Waiting for autumn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

J.A.

Windy Hailuoto bird-race

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

J.A.

Warm summer-days and some ringing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

J.A.

Summer-trip to Jurmo and Åland

First twitches

On the 26th of June I had again an x-ray and time for doctor with my shoulder. It wasn’t still in good shape enough, so I got 2 more weeks sick-leave. From Imatra we continued to Lappeenranta Pajarila where we managed to find a couple of Black Redstarts after some searching. Youngsters were close as the adults were alarming all the time, so soon we continued driving south.

We continued until Lohja where we started searching for a butterfly that we had always wanted to see. First we saw a Lesser Purple Emperor and after some walking on rocky area, we heard a Nutcracker. But the target wasn’t found so we continued to flowery meadows nearby. Soon Hanna managed to find lots of flowering Marsh Helleborine, which is very rare orchid inland. And finally also Apollo was found! It left right under our feet and landed only once before it continued to rocky area where we still managed to follow it for some time before it disappeared behind the trees. It was a good beginning for our holiday-trip, but of course we had hoped to get better pictures of this butterfly too.

We visited one orchid-place in Lohja too, but found only Common Tweyblade and Broad-leaved Helleborine.

Our next target was in Paimio where after some searching we managed to find some Sand Lizard. Unfortunately the only big male was too fast to photograph, but several smaller lizards were photographed. This place is the only one where this species can be found and nobody knows how they have arrived. Maybe someone had brought them? Several species of lizards and frogs have been found quite recently in Turku area that can’t be found anywhere else in Finland. We also tried to find Pool Frogs nearby but found only hundreds of tiny European Toads.

It was quite late when we finally arrived to Parainen where we still visited a couple of forest-places that Hanna hoped to have some orchids, but again we found just the same common species. Finally we drove to one small road and parked next to a small field, put up our tent, cooked and went to sleep.

Jurmo

On the 27th of June we visited two more forests in the morning but still didn’t find new orchids. Finally we headed towards Pärnäs. We did shopping in Nauvo and after we had seen a Grey-hedaed Woodpecker flying across the road, we were finally in Pärnäs a bit too early, so we had good time to arrange our luggage and so on.

Eivor-ferry left in time and we climbed to the sun-deck to enjoy hot summer-weather and scan the sea for any seabirds. Pretty soon we saw a Black Guillemot but next better birds were seen several hours later when we already saw Jurmo-island, when some Razorbills and an Arctic Skua were seen.

Once we were in Jurmo we packed our staff to a couple of milk-carts and headed towards the bird-station. There we met Kim Kuntze who had been on island already for a couple of days.

Soon we went to put up the mist-nets as Hanna planned to ring birds while our stay. Then we watched one more football WC-match before we left to count birds on the western side of the island.

There were quite a good number of birds even though it was mid-summer. But not many young birds were seen. Some better bird found on this protected area where in summer only the bird-station crew can go once in a day were 3 Common Shelducks, 4 Turnstones, 5 Little Terns and a male Black Grouse that was seen on the way to this daily routine counting.

In the evening we cooked and then had the log about the birds seen on the island during the day. It was very late when we finally were ready to sleep.

On the 28th of June after less than 4 hours sleeping we woke up to open the mist-nets. After a couple of empty rounds I climbed to the rock to start another daily routine which was morning seawatch.

From 4:15 a.m. we counted every migrating bird for 2 hours with Kim and saw a couple of Razorbills and Black Guillemots, a flock of Common Scoters, a Dunlin and so on. When the seawatch was ending Kim heard a strange bunting-like song from the bog where Hanna was on the mist-nets. I didn’t hear it at all. So Kim decided to go to listen to the song closer and I stayed on the rock for the last minutes of the seawatch. But soon Hanna called that they were listening a strange bunting-song – and I was running!

I still had some 100 meters to run when I heard the song – and it was a Little Bunting! It was really a strange time of the year and even stranger place to find this species. Little Bunting is extremely rare in South-Eastern Finland. Maybe very hot weather had made this bunting to move to wrong direction. Anyway now it was singing in perfect looking habitat on a bog.

