and they came 4th in the race. Winner had got some more but two other teams had got the same number but they had more so called ace-species.

The weather turned really bad again so on the next day I slept a lot even though it was my birthday. Only new birthday-tick was a Common Ringed Plover that was migrating in Siikalahti. There was a Hoopoe in Rautjärvi and a White Stork in Saari but I slept too long. But on the 3rd day I woke up early and went to see the White Stork in Akonpohja. On the way I saw also a Pink-footed Goose in Lääviensuo. During my lunch-hour I saw a Sand Martin and a couple of Stock Doves and in the afternoon a Common Redshank. On the 4th day winter was coming! It was snowing in the evening but anyway we were to Saati to fix Hanna’s hide that had been collapsed in storms. In suuranjärvenliete we saw 4 Gadwalls and then we still twitched a Bar-tailed Godwit in Kanavalampi.


Easter again in Siipyy

Spring wasn’t getting any steps so it was easy to plan a to west coast in Easter. In the beginning of April there hadn’t been any new migrants but the same Hawk Owl was still present in Tetrisuo and on the 5th day it had been around for 5 months! Finally on the 6th day some “first again” Lapwings and Common Buzzards started to arrive. But still there was a lot of snow on the ground so we weren’t worried that we would miss anything in Parikkala while we are away.

Our ordinary plan was to go to Eurajoki Luvia Säppi with a couple of friends but even on the west coast most shores and bays were still frozen so boats were still on the ground. After some trying we had to give up trying to get there. But with Hanna we had an easy decision to go to Kristiinankaupunki Siipyy where we had been a couple of previous Easters. We had always enjoyed birding in Kristiinankaupunki where seawatching had always been great in good light and in good company.

So on the 6th of April we drove a long way to Kristiinankaupunki and it really was still winter as we didn’t see any birds on the way. Finally we parked to Siipyy and put up our camp and went to sleep.

On the 7th day we woke up before 6 a.m. and were soon climbing to Siipyy bird-tower. Soon there were also Jukka Koskelainen, Sami Jansson and Ilkka Iivonen.

Night had been cold but sea was calm and right away we started to see some migration. Visibility was once again perfect so all the most distant birds were possible to identify.

Most birds were seen between 7 and 9 a.m. but then it came pretty quiet. We continued until 11:20 and during the morning I got even 17 year-ticks. Ticks, better birds and numbers had been Bean, White-fronted and Greylag Geese, Common Shelduck, Tufted Ducks, 1314 Common Eiders, Velvet and 264 Common Scoters, 4 Smews, 30 Red-breasted Mergansers, 41 Red-throated Divers, Grey Heron, 38 Black Guillemots, Razorbill, Black-headed Gulls, 2 Rock Pipits, Fieldfares, Mistle Thrushes, Common Crossbills and Reed Buntings.

During the day we checked some fields and in Härkmeri we saw geese flying over us but there weren’t many present – just Whooper Swans and Greylag Geese and a single Barnacle Goose. Other birds we found were a Common Crane, a Golden Plover, 7 Stock Doves and a couple of Meadow Pipits. In Lillsund we found more geese and there were also 40 Pink-footed Geese with numerous Bean and White-fronted Geese. Also a single Curlew was found. In Karijoki Alakuja we found some hundreds of geese too and there were a couple of Barnacle Geese too.

Then we drove back to Siipyy and slept a little. Then we did a short walk in the forest nearby before went to sleep more.

On the 8th of April all the same birders gathered to the tower and we stayed there until 12:20 p.m. Migration was very good and especially Black-headed Gulls and Whooper Swans were still moving when we stopped but we were too tired to continue as we hadn’t been sleeping very well because of the cold night.

Better birds were 2 Shelducks, 30 Wigeons, 4027 Eiders, 1628 Common Scoters, a Kestrel, 98 Oystercatchers, a Green Sandpiper, 3 Arctic Skuas, a Razorbill, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 3 Stock Doves, a Short-eared owl, a White Wagtail, a Parrot Crossbill and then the best bird of the morning was a migrating Grey Wagtail.

During the day we visited only Härkmeri where we saw 16 Pink-footed Geese, a couple of Grey Herons, a Rough-legged buzzard and a couple of Golden Plovers. Then in the evening we did a 1,5 hour owl-trip and heard in the beginning only very noisy Whooper Swans and Greylag Geese but then finally also an Ural Owl.

On the 9th day the night was extremely cold – even -7 degrees. We woke up early and ate well and then climbed to the tower again at 6:16. Now there were Jukka and Sami again but later also Paavo Sallinen, Keijo Linna and Staffan Blom.

Again there was no wind at all and sea started to freeze and finally there were only some open water scratches. Anyway there were birds migrating over the ice too. We saw for example 227 Mute Swans, 36 Pink-footed Geese, a Shelduck, 9 Pintails, 50 Smews, 2002 Eiders, 11 Grey Herons, a Merlin, a Razorbill, 2 Wood Larks, a Rock Pipit, a Song Thrush, 147 Mistle Thrushes, a Rook, 11 Bramblings, a Lapland Bunting and then the best bird of the day a Two-barred Crossbill. Also 116 Common Crossbills and 220 Bullfinches were good numbers.

During the day we slept well and then visited Härkmeri again but found only 10 Pink-footed Geese and a single Common Snipe.

On the 1oth of April we seawatched together with Jukka and Ilkka and Veikko Forsberg who had arrived already at 5:45. The sea was opening again and during the day all ice had melted.

Migration stopped earlier than any other morning so we packed our car at 11 a.m. and left driving towards home. Others still stayed for a half an hour but there was really nothing moving on the sea anymore. Best observations were 2 Shelducks, a Shoveler couple, a male Pochard, 3 Scaups, 3612 Eiders, 152 Velvet Scoters, 49 Smews, 61 Red-throated Divers, a Black-throated Diver, a Red-necked Grebe, 18 Grey Herons, 2 Ringed Plovers, 4 Arctic Skuas, 2 Caspian Terns, 53 Razorbills, 1765 Black-headed Gulls, a Wood Lark, 3 Rock Pipits and a Dunnock.

On the way back home we stopped briefly in Merikarvia Lankoski where we didn’t see regular Grey Wagtails but a Dipper couple was seen building their nest. In Ulvila we saw a female Marsh Harrier and in Pälkäne we had to stop next to a field where were some geese as our old friend Olavi Kemppainen was watching them. When we were leaving we saw a Woodcock flying over us.

In Rautjärvi Laikko we still saw a Wood Lark and finally we were at home quite early. So in the evening I still visited Siikalahti where swans, geese and cranes were heard and surprisingly I heard also a Moorhen! Spring had arrived!