Rarer spring-birds too

On the 22nd of April I sis a short visit to Siikalahti and saw first a female Hen Harrien and then a female Pallid Harrier migrating. Also 5 Whimbrels and a House Martin were new arrivals. In the evening we went to listen to Moor Frogs and saw also a Spotted Crake.

On the 24th of April we did a short evening visit to Saari and found a Short-eared Owl displaying high on the sky. One or two more birds were hunting on the field. Then we drove to a Capercaillie displaying forest to put up tents. Two male Capercaillies were seen before we started to sleep.

At night Hanna, who had already been in this place once before, heard a Tengmalm’s Owl and we both heard a couple of small flocks of Common Scoters. Early in the morning a couple of Capercaillies arrived but they stayed pretty far from our tents. Altogether we saw 3 males and 2 females but we got only some distant pictures.

We gave up pretty early and still heard a Pheasant and found a Wood Lark and a flock of 20 Waxwings.

In morning we did again a trip in Saari and saw 4 Gadwalls in Akonpohja, a couple of Great Grey Shrikes, a Northern Wheatear in Suurenjärvenliete and 5 White-tailed Eagles in Tarassiinlahti.

Hanna still decided to spend one more night with Capercaillies and when I had dropped her to her tent, I continued to Pohjanranta to twitch a Little Grebe without luck. But I found a second year Pallid Harrier perched on a stump. Soon it flew pretty close to me and continued towards north.

On the 26th of April I counted water-birds again in Siikalahti. The big water-area was counted without surprises but on dam-road I met Harri Partanen and while chatting I noticed a passerine landing to the fence of the parking place and it was a beautiful male Black Redstart! We got some pictures before Meadow Pipits chased it to the sky and it disappeared. Soon I noticed a raptor migrating towards north and identified it as a Black Kite!

Meanwhile Hanna was only listening Capercaillies as they stayed too far, but she heard a Rustic Bunting singing too.

I continued to southern side of the bay and while counting geese I found a beautiful Red-breasted Goose! It was swimming with other geese to an area which can’t be seen from any towers but I managed to one single picture where it can be seen. It was never seen after that.

Other birds seen were 18 Bewick’s Swans, 2845 Tundra Bean, 439 Greater White-fronted, 508 Barnacle and 2 Canada Geese, 21 Pintails, a couple of Garganeys, 101 Tufted Ducks, 121 Goldeneyes, 9 Great Crested Grebes and 5 Red-necked Grebes. It seemed that migration of most of the ducks was already gone.

After the count I drove to pick up Hanna and on the way I saw a Black Kite soaring over the road. Soon we were heading to Siikalahti again and on Huhmarinen we found one more Black Kite perched on the field! Hanna managed to get some very good pictures of this bird when it flew over us a couple of times.

We stayed in Siikalahti for several hours and found a Greylag Geese and I saw a Pink-footed Goose briefly. I had seen seven species of geese in Siikalahti during the day! We also counted 25 migrating Rough-legged Buzzards, a couple of White-tailed Eagles, a Peregrine and one amazing black-and-white raptor that really looked like a Booted Eagle first but after all was identified as a ”börringe” Common Buzzard. Also 5 Little Gulls and 3 Stock Doves were seen.

In the afternoon we still went to check the last owl nest-boxes but all we found were cold eggs in one Pygmy Owl nest-box. It had probably given up because of the lack of food. So after all we hadn’t got a single breeding owl in our 90 nest-boxes! We saw a male Capercaillie in the forests. In the evening I still went to Siikalahti and saw 2 migrating Short-eared Owls.

The week started very well when on the morning of 27th of April I got information that there had been a Ring Ouzel in Surumäki. I drove there immediately and luckily saw this shy birds a couple of times briefly. I also heard a Hawfinch there. During the day I visited Siikalahti and saw the same Peregrine and Black Kite and 4 Cormorants. In the evening we went to listen to Moor Frogs to southern side of the bay and heard some new Water Rails and 2 Spotted Crakes.

On the 28th of April I saw a couple of Common Scoters and Red-breasted Mergansers in Härskiinmutka and the same Ring Ouzel was again seen briefly in Surumäki. During my luch-hour I first found a Black Kite soaring on the sky but once I got bored watching this ”common” bird, I noticed a bigger raptor soaring above it – a Lesser Spotted Eagle! Also a Merlin, a Golden Plover and small flocks of Waxwings and Lapland Buntings were seen.

On the 29th I visited Siikalahti only very shortly as it was snowing very hard. Anyway a Black Kite was soaring on the sky with a Common Buzzard. The rest of the day we were just taking easy but in the evening we remembered to go out to our garden as our neighbor Matti Lötjönen had seen and heard a redstart-species in two previous evenings. We just walked down the stairs and noticed a female-plumaged Black Redstart feeding in front of us!

On the 30th of April we did the water-bird count together. Hanna counted the bigger wtare-area and I counted all the other parts of the bay. Hanna saw a male Pallid Harrier briefly but the rest of the count was pretty boring. Only nice thing was to find 27 male and 17 female Pochards which is the best number for several years. Hanna also saw a Gadwall male again.

During the lunch-hour I was lucky again as I found a 2nd year Greater Spotted Eagle soaring on the sky. It flew over the dam-road nicely and it looked like it was going to stay on the bay but after all it was never seen again. I also saw a possible male Pallid Harrier but too briefly just disappearing behind the forest.