We of course tried to tape-lure the bunting to mist-net but it came only once close to the net and then moved further to the bog to sing. And finally it sang there at least until mid-day.

With Kim we walked the eastern counting-route but saw nothing special. Then I went to help Hanna to close the mist-nets and during the day Hanna had ringed only 5 birds and got 2 old controls. Then we headed to the station to sleep.

In the evening we watched again some football and Germany lost! It was tough for Kim but luckily western count started so well that soon we were all again in good mood. From the lagoon we found a beautiful Sandering!


Other better birds were 6 Dunlins and the same Shelducks and Little Terns. We also ringed 4 small Lapwing-youngsters. While we were walking back to the station, we saw a Cuckoo.

In the evening it had started to wind very hard. When we were back in the station we met Mikko Ylitalo who had arrived in the evening. We ate well again and then kept the log and once again it was very late when we got to sleep.

On the 29th of June the wind was very strong so there was no possibility to put up any mist-nets. Also morning seawatch was very chilly! Kim probably wasn’t too much worried when he left after one hour to pack and towards the ferry.

We counted birds in east with Hanna and saw some more waders than on the previous days. During the day we slept well again and the in the evening headed west with Mikko. Again we found more waders. So it wasn’t a surprise that after counting good numbers of Redshanks and Greenshanks, we also saw some Wood Sandpipers and a Spotted Redshank. Then we saw a good-looking wader flying over us with a couple of Greenshanks, but it was a little bit too brief. But luckily we found the bird again and saw it very well after all – it was a Marsh Sandpiper! It was already the second very rare bird in South-Eastern Finland for us on this Jurmo-trip.It was only the 7th Marsh Sandpiper in Jurmo ever!

It was freezing cold walking in the wind, but finally we were back on the station. Hot food helped and after a long log we went to sleep even later than previous nights.

On the 30th of June the wind had calmed down and when I climbed to the rock to count migration, Hanna left to open the mist-nets. More Common Crossbills were now moving and we counted 281 birds and also the first Two-barred Crossbill of the autumn was seen and heard.

Hanna caught again only a handful of birds but a young Thrush Nightingale was a good catch. And finally one Common Crossbill was caught too. Crossbills were landing to the bog to drink and stayed quite low on the trees but didn’t fly closer to the mist-nets. But we had noticed that bigger flocks were landing to the patch in the pine-forest, so after I had counted birds in east, we moved all the mist-nets there. Hanna also dug a couple of water-pools for the birds. And soon she started to catch more of these rarely caught birds!

I was watching to the sea from the southern shore for some time but quite soon I walked back to pine-forest to help Hanna. While we were ringing the last Common Crossbill of the morning, we saw a Honey Buzzard migrating over us.

After the lunch Hanna headed back to mist-nets and I left to count bird in west. It was much faster to count the birds alone, but there weren’t so many waders anymore. Sanderling was still there but unfortunately Marsh Sandpiper was gone. Only new bird on the count was a Green Sandpiper.

Once I was back in the pine-forest Hanna had just caught some more Crossbills but they were the last ones. During the day she had ringed 38 of them!


In the evening we were watching football and having the log and it went late again.

On the 1st of July I woke up first and climbed to watch to the sea. Soon arrived Mikko too and Hanna headed to open the mist-nets in pine-forest. There were still some flocks of Common Crossbills, but most of them left and the new flocks weren’t coming to drink to Hanna’s pools. So, only one Common Crossbill was ringed in the whole morning. Luckily some other birds were caught, so it wasn’t too boring for Hanna.

After the morning-watch we headed west with Mikko but saw nothing new there, except a Honey Buzzard that was soaring above us for some time while a noisy flock of Redshanks were following it. A couple of Cranes were seen on the way but they soon left to fly to the sea.

Once we had taken off all the mist-nets we slept a couple of hours, packed and cleaned our room and headed towards the harbor. Mikko had decided to stay one more day.

On the way back to Pärnäs we were mostly just sleeping in Eivor. We were finally in Pärnäs at 6:30 p.m. and after shopping in Nauvo, we continued to Parainen.

