Same things repeated in late summer

On the last days of July there wasn’t much happening. On the 30th day we did SSP-ringing again and caught a Robin, a Blackbird, a Song Thrush, 11 Sedge and 7 Blyth’s Reed Warblers, 7 Lesser and 6 Common Whitethroats, 2 Garden and 10 Willow Warblers, a Blue Tit and a Common Rosefinch. In the evening we saw Great White Egrets, Grey Herons and a Bittern in Siikalahti.

On the 31st day we did duck-counts again in Saari and saw 3 Great White Egrets, 2 Temminck and 2 Little Stints and a Little Ringed Plover in Pohjanranta, 2 more egrets near Tarassiinlahti and a few Red-backed Shrikes.

On the 2nd of August 300 Barnacle Geese and the same White-fronted Goose were in Joukio. On the 3rd day 3 Great White Egrets, a Dunlin and 2 Temminck Stints were in Pohjanranta and a Black Kite was soaring over the main road six at Maironiemi. A couple of Nutcrackers were in Kangaskylä and they were seen almost daily there later. Also small flock of Barnacle Geese moved from Joukio to Kangaskylä and we managed to read some rings.

On the 5th day there was again a Tundra Bean Goose and a Ringed Plover and a Stock Dove in Pohjanranta. Then on the 7th day we had SSP again and ringed a Robin, 3 Sedge Warblers, a Blyth’s Reed Warbler, a Lesser and a Common Whitethroat, 4 Garden Warblers, a Blackcap, a Chiffchaff, 2r+1c Willow Warbler and 2 Common Rosefinches. We also saw a Black Kite and a White-tailed Eagle. The best observation was made when we were walking to our car. Hanna found a Wasp Spider from the field! It was the first ever in Karelia!

And on the 8th day it was time to do duck-counts again. In Akonpohja we saw a White-tailed Eagle, in Pohjanranta a Ringed Plover, in Suurenjärvenliete a flock of 35 migrating Common Scoters, a Temminck and a Little Stint, in Tarassiinlahti a young Little Gull and a single Barnacle Goose and from Nivalahti we saw a distant Great White Egret. In the evening in Siikalahti the same egrets, herons and bittern were seen.

On the 13th of August 12 Osprerys were in flight in the same time in Siikalahti. On the14th day we had SSP again and we caught a Tree Pipit, a Robin, a Common Redstart, 3 Lesser and 8 Common Whitethroats, 4 Garden Warblers, a Blackcap, 6 Willow Warblers, 4 Blue and 2 Great Tits and 2 Willow Warblers. During the day I took part to a running competition and it was a surprise to see the familiar White-fronted Goose with Barnacle Geese in Parikkala sports field. Later there were even more than 200 Barnacle Geese and the same White-fronted Goose seen almost daily in different places feeding grass – they visited even our back-yard several times.

On the 15th day a visit to Saari produced a Great White Egret, a Ringed Plover and 3 Temminck Stints in Pohjanranta, a couple of Hen Harriers, a Black Kite, 2 Stock Doves and 13 Ringed Plovers in Pohjasuo and the same kite, a Stock Dove and a Hen Harrier in Tetrisuo and 32 Coots in Akonpohja.

In the evening of 16th we saw 15 Great White Egrets in Siikalahti and also 255 Cranes were already counted. On the 17th a Linnet was in our garden and in Siikalahti I saw a too distant harrier that looked promising but never came closer. In the afternoon we left to do duck-counts again and it started wel when we saw a Brown Bear crossing the road! Then a female Gadwall with 8 youngsters and 3 young Garganeys were found in Akonpohja! But then only the familiar Tundra Bean Goose, a couple of Great White Egrets and a Ringed Plover were seen on the other places. When we were driving back to home we found a Barnacle Geese flock with White-fronted Goose in Rautalahti. So they were quite far north now. But on the next morning they were on our back-yard again.

On the 20th day evening 15 Great White Egrets, 5 Grey Herons and a Nightjar were seen and on the 21st day we did the first mist-netting in Siikalahti. We caught 53 birds and quite a few were project-species. 12 Robins, a Redstart, a Blackbird, a Song Thrush, 3 Sedge Warblers, a Blyth’s Reed Warbler, 2 Lesser and 3 Common Whitethroats, 10 Garden Warblers, 7 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, 3 Willow Warblers, a Blue and 4 Great Tits, 2 Chaffinches, a Yellowhammer and 4 Reed Buntings were ringed. Also a Nutcracker was seen.

On the 22nd of August we spent with cameras. First we headed to Savonlinna side of the border and on the way saw a Honey Buzzard migrating with a Hen Harrier, but surprisingly we found also a family of Great Grey Shrikes on the same forest-cut. Then we continued to photograph Red-throated Divers. The young diver was big already and maybe it was the reason why male didn’t bring any food even though we were there for several hours. It was maybe time to leave the pond? Only ones female and the young fledged but young bird hardly got to air at all. But I managed to get a couple of good pictures of mama. While lying under our hides we heard a Brambling and a Two-barred Crossbill too.

During the day we spent a couple of hours in Hanna’s hide and photographed mostly Robins. But also a Sparrowhawk visited the pool and came even too close! In the evening we still headed to Saari where a Little Ringed Plover and 3 Temmink Stints were in Pohjanranta and a Black Kite in Tetrisuo.

On the 24th evening the first 12 Bean Geese arrived to Siikalahti and again 15 Great White Egrets were seen and already 380 Cranes were counted. On the next morning we heard the last calls of local Barnacle Geese – now we will have a couple of weeks freedom before the migrants start to arrive. During the day I got a message that a Bewick’s Swan had been found in Siikalahti, but it had gone missing. I tried to relocate it and checked many places but found only a flock of 53 Canada Geese in Särkisalmi. In the evening we headed to duck-counts again and saw nothing special. 6 Gadwalls were still alive and the first Smew had arrived to Akonpohja. In Pohjanranta a couple of Great White Egrets were still present and in Pohjasuo we saw 4 Ringed Plover. But otherwise it was quite boring – hunting-season had started.

On the 26th morning I found the Bewick’s Swan on the ordinary field in Kaukola. It was the first summer-time record for me ever. This bird stayed in Siikalahti and I saw it many times later. On my lunch-hour I saw an early Merlin and a Goshawk and in the evening we went to photograph ducks to Siikalahti hide. Mallards and Wigeons came close and 2 Gadwalls were swimming further.

On the 27th of August I heard a migrating Rustic Buntings and on the 28th we had the last SSP. We caught a Tree Pipit, a Dunnock, a Bluethroat, 2 Sedge Warblers, a Blyth’s Reed Warbler, 4 Lesser and 2 Common Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler, 2 Willow Warblers, 4 Blue and 1 Great Tit, 3 Red-backed Shrikes, a Reed Bunting and even 6 Rustic Buntings!

On Sunday the 29th we ringed in Siikalahti and had players with Rustic Bunting song playing. A Dunnock, 14r+2c Robins, a Redwing, a Sedge Warbler, 2 Lesser and 2 Common Whitethroats, 6 Garden Warblers, 8r+1c Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, 3 Willow Warblers, 3 Blue and 5 Great Tits, a Chaffinch and amazing 28 Rustic Buntings were caught. We also saw 2 young Black Kites migrating and finally heard the first Red-throated Pipit of the year.

