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!

J.A.

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.

J.A.

Quiet first half of July

In July I wasn’t birding much. On the first days there were still Red-breasted Flycatchers feeding their youngsters to nest and In Joukio there were already more than 100 Barnacle Geese gathering.

On the 2nd of July we had SSP-ringing and we caught a Common Snipe, a Blackbird, a Fieldfare, a Redwing, 2+1c Sedge Warblers, 3 Common Whitethroats, 2+1c Garden and 2 Willow Warblers, 18 Blue and 8 Great Tits, 2 Chaffinches, a Yellowhammer and 3+1c Reed Buntings. In the afternoon I was jogging in Tarvaslampi and surprisingly saw a family of White-backed Woodpeckers and heard a couple of young Grey-headed Woodpeckers.

On the 3rd day we first went to photograph birds from the hide in Tarvaslampi. Then we did a trip to Saari and heard a Golden Oriole in Akonpohja, saw a Garganey and a Spotted Redshank in Pohjanranta, found a few Whimbrels, a Black-tailed Godwit and a Hen Harrier in Suurenjärvenliete and then went to check one pond where we had been told that there had been Red-throated Diver couple breeding in some years and again there had been a pair in spring. Unfortunately the pond was empty but we heard a couple of Golden Orioles and saw Long-tailed Tits nearby.

In Jyrkilä we saw 4 Stock Doves, in Karinmäki we heard a Corn Crake, an Icterine Warbler and young Long-eared Owls and then on the way back we saw a Black Kite soaring on the sky in Akonpohja. Then we still went to ring 9 Wryneck that were in tiny Blue Tit nest-box in Tarvaslampi. Then in Kangaskylä we saw a Nutcracker flying across the road. We stopped the car and found 2 or 3 birds which at least one was young fledling. They had been breeding somewhere nearby and still only now I got a year-tick!

On the 8th day I heard the Red-breasted Flycatcher last time. It seemed that fledlings were already quite far from the nest. On the same evening Harri Partanen called that he had got a call that there was an owl on the ground in Satumäki and Magpies were attacking it. We were soon there and found a young Long-eared Owl on the ground. We ringed it and hid it to a thick tree. There were at least two more young owls calling nearby so for sure their parent were soon coming to feed them.

On the 9th day we saw the first 2 Great Egrets of the season in Siikalahti. In Tetrisuo we saw 10 Stock Doves which some of them were young birds, so finally the breeding of this species was sure in Parikkala! In the evening we saw a family of Canada Geese in Kirkkoranta.

On the 10th day we had SSP again and caught a Common Snipe, a Whinchat, a Fieldfare, 3 Sedge Warblers, a Willow Warbler, a Pied Flycatcher, a Blue and 2 Great Tits and 1+1c Reed Buntings. We also saw a couple of Golden Orioles and 25 Common Crossbills. In the evening we did a quick trip to Saari but saw nothing interesting – only 4 Stock Doves in Pohjasuo.

On the 13th day I heard Nutcrackers calling and a Golden Oriole singing in Kangaskylä and a Golden Oriole calling in Siikalahti. On the 14th of July we drove to Helsinki. We stopped on the way in Hamina Tervasaari just to make sure that we are not missing Arctic Tern as a year-tick. It would have been ridiculous! Then we continued to Helsinki-Vantaa airport hotel where we stayed the next night. On the 15th of July we finally would start a long and long-waited trip together!

J.A.

Ticks to my father and Midsummer time

On the 10th of June my father arrived to us for the weekend. He was one of many who had started to collect 100 bird-species in a year which had been a BirdLife Finland project for beginners for some years. Even though he had started +70 years old, he had managed to get more species every year. Now he was coming to do some serious birding with us for the first time. It was time to break old records…

Train arrived late as usual so we were in a hurry to go to eat to Karpalo restaurant. Then we had to hurry to drop our car to service which was going to take for an hour. So we had time to walk around Moskuunniemi with my father. We heard many common birds that we could study, for example a Blyth’s Reed Warbler and we also saw a Honey Buzzard.

