April Fools’ Day

In the change of March and April the weekend started well when on the 31st of March after I had got away from work I headed to Rautjärvi Lahnanen. I had heard rumors that a Grey Wagtail had been seen somewhere along the river but I was still surprised when I found a pair there! They had really arrived early – at least if thinking how wintery was the weather. I also found a White Wagtail there.

In the afternoon I still drove to Saari Selänne where I tried to see a Collared Dove for 3 hours but saw only a Sparrowhawk, a Grey-headed Woodpecker and a couple of White-backed Woodpeckers.

In the evening I got a message that a Tawny Owl was calling in Ryhäluoto. We drove there to listen to this rare owl. For some reason Tawny Owl isn’t recorded every year in Parikkala. It was nice to listen to and also record this owl calling in nice and calm weather. We still decided to drive around Siikalahti and heard a Ural Owl there very close to our nest-box.

On the 1st of April in a Fools’ Day we had difficult to stay humorous as there was -15 degrees and still full winter in the morning. Anyway we went birding quite early and on the second try found the Hawk Owl in Tetrisuo. Then after we had seen a couple of Nuthatches we went to walk to Tyrjänkoski where we after some searching found a Dipper. Also 31 Whooper Swans and a couple of Mallards were seen there.

Next we decided to go to Simpele to see if we could get some pictures of Grey Wagtails. It was already plus degrees and very nice weather. We met Harri Patanen on the parking place and soon found all three wagtails soon but couldn’t really get very good pictures even though at least Hanna sat under a hide for some time. In Lahnanen we saw a couple of Goldeneyes, some Whooper Swans and a Little Grebe. Laos a Pygmy Owl was seen in flight briefly. All tits were alarming because of the owl.

Harri decided to go to check Uudensillankoski while we were still trying to get some pictures. But soon we also gave up. Then I got a message from Harri and it was just a very black picture that seemed to be upside down. There maybe was a long-tailed bird but I just thought he had sent me a bad picture of one of the wagtails for some reason. Then 10 minutes later he sent another message with a text; “What is this bird?” and in a much better picture there was a bird that looked like a Rock Pipit! Luckily we were very close to Uudensillankoski and soon found Harri. But the bird had disappeared while Harri had been taking the picture from his back of the camera inside his car to get some shadow.

For 40 minutes we tried to relocate the pipit in vain but saw only a couple of Dippers. We spread to check some areas nearby but weren’t lucky. When we were back on the bridge we still kept on looking the area where Harri had seen the bird when I finally found it! Now we could be sure bout the identification and it was indeed the first Rock Pipit ever in Rautjärvi!

For more than an hour we were watching the pipit walking a long the river and it was really skulking under the vegetation. A couple of times it was perched for a long time on a branch but somehow we managed to show the bird to all twitchers too. When there was nobody else than me and Hanna and we had understood that it was impossible to get good pictures of this bird, we decided to drive home.

In the evening we still did a owl-trip with Hanna and Miika Soikkeli. We drove our traditional route in the western side of Lake Simpele. The trip started well when a Tengmalm’s Owl was calling in Tarvaslampi. Then in 3 hours we heard only one more owl but it was an Eagle Owl which is always a good record in Parikkala. And in last 25 hours we had observed 6 owls – all different species! So our 1st of April had been everything else but a joke!

On the 2nd of April the weather was bad again. The wind was from north and it was hard. So after seeing the same Hawk Owl again we did only a short tour around Siikalahti. During the day we went to put up 3 owl nest-boxes to new places. And in the evening we visited Kokkolanjoki with Miika but couldn’t find neither a Rock Pipit nor Grey Wagtails. We found only a single Robin and a few Dippers.