Autumn-holiday in Säppi again

After 5 days in Siikajoki Tauvo I just washed some clothes and on the next day, Friday the 19th of October, started Hanna’s holiday and at midday we started to drive towards Pori.

We stopped only once and still we were in Kuuminainen only 15 minutes before our boat left towards Säppi. Matti and Mimosa Mäkelä, Ari Pitkälä, Tuomas Ketonen, Niklas Paulaniemi and Lassi Kangasmäki were also packing their stuff to the boat and soon we were on the sea.

30 minutes later we were in Säppi where some of the birders who had already been on the island for some days came to help us to carry our stuff to the station. Soon we were joining Pettri Mäkelä, Markus Lampinen, Sebastian Andrejeff, Valtteri Salonen and Paavo Sallinen on the log.

Last two days had been quiet but at least there were now more birders than maybe ever!

On the 20th of October we woke up early and tired as night had been quite noisy. Markus and Hanna left to mist-nets and most of the rest of us headed to Prakala to routine seawatch.

When the sun was rising we started to count all the migrating birds and kept on counting for 2 hours like every morning. The quality of migration was good even though the numbers weren’t very big, so some stayed in Prakala even longer. So altogether we saw 49 Purple Sandpipers, 31 Razorbills, 15 Black Guillemots, flocks of Long-tailed Ducks, Common Scoters and Velvet Scoters, some Common Eiders, one mixed flock with some Scaups, a couple of Black and Red-throated Divers and a Great Crested and a Red-necked Grebe.

Just before the count was over we got a message that Markus and Hanna had seen and heard a Hume’s Leaf Warbler in Peräkulma where they were ringing. It was fa, but anyway some of us hurried there. Markus and Hanna were busy as they had mist-nets full of Redpolls and unfortunately Hume’s Leaf Warbler was already long gone and after some searching we walked back to the station.

After we had eaten something we left to walk around the island with almost everyone, except the ringers. There weren’t many birds in the island but again the quality was good as we saw 2 Jack Snipes, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a White-backed Woodpecker, a migrating Rock Pipit, 3 Twites and of course quite a good number of other more common birds.

When we were in Peräkulma, Markus and Hanna were still ringing and during the day they ringed more than 200 birds. Ari was also ringing in Prakala and also from the station’s feeder and he got 60 birds, so the daily sigma was very good.

While we were talking with Markus and Hanna, Petteri asked if they had also bunting’s “tick” –calls on the player as we had heard at least Little Bunting singing from the player. But then we saw a small passerine flying over us calling and it landed to a perch next to us. I managed to get it to my scope soon and it was a Little Bunting!

I hurried to put my mp3-player close to the mist-net, but then others already saw the bunting flying towards another net and there it was hanging!

After we had taken enough picture of Little Bunting, some decided to continue straight to the station but with Tuomas, Sebastian and Niklas we kept on towards Kräveli. From the sea-buckthorn bushes we found several Blackcaps and some saw also a late Garden Warbler.

When we were on the tip of Kräveli with Tuomas and waited for Sebastian and Niklas, we heard a Hume’s Leaf Warbler calling behind us. Soon we heard more calls but almost too clearly. And we found Sebastian and Niklas playing Hume’s Leaf Warbler. But the first calls had been a real thing and that was why they were now playing! Sebastian had managed even to record some calls.

Luckily I soon heard it calling again and together with Tuomas we hurried after the bird that seemed to follow a flock of tits that were moving quickly further from us. After some chasing I managed to see the bird a couple of times very briefly and the last views were seen in flight together with Tuomas.

I have never really liked the way how spontaneous-ticks are being counted in Finland but in most used rules I got my 300th spontaneous-tick!

In the evening we had sauna and some were up until very late even though most of them had to leave quite early on the next morning beacuse of there was a storm coming later during the day.

On the 21nd of October we headed very early to open mist-nets with Hanna. Weather was bad so there weren’t many birds coming. Markus, Valtteri, Niklas, Lassi and Paavo left early when the wind wasn’t too bad yet, so there weren’t so many birders anymore.

Young Bar-tailed Godwit was still around but nothing else really was seen during the day. Also on mist-nets we caught only common species like Goldcrest, Treecreepers, Wrens, different kind of tits, a couple of Bullfinches, a Brambling and a European Robin.

On the 22nd day it was still bad weather and quiet on mist-nets. So after a couple of hours I joined the rest that had quit the morning sea-watch and we walked around the island. We saw one migrating young Hen Harrier, even 11 Blackcaps and finally I saw also one Garden Warbler. Hanna ringed only 17 birds and controlled 4.

On the 23rd day Hanna went alone to mist-nets and soon the rest of us were sea-watching. Weather was already better and we also saw more birds. The best bird was a Short-eared Owl that came from the sea and landed to Prakala. Also a male Hen Harrier, 3 Bean Geese, 2 Red-necked Grebes, 3 Merlins, 7 Purple Sandpipers, 5 Razorbills, a Rock Pipit and a couple of Rooks were seen too.

The walk around the island produced 9 Blackcaps and even 3 Garden Warblers but nothing better. Hanna had also better day on mist-nets and she ringed more than 100 birds. Best bird was a Lesser Redpoll but also 36 Long-tailed Tits, 41 Goldcrests, 17 Treecreepers, a Blackcap and so on were ringed.