After some relaxing in our home we headed to evening trip which we started with Nuthatches. They had left their nest but we found them from the forest nearby. Then we headed to Sinkkosennurkka to check a White-backed Woodpecker nest. A couple of young birds were calling from the nest and at least one of them was looking out for a while but adults were seen only briefly in flight. We also heard a Black Woodpecker drumming further. Then after we had checked that Red-breasted Flycatchers were still at home, we continued to Siikalahti tower from where we saw a Gadwall and then on dam-road we heard a couple of Reed Warblers but they were too far to hear for my father.

On Saturday the 11th day we started at 6 a.m. with a Golden Oriole and an Icterine Warbler in Likolampi. Then we headed to Melkoniemi forests where we hoped to find some Greenish Warblers or Red-flanked Bluetails. But they weren’t found. But we found a familiar Siberian Jay, an adult and a young Goshawk and several families of Common Crossbills and then heard a Crested Tit, a Wood Warbler and a distant Red-breasted Flycatcher. We also ringed 8 nestlings of Pygmy Owl from our nestbox.

During the day we visited Hanna’s parents in Tarvalampi but also ringed some tits and Kestrels there. Then we still went to check that Red-throated Divers were once again on their breeding pond.

In the evening we left to Saari. There we saw a Long-eared Owl and heard a few Great Snipes, a Nightjar, a Water Rail, a Spotted Crake, Bitterns, Corn Crakes, Blyth’s Reed Warblers, a Marsh Warbler and a couple of Grasshopper Warblers which one was also ringed. It was already morning when we still stopped in dam-road where another Marsh Warbler was heard.

We slept long and during the day we headed to Rautjärvi Kokkolanjoki where after some searching we found a Grey Wagtail that was alarming a lot. It probably had a young bird next to the track. Later we saw another young birds flying higher up on the stream.

In the afternoon we went to eat to “Assa” and then my father left to Kirkkonummi by train. In a couple of days we had managed to find 113 species that 102 species my father had managed to see or hear. Not bad from 75-years old quite beginner birder. My father had now 146 species this year so he has the new record already and still work to do to break at least 150 or maybe 160 species.

In the evening I went jogging and heard fledlings of Grey Woodpecker.

During the week Hanna went to photograph bird in different places every time the weather was ok. I was only visiting some places on my lunch-hour. Barnacle Geese started to bring their youngsters to beaches, Red-breasted Flycatchers were still feeding their nestlings, some Greenshanks, Spotted Redshanks, Green and Wood Sandpiper and a Ruff were already migrating south and some young White-backed Woodpeckers were seen and Golden Orioles were singing here and there.

On the 15th day I visited Lappeenranta and in Toikansuo I heard an Ortolan Bunting and saw a couple or Redshanks and a few Little Ringed Plovers. In Joutseno Kotasaari I heard a Great Reed Warbler and in Konnunsuo 3 Ortolan Buntings.

We started weekend with SSP-ringing ad caught a Robin, Sedge Warbler, 2 Common Whitethroats, 2 Garden Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher, a Chaffinch and 3 Common Rosefinches. Then in the afternoon we visited Saari but saw only a Short-eared Owl and heard a few Water Rails. We also ringed a few young Lapwings.

On Sunday the 19th pf June we visited Melkoniemi forests again and now saw a family of 5 Siberian Jays – amazing that they are still breeding! We also saw a family of Hazel Hens and checked that Pygmy Owls were soon ready to leave their nest. In Tarvaslampi we found a Wryneck breeding in one nestbox.

On the 21st day in the afternoon we found a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker nest in Siikalahti and as it had been raining quite a lot it was good to see that Red-breasted Flycatchers were still doing well. On the 23rd we were photographing Long-tailed Tit families and Striped Bugs in Siikalahti. We also saw another Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and the nesting bird too. Icterine Warblers were still singing. In the evening we headed to check best places nearby and heard a Great Snipe, a Nightjat, some Corn Crakes and saw a couple of Long- and Short-eared Owls. In Siikalahti we still heard a couple of Spotted Crakes and a Golden Oriole. Only real nightsingers we heard were just Thrush Nightingales and Blyth’s Reed Warblers.

On the 25th we woke up in Papinlahti as we had been sleeping on our carpets. In SSp we got a Blackbird, a Redwing, 3 Sedge Warblers, 2+1c Common Whitethroats, Blue and a Great Tit, 1+2c Common Rosefinches and a Reed Bunting. Other birds seen or heard were a Long-eared Owl, a Red-backed Shrike, a Linnet and a Yellow Wagtail. In the I we saw 3 Stock Doves in Tetrisuo.

