Oriental Turtle Dove

For years I had been working with birds that had been reported in Garden Watch in the end of January. There were always some impossible birds like Ortolan Buntings and then easy to misidentify birds like flocks of Linnets and of course plenty of Green Woodpeckers – which of course are always Grey-headed Woodpeckers. So mostly I have been deleting birds in Tiira, but sometimes I have been asking more information.

Now there was a report of a Turtle Dove in Joutseno, which had been reported several days after the watch. I immediately thought about an Oriental Turtle Dove but there is always a possibility that it could be a strange-looking Feral Dove, Fieldfare, or almost anything. But once again I asked more information in hope to get some response soon.

More than 24 hours later I got an email that the bird had still been seen in the garden and it was OK to go to check and identify it. With Pekka Punnonen we had planned to go to twitch an Oriental Turtle Dove to Hamina where one had been wintering, but after I got a couple of more responses to new emails that told that the bird had white tail-tip and brown head, I called to Pekka and told that we weren’t going to Hamina but to Joutseno which was much closer!

On the 3th of February early in the morning I drove to Joutseno Haukilahti where Pekka arrived also soon. We found the right garden and it looked good. There was a feeder close to a spruce-fence and there was a nice forest with pines, spruces and other trees nearby.

We soon met the lady that I had been in contact and after some talking I was quite sure there really was some kind of Turtle Dove. She stayed with us in the garden where we could see the feeder but also the surrounding well. There was a dog in the fence but luckily it got used to us soon and was quiet. We talked with the lady and the most surprising information was that the bird had been visiting the feeder since 30th of December! She also told that the bird arrived earliest at 9:30 but sometimes later about 11 a.m.

It was more that minus 10 degrees so soon we started to feel frozen. There were lots of birds visiting the feeder like tits, 5 Long-tailed Tits, 2 Blackbirds, Chaffinches (which seem to be everywhere this winter), several Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a White-backed Woodpecker. But the dove wasn’t seen.

Finally after 10 a.m. 2 Sparrowhawks flew over us and I saw a dove flushed from the pines next to us. But we saw the bird only through the trees, but anyway it looked very promising. It was big and quite narrow-winged. But it seemed to fly very far!

We were feeling very cold so Pekka did a couple of walks towards the direction where the dove had been flying but he found nothing. But then at 10:45 a.m. Pekka noticed that the dove had just landed to an apple-tree in front of us! And indeed it was a nice “meena” Oriental Turtle Dove!

I started to take pictures but soon the bird landed to the feeder where it was a bit behind snow all the time. I tried to get a little bit closer but still couldn’t get any better photos. But after some 10 minutes when also the lady had come to watch the bird with us, the bird flew back to the apple-tree right in front of me. So I managed to get really good pictures!

We put the news out and of course said many thanks to lady and of course we had told that there would be some twitchers coming soon. And in next 2 hours there were maybe 25 twitchers visiting the garden. The dove had flight back to the pine, but was well visible with scope, so everyone saw it. It was a new and 342th species to South-Karelia!

It was good to sees o many happy twitchers which some had been waiting for more than 20 years for this bird! When there was only one twitcher with us, we decided to go birding with “Potu” Suojarinne and Esa-Matti Lampinen who had also arrived.

We headed to Hyvättilä where we couldn’t find Collared Doves but heard a Grey-headed Woodpecker. Then we found nothing in Konnunsuo, so we headed to Lappeenranta. In Pappilanniemi we saw only a Black Woodpecker and in Luukkaansalmi a couple of Cormorants and a wintering Great Crested Grebe. Then it was already so late that I had to hurry to play a match once again.

J.A.

Surprisingly good January

On Monday the 2nd of January it was time to start working again after a relaxing holiday. I was birding every day on my lunch-hour and it seemed that there were still quite a few birds in Parikkala. On the 2nd of January I saw a Whooper Swan family in Siikalahti, some coal Tits, 2 Goldfinches and a Brambling and in the afternoon I went to see the Great Grey Owl and surprisingly found out that there were 2 birds on the same field. Other birds seen during the week were the same wintering Blackcap in our back-yard and a Black Woodpecker in Särkisalmi. We also tried to catch the Great Grey Owls but it was too warm weather. Our fake mouse didn’t move smoothly enough on the snow. On Sunday the 7th of January we saw still 14 Fieldfares, some Blackbirds, 2 Bramblings and 2 Goldfinches in Kangaskylä, a White-backed Woodpecker, 9 Goldfinches and an Arctic Redpoll in Kannas, 2 Treecreepers and 2 Goldcrests in Tyrjänkoski, a flock of 12 Black Grouses in Siikalahti and a flock of 9 Pine Grosbeaks in Kangaskylä.