In the afternoon Petteri, Mimosa, Matti, Sebastian and Tuomas left, but Pekka and Anja Rintamäki arrived, so there were only 5 of us in the island anymore. While having the log we were joking that we should find something so rare that Petteri should come back. When Petteri sent a message that he had forgotten bag full of food to the station, we started to choose what would be the species…

On the 24th of October the weather forecast looked good so Hanna and Ari left both to Peräkulma. Pekka and Anja opened the mist-nets by the feeder so I had to go to sea-watching alone. Wind was stronger than it was supposed to be and it was pretty cold – it felt like autumn. And sea was very quiet and soon Hanna sent a message that also mist-nets were hanging quite empty.

I saw a Red-throated Diver, a Red-necked Grebe and a Purple Sandpiper. After the sea-watch I headed to the station to eat as I planned to walk around the whole island. But then I got a message from Hanna where she asked: “Are there any other species like this than a Yellowhammer? This is small!”. But the picture than she had sent didn’t show up. The internet-connection was down. So I called to Hanna (and luckily phones were now working in this island of mysterious connections) and asked them to bag this bird until I can see the picture. I told her that it could be “rutila” – a Chestnut Bunting! Then I told her to send the picture also to our Säppi WhatsApp-group.

I ate the rest of my noodles very quickly and ran towards the harbor where usually was better connection. When the picture finally downloaded Jani Vastamäki had already sent a message: “rutila?”. And the bird in the picture really looked like one! So I sent: I think it is Chestnut Bunting”.

I called to Hanna again and we decided that we would walk to Peräkulma to see the bird. Hanna and Ari still had other nets open and at least a couple of birds to ring. So I helped Pekka and Anja to close their mist-nets and soon we were hurrying towards Peräkulma.

It was a long walk, at least to Pekka who had broken his femur a couple of times in last a couple of years very badly. But finally we were there and soon I took the bird from the bag and it really was a young Chestnut Bunting!

After taking some pictures, I helped Ari to close the last mist-nets and then we planned to walk to the station to take some more measurements of the bird. There had been some discussion about the identification of the bird in internet where the first picture had already been spreading, so we wanted to make everything sure. But of course I had also handled some Yellow-breasted Buntings in my youth and this had nothing to do with it.

This bird was very small, it had nice chestnut-colored rump, almost completely dark tail with only hint of white on the outer tail-feathers. The bill was plain grey, but the base of the lower bill was pink and on the shoulders it had weird greenish tone. It really was the second Chestnut Bunting for Finland!

Hanna had seen and heard the bird flying to a juniper next to one of the mist-nets. It had sounded something between Yellowhammer and Rustic or Little Bunting, so she had decided to push the bird to the mist-net. Luckily she had succeed and while she was handling the bird, she noticed that it was small, it had streaky but yellow breast, the tail-feathers were strangely pointed and the cap looked also strange. She had first thought if Yellowhammer could in some strange plumage look like this, but then she had carried the bird to Ari who had been sea-watching nearby. Ari had mentioned Yellow-breasted Bunting but anyway they started to search if there were better options in old Svensson’s book. But as there was nothing easily found, Hanna sent a message to Janne.

While we had been photographing the bird we heard that first boats were being booked and twitchers have already begun their trip towards Säppi. Luckily father Salokangas had agreed to substitute Tommi, who was on holiday.

We were soon on the station and some more measurements were taken and then we started to plan where to release the bird. It was too long walk back to Peräkulma where was also very windy now. Prakala would have been optimal place for twitching but it was also extremely windy. So we decided to release the bird to an open area next to the harbor where sun was shining and was no wind at all. And soon Chestnut Bunting flew to a small bush where was also at least one Wren.

Then we decided to spread around the open area so we could see if the bird decided to move somewhere else. But we didn’t see anything moving and 40 minutes later the first twitchers arrived and Petteri and Matti were amongst them.

After some waiting we still couldn’t see any birds so a few twitchers walked through the open area and the bird wasn’t found. Hanna had heard something ticking once from the forest behind her and she went to see if there was something. And after some searching she flushed the bird from a small open area next to path. Hanna called me, but I couldn’t hear a thing. Then she sent a message to WhatsApp -group and soon Petteri organized the twitchers to walk slowly towards Hanna.

And soon all twitchers were behind a small rock-fence and saw Hanna sitting in the middle of the small open area and Chestnut Bunting was feeding just in front of her.

Here the bunting stayed and soon the second wave of twitchers arrived and Petteri and the first group had to leave. Petteri had his forgotten bag with him.

I walked with the second group to see the bird while Hanna still stayed with the bird. There were many friends and familiar faces again and after all the bird stayed in the same spot until all 4 groups of twitchers had seen the bird and left the island. It was feeding all the time and we still saw it at 5:27 p.m. when it flew behind a small hill and didn’t come back anymore.

In the evening a Dipper was found from the harbor by twitchers and we of course ticked this geed Säppi-tick. Later our neighbor had warmed up sauna and the atmosphere was great on the log!

