Geese and Swans – a lot

After coming back from Hailuoto I was right away on the 2nd of October checking closest geese-flocks during my lunch-hour. There were now geese in every field and they were staying overnight in Siikalahti, so seeing lots of geese was very easy.

But anyway my lunch-hour started differently as I got a message that there was a young Goshawk trapped inside one building in Kangaskylä. It was perched at least 6 meters high but I somehow managed to catch it. Then I brought it at home to rest in a box as it had been hitting the windows several times.

I still had time to make a short visit to the closest fields and I saw 80 Bewick’s Swans in Kullinsuo, a Merlin, 7 Golden Plovers and a Pink-footed Goose in Kullinsuo – in both places there were of course lots of Barnacle, Tundra Bean and White-fronted Geese and Whooper Swans.

In the afternoon when Hanna came home, we ringed the Goshawk and then released it in Tetrisuo where it first perched to a spruce but after less than 5 minutes it made the first attack to geese-flock. It didn’t get any food yet but there were at least 2 injured birds in the flock, so we were sure it was going to.

In the evening I went to Siikalahti with Miika Soikkeli to check how many geese there would be coming to roost. At least 12 000 geese arrived – about 9000 Barnacle and 3000 grey geese, but some flocks arrived so late that it was almost completely dark already so the numbers were just estimated. But 240 Bewick’s Swans was a surprise with 304 Whoopers. There were also lots of ducks including a couple of Velvet Scoters, some Pintails, Shovelers, Scaups, Long-tailed Ducks and Smews, still about 150 Cranes were seen too.

On the 3rd of October there were 150 Bewick’s Swans in Tiviä and of course thousands of geese like in Lahdensuo and Kullinsuo too. But proper rain destroyed my plans to check the geese more carefully. In Kullinsuo a flock of Brent Geese were landing to the flock which is quite unusual, but they continued their migration immediately when the rain just got a little bit weaker.

On the 5th day I saw a Great Grey Shrike in Siikalahti and 39 Rock Doves in Kangaskylä which was the biggest number for a long time. In the evening I headed to Siikalahti again and after hearing a calling Two-barred Crossbill, I found a Gadwall. Soon geese started to arrive again and after all I estimated 23 000 of them! At least 5000 grey geese were something spectacular!

On the 6th day I heard a Grey-headed Woodpecker and a Parrot Crossbill and in the afternoon I headed to Imatra where I saw a Scaup, a Velvet Scoter, 2 Common Scoters, 2 Smews and 2 Red-necked Grebes in Kymälahti. Geese were again migrating and I saw several big flocks of White-fronted Geese disappearing to the fog-clouds,

On the 7th of October we gathered to Siikalahti with the small number of keenest birders in Parikkala and tried to see as many species as possible in one day in Siikalahti. I was there for whole day from 6:30 a.m. until 7:15 p.m. Early morning there were lots of thrushes and Bramblings and other passerines moving but western wind wasn’t very good for other migration. During the day we found 74 species and some of the best ones were 300 Cranes, 2 Grey Herons, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, a flock of Coal Tits, a flock of Parrot Crossbills, a Lapland Bunting and the latest ever Wood Sandpiper in South Karelia.

On of the most memorable happening during the day was when a local man came to tell us that there had been a young Whooper Swan walking in the middle of the road pretty close. Hanna went to see the bird with this man and soon they came back with the swan! It seemed to be OK, just tired after a long walking. So we released it to Siikalahti where it soon was joined by a local swan-family which didn’t seem to like a new visitor but luckily they didn’t attack it at all and soon this bird was drinking and resting on a small islet.

On the 8th day I woke up early again and headed to Siikalahti but it started to rain soon. I still heard a couple of Water Rails and a Grey-headed Woodpecker and in Lahdensuo I saw a late Northern Wheatear and in Kirkonkylä a Nuthatch again.

On the 9th day I managed to visit Siikalahti bird-tower so that there were no geese at all on the bay. So it was easier to check all the ducks. I managed to find a couple of Gadwalls, 100 Teals, 5 Pintails, 8 Shovelers, 12 Scaups, 130 Tufted Ducks, 10 Long-tailed Ducks, 2 Velvet Scoters, 35 Goldeneyes, 2 Smews and 4 Coots – and of course lots of Mallards and Wigeons. 3 White-tailed Eagles were chasing the ducks and were probably the reason that geese were all on the fields. 10 Waxwings were seen and I hope there will be lots of them soon as there are lots of rowan-berries!

During the week it was again raining more than needed, so even my lunch-visits were short. On the 10th day I still saw 15 Meadow Pipits in Lahdensuo and a Great Grey Shrike was found in Tiviä. On the 11th day there was a huge flock of 4500 grey geese in Tetrisuo – I had never seen a field full of grey geese around here before!

On the 12th of October I visited Siikalahti bird-tower on my lunch-hour and then we spent the evening there with Hanna again. Some of the best birds were a flock of 180 Brent Geese, 2 White-tailed Eagles, 360 swans and 20 000 geese which too many arrived too late but we estimated a bit less than 100 Bewick’s Swans and about one third were grey geese. Also 200 Teals, 5 Smews and the same Velvet Scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, Scaups and at least 1 Gadwall and so on were still there.

On the morning of the 13th day I visited briefly Siikalahti and still saw 46 Cranes leaving from the reeds. They seem to stay very late this year.

J.A.