During the week I saw 2 Grey-headed Woodpeckers and Willow Tits in Siikalahti and a Dipper in Simpele Kokkolanjoki. On Saturday I saw even 35 Chaffinches in Kannas but other birds were the same as earlier. On Sunday the 14th of January I went playing to Lappeenranta and did a good birding on the way. In Imatra Vuoksi I saw a Little Grebe, Cormorants and 2 Smews, in Joutseno Hyvättilä I twitched a Collared Dove and in Konnunsuo a Hawk Owl, in Lappeenranta Kourulanmäki 25 Linnets with 2 Twites, in Reijola 3 Teals and in Pusupuisto a Ural Owl.

During the week it got colder againbut a lonely adult Whooper Swan was till in a small open water area in Siikalahti. Unfortunately the place is impossible for any rescue-attempts and on the next days I couldn’t find the bird anymore. In Muttelinmäki I saw a Hazel Hen, in Intsilä a Pygmy Owl and then the same Chaffinches, Blackbirds and Fieldfares. In Tyrjänkoski I saw 9 Mallards.

During the weekend I was playing in Joutseno and visited Vuoksi on both days. Little Grebe, Smews and Cormorants were seen again but I also saw a wintering Scaup on both days. On Sunday the 21st of January I also saw a Herring Gull flying along the river.

During the week the only surprise was that the wintering Stock Dove was still alive. It hadn’t been seen for a month but now I and Matti Lötjönen both saw it twice. It was only once with Feral Doves, so it seems to stay somewhere nearby alone. Only other year-tick was a Nuthatch in Kirkonkylä.

And again at weekend I had to drive to Lappeenranta on both days and in Luukkaansalmi I saw a Grey Heron on Saturday and a Great Crested Grebe on Sunday. Only other year-tick was an Eagle Owl in ordinary place.

On the 30th of January the best bird was a Haw Finch in Kannas where still were lots of Chaffinches too. In Muttelinmäki I heard a Common Crossbill and a Grey-headed Woodpecker. And on the next day there was a huge female Goshawk perched on a tree in the same place.

J.A.

First of January ticking

We landed to Helsinki-Vantaa after a week in Fuerteventura on New Year, just some 40 minutes after midnight. After we had managed to get back to our car, we drove to a hotel nearby where we had booked a room. It was almost 2 a.m. when we were ready to sleep.

Too soon, at 6 a.m. we woke up and before 7 a.m. started driving toward Helsinki Vanhankaupunginlahti. It was surprisingly only less than 10 km to Pornaistenniemi where were already a couple of twitchers. Soon there were more twitchers coming and after an hour waiting the bird we had been waiting showed up – an Eastern Black Redstart! It was still dark, but this early had always showed up under the lights before it moves to feed to much more difficult places. Because of the darkness we didn’t get any better pictures either.

Eastern Black Redstar

When we left the bird with growing number of twitchers it was still quite dark and only other birds we had observed had been Great tit, Blackbird, Common Redpoll and Blue Tit.

Soon we had driven to Espoo Kaitalahti where were also quite a lot of twitchers already and more following us from Vanhankaupunginlahti. Soon the morning start light up so also birds started to wake up. Hooded Crow, Raven, Brambling, Mallard and some better birds like Wren and Bearded Reedlings were observed before we got information that the bird we were waiting had been found and it was a bit further close to the bird-tower. There were too many birders to fit to the tower so we stayed on a rock nearby. Twitchers could see the bird from the tower but the just couldn’t give us good instructions where it really was. So I decided to move a little bit from the noisy crowd and soon I heard clearly a Pallas’s Leaf Warbler calling on the reeds in front of us. Not many of us heard it and again people were moving noisily. Luckily the bird soon called again a couple of times so we were happy with this observation and left towards the next ticks. Other birds we had seen and heard while chasing the warbler had been Reed Bunting, Mute Swan, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Herring Gull, Bullfinch, Great Black-backed Gull, Siskin, Magpie, Goosander and Coal Tit.

We headed to Helsinki Lauttasaari and saw a Sparrowhawk and Goldeneyes on the way. After some searching in Särkiniemi we managed to find an extremely tame Song Thrush which was very well hidden just 1 meter from the walking street. It was just so easy to miss that we had passed it a couple of times before noticing it.

Then we started a longer drive towards North-East. Waxwings were still seen in Lauttasaari, but the next new year-tick was seen only in Sipoo when we saw the first Jackdaws. Somehow we had missed this species earlier. We also realized that we hadn’t seen any Rock Pigeons anywhere!