On the 30th day I heard a couple of Rustic Bunting in a few minutes in Siikalahti. After work I found a young Black Redstart in our parking place! Luckily I was carrying my camera-bag and got some pictures too. We also saw the bird later when Hanna came home but then it was very shy. It was already the 3rd Black Redstart in our garden!

On the last day of August I saw the Bewick’s Swan again and in the evening we did duck-counts. It was as boring as ever! 3 Gadwalls were still alive, a couple of Tundra Bean Geese were in Pohjanranta and a Red-throated Pipit was seen in Suurenjärvenliete. Kanavalampi was completely empty – not a single bird! In the evening we still went to Siikalahti where egrets and a Bittern were seen and a Rustic Bunting was heard from the dark sky.

J.A.

Photographing beasts

On the 20th of July a short holiday started and in the afternoon we started driving towards north. We stopped in Kontiolahti Linnunsuo where we hoped to see more waders but saw only a couple of Dunlins, a Ruff, 3 Spotted Redshanks, a Green Sandpiper, a Little Ringed Plover and of course some Wood Sandpipers and Greenshanks. Also a couple of Red-backed Shrikes were seen.

In the evening we continued to Kuhmo Jongunsalo where we put up the tent and were soon ready to go to sleep. Next morning we walked about 10 kilometers and visited Hiidenportti. White walking we saw some Common Crossbills, Bramblings and a Waxwing.

Then we drove to Widlife Safari Finland center where we got a room where we still rested for some time before about at 5 p.m. we left with other photographers to hides. We got a private hide for ourselves and organized everything ready while food was put in front of the hide to the shore of a pond. And then we started to wait for animals to arrive.

After 30 minutes Lesser Black-backed, Herring and Common Gulls and some Ravens and a few Hooded Crows arrived. But soon we saw a Grey Wolf standing on the shore!

We of course started to take pictures while the Wolf was moving on the shore. Soon another very similar-looking Wolf followed it and it was easy to see that the first one was a young and the second was an alfa. The first one was moving slowly and carefully and kept its tail between the legs but the second one was relaxed and strong-looking. Another Wolf took a piece of meat when a Brown Bear was getting close and left. But another Wolf and the Bear stayed on the shore for a long time and it really seemed that the Bear was going to eat everything!

Finally the Wolf left with a meat and also Bear had eaten enough. Then we had to follow gulls and corvids for some time. It was funny to see that a Barn Swallow was breeding over a window of one hide where a photographer was inside. They didn’t mind, the parents were feeding the youngsters all the time.

Finally at 8:30 p.m. a couple of big Wolverine males visited and also a small female that stayed much longer. Then it was quiet again until at 9:15 p.m. a Bear was walking towards our hide along the path. It was already very close when I had to move a little bit so it jumped away from the path and went behind our hide and then continued to the other side of the pond to eat.

When it was getting dark we decided to get some sleep as we were now on photographing-trip. It had also started to rain and there hadn’t been any animals for some time.
It was raining very hard. Hanna had awaken once and seen a couple of Bears eating. I woke up at 1:30 a.m. when I heard a Bear coming. Soon it went to the pond to swim and I had to wake up Hanna to see it too. The Bear was swimming around the pond for almost 10 minutes before it got up and walked to the dark forest.

Still at 4:40 a.m. I saw a Bear searching for food. But when we finally woke up there were no animals anymore, just a Goldeneye, gulls and some Yellow Wagtails.

During the day we slept in our room and at 5 p.m. we left again towards hides. This time we went to bog where we saw a Bear already waiting when we were getting inside the hide. So we had to be quick with our equipment. And once the food was ready we soon saw a couple of Bears coming over the bog. Another one was coming slowly but the other one was running.

Also Ravens, gulls and a Black Kite arrived to get some food and we of course tried to get flight-pictures of the kite. It was very fast but we managed to get some pretty good shots. Surprisingly was saw also a Wolverine coming close but it wasn’t brave enough to come to eat as the bears were still there. It disappeared somewhere behind our hide.

When the Bears finally left, we heard a slam behind our hide and there the Wolverine was again. It was probably been in the terrace of our hide waiting for the Beard to leave! It would’ve been quite a surprise if one of us had visited a toiled and found a Wolverine there!

Pretty long we followed Ravens, Hooded Crows, gulls and a Mistle Thrush family until at 7:10 Hanna saw a Wolf briefly but soon it arrived to visible and was showing well for a short time. Then an hour later we heard a Bear grunting somewhere further but it never showed up. But then behind the bog a Bear and a Wolf came together. And this Wolf came really close and even sat in front of one of the hides but unfortunately that hide was empty. Anyway we got lots of pictures and then alfa-male also arrived and walked between the hides. It is good that cameras are completely silent nowadays so animals didn’t hear anything even though we took pictures all the time.

After a long quiet moment we heard a Wolf howling behind us and then answers behind the bog. We guessed that alfa-male was calling the pack. I even managed to record the howling! And soon we could see that we had been right when one young wolf came visible and started to walk towards us. And then there it was; a stunning pale female that we had seen also 4 years earlier. It also walked through the bog and we got pictures even though it never came very close. And then one more young Wolf followed and walked nicely in front of the hides.

Before we started to sleep a Bear still visited a couple of times but it was already too dark to get good pictures.

In the morning we woke up too early but there was thick fog on the bog. We managed to get some nice pictures of a Bear in foggy landscape. But soon it disappeared to the fog. When the sun rose the light was very nice but we saw only some gulls and Ravens.

At center we ate well and loaded our batteries before started driving. On the way we saw a family of Hazel Hens and on one walk in a stunning old forest Hanna found a nest of a Capercaillie. It still had eggs! Finally we drove until Lieksa Rauvunvaara to camp.

In the morning we walked 8 kilometers in Lieksa Patvinsuo Teretti. There weren’t many birds but on Ilomantsi side from Teretti bird-tower we saw a couple of Peregrine Falcon and a Smew.

Pretty early we continued to Erä-Eero where we soon met Eero himself. We had something to eat inside while talking to Eero and waiting for the other groups to arrive. But for some reason two groups that should have come, never arrived.

So after all we left to the hide while Eero still stayed waiting if anyone was still coming. On the way to the hides we saw amazing numbers of Mourning Cloak butterflies and there were more on the hides too. While we were checking which hide to go, we saw a Wolverine already coming, so we chose to stay in that hide where we were then. A male Wolverine came right in front of us and we got good pictures already before there was food at all. As it found nothing, it soon swam over the bay to the other side and disappeared to the forest.

Soon Eero came to bring the food and soon we started to wait for more animals to come. But it took some time and at 6:30 a female Wolverine arrived and stayed for 30 minutes before it left with a big meat. It probably had cubs somewhere? And soon another female came and acted very similarly.

At 7:55 the third female-looking dark Wolverine arrived but it showed only shortly, but soon came again before left with meat.

Then at 8:45 p.m. a female Bear arrived with 3 tiny cubs! They were coming closer very carefully and then mom just picked up the first big meat it found and they all rushed to the forest.
Soon a couple of female Wolverines came again in same time but they were visiting quite briefly. Then at 10:10 p.m. we heard a slam and then some grunting under the hide – a Wolverine was checking if there was meat hidden under the floor! Almost same time, there were 3 small Wolverines on the other side of the bay. Two of them were chasing each other and were probably youngsters but only the third one came closer and was one of the females that we had seen earlier.

At 11 p.m. we still saw the mama Bear with cubs on the other side of the lake but they soon climbed to the hill and disappeard to the forest. Then we saw nothing before we started to sleep.