Hailuoto bird-race 2017

On Friday the 29th of September I managed to end my work-day early and soon after midday Jarkko Rutila and Jari Kiljunen picked me up and we headed towards North-West. We picked up Miska Loippo in Juva and Jani Varis in Kuopio and finally at 7:30 p.m. after shopping in Kempele, we were in Oulunsalo harbor. The ferry was just leaving and it was completely full. The rest of our friends had been queuing for hours to catch a ferry and my brother Pirkka was also missed this one. So we still had to wait one more hour before we continued towards Hailuoto.

After 9 p.m. we were finally all in our cottage in Vaski where Antti Vierimaa, Harry Nyström, Mikko Ala-Kojola and Antti Peuna were already warming up sauna and starting to eat huge pizzas.

We had fun, ate well and had sauna and in some point we decided our rally-teams. It was the first time we had people enough to make 3 teams! Anyway we didn’t plan the rally at all so it was easy to expect that our teams would meat several times on the race.

Finally after midnight we went to sleep. Luckily there was enough room to everyone.

On Saturday we woke up at 5 a.m. and at 6 o’clock we were all heading towards Riisinnokka which has been our traditional starting place. We were team with Pirkka and Miska, the other teams were Harry, “Jassi”, Jarkko and Jani and then Mikko with two Anttis.

On the way Miska saw a big bird that flushed from a sign and once we stopped we heard a Ural Owl calling but only once. Mikko’s team heard closer to Riisinnokka an Eagle Owl but it also stopped before the race started, but they didn’t manage to get to Riisinnokka so soon.

We managed to walk almost to Riisinnokka before the race started at 7 a.m. There were lots of thrushes, Bramblings and Redpolls migrating and once we reached the shore I found a Hawk Owl that perched far in Tömppä. There were lots of ducks too, but we really couldn’t find any waders. Some better species we managed to find were Whooper Swans, Smews, White-tailed Eagles, a Merlin, some Dunnocks, a Snipe, 4 Ringed Plovers and 2 too distant plover sp. There were soon 4 teams, all our teams and Juha Markkola’s team, but it really felt that Riisinnokka wasn’t as its best.

When we started to walk back towards the parking place, we still found a Great Grey Shrike and in Rautaletto shore we saw a Long-tailed Duck and heard a Wren and a Willow Warbler. When we were back in parking place we got a message that Harry’s team had found a Yellow-browed Warbler. We were there in a couple of minutes and even though Harry’s team had already left, “Jurtsi’s” team was still there and they pointed out where the bird had been. So finally I saw my first ever Yellow-browed Warbler in Hailuoto – after many, many autumn trips there. Also a Coal Tit was heard.

In Kirkkosalmi there were again other teams but not too many species. We found some Gadwalls, only one Shoveler, an Arctic Redpoll and a Lesser Whitethroat and on the bridge we heard a Water Rail calling actively.

Then it was time to try to get rid of other teams, so we headed to Ojakylänlahti. On the way we ticked both sparrows and a Greenfinch. In Kyrönperä we saw 2 Ruffs, a Red-necked Grebe and a very late Yellow Wagtail.

In Potinlahti we saw only a Goshawk and then in Huikku harbor some Cormorants, a Northern Wheatear and a very late Common Tern. Then it was time to head to Pökönnokka where we walk a lot and flushed a Jack Snipe, a Lapland Bunting and saw 9 Dunlins, 2 Golden Plovers and 2 Black-throated Divers, but not a single Skylark

A short stop in Vaski produced a Treecreeper and another stop in Ojakylänlahti, Lahdenperä was also worthy as we saw a flock of 9 Long-tailed Tits.

The next stop was made in Järventakusta where we hoped to find geese but found only Whooper Swans and Cranes that were everywhere. 3 teams had seen a flock of geese here earlier and there had been 3 or 4 species in the flock! Only new species for us was a Skylark.

In Ulkokarvo Petsamo we saw another Red-necked Grebe, 40 Ruffs, 18 Lapwings, a Golden Plover, 2 Grey Plovers and some Common Scoters. But we had hoped to find some more missing species.

While driving towards Pöllä we saw a Swallow, but in Pöllä we found nothing new. In Patelanselkä we had 10 Swallows, a Sparrowhawk and a Chiffchaff.

Marjaniemi was almost completely empty so we headed to our last place to Keskiniemi, even though there was news out that there was a possible Lesser Short-toed Lark in Pökönnokka. We had some difficulties to find the right track but after all managed to get there even though Pirkka’s car was hitting the bottom a couple of times. But we didn’t get any new species before the race ended at 6 p.m. More Grey and Golden Plovers, 2 Chiffchaffs, Common Scoters and a Ringed Plover could have been anything else…

The results were given in Hailuoto School and it was the tightest race ever! After very exciting log, we had won with 83 species, both our other teams had found 82 species, a first-timer team from Southern Finland had found 79, Jurtsiäs team 76 and the only team that we hadn’t met, which had really tried to do something new (Ville Suorsa, Kalle Hiekkanen and Tuomas Herva) had found 74 species.

Altogether 100 species had been found and even out three teams had seen 100 species even though we had after all visited almost the same places. Anyway there were lots of differences in our lists.

After group-pictures had been taken we did short stops to try to listen to an Eagle Owl in Patelanselkä and Pöllö but soon headed to our cottage to spend time with our friends. It was amazing that our teams had been in one single species in results! We ate well again, had sauna and the bravest or craziest of us tasted the hottest chili on Earth that Harry had with him. After midnight we went to sleep.

On Sunday the 1st of October the weather was worse but luckily the rain stopped when we were cleaning the cottage. Then we also heard a Yellow-browed Warbler moving towards West.

When the cottage was cleaned and everything packed, we headed to Pökönnokka to try to find the small lark. We hammered the whole area pretty well for 2 hours and found at least 5 Jack Snipes and 5 Skylarks which one of them was darker young with shorter tail and typical young bird’s call, but no other small larks were found.