On the 25th of October Hanna went to Peräkulma, Ari opened mist-nets in Prakala and Pekka and Anja on the feeder. I checked the bunting place before the sea-watch but couldn’t see it. After some sea-watching the first group of twitchers arrived and Ari kept on sea-watching while I walked to the bunting-place with the group and told everything that could help finding the bird. And of course my advice was just to wait for the bird to arrive to the familiar spot. Then I went back to sea-watching.

There were some Long-tailed Ducks, Common and Velvet Scoters, a couple of Black and a Red-throated Divers, a Black Guillemot and a Purple Sandpiper seen on the sea-watch and just before 9 a.m. we got a message that the bunting had arrived to the same place again.

So soon there was again a new boat full of twitchers coming but not all twitchers left. Some had made an agreement to stay on the island until 3 p.m. So father Salokangas would’ve to make at least one extra trip after bringing all the twitchers.

The bird stayed on the same place again almost all the time. A few times it visited rocky area and the forest but always came back to feed along the path.

After the sea-watch we walked around most of the island with Mika Teivonen and Jarmo Koistinen who were staying whole day on the island. But all we could find was one Garden Warbler.

Once we came back to bunting place the last group of twitchers had just arrived. It started to rain very hard, so I went to get more clothes. After 20 minutes I walked to the bunting place and found frustrated twitchers. The bird had walked behind some rocks just one minute before they had arrived but it had never come back.

Sooni it started to rain again and also wind was getting stronger all the time. And soon Salokangas was coming back again, so we decided that only those twitchers left, who had already seen the bird. Soon twitchers started to walk more around the area but the bird wasn’t found anymore. It had probably been feeding enough and when the weather had changed dramatically, it had decided to go somewhere to sleep.

At 4:30 p.m. the last twitchers left empty-handed and even though we still checked the bunting place in the evening and several times during the next days, it was never seen again.

On the 26th of October the weather was still colder. I went to help Hanna to put up the mist-nets but then walked to the other side of the island to sea-watch. It was very quiet on the both sides of the island.

During the day we walked around the whole island with Ari and saw a Garden Warbler and 6 Blackcaps, a Dipper again and a few Purple Sandpipers. The bird of the day was after all a Waxwing that Pekka caught by the feeder.

In the evening we saw one more Purple Sandpiper in Präälä with Hanna. In the evening we had sauna again.

The 27th day was almost similar to the previous one but there were even less birds. Only Hooded Crows were migrating, 436 altogether with one Rook on the flocks. During the walk around the island we saw a Goshawk, a Merlin, a Common Snipe and a Parrot Crossbill. Long-tailed Tits and Common Redpolls raised the ringing sigma over 50 birds and also a Blackcap and a Dunnock were caught.


On the 28th day I went to mist-nets with Hanna, Pekka and Anja were by the feeder and Ari in Prakala. It was very quiet! We caught a couple of flocks of Long-tailed Tits. I walked around Hanhisto and until Eteläkari, but saw only a Song Thrush and a Wren.

The wind was very strong so we started to take off the mist-nets early. At 10:30 a.m. we took the last ones off and walked to the station where we cleaned the building and packed everything.

We had already carried our stuff to the harbor when Ari got a phone-call that some strange sea-bird had been seen in Pori flying towards Säppi. We were soon scanning to the sea but the visibility was extremely poor. So we couldn’t find anything and soon Tommi Salokangas arrived to pick us up.

After 30 minutes we were in Kuuminainen, we packed our car and said goodbye to Pekka, Anja and Ari and started a long way back to Parikkala.

It had once again been amazing autumn-holiday in Säppi! One single bird can save the whole autumn! I had planned to go to Corvo, Azores for whole autumn, but even though I tried whole summer to get an accommodation there but it was so difficult that I gave up with the idea at least when I bought new binoculars. Of course then it was the best autumn ever on Corvo… But after Hume’s Leaf Warbler, my 300th spontaneous bird in Finland and Chestnut Bunting, my whole autumn had been saved. And I had also got my first WP-tick of the year. So after all we had really had an amazing autumn-trip again!

J.A.

Autumn-holiday in Tauvo

On Saturday the 13th of October I was playing a rinkball tournament in Lappeenranta but our games ended (too) early. So I drove back to Parikkala, left my huge gear-bag and got food from local restaurant and started to drive towards Siikajoki.

It was a long drive but finally I was in Tauvo Hietapakka from where I carried my stuff to the ringing-station where Pirkka and two of his children Iina and Veikka were already playing Tengmalm’s Owl tape.

I was very tired and pretty soon I went to sleep.

On the 14th of October we started to check mist-nets before the sun was rising. A Redwing, 7r+2c Blue Tits, 45r+4c Great Tits, 2r+3c Willow Tits, a Greenfinch, 31 Redpolls and 9 Arctic Redpolls were caught during the day.

I also saw 19 Black Grouses, heard a Gold Finch and a couple of flocks of Parrot Crossbills and 2 Tree Sparrows were visiting the feeder briefly.

In the afternoon we planned to walk to Ulkonokka but water was so high that we soon turned back. Only 105 Whooper and 7 Mute Swans, a White-tailed Eagle and a Merlin were seen.

In the evening we played Tengmalm’s Owl tape again and one bird was caught and ringed.