At 3 a.m. I checked that there was a female Wolverine in front of the hide and after one hour I checked again and saw another small Wolverine on the other side of the bay. But when we woke up there was no action anymore, just some gulls and Mallards. Still at 7 a.m. we heard something turning stone behind the watching-hide. It was probably a Bear but it never came visible. At 8 a.m. we had packed everything and walked to our car.

We still heard a Cuckoo calling and when we were driving we saw first a male Capercaillie and later a female with chicks and then still one young Black Grouse and a family of Hazel Hens. Then we stopped again in Kontiolahti Linnunsuo but saw even fewer birds than on the previous visit. Only birds to mention were a Temminck Stint and a family of Red-backed Shrikes.

Finally we were at home and on the trip we had taken abou 20 gigas of pictures both! And we still take Jpeg-pictures, so we had taken lots of pictures of amazing animals!

J.A.

July begins and very hot weather continues

We started July with a proper checking that Baillon’s Crake was really not present anymore. While staying several hours in the place, we found a family of Long-eared Owls and a Quail that was calling close to Kuposenmäki. We also saw 6 migrating Whimbrels and a Coot that was flying around the lake and probably left to the night-sky.

On the next night we headed to Saari with Veikka Kosonen and Oskari Saunisto. The Eagle Owl wasn’t heard anymore and we found nothing else either before midnight. So all birds we found were on the 3rd of July. In Kuposenmäki the same Quail was still calling and near Suurenjärvenliete we saw a Short-eared Owl and in Jyrkilä we heard altogether 8 young Long-eared Owls and saw one adult briefly.

Of course we heard plenty of Corn Crakes and Blyth’s Reed Warblers and even tried to catch one Corn Crake without luck. But at least we managed to spend some time and when we continued a Golden Oriole was already singing. After we had seen a family of Northern Wheatears and a Stock Dove we headed towards Akonpohja.

In the end of Selkäsaarentie we heard a Common Grasshopper Warbler already through open windows. We decided to try to ring it. While we were getting our equipment from the trunk, Hanna heard another “locustella” singing behind the very loud Grasshopper Warbler. She thought it was a Lanceolated Warbler! I left to listen to it with my microphone and also to sound-record it, but it was now quiet. So we decided to try to catch both birds. Soon we had the mist-net up and we started to play Lanceolated Warbler and soon the bird was showing well! We managed to get some good pictures before it flew close to the net. It went under the net like a mouse a couple of times but finally we caught it. And soon we had ringed, measured and photographed this first Lanceolated Warbler in Finland this year and the first in Parikkala for 15 years and the bird was released to the same meadow.

We tried to catch the Grasshopper Warbler too but it was too sneaky and only hit the net once and then was singing perched on the net. So after all we left it singing. While catching the birds, we had also heard an Icterine and a Marsh Warbler and seen 3 young Gold Finches and a Whimbrel.

It was already morning when we continued to Melkoniemi forests where our goal was to find Red-flanked Bluetail and hopefully them breeding. In Siberian Jay forests we weren’t lucky even though there had been 2 males singing earlier. So we continued to check that a Red-throated Diver was still on its nest on one pool nearby.

Then we continued near Oronmylly where we had found a female-looking Red-flanked Bluetail earlier. We first heard a Greenish Warbler calling a couple of times but soon found a Bluetail alarm-calling. We also heard a male singing, so there was a couple! We followed the female and soon it started to call intensive “krak-krak” calls. We moved a little bit backwards and waited and finally we saw both male and female carrying food under some branches. Unfortunately boys train was soon leaving so we decided to come back soon.

On the 4th of July we came back to try to find the nest of Red-flanked Bluetails. After all Hanna stayed near the nest for a couple of hours but saw nothing at all! But when we started walking in the forest nearby, we found the female and soon it carried food under one tree-trunk and we found a young bird! Surprisingly this tiny bird was already flying but I still managed to catch it. And of course we ringed it. Then we followed the female and found another fledling that was ringed too. But even though we really tried, we couldn’t find more fledglings, but sure there were more. We even came back in the evening too but saw only the female and heard a male singing further. In the morning Hanna had heard 2 singing birds.

In the evening we headed to Saari and first tried to catch the Quail but it wasn’t interested our tape at all. We did see a couple of Tundra Bean Geese and a couple of Barnacle Geese. Before midnight we headed to try to listen to Lanceolate Warbler but it was already gone. The Grasshopper Warbler was still singing all the time and also a Savi’s Warbler was heard from the lake. It was the same bird that we had heard in spring but now it was closer and it could be heard again after a long time.

On the 5th day the only birds to mention were a family of Nutcrackers that were in Kangaskylä. It would be great to know where they are breeding? The youngsters weren’t very old.

On the 7th day a couple of Red-backed Shrikes were seen in Tetrisuo and the first Great White Egret in Siikalahti. On the 10th day we had SSP-ringing again and we caught 2 Robins, 1 control Sedge Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 10 r + 1 c Common Whitethroats, 2 Garden Warblers, 2 Pied Flycatchers and 1 Common Rosefinch.

From the 12th day there were 2 or 3 Great White Egrets every day in Siikalahti and usually on evening visit it was possible to see also Great Bitterns and Grey Herons. In mid July we worked again in Saari Pohjanranta and tried to make a small area good for waders but summer had been so dry that the area didn’t look as good as we had hoped.

On the 15th day we went to ring Barnacle Geese to Joukio and caught amazing 38 ad and 22 pull geese. We also caught 6 birds that we had ringed in earlier years. With us there were Matti Lötjönen, Miika ja Elissa Soikkeli, Juho Saukkonen sekä Merja Laari.

On the 17th day we had SSP again and we caught a Common Snipe, a Blackbird, a Song Thrush, 1r + 1c Sedge Warblers, 2 Blyth’s Reed Warblers, a Lesser Whitethroat, 4r + 1c Common Whitethroats, 4r + 2c Garden Warblers, 2r +1c Willow Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher, a Blu Tit, a Great Tit, 3 Greenfinches and a Common Rosefinch. We also saw a Bar-tailed Godwit flying over us.

On the 18th of July there were nothing interesting on the muddy area that we had made to Pohjanranta but a couple of Dunlins were seen on a tiny sandy area on the shore and 3 Spotted Redshanks flew over us. A couple of Black Kites were flying around so they are probably breeding nearby. On the next day only birds to mention were a couple of Stock Doves in Tetrisuo and again Great White Egrets, Grey Herons and Great Bittern were seen in Siikalahti.

J.A.

Rarities – even lifers

After my trip to Lapland we did a short trip to Siikalahti at night on the 10th to 11th of June. We saw a Long-eared Owl, heard a Corn Crake and 3 Spotted Crakes. We also heard a Savi’s Warbler that Matti Lötjönen found.

On the 12th day we did a long night-trip to Saari and in Akonpohja we heard 3 Great Bitterns, in Pohjansuo we saw a Long-eared Owl and heard a Marsh Warbler. In Suurenjärvenliete we saw a Short-eared Owl and a Goshawk in Jyrkilä we saw 2 Short-eared Owls and a Long-eared Owl and heard a Golden Oriole. In Karinmäki we found a River Warbler, 2 Golden Orioles and a Stock Dove, in Kanavalampi one more Golden Oriole and in Pohjanranta 2 Spotted Crakes were heard. Altogether we had heard 14 Corn Crakes, 7 Thrush Nightingales and 38 Blyth’s Reed Warblers. In the evening we did a run in Tarvaslampi with Miika and heard 5 Chiffchaffs and saw a Capercaillie.

