The craziest lifer-twitch, winter-bird count and a self-found month-ticks

After autumn-holiday in Säppi it was cold and wintery in Parikkala. There was snow on the ground and smaller bays were already freezing. On the 27th of October there was still some open water in Siikalahti and on my lunch-hour I counted 5 Bean and 5 Barnacle Geese, 52 Wigeons, 2 Teals, 26 Mallards, 2 Pintails, 60 Tufted Ducks, 3 Greater Scaups, 3 Long-tailed Ducks, a White-tailed Eagle, a Goshawk that had caught a Woocdcock and in Härskiinmutka I saw 11 Great Crested Grebes, a Cormorant and a Black-headed Gull.

The cold weather continued and on the next days I saw only a flock of 20 Chaffinches in Kullinsuo, 2 Long-tailed Ducks in Rautalahti and a Velvet Scoter in Särkisalmi.

The change of the month I was driving towards Mäntsälä. After rinkball I got information that a Cattle Egret that had been staying there a couple of days was roosting on a spruce and it was well visible as there was so much different kind of lights around. So I thought it would be 100 % sure to see it even at night. So on the 1st of November at 1 a.m. I parked to a parking place of some store and soon found a white spot on the spruce. It wasn’t moving at all but when one car stopped right under the tree the egret woke up. I noticed that there were twitchers in the car and I showed them to drive towards me. Luckily they saw me and didn’t get up from their car as they wouldn’t have seen the bird and the bird might have moved unvisible. Anyway now I had seen the bird well enough and after long driving I managed to sleep an hour before I had to go to work.

On November we had the traditional race in Parikkala-Rautjärvi area. So I managed to visit Siikalahti where I still saw 2 Wigeons, 5 Tufted Ducks, a Long-tailed Duck, 5 Goldeneyes, a Black Grouse and a White-tailed Eagle, Tivianlampi where I saw a Greater Scaup, Kannas – Great Grey Shrike, Särkisalmi – 6 Smews and 24 Rock Doves, Rautalahti – 2 Common Scoters and Kirkonkylä where I saw a Nuthatch and Siskins.

On the 2nd of November I did winter-bird count. Altogether I saw 49 Whooper Swans, 28 Goosanders, 2 Great Crested Grebes, 3 White-tailed Eagles, a Goshawk, a Black-headed Gull, 28 Common Gulls, 24 Rock Doves, 13 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Fieldfares, a Godlcrest, 64 Blue, 108 Great and 6 Willow Tits, an asiatica Nuthatch, a Great Grey Shrike, 18 Jays, 32 Jackdaws, 20 Hooded Crows, 10 Ravens, 11 House and 31 Tree Sparrows, 18 Greenfinches, 56 Siskins, 220 Redpolls, an Arctic Redpoll, 21 Bullfinches, 2 Yellowhammers and the best bird was a lonely Two-barred Crossbill wich was a new species to my count.

On the 3rd day we visited Siberian Jays and luckily saw 3 of them! The missing couple had came back! We also saw 7 Common Crossbills, some Goldcrests, a Treecreeper, 2 Crested Tits and heard a couple of Hazel Hens and a Capercaillie flushing. In Tarvaspohja we saw 5 Common Scoters and in Särkisalmi 2 Fieldfares. We still went to try to ring the asiatica Nuthatch but it was too shy. In the afternoon I still saw 5 Bean Geese in Siikalahti and a Velvet Scoter in Koitsanlahti. Then in the evening I saw a Woodcock in flight in Lappeenranta.

On the 4th day I saw only a Great Grey Shrike in Kangaskylä but on the 5th I was again in Lappeenranta where I visited Kaislanen where I saw 4 Mute Swans, some Wigeons and Tufted Ducks and a Velvet Scoter. In Luukkaansalmi I saw 4 Cormorants, a White-tailed Eagle and a White-backed Woodpecker.

On the 8th of November I had 4 Herring Gulls in Härskiinmutka and 12 Long-tailed Tits in Raikanniemi. On the 9th day we checked the Lake Simpele in foggy weather from several places but found only a Long-tailed Duck in Tähtiniemi. In Simpele Kokkolanjoki we saw 2 Dippers and 5 Mallards. Then it started to rain very hard and rained whole weekend.

On the 11th of November I did a quick luch-trip which was really good! In Kannas I found immediately a White-backed and a Grey-headed Woodpecker. Then I saw a bird flying with Greenfinches that looked interesting. It landed under a feeder and I immediately identified it as a young Common Rosefinch! The latest Common Rosefinch before this in South-Karelia ever had been on the 16th of September!

In Vartialahti I saw a lonely Barnacle Goose and in Kontiolampi I found another good bird as there was a Reed Bunting seen briefly.

On the 12th day I just went to check that Common Rosefinch was still around. I found it on different garden where was also a good feeder. I also heard a Nuthatch and saw a Grey-headed Woodpecker again, and in Vartialahti there was a lonely Mallard.

As Common Rosefinch had never been twitchable in November before, there were the first twitchers on the next day. They managed to see the bird but I couldn’t see it during my lunch-hour with Harri Partanen. But on the next day I saw it again and I also saw a couple of Coal Tits and a lonely Parrot Crossbill.

In the evening we drove to Hämeenlinna to BirdLife weekend. On the way we listened Finland finally getting to European Championship tournament in soccer. Early in the morning of 16th of November we did a short walk in Varikonniemi and saw a Common Woodpigeon which was a ridiculous month-tick, a Goshawk, a couple of Goldfinches, a Treecreeper and so on. The rest of the day went in BirdLife meeting. Then on the next day we had more meetings but also a short 30 minutes bird-race where teams were made randomly. Our team saw 14 species in the middle of the quiet afternoon but the best bird was a usurprise as we saw a Song Thrush.

In the afternoon we still drove to Mäntsälä to twitch the Cattle Egret again. It was found feeding between motorways just one meter from the road. It was difficult to see any other way than from a moving car, but we managed to find a small road from where we could walk next to the motorway to see the bird a little bit better. Then we had still a long way to drive back to Parikkala.

J.A.