Turku area

In the evening we still managed to find some extremely rare Fly Orchids. Light was already quite bad, so soon we headed to put up the ferry to the same familiar place.

On the 2nd of July we slept long and after breakfast we went to photograph Fly Orchids again. We found quite a lot of them and Hanna was extremely happy seeing these strange orchids.

During the day we visited Kaarina Kuusistonlahti and Littoistenjärvi Järvelä and saw a couple of Moorhens, Grey Herons and Gadwalls and so on. Then we headed to Turku botanical garden where we heard a family of 6 Hawfinches and heard another Moorhen.

Later we also tried to find Alpine Salamander, but without luck. It was one more species that nobody knows why they were found in this place. Then we still visited Raisio Raisionlahti where the only interesting bird was a Lesser Redpoll. As we still had some time, we went shopping and I managed to watch one more football match before we headed to harbor.

Åland

After one hour Viking Grace -ferry left towards Åland. We had dinner in a fine restaurant and the rest of the time I was watching football again. Finally we were in Lumparland Långnäs at 1:05 a.m.

We still drove to Lemland and turned to a small forest-road where we put up the tent while a couple of Nightjars were singing.

On the 3rd of July we woke up late and the headed to Herröskatan where we immediately found Greater Butterfly-orchid, Common Spotted Orchids and Moorland Spotted Orchids, Bird’s-nest Orchids, CommonTwayblades and closer to the bird-tower also some already dry Elder-flowered Orchids. Bird-tower was in pretty bad shape and extremely difficult to climb up, but the view was stunning. We saw some Black Guillemots and while walking back to the parking place we found a Nuthatch and a Hawfinch.

After a good lunch we decided to walk another round in Herröskatan and soon we met a local lady who told us that she knew a place for Narrow-leaved Helleborine. So we followed her until the carpark and then quite a long way until the place where had been lots of Narrow-leaved Helleborines flowering earlier. But this year they had been flowering already in the end of May! After some searching we found some leafs but not a single flower anymore.

After we had twitched a Great White Egret in the border-bay of Mariehamn and Jomala, we continued to Hammarland where Hanna knew one more orchid-place. This area was fenced and inside the fence there were lots of Lady’s-slipper Orchids and Narrow-leaved Helleborines, but they were all already dried. Outside the fence we tried to find some flowers and surprisingly we found one Narrow-leaved Helleborine which had somehow stack to button. It was much better to take pictures than only leafs.

When we were back at our car, we noticed that our clothes were full of ticks! Only thing we could do was to strip down immediately and anyway we both had already 3 ticks in our skin! Tens of them were found climbing on our clothes so we had to change all clothes, before we could continue towards Eckerö.

We drove until Styrsingsudden where we planned to visit in the sea-watching place, but when we had walked 5 meters from the car, we noticed several ticks climbing on our trousers already! So we desided to just put up the tent in the middle of the road as far as possible from any plants and to go to sleep.

4.7. We had planned to sleep only for a couple of hours and then cook some food but after all we woke up only before 8 a.m. on the next morning. then we hurried to the shore and after picking up some ticks from our clothes, we started seawatching. In a couple of hours we saw 10 Razorbills, 4 Black Guillemots, some unidentified alcids and surprisingly 2 to 4 Common Guillemots. Also 2 Arctic Skuas, 3 Turnstones, a Hobby and so on were seen.

Then we headed to bogs to search for new orchids, but we couldn’t find any. The most interesting observation was a brownish snake that I almost step on. It was most probably a Smooth Snake, but unfortunately I couldn’t see the spots on its back well enough to be sure. Some Treecreepers, Coal Tits, Wrens and a Goshawk were the only better birds and while we were walking towards the next bog Jyrki Normaja called and told that he was visiting one orchid-place soon. We had planned to visit the same place so it was of course clever to join him and have several pairs of eyes searching our target-species.

So after some driving we met Jyrki and also Rami Lindroos who was living in Vårdö. We tried to find Fen Orchids for some time but couldn’t find any of these extremely rare orchids. It is normal that some orchids aren’t flowering every year at all.