On the 13th day we headed to forests with Miia and Elissa and managed to find one of two Red-flanked Bluetails that had been found earlier. After some trying we managed to catch it and it was the first ever ringed in South Karelia. We also ringed 7 young Pygmy Owls from our nest-box and we also managed to catch the male with mist-net. Then we still ringed a young Woodcock that we found along the road. We also heard a Greenish Warbler, Crested Tits, Common and Parrot Crossbills and a Green Sandpiper.

Then we went to ring more owlets and there were 8 Pygmy Owls in this nest-box. We tried to catch male again but only female came to alarm-call above the net. But then we heard a familiar alarm call and soon saw a female-looking Red-flanked Bluetail close to the net. Unfortunately we couldn’t catch this bird, but it really seemed that it was breeding nearby!

We still went to ring 5 nestlings of a Common Kestrel and some tits in Tarvaslampi and saw also a Black Woodpecker there.

During the week the weather was really hot so not much was seen. A family of Canada Geese and several families of Barnacle Geese were in Kangaskylä grasses.

Baillon’s Crake

On the 18th of June we got a message early in the morning that our friend Karri Kuitunen, who was counting birds in Saari in the same areas where we were making duck-counts, had found a Baillon’s Crake! Soon he also called and told that the bird sounded very strange so we should go to listen to it. But he had also managed to see it and even photograph it and it clearly was a Baillon’s Crake. The place was extremely difficult so we had to go to find out if it was possible to twitch it with more people as there hadn’t been a single Baillon’s Crake in Finland for 11 years!

Soon we were listening to the bird and it really sounded strange! In Xeno-canto there was a recording that claimed to be a female Baillon’s Crake and this sounded exactly the same. I also took some recordings but of course Karri had got much better ones as he was in a canoe. I was in a hurry to get to work but luckily we found the land-owner and managed to get permits to arrange a twitch for the next night. While listening to the bird and arranging the twitch we had also observed Barnacle Geese, a Bean Goose, a Corn Crake, a Spotted Crake and a Black Woodpecker.

After midnight we were driving back to Saari again. Surprisingly we saw an Eagle Owl on the way on one field. Then at 1 a.m. we were in Pohjanranta parking place and there were more than 30 twitchers. Soon we continued to a farm where we could park our cars and continued by feet next to a summer-cottage to listen the crake which luckily started calling. It was quite far from this place where we had got permits to go but after all everyone heard it if not with bare ears then with my microphone.

On the way back home we decided to check one place if the Eagle Owl that we had seen on the way had youngsters and surprisingly we heard one young Eagle Owl begging food there! It was our first ever found breeding of an Eagle Owl in Parikkala.

On the 20th of June we did a day-trip to Lappeenranta. On the way we saw 65 adult and 25 young Barnacle Geese and a White-fronted Goose in Joukionsalmi. Then we drove to Korvenkylä where it took some time to find a Booted Warbler but finally it was found and both heard and seen briefly. Also a Wryneck and a Hen Harrier were found there. A European Serin was far easier as it was singing continuously in Rakuunamäki. It was hard to get photographs but after some trying we managed to get some pictures.

Then we continued to Askola pools where we saw an Oystercather and Little Ringed Plover families, some more Little Ringed Plovers, 8 Common Redshanks, 2 Spotted Redshanks and Wood Sandpipers, 6 Dunlins, 18 Ruffs, 7 Curlews, a Common Sandpiper and 96 Lapwings.

After some shopping we still twitched a Grey Wagtail that was seen briefly in Imatra kaupunkipuro.

On the 21st day a Common Redshank was seen in Siikalahti and on the next day I saw a Heuglin’s Gull there.

On the 24th day we arranged the second Baillion’s Crake twitch which was successful. More than 20 twitchers were happy to hear the bird that was calling more normally now.
On the way back home we heard the same young Eagle Owl again and this time it was so far from the previous place that we could be sure that it was already flying. Then we still went to twitch a Quail that Elissa had found in Tarvaslampi. Then Hanna went to do counts that she had agreed to do and I had to go to work.

Mid-summer twitching

I ended my day at midday and then we left to a long drive to Hanko with Hanna and Elissa. There had been several extremely rare birds in Finland recently but I hadn’t been able or then I had just been too tired to go twitching. But now it was Midsummer so I had one extra holiday so we went twitching. There were no updates of the bird for several hours and Teo Ylätalo who had organized the boat was almost going to cancel the whole trip but finally we got information that Bimaculated Lark was still in Kemiönsaari Morgonlandet. The last group of twitchers hadn’t found the bird in time but they had bought an extra hour from the captain and in last 10 minutes they had finally seen the bird in flight a couple of times. So we could continue driving to Hanko Itäsatama.

We were in harbor very early but there were several friends coming to the same boat so the time went fast. And finally at 7 p.m. we, 14 twitchers, left towards Morgonlandet, 14. On the way we saw an Arctic Skua, a Razorbill and a few Black Guillemots. And once we got to Morgonlandet we started to walk towards the highest point of the island as we hoped to see the bird also in flight. We had walked maybe 50 meters when I heard a soft “Brruii” call from the sky and found the Bimaculated Lark flying! We all managed to see it immediately!


So we had plenty of time and after some time we found the lark again but it was flushed to the sky and then it landed to a place where all the terns were breeding so we couldn’t follow it. But soon we found it with our telescopes and we could follow it for a long time and we really saw it well. But it was too difficult to get pictures. Later we still saw the lark in flight a couple of times when it was flying with some Starlings.

When we still had 30 minutes left on the island, we decided to walk a little bit around the island with Teo. We found a Marsh Warbler but really nothing else. But other birds we had see during our stay on the island had been a Rock Pipit, some Black Guillemots, a family of Turnstones, some Arctic Skuas, a Whimbrel, some Dunlins, Ruffs, a Red-necked Phalarope and so on.

Finally it was time to leave and on the way back to Hanko, we still saw some Razorbills and Black Guillemots. Then we drove a little bit to Tvärminne and found a place to put up a camp.

We slept until 5 a.m. and at 6 o’clock we were in Vedagrundet. There was almost nothing moving on the sea but a couple of Waders were seen on the shore and some Arctic Skuas were on the islets. Mika Teivonen came there too so we spent some more time watching to the sea but saw only a Rock Pipit and a Black Guillemot on one island and a couple of Common Shelducks and heard a Redpoll flying past.

Then we decided to continue to Uddskatan where we walked a long way until we were on the place where a Collared Flycatcher female had been seen earlier visiting a nest-hole. With some by phone we finally were in a right place and then immediately heard the bird calling and soon found it visible too. And after a long wait we saw it visiting the hole that a male Pied Flycatcher had visited already a couple of times. So there will be interesting-looking flycatchers in the future.

We continued to the tip of Uddskatan to do some more seawatching but again saw just a couple of Rock Pipits, a Black Guillemot, 4 Razorbills and 3 Velvet Scoters. While walking back we heard a Marsh Warbler.

Then we twitcher a Moorhen youngsters in Haaga Park before continued to Talholmarna where were too many people already, so we continued to Svanvik. There we saw 9 Caspian Terns, a couple of Shelducks and heard again a Marsh Warbler. In Kobben we saw 2 Spotted Redshanks and a Yellow Wagtail and then we decided to start a long way back to home.

