November-race with some rarities

After a poor trip to Säppi I wasn’t expecting to see many birds in Parikkala either. I was almost ready to put my birding gear away for the winter which means about 5 months…

Anyway on the 30th of October I visited Tyrjä where I found a Bewick’s Swan and a Tundra Bean Goose in a big flock of Whooper Swans. I also tried to find a Dipper but it wasn’t there yet.

On the 31st day I visited Moskuunniemi and I was talking with Harri Partanen while we were watching his feeder when I noticed a Marsh Tit. It was visiting the feeder briefly but I managed to get some pictures which helped me to be sure about the identification. Then Harri remembered that he had seen a couple of Willow Tits on the previous day and another one had been browner. He went to pick up his camera and there were pictures of this Marsh Tit already from the previous day. While we were following this tit visiting the feeder, we saw also a Nuthatch.

On the 1st of November started the November bird-race that was in our Bird-club’s area in Parikkala and Rautjärvi. I started by visiting Moskuunniemi where Marsh Tit was soon seen. Usually I should have gone to Siikalahti but it had been frozen for some time already. So after I had seen Cormorants in Härskiinmutka, a Black Woodpecker in Kirkonkylä and a Common Scoter in Kirkkolahti I headed towards Varialahti. On the way I saw a Goshawk in Siikalahti and found probably the same Whooper Swan flock in Kaukola and both the Bewick’s Swan and Tundra Bean Goose were still on the flock. A Grey-headed Woodpecker flew over me and a couple of White-tailed Eagles were soaring on the sky. Then in Vartialahti I found 5 Barnacle Geese, a Wigeon, 4 Tufted Ducks, a Greater Scaup, a Common Scoter, Goldeneyes, a Great Crested Grebe and so on. The driving weather was awful as there was already lots of snow.

Then on my luch-hour I visited Rautalahti but saw only Goosanders and a flock of Black Grouses. After work I visited Vartialahti again but found nothing better.

On the 2nd of November there were Marsh Tit, Nuthatch and also a Blackbird in Moskuunniemi. In Särkisalmi I saw Fieldfare and some Rock Pigeons were in Kangaskylä. On my lunch-hour I went to check southern side of Lake Simpele but only Mallards, Goldcrests and some other common species were ticked.

On the 3rd day I found a Black-throated Diver and saw also Herring Gulls with Common Gulls in Härskiinmutka. On my lunch-hour I checked other parts of Lake Simpele but found only some Cormorants. Only ticks were Yellowhammer, Common Crossbill, Coal Tit and Treecreeper. In the afternoon I headed to Saari but all the bays were completely frozen and only a Wigeon and a couple of Great Grey Shrikes were seen.

On the 4th of November I did a twitching trip by plane to Inari Ivalo. I stood there in -20 degrees watching to one garden for several hours then ate pizza and flew back. Dusky Thrush that had been there for 3 weeks, wasn’t there anymore.

On the 5th day we tried to catch Nuthatches in Satumäki but soon continued to Moskuunniemi to catch tits. But neither Marsh Tit or Nuthatch weren’t caught. But we saw 3 Goldfinches flying over.

During the day we headed to Kaukola with Harri Partanen as there had been a Golden Eagle near the swan-flock already on the previous day. It had flight behind a forest just a minute before we arrived. We decided to try from Mantilanniemi and luckily saw the eagle flying over Siikalahti. We also found a Nuthatch there and then in Vartialahti we saw a Goshawk that had just killed one of the last Barnacle Geese and also 15 Scaups and so on.

Then we still continued to Tarvaslampi where we saw a Chaffinch and to Soininmäki but it was getting too late so we found only some tits and Goldcrests.

On the 6th day we were mist-netting again in Moskuunniemi and heard a Pygmy Owl calling. Maybe because of the owl many tits weren’t caught. Nuthatch did hit the net but didn’t get stuck. In Savikumpu we still twitched a Canada Goose before we had to hurry to work.

On my lunch-hour I found Smews in Kukkarolahti and saw 10 Long-tailed Tits in Kannas. In the evening I went to check fields with my thermal camera but found no snipes but a nice surprise was a Long-eared Owl!

