Finnish BirdFair, searching for falcons and ringing buntings

On Friday the 23rd of August we headed to Kirkkonummi and on Saturday we participated to Finnish BirdFair in Helsinki Viikki. Hanna was working there but I was only meeting many friends and of course I had to also buy some books and so on. Also Elissa and Miika came to test telescopes and about at midday my father also arrived and soon we headed together to do some birding.

First we drove to Espoo Laajalahti where always is some waders in this time of year. We soon found a Broad-billed and a Curlew Sandpiper, a Little Stint, Dunlins, Lapwings, Golden Plovers, Common, Green and Wood Sandpipers, Common Ringed Plovers, Caspian Terns, Gadwalls, Grey Herons and Red-backed Shrikes and so on.

Next we headed to Finno where after some searching we found 4 Moorhens and also Gadwalls, a Common Pochard and a Slavonian Grebe. Then we still drove to Ämmässuo rubbish tip as I thought it might be the best possibility ever for Elissa and Miika to see a Caspian Gull. But the wind was straight from the smelly compost and it really wasn’t nice birding. Anyway we were checking gulls for more than 30 minutes and once I saw a good candidate but it disappeared too soon. But anyway I could show how difficult even Herring and Greater Black-backed Gulls are.

In the evening I still went to Kirkkonummi Saltfjärden where I saw 675 Common Cranes, 223 Greylag Geese and a couple of Great White Egrets.

On Sunday I headed to Laajalahti again and together with many familiar birders we counted 199 migrating Sparrowhawks. The same Little Stint was still there but other better waders were gone. The best birds we saw was a Spotted Eagle that we found a little bit too late and it was seen only gliding slowly away. It looked like a Greater Spotted Eagle in my opinion. Then a plover-looking bird was found high up from the sky and luckily I managed to get it to my scope and identify it as a young Dotterel.

during the day I picked up Hnna from Helsinki where she had been in BirdLife meeting. On the way back home we still stopped in Lappeenranta Kourulanmäki where we managed to twitch a young Black Redstart. We also saw plenty of Linnets there.

During the week and last days of August I visited Siikalahti many times and saw Great White Egrets (at least 3), Grey Herons (maximun 5) and Great Bitterns (2), at least 2 Hen Harriers, Lapwings and a Grey-headed Woodpecker and on evening visit we heard several Water Rails and counted 617 Common Cranes. On the 29th day I saw a young Pallid Harrier migrating together with a young Hen Harrier and in the afternoon we did a short trip to Saati where we saw 3 Hen Harriers in Pohjasuo, a Bluethroat and a Common Rosefinch in Suurenjärvenliete and a Hawfinch in Ryhjä. On the last light we were in Siikalahti and counted 734 Common Cranes. On the next day we headed to Saari again as we hoped to find some Red-footed Falcon which had been seen all around Southern Finland. But we found only the long-staying Great White Egret in Pohjanranta, a couple of Hen Harriers and one too briefly seen small falcon.

On the 31st day we tried bunting-ringing in Siikalahti. All around Finland ringers had been trying to catch Rustic Buntings with tape and north from us the results had been amazing. It seemed that there were more Rustic Buntings than decades! But we caught no buntings at all, just a couple of Garden Warblers, a Blackcap, 2 Sedge Warblers, 3 Robins, 2 Chaffinches, a Blue Tit and 5 Great Tits. We did hear a Rustic Bunting calling a couple of times but never saw any. While ringing we were also scanning the sky on the dam-road and saw 11 species of raptors, which a migrating Peregrine, a Goshawk, a Hen Harrier and a White-tailed Eagle were the best ones – we still had no Red-footed Falcons. In the afternoon we again went to Saari but had nothing new. In Härskiinmutka we counted 12 Cormorants.

On the 1st of September we had the last SSP-ringing. We caught 1r+1c Robins, a Bluethroat, a late Blyth’s Reed Warblers, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Willow Warblers, a Blue Tit, a Yellowhammer and 12 Reed Buntings. The best bird of the morning was a very late River Warbler that was singing shortly close to our mist-nets but we didn’t manage to push it to the nets. We also heard about 10 Dunnocks migrating, finally the first Red-throated Pipit, a Black Grouse was heard lekking, Grey-headed Woodpecker calling, Coal Tit singing and also a Nuthatch was calling shortly nearby. During the day I did a long run and saw a flock of 35 Goldfinches in Liuharanta. In the evening we counted 419 Cranes and saw 7 Great White Egrets in Siikalahti.

On the 2nd day a short visit in Siikalahti producted a Gadwall and I continued to Kullinsuo where I finally found a young Red-footed Falcon. It was perched on the wire but almost immediately flew up to the blue sky and disappeared. In Härskiinmutka I saw later a flock of 30 Canada Geese.

Other birding during the week was quite boring. The same Gadwall was seen again and 15 Lapwings were still counted. On the 5th day evening we counted 620 Cranes and saw again 7 Great White Egrets and a single Bittern. One evening we went to sheck if the Red-footed Falcon had stayed in Kullinsuo after all. No birds were seen on the fields but in Kontiolampi we saw a big male Lynx running in front of our car for more than a hundred meters!

On the 8th of September we tried to catch Rustic Buntings again and after we had seen a couple of Rustic Buntings migrating, we finally caught one. We also ringed 11 Robins, a Sedge Warbler, a Chiffchaff, 2 Blue Tits, 6 Great Tits, a Treecreeper, 3 Yellowhammers and a Reed Bunting. From the bushes we also heard a Wren and a Red-breasted Flycatcher, saw a Lesser Whitethroat, Goldcrests and briefly a chiffchaff that was calling like a Siberian Chiffchaff. From the dam-road we saw a young Red-footed Falcon migrating, a Grey Heron, 5 Great White Egrets, 3 Honey Buzzards, a Hen Harrier, a Golden Plover, a Ruff, 5 Black, a Grey-headed, a White-backed, a Lesser Spotted and even a Three-toed Woodpecker, more than 200 Tree Pipits, Dunnocks, a Coal Tit, a Spotted Flycatcher and 2 Lapland Buntings.