In Porvoo we saw a Common Buzzard perched over the main-road and finally we turned towards Lapinjärvi. Our target was Bewick’s Swan but before we reached the place, we got information that the bird hadn’t been found anymore. So we decided to try if it was in Liljendal Sävträsket where we saw some Whooper Swans. But neither Bewick’s Swan or a Pochard that had been there earlier were found.

In Loviisa we saw 4 Black Grouses and a Great Grey Shrike and finally we parked to Kotka Marttila. I noticed a Starling on a top of one tree and soon we found again some twitchers looking towards a feeder I one garden. There were lots of birds, so we ticked 4 Arctic Redpolls, Tree Sparrow, Yellowhammer and Greenfinch before our target Lesser Whitethroat arrived. It was quite dark-looking bird so I hope someone will catch it soon and examine which sub-species or species it really is…

While walking back to our car, we heard a Goldfinch and then we follow a couple of twitchers from Kouvola to see a Pochard that was in Jumalniemi nearby. It was only a year-tick for us like was a Cormorant too.

As there were nothing more to twitch as First of January –ticks, we decided to start driving towards Parikkala. We had planned to try to find a Ural Owl in Parikkala, but we were lucky and just accidently found one on the way in Luumäki Heimala. It was our 5th First of January -tick and altogether I have seen now 141 species in this day in Finland. Ii is a crazy sport to collect these ticks, but so much fun!

Finally we were in Parikkala where we still decided to drive around Siikalahti as there had been a Great Grey Owlin Huhmarinen fields. It was completely dark, but we found the bird perched just next to the road on an electric-pole. Last year I had seen 196 species in Siikalahti, not a Great Grey Owl…

J.A.

December birding

On the 1st of December I went to see that Taiga Bean Geese were still in Koitsanlahti and luckily they were – it was a new winter-species to Parikkala. I had counted that it was the 101th species ever in winter in Parikkala and I had seen 94. These small numbers tell that Parikkala is really not a good winter-birding place!

Other birds seen in Koitsanlahti were some Mallards, Whooper Swans and a flock of Fieldfares. In Kirkonkylä I saw a couple of Blackbirds and in Kangaskylä the same Stock Dove that was now the first ever wintering Stock Dove in Parikkala. I had seen once an early spring-migrant in the end of February so it wasn’t a new winter-species though. Also 7 Goldfinches were seen in Kangaskylä and in the afternoon I still saw a Great Grey Shrike in Rautalahti.

On the 2nd day we went to see that there was still a Nuthatch in Särkisalmi. We planned to catch this bird too later. In Härskiinmutka we saw 13 Common Gulls and a Herring Gull and then we went to see that the geese were still in Koitsanlahti, where also 3 Goldeneyes were seen. A short visit to Kokkolanjoki offered only a Dipper, a Goshawk and a Chaffinch.

On the 3rd a Bewick’s Swan was found in Siikalahti and after twitching it I continued to Imatra where I saw a Tufted Duck, a Velvet Scoter and a Common Scoter in Immalanjärvi. In Vuoksi I twitched a Little Grebe as a year-tick and hen continued to Lappeenranta where I had planned to continue birding but the weather was so bad that I decided to go twitching. So I drove to Kouvola where I managed to find a long staying Great Northern Diver quite easily. The bird was diving all the time so I didn’t get any pictures as I was in a hurry to drive back to Lappeenranta to a game.

On the 4th day a Bewick’s Swan was till with more than 250 Whooper Swans in Siikalahti and in Raikanniemi I saw a Great Crested Grebe and in Härskiinmutka a flock of 195 Goosanders. On the 5th day a Grey-headed Woodpecker and a couple of Goldeneyes were in Koitsanlahti but I didn’t see the geese. In the afternoon I drove once again to Lapinjärvi to Juha Tuomaala, where also the rest of our rally-team, Nette Meriluoto and Markus Keskitalo were.

The traditional Porvoo area Independence Day started extremely well when a Tawny Owl (my year-tick number 250) was calling on Juha’s backyard soon after 5 a.m. We continued searching for owls to forests nearby and were extremely lucky to find a Great Grey Owl! It was a lifer for Nette!

Other owls weren’t found, just Whooper Swans heard until we headed to Lapinjärvi to check the flocks of geese where had been 4 species on the previous day. But the whole lake was completely frozen now! We still found 150 Canada Geese but no other geese! And we lost time while checking the flocks as it was still quite dark and we had to be sure there were no other species before we continued towards the fields. Luckily some other species were got and Siskin and Waxwing were important ones.