On the 7th of November I had to rush to Tarvaspohja Kirpunranta when Jouko Rantanen called that he had some rare “phylloscopus” warbler there. The bird was gone but Jouko had pictures and it really looked like a Hume’s Leaf Warbler. I played some tits alarm-calls from my phone and tits started to arrive and after them the warbler finally showed up to a top of tree. I managed to get some pretty good pictures of it and it indeed was the first Hume’s Leaf Warbler for Parikkala and the second for South-Karelia ever!

When the flock was gone I waited for some twitchers to arrive but only Harri Partanen and Merja Laari showed up. After some waiting I played the call again and the same happened again. This time Hume’s Leaf Warbler stayed a bit further but we all saw it well and I got some more pictures. Then I had to hurry back to work (I saw a couple of Waxwings on the way) and even though there were people searching for Hume’s it wasn’t seen again. Until next day one birder saw it or at least something like it but for sure it wasn’t 100% sure observation. But another surprise was seen by twitchers – the saw the latest Chiffchaff ever in Parikkala.

On the 8th day I saw an Arctic Redpoll, 13 Long-tailed ducks, 3 Black-throated Divers and a couple of Velvet Scoters in Rautalahti- After worj I hurried to Saari to twitch a Red-throated Diver in Saarenkylä and a Hawk Owl in Akanvaara Tetrisuo.

On the 9th day I saw 2 Black-throated Divers and 15 local and 30 migrating Long-tailed Ducks in Härskiinmutka. While I was trying to see the last House Sparrow of the village, I saw a Siskin and a Goldfinch. In Lahdensuo I still saw a Sparrowhawk.

On the 10th day I visited Rautjärvi Simpele Kokkolanjoki but only tick was a Dipper. In Kivijärvi I saw some Common Scoters and Scaups that both seemed to be more common than ever. In Tähtiniemi I found 25 Red-throated and 2 Black-throated Diver and a young Greater Black-backed Gull so it was really a good visit there!

On the 11th day there was thick fog but I had to do winterbird-count as it was the last possible day for me. Siikalahti had melted again and it was extremely wet everywhere. I took my scope and walked 18 kilometers without using it at all because of the bad visibility. There were tits more than ever – at least Great Tits. Altogether I found 3 Mallards, a Common Scoter, 8 Goosanders, 2 Cormorants, a Hazel Hen, 31 Black Grouses, a White-tailed Eagle, a Goshawk, 10 Common and 2 Herring Gulls, 8 Rock Doves, a Grey-headed and a White-backed Woodpecker, 10 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 17 Goldcrests, 8 Long-tailed, 76 Blue, 269 Great, 5 Coal and 2 Crested Tits, even 7 Nuthatches, 7 Treecreepers, 12 Jays, 10 Magpies, 370 Jackdaws, 33 Hooded Crows, 7 Ravens, 33 Tree Sparrows, 4 Bramblings, 60 Greenfinches, 53 Common Redpolls, am Arctic Redpoll, 10 Common Crossbills and 15 Bullfinches. Strange that I didn’t even hear any Whooper Swans even though the flock was still in a field in Kaukola and I passed them only from a couple of hundreds of meters, but there is a forest between. Unfortunately a Bewick’s Swan, a Canada Goose or a Golden Eagle wasn’t seen either.

On the 12th of November we had given up mist-netting the Marsh Tit and tried to catch it with a Nuthatch-trap – and it worked in 10 minutes. It was nice to get this bird ringed and it is interesting to see if it is going to stay for the whole winter – and maybe find out where it goes after that?

We still got to Kaukola to see the Bewick’s Swan when my phone beeped and ringed at the same time – Veikka Kosonen had found a Gannet in Punkasalmi! We hurried there and luckily Veikka was still there and he knew where the bird had landed to swim. And immediately it was flying again and soon we could follow this young bird fishing on on the lake!

Weather-forecast had told that it was going to rain most of the day but luckily Veikka had decided to come to check Punkasalmi. He had already been about to leave when he had seen the Gannet. Now the weather was just cold and the freezing wind was straight from north but because of that there were birds migrting! We saw altogether 208 Velvet Scoters, 29 Red and 10 Black-throated Divers, 10 unidentified divers, 4 Long-tailed Ducks and a White-tailed Eagle.