On the 9th day I saw a Smew from the bird-tower and during the afternoon the weather warmed up to 26 degrees. I spent a nice summer-evening in dam-road and counted 734 Cranes and surprisingly saw a Wild Boar! It was coming straight towards me but then heard a car coming a disappeared to the bushes where it had came from. I also saw 7 Great White Egrets, a Bittern and 4 Wood Sandpipers.

Then the weather turned like in autumn. It was still southern wind, but much colder. On the 12th of September I saw 6 Bean Geese and 5 Dunlins.


End of summer birding

On the 28th of July we took it easy and slept as much as possible. It had been so hot that our apartment was too hot, but we managed to sleep quite well. During the day a Common Kingfisher was found in Kitee Kesälahti Taipaleenranta and we went to twitch it with Hanna’s sister Elissa. Luckily the bird was found easily and we even managed to get some distant pictures of it.

On the way back we stopped in Kuolemanlampi where the bird-tower was in so bad condition that it was impossible to climb there. In Saari Pohjanranta we saw 3 Grey Herons. In the evening I heard a Three-toed Woodpecker while running in Tiviä. And later in Siikalahti we saw a Great Bittern and 22 Common Cranes.

On the 29th of July it had been raining for a long time but I still decided to go to check that Red-throated Divers were doing OK. I saw a couple with a big young already. On the way I saw a family of Capercaillies, a female with 2 male and 2 female youngsters that were almost the size of their mother.

On the 1st of August I had working day in Imatra. So I decided to wake up early and together with Sampsa Cairenius we went to twitch the Pinkfooted Goose in Taipalsaari Liukkola again. After some waiting we saw the goose in flight and it landed to a field nearby. We managed to see it really well but it was still quite dark for good pictures.

Then we drove to Toikansuo where we saw nothing better. After I had dropped Sampsa to Joutseno I still tried to twitch a Little Grebe in Korvenkylä but saw only a couple of Slavonian Grebes.

After work I drove back to Parikkala but stopped in Rautjärvi Lahnanen on the way and saw a male Grey Wagtail again.

On the 2nd day I saw again a Great White Egret in Siikalahti and then on the 3rd day we drove to Lappeenranta to do some shopping with Hanna and Elissa. In Joutseno Korvenkylä we managed to see the Little Grebe but Ravattila we tried to find Collared Doves without luck, but we saw some Stock Doves. In Kotasaari we saw a young Citrine Wagtail very briefly but after a half an hour waiting we found a female and saw it very well. Then we still visited Toikansuo but saw only 4 Temminck Stints and a couple of Little Ringed Plovers and I saw a Merlin briefly. After shopping we still drove to Taipalsaari Liukkola where we saw the Pink-footed Goose swimming with a flock of Canada Geese. On the way back to Parikkala we stopped in Imatra Immalanjärvi where we counted 175 Common Terns, 170 Great Crested Grebes and saw some Little Gulls and heard a White-backed Woodpecker.

On the 4th of August we saw a female Garganey with 4 duckling in Siikalahti. On the 5th day evening we tried to ring Nightjars again and managed to catch 2 birds in Tarvaslampi.

On the 6th day there was a Cormorant in Härskiinmutka and in Siikalahti I heard a Golden Oriole singing. In the eveninng we visited Saari Pohjanranta where we saw a Great White Egret. On the 8th day we counted already 132 Cranes coming to roost to Siikalahti and on the 9th day I saw a Goshawk there.

River WarblerOn the 10th of August we were ringing again and caught immediately a young River Warbler! Other birds caught were a Robin, a Common Redstart, a Whinchat, 4 Sedge Warblers, 6 Lesser Whitethroats, 3 Garden Warblers, 3 Common Whitethroats, 7+1c Willow Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher, a Great Tit, a Red-backed Shrike, a Chaffinch, 3 Common Rosefinches, a Yellowhammer and 3 Reed Buntings. Other birds seen were a couple of Red-throated Divers, 2 Grey Herons, a Goshawk, 9 Goldfinches and we heard a Grey-headed Woodpecker and a Coal Tit. In the evening I saw a Great White Egret and a White-backed Woodpecker in Siikalahti.

On the 11th day we did a trip to Saari with Hanna, Elissa and Miika and saw 2 Great White Egrets in Pohjanranta, a Stock Dove in Kirjavala and a flock of 6 in Pohjasuo – it might had been the first breeding in Parikkala? Female Hen Harriers were seen in Pohjasuo and Tetrisuo and a White.tailed Eagle in Kanavalampi. The best observation was a Corn Crake that was seen walking on the road in Karinmäki.

On the 12th day I saw 2 Great White Egrets flying north in Siikalahti, a White-tailed Eagle and heard a Grey-headed Woodpecker. On the 13th day we saw a Bittern, 247 Cranes, a Smew, 6 Pochards, a Thrush Nightingale and heard 7 Water Rails and 1 or 2 Moorhens.

On the 15th day I counted 52 Whichats on one single field in Kullinsuo and then 243 Cranes in Siikalahti in the evening. I also saw 7 migrating Golden Plovers.

On the 16th of August we drove south to Espoo with Sampsa. We made a brief stop in Ämmässuo and tried to twitch Caspian Gulls on the rubbish tip but most gulls were just leaving to the sea and we found none. It was already dark when we were driving towards Hanko and saw a Tawny Owl in Raasepori Tammisaari Trollböle.

We tried to sleep a couple of hours in one parking place, Samsa in car and I in the forest. It was raining and the re were some strange people walking around the area whole night so I slept about an hour.

On the 17th of August we started walking to Uddskatan already before the sun was rising. We stopped in Gåsörsviken where were good selection of waders. We found 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 10 Red Knots, heard a Grey Plover and also counted 55 Ringed Plovers, 45 Dunlins, 42 Greenshanks, 2 Redshanks and a Spotted Redshank. But only terns we saw were Common Terns and a Caspian Tern – and our goal was once again to see Sandwich Terns as I still need it as a Finnish-tick.