On the 15th day we started with the same Tengmalm’s Owl that was again on the mist-net. Other birds were a Blackcap, 25 Long-tailed Tits, 5 Blue Tits, a Coal Tit, control Crested Tit, 5r+1c Willow Tit and the control had a Russian ring, a Jay, controlled Redpoll. an Arctic Redpoll and a Bullfinch.

The most surprising record was a Wild Boar that I saw behind the furthest mist-nets. I heard a branch cracking behind me and realized that there was a Wild Boar maybe 12 meters from me! I managed to take a couple of pictures of the animal, but it was behind very thick bushes, so it can hardly be seen in the pictures. But I have no idea if there has ever been a Wild Boar anywhere near ever!

A Grey-headed Woodpecker was heard and seen briefly and a Hazel Hen was whistling nearby.

The 16th of October started well when there were 2 Mistle Thrushes in raptor mist-net. I also saw an “acrocephalus” warbler which was probably a Reed Warbler, but it was in bad light and views were too brief.

Other birds caught were 1r+1c Robin, 18 Long-tailed Tits, 13r+5c Blue Tits which one had been ringed in Uppsala Sweden, even 82r+22 Great Tits (surprisingly many were adults), 3r+2c Willow Tits, a year-tick Siberian Tit, a Treecreeper, 2 Redpolls, an Arctic Redpoll, a Bullfinch and 2 Yellowhammers.

From the tower I saw a Black-throated Diver and a Red-necked Grebe migrating, 5 Long-tailed Ducks and so on. A Goshawk was flying over Ulkonokka. In the evening we caught another Tengmalm’s Owl.

On the 17th of October we caught a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, a Song Thrush, 1r+5c Long-tailed Tits, 7r+3c Blue Tits, 70r+30c Great Tits, 1r+3c Willow Tits, another Siberian Tit, 9 Redpolls, 8 Arctic Redpolls and 2 Bullfinches.

During the day I walked around whole Ulkonokka and it was a tough job! The reeds and bushes have grown so thick that it was difficult to find the shore! And it was also raining all the time! I found 10 Mute Swans , 12 Common Scoters, a Velvet Scoter, 2 Great Crested Grebes, a Grey Plover, a Jack Snipe, 12 Black-headed Gulls and 40 Snow Buntings.

On the 18th day the rain stopped just before the dawn but birds weren’t moving in wet bushes. We caught only 3 Robins, 3 Blue Tits, 13r+14c Great Tits, 3r+3c Willow Tits, one more Siberian Tit, 2 Greenfinches, 72 Redpolls and 30 Arctic Redpolls.

One or two Grey-headed Woodpeckers visited the station back-yard but they didn’t hit the mist-nets. In the afternoon we cleaned the station buildings, took off the mist-nets and left driving back to home.

J.A.

Autumn in Parikkala

On the 15th of September autumn started officially when a Barnacle Goose was flying around Siikalahti. Also a mixed flock of Taiga and Tundra Bean Geese was seen and other better birds were a Merlin, a couple of Red-throated Pipits and Bluethroats, 13 Coal Tits, 2 Rustic Buntings, and a Dunlin. In Kannas we saw a couple of Eurasian Nuthatches, in Vartialahti a Common Scoter and 2 Great White Egrets like in Siikalahti too and in Kullinsuo we saw a couple of Hen Harriers.

On the 16th day there was a Grey Heron with Great White Egrets, already 70 Barnacle Geese, 6 Marsh, 4 Hen Harriers and 2 too distant Pallid Harrier candidates, 3 Hobbies, 3 Red-throated Pipits, a Bluethroat, a Blackcap, a Rustic Bunting and so on.

We also tried to twitch a Mandarin Duck in Savonlinna with Harri Partanen and Elissa Soikkeli but of course this was one of the days it was not found at all. Only bird seen was a Nutcracker in Haapasalmi.

On the 17th day I saw the first flock of Waxwings and a couple of flocks of Brent Geese. On the 18th day I finally saw a young Moorhen that had been heard several times during a couple of weeks but had stayed unidentified. Still 665 Cranes arrived to roost to Siikalahti with Great White Egrets and singles of Grey Heron and Great Bittern.

On the 19th day I saw a Yellow Wagtail in Kangaskylä and on the next day I counted the record number of Rock Doves ever in Parikkala, 40 birds.

I visited Siikalahti every day at least on my lunch-hour but the birds were just the same on the next few days. Then on Saturday I was running a half-marathon in Joutseno and it took some time from birding. Actually too much time as I am not in good shape at all…

On the 23rd of September I saw 10 Bewick’s Swans, a small flock of migrating Brent Geese, 21 Great White Egrets, a Honey Buzzard, a couple of Hobbies, a young Peregrine, a late Wood Sandpiper, a Red-throated Pipit, 20 Coal Tits and so on.

On the 24th day I saw a couple of Lapland Buntings and heard the Moorhen again. It was still very difficult to identify from the voices as there were several Water Rails calling and at least one of them was calling very weirdly and also a noisy family of Otters was living in the same reedbed.

On the 25th day the first 2 Rough-legged Buzzards were seen and even 13 Great White Egrets, a late Sedge Warbler and even later Wood Sandpiper were also seen. Then next days were really quiet, only the last Swallows of the autumn were seen.

