December 2008


On the 1st day of December I spent my lunch-hour in Vartialahti where I went to see a Wigeon that we had found a day earlier. It was a good winter bird race tick. On the next day my target was a White-backed Woodpecker. Altogether 140 Whooper Swans were still seen in Lake Simpele.

On the 5th day I had a short visit in Imatra where Smews and a Canada Goose were seen in vuoksi and a Long-tailed Duck in Lake Immala.

On the 6th day we had a traditional Independent day bird rally. We started in Rautjärvi when it was still dark and an Eagle Owl and a Pygmy Owl were heard. When the sun was rising we were in Lappeenranta Toikansuo where we found 5 Teals, a Rough-legged Buzzard, a Wren, a Chaffinch and 2 Goldfinches. In Hanhi-Kemppi we saw a Common Buzzard and a Kestrel and in Parasitentie we found a flock of Waxwings and Fieldfares. In Pappilanniemi we twitched a Nuthatch an in Mustola a Nutcracker. In Luukkaansalmi we saw a Black-throated Grebe, Goldeneye, Common Gulls and a Grey Heron, in Tyysterniemi a Great Crested Grebe and in Laihia a flock of Herring Gulls. In Tuohimäki we saw the first Great Grey Shrike before we continued to Joutseno Kukkuroinmäki where we saw a Grey-headed Woodpecker. In Konnunsuo we saw a flock of Whooper Swans, another Rough-legged Buzzard and in Mielikonniitty a Pygmy Owl. In Imatra Mellonlahti we saw a Dipper and in Vuoksi only a Canada Goose. Immalanjärvi had a Velvet Scoter and 2 Tufted Ducks but soon it became too dark. After all we saw 46 species and were 2nd in the race.

On the 7th day I picked up Sampsa Cairenius, Pekka Punnonen and Jari Kiljunen and we headed to Lahti where a Desert Wheatear had been found on previous day. We started to do birding in Luumäki where we checked several places where we could see to Lake Saimaa. We waited for a message about the wheatear but after a couple of hours we got a message that the bird hadn’t been found. Anyway we decided to continue to Lahti. But there we drove to Asemantausta where a Crested Lark was again wintering. There were plenty of birders around that had already given up with the wheatear but the Crested Lark was also missing. After some time one birder finally found it but in same time there was also another group of birders whistling and shouting something. We went to see a Crested Lark and then Mika I. Koskinen got a phone-call that there was a Hume’s Leaf Warbler only a couple of hundreds of metres from us! We ran to the group we had already seen and soon we found a small green bird which wasn’t a Hume’s but a Pallas Leaf Warbler. The first winter record ever in Finland! And “jassi” got his 2nd lifer in a couple of minutes! Soon we continued to Kujala where we still tried to find the wheatear for on hour but the bird was gone. Anyway we had a good trip even though I didn’t get any lifers. But Pallas Leaf Warbler was my year-tick number 268!

The next birding was done in 13th of December when I started from Lake Immala where a Velvet Scoter was still. In Vuoksi I saw again a Smew and a Canada Goose but also a Grey Wagtail was still present. It was a new winter-tick. In Vallinkoski I saw a Great Grey Shrike and in Konnunsuo a Log-legged and a Common Buzzard. In Kukkuroinmäki I saw 8 Starlings before I had to continue to ice-hockey match. From our teams bus to Iitti I still saw a Hawk Owl somewhere in Luumäki.

In the mid December it was already winter. So only some flocks of Whooper Swans and Goosanders were seen in Parikkala. I also went to see Siberian Jays one day.

On the 21st day in Lake Immala were still a Long-tailed Duck, a Velvet Scoter and a Herring Gull. Also a Dipper was on a small ditch. The Canada Goose in Vuoksi was already feeding from hand. Also a Tufted Duck and a Cormorant were seen in Vuoksi Itä-Siitola. A Grey Wagtail was seen again but bigger surprise was a Little Grebe that I found while watching the wagtail. It was the first Little Grebe in South Karelia in whole year and my species number 231 in South Karelia this year. In Vallinkoski I saw a Great Grey shrike again, but also a Goshawk and a Grey-headed Woodpecker. In Räikkölä I twitched Hawfinches and saw also a Chaffinch, Common Buzzard and a Blackbird. In Neitsytniemi I still found 3 Pine Grosbeaks so I had really good 3 hours in Imatra!

We spent the Critmas in Kirkkonummi with my parents and we were of course birding every day. On 24th day we drove first to Siuntio Myrans where we twitched a Red-breasted Goose that was in a small pool with some Whooper Swans and Mallards. Also 4 Rough-legged Buzzards, a Common Buzzard and a Black Woodpecker were seen there. In Sunnanvik we twitched a White-fronted and a Bean Goose that were together. In Tjuträsk we saw 3 Rough-legged Buzzards before we drove to Inkoo Degerby to twitch a Crane. In Kirkkonummi Vuohimäki we saw a Great Grey Shrike and in Bro a small thrush flew across the road. In Eestinkylä we saw a Goshawk and around Saltfjärden several Common and Rough-legged Buzzards. Also Bearded Reedlings were heard; Grey Heron, Great Grey Shrike and finally 2 Hen Harriers were seen.

In Christmas day we were birding around Saltfjärden again. Lots of buzzards were seen which is not normal in Finnish winter! In Medvast Morsfjärden we saw 140 Mute Swans, 12 Gadwalls, a Smew and a Coot. During the day we went to Porkkala where only a flock of Velvet Scoters, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers and some Long-tailed Ducks were seen.

On 26th of December we visited Espoo Suomenoja where 2 Gadwalls were seen. Then we drove to Helsinki Seurasaari to feed Canada Geese and a Mute Swan from hand before we continued to my uncle’s family to have Christmas meal. Also my grandmother was there sp we had a good time.

On the 27th day we started our way back home but we still stopped in Seurasaari where a Barnacle Goose was now together with Canada Geese. The weather was nice so we spent some time photographing these tame birds. Our last bird observation of the year was made in Lappeenranta Selkäharju where a Common Buzzard flew across the road. The last day of the year I was working from dark to dark.

After all I saw altogether 268 species during the year which was my new record.