We continued to Halias where we were welcome to go to the migration watching point of the bird-station where Aki Aintila was counting birds alone. I a few hours we counted Yellow Wagtails and Tree Pipits but the wind was too strong to see good numbers. We also saw a few Whimbrels, a flock of 19 Golden Plovers and then a Sanderling.

During the we visited Vedagrundet but there were too many people. So only waders we saw were 3 Curlew Sandpipers and 5 Bar-tailed Godwits and handful of more common species. But once again I had to leave Hanko without seeing a Sandwich Tern.

In the afternoon we stopped again in Ämmässuo and after a long searching we saw a Caspian Gull briefly. It was a new individual the gull-counters had actually found on the same day, but we didn’t know about it yet, so it was a self-found bird for us.

On the way back to home, we still stopped in Oivonoja in Kouvola Koria but saw almost nothing there. But nearby we saw a very badly molting male Hen Harrier fighting with a young female Goshawk.

Red-backed ShrikeOn the 18th of August we had SSP-ringing again. We had hoped to get good numbers of birds but especially tits were still missing. We caught a Tree Pipit, a Robin 1c, 3+1c Whinchats, a Song Thrush, 4 Sedge Warblers, a Garden Warbler, 6 Lesser Whitethroats, 3 Willow Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher, even 6 Red-backed Shrikes, 2 Greenfinches and 6 Reed Buntings. We also heard a Black and a Grey-headed Woodpecker, some Common Crossbills, a Common Rosefinch and saw some Goldfinches again.

During the week I saw again some Great White Egrets which a young bird in Siikalahti on the 19th day was a new bird and then on the 20th day there were 5 adults in one flock – so 6 birds were there altogether. I also saw a Nutcracker, 2 White-tailed Eagles and when duck-hunting started lots of Mallards started to arrive to Siikalahti with one flock of 24 Shovelers. I still saw a couple Grey-headed and a White-backed Woodpecker and while visiting Siikalahti in late evening I counted 402 Cranes in the 22nd day and then also several Water Rails were heard and some Woodcocks were seen. On the 23rd day I saw 3 Great White Egrets, a White- tailed Eagle, young Goshawk, a Cuckoo, a Red-backed Shrike and 110 House Martins.


Butterflies and some birds too

On the 8th of July I saw a Great White Egret in Siikalahti again and on the 10th day while running I saw a White-backed Woodpecker and heard a Golden Oriole in Likolampi. I also saw some Poplar Admirals and Purple Emperors. On the 11th day a Reed Warbler was singing and a Whimbrel migrating in Siikalahti.

On the 12th of July I drove to Joutseno where I first stopped in Korvenkylä where I saw a Moorhen, a family of Slavonian Grebes and a female Garganey. Then I picked up Sampsa Cairenius and we continued to Taipalsaari Liukkola where we managed to find a Pink-footed Goose that had stayed there for some time with Canada Geese. It was the first ever Pink-footed Goose in Finland in July. It had been really difficult to find but we were lucky and found it easily.

We continued to Lappeenranta Askola where we saw 11 Temminck Stints, a Little Stint a Dunlin, a Common Redshank, 4 Little Ringed Plovers, 5 Oystercatchers and a Shelduck that had been there for some days. We also saw briefly a distant wagtail that looked promising for a Grey Wagtail but it was too far and flying away all the time.

In Pappilanniemi we saw only some Grey Herons but then we birded around Joutseno for whole night. The best birds we found were a fledlings of Tawny Owl, an Ortolan Bunting, a Quail and a family of Long-eared Owls, some Grasshopper Warblers, Blyth’s Reed Warblers, many Corn Crakes and several calling Long-eared Owlets.

When sun had risen we headed to Kotasaari where Sampsa had seen a Citrine Wagail briefly earlier. We soon found a couple of young birds and the after some searching also an adult female. We also saw a Little Ringed Plover and a Temmink Stint and heard a Reed Warbler, a Yellow Wagtail, a Grey-headed Woodpecker and a Pheasant.

When I was driving back towards Parikkala I saw a couple of Wood Larks in Joutseno Pappilankangas. Then I decided to stop in Rautjärvi Lahnanen because of there had been some Grey Wagtails around Finland. Surprisingly I found an adult female!

On the 14th of July I headed t forests of Melkoniemi and saw a Siberian Jay. I also heard a couple of Common Crossbills. Then I went to check a traditional breeding-pool of a Red-throetd Diver and it was nice to see that there was one young bird with an adult. During the day I went running to Siikalahti and heard a singing Greenish Warbler in Huhmarinen and a Crested tit and a Chiffchaff in Muttelinmäki.

On the 15th day I heard a Spotted Nutcracker calling in Kangaskylä and on the next day there was a family of Barnacle Geese behind the market. In Siikalahti I saw a Great White Egret, a couple of Great Bitterns and heard a Golden Oriole. On the 17th day I saw a Goldfinch and a Linnet in Kangaskylä. On the next days I saw only some of the same birds again.

On the 20th of July we headed to Saari with Hanna and Elissa. The first stop was made in Akanvaara Tetrisuo where Hanna heard a Quail shortly but with Elissa we missed it. In Pohjanranta I found a rare butterfly when a Large Copper flew in front of me. Luckily Hanna managed to get pictures of it. In Jyrkilä we saw a Whimbrel and a couple of Ruffs and in Kanavalampi a White-tailed Eagle. After we had checked all places, we still went to try to listen to the Quail. It wasn’t calling but we saw a Black Kite soaring over the field.

On the 21st of July we had again SSP-ringing. Morning was really good but when it was getting hot there weren’t so many birds on the mist-nets. We caught 14+2c Sedge Warblers, 14+1c Willow Warblers, 3 Blyth’s Reed Warblers, 3 Reed Buntings, 2+1c Common Whitethroats, 2 Yellowhammers, 2 Common Rosefinches, a Wren, a Tree Pipit, a Garden Warbler and a Greenfinch. We also saw 7 Grey Herons and heard a Black Woodpecker.