In Helsinki we still twitched one more month-tick that was breeding but it was not clear if the youngsters were hybrids or not. I have to keep the species as a secret so it can stay safe without too many photographers. After we had seen still a Goshawk we continued our driving.

In Imatra we still twitched a Grey Wagtail in Tainionkoski and saw also an Oystercatcher there.

Another twitch

On the 26th of June I had to go twitching again as an Eastern Imperial Eagle was seen first in Helsinki and then in Sipoo and it seemed to continue along the coast to east. I drove to Hamina Hevoskallio where I managed to get right on time when the bird was expected to arrive, but even though it had still been seen in Loviisa and Pyhtää, it was never seen anywhere more east. We did see a White-tailed Eagle and always nice Lesser Spotted Eagle, but of course they weren’t what we had hoped.

When I finally gave up, I still went to twitch an Arctic Warbler in Summa, which was a good year-tick and always a very good species in Southern Finland.

On the 27th day we organized one more Baillon’s Crake twitch but the bird wasn’t heard anymore which was of course a disappointment for us and 20 twitchers. On the way back, we twitched a Quail again in Tarvaslampi which was a lifer for young birders from Kerimäki – Veikka Kosonen and Oskari Saunisto. Then we continued to SSP-ringing again which was still very quiet. Only 2 Blackbirds, a Song Thrush, 2 control Sedge Warblers, 1 c Common Whitethroat, a Willow Warbler and 3 Reed Buntings were caught.

And again a lifer-twitch

On the 29th of June I left to a long twitch to Kajaani where a White-tailed Lapwing had been found on the previous evening. There were no updates of the bird after 1 p.m. but I kept on driving and finally arrived to Vuolijoki Otanmäki pool after 8 p.m. There were about 30 twitchers scanning the pool and its islands. I decided to scan the skies instead and after 1.5 hours I found a flock of Lapwings flying high on the sky and there it was – a White-tailed Lapwing with 12 Lapwings.

I shouted as loud as I could and the birders who were close to me found the bird immediately but after all other birders that were around the pool didn’t find it even though it was flying on the sky for several minutes before the flock continued towards south as far as we could see with our scopes.

On the way back home I stopped in Joensuu Vehkalahti where I heard a male Little Crake after some waiting. Finally I was back at home at 2:30 a.m. And after a couple of hours sleeping, I had to go to work.

J.A.

Bird-race holiday

On the 28th of May I started another 10 days holiday this spring but after work I still had to be nervous as our car was in service and it wasn’t absolutely sure it will be fixed. But luckily everything went smoothly and after 3 p.m. I was able to start a long drive towards Oulu.

I stopped only once on the way to fill the tank and buy some snacks and finally after 9 a.m. I was in Kempele Vihiluoto. Miska Loippo had arrived a little bit earlier and together we went to bird-tower to check the water-level and of course birds there.

There were lots of birds: a couple of Mute Swans, a Common Shelduck, several Pintails, Gadwalls and a Garganey, about 20 Greater Scaups, a Slavonian Grebe, a couple of Red-necked Grebes, a Pheasant, a Great Bittern, a couple of Black-tailed Godwits, a flock of Broad-billed Sandpipers, a few Temminck Stints, a Short-eared Owl and a Bullfinch was heard. In a short visit in the evening we saw so many birds that we started to think if we should start our bird-race here next day?

After 11 p.m. I went to pick up my brother Pirkka from Oulu railway-station and finally after midnight we were ready to go to sleep in our comfortable room in hotel Vihiluoto.

PPLY bird-race

On the 29th of May Antti Vierimaa arrived at Vihiluoto and soon we had packed our car full of optics, food and birders. Miska had managed to visit the bird-tower briefly and he hadn’t seen as many birds as in the evening but he had seen a Pochard there. Anyway we decided to stay in ordinary plan and were soon driving towards Oulu Sanginjoki,

We checked a couple of places on the way but found nothing interesting and the drove to Kupareisenpolku. Already on the parking place we heard a Red-flanked Bluetail singing and as we knew it was very late day for this species, we decided to begin our race at 11:26 a.m. The race had to bee started between 11 and 12 o’clock.

But the rest of the forest was very quiet. After some time we had found only a Common Crossbill and a Treecreeper. So we soon had to move on. Our next bird was a young Ural Owl that was seen already far when it was sitting inside the nest-box. The we hurried to listen to a Wren that Antti knew and after some searching it was finally found. Luckily we also saw a Sparrowhawk and a Honey Buzzard there. And soon we were ticking a Pygmy Owl on its nest. Also this bird was just quickly listened so we didn’t really disturb the bird.

Next we headed to Pateniemi where we found out that there was very windy on the coast. Little Ringed Plovers were found easily but only other better bird we found was a Pheasant. In Oritkari we saw only a Northern Wheatear and luckily saw a migrating Rough-legged Buzzard and also the second Honey Buzzard of the day

We were late in our schedule so we almost skipped Oululahti but luckily decided to go there anyway and saw 20 Broad-billed Sandpipers, a Little Stint and a Caspian Tern there. In Vihiluoto the sea was quite rough but still we managed to see Greater Scaups, a Garganey, a Common Shelduck and some Velvet Scoters there. We had hoped to see more but the weather was against us. While driving towards Kempele we saw some Black-tailed Godwits on one field and then in Kempele we managed to find a calling Collared Dove quite easily. Then our next target was an Ortolan Bunting which wasn’t easy as it was singing very far and staying mostly quiet but finally we all heard it.

It was so windy that we made a decision to spent a lot of time for only one species and drove a long way to Relletti to tick a Great Grey Owl. On the way back we tried to twitch a Pallid Harrier couple that had been seen on one field several times but we weren’t lucky. But we were lucky to see a couple of Short-eared and one Long-eared Owl.

Finally we parked to Liminka Virkkula and walked to the tower where the wind was still strong. Some Broad-billed Sandpipers and Caspian Terns were seen but then we heard a Marsh Sandpiper calling and the bird was also seen. Then we saw a migrating harrier that first looked like a female Montagu’s Harrier but when it finally started soaring, it looked more like a Pallid – so it was left unidentified.

In Lumijoki Sannanlahti we saw some Barnacle Geese and n Arctic Skua on Lamukari and on the shore bay there were some Red-necked Phalaropes swimming. Also one Yellow Wagtail was seen.

It was already getting late when we headed to twitch a Tengmalm’s Owl that Antti had found while preparing to the race and then in Siikajoki Tauvo Merikylä we saw that there was still some migration going on far on the sea. So we quickly headed to Kaasa where we still managed to see some flocks of Common Scoters and Long-tailed Ducks and also a lonely Red-necked Grebe.

Then it was time to head to Munahieta. I was till closing the doors of our car while the others saw a Ural Owl. Then in Munahieta we found out that water-level was so low that there was a huge sandy plateau! After some walking we realized that it would take whole night to see the possible waders that usually were on the other side of Ulkonokka and we decided to turn back. With Pirkka we saw briefly a Merlin in flight but as more than half of the team has to see the bird we couldn’t get a single new species!

But now we managed to save some time so soon we headed to Säikänlahti that wasn’t in our ordinary schedule at all. And luckily there was a male Smew with many Goldeneyes.

The day changed while we were heading to Hummasti where we once again heard a couple of Jack Snipes. In Raahe we heard a Water Rail in Aittalahti, saw Canada Geese and a Lesser Black-backed Gull in Lapaluoto and then twitched a Great Reed Warbler in Järvelänjärvi. It was a new North-Botnic species for me. In Raahe city we still saw a Starling before we hurried towards Pyhäjoki to find night-singers. In Teerelänpuhto we heard a Stock Dove and then along Eteläinen Penkkatie we heard a couple of Thrush Nightingales and a single Blackcap.