When the Gannet had once again dropped to swim and hadn’t been seen for an hour, we decided to leave as the migration had stopped and we were absolutely freezing. There were several twitchers still and luckily they soon saw the bird again. It stayed in Punkasalmi at least a couple of next days and it was seen a couple of days been chased by a White-tailed Eagle. So nobody knows if it continued its journey somewhere or was eaten by the eagle after all.

In the afternoon I still visited Vartialahti and saw 2 Wigeons, 15 Scaups, 13 Tufted Ducks, 3 Velvet Scoters, 2 Common Scoter and a Great Crested Grebe.

On the 13th day there were still 148 Whooper Swans, a Bewick’s Swan and a Canada Goose in Kaukola. In Tyrjä I saw my first ever in November Woodpigeon and after worjk I still twitcher a Redwing in Särkisalmi and also 3 Smews were seen there.

It started to get really cold again so lakes started to freeze again. So next days I saw mostly the same long-staying birds but most of the ducks and soon also swans had gone. On the 16th day I saw a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in Siikalahti and an Arctic Redpoll in Jantusensalo. I also checked some big flocks of Goosanders but found no Red-breasted Margansers at all – just one male Smew was still seen on the 17th day. Then I also twtiched a Golden Eagle in Kaukola and this was surprisingly a young bird. With Harri Partanen we managed to get some really good flight-shots of it. In the afternoon I still visited Soininmäki and finally saw 2 Siberian Jays there.

The 18th and 19th of November we were in Helsinki where BirdLife Finland celebrated its 50 years. On Sunday we had the meeting with assembly of delegates. It was good to see many friend and listen to some interesting presentations.

On the 20th day I finally saw the last House Sparrow and then Veijo Vilska found a very late Grey Heron in Särkisalmi. It stayed for some days but it was so freezing cold that I only photographed it on the first day. All lakes started to get completely frozen – and it was only November!

On the 25th day it was already -15 degrees. Anyway we were birding for the whole day with Arttu Valonen. Our goal was to get 200 Parikkala year-ticks for Arttu. It’s quite a good goal for a birder who lives 300 kilometers from Parikkala! Anyway we started well when we saw an Arctic Redpoll in Tönkinsuo and it was the species number 199. In Tarvasalmi we saw a Blackbird and then in Soinimäki we found 1 or 2 Three-toed Woodpeckers. Then we continued to Peruspohja where after time we finally found a Dipper which was Arttu’s species number 200. Then we drove through many forests trying to find Pine Grosbeaks or better crossbills but saw only Black Grouses, Hazel Hens and so on and headed to Akanvaara Tetrisuo where we saw a Hawk Owl. On the way back to Parikkala we heard calls of a Common Kingfisher but there was also an Otter along the river so we just couldn’t be sure if it had been whistling – Otters had really strange calls. But we coudn’t be disappointed as we found the latest Wren ever in Parikkala. And in the evening with Hanna we still heard a Ural Owl in Lahdensuo. And then a couple of later Arttu found the Kingfisher there and it was calling same calls than we had heard.

On the 26th day it was even -23 degreed but we headed to forests with Hanna and Arttu. We started well with 2 Capercaillies and a Pygmy Owl. The Marsh Tit was still on Harri’s feeder and then we saw the Grey Heron last time. We drove through many forests to Akanvaara where the Hawk Owl was still around. Then we continued until Uukuniemi but even Pyhäjärvi was frozen so badly that we couldn’t see any birds there. After all only birds to mention we saw in hours were a flock of Black Grouses and a female Mallard. In the afternoon we still continued to forests and found 2 Ural Owls but no Pine Grosbeaks or anything else new.

During the week it dark when I went to work and dark when I got away. So I did only short trips on my lunch-hours. I tried to get better observation of a Kingfisher without luck but Marsh Tit and Wren were still around. After all I managed to get 79 species in March and they were all in Parikkala – it was probably a new records to this competition? Unfortunately the end of October and the beginning of November had been so cold that some usual birds were not found. I also had too much other things to do at weekends but birding on lunch-hours and just close to where I live can be surprisingly good still in November.