In the afternoon we went to see butterflies and saw lots of Silver-washed Fritillaries and again one Purple Emperor which has been more common than ever. In the afternoon I still went running and saw a Grass Snake which is much rarer than ordinary Viper. In the evening I still visited Siikalahti and a Reed Warbler was singing beautifully there.

During the week we didn’t see many new birds; on the 23rd day we went to check the situation with Grey Wagtails in Lahnanen and saw a male bird, so maybe there is a breeding pair after all. On the 25th day there were again 2 Great White Egrets in Siikalahti. During the night at 25th and 26th day I went to twitch the Quail that I had dipped last time and now it was calling actively. It changed place surprisingly much in the big field. I also heard a Golden Plover and saw a Nightjar there in Akanvaara Tetrisuo.

Bigger dark butteflies weren’t common anymore and only a female Poplar Admiral was seen. But now it was time for Map Butterfiles and there dark second-generation butterflies were seen here and there. Also a big invasion of Painted Ladies arrived again and they were everywhere. Also the first Peacock Butteflies were finally seen.

On the 27th of July we had the warmest SSP-ringing in our short history. It was already 18,5 degrees before the sun was rising and when we stopped it was almost 30 degrees. But birds were caught pretty well, especially Sedge Warblers. We caught altogether 24+4c Sedge Warblers, 7+1c Willow Warblers, 5 Blyth’s Reed Warblers, 3 Greenfinches, 2+1c Reed Buntings, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Common Whitethroates, a Garden Warbler, a Blue Tit, a Great Tit, a Robin, a Whinchat and a Song Thrush. While ringing we heard a Two-barred Crossbill that was migrating towards west.


Summer-birding 24/7

On the 21st of June our flight from Japan landed to Helsinki-Vantaa airport at 1:20 p.m. and when I was able to open my phone I received a message that a Red-headed Bunting had just been found in Salo Halikonlahti. The earlier 2 records of this species had been placed to category D in Finland and were untickable, but I saw no reason why this one couldn’t be a real deal, so pretty soon we were driving towards Salo as we had only 116 km to go.


Once we got to Halikonlahti we met other twitchers that had already seen the Red-headed Bunting and were already leaving. Soon we had walked to the right place and heard that the bird had been missing for more than 15 minutes. We had to wait for more than 30 minutes more and we saw an adult and young Grey Partridge and a Yellow Wagtail and heard a Marsh Warbler while waiting, but finally the Red-headed Bunting flew visible. We managed to get some pictures but the bird flew again to the ground where it was impossible to see. As we had seen plenty of Red-headed Buntings on our trips to Russia and Kazakstan, we decided to start our long way to home.

Once we were in Parikkala, we just carried our luggage in and soon went to put up mist-nets to our ringing place.

Pensastasku22nd of June after a couple of hours sleeping we were ringing birds. From 3:30 to 10 a.m. we caught a White Wagtail, 2 Whinchats, a Blackbird, a Redwing, 8+2 control Sedge Warblers, 3 Common Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler, 2+1c Willow Warblers, 1c Blue Tit, 8+1c Great Tits, 7 Greenfinches, 4 Siskins, a Yellowhammer and 2c Reed Buntings. We also saw a migrating Golden Plover.

During the week we weren’t birding a lot but on the 24th day we visited Great Snipe place and heard only one bird a couple of times. We also found a Common Grasshopper Warbler and a Marsh Warbler. In Siikalahti we heard 8 Spotted Crakes.

On the 25th day I twitched a Grest White Egret in Siikalahti and saw also a Great Bittern and a Garganey there.


on the 27th of June late in the late evening my brother Pirkka came to spend a long weekend with us. We did a couple of stops around Särkisalmi but only better bird was found in Kukonkanta where a Reed Warbler was singing.

On Friday I was at work but during my lunch-hour we saw a Barnacle Goose, a Spotted Redshank and 10 Hobbies in Siikalahti. In Moskuunniemi we saw a flock of 17 Canada Geese. In the evening we went birding for whole night. We started in Siikalahti where we heard a Reed Warbler. Then we heard some Corn Crakes, a Grasshopper Warbler and a Marsh Warbler and after some searching found a Nightjar. Then we headed to Saari.

We tried to find Quails in Akanvaara Tetrisuo but without luck. It was getting really cold too! We had left in 16 degrees but now it was only 7 degrees. And after we had seen a Stock Dove in Pohjansuo and a Short-eared Owl in Ratila we headed to Suurenjärvenliete where it was only 2.5 degrees! We were absolutely freezing! Anyway a Grasshopper Warbler and a Marsh Warbler were singing, a White-backed Woodpecker was drumming. Then we saw another Stock Dove in Jyrkilä and a flock of Little Gulls in Tarassiinlahti. Once we were driving again we saw a bigger passerine flying across the road. Soon another bird landed in the middle of the road and it was a Hawfinch! Soon we saw both bird flying to the top of a tree where they saw together – a nice couple! Then in Kanavalampi we heard a couple of Golden Orioles, a Spotted Crake was calling and a Black Woodpecker drumming. In Karinmäki we saw 5 Wood Sandpipers mad again in Ollukka we heard a Spotted Crake.

Once we had driven back to Parikkala, we headed to forests where we hoped to see a Siberian Jay or hear some Red-breasted Flycatchers or Greenish Warblers. The best bird we found was a Three-toed Woodpecker, but also a Chiffchaff, a Willow Tit, a Crested Tit, a Goldcrest, Bullfinches and Common Crossbills were seen. Then we started to feel so tired that we had to go to sleep.

In the evening we visited Siikalahti where we found fledlings of a Thrush Nightingale. We also visited Valkialampi where Slavonian Grebes had managed to get 2 youngsters. Also a Red-backed Shrike was seen on the way. And then it was time to go to sleep again.


