Independence day rally again in Kouvola

On the 5th of December we drove to Kouvola after my work-day. When we were finally at Hanna’s sister Elissa’s apartment we ate well and then I still went to some night-birding with Teo Ylätalo. While we were birding and saw a single Long-eared Owl sisters could plan their first independence-day rally.

On the 6th of December we woke up at 5:20 and at 6 o’clock Teo came to pick me up. We started from the owl-place but of course we couldn’t find it. We checked many fields but found absolutely nothing and finally at 8:15 we were picking up Antti Vänskä and then headed to Tanttari.

When sun was rising we heard the first birds – Bullfinches. And soon we started to find other common birds too but also a Wren, a Grey-headed Woodpecker, a Hazel Hen and a Pygmy Owl.

We continued to Kymi-river and found a Kingfisher and a Grey Heron easily and of course some Whooper Swans, Mallards, Goldeneyes and Goosanders. Abd after some more places along the river we had seen also a Common Scoter, a couple of Velvet Scoters and a Great Grey Shrike. Then a couple of Dippers were also seen easily.

But then neither Collared Doves or a Nutcracker were found. Only a flock of Common Crossbills were seen before we started to drive towards south. A Hawk Owl was found easily and we also saw a flock of Black Grouses before we continued to Raussila where we had got info about Stock Doves and Grey Partridges. They were both found surprisingly easily so we had time to drive until Tammijärvi where a Smew and a couple of Sparrowhawks were seen.

Collared Doves didn’t show up on the second try either but a Chaffinch was found while searching for them. Then another visit to Raussila area gave us a Common Kestrel and soon we had to hurry to see Pheasants. Then we finally made it to rubbish tip where all Jackdaws and Hooded Crows had already left but luckily we still saw a couple of Goshawks, a Common Buzzard and also surprisingly a couple of Linnets.

Then sun had already set and the last hour and a half we tried to find Long-eared Owls but without luck. At 4:30 p.m. the rally ended and at 5 o’clock we were in Anjalankoski ABC where we first had pizza and the the results were given. There had been only 5 teams in the race, 3 in Kouvola, biking in Kotka and one along the coast.

Surprisingly Team Gulls had got 54 species and won. We had also had a pretty good day but still missed some too easy birds like a Fieldfare, a Long-tailed Tit or some woodpeckers and so on. Anyway we had got 52 species and came second. Third team had some species less and then Hanna and Elissa had found 39 species in Kouvola. They also had a couple of “aces” and several species that we had missed. So they had managed quite well as the first-timers.

In the evening we had a long drive to Parikkala where everything is already covered with snow and ice so there won’t be much bird-news before spring…