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!


April Fools’ Day

In the change of March and April the weekend started well when on the 31st of March after I had got away from work I headed to Rautjärvi Lahnanen. I had heard rumors that a Grey Wagtail had been seen somewhere along the river but I was still surprised when I found a pair there! They had really arrived early – at least if thinking how wintery was the weather. I also found a White Wagtail there.

In the afternoon I still drove to Saari Selänne where I tried to see a Collared Dove for 3 hours but saw only a Sparrowhawk, a Grey-headed Woodpecker and a couple of White-backed Woodpeckers.

In the evening I got a message that a Tawny Owl was calling in Ryhäluoto. We drove there to listen to this rare owl. For some reason Tawny Owl isn’t recorded every year in Parikkala. It was nice to listen to and also record this owl calling in nice and calm weather. We still decided to drive around Siikalahti and heard a Ural Owl there very close to our nest-box.

On the 1st of April in a Fools’ Day we had difficult to stay humorous as there was -15 degrees and still full winter in the morning. Anyway we went birding quite early and on the second try found the Hawk Owl in Tetrisuo. Then after we had seen a couple of Nuthatches we went to walk to Tyrjänkoski where we after some searching found a Dipper. Also 31 Whooper Swans and a couple of Mallards were seen there.

Next we decided to go to Simpele to see if we could get some pictures of Grey Wagtails. It was already plus degrees and very nice weather. We met Harri Patanen on the parking place and soon found all three wagtails soon but couldn’t really get very good pictures even though at least Hanna sat under a hide for some time. In Lahnanen we saw a couple of Goldeneyes, some Whooper Swans and a Little Grebe. Laos a Pygmy Owl was seen in flight briefly. All tits were alarming because of the owl.

Harri decided to go to check Uudensillankoski while we were still trying to get some pictures. But soon we also gave up. Then I got a message from Harri and it was just a very black picture that seemed to be upside down. There maybe was a long-tailed bird but I just thought he had sent me a bad picture of one of the wagtails for some reason. Then 10 minutes later he sent another message with a text; “What is this bird?” and in a much better picture there was a bird that looked like a Rock Pipit! Luckily we were very close to Uudensillankoski and soon found Harri. But the bird had disappeared while Harri had been taking the picture from his back of the camera inside his car to get some shadow.

For 40 minutes we tried to relocate the pipit in vain but saw only a couple of Dippers. We spread to check some areas nearby but weren’t lucky. When we were back on the bridge we still kept on looking the area where Harri had seen the bird when I finally found it! Now we could be sure bout the identification and it was indeed the first Rock Pipit ever in Rautjärvi!

For more than an hour we were watching the pipit walking a long the river and it was really skulking under the vegetation. A couple of times it was perched for a long time on a branch but somehow we managed to show the bird to all twitchers too. When there was nobody else than me and Hanna and we had understood that it was impossible to get good pictures of this bird, we decided to drive home.

In the evening we still did a owl-trip with Hanna and Miika Soikkeli. We drove our traditional route in the western side of Lake Simpele. The trip started well when a Tengmalm’s Owl was calling in Tarvaslampi. Then in 3 hours we heard only one more owl but it was an Eagle Owl which is always a good record in Parikkala. And in last 25 hours we had observed 6 owls – all different species! So our 1st of April had been everything else but a joke!

On the 2nd of April the weather was bad again. The wind was from north and it was hard. So after seeing the same Hawk Owl again we did only a short tour around Siikalahti. During the day we went to put up 3 owl nest-boxes to new places. And in the evening we visited Kokkolanjoki with Miika but couldn’t find neither a Rock Pipit nor Grey Wagtails. We found only a single Robin and a few Dippers.


New tick!

