August 2009


On the 1st of August I went to listen to young Long-eared Owls, a Water Rail and a Corn Crake that were still calling. In the morning we left to Lappeenranta to shopping but on the way we birded in Joutseno. In Perä-Ahola we saw a couple of honey Buzzards and Red-backed shrikes, in Kotasaari a young Black-tailed Godwit and some common waders and in Saikkola we twitched a 2nd c-y Pallid Harrier. In Askola we didn’t see anything special so the rest of the day we were shopping and went to movies. On the 2nd day we got a phone call from Rolf Mortensen that there was a young cuckoo in his summer cottage. So we drove right away to Kesälahti Ruokkee and photographed this bird for several hours. White Wagtails were carrying food for this hungry “baby” all the time. Other birds seen were a family of 3 Black Woodpeckers.
In next couple of days I visited Siikalahti but only 2 Dunlins and 15 Ruffs were seen.

On the 5th of August we had a couple of days holiday and we drove to Helsinki to Madonna concert which was on Thursday evening. On Friday Hanna had to travel back to Parikkala to work but I was able to do some birding. On the 7th day I visited in Laajalahti, Suomenoja and Saltfjärden and saw a Little Stint, a Garganey, 120 Gadwalls, 31 Moorhens and heard a Reed Warbler and so on. On the 8th day I woke up early and drove to Hanko where I spent the whole morning in Vedagrundet. It was very quiet but a Red-throated Diver, a Black Guillemot, 9 White-tailed Eagles, a couple of Velvet Scoter and an Arctic Skua were seen. With a couple of friends we continued to Långören where we managed to find a Pied Wagtail that had been around the whole summer. Then I still visited in Täktbukten, Högholmen and Svanvik but in the evening I drove to Siuntio where I managed to hear a Kingfisher in Sjundby. On the next day I drove back to Parikkala.

On the 10th day after work I drove to Kitee Hatunvaara to twitch a Short-toed Eagle. After several hours searching I managed to find it perched on a top of a dead tree about 2 kilometres away in the middle of the forest. Most of the other twitchers had given up already but they weren’t too far so they came back and also saw it.

On the 11th day I saw a White-tailed Eagle in Siikalahti and surprisingly 2 different Blyth’s Reed Warblers in Kirkonkylä. On the 13th I heard a Red-breasted Flycatcher in Siikalahti.

Estonian Open

On the 14th day we left to Estonia with Sampsa Cairenius, Erkki Valsta and Miika Suojarinne. This was the third year I was going to Estonian Open bird-race. We didn’t see anything interesting on the way but in Tallinn we drove to Paljassaare where we saw a Shelduck, Gadwalls, Red-breasted Mergansers, Bar-tailed Godwits, Grey Plovers, a Knot, a Slavonian Grebe and a Goshawk. In Stroomirand we still saw a couple of Whimbrels but then we had to continue to Paldiski B&B to sleep.

The race started at 3 a.m. but we started then with breakfast. Soon we headed to forests and managed to find a Pygmy Owl, a Tawny Owl, 2 Nightjars and a Woodcock. When the sun was rising we still had Redwings and on one field we saw 4 Wood Larks.
In Vihterpalu we saw an Osprey, a flock of migrating Shovelers, a Snipe, a flock of 9 migrating Barnacle Goose and a Turtle Dove. By the river we heard a Marsh Tit, a Black woodpecker and nearby in a bog-area we found a flock of Meadow Pipits, saw a Nutcracker and heard a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

In Keiku we saw a Hen Harrier and on the sea a young Little Gull. On the bushes there were huge flock of passerines and all Sylvia warblers including a Barred Warbler, an Icterine Warbler, a couple of Wood Warblers, Coal Tits and a Common Rosefinch were found. Next we continued to Ristna for sea watching and Red-throated Divers, Black-throated Divers, 6 Pintails, Red-breasted Grebes and in next hour also 3 Greylag Geese, 150 Common Scoters, 280 Oystercatchers, some Velvet Scoters, a couple of Scaups, 25 Knots, 15 Bar-tailed Godwits, 55 Grey Plovers, a Little Stint, 3 Arctic Skuas and so on were seen. On the next shore we found a Long-tailed Duck, 2 Arctic Terns, Curlew Sandpipers and in Alliklepa we heard a Jay and found a Temminck’s Stint, first White-tailed Eagles and a Hazel Hen.

