April 2010

Rare birds in April

On the 1st of April I saw some new birds for the year like Reed Bunting, Chaffinch, Meadow Pipit and Mistle Thrush, also 2 White-tailed Eagles and a Golden Eagle, 3 Hawfinches and 70 Snow Bunting were seen in Siikalahti.

On the 2nd day we had the wilderness bird race again. Now our area was really bad and also roads were in so bad shape that we almost gave up right away. Anyway we had some nice birds like Eagle Owl, Ural Owl, Capercaillie, Hazel Hens, Black Grouses, Black Woodpeckers, Grey-headed Woodpeckers, White-backed Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Dippers, Redwings, White Wagtails and a Dunnock. In the evening in Siikalahti we saw a White-tailed Eagle and a Marsh Harrier.

On the 3rd day we visited Lappeenranta Joutseno Konnunsuo with Ilkka Jarva and saw 10 Canada Geese, 4 Black-headed Gulls, 5 Kestrels, a Great Grey Shrike, a Merlin, 2 Cranes and a Stock Dove and so on. In Imatra I saw a Lesser Black-backed Gull and on the next day I twitched a White Stork there.

On the 5th of April we went to try to see a lek of Capercaillies. We did hear some calls but never saw the birds, but 2 Pygmy Owl, a Grey-headed Woodpecker and several Hazel Hens were calling. Also a Woodcock was seen. We continued by bike to Siikalahti where a Robin, a White-tailed Eagle, 2 Merlins, a Hen Harrier, a Crane, 140 Lapwings, a Lesser Black-backed, a Great Black-backed and a Common Gull, 320 Wood Pigeons, 2 Stock Doves, a Linnet, an Arctic Redpoll, 2 Hawfinches, 2 Common Crossbills, 1200 Chaffinches, a Lapland Bunting, thrushes and so one were seen. Even though there was still lot of snow on the ground it was really a spring!


On the next day the bird of the day was a Green Sandpiper, but on the 7th there was something much better! Mikko Pöllänen found a southern Stonechat in Koitsanlahti and we managed to twitch it and get some pictures. It was our first of this race in Finland and my bird-species number 250 in Parikkala! I went to see the Stonechat also on the next morning and managed to get better pictures. In Siikalahti a White-tailed Eagle was migrating and in the evening I went once more to see the Stonechat together with “potu” Suojarinne and Harry Nyström. We continue also to Rautjärvi Änkilä where we managed to twitch a nice male Black Redstart that Jouko Poutanen had found.

On the 9th day the Stonechat wasn’t found anymore but I managed to see a Wood Lark and a Stock Dove and hear a Black and a Grey-headed Woodpecker competing which one had most powerful call – black won. In Siikalahti I saw 5 Bean Geese, heard a Canada Goose, 7 Coots were already swimming in small pen water area and Mallard were on the field that had quite a lot of water.

On the 10th a Lapland Bunting, a Song Thrush, 4 White-tailed Eagles, a Golden Plover, 3 Wigeons, 4 Common Snipes, 2 Ospreys and a Bittern were observed in Siikalahti. And on the 11th day 103 Bean Geese, 18 White-fronted Geese, a Smew, a Great Black-backed Gull, 4 White-tailed Eagles, 5 Marsh Harriers, a Curlew and a Brambling were seen. The snow had already melted and there was already a bigger open water area. On the next day only 3 Rooks were seen.

More ticks

On the 13th day “konza” Kontiokorpi found a Little Grebe in Siikalahti and it was a new tick for me not only to Siikalahti but also to Parikkala! In the afternoon we left to Helsinki with Sampsa Cairenius where we managed to twitch a crazy early Subalpine Warbler! A new lifer! Other birds seen in surprisingly frozen Viikki were 5 Grey Herons, 11 Great Crested Grebes, 33 Barnacle Geese, 2 Pheasants and 2 Black Redstarts which seems to be more common than ever!
I was back in Parikkala after midnight but I decided to visit Siikalahti where I saw an Eagle Owl perched on a bird-tower! Only new year-tick of the day was a Pintail.

On the 15th some Pochards had arrives, 2 more White-tailed Eagles were migrating like 3 Rough-legged Buzzards too, also a Rook, 100 Meadow Pipits and a good one – a Shore Lark were seen.


On the 17th day I participated in an Eco-bird race. I drove by bike to Melkoniemi forest where I really worked hard to find a good place or bird to start and after 3 hours I decided to start with a Siberian Jay. Luckily right then a Capercaillie flew over me. Hazel Hens, Common Crossbills and a Parrot Crossbills were seen too. Then I biked to Kangaskylä where only a Pheasant was heard and then continued to Siikalahti where I spent almost the rest of the race – about 7 hours – and it was really worthy! A Wood Lark, 320 Bean Geese, 37 White-fronted Geese, a Greenshank, Green Sandpipers, a Bittern and an early Water Rail were observed soon. The first good raptor was a White-tailed Eagle, but soon a 2nd c-y Greater Spotted Eagle came from NE and landed to the ice in the middle of the bay. It took a fish from a gull and moved to the reed-bed to eat. Soon another eagle was found from the sky and surprisingly it was a sub-adult Golden Eagle. Altogether I saw 12 species of raptors: other good ones were a Hen Harrier, a Goshawk, a Merlin and 12 Rough-legged Buzzards. Other good birds were a Grey-headed Woodpecker, 2 Woodcocks and a Linnet. I still biked around the bay to Kangaskylä but nothing else was found. After all I won the race with 76 species.