On the 17th of March a couple of pairs of White-tailed Eagles were soaring in Siikalahti. In the late afternoon we started a long drive to Oulu and during the weekend we participated to local bird association PPLY 50-year parties and BirdLife meeting. Only birds we saw in Oulu were a Herring Gull, a couple of House Sparrows and then 3 Rooks that had just arrived to their territory in Raksila. But on the way back we saw a Pheasant in Siikalatva Piippola, a couple of Parrot Crossbills in Pyhäntä Korpineva and a couple of Snow Buntings in Vieremä Lehtoranta.

In Parikkala spring had taken some steps during the weekend and snow had melted a lot because of rains. On the 20th day during my lunch-hour I saw a Sparrowhawk, 3 Common Buzzards, a Golden Eagle and a Lapwing. On the 21st day I heard a Whooper Swan and saw a Goshawk, 6 Common Buzzards, 3 Lapwings and in our garden I heard a Goldfinch.

The next day was pretty similar but on the 22nd day I saw already 21 Lapwings and new arrivals were a Stock Dove, 3 Skylarks, a Blackbird and 6 Starlings. On the 24th day Lapwings were already here and there and new bird was a Canada Goose. Landscape was still very snowy and in the afternoon the weather changed cold and rainy again.

On Saturday the 25th of March the weather was cold and windy so we didn’t hurry to go birding. After we had once again seen the same Hawk Owl in Tetrisuo, we continued to Siikalahti Aittavaara where most of the Lapwings had decided to leave back to south but there were still some tens and also 22 Starlings and a Stock Dove. Then we drove to dam-road where we didn’t expect to see anything, but after some waiting Hanna suddenly shouted: “Bearded Reedling!”. She had heard one call from the reeds next to the dam. Of course then several cars were passing us along the road and we couldn’t hear a thing, but then we walked closer and I started to play calls from my phone. And soon we heard some answers and then found a couple of birds from the reedbed. Bearded Reedlings were moving on the snow and very slowly but after all they came close enough sp we could try to get some pictures. There were 1 male and 2 females. We of course sent some messages and soon there were local birders coming to twitch these beautiful birds. It was raining pretty hard for a while but after the rain the birds were found again and luckily everyone managed to see the birds. Surprisingly only a couple of twitchers came a little bit further. In the afternoon wind started to blow so hard that we had to be happy with our pictures and of course we were happy with the observation. There had been Bearded Reedling in Parikkala only in 1998 (a small flock in winter) and 1999 (Hanna heard a bird well) but for me it wasn’t only a Siikalahti and Parikkala tick but also a new bird in South Karelia!

Only other birds we observed in dam-road were a couple of Skylarks and Whooper Swans, Hanna also heard a Linnet. All Lapwings had left back to south.

On the 26th day the weather was awful. Winter was coming back! So it wasn’t a surprise that we didn’t find the Bearded Reedlings anymore. But there are lots of reeds in Siikalahti – hopefully they are staying!
On Monday the 27th I saw some Blackbirds in feeders and a couple of flocks of Snow Buntings. The Hawk Owl was still around but almost all migrants were gone. Just some more Snow Buntings and the same flock of Starlings were seen in Siikalahti. During the week it was very quiet. Mornings were really cold – it was even -17 degrees on the last day. A couple of Woodpigeons were only new birds.


Owls, woodpeckers and other winter-birds

After trip to Oulu February continued like normal winter. Usually there are no bird-surprises this time of the year. In Tetrisuo I still saw a Hawk Owl almost every day and a Great Grey Shrike a couple of times. Only surprising observation was a flock of 20 Redpolls that the Great Grey Shrike tried to attack and after that they were gone.

I drove every day shortly in forests and tried to map forest tits and also Goldcrests that were still surviving. I of course saw also flocks of Black Grouses, some Hazel Hens and even a couple of times Capercaillies: on the 10th day a female and on the 22nd day a couple of males.