On Säppi island once again

On Thursday the 19th of October Hanna had to be at work until midnight. But then she had the next day free so she could start her autumn-holiday early. I had also taken holiday for the Friday already so we were ready start our journey already at night.

We tried to sleep a couple of hours but I wasn’t able to get any sleep, so at 2 a.m. we packed our car and started driving through Finland towards west.

We stopped only once and finally we were in Pori before the sun was rising. We parked to Konepajanranta where we waited for some time and when it was getting lighter outside, we started to check all gulls that were arriving to the river and roof-tops.

We saw one good looking Caspian Gull-candidate but too briefly. It flew too soon behind the buildings. Then we saw only Herring and Greater Black-backed Gulls. But we heard calls of a Common Kingfisher and I saw a single White Wagtail before we decided to leave.

Next we continued to Maaviiki to check swans and geese that were feeding in thick flock on one field. There were about 800 Taiga Bean Geese, some White-fronted Geese and a few Pink-footed, Greylag and Barnacle Geese and lots of Whooper Swans. In Viikinäinen we saw a single young Moorhen and then we drove to Kallo where we walked around the island but saw only a couple of Arctic Redpolls, a Snow Bunting and a Parrot Crossbill.

Then it was ime to go to eat. We drove to a local pizzeria where we met also Teo Ylätalo and Elissa Soikkeli who had driven all morning from Kouvola. After we had eaten we went to do shopping and then it was time to head to Kuuminainen harbor.

We were in the harbor too early but we started to carry our stuff to the boat already. Then we had to wait for some time to Teppo Lehtola and Tomas Swahn to arrive but right on time at 3 p.m. we were ready to leave towards Säppi island.

A half an hour later we were in Säppi harbor where we loaded our stuff to the dock and then helped some friends of ours that were leaving to get their stuff to the boat. And soon with help of a couple of friends that had already arrived earlier we were carrying our stuff towards the station.

Veikka Kosonen and Riku Kangasniemi had arrived a few days earlier and Paul Boijer had stayed longer but visited home for a few days at some point while Ahti Ihonen and Pyry Laurukka had been on the island for almost 2 weeks already.

We just carried our stuff to the station and soon most of us left to walk around that part of the island that hadn’t been checked in the morning. We found a late Grenshank, a Grey-headed Woodpecker and a Nutcracker that was a new Säppi-tick for me. When we had just finished and were back at the station we got a message that Teppo and Tomas had managed to catch a Lesser Whitethroat that had been found a day earlier. And it looked like an eastern subspecies – maybe blythii.


In the evening we organized our stuff and then participated to a log and found out that there weren’t too many birds seen before we had arrived.

On the 21st of October Hanna headed to mist-nets with Teppo very early and the rest of us woke up later but so that we were ready to start the morning seawatch exactly when the sun was rising. This time we were doing the seawatch in Eteläkari as there had been a bad visibility to the sea because of haze from Prakala recently. There wasn’t much moving on the sea but a couple of Merlins were seen and one more later. Common Crossbills were seen a lot and during the day we had counted 426 individuals.

After the breakfast we headed to walk around the whole island and found a Purple Sandpiper, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and then in the end we found a Hawk Owl in Prakala.


Next days had the same schedule and on the 22nd day Teppo, Riku, Paul and Ahti left the island. The best birds of the day had been 23 Purple Sandpipers, very photogenic Tengmalm’s Owl, 1637 Common Redpolls and so on. Also the Nutcracker was posing nicely on a very different places than usually – on rocks and seabuckthron-bushes.


We really worked hard but there were no presents for us even though the island was really hammered every day and on mist-nets there were also taped playing. But after all the highlights of the days were the breakfast after morning seawatch and the dinner in the evening and of course sauna that was heated up every second evening.

On the 23rd of October Elissa still saw the same Greenshank for the last time and Hanna heard a Nuthatch in Peräkulma but otherwise it was just common autumn birds around. On the 25th day we saw a Brent Goose and a Rock Pipit and the numbers of Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Treecreepers that were extraordinary numerous were at the top – 53 and 42 birds. And then finally – first time for a very long time – we had to rush to mist-nets where Hanna had caught a beautiful male Firecrest. Of course we had to go to see and photograph this bird even though it wasn’t even a year-tick. After all we saw altogether 75 species this day.