On the 30th of June we were ringing again and caught a Whinchat, a Lesser Whitethroat, 1+1c Common Whitethroat, 3 Garden Warblers, 9 Willow Warblers, 11 Greenfinches, a beautiful male Common Rosefinch and a Reed Bunting. We also saw a late Tundra Bean Goose migrating toward northeast and a Goldfinch.

Kurkien rengastus

During the day we visited again in Siikalahti where we saw 6 Honey Buzzards, a family of Jays, 2 White-backed Woodpeckers and a Bittern. We also managed to ring 2 young Common Cranes. In the evening we saw a Hazel Hen, a Red-breasted Merganser and a Heuglin’s Gull in Oravanniemi. At night we still did a short round but had nothing new. During the “long weekend” we had seen 110 species + Heuglin’s Gull in Parikkala.

During the week I tried to sleep more and turn my inner clock which was still in Japanese or at least some other than Finnish time. On the 3rd of July there was again a Great White Egret in Siikalahti. On the 4th day I was working in Imatra and in the afternoon I twitched a Moorhen in Joutseno Korvenkylä. In the evening I visited Lappeenranta Askola where I saw Oystercatchers, Redshanks and a Green Sandpiper. On the 5th day there were 3 Great White Egrets in Siikalahti which I saw 2 of them. A Bittern was flying over the road several times and a White-tailed Eagle was seen too. And on the next day there were also 2 Reed Warblers and 2 Golden Orioles.

Patotien kyy

On the 7th of July we were ringing again but it was very quiet morning. It was too wet. We caught 10+1c Common Whitethroats, 5c Sedge Warblers, 3 Greenfinches, 2+1c Reed Buntings, 1+1 Willow Warblers, 1+1 Blue Tits and a Garden Warbler. A River Warbler was singing nearby for whole morning and we also heard a Golden Oriole calling and a Golden Plover migrating over us.



On the 10th of May after my work-day we went to Saari with Arttu Valonen. Trip started well when we saw a Black Kite flying over the main road 6. In Pohjanranta we were chatting with Pertti Koskimies when I found a 2nd c-y Pallid Harrier that showed pretty well. Then in Suurenjärvenliete we found a big flock of Barnacle Geese and there was a Red-breasted Goose in a flock. Also a Little Ringed Plover was seen on the flood. But later we saw only the familiar Pheasant, some Spotted Redshanks and a Smew.

In the evening we went with Hanna and a group from Australia to listen and see some night-birds. Luckily we found at least noe Great Snipe lekking and there was also a Ural Owl calling in the same place! Hanna continued with the group until morning but I continued with Arttu to Siikalahti where we listened every corner but found nothing interesting.

On the 11th day I heard a Lesser and a Common Whitethroat, a Blackcap, a Wood Warbler and a Wryneck and on the 12th day also a Bluethroat in Siikalahti. We did a trip to Saari again and on the way twitched early Common Rosefinches in Moskuunniemi. We found geese now in Jyrkilä where was a flock of 12000 Barnacle Geese and again a Red-breasted Goose with them. In Tarassinlahti we saw a Cormorant and a Redshank, in Kanavalampi 670 Wihte-fronted Geese, in Ala-Ollukka 4 Little Ringed Plovers and in Akonpohja 3500 Barnacle Geese.

On the 14th day I saw a Spotted Flycatcher and a few Swifts and on the 15th day an early Blyth’s Reed Warbler in Siikalahti. On the 16th day I saw a migrating Red-backed Shrike and now there were 2 Blyth’s Reed Warblers singing. In the afternoon we headed to Saari where we found an Ortolan Bunting in Akanvaara Tetrisuo, at least 17000 Barnacle Geese in Pohjanranta, 7000 more in Suurenjärvenliete and again a Red-breasted Goose. There were still almost no waders.

On the 17th of May I heard a Garden Warbler and in the afternoon we headed to Virolahti. On the way we twitched a Black-necked Grebe that was now again in Lappeenranta Hanhijärvi.

In Virolahti we stopped briefly in Lintulahti where some Oystercatchers were seen and a White-backed Woodpecker was heard. The evening-migration in Leerviiki was pretty good with Common Scoters and Long-tailed Ducks that were migrating but pretty war on the sea. Arctic and Caspian Terns and a Honey Buzzard were seen as year-ticks.

On the 18th day we started early in Leerviiki and saw some 280 divers. When other birders started to arrive to the beach, the diver-migration stopped. Later during the morning there were about 200 people watching arctic migration. But only some 2000 geese, 2 Temminck Stints, 2 Spotted Redshanks, 98 Ruffs, a Bewick’s Swan, an Arctic Skua and a Black-tailed Godwit were seen – nothing really good.

During the day we visited Kolsinpohja where we heard a White-backed Woodpecker drumming and saw 4 Temminck Stints. In Pyterlahti we heard a Thrush Nightingale and near museum an Icterine Warbler. In Kurkela we saw only White-tailed Eagles and soon we had to drive back to sleep to our tent. In the evening we cooked on the top of Lakakallio while watching thousands and thousands of Long-tailed Ducks migrating over us.


On the 19th of May we woke up before 1 a.m. and soon we were driving towards the north-western corner of Virolahti. We called to Miska Loippo who was coming to the bird-race with us but he was a little bit late. So we stopped a couple of times on the way and found a Spotted Crake and I saw a Ural or Tawny Owl briefly and when we couldn’t find anything else, we drove back to this place to start at 2 a.m.

The Spotted Crake was still heard but the owl was gone. Then we heard a Nightjar before met Miska in some fields. We made lots of stops and got plenty of common species to our list but found nothing better. Finally in Porolahti we head a Corn Crake.

After all we had to hurry to Kolsinpohja where we hoped to see some waders but there were none. Luckily we heard a distant Great Reed Warbler and once back on the parking place we heard a Grey-headed Woodpeckercalling and the same White-backed Woodpecker drumming again.