When we were already walking back towards our cars, we heard a typical call of an Olive-backed Pipit and even found the bird flying for us, but it was a bit too high. Harry managed to get some pictures but they probably aren’t enough to make the identification positive.

We still visited Ojakylänlahti briefly and then in Huikku we saw an adult and a young Common Tern. The ferry left pretty soon and in Oulusalo it was time to say goodbye to the rest of the group. With Pirkka we still continued to Tupos ABC to eat.

But soon we started a long way towards South-East. Jani was dropped again in Kuopio and Miska in Juva then was my turn in Parikkala while Jassi still continued to Joutseno and Jarkko to Lappeenranta.

It had once again been a great weekend with best friends in Hailuoto! I had managed to get my 3rd victory in a raw after I had hunted the first win for about 15 years. Thanks to Harry who once again organized everything and to all good friends. I think we’ll see you all again next year!

J.A.

Self-found goodies and a twitched lifer

On the 1st of September there were about 200 Cranes flying around Siikalahti. A Great White Egret was still shortly visible and from the tower I saw the 1st Smew of the season. On our garden I saw a Merlin landing to a top of a perch-tree and in Kangaskylä I saw a Nutcracker again. In Joukionsalmi there were only 2 Barnacle and 1 Canada Goose – no idea where the geese go from there in this time of year? In the evening I was once again in Joutseno and tried to see the Rock Pipit, but found only a Red-throated Pipit.

I was staying in Joutseno for next night with my friend and visited a couple of times more the Rock Pipit place but only heard it in flight once. 3 Red-throated Pipits were seen and in a big flock of Canada Geese I saw a Barnacle Goose and a Greylag Goose.

On the 3rd day there was a flock of 16 Tundra Bean Geese, 6 Canada Geese, 8 Honey Buzzards, 2 Hen Harriers, once again a young Pallid Harrier, 3 Ringed Plover and a Dunlin migrating in Siikalahti. We visited Saari in the afternoon where we found a Red-backed Shrike in Pohjanranta and 2 Red-throated Pipits and a Bluethroat in Uukuniemi Suurenjärvenliete.

On the 4th day there was again a young Pallid Harrier and a Ringed Plover migrating in Siikalahti. Also a White-tailed Eagle was seen. On the 6th day I went to see Nuthatches to Likolampi and found 2 birds easily. During the day I saw only a Curlew in Siikalahti but in the evening we were there again counting Cranes in dam-road. We saw 320 of them and again 2 Great White Egrets. But the best bird was an Eagle Owl that tried to catch a Crane from flight! I hadn’t seen an Eagle Owl in Siikalahti for more than 10 years and actually in whole Parikkala for many years.

On the 7th day a couple of young Little Gulls were seen in Härskiinmutka and there were some for more than week, even 32 birds in 11th day and still one in the end of month. In Siikalahti I saw one more Ringed Plover and heard a Grey Plover.

It was raining a lot but anyway I tried go birding whenever it was possible. On the 9th of September I was in Siikalahti for whole morning and saw 350 migrating Wigeons, 45 Pintails, a Bittern, a Great White Egret, 2 Grey Herons, 3 Honey Buzzards, a Golden Eagle, 90 Golden Plovers, nice surprise were 2 Dotterels, 2 early Waxwings, a Bluethroat, 20 Sedge Warblers, a Blackcap and very late Wood Warbler.

On the 10th of September I headed to Mikkeli to twitch a warbler that my good friend “Potu” Suojarinne had found on the previous day. He had got some pictures where the bird looked like a Paddyfield Warbler. I was early in the morning in Kenkävero but the weather was very poor. Anyway we found the bird and it really looked strange! It was extremely pale with pale feet and short primary-projection. But it was extremely shy and we saw it only for seconds. We had tried to see it better for 5 hours when it started to rain. And exactly then we got a message that there was a local Sabine’s Gull in Keuruu. We decided to go twitching! After all I was already on half-way!

It was a long drive to Keuruu Kaukanen but luckily stunning adult Sabine’s Gull was still swimming there on Keurusselkä! After some waiting it flew a nice round around the bay and landed very close to us but behind the reeds. But soon it was flying again and flew only some 60 meters from us and cameras were clicking! Soon it flew back to the same rocks, where it had stayed most of the time.

We also saw 2 young Little Gulls, some flocks of Wigeons and a Scaup in a flock of Tufted Ducks. In the evening we still went to see the warbler in Mikkeli and manage to see it much better but it was already quite dark, so the pictures Potu got were still quite poor. Late in the evening we still visited Tuukkala fields where we saw some Ruffs and Ringed Plovers and in Pursiala we saw a late Nightjar. But then I had to start driving back to Parikkala. Luckily on the next day Potu got some better pictures of the warbler and it is still not sure what the bird really was! But at least we have some pictures…

On the 11th day a Grey Plover was seen from Härskiinmutka and in Siikalahti I saw the 1st Rough-legged Buzzard of the season. On the 12th day a Cormorant had arrived to Härskiinmutka and there were 1 to 3 birds every day until the end of the month. On the 13th day a Marsh Harrier was still seen in Siikalahti and in Kullinsuo I saw a Hen Harrier, 5 Dunlins and a Lapland Bunting. While I was jogging in the evening I saw a flock of 500 Brent Geese in Kirjola and later in Siikalahti another flock of 180 birds. Thick fog ruined the evening trip to Siikalahti where only 4 Wood Sandpipers were seen.