On the 11th of February I visited Simpele Kokkolanjoki briefly and saw a Little Grebe and 4 Whooper Swans in Lahnanen. On the 12th day we heard a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in Siikalahti and found surprisingly a flock of 10 Waxwings in Tarvaslampi. And in Tetrisuo we saw the same Hawk Owl watching a young Golden Eagle migrating towards north. On the 13th day in Lahnanen I saw a Little Grebe again, 5 Whooper Swans and in Härskiinmutka I saw a White-tailed Eagle waiting for winter-fishers to leave some fish.

On the 16th of February Merja Laari found a Great Grey Owl in Siikalahti and it was really showing well. This adult bird was hunting voles and a couple of times it flew very close to me. We of course didn’t try to get close to the bird so we didn’t disturb its hunting. The problem is that usually photographers think that the owl is tame and doesn’t matter but mise and voles do disappear if people are too close. But anyway this time I was lucky and the owl flew a couple of times very close to me and I managed to get some good pictures. We also saw a Black Woodpecker.

On the 17th day a couple of White-tailed Eagles were sitting together on ice and in Simpele I saw 6 Whooper Swans, Goldeneye and Goosander couples and a Great Grey Shrike. On the 18th day we went to try to see the wintering Collared Dove in Saari Selänne with Pekka Punnonen but in very bad weather we saw only a Sparrowhawk and a Pygmy Owl that came to see if there was a Yellowhammer, a Tree Sparrow or a tit to catch from the feeder.

On the 19th of February we were lucky when we arrived to Tarvaslampi – a Pygmy Owl had just attacked to a Yellowhammer and was killing it on the snow under the feeder. Soon it flew to a branch were it still finished the bunting. Luckily we both had cameras with us!

There were a good selection of woodpeckers visiting our feeders around Siikalahti and when Hanna had a week winter-holiday she was photographing there a lot. She even had 2 British protogrpahers with her for a few days. Hanna had built a new hide that was easy to put up anywhere. They also spent some time in a hide in Tarvaslampi and visited Kokkolanjoki and did some forest-birding and so on.

On the 24th and 25th day I saw both Hawk Owls – in Tetrisuo and in Järvenpää. In Tiviä we saw a Goshawk and also a couple of Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers were found and of course also Grey-headed and White-backed Woodpeckers. A Couple of Nuthatches had arrived to their territory in Kannas.

On the 26th day we went skiing to Saari and of course we tried to see the Collared Dove in Selänne. It was cold and windy and we didn’t see the bird in the first visit but after skiing we went back and after some waiting the bird finally arrived. On the 27th day Hanna photographed nice aurora borealis!

On the first of March I visited Simpele and saw a Whooper Swan and a Goosander couple and in Siikalahti 4 species of Woodpeckers and a Nuthatch in Kannas. On the 3rd day the first Herring Gull of the “spring” was on the ice close to fishers.

On the 4th of March I did a winter-bird count and saw 2 Black Grouses, 4 Herring Gulls, 10 Rock Doves, a Grey-headed, a Black, 16 Greater Spotted and 2 White-backed Woodpeckers, 5 Goldcrests, 6 Long-tailed, 44 Blue, 76 Great, 2 Crested and 1 Willow Tit, 2 Treecreepers, a Great Grey Shrike, 9 Jays, 14 Magpies, 26 Jackdaws, 16 Hooded Crows, 2 Ravens, 20 Tree Sparrows, 7 Greenfinches, my first ever spring-time Pine Grosbeak in Parikkala, 17 Bullfinches and 3 Yellowhammers,

On the 7th day I saw already 8 Herring Gulls but then it came very cold again and it was sure that there were no more migrants coming. Tits and Greenfinches were already singing, a Treecreeper was singing once and even a couple of Siskin were seen in their territory so maybe spring is arriving some day? It was good to see that even it was more than -20 degrees some nights, I still found some Goldcrests but many didn’t survive these last very cold nights. So the only new year tick for a long time was a Tengmalm’s Owl that was singing in Tarvaslampi on the 16th day.