On the 26th of October a Shore Lark flew over us when we were seawatching in the morning. It was calling differently than usually but when Hanna heard the same bird in Peräkulma, it was already calling normally.

We kept on working hard but no more prices were got. Weather was very nice all the time so it could have been worse but of course we had hoped to find something – anything – rare. In the end of the week only birds that made me smile were Common Snipes, Jack Snipes and Woodcocks that were still found here and there and then on the 28th day some spontaneous celebrations were seen when we saw a female Black Grouse arriving to the island – it was the second Säppi-tick for me during the trip.


On the last day, on the 29th of October, we still saw a Short-eared Owl arriving to Kräveli and the same Lesser Whitethroat was still around /even though we hadn’t seen it every day as it had been very sneaky). We still walked on the different parts of the island briefly and found still some snipes and woodcocks but after all we had to give up.

Finally we had cleared up the places and packed everything and carried our stuff to the harbor. And then Tommi arrived to pick us up and it was once again time to say goodbye to Säppi. I had never thought that I could stay in this island for 9 days without getting a single year-tick! Maybe next time I have to visit the island in any other time of the year than in October. I have been in this island for 90 days but only in October and I have seen 151 species of birds. There are lots of common spring and summer birds missing on my list.


Winter is coming…

Autumn started really and finally the wind changed and arctic migration started – but I was at work and during my lunch-hours I didn’t see much. On the 5th of October there were couple of Pink-footed Geese again in Siikalahti. On the 6th day the Bar-headed Goose was still in Kullinsuo and a couple of late Dunlins in Pohjanranta and Bewick’s Swans were here and there.

On the 8th of October when the weather was stormy. But finally the wind was from almost right direction, so we had to go birding. After the rain stopped we headed to Savonlinna Punkaharju Punkasalmi where Veikka Kosonen and Elissa Soikkeli also soon arrived. We stayed there from 8 a.m. to 12 o’clock when the migration was over. We saw altogether almost 40 000 migrating geese but they all were very distant so most of them were unidentified. Ducks were migrating straight over us but the wind was so hard that even they were difficult to identify. The wind was so strong that Hanna’s telescope fell done once but luckily Zeiss is tough!

The best birds of the morning were both adult Pomarine Skuas. There is a slight possibility that it was the same bird twice but at least the second bird was so clearly on migration that we decided that they were different birds.


Once the migration stopped we continued to Saari where in Pohjanranta we still saw an adult and a young Dunlins but otherwise we didn’t see much.

On the 10th of October I saw a Gadwall and a couple of Scaups in Siikalahti and from 12th day there was a tame Great Egret in Särkisalmi. It was perching on docks and walking on the grass there.

At the weekend the trips were made to Saari again but on the 14th day there was only a Great Egret and a Grey-headed Woodpecker in Pohjanranta and a Brent Goose in Jyrkilä and on the 15th day a Merlin and a Common Kestrel in Karinmäki.

On the 16th of October there were 3 Gadwalls and 3 Scaups in Siikalahti with other ducks but during the rest of the week the weather was so cold and bad that I didn’t do much birding. And again it started to be so dark after work that there wasn’t much time either…




I had bought a Pulsar thermal-camera already a year ago but I hadn’t really been using it much. In a couple of trips abroad I had been using it to find some very difficult birds to see and in Säppi we had caught some waders but in Parikkala I hadn’t been using it almost at all.

Now in autumn ringers in North-Karelia had been ringing huge numbers of Great Snipes and other birds with thermal-camera, head-light and net combo. We decided to try if we could find any birds on the fields nearby. We were already late in the season but we knew that at least some snipes and Woodcocks were still around and more still to come.

In the 16th of September we went for our first try and we managed to find one Great Snipe which we tried to catch but even though I managed to get close to it, I couldn’t catch it. We also found some Common Snipes but they were too shy and and I couldn’t get even close to any of them.

On the 17th evening we tied again. We found a couple of Great and Jack Snipes, some Common Snipes and a Ruff but again we had no change. We were pretty sure that we did still something wrong.