On the 29th day we had a traditional Siikalahti-day with local birdwatching club. I stayed in Siikalahti for whole daylight and counted 1500 local and 7000 migrating Barnacle Geese, 600 migrating Wigeons with some Pintails and Shovelers. Also a Pochard and a Scaup were seen. A flock of 21 Cormorants, 8 to 10 Great White Egrets, 2 Grey Herons, a young Marsh Harrier, 3 Hen Harriers, 6 Common and 7 Rough-legged Buzzards, a Peregrine, a Moorhen, 2 Water Rails, only 5 Cranes, 3 Golden Plovers, a Ruff that was flying around with a Dunlin, 100 Waxwings, 14 Mistle Thrushes 12 Coal Tits, 4 Great Grey Shrikes and so on – altogether 76 species were seen.


On the 30th of September we saw a possible Cackling Goose in Saari Jyrkilä but it was too distant and for sure not a hutchinsii or minima – so probably some kind of hybrid? In Akonpohja and Kanavalampi we saw a single Great White Egrets, only about 10 000 Barnacle Geese were seen and finally some White-fronted Geese too. In Tarassiinlahti we saw a Peregrine and in two places altogether 8 Rock Doves.

On the first of October I headed early to Siikalahti and it was worthy as I saw not only Great White Egrets but also a Bittern to October-ticks. In Kangaskylä I saw a Nutcracker and later in the afternoon we went to check an injured Goshawk to Kirkonkylä and saw also at least one Nuthatch there.

On the 2nd of October after work I hurried to Rautalahti Muukkosenselkä to twitch a Gannet, but the founder had lost the bird while changing place. So I spent the rest of the day searching for it and checked every possible corner of Lake Simpele but saw only some Black Grouses and 5 Cormorants. Late in the evening I still visited Siikalahti and heard a Moorhen, 2 Water Rails and saw a single Crane to arrive roosting with 9 Great White Egrets.

On the 3rd day I saw 7 Long-tailed Ducks in Muukkosenselkä. During the day geese were migrating, but I was working and in the afternoon I had to drive to Imatra. Geese still kept on going whole night, but on the next day the weather had changed again and early in the morning Siikalahti was frozen around the dam-road. Luckily some Great White Egrets were still there so it was not yet time to give up hope to find something better.

On the 6th day we were in Siikalahti until midday without any better birds and then headed to Saari with Miika and Elissa Soikkeli. In Akanvaara Tetrisuo we found immediately a Shore Lark and also 2 Stock Doves, a late Northern Wheatear, a Linnet and Skylarks and so on. Only about 7000 geese were found around Saari and only other birds to mention were 3 Golden Plovers and 2 Ruffs.

On the 7th day I spent 9 hours in Siikalahti and saw a Bewick’s Swan. about 12 000 migrating Barnacle Geese, 1771 Brent Geese, 8 Great White Egrets, 4 White-tailed Eagles, a young Golden Eagle, 31 Rough-legged Buzzards, a Kestrel, a Merlin, a Peregrine and heard 3 Water Rails.

8th of October I saw 6 to 9 Great White Egrets and on the 10th day flocks of 50 Brent Geese and Long-tailed Ducks. In the evening we tried to catch Tengmalm’s Owls in Tarvaslampi, but only one bird was heard. On the 11th day Hanna color-ringed 2 Nuthatches in Likolampi and on the 12th day there were again even 11 Great White Egrets and 2 Rough-legged Buzzards in Siikalahti. On the 13th day a late Yellow Wagtail was seen and heard migrating over dam-road – it sounded and looked strange, so it was probably some eastern origin? In the afternoon my long-waited holiday finally started!

J.A.

Waiting for autumn

After Hailuoto-rally I started week in Siikalahti with 6 Great White Egrets. Earlier in the morning there had been even 8 birds. I saw also 6 Grey Herons and there had been at least 15 of them. But even more surprising was to see a flock of 24 Curlew Sandpipers and 12 Dunlins migrating over the dam-road! When I still saw a White-backed Woodpecker I could say that the week had started well.

Next morning I saw again 6 Great White Egrets and 4 Gadwalls landing to the bay. A Water Rail was calling and when I was driving to work I saw a Nutcracker in a usual place in Kangaskylä. On my lunch-hour I saw a White-tailed Eagle and a male Hen Harrier. We visited Siikalahti also in the evening and saw 84 Cranes, 2 Red-backed Shrikes, a Ruff and a Golden Plover.

On the 15th of August I did a short biking-trip with Matti Lötjönen in the morning but only some Great White Egrets were seen in Siikalahti. On my lunch-hour 3 Cormorants were seen migrating and in the evening we tried to catch Nightjars in Tarvaslampi but even though at least 2 birds came to fly close to our mist-net, we didn’t catch any. On the next couple of days a couple of Great White Egrets were seen and on the 17th of August I saw 3 Pochards and a Smew from the bird-tower.

