December 2004

Winter rally birding

In the beginning of December a traditional winter bird-rally started in South-Karelia. I decided to try for one week how many species I could find. First of December I drove to Lappeenranta, where we birded for whole day with Harry Nyström. We found some Chaffinches, Herring Gulls, Goshawk, Black Grouses, Great Grey Shrike, Common Gull and Fieldfares so the beginning was quite promising.

After we had checked all the places near Lappeenranta I started my way back to Parikkala. Sun was setting but I tried to see a Hawk Owl which had stayed in Suomaankorpi for a while. I had luck the owl was sitting so close to the road that I found it easily even though it was already dark. And I had even better luck, I found also a Long-eared Owl!

Next day I drove to Rautjärvi Lake-Torsa to twitch Red-throated Divers that Jari Kontiokorpi had seen day before. I found one easily and also lots of Whooper Swans. But there was also a surprise – a Little Grebe was swimming with swans. After I had seen a Pygmy Owl too, I continued to Imatra and river Vuoksi. There were lots of Goldeneyes and Goosanders but also a couple of Smews and some Cormorants.

On the third of December I started a longer trip to lake-Saimaa. I had planned to visit my grandmother and do birding in two mornings. So I drove first to Taipalsaari Sarviniemi, where I saw a Great Black-backed Gull but disappointedly nothing else but a flock of Waxwings. In Savitaipale and Suomenniemi I saw a couple of Dippers.

After staying night in Mikkeli I drove to Ruokolahti Utula, where were Chaffinches, a Brambling and a Reed Bunting in a huge flock of Yellowhammers. But Kyläniemi had nothing. So the lake-Saimaa had no ducks or any other winter rally ticks for me.

On the fifth of December I drove again to Imatra where I had only a couple of hour time to do birding before my rinkball match. Anyway I managed to find some Blackbirds, 6 Hawfinches and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers.

6th of December is an Independence Day in Finland. It is also a traditional day for bird-rallies all around the country. We also had a rally in South-Karelia. Now I had been birding so much that the plans were easy to do. Our team was me, Hanna and Ilkka Jarva. Before the sunrise we picked up Ilkka we went to see Cormorants which were easy to see even it was still dark and continued to Ruokolahti Utula. There we saw a Brambling, Chaffinches, a Reed Bunting and a Great Grey Shrike. Next we checked the Vuoksi quickly and continued to Meltola where we saw a Hawfinch, a Blackbird, Arctic Redpoll, Dipper and a Herring Gull.

At midday we continued to Simpele where we luckily saw a family of Whooper Swans migrating and a Goshawk passing by. Also Goldcrests and Coal Tit were found easily, so we could continue to Parikkala.

At Parikkala we found finally House Sparrows but also a Pheasant! It was already getting dark when we managed to get to Siikalahti. But again we were lucky – we saw a White-backed Woodpecker, Long-tailed Tits and a Treecreeper. So we still had time to drive to Suomaankorpi to see the Hawk Owl which was our last, 41st species. And with that result ee won the rally.

On couple of next days I went to see the Siberian Jays were ok. I also twitched a good winter-tick, Jack Snipe.

had been birding a lot in a beginning of months, so it was time to relax a little. Next bird trip was made on 16th day. I drove again to Vuoksi. Now I found the first Tufted Duck for this winter and twitched a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers that Harry and Pekka Punnonen had found. .

Before the Christmas I still saw a Goshawk and a Sparrowhawk from our window. I also saw a couple of White-backed and Grey-headed Woodpeckers. At Christmas we drove to Kirkkonummi to my parents.

The Christmas was like always: we ate a lot and had a good time. So on 26th day we had to go to do some birding. We went to Porkkala, but just 100 meters before the sea I felt down because of the slippery ice and broke my telescope! So that was the end for that trip.

Luckily the wonderful crew of M-Optics gave me again a new telescope for that time that my scope is in Checks where it is repaired. Thanks again! So I still could do birding.

29th of December I did a winter bird counting again. I walked 15 kilometres around the Siikalahti. The best birds were the same Pheasant, 22 Black Grouses, 2 White-backed Woodpeckers and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

On the last day of the year we went with Hanna to Tyrjä forests were we saw a Dipper, and near Siikalahti a White-backed Woodpecker and a flock of Long-tailed Tits. Happy New Year 2005!