On the graveyard we heard another White-backed Woodpecker and found a Long-tailed Tit. On the parking place we heard a distant Pheasant.

Then we headed to check Luuvinlampi where we saw a Slavonian Grebe. And soon we were again in Leerviiki where ducks were again migrating. We soon saw both divers and scoters, Long-tailed Ducks and also Scaups. A couple of Red-necked Grebes and an Oystercatcher were seen too, but the migration was pretty bad, so we soon continued.

In Virojoki we had a Yellow Wagtail and in Lintulahti we heard a Water Rail, a Blyth’s Reed Warbler, an Icterine Warbler and also a Marsh Warbler. But we still had hoped to hear Reed Warblers but heard none.

Goldfinches and a Treecreeper were heard while driving and in Kotola we saw a Kestrel, a Northern Wheatear and heard an Ortolan Bunting. In Lypsyniemi we twitched a Red-breasted Flycatcher and soon we had driven to Huvisaari where we again saw some Coots and heard a couple of more Red-breasted Flycactchers.

Then it was time to go to see raptors as White-tailed Eagle was the only bigger raptor on our list. In Elokallio we soon had some Honey and Common Buzzards, Sparrowhawks and a Marsh Harrier. While driving we saw a Goshawk and in Kurkela we saw Hobbies, a Black Kite and an Osprey. When we had also heard a Crested Tit and Bullfinches we felt that we were doing pretty well.

We realized that we had still too many waders missing on our list so we counted that we could go to end the race to Kolsinpohja. We managed to get to the tower 6 minutes before 2 p.m. but saw nothing. Luckily we walked some 30 meters from the tower to see the area better and found a Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank and during the last minute also a Temminck Stint.

The results were given in the afternoon and also a local team had been doing well. After all we both had got 132 species, but they had 6 species that no other teams had on their lists against our 4, so they won. But anyway we had really had a great time too!

We still had to pick up our tent from Lakakallio and then drive back home. On the way we saw a Wood Lark in Joutseno, a species that we had searched in vain during the race – with that species we would’ve won.

In the evening we still stopped in Siikalahti where we saw a Black Tern that had been hunting insects with many Little Gulls there for whole day.

On the 20th of May I twtched a Marsh Sandpiper in Siikalahti – I saw it 2 seconds in flight. In the afternoon I saw a Long-eared Owl in Huhmarinen while jogging.

Geese migraring, some waders and ringing

On the 21st day Barnacle Geese had started to migrate in good numbers and in one flock I saw a Pink-footed Goose. I also saw 4 Temmink/Little Stints and a Temminck Stint and on the next day I saw 3 Gadwalls and one more Temminck Stint.

On the 23rd day we headed to Saari with Harri Partanen and hoped to see finally some waders. In Suurenjärvenliete we saw 5 Broad-billed Sandpipers, 4 Ringed Plovers and 3 Temminck Stints and heard a Corn Crake and in Kanavalampi 4 Ringed Plovers and 17 Temminck Stints. Only better bird on the next day was a Golden Oriole that was singing in Moskuunniemi.

On the 25th day we woke up early again and at 4 a.m. we had mist-nets up in Papinlahti. In 6 hours we ringed a Common Snipe, 2 Blackbirds, 4 Sedge Warblers, a Blyth’s Reed Warbler, 2 Common Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler, 5 Willow Warblers, a Greenfinch, 5 Siskins, a Bullfinch and a Reed Bunting. We also heard 2 Golden Orioles and Barnacle Geese started to migrate again during the day.

So I went to Siikalahti and finally saw some flocks of Brent Geese too, altogether 1150 birds. Also 114 Black-throated Divers, 8 Hobbies, a Redshank and 2 Ringed Plovers were seen.

In the evening we went birding with Harri while Hanna was leading a couple of British birders. We started with Great Snipes and heard and saw at least 3 birds. We continued with Harri towards Siikalahti and heard a Nightjar on the way but nothing else. The weather was pretty bad but Hanna continued whole night with the group while we went to sleep with Harri.

After a couple of hours sleeping I went back to Siikalahti where I heard nothing but then I drove to Soininmäki where Hanna was also. We soon saw a Crested Tit and a Hazel Hen and then I went to check different part of the forest. I soon found a Red-breasted Flycatcher and a Greenish Warbler that Hanna came to twitch with the group.

I still continued to check how our only owl left (after we had found out that Ural Owl had failed) was doing. Surprisingly Pygmy Owl wasn’t in the nest-box but the eggs felt warm – so let’s hope it is still around. After I had heard another Red-breasted Flycatcher I went to sleep once again for a couple of hours before the ice-hockey WC-final started. Finland won gold against Canada, which was amazing as our team wasn’t even close to our best possible. And they had won Sweden, Russia and then Canada in last games – and especially Sweden and Russia had their best teams maybe ever!

On a couple of next days I heard just plenty of Blyth’s Reed Warblers and saw a couple of Ringed Plovers in Siikalahti. On the 29th of May we were birding in Akanvaara Tetrisuo when we got a call that there had been already in the previous day a Siberian Stonechat in Suurenjärvenliete. We were soon there and luckily found the bird! But then a Black Kite was flying over us and the bird disappeared. Luckily it came back visible soon and soon we were sure that the species was even better for us – a Common Stonechat – only the 2nd ever in South Karelia! So we tried to get some pictures but it was very shy. Soon after the first twitchers had arrived, we desided to continue our trip.

We still heard a White-backed Woodpecker, a Golden Oriole and an Icterine Warbler and saw a couple of Ringed Plovers and Redshanks and a single Common Scoter in Kanavalampi and a White-fronted Goose and a Garganey in Pohjanranta.

On the 30th of May we went to Siikalahti very early and checked every corner but found only some Golden Orioles. On the last day of May I went in heavy rain to check that Red-throated Divers were nesting on their traditional pond right on the wrong side of border in Savo.

The next days we were’t doing much as we soon had out trip to Japan.