On the 18th day we were ringing again in Papinlahti and caught 2 Tree Pipits, a Yellow Wagtail, 2 Sedge Warblers, 4 Lesser Whitethroats, a Common Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warblers, a Blackcap, a Chiffchaff, 9 Willow Warblers, a Blue Tit, 20r and 5c Great Tits, a Red-backed Shrike, 12 Greenfinches, 7 Yellowhammers and 7 Reed Buntings.

On the 19th day I saw a Little Stint, 2 Temminck Stints, a Ringed Plover, 9 Grey Herons and 7 Great White Egrets in Siikalahti. During the day we visited Saari and found one more Great White Egret in Pohjanranta. Also a couple of Red-backed Shrikes were found, 260 Cranes seen in Jyrkilä and in Tarassiinlahti we found a flock of 75 Yellow Wagtails with one nice male Red-throated Pipit.

On the 20th of August duck-hunting started so ducks started to catcher to Siikalahti which is protected. I saw more than 200 Mallards arriving almost immediately when the hunting started. I the evening I went to bird-tower to see if there were any better ducks but found only some Pochards and Tufted Ducks with numerous Mallards and Wigeons and so on.

On the 21st day I saw a female Pallid Harrier extremely well when it was migrating over the dam-road and then started to soar right over me. Also 4 Great White Egrets were seen.

On the 22rd day I saw a Great Bittern and a Goshawk was chasing corvids which are too numerous nowadays. In the evening I went jogging in Tarvaslampi and saw one male and 3 female Capercaillies, 3 Black Grouses and a Hazel Hen. After sauna we tried to catch Nightjars again and managed to ring one. It was our second ringed Nightjar after one that Hanna had caught when I was in Hailuoto.

On the 23rd day evening we counted 368 Cranes arriving to Siikalahti. A couple of Water Rails were calling and at least 300 Swallows were coming to roost to the reeds. Also a flock of 18 Bean Geese arrived but it was already too dark to identify them to (sub)species.

On the 24th of August I saw 10 Great White Egrets, a Temminck/Little Stint and a White-tailed Eagle.

On the 25th we drove to Helsinki to Bird Fair. It was nice to see many friends and after testing lots of optics I bought new Zeiss Victory 10×42SF binoculars and Hanna new Zeiss Harpyia telescope which was the first that was sold in Finland!
Hanna stayed in Helsinki as she had BirdLife meeting but I visited Espoo Laajalahti in the evening and saw a Common Shelduck, a Red Knot, a couple of Curlew Sandpipers and a Temminck Stint. Then I drove to Hanko Vedagrundet where I slept in a car.

On the 26th of August it was raining heavily in the early morning but luckily it stopped soon. I walked to the shore and saw 2 Red Knots, 3 Curlew Sandpipers, a Temminck Stint, 29 Dunlins, a Turnstone and 3 Bar-tailed Godwits. Then I tried to see a Sandwich Tern on the sea but once again had no luck with it.

I was just leaving to Kirkkonummi to eat with my parents when I got a message that there was 2 local Sandwich Terns in Halias. It was a long walk to Gåsörsviken and once I got there the terns were already long gone. Anyway I stayed there for an hour and saw quite a lot of Common and Arctic Terns, an Arctic Skua, 2 Red Knots, an Oystercatcher and a Garganey.

In the evening we still twitched a Tundra Bean Goose that had been discussed a lot as the bird looked quite strange. The bird was easy to find in Helsinki Malminkartano. Then we drove back to Parikkala and on the way stopped in Lappeenranta where an Eagle Owl answered to our calls in a usual place.

On the 27th of August we counted 330 Cranes and even 11 Great White Egrets! Next day I saw a Bluethroat, a Common Redstart, 7 Spotted Flycatchers and a migrating Nutcracker. On the 19th day I saw a Nuthatch in Likolampi and a Little Gull in Härskiinmutka. On the 30th day evening I saw a Hazel Hen, a Black Grouse, a Woodcock and a Nightjar in Siikalahti.

On the last day of August I saw 23 Velvet Scoters and 175 Common Scoters in Härskiinmutka and in siikalahti I saw a Merlin, a Nutcracker, a Cuckoo, a Bluethroat and in Raikanniemi some Long-tailed Tits, a Coal Tit and a Garden Warbler and so on.

I started September with a Grey-headed Woodpecker that was in our garden. In Siikalahti I saw a Bluethroat, a Common Whitethroat and a Blackcap. On the way to Lappeenranta I twitched once again a Grey Wagtail in Kokkolanjoki and then I visited in Askola where I saw 2 Little Stints and a Cormorant.

On the 2nd of September we did the last ringing in Papinlahti. Morning was very wet so we caught only 10r+3c Reed Buntings, 11 Willow Warblers, 2 Bluethroats, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Yellowhammers, a Tree Pipit, a Dunnock and a control Great Tit. Hanna saw a young Pallid/Montagu’s Harrier flying over the mist-nets and also 3 Cormorants were seen migrating, a Red-backed Shrike seen and a Rustic Bunting was heard.

On the 3rd day there were 12 Great White Egrets in Siikalahti and a too distant Pallid/Montagu’s Harrier. On the 4th day evening we counted 741 Cranes and saw again 11 Great White Egrets that flew from northern side to southern side to roost in a tree. Also 2 young Hen Harriers and a flock of 26 Tundra Bean Geese were seen.

