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.

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. On the 14th day I did a tour in Saari but fields were surprisingly empty. But on the sky there were lots of big flocks of geese migrating. Only better observations were an Arctic Redpoll in Pohjasuo and a Three-toed Woodpecker in Kanavalampi.

On the 15th of October there were still good numbers of geese in Siikalahti and we managed to find a Pink-footed Goose. A Gadwall was seen again and at least 7 White-tailed Eagles were flying around the bay and a sub-adult Golden Eagle was seen migrating. In Tetrisuo we found another Pink-footed Goose.

On the 17th day I saw a Pochard and on the 18th day 2 Gadwalls in Siikalahti. On the 19th day there were already 500 Whooper Swans in Tetrisuo and still at least 30 Bewick’s Swans. In Siikalahti I saw the first 2 Snow Buntings and in Kangaskylä there was the first bigger flock of 60 Waxwings. On the 20th day I still visited a injured Crane in Kannas but as the weather was still warm and fields were full of food, I didn’t report it to anywhere. I thought it would survive still some time unless an eage or something will catch it. In the afternoon we started a long drive through whole country to Pori. We were going to Luvia Säppi ringing center for autumn holiday-week.

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.