Some rarities and Bird-tower competition

After Eastern during the week some spring-birds were seen: On the 23rd of April in Särkisalmi I saw 11 Black-throated Divers, 32 Great Crested Grebes, a Red-breasted Merganser and a singing Chiffchaff. In Siikalahti I saw a couple of White-tailed Eagles and a Merlin. On the 24th day in Särkisalmi I counted 28 Black-throated Divers, 48 Great Crested Grebes, a Slavonian Grebe and a Common Sandpiper. In Siikalahti I saw 5 Rough-legged Buzzards and an early Hobby. In the evening we visited Siikalahti again and saw 3 Garganeys, 6 Slavonian Grebes, heard 7 Water Rails and a Long-eared Owl. On the 25th day in Särkisalmi was 52 Great Crested and 2 Slavonian Grebes, in Siikalahti 5 Rough-legged Buzzards a couple of Common Crossbills and in the evening I saw a Ruff in Kinnaniemi. On the 26th day a Willow Warbler was singing in Särkisalmi and in Siikalahti I saw 4 Cormorants, a Black Kite, 39 Golden Plovers and a Whimbrel. In Moskuunniemi I heard a Dunnock and in the evening 2 Spotted Crakes were calling in Siikalahti.

On Saturday the 27th of April we were birding whole day. We first were in Siikalahti from 7 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. We saw 41 Barnacle Geese, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers, 45 Black and a Red-throated Diver, 4 White-tailed Eagles, 2 Hobbies, 104 Golden Plovers, a Whimbrel, 15 Greenshanks, 2 Wood Sandpipers, 6 Common Terns, 12 Little Gulls, a Heuglin’s Gull, a White-backed Woodpecker, a Barn Swallow, a Tree Pipit, 18 Waxwings, 2 Willow Warblers and lots of Bramblings. In the afternoon we headed to Saari and in Kinnarniemi and Jyrkilä we saw single Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Bitterns visible in Akonpohja, a couple of Linnets in Pohjanranta, 3 Bewick’s Swans in Suurenjärvenliete, and a Merlin in Karinmäki. On the way back we checked one Ural Owl nest-box and there was a female! During the day all Lake Simpele had melted!

On the 28th day we were in Siikalahti again whole morning. A Greylag Goose, a Black Kite, a Redshank, 2 fighting male Black Woodpeckers, a Sand Martin, even 16 House Martins, a Yellow Wagtail and a Nuthatch were the best observations.

On the 29th of April I saw almost nothing but on the last day of April I saw one more Black Kite, 4 Hobbies, a Whimbrel and a Redshank in Siikalahti and a Pied Flycatcher was singing in Muttelinmäki. In the evening we headed to listen some night-birds and in Siikalahti we heard 7 Water Rails and a Whinchat and saw a migrating Short-eared Owl, in Kontiolampi we heard a migrating Grey Heron and saw a Ural Owl and in Kullinsuo we heard very well displayed Jack Snipe. Then in Kolmikanta we heard a Tengmalm’s Owl and another one in Tiviä where also a couple of migrating flocks of Common Scoters were heard. So we had really good 2.5 hours!

On the 1st of May we headed to Saari early in the morning. We stopped in Härskiinmutka where we saw 3 Long-tailed Ducks. In Akonpohja we counted 500 Black-headed Gulls and saw a Slavonian Grebe and some Smews. When we were again driving along the main road, we saw a flock of 200 Barnacle Geese flying over us. We stopped and scanned the flock with binoculars and found a single Red-breasted Goose! While watching the goose we heard a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker calling and a Goldfinch singing.

In Pohjanranta we saw a couple of Graylag Geese and White-tailed Eagles, but in Suurenjärvenliete we were lucky again! First we counted 38 Greenshanks and 4 Ruffs but then I noticed a lark in strange place in wet field, maybe it looked little pale too. I took my scope and found out that it was a Greater Short-toed Lark! A new species to Parikkala! Hanna soon had her scope too and I decided to get some pictures of it through my scope. But I realized that my phone was in our car. When I was back with my phone, a Lapwing attacked the lark and chased it to the other side of the flood and after that we still heard it a couple of times but finally I saw it landing to the other side of bigger flood where it was impossible to follow.

So we continued through Jyrkilä to Tarassiinlahti, then to Kanavalampi and Karinmäki and then through Poutasenryhmä back towards Parikkala. We still found a couple of Pink-footed Geese from the flocks of geese and a couple of Garganeys but nothing else to mention.

On the 2nd of May I was working in Imatra and it was raining whole day so I didnät get any birthday-ticks. In the evening the weather turned cold and it started snowing! My brother Pirkka drove from Kemijärvi in extremely bad weather and was in Parikkala at 1 a.m.

On the 3rd of May the ground was white! There was at least 5 cm snow! Wind was also very strong! We left to work with Hanna and Pirkka decided to sleep as it really wasn’t birding weather! On my lunch-hour we drove around Siikalahti and saw amazing numbers of Song Thrushes, other thrushes and Chaffinches along the roads and in every other place where wasn’t snow. Also some Pied Flycatchers, Lapland Bunting and a Northern Wheatear were seen. It was crazy! We also saw a couple of Garganeys in dam-road.

So in the afternoon we headed to Saari where was even more snow and more was dropping from the sky almost all the time. But we saw more Song Thrushes than I have ever seen and lots of other birds too like Tree Pipits on the roads. Chafflinches were trying to get killed under the cars, so we had to drive very slowly. First we stopped in Akonpohja where we found a flock of some thousands Barnacle Geese. Even though it was snowing heavily Pirkka managed to find a Red-breasted Goose! Luckily the flock soon flew closer and we saw the bird very well. From the tower we saw a Slavonian Grebe and some Smews again and in Pohjanranta the same 2 Greylag Geese and a Redstart. In Suurenjärvenliete there was about 20 cm snow and awful wind but anyway we soon heard a Short-toed Lark and it flew over us. We saw to which field it landed but never found it again. But we photographed Chaffinches and Lapland Bunting that were digging holes to the snow on the fields to get something to eat. If we kicked snow away from the field, immediately Chaffinches came to feed there! The floods were under snow too and almost only waders we found were a flock of 45 Common Snipes that looked very poor while they were sleeping on the snowy field.