In the evening we packed the car and started driving towards south. We drove straight to Virolahti Lintulahti where we saw a Pied Flycatcher, 5 Barn Swallows and 6 Wood Sandpipers and so on. We put up the camp to Lakakallio and also Hanna’s sister Elissa was there. We visited the rock just briefly and saw about 200 Common Scoters and a couple of Caspian Terns.

The first of May we started early and headed to Leerviik where we started sea-watching at 5:20 a.m. Migration was pretty quiet but still 230 Black-throated Divers, 4 Red-throated Divers, 58 Pintails, 19 Shovelers, 2 Common Pochards, 85 Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Hobbies, a Peregrine, 15 Whimbrels, 19 Little Gulls, 7 Barn Swallows, a Tree Pipit and so on were seen. Also a few Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs were heard and a couple of Common Sandpipers were seen.

Hanna’s brother Miika arrived too and pretty soon we continued to Kolsinpohja where we found 4 Great White Egrets! Also a Ruff and a White-backed Woodpecker were seen. Then we headed to Kurkela where some White-tailed Eagles, a couple of Whinchats and a Yellow Wagtail were seen.

In the evening Miika continued ome to Kotka but the rest of us drove west to Porvoo Ruskis where we easily found a couple of Bearded Reedlings from the reeds. In Sikosaari we saw nothing interesting but on the other side of the bay we saw a Rook and heard a couple of short calls of a Great Snipe! Then we drove to Emäsalo where we put up the camp and soon were sleeping.

On the 2nd of May we started sea-watching at 5:30 a.m. and in hard eastern wind we stayed there until 8 a.m. It was a great morning but unfortunately we had an appointment in Helsinki so we had to leave too early. Anyway we managed to count 78 Scaups, 75 Common Eiders, 51 Velvet Scoters, 16 Red-throated Divers, 87 Black-throated Divers, 11 Red-necked Grebes, a Razorbill, 20 Black Guillemots, 370 Little Gulls and the best birds were flocks of 25 and 4 Steller’s Eiders.

But we had to drive to Helsinki Viikki early as we had to be in Lintuvaruste bird-equipment shop at 9:30 a.m. a half an hour before it was actually opening. Miika was also there and soon we got 4 different kind of scopes and went out to test them. We walked to the field where an Isabelline Wheatear had been found on the previous day, so it was easy to decide what we were looking while testing scopes. Other birds seen were a couple of Whinchats, Common Redstart and a Yellow Wagtail and so on.

After an hour we walked back to the shop and started shopping. Both Miika and Elissa bought Kowa-telescopes and also similar tripods and heads for scope, but I still kept on the scopes in front of the shop. After all I decided to stay with Zeiss and bought similar Harpia than Hanna already had got about 1.5 years. We both also bought new Gitzo Gimbal heads!

It was already afternoon when we started driving away from Helsinki. Luckily I checked Lintutiedotus and noticed that a Lesser White-fronted Goose had still been seen in Tuusula. We weren’t far so soon we parked to Terrilä. After some searching we managed to find a sleepy goose in a flock of a couple of hundreds of other geese. It was a good lifer for Miika and Elissa.

Soon we were back in Emäsalo where we camped in the same place and after some cooking went to sleep early. And the whole night it was raining hard.

On the 3rd of May we woke up early and at 5 a.m. we were on the shore. Surprisingly our old friend Petri Lampila was also there but soon also Antti Peuna, who we had met on the previous day in Helsinki, arrived. Unfortunately there was thick fog on the sea!

While chatting the time past quickly and finally the sea opened. But still there was almost no migration. But when birds were seen, they often were something better. A gadwall landed to the shore, 3 flocks – altogether 200 Oystercatchers were migrating, a Temminck Stint and a Razorbill were seen only by some of us but luckily first a Bar-tailed Godwit and then a single male Steller’s Eider were seen better.

At 9:25 a.m. I found a tern flying straight towards us and it just looked somehow interesting. But I could see only the silhouette and te way it was flying very strong and straight. It was getting close, but I could see nothing about it. When it was passing us, I saw it well for a second – a Sandwich Tern! I shouted to the others but it was too late – everyone saw the bird but it was continuing similarly straight and strong away so that only silhouette and the way of flight were possible to see. It was a Finnish-tick for me, but somehow I felt more bad about it as I didn’t identify it earlier or at least noticed about this bird that was flying so strong to others sooner. Maybe with my old scope I could have identified it sooner, but with my new scope I was maybe too careful – the view is quite different after all.

The migration was quiet so some gave up sooner but with Aleksi Mikola we still saw a female-plumaged Two-barred Crossbill flying over us. It was accompanied with another unidentifeid crossbill and together they flew to south to the sea!

At 11 a.m. we also gave up and while walking to the parking place, we heard a couple of singing Wood Warblers. Mikka continued to home but we still continued to Ruskis where 4 Bearded Reedlings, a flock of 180 Wood Sandpipers and so on were seen.

Then we still stopped in Loviisa Haravankylä where we cooked but saw only some White-tailed Eagles. Then ”Elli” continued to Kouvola and we towards Parikkala. We still stopped in Luumäki Taavetti fish-ponds and in Imatra Kymälahti but without anything new.