From the fields we found more Canada Geese flocks and luckily we found a couple of Greylag Geese and Barnacle Geese too! Also a Sparrowhawk and some Common Crossbills were seen.

After a short drive we saw 4 Black Grouses and in Heikinkylä we were lucky as we found a Goshawk, 2 Stock Doves and saw a migrating Common Buzzard. Also a couple of Pheasants and a Great Grey Shrike were seen while driving. Then in Juha’s back-yard we saw a Coal Tit and heard Long-tailed Tits and saw a migrating flock of Goosanders. And in Pukaro we were lucky again when we saw 3 Bewic’s Swans migrating with Whoopers!

Then it was time to head to Porvoo where in Myllymäki we found some Goldfinches and a Hawfinch (a year-tick). In Emäsalo-bridge we had Common, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls, 3 Smews, Goldeneyes and Mute Swans and in Karjalaiskylä in a huge flock of Redpolls we had several Linnets and Arctic Redpolls.

Then we had to hurry to Ruskis where we had Bearded Reedlings quite easily and finally saw some Mallards too, but in Sikosaari we had only a Treecreeper. In Ruski bird-tower we then spent more than 30 minutes before we finally heard a Wren calling. It was another new species to the whole race (Greylag Goose had also been).

We still tried to find new owls but after all at 5 p.m. we counted that we had got 56 species which was clearly our new record but still we had a feeling that we should have seen more. And after all the winners got even 61 species, second 57 and we became 3rd.

On the way back home I stopped in Lappeenranta where I saw an Eagle Owl in traditional place. I had celebrated the 100th birthday of Finland very traditionally!

Hanna spent Independence Day in Parikkala where she managed to ring Nuthatch in Särkisalmi. This bird also got color-rings.

On the 7th of December it really felt more winter in Parikkala too. Koitsanlahti had frozen but I found again the same Tundra Bean Geese from small open water area further on the lake. A migrating flock of Whooper Swans ha also landed to a lake and also a Goldeneye and a few Mallards were seen. In Kokkolanjoki I saw a Dipper, a Goshawk and a Grey-headed Woodpecker, in Ristimäki a Black Woodpecker and in Kangaskylä the same Stock Dove like almost every day.

On the 9th day I saw the geese last time and in Tetrisuo I saw a Great Grey Shrike. On the 10th day I visited Immalanjärvi where a Tufted Duck and a Velvet Scoter were seen and in Vuoksi I saw a Scaup, a Smew and a couple of Cormorants. On the 11th day I saw a Great Grey Shrike in Kullinsuo, a family of Whooper Swans in a small open water patch in Siikalahti and a Chaffinch in Kangaskylä.

On the 13th day I saw 3 Mallards in Tyrjä, 10 Chaffinches with a Brambling in Kannas. Brambling was a new winter-species in Parikkala to me. And on the next day I twitched a Robin in a feeder in Siikalahti which was also a new tick, so now I have seen 96 species in winter in Parikkala. On the 14th day I also saw 3 Pine Grosbeaks in Moskuunniemi

On the 15th day I counted even 33 Rock Doves and Stock Dove was still with them. In Kirkonkylä I saw a Siskin and in Muttelinmäki a flock of 7 Pine Grosbeaks. On the 16th day there were already 20 Chaffinches with the same Brambling in Kannas. A short stop in Immalanjärvi was bad, only a Sparrowhaek and a Herring Gull were seen and in Lappeenranta Reijola I twitched a Teal.

On the 16th day I saw a Common Gull and a Black Woodpecker in Oravaniemi and on the 17th day we tried to ring Nuthatches in Kangaskylä, but saw 2 birds only briefly. Other birds seen were a Grey-headed Woodpecker, a Siskin, some Fieldfares, a Blackbird and a Chaffinch. In siikalahti I saw 8 Black Grouses.

On the 18th day I saw an adult White-tailed Eagle in Kannas and on the next day a White-backed Woodpecker in same place. In Kangaskylä I heard a Goldfinch and on the 20th day there were even 25 Chaffinches and the same Brambling in Kannas. In Vartialahti there were still 93 Whooper Swans and a Mallard. The Stock Dove was now perched with Rock Doves on the rood of S-Market, so I managed to see it to our back-yard. In the evening I got a phone-call that a Ural Owl had flew to a window close to Health Center. I managed to see the bird but it was flying very well when I tried to get closer.

On the 21st day I saw a Great Grey Shrike in Siikalahti and a White-backed Woodpecker again in Kannas. On the 22nd Hanna found surprisingly a Blackcap male on our back-yard which I luckily managed to twitch. When I drove back to Health Center I saw a White-backed Woodpecker flying over the buildings.