In Ryhjä we saw a Pheasant which was the first one for me in Parikkala for a couple of years. In Kanavalampi we saw a Spotted Redshank and a Whinchat and when sun was already setting, we checked Pohjanranta again and saw 4 Velvet Scoters. Finally we were back at home and went to sleep early. The weather forecast didn’t look promising to our bird-tower competition.

We woke up before 4 a.m. and were in Siikalahti so early that we stopped first on the dam-road where we heard a Spotted Crake very well. Then we walked to bird-tower where our whole team was soon. Then we had to shovel snow away from the tower! At 5 a.m. the traditional bird-tower competition started. We started with 4 Whimbrels that were migrating south – they had realized that Finnish summer was too short and snowy.

We, Janne, Hanna and Pirkka Aalto, Mikka and Elissa Soikkeli, Matti Lötjönen and Ilpo Kuusisalo were trying to find birds from the tower for 8 hours. Ilpo came a little bit late but showed us a Redstart that was on the path close to the tower. Other better birds seen almost immediately were 5 female Smews, a lonely Black Grouse, a couple of White-backed Woodpeckers and a Bittern called one good series of calls.

The wind was awful and it was still very cold! We were freezing but anyway I was scanning the sky with Matti, Hanna and Ilpo were scanning the bushes and trees far behind the bay, Pirkka was mostly scanning local birds, Miika was listening to the wind and Elissa was keeping the list of birds we had observed.

Slowly the list was getting longer and Pintails, Common Terns, Little Gulls, some common waders with always difficult in Siikalahti a Common Sandpiper, a Chiffchaff, some Lapland Buntings and so on were seen. A couple that was living behind the bay had still a feeder in their garden and we got some species identified from the feeder. For example Starlings, a Blackbird, a Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Bramblings, Greenfinches and Tree Sparrows were seen only close to the feeder.

Matti had arrived from Italy at night and started to feel tired and cold in the wind and gave up so I kept on scanning the sky mostly alone, but I found a migrating Grey Heron , 4 Hobbies and a Rook in the morning and later during the day when it was getting a couple of degrees warmer (even the rest of the snow melt from the tower at midday) I still found a Black Kite, a Stock Dove, a few White-tailed Eagles, 2 Rough-legged Buzzards and Elissa noticed a Heuglin’s Gull flying over us – the last one isn’t a full species, but nice anyway. Also some Yellow Wagtails, Swallows, House Martins and a couple of Sand Martins were seen and even a Northern Wheatear and a Whinchat were found only from the sky. Finally Pirkka managed to find a couple of Garganeys hiding with other distant ducks and Ilpo noticed a couple of Gadwalls flying over us. And finally we heard a Tree Pipit too from the sky.

8 minutes before the end I found a Black-tailed Godwit from the sky and luckily Hanna and Pirkka manged to see it before it dropped behind the forest. It was our last and 88th species. We didn’t see some very common birds like Willow Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Robin, Jay, Black Woodpecker and so on, but I had never thought we could get this good list in this weather! But once again Saari Tarassiinlahti had managed to beat us with one single more species and they were the best inland tower in whole country. Anyway the day had been memorable! It had been the coldest bird-tower competition ever!

After a visit at home we left to Lappeenranta Haapajärvi with Pirkka. There we managed to twitch a Black-necked Grebe with help of some birders that were in the tower. The bird was hiding extremely well, but luckily these people had seen it already. It was a new lifer for Pirkka. On the way back we stopped in Imatra Immalanjärvi without any better records and in Rautjärvi Lamminkylä where we luckily saw 2 Wood Larks easily.

On the 5th of May we went to Saari onece again and it felt and it looked like spring again. On the way we ringed the Ural Owl female and checked that it had one small chick and 2 eggs. In Akonpohja we saw 4 Common Scoters, in Ansunmäki 16 Whimbrels, in Pohjanranta 2 Little Ringed Plovers and a couple of Linnets and in Suurenjärvenliete a beautiful adult female Peregrine. We also heard Short-toed Lark calls from the sky but couldn’t locate the bird at all so we didn’t count it. In Kanavalampi we counted 41 Pintails, 2 Gadwalls and 2 Bewick’s Swans. In Karinmäki we found a big flock of Barnacle Geese but found nothing interesting from the flock. On the way back we stopped again in Pohjanranta and there was another flock of geese and after some scanning Elissa found a Red-breasted Goose. Also 2 Gadwalls were seen and 2 Common Crossbills flew over us. Then Pirkka had to start his long drive back to Kemijärvi.

With Hanna we still drove to Siikalahti where together with Arttu Valonen and Mika Teivonen we heard a Garganey and a Sedge Warbler and saw 3 migrating Sand Martins and 2 White-tailed Eagles.

During the week I wasn’t birding much but on the 6th day I twitched a Great White Egret that Arttu had found in Rautalahti. In Simpelejärvi I saw some flocks of Tufted Ducks, Long-tailed Ducks and Common Scoters with 4 Velvet Scoters and 11 Scaups. In the evening we went to check some owl nest-boxes with Arttu but they were empty. Only a Cuckoo and a Haze Hen were heard. On the 7th day it was raining almost whole day. I tried to rest, so I’d have strength to keep on birding on better days.

On the 7th of May I checked some empty nest-boxes and saw nothing either, but on the 8th fay we checked more nest-boxes with Hanna and found one Pygmy Owl which got a ring. We also saw 3 Hazel Hens. In the late evening we visited Siikalahti and heard 2 Spotted Crakes, a flock of Common Scoters and then in Tiviä a Tengmalm’s Owl was still active. On the 9th day only birds to mention were 2 Velvet Scoters that were with Common Scoters and Long-tailed Ducks in Härskiinmutka