August 2005

August – Holiday trips

The beginning of August was extremely busy. I had lots of work and we had to prepare everything for our holiday. In first days I hadn’t time to go birding further than to Siikalahti and there were nothing special there.

On the 4th of August right after I had finished my work we drove to Tampere from where we had a flight via London to Corsica and Sardinia (The whole trip story, for example Corsican Nuthatches, Corsican Citril Finches, Marmora’s Warblers, a Lammergaier, Alpine Choughs, Yelkoyan Shearwaters… and even a Roller in Finland.)

When we were back at home I had time only for one visit in Siikalahti (more Grey Herons etc.) and to do the first duck counts in Saari Natura areas (2 young Red-footed Falcons). I also saw a flock of 50 Bar-tailed Godwits migrating over our home but then on 16th of August we were off to Tampere again. We flight again by Ryan Air to London to British Bird watching Fair.

To England and British Birdwatching Fare

We had our flight from Tampere to London at 10.35 and 11.30 (Greenwich Time) we landed again to Stansted airport. We slept again in the airport (at least we tried) and 5.30 a.m. we took a train to Leicester. There we had an English breakfast in our Campanile hotel where we also left our luggage and took a taxi back to the railway-station. We took a train a little bit backwards to Oakham from where was a bus waiting to transport people to Rutland to the Fair.

We bought 3 days tickets to the Fair and then we just enjoyed the great stores and atmosphere of the area. Because of we were a bit working there (Hanna had to explore the quality and the offers of the stands because of we might be having a stand of our own next year, we took also lots of pictures. And then we of course spent some money – there were so many good books and magazines to buy. Also the art-tent was something amazing. Totally there were 5 big tents and some smaller ones and also tents for all the optics. One of the optic-tents had a good view to the Rutland water so we could see also some birds: a couple of Ospreys which were brought from Scotland, Egyptian, Canada and Greylag Geese and some waders.

We really enjoyed the Fair for whole 3 days! We could hardly see everything there because of the Fair were so huge. It was good to see some friends too: from Greece there were Kerkini Lake people, Theodoros Naziridis and Gordon Ramel; from Eilat Reuven Yosef and Lynet then some people we had guided in Siikalahti and of course Finnish birders: Ola and Peltsi (Finnature), Anttu (Alula), people from Inari, Varesvuo with his excellent photographs and some Bird Fair tourists. But the main thing for us was to meet Paul French! Two last days we enjoyed the Fairs with him and when the Fair was closing on third day we continued to Lincolnshire with Paul.

Paul had just started in his new work for RSPB in Freiston Shore near Boston. We drove there to Paul’s huge apartment on Sunday evening. There we were all so tired we soon went to sleep.

On Monday morning on 22nd of August Paul had to do a bird counts in the shore and of course we joined him. It was a high tide so all the birds arrived to small lagoon in short time. In the beginning there were only some waders and 170 Canada Geese, 3 Greylag Geese, hybrids of these, some ducks including the first 2 Garganeys of the area, and so on. But when the tide came high birds started to arrive. We counted 1302 Dunlins, 877 Oystercatchers, 455 Redshanks, 321 Knots, 150 Turnstones, 57 Grey Plovers, 53 Ringed Plovers, 14 Black-tailed and 5 Bar-tailed Godwits, 13 Curlews, 5 Avocets, 2 Common Sandpipers and Lapwings, a Whimbrel and a Green Sandpiper. In an hour all these birds arrived at the lagoon.

Then we still walked and counted the birds on the shore. There were Grey Herons, Little Egrets, more Whimbrels, a couple of Sandwich Terns, lots of Golden Plovers over the fields, a flock of Eiders, Great Crested Grebes and a young Little Tern which was the first youngster of this species for Paul ever in Britain.

