Independence day bird-race in Porvoo area

In the beginning of the December it was already like in winter. On the 2nd day I still saw a couple of flocks of Whooper Swans and one more Hawk Owl and still on the 4th day a Black-throated Diver, a Great Crested Grebe, Goosanders and a couple of Common Gulls but on the next morning the whole Kirkkoselkä was completely frozen.

On the 5th of December I drove to Hamina to twitch a Spanish Sparrow. I was there when the sun is already setting down but there was still 30 minutes light to watch the feeder, but the bird wasn’t seen anymore after the first observation. I saw more than 100 Tree Sparrows, some House Sparrows, a Blackbird, some tits and a Nuthatch there. Then I continued to Porvoo where I met Juha Tuomaala. In the evening we planned the next day’s bird-race.

On the 6th of December was the traditional Independence Day bird-race in Porvoo area. Together with Juha, Markus Keskitalo and Seppo Sarvanne we started from Porvoo where we saw the first species, a Rock Dove, in the dark. Then we drove a long way to Ruotsinpyhtää Saaristotie.

The sun was getting up when we walked to the shore in Busholmen. Goldcrests were calling and soon we saw the first flock of Cormorants. The weather was awful windy and snowy and there were almost no birds on the sea. We saw Common, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls, some Goldeneyes and finally 3 Velvet Scoters but the Long-tailed Ducks I saw were too brief and nobody else saw them. When it started to snow too hard, we continued to the end of Saaristotie where we saw some Tufted Ducks, Mute Swans, Mallards and luckily a couple of Long-tailed Ducks and so on.

We stopped a couple of times along Saaristotie and saw a Hawks Owl and a couple of White-tailed Eagles and some common species. Then we walked to see Klobbfjärden and power plant shore and there we saw a Black-headed Gull with other common gulls. But no ducks were seen at all.

In Loviisa we checked some gardens and after we had found some common species Markus stayed searching a House Sparrow while the rest of us went to tick a Barnacle Goose that Juha had seen earlier. The bird looked sick but it had found a good field where it could survive for some time. But Juha already planned the rescue mission for it. After ticking the House Sparrow, we continued to Lapinjärvi where we saw a Jay in Juha’s garden and soon we stopped to a Collared Dove place. After 15 minutes waiting the dove came to its favorite spruce and it was a good tick! Then we continued to Ralf Rikberg’s forest-feeders where we easily saw a Blackbird, a Coal Tit, some Crested Tits and a Treecreeper.

Then it was time to continue towards Porvoo. We dipped a Kestrel and a Dipper that had been around earlier but in Koskenkylä we saw 4 Canada Geese in a flock of 65 Whooper Swans and then saw a Great Grey Shrike and some Black Grouses too. Then we continued to rubbish tip where we stayed more than an hour. All the gulls were gone already but we saw a Sparrowhawk, a flock of 4 crossbills which at least one of them was a Two-barred Crossbill, but nobody else saw it so well so it was just a crossbill sp for us to the race. It was already getting dark when we saw first a Common Buzzard and then a Goshawk but only me and Juha saw the latter – 3 of us needed to see a species to get a tick. For the last hour of the race we were searching for Tawny Owls but we didn’t hear any.

After all we came 2nd in the race while the winner team had 47 species against our 45. There were 11 teams altogether. The weather had been crappy so there were very common birds missing on each team’s lists. For example not a single Waxwing was seen and only one Fieldfare. Altogether 74 species were seen and after all I was a little bit disappointed as with a little but luck and a little bit better plans we could have won.

We still went to eat with almost all participants and at 11 p.m. we left to sleep. On the next morning I went to listen to a Tawny Owl that had been heard on the same place where we had been on the previous evening. I heard it after some waiting and then I continued to the rubbish tip. There I heard an Eagle Owl that we had missed by 15 minutes on the previous morning and evening! At 9 a.m. gulls started to arrive but I didn’t see a Glauscous Gull that had been seen on the race. I saw a Common Buzzard again and 3 Starlings that we had missed in the race but nothing else. At 10 a.m. I decided to start driving to Parikkala

J.A.