On the 14th day 4 White-fronted Geese were found in Kullinsuo amd in Siikalahti I saw a flock of 14 Red-throated Divers. In the evening we counted 322 Cranes, 4 Grey Heron and again 2 Great White Egrets. On the 15th day I counted 1350 ducks in Siikalahti, mostly Wigeons and Mallards, but also 100 Teals, 8 Shovelers, a Pintail, some tens of Tufted Ducks, 1 Scaup, 2 Pochards, 4 only Goldeneyes and 2 Smews.

On the 16th of September I was participating to a forest-run in Melkoniemi forests where I ran about 18 kilometers in very hard terrain in 2 hours and 10 minutes. In the afternoon the first 5 Barnacle Geese were in Kullinsuo and also a Bluethroat, 2 Whinchats and a Sedge Warbler were found. In Siikalahti I saw a Rough-legged Buzzard and heard a Red-throated Pipit and in the evening we were trying to catch some owls in Tarvaslampi and caught one Tengmalm’s Owl.

On the 17th day I was again in Siikalahti for whole morning until afternoon and saw 2 Tundra Bean Geese, 45 Barnacle Geese, 2270 Brent Geese, 31 Black-throated Divers, 13 Grey Herons, a White-tailed Eagle, 28 Sparrowhawks, 17 Common Buzzards, a Kestrel, a Peregrine, a Hobby, 37 Golden Plovers, a nice flock of 6 Arctic Skuas, 2 Grey-headed Woodpeckers, 2 Black Woodpeckers, 12 Swallows, 5 Chiffchaffs, 5 Goldcrests, a Spotted Flycatcher, 10 Coal Tits, 5 Redpolls and a Nutcracker.

On the 18th day I saw once again a young Pallid Harrier. I got some pictures of the bird and it is not certain if the bird is a hybrid between Hen and Pallid or a pure Pallid. I also heard a call from the sky that sounded like an Olive-backed Pipit but never saw the bird at all, so hopefully it was just a strange Tree Pipit… A couple of Barnacle Geese flocks were promising that soon they are everywhere again…

On the 20th day the geese were migrating, but on very western route so it wasn’t that awful to be at work. While on my lunch-hour I saw a flock of 1100 Brent Geese while walking towards Siikalahti tower. Under the tower there were several Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers so I started pishing and amazingly found a Yellow-browed Warbler! It was only my 2nd ever in Siikalahti and in whole South-Karelia! Because of Lake Ladoga which is right next to us in east, they are very rare here!

On the 21st day I saw about 3000 Barnacle Geese, 34 Brent Geese and about 150 White-fronted and 80 Tundra Bean Geese. A couple of Tufted Duck flocks were also migrating and in one of the flocks there were 2 Scaups and 2 Long-tailed Ducks. 2 White-tailed Eagles were scaring 11 Grey Herons that were still around but Great White Egrets weren’t seen at all anymore.

On the 22nd of September there was lots of geese already in Tetrisuo. There was still only a small patch treshed, so birds were difficult to count, but with some thousands of Barnacle Geese there were hundreds of Tundra Bean and White-fronted Geese, 200 Whooper Swans and 4 Bewick’s Swans. While driving along the field-road I flushed a Jack Snipe.

On the 23rd day I ran my first ever marathon in Joutseno. It was hard but even though I had almost too tired in the end I managed to finish after 4 hours and 22 minutes. In a half-way I was still in 4 hours speed, but after 25 kilometers the last 17 were awful. It took a long time to take a shower and eat and just sit and wait before my legs felt better and I walked to my car where my phone told that there had been a Black-winged Pratincole in Joutseno for almost whole day! It had been very difficult as it had been flying around but the last observation was just minutes ago, so I decided to drive there – after all it was just 10 kilometers to Kivisaari! But even though there were some other twitchers too, the bird wasn’t seen in the afternoon at all. I did see a late Little Ringed Plover, 2 Long-tailed Tits and a Merlin and a White-tailed Eagle. In the evening we still tried to catch some owls in Tarvaslampi, but thick fog covered the area too soon, I only heard one Tengmalm’s owl high from the sky.

On the 24th day we were in Siikalahti for whole morning until afternoon and saw a Vewick’s Swan, 6 Grey Herons, 2 White-tailed Eagles, 3 Rough-legged Buzzards, an Osprey, a Ringed Plover sp, a White-backed Woodpecker, a Sedge Warbler, a Great Grey Shrike and a Parrot Crossbill. In the afternoon we visited Saari with Miika and saw a Lapland Bunting in Akanvaara Tetrisuo, a Hen Harrier and a Little/Temminck Stint in Pohjanranta, a White-tailed Eagle and a Red-backed Shrike in Suurenjärvenliete and of some big flocks of geese with nothing better than some Bewick’s Swans.

On the 25th I surprisingly heard a Moorhen in Siikalahti and still saw a Lesser Whitethroat. On the 26th a Hobby was still seen and in the afternoon we went with Miika to twitch a Desert Wheatear in Kitee Puhos. The bird was seen easily thanks to some locals and of course the finder Kimmo Järvinen. It was only my second Desert Wheatear in Finland.

On the 27th of September I visited Siikalahti tower briefly on my lunch-hour and finally saw my first ever Red-breasted Goose in Siikalahti! It was my local-patch tick number 241! There were some 10 000 Barnacle Geese so it wasn’t easy to see, but luckily Mikko Karkia spotted the bird! In the evening we tried to twitch the bird with Hanna and there were also some Desert Wheatear twitchers stopping on the way back to Helsinki, but the bird wasn’t found. We did see a migrating flock of 30 Common and 4 Velvet Scoters and 6 local Scaups and there were even more geese now – about 12 000 Barnacle and 2000 grey geese! Still 2 Swallows were also seen.