J.A.

Dark times

After a week in Säppi I still saw a Crane in Kannas on the 29th of October. Hunters were chasing the bird that had wing completely broken. I think it was a right thing to do to shoot it as weather was getting colder. Whooper Swans were still here and there mainly on the fields as most of the bays were frozen. In Härskiinmutka I saw a Black-throated Diver, in Lahdensuo a flock of 28 Snow Buntings and in Siikalahti in small open water area lots of Whooper Swans, 20 Tufted Ducks, 20 Mallards, 15 Wigeons, 2 Long-tailed Ducks and 18 Goldeneyes.

On the 30th of October I saw a funny flock of Geese in Härskiinmutka, there were 13 Barnacle, 6 Tundra Bean, 1 Taiga Bean and 1 White-fronted Goose. In Kirkkoranta I saw 112 Mallards, 2 Wigeons, a Smew and a White-tailed Eagle. On the last day of October I visited Siikalahti and saw 30 Wigeons, 20 Mallards, 16 Tufted Ducks, 13 Goldeneyes and a Scaup.

On the first days of November it was cold and Siikalahti got almost completely frozen. On th e1st day I still saw 2 Wigeons, 10 Tufted Ducks, 5 Goldeneyes and of course Whooper Swans. In Kangaskylä I saw a Nutcracker and then surprisingly found a Stock Dove with Rock Doves. It seemed it was a part of the flock already so maybe it will try to overwinter?

On the 2rd day I visited Lappeenranta and saw a Hawk Owl in Ruokolahti Oritlampi and stopped in Immalanjärvi where I saw a Tufted Duck, a Scaup, 3 Long-tailed Ducks and a Velvet Scoter.

On the 4th day I did the traditional winterbird-count. The weather was bad but there were lots of Fieldfares, Redpolls and also Waxwings so there were more birds than ever! Siikalahti was still almost completely frozen, but after all I counted 26 Whooper Swans, 6 Mallards, 3 Goldeneyes, 7 Goosanders, 11 Black Grouses, a Great Crested Grebe, 11 Common Gulls, 1 Herring Gull, 20 Rock Doves, 1 Stock Dove, 2 Grey-headed Woodpeckers, 11 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 61 Waxwings, 806 Fieldfares, 1 Song Thrush, 2 Goldcrests, 8 Long-tailed Tits, 34 Blue Tits, 127 Great Tits, 3 Coal Tits, 6 Willow Tits, 1 Crested Tit, 4 Treecreepers, 13 Jays, 13 Magpies, 99 Jackdaws, 31 Hooded Crows, 4 Ravens, 2 Tree Sparrows, 10 Chaffinches, 1 Brambling, 44 Greenfinches, 2 34 Goldfinches, 4 Siskins, 135 Redpolls (+1 Lesser Redpoll), 2 Arctic Redpolls, Common Crossbills, 58 Bullfinches and 24 Yellowhammers. Only mammal seen was an Otter.

On the 7th of November I saw the Stock Dove again and in Siikalahti I saw 10 Barnacle Geese, 1 White-fronted Goose and 5 unidentified grey geese in too bad light. Also a Wigeon, 6 Goldeneyes, a White-tailed Eagle, a White-backed Woodpecker, 3 Chaffinches and 2 Goshawks were seen.

On the 9th day I saw 4 Common Scoters in Koitsanlahti and a Great Grey Shrike in Ristimäki. Goldfinches and a Stock Dove (like in many days later too) were seen in Kangaskylä. On the 10th day I counted 301 Whooper Swans in Siikalahti and also 4 Canada Geese and a White-tailed Eagle were seen there and 2 Bewick’s Swans in Kaukola fields nearby. On the way to Lappeenranta again I stopped in Immolanjärvi and saw 2 Scaups, some Long-tailed Ducks and a Velvet Scoter.

On the 12th day Siikalahti had melted completely open because of the warm days and Bewick’s Swan was still there with Whooper Swans and 3 Taiga Bean Geese, a Wigeon, 6 Mallards and 3 Goldeneys. Also a White-backed Woodpecker was seen again. In Vartialahti I saw a Great Crested Grebe and in Kaukola a Great Grey Shrike.

On the 13th day I visited Simpele and saw a Dipper in Kokkolanjoki. On the 14th day a Great Crested Grebe was still in Vartialahti, a Bewick’s Swan in Siikalahti and a Nutcracker and a Redwing that Matti Lötjönen found in Kangaskylä. On the 15th day a Black Woodpecker was in Kangaskylä, 2 Bewick’s Swans in Siikalahti and a Great Crested Grebe in Härskiinmutka. On the 16th of November only birds to mention were 3 Long-tailed Ducks in Tähtiniemi. On the 17th day I found a Great Black-backed Gull in Koitsanlahti. It is surprisingly rare bird around here! Also 2 Common Scoters and 1 Velvet Scoter were there.