On the 26th we heard a young Pygmy Owl and saw an adult and young Long.eared Owls in Papinlahti. Then we made a night-trip to places between Särkisalmi and Saati but heard only Thrush Nightingales, Blyth’s Reed Warblers, a couple of Corn Crakes, one Marsh Warbler and Nightjar and again saw adult Long-eared Owls and heard some youngs.

On the 27th day we visited Siikalahti and managed to run and catch a young Crane which of course was ringed. Red-breasted Flycatchers were still there and also a White-backed Woodpecker was seen.

The last days of June were very hot so I wasn’t birding much. Hanna still went out every morning to photograph and managed to get some nice pictures.

J.A.

Beginning of June photographing

On the 1st of June after work I drove to Saari Pohjanranta to twitch a couple of Marsh Sandpipers. Other birds were all the same that I had seen on the previous day. I also made a stop in Akonpohja where I heard a singing Marsh Warbler.

On the 2nd day it was raining – I think last time it had been raining it had actually been snowing. So I visited again the wader places in Saari but saw only a Golden Plover in Akanvaara Tetrisuo.

On the 4th day we headed to Savonlinna Punkaharju to Lake Saimaa shore to ring a nestling of a Ural Owl that was in a nest-box close to Tapani Nisula’s cottage. The mama owl was shy so the ringing was easy. But the youngster was so big that it didn’t want to go back to the nest anymore. It had been seen practicing its wings already on the previous day so it was ready to go.

Then Tapani had a surprise for us and together with him and his cottage-neighbors Laura and Harri Helenius we left by boat to Saimaa to see Saimaa Seals that Tapani knew very well as he has been monitoring them for years.

Soon we were checking places where seals used to be but three first places were empty. But then we finally found a nice Saimaa Seal on a rock. It was a little bit wary, so we didn’t try to get close. Also another one was swimming nearby. But then the third pale seal was very curious-looking and we managed to get really good pictures. Here also was another young seal swimming too but it was diving all the time. On the island next to us there was a Red-breasted Flycatcher singing so the atmosphere was really nice!

We crossed bigger open water and saw an Oystercatcher on one rock and then found one more Saimaa Seal on a rock behind some reeds. Then we still drove to see some landscapes before headed back. It had been really nice trip in good company and very nice weather – thanks to Tapani, Laura and Harri!

On the 5th of June we had SSP-ringing again but the result was weak: only 2+1c Sedge Warblers, 1 Lesser and 3+1c Common Whitethroats and 1c Great Tit were caught. We also heard a calling Red-backed Shrike and a singing Golden Oriole.

Karoliina Hämäläinen and Laura Oinas had come from Joensuu to Parikkala to ring birds and their dream was to catch a Golden Oriole. They had been searching for an oriole for whole night but they hadn’t even heard a single bird. So I told them which place I thought might be the best and asked if they can catch an Oriole I could go to see and photograph it. And they really made it and caught an amazing male Golden Oriole! I had less than a kilometer by car to go to see the bird and it really was beautiful. Congratulation to Karoliina and Laura and thanks for calling me to take some pictures.

In the afternoon we still made a trip to Saari and saw 18 Rock Doves, 2 male Gadwalls and a Grey-headed Woodpecker in Akonpohja, a Tundra Bean Goose in Jyrkilä, a couple of Gadwalls in Suurenjärvenliete, a Short and a Long-eared Owl in Ollukka and a Linnet in Tarassiinlahti.

On the 6th day we went to photograph White-backed Woodpeckers and Nuthatches to their nests. We also heard one more Golden Oriole.

And on the 7th day we photographed a Red-breasted Flycatcher that was feeding nestlings. Hanna was on summer-holiday so she had more time for photographing. So in the evening she still went to Saari to photograph Short-eared Owl and managed to get some pictures. And I must say that we of course do all photographing so that we are not disturbing bird at all.

On the 8th day Hanna was photographing Sedge Warblers when she suddenly noticed a Spotted Crake on the reeds. Amazingly this crake came so close that Hanna managed to get good pictures! During my lunch-hour I went to photograph Nuthatches again. In the evening we visited Siikalahti and saw a Common Redshank that left towards south – it is autumn already…


J.A.