December birding

On the 1st of December I went to see that Taiga Bean Geese were still in Koitsanlahti and luckily they were – it was a new winter-species to Parikkala. I had counted that it was the 101th species ever in winter in Parikkala and I had seen 94. These small numbers tell that Parikkala is really not a good winter-birding place!

Other birds seen in Koitsanlahti were some Mallards, Whooper Swans and a flock of Fieldfares. In Kirkonkylä I saw a couple of Blackbirds and in Kangaskylä the same Stock Dove that was now the first ever wintering Stock Dove in Parikkala. I had seen once an early spring-migrant in the end of February so it wasn’t a new winter-species though. Also 7 Goldfinches were seen in Kangaskylä and in the afternoon I still saw a Great Grey Shrike in Rautalahti.

On the 2nd day we went to see that there was still a Nuthatch in Särkisalmi. We planned to catch this bird too later. In Härskiinmutka we saw 13 Common Gulls and a Herring Gull and then we went to see that the geese were still in Koitsanlahti, where also 3 Goldeneyes were seen. A short visit to Kokkolanjoki offered only a Dipper, a Goshawk and a Chaffinch.

On the 3rd a Bewick’s Swan was found in Siikalahti and after twitching it I continued to Imatra where I saw a Tufted Duck, a Velvet Scoter and a Common Scoter in Immalanjärvi. In Vuoksi I twitched a Little Grebe as a year-tick and hen continued to Lappeenranta where I had planned to continue birding but the weather was so bad that I decided to go twitching. So I drove to Kouvola where I managed to find a long staying Great Northern Diver quite easily. The bird was diving all the time so I didn’t get any pictures as I was in a hurry to drive back to Lappeenranta to a game.

On the 4th day a Bewick’s Swan was till with more than 250 Whooper Swans in Siikalahti and in Raikanniemi I saw a Great Crested Grebe and in Härskiinmutka a flock of 195 Goosanders. On the 5th day a Grey-headed Woodpecker and a couple of Goldeneyes were in Koitsanlahti but I didn’t see the geese. In the afternoon I drove once again to Lapinjärvi to Juha Tuomaala, where also the rest of our rally-team, Nette Meriluoto and Markus Keskitalo were.

The traditional Porvoo area Independence Day started extremely well when a Tawny Owl (my year-tick number 250) was calling on Juha’s backyard soon after 5 a.m. We continued searching for owls to forests nearby and were extremely lucky to find a Great Grey Owl! It was a lifer for Nette!

Other owls weren’t found, just Whooper Swans heard until we headed to Lapinjärvi to check the flocks of geese where had been 4 species on the previous day. But the whole lake was completely frozen now! We still found 150 Canada Geese but no other geese! And we lost time while checking the flocks as it was still quite dark and we had to be sure there were no other species before we continued towards the fields. Luckily some other species were got and Siskin and Waxwing were important ones.

From the fields we found more Canada Geese flocks and luckily we found a couple of Greylag Geese and Barnacle Geese too! Also a Sparrowhawk and some Common Crossbills were seen.

After a short drive we saw 4 Black Grouses and in Heikinkylä we were lucky as we found a Goshawk, 2 Stock Doves and saw a migrating Common Buzzard. Also a couple of Pheasants and a Great Grey Shrike were seen while driving. Then in Juha’s back-yard we saw a Coal Tit and heard Long-tailed Tits and saw a migrating flock of Goosanders. And in Pukaro we were lucky again when we saw 3 Bewic’s Swans migrating with Whoopers!

Then it was time to head to Porvoo where in Myllymäki we found some Goldfinches and a Hawfinch (a year-tick). In Emäsalo-bridge we had Common, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls, 3 Smews, Goldeneyes and Mute Swans and in Karjalaiskylä in a huge flock of Redpolls we had several Linnets and Arctic Redpolls.

Then we had to hurry to Ruskis where we had Bearded Reedlings quite easily and finally saw some Mallards too, but in Sikosaari we had only a Treecreeper. In Ruski bird-tower we then spent more than 30 minutes before we finally heard a Wren calling. It was another new species to the whole race (Greylag Goose had also been).

We still tried to find new owls but after all at 5 p.m. we counted that we had got 56 species which was clearly our new record but still we had a feeling that we should have seen more. And after all the winners got even 61 species, second 57 and we became 3rd.

On the way back home I stopped in Lappeenranta where I saw an Eagle Owl in traditional place. I had celebrated the 100th birthday of Finland very traditionally!

Hanna spent Independence Day in Parikkala where she managed to ring Nuthatch in Särkisalmi. This bird also got color-rings.

On the 7th of December it really felt more winter in Parikkala too. Koitsanlahti had frozen but I found again the same Tundra Bean Geese from small open water area further on the lake. A migrating flock of Whooper Swans ha also landed to a lake and also a Goldeneye and a few Mallards were seen. In Kokkolanjoki I saw a Dipper, a Goshawk and a Grey-headed Woodpecker, in Ristimäki a Black Woodpecker and in Kangaskylä the same Stock Dove like almost every day.

On the 9th day I saw the geese last time and in Tetrisuo I saw a Great Grey Shrike. On the 10th day I visited Immalanjärvi where a Tufted Duck and a Velvet Scoter were seen and in Vuoksi I saw a Scaup, a Smew and a couple of Cormorants. On the 11th day I saw a Great Grey Shrike in Kullinsuo, a family of Whooper Swans in a small open water patch in Siikalahti and a Chaffinch in Kangaskylä.

On the 13th day I saw 3 Mallards in Tyrjä, 10 Chaffinches with a Brambling in Kannas. Brambling was a new winter-species in Parikkala to me. And on the next day I twitched a Robin in a feeder in Siikalahti which was also a new tick, so now I have seen 96 species in winter in Parikkala. On the 14th day I also saw 3 Pine Grosbeaks in Moskuunniemi

On the 15th day I counted even 33 Rock Doves and Stock Dove was still with them. In Kirkonkylä I saw a Siskin and in Muttelinmäki a flock of 7 Pine Grosbeaks. On the 16th day there were already 20 Chaffinches with the same Brambling in Kannas. A short stop in Immalanjärvi was bad, only a Sparrowhaek and a Herring Gull were seen and in Lappeenranta Reijola I twitched a Teal.

On the 16th day I saw a Common Gull and a Black Woodpecker in Oravaniemi and on the 17th day we tried to ring Nuthatches in Kangaskylä, but saw 2 birds only briefly. Other birds seen were a Grey-headed Woodpecker, a Siskin, some Fieldfares, a Blackbird and a Chaffinch. In siikalahti I saw 8 Black Grouses.

On the 18th day I saw an adult White-tailed Eagle in Kannas and on the next day a White-backed Woodpecker in same place. In Kangaskylä I heard a Goldfinch and on the 20th day there were even 25 Chaffinches and the same Brambling in Kannas. In Vartialahti there were still 93 Whooper Swans and a Mallard. The Stock Dove was now perched with Rock Doves on the rood of S-Market, so I managed to see it to our back-yard. In the evening I got a phone-call that a Ural Owl had flew to a window close to Health Center. I managed to see the bird but it was flying very well when I tried to get closer.

On the 21st day I saw a Great Grey Shrike in Siikalahti and a White-backed Woodpecker again in Kannas. On the 22nd Hanna found surprisingly a Blackcap male on our back-yard which I luckily managed to twitch. When I drove back to Health Center I saw a White-backed Woodpecker flying over the buildings.

J.A.