On the 28th day I saw a Peregrine, 10 Long-tailed Tits, a late Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaffs and heard a couple of times calls that really sounded like a Pallas’s Warbler but I didn’t find anything like that… One Little Gull was still flying in Härskiinmutka.

J.A.

August 2017

August started well when I saw a migrating Nuthatch in Siikalahti. In the afternoon we went to ring some more Barnacle Geese and managed to get 3 adults and 5 youngsters ringed.

On the 3rdd of August the only better bird in Siikalahti was a Dunlin but in the afternoon we visited Saari Pohjanranta where we found a Great White Egret! Also a Little Ringed Plover was seen.

On the 4th to 6th of August I was in Lake Saimaa with my friends. Not many birds were seen but we really had great time even though the weather could have been better.

I was birding every day at least during my lunch-hour but the next bird to mention was a twitched Red-breasted Flycatcher that Matti Lötjönen found on the11th day in Kangaskylä. Only better bird in Siikalahti was a White-tailed Eagle. When it was warmer moments which were quite rare this summer, we went to see butterflies to Siikalahti. We managed to get pictures of Lesser Purple Emperor and Map Butterflies.

On the 12th day I saw a flock of 19 Cormorants, 4 White-tailed Eagles, 10 Grey Herons and again a new Great White Egret in Siikalahti. Also the same Great White Egret was still in Pohjanranta.

On the 13th of August I had to go twitching as there was a possible Southern Grey Shrike (actually a Steppe Grey Shrike but the taxonomy is a mess) in Asikkala. On the way I saw a couple of Wood Larks in Rautjärvi Lamminkylä and then picked up Sampsa Cairenius and Pekka Punnonen in Joutseno and Lappeenranta. The bird was still there but unfortunately it was once again just a homeyeri -type of Great Grey Shrike. Also a young normal Great Grey Shrike was seen there.

On the way back we stopped in Lappeenranta Askola where we saw 31 Ringed Plovers, 21 Golden Plovers, 4 Temminck Stints, 5 Dunlins and an Oystercatcher.

On the 15th day again a new-looking Great White Egret was found in Siikalahti, an adult bird this time. On the 16th a Parrot Crossbill was seen and heard flying around Kangaskylä and on the 17th I saw a Nutcracker.

On the 18th we visited Pohjanranta in the evening and found 3 young Black-tailed Godwits. Unfortunately these birds were too far to see well, but they looked long-billed. On the next days there started to be more islandica-Black-tailed Godwits in Finland than ever.

On the 19th day one of the Great White Egrets was seen again in Sikalahti and 13 Cormorants and 34 Golden Plovers were migrating. In a bigger flock of plovers I saw also an adult Knot. Another flock of 7 bigger waders were too distant but they were probably Knots too.

In the afternoon we ran a half-marathon with my friend Juha Honkanen in Joutseno. It was a hard route and not a competition; we just did it for fun… On the way I saw a Merlin.

On the 20th day there were 2 Great White Egrets in Siikalahti, another one was once again a new bird! 20 Grey Herons, 3 White-tailed Eagles, a female Hen Harrier, a Ringed Plover, a Little Ringed Plover and a Spotted Redshank were seen or heard.

On the 21st of August 2 Great White Egrets were again seen but they weren’t the best birds of my lunch-hour – I saw exactly what I had been hoping to see in this rainy weather – a flock of 21 Grey Plovers and 12 Bar-tailed Gotwits were migrating over the bay. Also a Lapwing and a Temminck Stint were seen.

On the 23rd day I saw a couple of Pochards and a Grey-headed Woodpecker. And once again I found a new-looking, completely yellow-billed Great White Egret! I had just got my first self-found Great White in spring and now this was already my 6th! In the evening we got a young female Goshawk to take care. It had flight to window and had also bacteria-infection. So we had now a Goshawk and also a young Swallow at home. This Swallow had lost most of its flight-feathers.

On the 24th day we headed to Savonlinna with Miika Soikkeli. After sme searching we found what we had been looking for – a male eclipse Mandarin Duck. We also saw a couple of Nutcrackers there while searching for the duck.

On the 25th day one Great White Egret was seen again in Siikalahti and in the afternoon I heard a Red-breasted Flycatcher calling in Moskuunniemi.

On the weekend the 26th and 27th of August we were in Helsinki where on Saturday was BirdFair. On the way we dropped our Swallow and Goshawk to Pyhtää bird-hospital. I was birding on both days and saw some waders like 3 Spotted Redshanks, a Temminck Stint and 2 Dunlins in Helsinki Viikki and islandica Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 2 Little Stints, 2 Temminck Stints, a Dunlin, 2 Spotted Redshanks, 50 Ruffs, 2 Great White Egrets, 3 Caspian Terns, a Reed Warbler and 4 Bearded Reedlings in Espoo Laajalahti. I also visited Espoo Finno but saw only 2 Moorhens.

On the 28th I still saw a Cuckoo in Siikalahti and on the next day there was still a Great White Egret. In the evening I heard a Three-toed Woodpecker calling in Eskola while I was jogging.

On the last day of August I went twitching to Joutseno where Jarmo Pirhonen had found a Rock Pipit. It had been raining and when I found the wet bird I couldn’t identify it. But luckily I saw the pictures that “Jamppa” had taken and it was easy to see it was the same bird. It was a new species in South Karelia for me! On the way back I saw 2 Cuckoos flying across the road in Korvenkylä.

J.A.