On the 19th we had much longer rod in our net and I managed to catch a Golden Plover but still snipes were too difficult. Then on the 21st evening we saw all species of snipes but had still no luck. I was about to give up, it really seemed hopeless .

On the 22nd evening we had asked more information from our friends in North-Karelia and we had now the last missing piece with us. We had to play so called white noise from a speaker while we walking towards the birds. It was so noise to walk on the field so this loud sound covered our footsteps. We were playing sound of a burbling river. So in a short trip we caught a Woodcock and a Great Snipe. But still Common Snipes were too shy and they all flushed from a distance. It seemed that if there was a flock of birds and one bird flushed, they all came wary and impossible to catch.

On the 24th evening we did a little bit longer trip and checked several fields and caught 3 Woodcocks, 3 Skylarks, a Golden Plover and again a beautiful Great Snipe. And then on the 25th evening we caught a Jack Snipe, 6 Woodcocks and a Skylark and saw a Great Snipe and a Long-eared Owl and heard Brent Geese and Long-tailed Duck flocks migrating.

On the 27th evening we caught a Golden Plover, a Jack Snipe, 2 Woodcocks and a Skylark and on the 28th only a single Common Snipe before the clouds moved away and it became too light to catch anything. Also the night of 29th and 30th was good in the beginning and we caught 2 Jack Snipes, 2 Woodcocks, 2 Great Snipes and a Skylark but then the sky cleared and birds seemed to see us.

On the 1st of October we ringed a Jack Snipe, 11 Woodcocks, a Common and a Great Snipe and a Skylark. From one field I caught 4 birds in a very short time and they were all different kind of snipes (Woodcock included). We of course saw more snipes and 2 Golden Plovers and a Short-eared Owl too.

So it was clear that the best weather to catch birds was cloudy and dark, maybe even foggy or a little bit rainy and it was really good if it was also windy. Birds seemed to stay on the ground in a hard wind.

On the 3rd of October we caught 4 Jack Snipes (+3 were seen), 3 Woodcocks (+2), 1 Common Snipe (+14 this shows how difficult Common Snipes can be) and 1 Skylark. Also 2 Golden Plovers were seen. On the 6th of October maestro Karoliina Hämäläinen joined us for a couple of hours and we got more tips to catching birds but also aging them. We ringed 7 Jack Snipes, 2 Woodcocks and 6 Common Snipes – of course Karoliina caught most of the Common Snipes… And because of night were now dark and also windy we kept on visiting the same fields and on the 7th of October we ringed 3 Common Snipes and 3 Woodcocks, on the 8th of October 6 Jack Snipes, 6 Woodcocks, Common Snipe and 1 Skylark, 13th of October 5 Jack Snipes, 3 Woodcocks, 2 Common Snipes and a Skylark and at least for now the last visit was made on the 18th of October when we caught a Barnacle Goose, 5 Jack Snipes, 2 Woodcocks and 3 Common Snipes.

So after all we were happy how we had been doing. We had caught more than a hundred birds from the fields very close to our home. We hadn’t been further than 10 kilometers away from our home so we had managed to keep our trips quite short. After all it is important to get some sleep too… But for sure we will keep on doing this in the future and next autumn we will start much earlier. It has been really fun!

And it has also been nice to find out how many mammals there are on the fields so close to our home. We had seen an Elk, Roe Deers, Foxes, Racoon Dogs, Brown Hares and Arctic Hares, Bank and Field Voles, Yellow-necked, Stiped Field, Harvest and Northern Birch Mice and a single shrew. We also were on the same fields together with 3 Brown Bears but we didn’t see them. On other person saw the bears with thermal-camera while we were catching birds.


Warm autumn

After my trip to West Papua I was having jet-lag so I was ready to go birding early in the morning. So in the early morning of the 27th of August we headed to Kukonkanta where Hanna had made a new ringing place. With only a couple of nets we caught 76 birds – mostly warblers and Reed Buntings but also 3 Blyth’s Reed Warblers, a Common Redstart, 3 Common Rosefinches and a couple of Rustic Buntings. We also saw 2 Nutcrackers. In the evening we went to count birds to Siikalahti and saw 18 Great Egrets and 238 Common Cranes.