Next we continued to one more bog in Jomala where we walked a couple of hours and finally found some Early Marsh-orchids and Flecked Marsh-orchids Then Jyrki called and told that he had found one single Bog Orchid in one more bog in Eckerö. We thought that we had already spent enough time on our bog, so Hanna asked if Jyrki could somehow give us coordinates how to find that Bog Orchid. Luckily phones can give exact coordinates and then the rest of the instructions were given like: “There is one more reddish tussock than others with a small birch-tree. 10 meters east from the tussock there is a rock. In the middle of this line and one meter left is the orchid.

Once we had driven to this place it was still quite a walk into the middle of the bog where we finally found the right tussock. And then Hanna found the tiny Bog Orchid immediately. It was an orchid that Hanna had hoped to see for a long time. While Hanna was photographing the orchid I managed to find some more of them nearby.

We still visited Storby Postbryggan and Sandviken in the evening and saw some Shelducks, Slavonian Grebes and Little Ringed Plovers. Then we headed to Styrsingsudden where we put up the tent to exactly same spot and after dinner we were ready to sleep.

On the 5th of July I woke up to seawatch at 5 a.m. Hanna joined me soon after she had collected some ticks from our tent – both outside and inside. These bloody bastards were following us to the road in the middle of the night!

There were birds moving so we seawatched until 10 a.m. and counted 15 Common Eiders, 42 Common Scoters, 20 Velvet Scoters, 35 Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Great Crested Grebes, a Red-necked Grebem 6 Cormorants, 3 Lapwings, a Turnstone, an Arctic Skua, 14 Black Guillemots, 58 Razorbills, again 2 Common Guillemots, a Caspian Tern, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 12 Starlings.

We visited again Postbryggan and Sandviken briefly before continued to Jomala Torpfjärden. Also this tower was in bad shape and extremely dangerous to climb up. We counted 185 Mute Swans, 7 Common Shelducks, 13 Lapwings, 28 Common Ringed Plovers, 13 Ruffs, 12 Greenshanks, 10 Wood Sandpipers, a Spotted Redshank and a Temminck Stint.

After all these ticks, dangerous bird-towers and numerous deers along the roads we had started to think that this must be our most dangerous summer-trip ever!

Next we continued to Ramsholmen where cows had eaten all the orchids already but we found 3 Nuthatches and from the reed-bed we found a couple of young Bearded Reedlings.

After shopping we continued a longer way to Finström Bomarsund castle, where Hanna had been 29 years earlier. After some walking around the castle, we continued to Vårdö ferry-harbor, but decided to turn back and towards Geta.

We stopped briefly in Saltvik Haga fields where we saw a huge flock of 1500 Jackdaws. Finally we were in Getaberget where we decided to sleep in a car for an hour or two.

Once we woke up most of the tourists had left and the parking place was almost empty. So we climbed to watch views from the tower and then walked a long way to visit a couple of caves.

A couple of hours later we climbed back to the parking place and luckily the weather had changed and the sun was shining again. So we decided to try to find Smooth Snakes from the rocky and heathery terrain. No snakes were found so once we were back, we decided to ask, if we could go to shower in the camping area. We paid 5 € for the shower and after all we could have paid much more – it was so refreshing!

In the evening we still drove to the border of Saltvik and Finström to put up the tent. And after a good meal we were ready to sleep.

On the 6th of July after slowly start we headed to Lemland Nåtö hazel-grove. Cattle had eaten all the flowers, but on the shore we saw some Slavonian Grebes also found a nest of a Velvet Scoter. We also photographed tame young Bullfinches before walking back to our car.

Then we still went to eat in Mariehamn and checked that Great White Egret was still on its ordinary place, before we headed to harbor. And an hour later Viking Grace left towards Turku.

We were first on the sundeck but the rest of the trip went watching football and shopping. Once we were in Turku, we drove to Kaarina Järvelä again and tried to find European Green Toads but without luck. We also visited bird-tower on the other side of the pool which was in Lieto. Then we drove once again to Parainen to put up the tent.