Making dreams come true

On Wednesday the 26th of July we started a long weekend holiday. We drove first towards Koli and made the first stop on an orchid-bog where we found Early Marsh-orchids, Narrow-leaved Marsh-orchids and of course common Heath-spotted Orchids. Unfortunately the weather was very cloudy so we couldn’t get very good pictures. The clouds also made us do a U-turn in Koli parking-place as the whole hill was behind the clouds. So we headed next to Juuka Tuopanjoki to twitch a Lanceolated Warbler. We were there far too early but surprisingly heard the bird almost immediately. We had planned to put up the tent somewhere nearby and visit the place later in the evening again, but as we heard the bird already, we decided to keep on driving.

We headed to another orchid-place to Pieni-Valkeinen where we put up the tent, ate well and went to sleep.

The 27th of July. We slept well and then went to search for orchids. Right away we found lots of Common Spotted Orchids and in a couple of hours walking in the woods and bogs we found also Common Twayblades, Lesser Butterfly-orchids, Early Marsh-orchids, Fragrant Orchids and the best one was a Dark-red Helleborine. We also found some birds; a Hazel Hen was seen briefly, some Common Crossbills were flying around, a Chiffchaff and some Wrens were still singing and the best bird was an alarming Greenish Warbler.

Then we headed towards Kuhmo. After we had seen a family of Black Grouses we parked along one lake to prepare lunch. After we had eaten we continued to Kuikkajärvi where was a lodge of Arctic Media. We were there exactly in time at 4:30 p.m.

We met Antti Selin, who told us all the instructions for the hide and at 5:15 p.m. we left towards the hides. Most of the people were going to different hides as there were hides in three places. So together with Hanna we got the most luxurious hide in Paradise which was along a big bog. To our neighbor single-hides we had 3 more photographers.

We organized all our things so that we could be as quiet as possible and soon Antti came with a pig that he tied up to a tree about 70 meters from us. When Antti left we started to wait for some action.

Soon the first Ravens, Common and Lesser Black-bagged Gulls arrived. There were even 55 Ravens in one time. One of the 7 Lesser Black-backed Gulls was quite pale but probably not a Heuglin’s Gull. After about a half an hour waiting the first Brown Bear arrived and this big bear had some scars, it had been fighting a lot. It missed almost half of its ear too. But it seemed to be hungry as it started eating the pig and after some time we started to fear that it was going to eat it all!

After another 30 minutes 2 smaller bears arrived but only one of them went to the carcass after the big bear had left. Another one seemed to be afraid of everything – even Ravens. And after these 2 bears came soon the 4th one but then the half-eared big one came back and all other bears ran away. But surprisingly the fifth bear that arrived made this big one move even though it was much smaller. Also this one had some scars and the biggest one was on its butt. Maybe it had won the half-ear recently?

From time to time the carcass was empty as all the bears had moved back to the forests. Of course some Ravens and gulls were there all the time. The 6th bear was the biggest of all but it just walked soon to the carcass, picked up a big meat and walked back to the forest.

About at 10 p.m. most of the birds had gone to sleep but still some Ravens and gulls stayed. It was already getting quite dark when a huge bear with a pale collar came but while I was watching it with my binoculars I saw something pale behind him moving – a Wolf! There were 2 wolves standing behind some trees and soon they started to walk across the bog from right to left. They were maybe 300 meters from us, but there was still some light to get some pictures and videos. We had been advised not to take too many pictures of the wolves at one time as they were extremely shy. So we took most of the pictures when they were moving and the only one at time when they had stopped. These animals were absolutely gorgeous! The pale older female was really beautiful and light-brown, thinner male looked somehow much wilder. Unfortunately they just crossed the bog and were seen only once later very briefly on the back of the bog disappearing to the forest.

Soon after the wolves one more big pale-shouldered bear arrived and then it came so dark that it came difficult to identify the bears anymore.

The 28th of July. Still some Common Gulls were staying around the feeder and also 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls payed a visit. After 1 a.m. a big bear visited the carcass and soon after that I heard a Willow Grouse calling a couple of times. Hanna was then sleeping. After this I still saw a couple of smaller bears but then the half-ear arrived again and chased them away.

Just before the sun was rising fog started to cover the whole bog. The view was like from a post-card but of course the bog made it more difficult to see to the carcass. Soon the first birds started to call; Magpie Hooded Crow, Raven, Willow Tit and at 5 a.m. it was morning when Wagtails arrived.

During the morning we still saw 2 bears behind the bog, but everything had been eaten from the carcass. I had slept a couple of hours and Hanna a little bit more. At 7 a.m. there were only White Wagtails, some Yellow Wagtails and surprisingly we saw also 2 Rustic Buntings. At 7:30 a.m. we had packed everything and left towards the car where we met the others. We drove to the lodge and it seemed that everyone was happy! On another hide people had seen a couple of Wolverines too, but not so many Brown Bears. But I had a feeling that I still had missed something, I really wanted to see Wolves better and maybe also some eagles – there had been a couple of White-tailed Eagles visiting the carcass in front of Paradise one day earlier. But luckily we had booked another night too – so we already told to Antti that we would stay in Paradise again.

We prepared lunch and heard a Red-throated Diver calling while flying over us. Then we drove a little bit to a river where we put up our tent and went to sleep.

We slept long and before 4 p.m. we drove back to the lodge. We ate again and at 5:15 we left again towards the hides. There were more people now and also more of them were coming to Paradise. So we got a little bit smaller hide foe ourselves but anyway it was very comfortable. There were already 2 White-tailed Eagles, an adult and 3rd year bird, perched on the trees with Ravens when we arrived. Soon we had organized our things and then Antti came to drive a bigger pig-carcass to the bog with snowmobile. He tied it very well again and soon we started waiting again.