At weekend I was in Helsinki and on Saturday in Bongariliitto meeting. On Sunday I did some birding in very bad weather. I headed in the afternoon to Tuusula to twitch a Pink-footed Goose in Ruskela and found the bird easily. Then I got a call that there was a Little Gull in Tuusulanjärvi nearby and went to see it. I found the bird soon but it wasn’t a Little Gull but a Kittiwake! It didn’t have dark patch on it’s neck which confused other birders that had seen the bird already on the previous day. It was really rare bird to this area and there were some twitchers in the evening and more in the next morning when it had suddenly disappeared.

On the 20th day I visited Imatra again and in Immalanjärvi I saw some Long-tailed Ducks and a Velvet Scoter. On the 21st day there were 48 Mallards in Siikalahti and a Scaup with them. A White-tailed Eagle and a flock of Chaffinches were also seen. In Kangaskylä I saw a Nuthatch and a Stock Dove again.

On the 24th day I visited Soininmäki and heard calls of Pine Grosbeak but saw nothing else. Anyway Pine Grosbeak was a year-tick! At weekend I was having games in Lappeenranta but managed to do some birding too. On Saturday I saw a Starling in Joutseno Pätilä, a Great Crested Grebe, a Cormorant and 2 Grey Herons in Lappeenranta Luukkaansalmi and a Nuthatch in Pappilansalmi. On sunday I was birding with Sampsa Cairenius and we saw a Grey Heron in Joutseno Pulpinlahti, 67 Bramblings in Punnanlahti and a Teal and 2 Wrens in Lappeenranta Toikansuo.

On the 27th of November I finally saw 3 Pine Grosbeaks which 2 of them were nice males. On the 29th day I visited Soininmäki and saw 3 Siberian Jays. On the last day of November I surprisingly found 3 Tundra Bean Geese in Mantkanniemi where were also 2 Mallards and 2 Goldeneyes. In Kirkonkylä I saw a Nuthatch and Stock Dove was waiting for December and real winter in ordinary place in Kangaskylä.

J.A.

Autumn holiday in Säppi Island

On Hanna’s autumn-holiday we spent 8 days on Säppi island in Eurajoki. On Friday the 20th of October we drove a long way through whole country to Pori to catch a boat in Kuuminainen at 6:30 p.m. On harbor we met Teppo Lehtola, Miska Loippo, Sebastian Andrejeff and 3 generations of Mäkelä family Matti, Petteri and Mimosa.

It took 30 minutes to Säppi and once we had loaded all our stuff to the pier, it was already dark. Luckily most of the birders that were already on the island came to help us to carry our luggage to the station. In the station we met also Markus Lampinen who had just caught a Pygmy Owl from the mist-net.

Once we had made another side of the building our home, we joined the log. There we met everyone else too: Tomas Swahn, Valtteri Salonen, Lassi Kangasmäki, Joonatan Toivanen, Niklas Paulaniemi, Paavo Sallinen and Catalan birder Nicolas Ordax.

Soon after the log we were ready to go to sleep – it had been a long day.

On the 21st of October Markus still had to go to ringing place as Teppo and Hanna were keen to twitch some rarities that had been seen on the previous days. Hanna of course wanted also to get familiar with the island before she had to be the main-ringer for the rest of the trip.

But anyway we started with routine-seawatch that is always made from sunrise for 2 hours. It was pretty quiet except numerous local Goldeneyes, Long-tailed Ducks and Common Scoters. Only better migrated birds were a Red-throated Diver, 2 Black-throated Divers, a Great Crested Grebe, 2 Red-necked Grebes, 42 Tufted Ducks, 5 Scaups, 7 Common Crossbills, 27 Snow Buntings and 528 Redpolls. It was good to see also the first Mouflons while seawatching when a couple of animals were running past us.

In the end of the seawatch some Hooded Crows were migrating and we counted 93 of them. In one flock a black crow landed to the bushes pretty far from us and it really looked like a Carrion Crow first, but some bad pictures we got showed it was after all a young Rook. But we did see some better birds too as a Purple Sandpiper landed to Säpinulkolasku-rock and a couple of Black Redstarts landed in front of us!