Last twitching

On the 7th of July we woke up late and while having breakfast butterflies started to fly. We saw several Fritillary-butterflies and a single Silver-washed Fritillarythat was having territory around our tent. We also met a local butterfly-watcher who asked if we had found any Apollos yet. And almost immediately we saw one flying over us high on the sky.

Soon we drove tha last kilometers to the butterfly-place that we had been told. There we met Tom and Kaija Lindroos and some other butterfly-photographers. Immediately we found some Apollos and also Lesser Purple Emperors. Finally we managed to get good pictures of Apollo too! So pretty soon we were happy enough to start a long drive towards east.


In Salo we felt so tired that we stopped at Halikonlahti, where Hanna slept a little and I visited a couple of bird-towers. Only some Dunlins, Spotted Redshanks and Gadwalls were seen and soon we hit the road again.

Finally we stopped in Lappeenranta where we visited one orchid-place but found nothing interesting. Then we visited Kaislanen, where I managed to see a Black-tailed Godwit briefly. Then we drove to Joutseno to one more butterfly-place to out up the tent. After one more long football match I finally was ready to go to sleep.

On the 8th of July we weren’t in a hurry as it was raining. Luckily the rain stopped and it soon got hotter. But still butterflies weren’t flying. So we visited Kotasaari where we saw 2 Dunlins and Kukkuroinmäki where we surprisingly found a family of Great Grey Shrikes.

We still drove back to butterfly-place but saw nothing interesting, so we started to head towards home. Next we stopped in Imatra where we checked one place that could be the right one to find one more extremely rare orchid, but maybe it wasn’t the right place at all. Then the last stop was made in Simpele Kokkolanjoki where we saw a Grey Wagtail in a couple of minutes.

Finally we were home and it was good to know that I still had one week sick-leave and could rest well after a hard but successful trip.

J.A.

Quiet summer-time

On the 28th of May I had hurt my shoulder in a game and it was difficult to sleep at nights because of the pain. I had taken x-ray pictures but doctor didn’t see anything on them, so I was working and living normally.

I visited Booted Warbler and Great Snipes several times, mostly because I couldn’t sleep anyway. But other birding was a bit lazy because of the tiredness. Anyway I found 6 Broad-billed Sandpipers in Siiikalahti on the 6th of June, on the 8th day there was a couple of Slavonian Grebes after a long time, on the 9th day the first ever successful breeding of Nuthatches was finally confirmed when I saw 3 fledlings. On one more night-trip I didn’t hear anything new, but while I was listening a Nightjar about 30 meters away from our car, a Brown Bear walked across the road about 30 meters from me. On the 10th day a new Greenish Warbler was singing in Soininmäki and the first ever successful breeding of Grey Wagtail was confirmed when there were 3 fledlings in Simpele Kokkolanjoki.

On the 12th of June I saw a female Pintail in Siikalahti and on the next day I found a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker nest. Finally on the 14th day I had an Ultrasound examine for my shoulder and a clear fracture was found. Also new x-rays were taken and it wasn’t a surprise that the fracture was much worse than on the first pictures where I had seen it but unfortunately doctor hadn’t seen it. So I got 2 weeks sick leave and I wasn’t in a hurry anymore to go back to work. So I visited Joutseno where I saw a couple of Wood Larks along the main road.

I tried to walk a couple of times for 5 kilometers every day in the beginning of my sick leave, but all I saw were the same Canada Geese and some Gold Finches here and there, but in Likolampi we found also a young White-backed Woodpecker.

On the 17th of June we headed to a longer night-trip which we started by listening Great Snipes and the same Booted Warbler again. Then while driving towards Saari along the border-road, we stopped in Tyrjä and then Hanna noticed a strange light on the eastern sky – a rocket! Russians had launched a rocket in Plesets, more than 500 km from us but in perfect weather-conditions we managed to see it quite well and Hanna managed to get some pictures too! Later we found out that it had been Soyuz 2.1B rocket carrying navigation satellite Glonass-M. It was very rare to see something like this in Finland! During the night and early morning we heard 4 Golden Orioles, a Grasshopper Warbler, 3 Marsh Warblers, 2 Spotted Crakes, a Stock Dove and young Long-eared Owls and also saw a couple of adults.