Morning sea-watch was made in Ulkoharmi where we spent some time to find a suitable place and then ended up to a swimming beach. From the sea we found some Black-throated Divers and one Red-throated Diver and then surprisingly heard a Willow Grouse calling on the shore! But nothing else was seen so soon we did hit the road again.

In Parhalahti we saw nothing new but then second visits in Aittalahti and Järvelänjärvi gave us Coots and Slavonian Grebes. Those grebes had a nest too close so we almost didn’t see it at all!

In morning we hurried towards Siikajoki Vartti and then got a message that there was a Bee-eater right next to the cross there! So we headed there even faster than normally but anyway the bird was already long gone. There were some teams and other twitchers so we stopped there anyway briefly and it was a good stop as a Blyth’s Reed Warbler was singing and 2 Waxwings were seen. But soon we continued to Vartti where Antti had once again prepared well for us!

Soon we saw Black Woodpecker nestlings and then heard a Hawk Owl before we were even close to the nest. The along one forest-road Miska found a distant harrier displaying on the sky and soon we found out that there was a couple. They were far and in horrible light but slowly they came closer and closer and finally we could identify them as Pallid Harriers! And then we saw this couple chasing a Goshawk!

Our traditional bog-visit was again good as we saw a Golden Plover and a Whimbrel. a Few timed we had found a Montagu’s Harrier territory there but now we saw only a Hen Harrier which was a tick anyway. We were in a hurry so we had to continue towards the shore as we still missed many waders. On the way we finally saw some House Sparrows but in Alhonmäki we saw nothing new. Then in Karinkanta we saw a couple of Red-backed Shrikes but in Säärenranta the wind was awful again so no more species were seen.

Finally 24 hours were full and slowly we drove to Liminka Virkkula where I dropped Antti and Pirkka to go to do the log. I gad to go to drop Miska to Vihiluoto so he could start driving home. Finally I drove back to Virkkula to listen the results. Kalle Hiekkanen, Pauli-Pekka Österberg, Eino Hiekkanen and Ville Suorsa won with 161 species but we were second with our 154 species. The third team had got 150 species. After all we could be satisfied with our result as most of us were living far from Oulu and Antti hadn’t been birding much in resent years. Anyway he had done huge work with preparations during the last 32 weeks so thanks Antti!

I was already very tired when I dropped Antti to Vihiluoto to continue home with his car. Then we still went to eat with Pirkka before I dropped him to the railway-station and then I drove to my brother Riku. After some time I was ready to go to sleep and after all I slept for 14 hours in Riku’s caravan.

Tauvo

On the 31st of May I woke up and it had been raining a lot. I visited Vihiluoto, Kiviniemi and Oritkari and saw some Dunlins and Gadwall – both species we had missed on the race. Other birds I saw were the same birds than before. In the afternoon I went to Riku’s place but in the evening I picked up Antti and we headed to Siikajoki Tauvo ringing station.

We were driving past Merikylä crossing when Antti shouted: “What the hell is that – a Turkey!” I stopped the car and indeed there was a Turkey couple walking along the road! We took some pictures of thees escapees before continued the last kilometers to Tauvo.

We got our stuff to station and after some time Matti Tynjälä, who was going to ring in the station for whole season, woke up. It was about 10 p.m. and we had planned to sleep a little bit before the morning but soon we were putting up the mist-nets. After all I slept for a couple of hours and then went to help Matti.

The best bird of the morning from the mist-nets was a Bluthroat but even better bird was an Eagle Owl that was heard calling. Also Antti woke up early enough to hear it. It was nice morning and we caught some Pied and Spotted Flycatchers and so on, but later most birds were just Willow Warblers. With Antti we checked the nets for whole morning and saw about 100 Common Crossbills and heard a Red-throated Diver.

At midday we slept a couple of hours again and then in the afternoon we went to walk around whole Ulkonokka. It was once again very difficult to get to Munahieta because of there was so much water on the meadow and reedbeds, but finally we made it and then it was a long way to walk around the sandy plateau. 48 adult and 24 young Greylag Geese, 4 Common Shelducks, 19 Dunlins, a Red Knot, 59 Broad-billed Sanspipers, a Red-necked Phalarope, a Little Tern and a couple of Arctic Skuas were the best birds we saw.

In the evening Matti started to talk about a Blyth’s Reed Warbler that he had ringed on the morning before we had arrived. He wondered why it had been so short-winged. I asked if he had any pictures of the bird and once he showed the first picture I was shocked – he had ringed a Paddyfield Warbler – the first for North-Botnic! Luckily it had been several hours before we had arrived and not for example while we had been walking a round Ulkonokka…

In the evening I slept a couple of hours again and then woke up to check mist-nets. It was quite poor night and in the morning there were only a few Willow Warblers coming. So after all I went to sleep for 5 more hours and when I woke up Antti had also just awaken.

Hailuoto

In the afternoon we still helped Matti to close the nets and then drove to Oulu where I dropped Antti at home and then I decided to continue to Hailuoto. I managed to drive straight to a ferry and soon I was in Hailuoto. There I still checked Potinhamina where I saw 16 Common Shelducks, 2 Arctic Skuas, 8 Caspian Terns and 3 Dunlins and then still saw a Short-eared Owl in Keskikylä before I was in Marjaniemi where I started to sleep in my car.

On the 3rd of June I woke after a couple of hours sleeping and walked to the tip to seawatch at 2:10 a.m. After a couple of hours I finally saw the first migranting Common Scoters. Then in few hours I saw altogether 34 Razorbills, 103 Cormorants and also Common and Velvet Scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, Black and Red-throated Divers and a single Short-eared Owl.

In the morning I drove to Keskiniemi where I walked long walks to both directions along the shore. Between the walks I slept a couple of hours in my car. There weren’t many birds but one Sanderling and one Broad-billed Sandpiper were found and well photographed. Also a couple of Turnstones, Common Ringed Plovers, a couple of Gadwalls and Common Shellducks were seen.

Then I still visited Kirkkosalmi, Ulkokarvo and Potinhamina but only bird to mention was a Black-tailed Godwit. Then I drove to the harbor and soon I was on the ferry back to Oulunsalo.

Sea-Lapland

Next I drove a couple of hours to Kemi where I finally parked to “Allu” Hamari’s garden. Allu had prepared a good meal and after that we watched ice-hockey from television. I was already really tired when Allu told that we had two choices, either we would leave immediately birding or then at 7 a.m. I thought that 7 a.m. was too late as the weather-forecast was very hot for the next day. So after all only 30 minutes later Jouko Kärkkäinen came to pick us up and we headed to Ajos harbor. There we tried to start the engine of Jouko’s boat but even though the engine had just been on service, it didn’t start! Luckily Allu had another engine and after an hour delay we were finally on the sea!

It was again much windier than it was told to be so it was very wet ride! Soon we were all freezing. The first stop was made to make us warm mostly on one small rock but then in Keilakrunni we saw some really good birds! We saw 3 Common Eiders and 7 Black Guillemot there and they are not common birds in Lapland!

Then we continued to our main destination to Selkä-Sarvi where we did counts by walking around the whole island. Some Turnstones, Temmink Stints, a couple of Arctic Skuas and a Razorbill were seen there.