We still walked around Prakala hoping to find the Hume’s Leaf Warbler that Tomas had found there on the previous day as it was a lifer for Hanna, Teppo and Miska, but it was not found. After quick breakfast we went to walk around the whole island. There weren’t many birds at all except Redpolls with surprisingly many Arctic Redpolls. Pretty soon we found the first Siberian Chiffchaff which was calling very actively. I had never heard calling Siberian Chiffchaff before so this bird was well watched and photographed before we moved on.

After quite long walking we arrived to the area where a Short-toed Lark had stayed for several days already but it wasn’t found either! It’d have been a lifer for Teppo. In Peräkulma we found another Siberian Chiffchaff and we managed to push it to one of the mist-nets. Meanwhile Markus had one more Siberian Chiffchaff on his hand. After some photographing and talking we still continued our walk and found still one more Siberian Chiffchaff. On out long walk other birds we saw were 2 Grey Herons, a Jack Snipe, 3 White-tailed Eagles, 2 Black Woodpeckers, 12 Meadow Pipits, 4 Wrens, 4 Dunnocks, 6 Chiffchaffs, 2 Willow Warblers and the same male Black Redstart a couple of times. Suring the day we estimated we had seen 35 Arctic Redpolls and Markus had ringed 27 more.

It was late noon when we were back at the station. In the evening sauna was warmed up and Markus tried again to catch some owls. While having the log a Tengmalm’s Owl was first heard and soon found perched on the tree which was nice as it was a lifer for Nico. We went to sleep early but for most of the people it was the last night on island so they stayed up for very late.

Sunday the 22nd of October was the day! Teppo and Hanna went to mist-nets very early, Teppo to ring and Hanna to get familiar with everything there. Some of us went to Prakala to seawatch again – but not everyone was awake so early.

Paavo managed to get first to Prakala and once I and Miska were there he had already heard Pallas’s Leaf Warbler calling on the bushes. Soon a Hawk Owl landed to the top of the same bushes and Paavo decided to go to hurry up Nico who needed Hawk Owl as a lifer. I told to Miska that soon the Pallas’s Leaf Warbler will be alarming for the owl and after a couple of Blue Tits had come to the top of the bus the Pallas’s Leaf Warbler came there too! It was showing well but only shortly as when the Hawk Owl flew past us towards the forest all the small birds disappeared to the bushes.

Luckily the owl was still found from the trees nearby and Nico got his lifer. But the Pallas’s Warbler was gone and never seen again. The seawatch was again quite boring: 2 Red-throated Divers, a Starling and 5 Snow Buntings were seen.

We were just ending the seawatch when a group of us went to check the bushes and surprisingly Valtteri found a Hume’s Leaf Warbler! It was probably the same bird that had been found a couple of days earlier but had been avoiding us on the previous day. Petteri sent a message to Teppo as Hume’s was a lifer or Teppo and Hanna and soon he got a reply that they had just caught an Olive-backed Pipit!

So it was quite a mess! There were lifers for many. So after all I decided to leave to Peräkulma with Nico to release Teppo and Hanna to twitch Hume’s. We could get birds from the mist-nets and Teppo and Hanna could ring them when they come back from Hume’s. On the way we of course wanted to see the OPB too. But somehow we managed to walk cross – there are too many cow-tracks in the forests. So after all we had to walk back to the station where Teppo was showing the OPB for everyone. We also heard that Hume’s Leaf Warbler had disappeared soon after we had left so after photographing and releasing the pipit, Teppo and Hanna went back to Peräkulma to ring. But anyway for example Miska had got 2 lifers in 15 minutes and OPB was Finnish-tick for Hanna.

After a short break we went to walk around the island’s best parts again. Right away we found the same Hawk Owl again perched on tree near the station. But not many new birds were found. We saw again a couple of Siberian Chiffchaffs and one more had been ringed, 3 Blackcaps were seen around the island and 2 Jack Snipes and a Grey Heron were also seen.

Early in the afternoon most of us had to go to pack and clean as they were leaving later in the afternoon. But luckily the Hume’s Leaf Warbler was again back in Prakala and Teppo and Hanna managed to see it too!

At 3 p.m. the boat came and only 3 Mäkelä, 2 Aalto, Sebastian and Tomas who had decided to stay for another week were left to the island.

Not many birds were seen later and so the log was made quite early and we went to sleep amazing early.

On the 23rd of October we left early to Peräkulma with Hanna. We managed to get mist-nets up before the sunrise and soon and soon there were lots of thrushes flying around. It had been several minus degrees inland so our hopes were high that there would be other new birds too. But all we could catch were 18 Bullfinches, 10 Long-tailed Tits, 9 Goldcrests, 7 Redpolls, 6 Treecreepers, 4 Blackbirds, 3 Arctic Redpolls (+1 control), 3 Bramblings, 2 Wrens, 1 Chaffinch and 2 Great Tit controls. Even though we had a couple of players playing rarities, there was nothing else and we stopped at 1 p.m. when the nets had been empty for a while.

