December 2007

December – Winter without snow

On the 1st of December we had a winter bird race. Together with Hanna and Jarmo Pirhonen we started from Lappeenranta Toikasuo in dawn but we couldn’t find an Eagle Owl we found only a Teal. Next we drove to Savitaipale Kaskei to see a Hawk Owl. In Taipalsaari we weren’t lucky but once we drove back to Toikasuo we found a Chaffinch, 2 Linnets, a Sparrowhawk and a Goshawk. In Askola we found a flock of 4 Twites. In Luukkaansalmi we saw 2 Goldeneyes, 2 Herring Gulls and a Grey Heron. 2 Pheasants were found easily in Laihia and in Joutseno Pulp we had a Common Gull. But we had spent far too much time – we still had to get to Imatra Vuoksi. On the way we tried to see some woodpeckers but we managed to find only some other species like Coal, Crested and Long-tailed Tits and a Brambling. In Mellonlahti we had a Goldcrest and Cormorants but we managed to get to river Vuoksi too late. It was already dark but we still managed to find 2 Smews and a Canada Goose. But we missed some species. After all we got 42 species, which wasn’t very well. We became 3rd in the race.

On the 2nd of December we drove with Pekka Punnonen to Ylämaa to twitch a wintering White-fronted Goose, a Scaup and a Nuthatch. In Toikansuo we saw 2 Great Grey Shrikes. In the afternoon I continued to Imatra Vuoksi where I saw a Common Scoter, a Red-breasted Merganser, a Rook and a White Wagtail! All the same birds were also present than the day before.

On the 6th day we drove again to Imatra but we couldn’t find anything new. In Joutseno Kukkuroinmäki I saw 2 Starlings. Surprisingly on the next day I saw a Starling also in Parikkala.

On the 8th day I went to see the familiar Siberian Jays. Only 2 birds were there. Also Black Grouses were seen. On the next day we drove to Taipalsaari with Pekka. Lake Saimaa was empty but the Hawk Owl was still in Savitaipale, then we checked a couple of Dipper places and in the afternoon we twitched a Kestrel in Lappeenranta and a Black-throated Diver in Joutseno.

On the 13th day I saw a White-backed Woodpecker in Siikalahti and on the next day we twitched an Eagle Owl in Rautjärvi Simpele Kokkolanjoki. Finally I got my first pictures of the species – unfortunately pretty bad ones.

On the 16th day we were again in Toikansuo with Pekka. This time we were lucky! First we twitched a Shore Lark and a Robin and then we found an Arctic Redpoll and saw a Merlin. Later we still twitched a Skylark in Taipalsaari Kolinlahti. In the afternoon I checked the Vuoksi River again but nothing new was there.

After the mid December there weren’t snow on the ground! Anyway there were a couple of minus degrees so we decided to start cleaning all the owl nest boxes. There were really few birds on the forests – just some Black Woodpeckers, Black Grouses and Hazel Hens. Also the Christmas holidays were spent with the nest boxes. One day our Catalan friend Dani Burgas was helping us. On that day we found a nice Pygmy Owls storage and in a couple of Ural Owl nest boxes were a couple of owl feathers.

On the Christmas day I did the winter bird count which was the most boring ever. Only better bird was a Grey-headed Woodpecker. Before the New Year we managed to check almost all nest boxes. When the year changed there was still no snow on the ground. It was really dark!