Then we just enjoyed summer morning on the island before we headed back to the sea. We checked several islands and rocks before we were on the shore again where we still started to check some places. Some more Turnstones, Arctic Skuas and a Velvet Scoter and so on were seen and then even 3 Garganeys but then I started to feel far too tired to continue. It was still a long and bumpy way back to Ajos and finally we were back to Allu’s place where I finally got possibility to go to sleep again. An I slept for 14 hours again.

To north

During the day we left driving north with Allu, both with own cars. In Tervola we ticked a Thrush Nightingale that Allu and Jouko had found earlier and also heard a Chiffchaff and saw a Starling before we continued to Rovaniemi.

In Rovaniemi we checked first Suksiaapa where we saw a couple of Slavonian Grebes, a Smew and a Black Woodpecker. In Niskanperä we saw a Red-throated Diver and a Common Scoter and in Harjulampi a couple of Great Crested Grebes. In Aronperä we saw nothing interesting so soon we continued towards Kemijärvi.

In Kemijärvi we went to check Sellu sewage pools with Pirkka as he had found a Ring-necked Duck there a couple of days earlier. But the duck wasn’t found vut we saw a couple of Gadwalls, a Garganey, a Red-throated Diver, a few Temminck Stints and 13 Jackdaws – good preparation for the race anyway.

After we had eaten pizza with Pirkka’s family, we started driving towards north again. In Pelkosenniemi Savukoski crossing we tried to find Little Buntings but found a Rustic Bunting. A White-tailed Eagle fle over us too. In Sokanaapa we saw a Great Grey Shrike, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Black-throated Diver and some Smews.

In Sodankylä we stopped in Ilmakkiaapa where only a couple of Bean Geese and a Broad-billed Sandpiper were observed but then Iso Moskujärvi was excellent! First we found a couple of White-fronted Geese, then Velvet and Common Scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, Shovelers, Black-throated Divers, a Goshawk and heard a Lesser Whitethroat. Also Sompiojärvi was good as we saw 16 White-tailed Eagles, lots od Smews, Velvet Scoters, a Spotted Redshank and when it was getting late we heard and saw altogether four Willow Grouses.

Finally we were in Saariselkä where Allu had managed to get us a cottage. There we had sauna before we went to sleep.

On the 6th of June we hit the road only a 8 a.m. and in Laanila river we found nothing but on the feeder of Savottakahvila we found a couple of Pine Grosbeaks. In Kaunispää hillside we found easily a single Dotterel. In Kaamanen 4 Tuulen Tupa we stopped for coffee and ice-cream and and saw a Siberian Tit on the feeder.

Then we headed to Inari Ivalo Mellanaapa where we met Juhani Honkola and saw a Jackdaw, a Rough-legged Buzzard and a couple of Lapwings.

In Utsjoki we headed to Skalluvaara where on the pools we saw a couple of Greater Scaups, Red-necked Phalaropes, a couple of Bluethroats, 8 Long-tailed Skuas and a tame Temminck Stint.

In Mantojärvi we saw one more Rough-legged Buzzard. We had heard that there were almost no voles and lemmings in whole Lapland, so there were almost no raptors either. On Utsjoki Ailigas we were lucky to find a Ptarmigan immediately when we reached the top and then in the village we saw a Siberian Tit flying in front of our car. Then we still followed Teno river and made some stops on the way to Karigasniemi and saw a White-tailed Eagle and a Merlin. I managed to see one Ptarmigan in flight on the top of one mountain on Norwegian side of the river.

But the best observation of the whole day had been a Lynx that we saw crossing the road somewhere on the way. It stopped pretty close next to the road but behind some bushes but I managed to get some pictures of it. Then it walked further but stopped to stare at us so that only its head was visible.

In the evening we got an apartment in hotel in Karigasniemi and we watched icehockey WC final Finland – Canada. Unfortunately Finland lost in overtime and finally we were able to go to sleep.

Lapland bird-race

In the bird-race morning we woke up at 8 a.m. and an hour later we were in a shop next door. Soon we were driving towards Ailigas but there we found out that the gate up to the fjeld was closed so we had to forget some species. Then we headed to Piesjänkä which was our starting place.

We walked along drier parts of Piesjänkä to the lakes and once we reached the shore it was time to start the race. We started with a flock of 70 Long-tailed Skuas, singing Lapland Bunting and Bluethroat and displaying Jack Snipe – not bad! We also found a Smew, some Long-tailed Ducks, Common Scoters, Red-necked Phalaropes and so on.

We checked the lake several times until we had to start walking back towards our car. Now we walked through the wet parts of the bog and soon found a Dunlin and a Broad-billed Sandpiper. Other surprises weren’t found until we were near the parking place where we heard a Bar-tailed Godwit calling inside the fences of reindeer round-up. Also a Merlin was seen flying against Ailigas.

Once we were driving, we saw a Kestrel in flight and a couple of stops gave us only some common northern species. In Inari Ahvenjärvi we saw a couple of Velvet Scoters and in Siltajärvi we heard a very northern Sedge Warbler. In Muotkaruoktu we saw a couple of Pine Grosbeaks on a feeder and in Ukonjärvi a couple of Black-throated Divers, Cormorants and Heuglin’s Gulls. So again a couple of good species!

In Pikku-Peitsamo we heard a Little Bunting singing and in Neitiaapa we saw a flock of 39 Taiga Bean Geese, but in Mellanaapa we saw only Lapwings. Then we twitched a breeding Siberian Tit and saw a Hazel Hen on the way which was very good as was also a very northern Hobby that flew over the road. In Kaunispää we weren’t lucky as Dotterel wasn’t found – there were again too many people on the top. Only a Northern Wheatear was seen there.

In Sodankylä we visited the lakes we had prepared earlier. In Sompiojärvi we saw several White-tailed Eagles but also a Golden Eagle! Also a Spotted Redshank, Temminck Stints, and a couple of Willow Grouses were seen. In Iso Moskujärvi we saw the same White-fronted Geese, Shovelers and this time a female Goshawk.

Then it was time for the first long drive of the race. We drove through Pelkosenniemi where we saw a couple of Capercaillies and Woodcocks. The day changed before we got to Kemijärvi where we checked some places without anything else than a Garden Warbler, but on the sewage pool we saw a Garganey, a couple of Pochards, a Red-throated Diver and heard a Red-necked Grebe. On the previous morning the Ring-necked Duck had been seen again, but again after that it was not seen.

Then we had a long drive to Rovaniemi where in Apukka we got a Skylark and later we heard several Common Rosefinches, a couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers and saw a Sand Martin and some Common Swifts. In Vitikanpää we saw Redshank and heard a Lesser Whitethroat, in Aronperä we saw Little Ringed Plovers, in Pöykkölä we had Pheasants and a couple of Common Whitethroats, in Harjulampi Great Crested Grebes and in cemetery we twitched a Wood Warbler. Then in Tuomilampi we saw a Slavonian Grebe, in Vanttauskoski we heard a Blackbird and in Auttiköngäs we saw a couple of Dippers.

We had still two hours to go when we reached Posio Korouoma parking place. Soon we were walking along a patch that was in very bad shape. All the bridges had collapsed so it was a long and slowly way. We were almost running but heard some Dunnocks, Wrens, Common Crossbills, saw a Parrot Crossbill and also a very angry Rustic Bunting. Finally we reached our ending place a couple of minutes before the race was over but saw nothing new there in time.