While ringing we had seen a Goshawk and once we had enjoyed quick breakfast we joined the others and still walk quite a bit and saw a Hawk Owl, a Jack Snipe, a Willow Warbler and a Siberian Chiffchaff.

In the evening we had sauna again and after dinner and log it was quite late already.

On the 24th of October Hanna and Tomas went ringing and the rest of us sea-watching. I was there again early and some came quite late. Only better birds were 3 Razorbills and a couple of local Black Guillemots. After the 2 traditional sea-watching hours we saw the first flock of Purple Sandpipers with Petteri and we decided to keep on seawatching if there would be more of them. We stayed there until midday and saw 48 Purple Sandpipers, 3 more Razorbills, altogether 18 Red-theoated Divers, a Black-throated Diver and a Goshawk. The same Hume’s Leaf Warbler was still there and even calling very actively in a short period, but still was very difficult to get pictures.

In the afternoon we made a short walk as Matti and Mimosa were leaving and Petteri wanted of course to be in the harbor when they left. So only a Willow Warbler and a couple of Siberian Chiffchaffs were seen. Meanwhile Hanna had been trying to catch the Hume’s Leaf Warbler but the bird wasn’t seen anymore.

On the 25th of October there was snow on the ground and the weather was still stormy so we decided not to open mist-nets at all. Only I and Hanna were watching to the sea and mostly only Common Gulls were migrating. The visibility was very poor but also a couple of Razorbills were seen migrating and 3 Black Guillemots, a Black-throated Diver and a Red-necked Grebe were seen swimming and a single Purple Sandpiper was seen on a rock again.

Hanna tried to ring some tits and Chaffinches on the garden of the station but it was a bit too windy even there. A short walk around the island wasn’t good either, a couple of migrating Purple Sandpipers were seen and while we were walking back to the station we found a Tengmalm’s Owl perched on a branch above the patch.

On the 26th of October the weather was still bad so only I and Hanna were on the seawatch again. Only 5 Red-throated Divers and 5 Black Guillemots were migrating and 3 Red-necked Grebes and a Purple Sandpiper seen local.

Hanna was ringing some tits and we did a good walk around the whole island too when the weather finally got a bit better. A migrating Rough-legged Buzzard, a Skylark, a White Wagtail, 15 Meadow Pipits, a Rock Pipit and 5 Chiffchaffs were seen.

On the 27th of October the weather was good again, just a bit cold – it was minus degrees. We went to put up the mist-nets with Hanna and started to play rarities but also Redpoll from the players.

The first round was good with 5 Fieldfares and 2 Robins but during the whole day until midday we caught only a Siberian Chiffchaff, a Great Tit (+1 control) and a Blue Tit (+3 controls), a Treecreeper and 83 Redpolls and 2 Arctic Redpolls.

In the afternoon I was ready to walk around the island again even though the others had already walked a big part of the island. But then the others saw a big diver swimming very far and we all had to walk closer to see what I was. But all we found were 2 Black-throated and 1 Red-throated Diver and we weren’t sure at all if the right bird was seen at all anymore. So the only new trip-tick for the day was a Pintail that migrated over us with a flock of Goosanders.

We had also been checking the weather-forecasts and we had to book our return-boat for the next day, as there was a storm coming on Sunday. Saturday was also the only warmer day so it was much better possibility for us to drive through the country with our summer-tires. So in the evening we were cleaning the whole building, warming up the sauna again and even the toilet was emptied.

On Saturday the 28th of October it was raining so I was watching to the sea mostly alone. And when others arrived it started to rain so hard that we had to give up 30 minutes early. So only some Red-throated Divers, 14 Velvet Scoters, a Red-necked Grebe and 4 Black Guillemots were seen.

The weather was so poor that we could concentrate on cleaning the house and packing everything ready. At 2 p.m. the boat came to pick us up.

After 30 minutes we were in Kuuminainen where we said goodbye to the others and started a long drive back to home. But our car had been standing on the harbor for 8 days in very hard weather, so there was something frozen. Alarms were burning and there was no power to drive fast at all. Luckily after we had been forced to stop a couple of times, it started to work fine and there had been no problems since.

There was lots of snow inland but luckily the roads were dry until Ruokolahti, when the temperature went minus. So the last 100km was very slippery, but we managed to survive and were at home at 10 p.m. and we had already booked a possibility to change the tires on the next morning.

J.A.