In Hailuoto bird-race once again

It was again that time of the year that we were going to Hailuoto to participate the bird-race. We were this time Janne, ”Jassi” Kiljunen ”Potu” Suojarinne and Miska Loippo from east, Antti Vierimaa and Antti Peuna from Oulu-area and Pirkka from Kemijärvi.

On the way with Jassi we twitched the Mandarin Duck in Savonlinna. Then we picked up Potu and Miska in Juva and then drove a long way to Kempele, where we visited a shop and soon continued to the ferry.

It was a bit after 8 p.m. when we got to out cottage in Hailuoto Santonen where Peuna and Vierimaa were already. Pirkka came an hour alter and then we were eating a lot of pizza, having sauna, having lots of fun and planning a little bit the race.

On Saturday the 3rd of October we woke up at 5:15 a.m. and pretty soon we were driving towards Riisinnokka. Our team was me, Pirkka, Potu and Miska. We saw 3 Woodcocks and lots of thrushes on the way even though it was still very dark. Soon we saw a flashlight flashing on the road in front of us and it was our second team. They had found an active Pygmy Owl and they knew it was a new species for most of is in Hailuoto, so they kindly showed it to us too. It was calling and flying very close to us when we whistled a little. But it was still 30 minutes to the beginning of the race. Unfortunately it disappeared after 15 minutes so we continued towards Riisi.

The race

At 7 a.m. we started with lots of thrushes and got even Blackbirds and a Song Thrush that usually have been difficult species for us. Also Goldcrests, a Treecreeper, Common Crossbills, Bull Finches, lots of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, first White-tailed Eagles, a Sparrowhawk and even a singing Wren were found.

We still saw a couple of Swallows before Rautaletto and there we found a Chiffchaff, some Dunnocks, a Coal Tit, another Wren, Mistle Thrushes, Waxwings and a White Wagtail but unfortunately only 2 of us saw a Woodcock and 2 Snipes.

In Riisinnokka one team was already leaving but our second team was still there. Soon we saw Mute Swans, 2 Black Grouses, even 11 White-tailed Eagles, ducks, gulls, a Cormorant, Common Scoters, a Velvet Scoter, a Merlin, Long-tailed Tits and so on, but no waders at all! After some time I found 2 waders flying far over the sea and immediately another bird looked interesting. They landed and it was easy to tell that another bird was a Dunlin but even though we were looking them for a long time we weren’t sure if the second bird was a dark and big Dunlin or a Purple Sandpiper. We also saw a flock of 5 divers that we weren’t sure which ones they were, so it was pretty frustrating. Luckily we soon heard a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and found a flock of 5 Red-throated Divers.

We continued back along the forest and visited the shore a couple of times and found 2 Shovelers, some Scaups and a Long-tailed duck. Then close to the parking place I found a big wader flying towards us from the sea. It immediately looked like a godwit but it was a huge surprise that it was a Black-tailed Godwit! They should migrate in July! After it had showed itself pretty well it landed behind Isomatala-island. But this was something that we really needed after several missed birds and some identification problems.

On the way to Kirkkosalmi, we found 2 Arctic Redpolls while trying to find a Woodcock. In Kirkkosalmi we saw only 2 Coots, another Shoveler, Jackdaws and only good birds -2 Nutcrackers. In Järventakusta we saw 5 migrating Black-throated Divers, a Great Grey Shrike but no geese at all.

Then we continued to the eastern side of the island. On the way we got House Sparrow and Tree Sparrow easily and in Potinhamina we saw that there were teams in Pökönnokka, so after we had found a Red-necked Grebe and a migrating flock of 19 dark geese, we continued to Huikku. There we saw a Goshawk and a Canada Goose and after that we drove to Pökönnokka.

In Pökkö we saw another Chiffchaff and then walked around the big meadow and finally saw a Skylark, a Snipe, a Ruff and a Snow Bunting.

In Ojakylänlahti we saw nothing new and also Ulkokarvo was a disappointment. On the road to Pöllä we saw finally a Jay but Pöllä and Kuivasäikkä had nothing new.

In Patelanselkä we saw nothing but in Marjaniemi we saw that our second team was there so we stopped a little bit different place than usually. It came a draw as we missed a long-stayer Eider that was in front of them but we saw a Golden Plover that they missed.

The last hour we spent in Keskiniemi and hoped for waders but even there were none! We had only 3 Skylarks there. We also heard a “tacking” bird that never showed itself – I hope it was nothing very rare like a Dusky Warbler…

The results were given in school. After all there were only 4 teams and we won with our 83 species. Our second team came 2nd with 81 and Juha Markkola and Tuomas Herva were 3rd with 79 species. Family Hohtola had taken the race pretty easy but still they had seen some species that other teams hadn’t seen. Altogether 100 species had been seen.

In the evening Pirkka left to Kemijärvi but the rest of us stayed in our cottage, ate pizza, drank a little, had sauna and had a good time!

Still a morning trip

On Sunday the 4th of October 4 of us left early to Riisinnokka again. It was pretty windy and almost no new birds were seen. 2 Golden Plovers, the same Marlin, a Red-throated Diver, the same Woodcocks on the way and one new Wren were something to mention. In Kirkkosalmi we saw the same Shoveler but in Järventakusta we now found 2 Greylag Geese with much more Whooper Swans.

In Marjaniemi we twitched that same Eider and it was a new Hailuoto-tick for me. Then on the way back we stopped in Potinhamina where we found the same Red-necked Grebe but also 2 Brent Geese.

Once we got back to our cottage, Jassi and Vierimaa had already cleaned everything. Antti left to twitch the Brent Geese and we packed everything and soon we all were in the harbor.

In Oulunsalo we said goodbye to Vierimaa and followed Peuna to Raahe rubbish tip where had been a big pipit. We hoped for a Blyth’s but didn’t find anything else than a Pheasant, 35 Gold Finches and some Meadow Pipits so on.

Then it was time to say goodbye to Peuna and start driving towards south-east. It was a long drive and only surprise was the flash-of a speed-camera a kilometer before Juva! Potu was driving so we hope we get only a warning…

I was finally at home a little bit after 10 p.m. but once again it had been a really good weekend with very good friends!

J.A.