On the 18th day I did a duck-count and better birds were 2 Canada Geese, 4 Tufted Ducks, 2 Great Crested Grebes, a Redshank and a Chiffchaff. There were much less duck than normally in Siikalahti. On the 19th day one more White-tailed Eagle and another Greater Spotted Eagle, this time a 3rd c-y bird were seen. Again the spotted eagle landed to the bay and we managed to see it very close but couldn’t get any really good pictures because of it soon flew to the other side of bay. In the afternoon we saw 2 Bewick’s Swans in Kontiolampi.

On the next morning a Greater Spotted Eagle was still in Siikalahti. Also an early Yellow Wagtail, 8 Canada Geese and a White-tailed Eagle were seen. I also found a couple of Long-tailed Tits building a nest – many of them didn’t survive from the cold winter.

First for Finland

On the 21st day I saw 2 Redshanks in Siikalahti and on the 22nd a Red-breasted Merganser in Särkisalmi and a Northern Wheatear in Härskiinmutka. But in the evening there was something weird happening in Laukaa! There had been a Snipe calling like a Tengmalm’s Owl for 2 summers already in Vihtasilta, but only now a real birder Tero Linjama heard it and took recordings. He took somograms from the voice and found out that it was similar than Wilson’s Snipes!
Still the snipe hadn’t been seen but in the evening of 23rd of April we drove to Mikkeli where we first twitched a Black Redstart and surprisingly found it had got a female, before continued with “potu” Suojarinne and “mape” Lund to Laukaa. We were there at 7.45 p.m. and when we got out from my car the bird was calling first time! There were some 30 twitchers and soon we found the bird flying on the ground and I immediately managed to get to my scope and even though it was flying fast it really looked good! Soon the snipe landed but luckily just in front of Petteri Mäkelä and some other twitchers that were in different part of a small bay that we were. Petteri ran to us and soon we were seeing this bird on the ground just some 20 metres from us! I managed to get some pictures and videos of the bird before it slowly walked in to the reed-bed and disappeared.
After an hour a snipe was found from the reed-bed and a bigger and bigger number of twitchers were looking at it but it wasn’t showing well, just a head or part of a back was visible. And later I found out that there were actually several snipes very close to each others so we really had no idea which one was the right bird. Luckily the bird or 2 birds started to call soon and we could hear some very different calls than Common Snipes. And at 9.45 p.m. the bird finally started to display again so everyone could hear it well!
Almost right away many of those maybe 200 twitchers started to leave and car-engines were running and doors slamming – and I really desperately wanted to get good recordings of the display! The bird soon landed to another reed-bed where I managed to get short recording of its call but only after 45 minutes wait it started to display again and luckily most of the twitchers had left so it was quiet enough to get some quality recordings! At 11 p.m. we were on our way back home.

At home we were at 3 a.m. on the 24th of April. And I had promised to send my pictures to media and I also put my pictures, video and recordings to my home-pages. So I had no time to sleep at all before we had to go to Siikalahti to start a local migration-watch day at 5 a.m. The weather was again horrible; it was cold, windy and even snowing a while. Anyway we saw a Black-tailed Godwit, 59 Curlews, 3 Whimbrels, a Great Grey Shrike, a Black-throated Diver and a Hobby before I had to stop at 12 a.m. and go to sleep. Altogether 65 species were seen from the Siikalahti bird-tower.

On the 25th of April I counted the ducks again. Only good bird was a Greylag Goose. Later we checked all the best places in N-Parikkala but only a Great Grey Shrike in Akanvaara Tetrisuo and 400 Teals, 280 Bean Geese and 50 White-fronted Geese in Suurenjärvenliete were seen.


On the 26th we did first a short night-trip with Ilkka Jarva and in early morning went to Siikalahti where 6 Slavonian Grebes and 5 migrating Cormorants were seen.
In the evening we went to twitch a Mandarin Duck in Ruokolahti Kuokkalampi with “jamppa” Pirhonen. After 1.5 hours waiting the bird finally showed up. We saw this stunning male in flight too. On the 27th the weather was windy but the wind was from SW so lots of new migrants were coming. New year-ticks were a Little Gull and a Wood Sandpiper.

On the next day the wind was again from north and very cold. During my lunch-hour I visited first Siikalahti where a Garganey was found and then continued to Särkisalmi. On the way I saw a raptor flying over main road and right away I realized this was something better – and when I managed to drive closer it was easy to identify as a Black Kite! I drove under it and parked to a bus-stop and managed to see it very well when it was soaring and getting higher before it continued to NNE.

On the 29th day there were already several Red-necked Grebes around Lake Simpele. In Siikalahti I saw the first Whinchat of the spring and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was calling but the bird of the day was a Feral Pigeon because of it’s very rarely seen in Siikalahti!

On the last day of May we drove to Lappeenranta to buy some clothes and other equipments for the counts that we begin in Siikalahti. On the way we found a Wood Lark in Rautjärvi and on the way back we stopped in Konnunsuo where more than 800 White-fronted Geese, only 30 Bean Geese and 30 Barnacle Geese were counted. Also 2 Tree Pipits were heard. In the evening I still made a short trip to Siikalahti by bike with Matti Lötjönen. A Jack Snipe was heard!