Sociable Plover

Twitching a dream bird!

When we parked to our parking place we got a message that Karri Kuitunen had found a SOCIABLE PLOVER in Lappeenranta Joutseno Kivisaari (again, he had found one also 23 years ago)! Hanna wasn’t very keen to leave because of we knew that we probably couldn’t make it to Kivisaari before the darkness. But we left together with “potu” anyway.
We managed to Joutseno sooner than we thought and picked up Sampsa Cairenius and then continued towards the field-areas. We had only 10 more kilomtres to drive when we got a message that the bird had been lost to the darkness because of a Lapwing had chased it to flight at 10:35 p.m. We were in Kivisaari only 20 minutes late and it was absolutely too dark to do anything anymore. We still checked the place where the bird had been found, but it was too dark to see anything anymore.
So we decided to drive back to Joutseno and to rest and sleep a couple of hours in Sampsa’s apartment. After all I managed to sleep maybe an hour on Sampsa’s carpet and already before 3 a.m. we were back in Kivisaari.

There were already some twitchers and more came all the time. It was really cold. Luckily I had got some extra clothes from “potu” and Sampsa, but I still missed gloves.
When it started to get lighter we started to find Lapwings from the fields, but even thought there were more than 100 twitchers watching to the field the target bird was not found before at 4:40 a.m. it suddenly was just in the middle of the field! A SOCIABLE PLOVER – one of my dream birds!

The bird was running straight towards us and I managed to get the first pictures and videos o fit right away. Then it suddenly stopped and started hiding again, but so that its head was still visible. More and more twitchers were coming all the time and everyone was extremely happy! Soon the bird started to call like a Garganey or weak Corn Crake and then it started to feed.
Then suddenly at 5:35 after it had already flight a couple of times it left towards NE with a Lapwing. And of course there were still birders coming and it was awful to see a couple of pretty famous twitchers miss the bird by 2 minutes!
I was sure that the bird hadn’t leave anywhere far, because of the Lapwings weren’t migrating anymore. I was sure it was just going to Konnunsuo fields or Kotasaari pools that were pretty close in that direction the bird had left. We decided to check Kotasaari with “potu”.
In Kotasaari we found only a couple of Little Ringed Plovers and soon we got a message that Vesa Väkevä had seen the plover in Konnunsuo fields and it had left towards us again. We were watching to the sky but couldn’t find it, so we decided to drive back to Kivisaari. We asked the first disappointed twitchers to follow us and after a minute in Kivisaari I saw the bird coming back and landing to the same place it had left an hour earlier! And everyone was happy again!
The bird was now active all the time but the haze started to get worse so after an hour we decided to leave back to Parikkala to rest.
We slept a couple of hours and then “potu” had to leave back to Mikkeli. Then I did some “Photoshopping” and worked with these sites before in the evening 5 p.m. we left again to see the bird with Hanna and Hanna’s mother – it was a Mother’s day!
Once we were again in Kivisaari the bird and surprisingly many twitchers were still there! Now the haze was gone so I managed to get much better pictures and videos. The bird was again flying a couple of times and also calling a little. I even managed to get a couple of calls recorded. It was also chasing female Lapwings so it really seemed that it wasn’t going anywhere soon.

After maybe 100 pictures and 10 minutes videoing and the 1st House Martin of the year we continued to Konnunsuo bird-tower where were still amazing numbers of geese. I counted 1525 White-fronted Geese and there were also about 200 both Bean and Barnacle Geese. Some of White-fronted Geese were very close so we took some pictures before we continued to Parikkala.

On the way back home we saw a Honey Buzzard and then in Parikkala we still decided to go to try if great Snipes had arrived to their traditional lekking place to Kullinsuo. We saw a female Capercaillie, a Hazel Hen and some of Black Grouses but no Great Snipes (yet). Then we finally were ready to go home to sleep.
In next morning the Sociable Plover was still seen but at 4:50 it had left alone towards north and it wasn’t seen again.

J.A.