On the 29th of August I saw a young Red-footed Falcon in Siikalahti and on the next day I found a young Curlew Sandpiper in Suurisuo. On the 31st day with Arttu Valonen we saw 119 migrating Golden Plovers and a Rustic Bunting. On the 1st of September we saw a 2nd year Pallid Harrier male and in Saari we found good numbers of Red-throated Pipits and in Pohjanranta we saw a young Little Stint and 3 Dunlins.

On the 2nd of September we were in Kukonkanta againa and caught 48 birds, mostly Sedge Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Reed Buntings. In Suurisuo there was a Curlew Sandpiper again and in Saari we saw again Red-throated Pipits and the same waders.

On the 3rd day we ringed even 103 birds. We had now a couple of more nets. Mostly we caught Blue Tits but also good numbers of warblers and Reed Buntings. Better birds were a Bluethroat and a Common Rosefinch. We also saw a Water Rail, a Sand Martin, 190 Coal Tits which 2 were ringed, 5 Rustic Buntings (2r) and the best were 55 migrating Red-throated Pipits and 6 were ringed.

On the 4th day Erkko Elonen found a 2nd year Greater Spotted Eagle in Siikalahti. It satyed there for a few days and on the 6th day I saw even 2 similar looking birds there. Nothing else really was found during the week – just the first flock of Bean Geese and 22 Great Egrets and so on.

On the 9th day we ringed 100 birds. Robins and Reed Buntings mostly but also 5 Bluethroats, a Goldcrest, a Long-tailed Tit, a Siskin, a Lesser Redpoll, 4 Rustic Buntings and 6 Coal Tits. We ringed even 22 species and saw also 100 Coal Tits and 8 Rustic Buntings and so on. In the evening we went to sauna to Tarvaslampi and had mistnets up for an hour or so and caught a single Tengmalm’s Owl.

On the 10th day we ringed 88 birds, mostly Willow Warblers, Reed Buntings, Coal Tits (10), Robins, Blue Tits, Chiffchaffs and Tree Pipits. We counted 310 Coal Tits and saw also a Great Egret, a White-backed Woodpecker, 8 Red-throated Pipits, 8 migrating and 4 ringed Rustic Buntings and a late Common Rosefinch.

On the 11th of September we saw a Little Stint again in Pohjanranta. And then on the 12th day I had to go twitching! Luckily I got free from my work and could leave already at 11:30 a.m. In Mikkeli I picked up my old friend “potu” Suojarinne and then we still had a long drive to Mänttä-Vilppula.
In Mänttä-Vilppula we parked to Kolho small harbor and from the shore we could already see two distant spots in the middle of the lake – there was a Herring Gull and the first Great Shearwater for Finland! But soon a boat came to pick us up and we got a ride very close to the bird! This tame bird had been fed by fishermen for a few days so we got an opportunity to get excellent pictures!

When we had taken enough photos we drove back to the harbor where the next twitchers were already waiting for their ride. People in Kolho really made perfect job so I can’t really thank them enough! After a long drive I was back at home after 10 p.m..

On the 14th day we counted 492 Cranes and 17 Great Egrets. Also the first Barnacle Goose and 2 late Nightjars were seen. On the 15th day a Nutcracker was in Muttelinmäki and in Siikalahti there were Cranes migrating. In the evening we saw already 510 Barnacle Geese migrating.

On the 16th day it was raining so we couldn’t go ringing. So after the rain we headed towards Saari, but we got stuck already at Rautalahti where we counted 135 migrating Golden Plovers, saw the first flock of 70 Brent Geese, some ducks and Barnacle Geese and 2 Great Egrets, 3 Stock Dove, a Common Ringed Plover and the best bird was an adult Grey Plover. In Saari we saw a 3rd year male Pallid Harrier in Akanpelto but almost nothing else. In the evening we saw a beautiful Eurasian Eagle-Owl perched on the top of an electric post.

On the 17th day we ringed 82 birds in Kukonkanta. Even 43 Reed Buntings were caught and we also saw an adult male Pallid Harrier, 2 Common Ringed Plovers and heard a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

On the 21st day a Bewick’s Swan had arrived to Siikalahti and also 20 Velvet Scoters were seen migrating. On the 22nd evening we saw a Scaup and heard a distant owl that was probably a Ural Owl.