About after an hour waiting the first bear arrived. It was one of the big ones and it started to eat well immediately. Soon we saw also a second adult White-tailed Eagle arriving to the trees behind the bog.

Before 8 p.m. another big bear with pale neck arrived and then at 8:20 p.m. we saw a brown Wolf coming behind the bog. It was hiding behind the trees for some time but then walked in the middle of the bog and laid down there so only ears were visible! And soon the pale Wolf arrived too. It walked to the brown one and together they continued crossing the bog again.

When they had reached the left edge of the bog they attacked to a Brown Bear! Unfortunately they we behind some trees and bushes but it seemed that this bear had some meat with it and Wolves stole it.

Once the Wolves had continued behind the trees a big pale-necked bear took a big piece of meat and walked to the forest. We were afraid that Wolves would follow it and not come to visible anymore. These animals were so smart that they didn’t like to go to the middle of the bog. They didn’t want to get wet. So they were often just waiting in the woods that a Bear would come with a big piece of meat and then steal it. The tactic was that one Wolf was attacking and another one stole the meat once Bear dropped it.

At 9 p.m. the big bears were gone and there were 3 familiar smaller ones around. The shyest one wasn’t visiting the carcass but shouting from the distance. And the one with hole in its ass was doing whatever he wanted.

At 9:10 p.m. a pale wolf was surprisingly left from the carcass and cameras were clicking! Again we didn’t take too many pictures as we didn’t want to scare it away. But it seemed that there was too much traffic around the carcass and it turned back to the forest. But anyway we were now taking lots of pictures as both adult White-tailed Eagles were now feeding with bears and ravens.

But at 9:45 it finally happened! Both Wolves arrived from the forest and surprisingly the shyest bear was following them to the carcass! The brown Wolf didn’t go to the carcass but walked around it and marked its territory. But the pale beauty came to the carcass and took a big piece of meat and carried it just a little bit further to the bog and started eating!

After all brown Wolf was visible maybe 10 minutes but the pale stayed around the carcass for 40 minutes showing all the time! It visited the carcass a couple of times and after taking a big piece of meat with her, it either ate or just laid down watching other carcass-visitors. It was funny to see that White-tailed Eagles that were extremely shy to visit the carcass were afraid by Wolves and smaller bears, especially in flight.

Soon it came dark and once the pale Wolf had also disappeared to the forest there were only 2 smaller bears around. Then we saw a young 1 year old bear coming towards the carcass but it was too afraid of other ones and never made it to the meat.

At 10:40 p.m. we saw the pale Wolf crossing the bog carrying a huge meat. And 10 minutes later the brown one did the same and also it had managed to steal a big piece of meat from some bear. Meanwhile there were 4 smaller bears visiting the carcass which one of them was new.

At 11:30 p.m. it came so dark that we decided to start to sleep. I woke up a couple of times to see that a couple of smaller bears were still doing something further on the bog and also half-ear had arrived close to the carcass.

The 29th of July. At 1:30 a.m. a couple of bears were fighting in the middle of the bog, but it was too dark to see if they were playing or really fighting – anyway the noise was amazing! At 7:30 we had packed everything and met extremely happy people on the parking place! It had been the best night ever!

At the lodge we did some food again and heard a Parrot Crossbill flying over us. Then we said goodbye to everyone including Antti, a South-African photographer who had stayed there for a month already and a Norwegian man who had been visiting the place every summer for 30 years!

As we had been sleeping quite well, we decided to start driving. We stopped once along a bigger bog and heard a Golden Plover and a Whimbrel before we continued towards Juuka.

In Nurmes we turned towards Lake Suuri-Soramo where we twitched a Ruddy Shelduck that had been found a couple of days earlier. The bird was found easily and so we were soon driving again.

In Juuka we did some shopping and then continued to another orchid-place to Kusilampi (piss-pond). There we walked about 3 hours around the pond and found a couple of new orchid-species for the trip – Coralroot Orchid and Creeping Lady’s-tresses. The funnies observation was to find thousands and thousands of small Common Toads on the shore of the pond.

After a long and hard walk we cooked again and soon were ready to go to sleep to the tent.

On the 30th of July we woke up when a Two-barred Crossbill was calling nearby. It was calling a bit strangely, quite short “tyy-tyy, tyy-tyy-tyy” calls but was easy to identify from the flight call.
After we had eaten again we drove to Hepolampi to search more orchids again. This place was completely different and we had to climb up and down on the limestone-hill. Not many orchids were found but a family of Hazel Hens was heard alarming.

Our last target-place was Merilampi where we walked in bog and forest for some time but then it started to get too hot to continue. We still found a Lesser Twayblade which was the 13th species of orchid during the trip. One not mentioned earlier had been Lady’s-slipper-Orchid which we can’t tell the place where it was found. Some more species would have been possible to find, but as we had no instructions to find any orchids, we were quite happy how many we had found! Some of the flowers must be still identified from the pictures as especially all the red orchids are hybridizing a lot.
About at noon we headed again to Koli and on the way we took better pictures of Early Marsh-orchids and Narrow-leaved Marsh-orchids. The weather was now perfect and we really enjoyed visiting beautiful hills of Koli – Ukko, Akka and Paha-Koli where the scenery is one of the most beautiful in Finland!

Then we still had to drive back to Parikkala where we were in the early evening. We had really enjoyed our trip!

J.A.