Next days I visited Siikalahti on my lunch-hours and also most evenings. Some Great Bitterns were seen and on the 6th and 7th day there was a local young Pallid Harrier flying around over the reeds. On the 7th day I saw a Great Black-backed Gull in Härskiinmutka and an amazing flock of 13 Arctic Skuas in Siikalahti! In the evening we counted 644 Cranes and saw a migrating Bar-tailed Godwit and a couple of Long-eared Owls that were chasing each other right in front of us.

On the 8th day we stayed in dam-road for whole morning and it started extremely well when we almost immediately heard a Yellow-browed Warbler calling. After some whistling and tape-luring the bird came right next to us and Hanna managed to get a couple of pictures before the bird disappeared. Other better birds during the day were a Ringed Plover, a Lapland Bunting, a Red-throated Pipit and amazingly 5 to 7 Rustic Buntings!

On the next day we stayed in dam-road even longer and experienced quite a harrier-show! We saw at least 3 different young Pallid Harriers and one adult male. Then we saw one too distant Pallid/Montagu’s Harrier and 2 Hen Harriers and of course some local Marsh Harriers. Other birds we saw were 80 migrating Tundra Bean Geese, a flock of 25 Cormorants, a Black Kite, 17 Honey Buzzards, 42 Common Buzzards, 50 Sparrowhawks, 6 White-tailed Eagles, 6 Hobbies, a Dunlin, a Red-throated Pipit, a Yellow Wagtail, a Lapland Bunting and a couple of Redpolls.

During the day I visited Saari but saw only 285 Cranes in Jyrkilä and a couple of Hen Harriers. In the evening Cranes surprised us in Siikalahti and went to roost to the southern side of the bay so we couldn’t count them. But we saw a migrating Peregrine, a Woodcock, a Bluethroat and of course Great White Egrets.

During the week the weather changed and it started to feel like autumn. Great white Egrets were still around and there were at least 11 of them again on Monday. I still counted close to 600 Cranes and saw one more too distant Pallid/Montagu’s Harrier. But rainy weather was disturbing birding on the next days, so nothing new was seen.

J.A.

Windy Hailuoto bird-race

On Friday the 10th of August we had once again driven to Hailuoto where we gathered to a bird-race. This time we had 2 teams: me, Pirkka and Miska Loippo and then Harry Nyström, Jarkko Rutila, Jari Kiljunen and Antti Vierimaa.

We were in our cottage quite late but anyway we had fun evening and ate a lot and had sauna once again.

On the 11th of August we woke up after some hours sleeping at 5 a.m. And less than an hour later our team headed once again towards Riisinnokka. The weather forecast was very bad and the wind was supposed to get really strong but once we had walked to Riisinnokka, we found out that the wind wasn’t too bad yet.

At 7 a.m. the rally started and it didn’t look too good in Riisinnokka until a Peregrine flushed all the waders from Tömppä and even though there weren’t too many species, at least there were lots of birds. Better species we found were Golden and Grey Plovers, lots of Caspian Terns, a couple of Little Terns, Little Gulls, a couple of Shelducks, some Smews, 90 Cormorants and 4 migrating Black-throated Divers. We also saw surprisingly many raptors: several Kestrels, a Honey Buzzard, a too distant harrier, a male Hen Harrier and a Sparrowhawk.

When we were walking back to our car the wind started to rise and there were almost no passerines in Rautaletto. A Bullfinch was heard and on the parking place we heard a Song Thrush.

Our Coal Tit spruce-forests had been cut down but we stopped several times anyway but got only some common species but luckily in Koninnokka we saw a Dunnock and a Wren.

In Kirkkosalmi we found a Garganey, Gadwalls, 3 Grey Herons, some Spotted Redshanks and saw a migrating flock of 14 Bar-tailed Godwits. We also walked in the reeds for some time but found nothing.

In Järventakusta we found only Skylarks, Whinchats, Meadow Pipits and a Reed Bunting but while Miska was visiting a shop, we found both sparrows, Yellowhammers, Greenfinches, a Common Redstart and saw a Hobby flying over us.

Then we drove until Ojakylänlahti where wind was already too strong and water very high. But in Potti we saw briefly a young Pallid/Montagu’s Harrier disappearing behind the trees. Pökönnokka was smaller than usually because of the water, but we found a couple of better birds when a couple of Red Knots were seen migrating with Bar-tailed Godwits and far on the sea we saw an Arctic Skua.

In Potinhamina we could watch to the shore in a calm place and also the light was excellent, so we managed to find a couple of Turnstones, Temminck Stints and more Red Knots. In Huikku the wind was so strong that we didn’t get out at all but finally saw some Red-breasted Mergansers.

While driving we finally saw 2 Fieldfares and in Ulkokarvo we found a Scaup in a distant flock of Tufted Ducks. But nothing else was found.

In Pöllä we saw a distant eagle that was flying just on the tree-top level. Finally it was showing well and it was a Greater Spotted Eagle!

In Kuivasäikkä the wind was so strong that sand was flying in the air, so we just turned back and continued towards Patelanselkä which didn’t give us anything new either.

Before Koivukylä we saw a single Jackdaw in flight but from the fields we found nothing new. In Marjaniemi we saw a Lesser Black-backed Gull and soon we continued towards Keskiniemi.