On the 19th of June I heard the Booted Warbler last time. On the 20th day we ringed our only owls – 6 Pygmy Owls and also crossed border to Savo and checked that Red-throated Divers were on their usual pool. During the day we drove to Lappeenranta where we visited Askola and Kaislanen without anything to mention. In the evening we went to movies.

On the 24th of June we headed to Papinlahti to ring birds. Hanna had planned to start SSP-ringing project there which means that in the future there must be ringing in the future once every 2 weeks during the summer. This year we had planned to test this place as when the project begins nothing can be changed anymore to get right results. During the morning we caught 37 birds of 11 species which was more than we had expected as we had only 5 good mist-nets and 2 bad ones. Most common species were Great Tit and Sedge Warbler but some nice species were caught too like several Common Whitethroates, a Garden Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Blackbird, a Common Rosefinch and a Yellowhammer.

On the 25th of June Hanna still ringed nestlings of Kestrel in Tarvaslampi, there were 4 surprisingly big youngsters already in the nest-box.

J.A.

Very hot beginning of summer

On the 21st of May it was hard to start a week at work after a weekend in Virolahti. The weather was very hot and calm, so it wasn’t a surprise that there was almost nothing migrating in Siikalahti on my lunch-hour. I was talking with Arttu Valonen when I noticed a goose flying towards us. It looked just another White-fronted Goose but for some reason I kept on following it with my scope and I noticed a big white patch on the forehead that continued quite long on the head. I also noticed that neck was getting darker towards the head so the bird started to look interesting. Luckily it turned around and flew back towards us and passed us again. Then we noticed also small bill, but because of the sun, we couldn’t see the color of the bill. When the bird turned once more towards us Arttu took his camera and managed to get a couple of pictures. When he was photographing I already saw also the yellow eye-ring and from the picture we could see also pink bill – it was a Lesser White-fronted Goose!

In the afternoon we visited a small pond in Punkaharju where are some Great Crested Newts. We saw only one newt briefly but saw also a White-backed Woodpecker close to the pond.

On the 22nd day I saw a flock of 3 Garganeys in Siikalahti and in the evening we checked that our only Ural Owl had still very small chicks. On the 23rd day I saw 2 Temminck Stints in Siikalahti and a Cormorant in Härskiinmutka. Also Pygmy Owl had tiny chicks but in Tarvalampi Starlings had already big chicks, so we ringed 13 youngsters from 3 nest-boxes.

On the 24th day I saw only 2 migrating Little Ringed Plovers and on the 25th day we headed to Saari where in Kanavalampi we found a Broad-billed Sandpiper and heard a Golden Oriole. In Uukuniemi Suurenjärvenliete we saw 8 Temminck Stints and 3 Yellow Wagtails, in Jyrkilä 2 Stock Doves and in Pohjanranta 6 Ringed Plovers and 2 Temminck Stints.

On the 26th of May we headed early to Melkoniemi forests where we heard a couple of Greenish Warblers, a Red-breasted Flycatcher and a drumming Three-toed Woodpecker. Then I counted water-birds in Siikalahti and there were again only very few of them. In the late evening we did a good tour and managed to find 2 lekking Great Snipes from their ordinary field where also 2 Nightjars were singing on the forest. Then we managed to find one more Great Snipe on another field where also a Corn Crake was calling. After we had seen one and heard one Long-eared Owl, we headed to Siikalahti where we found a River Warbler and lots of Blyth’s Reed Warblers. From the dam-road we heard still some Spotted Crakes and Water Rails and after we had seen one more Long-eared Owl, it was time to go to sleep.

On the 27th day after we had finally woken up, we headed to Simpele Kokkolanjoki where we twitched a long-staying pair of Grey Wagtails. We soon found out that they were already feeding youngsters and we really hope this will be the first successful breeding of the species in South-Karelia. We also took the last owl nest-box away from Rautjärvi, so now all our boxes are in a smaller area which saves time every year in the future. We ended our morning-trip to a nest of a White-backed Woodpecker where we also saw a couple of Long-tailed Tits nearby.