The weather had been horr… English, so we all were wet and unfortunately we couldn’t have got many good pictures. We drove via Paul’s office to his apartment to change dry clothes. Paul had to continue to his work and we decided to stay in his apartment because we had to work out which leaflets from the Fair we should take to Finland. We had collected so many things from the Fair that our luggage were too heavy to get to the plain. In the evening we ate in a comfortable English pub, set up a moth-trap to the garden and went to sleep quite early.

Next morning we identified and released the moths from the trap while a Green Woodpecker was and a flock of Long-tailed Tits were calling in the garden. Then Paul drove a little bit longer to the shore where we birded for an hour together before Paul had to go to work. We walked along the shore for three hours and saw Marsh Harriers, Wheatears, a couple of Spotted Redshanks, Whinchats and a Kingfisher. We also heard a Pacific Golden Plover-like call from one of the many Golden Plover flocks but we never found anything like that. Paul picked us up at midday and we had a short look to the fields if we could find the plover. We never found any plovers from the fields but there were a couple of flocks of Grey and Red-legged Partridges.

In the afternoon we walked around the same lagoon again while Paul was cutting grass near the parking place. We found some really good English-ticks like an extremely early Jack Snipe, a Hobby, a Merlin, an Osprey, Black Terns and an Arctic Skua. Even most of these species are common for us they are not too common in England.

In the evening we had a good time with Paul’s work-friend John. We ate hot oriental food, Paul showed us some nostalgic slides from Eilat but also from Fair island. We really enjoyed!

Early morning Paul drove us to Peterborough where we said goodbye for him and took a train to London. We slept all the way to King’s Cross and there we managed to book to a hotel nearby. We took a taxi to our St. George Hotel and left the luggage there and walked to the Oxford Street to do some shopping. We also walked to see the Big Ben (I needed to do some sightseeing) and St. James Park which was full of interesting birds like Pelicans and White-headed Ducks etc.

On the 25th of August we walked through the Hyde Park to Victoria & Albert’s Museum and to the National History Museum. We had a short tour in both museums before we had to take a taxi back to our hotel. Then we took a bus from Marble Arch to Stansted from where we had a flight to Tampere in the afternoon.

At 10 p.m. we started our way from Tampere to Parikkala. Everything was going well until we felt like hitting a rabbit or something. Anyway there was nothing on the road and because of the car felt normal we kept on going. When we turned to a gas-station in Luumäki we felt everything wasn’t ok. The front right shock absorbers spring was fractured. We had to continue to the closest car service to wait it opens. So we slept for 3 hours before the repairman came to work. After a couple of hours he told they had to order that spring from Helsinki, so they couldn’t do it until Monday. Luckily he borrowed us his second car so we could continue to Parikkala.

I slept for one hour and then I had to go to count ducks to Saari. Then I changed our loaned car to Hanna’s fathers Golf and in the afternoon we started our way to Kemijärvi where my brother Pirkka had moved because they had their third child’s christening. We drove in the evening to Vuokatti to Ilkka Jarvas place where we slept and in the early morning we continued another 350 kilometres to Kemijärvi. The boy got his name (Veikka) and on Sunday we did some birding with Pirkka (twitched a Bar-headed Goose and saw a Red-throated Pipit, a Cormorant and then we drove 10 hours back to Parikkala. On the way we saw some Short-eared Owls, Long-eared Owl and 2 Eagle Owls.

When we were again in Parikkala I did some bird watching even I was really tired. There was a huge influx of young Red-footed Falcons in Finland so there were two of them in Siikalahti too. Some Red-throated Pipits were migrating, but otherwise it was really quiet – it was an autumn. After I had wasted one day in Joutseno Konnunsuo (again too good weather for waders) I found the rarity in Siikalahti on the last day of the month – a Lesser Spotted Eagle flew over me when I was doing a duck-count again. I saw the bird from 30 metres! The bird continued south and when it had flown behind the trees I saw another eagle flying towards me – an old White-tailed Eagle was attacking Coots on the bay. It was good to be home again!