Hailuoto bird-race

On the 11th of August I saw a Nutcracker again in Kangaskylä and on the next day I heard a Wren while I was jogging. On the 13th day I visited Kullinsuo where I heard a Quail and saw a Goshawk, in Lahdensuo I saw 2 Red-backed Shrikes and a Common Rosefinch. In the evening I was jogging again and around Siikalahti I heard a Red-breasted Flycatcher and saw 45 Cranes. On the 14th day I visited Saari Akanvaara Tetrisuo and Pohjanranta and also Rautalahti and saw 2 Hen Harriers, a Black Woodpecker, 5 Grey Herons, 6 Curlews, a Ruff, 10 Wood Sandpipers and 2 Red-backed Shrikes.

On the 15th of August I left towards Oulu. I picked up “Potu” Suojarinne in Juva and we drove whole afternoon until we finally got to Oulunsalo ferry. At 9 p.m. we were in Hailuoto and met Pirkka, Harry Nyström and Mikko Ala-kojola who had arrived earlier. They were watching a Black Tern in the harbor. We saw the bird pretty far and soon continued to Santonen to our cottage where also Jari Kiljunen and Jani Varis were already. We ate well, had fun, had sauna and once again forgot to plan the next day’s bird-race.

On the 16th of August we woke up already at 5 a.m. The race was starting only 7 a.m. but at 6 o’clock we left birding anyway. Harry, Jani and Jari were faster and left earlier. We drove to Patelanselkä but it wasn’t good place enough so we moved to Kirkkosalmi to begin the race. We had hoped to find a place where to see passerine migration but the sky was almost empty. Anyway we found quite a few Sedge Warblers, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Redpoll, 2 Grey Herons, lots of Gadwalls, some Spotted Redshanks, a couple of migrating Honey Buzzards and so on. Unfortunately only 2 of us saw a Blackbird which was the only one during the day.

We continued towards Riisinnokka and stopped on the way. Some good species like a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Common Crossbills, a Pied Flycatcher and a Hobby were seen. In Louekari we saw a flock of 5 Cuckoos and Cuckoo was really the bird of the day as we saw at least 10 more later. In Rautaletto the forest was completely empty but in Riisinnokka we of course got plenty of new species: a Peregrine, a White-tailed Eagle, a flock of Velvet Scoters, Dunlins, a Curlew Sandpiper, a Shelduck, an Osprey and a couple of Little Terns were good ones. While walking back to the parking place we got only a Treecreeper. While driving back towards Kirkkosalmi, we saw a family of Black Grouse, but Kirkkosalmi was surprisingly quiet and nothing better was seen.

In Järventakusta fields we saw Northern Wheatears and Whinchats, 2 Skylarks and a Garden Warbler. In Pöllä we found some common species but also a Red-backed Shrike and 3 Smews. In Kuivasäikkä we found a Little Ringed Plover in a flock of Ringed Plovers and a Broad-billed Sandpiper.

While we were driving through the village again, we saw a young Hen Harrier and in Koivukylä fields we found a Common Whitethroat and Jackdaws. Once we got to Marjaniemi Pirkka noticed that there was a man walking in the sea and carrying something white – a gull! I already said that if it is a Lesser Black-backed Gull, can we tick it? Then I watched what was really going on and realized that there was a man carrying an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull! It was Esa Aalto who had seen a badly hurt gull on the sea and soon he carried it to the shore and we could see that the gull had been shot! Unfortunately there was nothing to do and Esa had to kill the bird. But hopefully the shooter will be found and hopefully killing also common gulls can be stopped in Hailuoto. We also saw families of Velvet and Common Scoters. Then we drove a little bit along the northern coast but didn’t find any thrushes or new waders. We had seen only 3 thrushes – Fieldfares during the day!

In Ulkokarvo Petsamo we saw the second Peregrine and Osprey of the day but also the first Swifts. On the way back we saw a Stock Dove that left from the road. In Ojakylä we stopped when we saw a flock of Fieldfares with a single Mistle Thrush but still no small thrushes. Then we also saw a Goshawk. In Huikku there was a ferry and too many people so we didn’t see the Black Tern or any new waders.

Our last destination was Pökönnokka where were amazing number of mosquitoes! 2 Curlew Sandpipers, a Skylark, 7 Shelducks and finally also 2 Golden Plovers and a Whimbrel were seen. At 7 p.m. the race ended and we drove to hear the results.

It was soon clear that we weren’t on the top. The winners Petri Lampila, Harri Taavetti and Samuli Lehikoinen had seen 114 species, 2nd were Harry, Jari and Jani with 109 and we were 3rd with our 104 species. After us there were still several teams with more than 100 species! There were altogether 12 teams and even 145 species had been found!

We had sauna again and ate well and then Harry had once again a chili-show that didn’t end well as the World’s hottest chili was too hot even for Harry! Soon Harry’s team was sleeping while we still continued for some time before going to sleep.

On the 17th day we woke up at 7 and our team still left birding to Pökönnokka. Now we found 3 Red-necked Phalaropes, 4 Golden Plovers, a Broad-billed Sandpiper, 2 Merlins and a Pochard. Soon we conitnued to the ferry as we didn’t wasn’t to find ourselves from the long queues like there had been yesterday.

In Oulunsalo we said goodbye to Mikko and soon saw a Pheasant along the road. With Pirkka and Potu we drove to Oulu Oritkari where we managed to twitch 2 yellow-ringed Snow Geese that were with 80 Greylag Geese. We had to walk a long was to see them on the harbor. Then we visited my brother Riku before said goodbye to Pirkka and left to a long drive back home.

We stopped in Siilinjärvi Raasio and saw 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Dunlin and 1 Little Stint. I dropped “Potu” to Juva and finally after 10 p.m. I was back at home.

On the next couple of days I was running a couple of long runs and saw a Spotted Redshank, 2 Black Grouses, a Woodcock and a Cuckoo. I also heard a female Pygmy Owl.

J.A.