In Harju-Risti we saw another flock of Greylag Geese, 10 White-tailed Eagles, a Kestrel, a Hobby, a young Red-footed Falcon that had been found a couple of days earlier, 2 Black Redstarts and in Kömmaste we saw an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull on the field. In Vasalemma we headed to Padide sewage-water pools and found 2 Moorhen and 2 Slavonian Grebes. Sampsa saw a Black Stork and Erkki a Thrush Nightingale too but others missed them. But in Laoküla we luckily found a male Montagu’s Harrier. In Koogajarv we found Gadwalls, Pochards, Caspian Terns and Coots before we headed to Tallinn and to Paljassaare. We were almost out of time but still we managed to find 4 Shelducks, Red-breasted Mergansers, Starlings and still drive to the bird-tower and find a Golden Plover that was flying around and calling, a singing Sedge Warbler, several calling Water Rails and 2 minutes before the end of rally a couple of calling Bearded Reedlings.

After all we managed to find 145 species in 15 hours and we came 2nd. The winners had the same number of species but they had more that kind of species that none of other teams had found. Anyway we were very happy to our result!

On the 16th of August after the breakfast we headed to Loksa Nömmeveski. On the way we saw the first bird that we had missed in a race – a Fieldfare! By the river we tried to locate a Grey Wagtail that had been breeding there. Right away we found a Kingfisher and a little bit later a Wren. After an hour we finally found a Grey Wagtail too.
Then we continued back to the coast. In Kuuksalu Valkla we saw 5 Greylag Geese, but soon we parked in Kaberneeme. A Pied Flycatcher, Marsh Tits, Long-tailed Tits and many other passerines were found immediately. On the sea we saw 2 Little Terns and from the island nearby we found 2 Sanderlings.
Pretty soon we had to start our way towards Tallinn. In Maardujarv we twitched a Great White Egret and saw also a Goshawk. But pretty soon we had to drive to the ferry-harbour. After all we had seen 160 species in Estonia in a couple of days!

When we were back in Helsinki we dropped Erkki to his home and continued to Etu-Viikki to twitch a Red-breasted Goose that was there in a big flock of local Barnacle Geese. It was already getting dark but we managed to find the goose pretty easily. We were very tired but still we managed to drive back home.

During the week I visited Siikalahti every day but only better birds were found on the 21st day when I counted 160 Cranes, 410 Coots, and 250 Teals. In the evening I saw briefly a big dark eagle that I couldn’t identify. On the 23rd of August I went to birding by bike. In Ristimäki I found a huge flock of passerines where were a late Icterine Warbler and lots of Sylvia warblers. A White-backed Woodpecker was drumming and 4 Goldfinches flew over me. In Joukio I found a Red-backed Shrike and in Lahdensuo a Hen Harrier and a Common Rosefinch. In Siikalahti I was walking towards the tower when I saw a gorgeous Greater Spotted Eagle flying low towards the tower. It must have been the eagle I saw a day earlier. Also an adult White-tailed Eagle was seen, a young Water Rail was calling and on the way back home in Härskiinmutka I saw 2 Little Gulls and in our back-yard I saw a Pied Flycatcher. Altogether 86 species were seen in 6 hours!

On the 25th day Hanna was in Inkoo Galleria Karaija opening her own bird-art Gallery, but I was at work. During my lunch-hour I saw again the same Greater Spotted Eagle in Siikalahti. Also 2 young Hen Harriers were seen. In the afternoon I drove to Joutseno Konnunsuo to twitch a Siberian Stonechat. It was a good new South-Karelia tick!

On the last days of August I was still birding every day. In the 28th day I saw a Ringed Plover in Lahdensuo, a White-backed Woodpecker in Argusjärvi, 100 Yellow Wagtails in Tyrjä, 2 Red-throated Pipits (250th year-tick) and a young Wood Lark in Saari Pohjasuo and 2 young Little Gulls in Tarassiinlahti. In the evening we went to sauna to Tarvaslampi and tried to catch some owls too. We were lucky to catch a Pygmy Owl after 20 minutes trying!

On the 29th day I participated to a Decathlon with some friends of mine. Luckily I found a Nuthatch from while sporting. On the 31st day I still saw about 20 Canada Geese and 2 Barnacle Geese in Simpelejärvi. The weather was already very much like in autumn and on the next day it was already autumn…