Geese and Swans – a lot

After coming back from Hailuoto I was right away on the 2nd of October checking closest geese-flocks during my lunch-hour. There were now geese in every field and they were staying overnight in Siikalahti, so seeing lots of geese was very easy.

But anyway my lunch-hour started differently as I got a message that there was a young Goshawk trapped inside one building in Kangaskylä. It was perched at least 6 meters high but I somehow managed to catch it. Then I brought it at home to rest in a box as it had been hitting the windows several times.

I still had time to make a short visit to the closest fields and I saw 80 Bewick’s Swans in Kullinsuo, a Merlin, 7 Golden Plovers and a Pink-footed Goose in Kullinsuo – in both places there were of course lots of Barnacle, Tundra Bean and White-fronted Geese and Whooper Swans.

In the afternoon when Hanna came home, we ringed the Goshawk and then released it in Tetrisuo where it first perched to a spruce but after less than 5 minutes it made the first attack to geese-flock. It didn’t get any food yet but there were at least 2 injured birds in the flock, so we were sure it was going to.

In the evening I went to Siikalahti with Miika Soikkeli to check how many geese there would be coming to roost. At least 12 000 geese arrived – about 9000 Barnacle and 3000 grey geese, but some flocks arrived so late that it was almost completely dark already so the numbers were just estimated. But 240 Bewick’s Swans was a surprise with 304 Whoopers. There were also lots of ducks including a couple of Velvet Scoters, some Pintails, Shovelers, Scaups, Long-tailed Ducks and Smews, still about 150 Cranes were seen too.

On the 3rd of October there were 150 Bewick’s Swans in Tiviä and of course thousands of geese like in Lahdensuo and Kullinsuo too. But proper rain destroyed my plans to check the geese more carefully. In Kullinsuo a flock of Brent Geese were landing to the flock which is quite unusual, but they continued their migration immediately when the rain just got a little bit weaker.

On the 5th day I saw a Great Grey Shrike in Siikalahti and 39 Rock Doves in Kangaskylä which was the biggest number for a long time. In the evening I headed to Siikalahti again and after hearing a calling Two-barred Crossbill, I found a Gadwall. Soon geese started to arrive again and after all I estimated 23 000 of them! At least 5000 grey geese were something spectacular!

On the 6th day I heard a Grey-headed Woodpecker and a Parrot Crossbill and in the afternoon I headed to Imatra where I saw a Scaup, a Velvet Scoter, 2 Common Scoters, 2 Smews and 2 Red-necked Grebes in Kymälahti. Geese were again migrating and I saw several big flocks of White-fronted Geese disappearing to the fog-clouds,

On the 7th of October we gathered to Siikalahti with the small number of keenest birders in Parikkala and tried to see as many species as possible in one day in Siikalahti. I was there for whole day from 6:30 a.m. until 7:15 p.m. Early morning there were lots of thrushes and Bramblings and other passerines moving but western wind wasn’t very good for other migration. During the day we found 74 species and some of the best ones were 300 Cranes, 2 Grey Herons, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, a flock of Coal Tits, a flock of Parrot Crossbills, a Lapland Bunting and the latest ever Wood Sandpiper in South Karelia.

On of the most memorable happening during the day was when a local man came to tell us that there had been a young Whooper Swan walking in the middle of the road pretty close. Hanna went to see the bird with this man and soon they came back with the swan! It seemed to be OK, just tired after a long walking. So we released it to Siikalahti where it soon was joined by a local swan-family which didn’t seem to like a new visitor but luckily they didn’t attack it at all and soon this bird was drinking and resting on a small islet.

On the 8th day I woke up early again and headed to Siikalahti but it started to rain soon. I still heard a couple of Water Rails and a Grey-headed Woodpecker and in Lahdensuo I saw a late Northern Wheatear and in Kirkonkylä a Nuthatch again.

On the 9th day I managed to visit Siikalahti bird-tower so that there were no geese at all on the bay. So it was easier to check all the ducks. I managed to find a couple of Gadwalls, 100 Teals, 5 Pintails, 8 Shovelers, 12 Scaups, 130 Tufted Ducks, 10 Long-tailed Ducks, 2 Velvet Scoters, 35 Goldeneyes, 2 Smews and 4 Coots – and of course lots of Mallards and Wigeons. 3 White-tailed Eagles were chasing the ducks and were probably the reason that geese were all on the fields. 10 Waxwings were seen and I hope there will be lots of them soon as there are lots of rowan-berries!

During the week it was again raining more than needed, so even my lunch-visits were short. On the 10th day I still saw 15 Meadow Pipits in Lahdensuo and a Great Grey Shrike was found in Tiviä. On the 11th day there was a huge flock of 4500 grey geese in Tetrisuo – I had never seen a field full of grey geese around here before!

On the 12th of October I visited Siikalahti bird-tower on my lunch-hour and then we spent the evening there with Hanna again. Some of the best birds were a flock of 180 Brent Geese, 2 White-tailed Eagles, 360 swans and 20 000 geese which too many arrived too late but we estimated a bit less than 100 Bewick’s Swans and about one third were grey geese. Also 200 Teals, 5 Smews and the same Velvet Scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, Scaups and at least 1 Gadwall and so on were still there.

On the morning of the 13th day I visited briefly Siikalahti and still saw 46 Cranes leaving from the reeds. They seem to stay very late this year.

J.A.