On the 23rd day we ringed 78 birds, mostly Reed Buntings (30) but also Robins, Chiffchaffs, and so on. Early in the morning we saw very good passerine migration – Chaffinches, Barmblings, Meadow Pipits, Reed Buntings, White Wagtails with some Barn Swallows and the first flock of 14 Waxwings and so on but nothing better. Only better birds on mist-nets were a Bluethroat, 2 Tree Sparrows and a late Sedge Warbler. We still counted 120 Coal Tits but only 3 were ringed.

During the day I managed to get pictures of a Nutcracker in Tarvaslampi and in the afternoon we headed to Saari where in Pohjanranta we saw 7 Lapwings, in Pohjasuo a Whinchat and in Akanvaara Tetrisuo 3 Bewick’s Swans.

On the 24rd day we ringed 55 birds that were almost all Reed Buntings, Robins and Chiffchaffs. 2 Bluethroats were controlled and sky seemed to be empty,

On the 26th day I saw 3 Pink-footed Geese, 8 Scaups, a Peregrine Falcon, a Rough-legged Buzzard and so on in Siikalahti. The best bird was found by Harri Partanen, who found a Bar-headed Goose in Kullinsuo. It was nice to go twitching in Parikkala! In the evening I tried to get a Siikalahti-yeartick of the goose but all grey geese came to Siikalahti too late-

On the 27th day I saw the same Bar-headed Goose in Kullinsuo again but on the next day it was found early in the morning from Huhmarinen so I got my Siikalahti-yeartick. On my lunch-hour I saw a young Pallid Harrier and a couple of Pink-footed Geese. And in the evening we were in Siikalahti bird-tower again and this time geese arrived earlier and Bar-headed goose was with them. We also saw a late Willow Warbler and a Pochard.

On the 29th day Bar-headed Goose was again in Kullinsuo and in the afterinoon we went to Saari with Arttu but only birds to mention were 13 Common Ringed Plovers in Pohjanranta and a late Red-throated Pipit in Akanvaara Tetrisuo.

On the 30th of September the weather was bad but I still saw a couple of Barn Swallows migrating. In Lahdensuo we saw a couple of Pink-footed Geese and in Kangaskylä a Nuthatch. In the evening we still went to the tower and saw a late Marsh Harrier and so on.

On the first of October the weather was still bad so we started from Siikalahti where we saw a Dunlin and a Ringed Plover on the road. Then we headed to Saari where in Akanvaara Tetrisuo we saw 2 Lapwings and in Jyrkilä 2 hybrids of Barnacle and Cackling Goose, but nothing else really.

In the afternoon I still headed to Rautjärvi Simpele Lahnanen with Harri Partanen and we managed to find 2 Grey Wagtails. We also saw 2 migrating Pink-footed Geese and then we visited Kullinsuo where the Bar-headed Goose was again.

On the 2nd of October the Bar-headed Goose was again in Huhmarinen in the morning. There were also lots of arctic birds migrating but I had to go to work and on my lunch-hour the migration had stopped. I saw only one flock of Brent Geese but a couple of Parrot Crosbills were my Siikalahti year-tick number 192 and Parikkala-yeartick number 216. I still saw a couple of Hazel Hens and in the afternoon I visited Pohjanranta where I saw a Ruff, a Hen Harrier and a Capercaillie that flew past the tower.
On the 3rd day the only interesting bird was a Lesser Black-backed Gull that was found in Härskiinmutka. I got closer to it and realized that it was very pale so it was either Heuglin’s or Lesser Black-backed Gull not our ordinary Baltic Gull. I got excellent pictures of this tame bird. When I went to see it again after a couple of hours it was laying down on the top of a streetlight. And then after an hour I got a message that it was still there but now laying dead!

I decided to contact local electric company Parikkalan Valo and they helped me to get the bird down and after I had taken some pictures of it, I packed it well as I was thinking that this bird might have died to bird-flu. Then I contacted Finnish Food Authority that is dealing with bird-flu and they really wanted to get this specimen. Now it is on our freezer waiting to get a ride to Helsinki.


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!