Some action in Joroinen

It started to feel like autumn even though there really hadn’t been many summer days at all. So when I had been in Lappeenranta on the 11th of July, I decided to make a visit in Joutseno Kotasaari pools. It had been raining and I hoped to find some waders, but found only a Temminck Stint, a Little Stint, 3 Barnacle Geese and 3 Slavonian Grebes.

On the 12th day I saw a Cormorant in Härskiinmutka and when it finally stopped raining in the afternoon, I visited Saari Pohjanranta and found exactly what I went to look for – 4 Curlew Sandpipers. There were also 2 Grey Herons, a Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank, a Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpipers, 5 Ruffs and 50 Lapwings. Also in Rautalahti I saw a flock of 70 Lapwings but there was nothing better with them.

On Friday the 13th we visited Pohjanranta with Miika Soikkeli and surprisingly the Curlew Sandpipers were still there. All other birds were gone but there was now a young White-tailed Eagle.

During the day I got a message that there was a pratincole-species in Joroinen Pasala fields, but I still had to stay a couple of hours at work. Luckily at 2 p.m. when I was leaving a new message told that it wasn’t a Black-winged which was the only species that I had seen in Finland, so I left twitching! Some id-marks that had been told about the bird fitted actually better for Oriental than Collared Pratincole, so there was a possibility for a WP-tick!

It was a long drive but luckily new messages told that the bird was still there. But then when I had only 7 kilometers to go, my friend “Potu” Suojarinne called me and told the bad news – the bird had left – it had disappeared very high on the sky as disappeared very far. And only after some 5 minutes I was in the place where all other twitchers were smiling and watching their pictures. But still there was no identification.

All I could do was to get my scope and binoculars and start scanning the sky. Potu joined me while almost everyone else, even those who arrived after us were just chatting and wondering what they had seen or missed. After an hour I found a promising looking bird flying strangely, but after all it was just a Kestrel. I also heard that there had been a flock of 170 Lapwings that had disappeared and it seemed that the praticole had left after a couple of Wood Sandpipers. The weather was also perfect for migration – NW wind and getting sunnier all the time. So I started to lose my hope. But then suddenly a flock of at least 150 Lapwings flushed behind some bushes with some Ruffs. At least these birds were still around! And soon after that I found really good looking bird in distance flying quite low towards us! There it was!

I had seen all 3 similar species of pratincoles this year on my trips abroad, but this bird was flying very low and soon landed behind some bushes. Most of the other twitchers had also found it because of my instructions that I had been shouting, but nobody saw where the bird landed. So we had to walk along the road so we could see to the other side of the bushes and it seemed that there was a small patch of lower field behind some higher vegetation. Other twitchers started shouting when they found some Lapwings from the field, but all we could see were the heads of the birds. So with Potu we followed the road until we got a little bit higher and got much better visibility to the field. And soon Potu found the bird! But soon Lapwings flushed the bird again, but at least now everyone saw the bird!

After all the bird was visible most of the evening but never showed really well. I flew a couple of times further to the other side of the field-area and disappeared but always came back pretty soon. Most of the twitcher that had arrived after me were on the other road where the bird could be seen too, so I could only hope that someone could get very good pictures. A couple of timed the bird flew over us and once it was calling quite low and little bit like a Little Gull – “kyik, kyik”. The bird was missing it another long tail feather which made the identification difficult. But it was quite thick, very short-tailed, short and thick-billed and the bill had only quite little red. The upper-stomach had some orange and I couldn’t see any white on the tips of secondaries. So it really looked good for an Oriental Pratincole!

When the bird had once again disappeared probably hunting, we decided to leave with Potu. I really hoped to see some good-quality pictures later.

The bird disappeared on the next morning and after all really good pictures were never got, but some pretty good ones and also some videos. And luckily at least on the video it was possible to see even the roundish nostril. Also some experts abroad were sure that the bird was indeed an Oriental Praticole which was a new species for Finland!

On the 15th of July I did the last duck-count in Siikalahti and didn’t see many ducklings. I saw the only young Black-headed and Common Gull, really only 1 per species, of the year. Only better bird was a Curlew Sandpiper that landed to the only spot where can be waders in Siikalahti.

In the evening we went to see that the closest Red-throated Diver, which is in Punkaharju side of the border, had managed to get one young. In the late evening we still visited Siikalahti where we heard a River Warbler singing.

Kaakkuri

Haapaperhonen

On the 16th day we were driving around some places nearby with Hanna. Our goal was to see some better butterflies, but only 4 Poplar Admirals were seen. In Kullinsuo we saw a Goldfinch. On the 18th day I was again in Lappeenranta and on the way did a stop in Kotasaari where were some common waders with 2 Little Ringed Plovers and a Temminck Stint. Now there were 4 Slavonian Grebes. In Joukionsalmi I counted 140 adult and 25 young Barnacle Geese.

On the 19th of July we did a short trip to Saari where a Black Woodpecker was seen in Akanvaara, a Goldfinch in Pohjasuo and 2 Grey Herons, 2 Dunlins and 2 Red-backed Shrikes in Pohjanranta. In the afternoon I heard a Golden Oriole singing sub-song very beautifully in Siikalahti.

On the 22th day only bird to mention was a young Yellow Wagtail in Siikalahti and on the 23rd day we visited Punkaharju Laukansaari arboretum where we hoped to find some crossbills but found only Common Crossbills. Only 2 Nutcrackers were heard. We also visited Saari again and saw a Hen Harrier and 4 Red-backed Shrikes in Akanvaara Tetrisuo

On the 25th of July I had the last game in Lappeenranta and once again I visited Kotasaari but saw only 3 Green Sandpipers and 3 Ruffs.

J.A.