On the sandy road we got some shelter from the trees and saw a Cuckoo, a family of Black Grouses, some Spotted Flycatchers and heard a Waxwing.

In Keskiniemi we walked on the windy beach for some time and saw an Oystercatcher, some Whimbrels and a Green Sandpiper before it was 7 p.m. and the rally was over.

The results were given in school and it was the tightest bird-race I had ever been! 3 teams got 104 species but we had the most ace-species (species that only we had seen) and won. Even the 6th and last team had got 97 species and altogether 131 species had been seen.

When we were back in our cottage Harry had once again bought some prices for our teams, then we had smoke-sauna and again just enjoyed the company of very good friends.

On the 12th of August we woke up so that we left birding at 8 a.m. with Pirkka, Miska and Jarkko. We headed to Järventakusta first where we saw a Hen Harrier. Then in Kuivasäikkä we found several Sanderlings and a Little Stint but no Litte Terns for Jarkko.

In Keskiniemi we saw more Sanderling and Little Stints, Grey Plovers, Whimbrels, a Red Knot and some other waders too and almost the same species were found in Mäntyniemi.

After we had got stuck to soft sandy road a couple of times, we drove back to our cottage where the others had already cleaned and Harry and Antti had already left to Oulu. We packed our cars and soon it was time to say goodbye to Pirkka too.

It was a long way back to Parikkala. But after all it had been a nice weekend with good friends again!

J.A.

Warm summer-days and some ringing

After our holiday-trip to South-Western Finland we didn’t rest, but went to ring birds to Papinlahti already on the next morning. On the 9th of July in 6 hours we got 1 ringed 3 controlled Sedge Warblers, 2r+1c Common Whitethroats, 5r+1c Willow Warblers, 2r Blue Tits, 4r+1c Great Tits, 9r Greenfinches, surprisingly 2r Goldfinches and 1r Yellowhammer. We also heard some Red-backed Shrike calls. During the day we saw a flock of 6 Nutcrackers in Kangaskylä.

On the 12th of July we went to Joutseno for another butterfly-trip. Again the weather was worse than we had hoped but we saw a Dusky Meadow Brown and finally a Purple Emperor. We also twitched a Curlew Sandpiper in Kotasaari where we also saw some Little Ringed Plovers and a young Slavonian Grebe. On the way back we saw a Grey Wagtail again in Simpele Kokkolanjoki.

On the 15th of July we went to ring Barnacle Geese. In the morning we managed to catch only 3 small youngsters but in the evening we managed to catch even 27 birds, both adults and youngsters.

Next weekend I spent in Lake Saimaa with my friends but only birds I observed were some Cormorants, a Black Grouse and a calling Stock Dove. On the22th of July when I was driving back to home I stopped again in Kokkolanjoki and saw a Grey Wagtail and a couple of Grey Herons.

On the 24th of July I saw 3 Pochards in Siikalahti – it is really getting rare! On the next day I was in Lappeenranta and visited Askola where I saw 9 Temminck Stints, a Dunlin, a Little Ringed Plover and a Redshank. On the 27th day we were watching the lunar eclipse and heard some flocks of Common Scoters.

On the 28th of July we were ringing again in Papinlahti and caught 8r+1c Sedge Warblers, 2r Blyth’s Reed Warblers, 10r Lesser Whitethroats, 6r Common Whitethroats, 2r Garden Warblers, 1r Chiffchaff, 5r Willow Warblers, 12r+1c Blue Tits, 3r Great Tits, 1r Chaffinch, 2r Greenfinches, 1r Common Rosefinch and 1r Reed Bunting. When we were leaving we found 2 Red-backed Shrikes. And on the next day I found a Red-backed Shrike in Siikalahti so it seemed there had been some pairs breeding even though I hadn’t seen a single bird in spring.

On the last day of July I was again in Lappeenranta and visited Kaislanen where were 100 Wood Sandpipers and some Ruffs and Greenshanks.

On the 3rd of August it was finally raining after a couple of months! I went jogging right after the rain when it was a little bit cooler and surprisingly heard calls of a Grey Plover while running in Härskiinmutka.

On the 4th day there was finally a Grey Heron in Siikalahti too and I heard calls of a Dunlin and the first Yellow Wagtail was migrating. On the next day we visited Melkoniemi forests but found only common tits and so on.

On the 7th of August we were ringing again in Papinlahti and ringed a Wryneck, even 7r Red-backed Shrikes, 3r Sedge Warblers, 1r Blyth’s Reed Warbler, 4r Lesser Whitethroats, 3r Garden Warblers, 1r Blackcap, 5r Willow Warblers, 2r Blue Tits, 2r Common Rosefinches and 1r Reed Bunting. during the day I twitched a Great White Egret in Siikalahti.

On the 8th day I saw the same Great White Egret again and in the evening I visited a Grey Wagtail again while driving to Lappeenranta. A night I drove around Kullinsuo fields and saw a Nightjar and a Long-eared Owl.

On the 10th of August I counted 118 Great Crested Grebes in Härskiinmutka and saw a Cormorant too. After work we left towards Hailuoto where we were participating the bird-race once again.

J.A.