After some relaxing we climbed up along very broken steps up to the edge where we saw a Peregrine flying on the sky. And then a Black Woodpecker landed to the nearest tree and while walking back towards our car we still heard a couple of Treecreepers and then also a couple of Red-flanked Bluetails! So we had 4 species we had missed in the race!

In the race we had 124 species and won clearly. The record in the race was 125 species so we were close. But it really wasn’t good bird-year as there were almost no voles and therefore no raptors. Also many other birds were more difficult than in a normal year.

On the way to Kemijärvi we tried to twitch an Arctic Warbler in Juujärvi but found only a couple of Rustic Buntings and a Sparrowhawk (one more species that we had missed). A Red-throated Diver was on the nest on one pond and in Kostamo we heard a Little Bunting.

In the evening Allu left towards Kemi (he planned to sleep on the way soon) and pretty soon I went to sleep too and slept again 14 hours.

On the 10th of June we still visited sewage pools with Pirkka and saw Gadwalls (missed in the race), Garganeys, Pochards and a Red-necked Grebe. Then I had to start a long way back to home. Somewhere in southern Kemijärvi I saw a Jay crossing the road… I didn’t see anything else on the way. I ate good Thai-food in Suomussalmi and finally was at home after 9 p.m.

It had been a hard birding-holiday with too little sleep! But I had seen 185 species (without a Willow, Crested and Coal Tit!). Let’s see how long it takes to recover from this holiday?

J.A.

Raining rare birds

After a trip to Jurmo I didn’t waste my time sleeping as I had to go on the first morning to Saari to twitch a couple of White Storks in Akonpohja. Then I drove back to Siikalahti where I had stayed only some minutes when I found a Greater Spotted Eagle from the sky. This eagle was very worn and it had quite pale stomach. After soaring some time on the western sky it continued towards Särkisalmi where it was also seen. Otherwise Siikalahti was quiet so soon we continued again to Saari with Hanna.

We did some migration watching in Kanavalampi with Arttu Valonen, Juha Kettunen and Arto Laaksi and saw a couple of Honey Buzzards and Swifts and heard a Corn Crake, a Wryneck and a Grey-headed Woodpecker.

On the 16th of May we participated to a Garden Twitch. We started at 5 a.m. and immediately found some Long-tailed Ducks, Common Scoters and even 7 Greater Scaups from the lake. There was almost no migration but anyway we saw lots of species. We continued until 2 p.m. continuously and then had a 1.5 hours brake and went to check that Ural Owl chicks were still too small to ring and we also tried to reliese an adult male Hen Harrier that had been living with us for a week after it had hit a window in Saari. But the harrier was still too weak to go. Then we still continued in our garden and saw the best species: first a Pink-footed Goose was seen migrating with other geese and then a Black-tailed Godwit was flying towards south. Altogether we saw 88 species from our garden.

On the 17th of May we did duck-counts in Saari again. In Akonpohja we saw a Gadwall and a Little Ringed Plover, in Kanavalampi a couple of Gadwalls and in Pohjanranta a couple of Pink-footed Geese and a couple of Marsh Sandpipers that left to continue their migration. In the evening we still twitched a Savi’s Warbler in Akonpohja and went to listen to Great Snipes and heard on bird in an ordinary place.

On the 18th day it was time to go to work again after a good birding holiday. In the afternoon I was planning to sleep a little but then I got a message that there were 2 Red-breasted Geese in Tetrisuo and of course I had to go to see them as it is only a couple of kilometers from our home.

On the 19th day I had a great 15 minutes before my work. First I twitched a Golden Oriole in Moskuunniemi and then stopped in Härskiinmutka where some Brent Geese were seen in flocks of Barnacle Geese and then I found 3 skuas coming over me and there were 2 Arctic Skuas and a Pomarine Skua! In the afternoon we twitched a Quail in Akonpohja and heard also a Blyth’s Reed Warbler. A short stop in Pohjanranta was good too as there was a Marsh Sandpiper.

On the 20th day only bird to mention was a Pygmy Owl in a nest-box with 8 eggs. On the 21st day between the rains I saw 1717 Brent Geese, 450 Long-tailed Ducks, 160 Common Scoters, 20 Velvet Scoters, 141 Black-throated Divers, amazing 340 local Common Terns and a flock of 12 Arctic Skuas in Härskiinmutka. In the evening we finally managed to check the rest of the owl nest-boxes. And once again we had a bad owl-year.

On the 22nd of May we went to duck-counts again to Saari. On the way we noticed a raptor on a field in Akanpelto and stopped to check it and it was a Lesser Spotted Eagle! The eagle was eating something but soon flew behind a small forest and we decided to move on.

The count went without surprises but a Black Kite was seen in Kanavalampi and then in Jyrkilä we found a flooded field where were 4 Broad-billed Sandpipers, a Temminck Stint, 10 Ringed Plovers and then in a big flock of Barnacle Geese there were 2 Red-breasted Geese!

In the evening I had to go twitching as an Avocet had been found in Savitaipale Lavikanlahti. It was good to see a new South Karelia tick but also several old friends! Also a couple of Marsh Sandpipers, a Redshank and a Temminck Stint was seen there.

On the 23rd day we started SSP-ringing in our still flooded site. Only birds caught were Sedge Warbler 1r + 1c, 2 Common Whitethroats, 1c Willow Warbler, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 2 Common Rosefinches and 1c Reed Bunting. A migrating female Hen Harrier was also soon and a couple of Golden Orioles were calling.

On the 24th day I got information that waders were on the move and some had dropped to flooded fields here and there. So on my lunch-hour I drove quickly to Saari Akanvaara Tetrisuo to check this usually best field and found 130 Grey Plovers, 3 Red Knots and 80 Dunlins. Also a Short-eared and a Long-eared Owl were seen. After work I hurried back to Saari but some of the waders were already gone but now a Dotterel was found. In Jyrkilä I found an amazing flock of 670 Dunlins and with Barnacle Geese there were a Pink-footed and a Bar-headed Goose! Dunlins, Ringed Plovers and some Grey Plovers were found in other fields too but no new species. On my third visit to Akanvaara Tetrisuo I saw a Common Shelduck that had been found on the previous day. In the evening we went to check some fields in Parikkala and in Kullinsuo we saw about 100 Dunlins, 4 Broad-billed and 17 Ringed Plovers and in Kontiolampi 21 Ringed Plovers, a Dunlin and a Broad-billed Sandpiper. Some Stock Doves were seen during the day here and there which is nice.

On the 25th of May there were still some waders around and on my lunch-hour I saw 19 Ringed Plovers, 8 Broad-billed Sandpipers and a Little Stint in Kullinsuo. In Kontiolampi I heard and also saw a Marsh Warbler. In the evening we went ringing some nestlings and it started awfully as the forest around our Ural Owl nest had been cut and the nest was empty! A Pygmy Owl still had too small youngsters but Starlings had almost too big ones, some had maybe left their nest-box already? Then our first Nuthatch looked bad too as when I opened the box I first noticed a dead female laying on the bottom! But there were 7 quite big nestling and male seemed to do well with feeding them continuously. So we ringed these nestlings with color-rings and hope to see them in the future again.

On the 26th day I took it easy – and went to run 3 hours and 28 kilometers… On the next day I had to go twitching again and drove to Lappeenranta Joutseno Korvenkylä pool to see a nice female Grey (Red) Phalarope. The light was poor so I didn’t stay there for long – this time a new South-Karelia tick was the most important thing.

J.A.