On the 28th of May the only better bird on my lunch-hour was a Great Reed Warbler in Siikalahti. In the late evening I twitched a Grasshopper Warbler as a year-tick in Siikalahti. On the 29th day I saw a Grey-headed Woodpecker there on my lunch-hour and in the evening we did a tour in Saari and saw 3 Garganeys in Kanavalampi, 2 Stock Doves in Jyrkilä again, some 30 Barnacle Geese and an Icterine Warbler in Pohjanranta. On the 30th day only bird to mention was a Golden Oriole in Siikalahti – this species is really getting rare!

On the last day of May we visited Great Crested Newts again and saw again a couple of them briefly but several Smooth Newts were seen. We also heard a River Warbler and then went to check that Nuthatches were still actively feeding their youngsters on their nest-box.

I started birding in June again visiting Siikalahti on my lunch-hour but saw nothing. So I visited Nuthatches again. After I had been sleeping whole afternoon and evening, I left to birding by bike. First I heard a Grasshopper Warbler, a Great Reed Warbler and a Corn Crake and saw a couple of Tundra Bean Geese in Siikalahti. There were amazing number of mosquitoes but when I was listening to one field I heard a very distant song that I couldn’t be sure what I was. I had to walk closer and after some hundreds of meters walking I could easily identify the bird – it was exactly what I had been thinking – a Booted Warbler! It was finally my first self-found Booted Warbler in Parikkala and also South-Karelia! Hanna had been guiding an American birder early in the morning and again in the evening, so I called to Hanna and in 5 minutes they were also listening to Booted Warbler.

After I had twitched a couple of Great Snipes I continued back towards home. I still twitched a River Warbler in Siikalahti, but surprisingly I didn’t hear anything else except many Blyth’s Reed Warblers.

On the 2nd of June we visited again Grey Wagtails and also White-backed Woodpeckers. Woodpeckers had already left their nest but were still around. In the evening we were twitching the Booted Warbler with some twitchers and luckily we could hear also at least one Great Snipe too. We also stopped in Siikalahti but heard only a Corn Crake and a Spotted Crake.

On the 3rd day we went ringing some singers with Hanna. I had more than 10 years ago decided that once I find a Booted Warbler I’d love to also ring it. So once we had managed to locate the bird again, it took only a couple of minutes to catch it. After ringing and a couple of measures, we took some pictures and released the bird to its territory.

It had been fun to ring a song-bird after a long time, so we continued and ringed also a Grasshopper Warbler and a River Warbler in Siikalahti. We also heard a Golden Oriole and saw a couple of Long-tailed Tits and White-backed Woodpeckers there. On the dam-road we met the American birder again and visited northern end of Siikalahti where we had only an Icterine Warbler.

After I had slept a couple of hours, I noticed that an Eastern Imperial Eagle that had been in Pori on the previous day had been seen in Espoo. And usually these birds are flying away from Finland following the southern coast. So I started driving to Hamina which is usually the best spot to see these raptors. When I was in Lappeenranta-Luumäki border I saw a big raptor flying over the road and surprisingly this bird dropped down towards the road and almost hit the car that was driving in front of me! Then it moved towards my car and I saw this 2nd year Black Kite amazingly well through wind-screen in 100km/h speed.

Finally I was in Hamina Kirkkojärvi where were after all only 12 birders waiting for the eagle. There was no news about the bird but after half an hour it was reported in Loviisa and then later in Pyhtää! We estimated that it should be in Kirkkojärvi in about 30 minutes, so we were very excited! But we found only several White-tailed Eagles which some of them were especially high, so maybe we missed the bird or then it never came to Hamina. It was never seen again. When most of the birders had already given up, I found a Great Grey Shrike which is very strange bird in this south this time of the year. It had completely white rump and a bit bigger white patches on its wings, so it was something that was earlier called as “homeyeri”, but after all it they are nowadays just “excubitors” but probably somewhere from east.

In the evening I drove back home and Hanna had just been ringing a couple of Jackdaw nestlings.

J.A.