Summer-trip to Jurmo and Åland

First twitches

On the 26th of June I had again an x-ray and time for doctor with my shoulder. It wasn’t still in good shape enough, so I got 2 more weeks sick-leave. From Imatra we continued to Lappeenranta Pajarila where we managed to find a couple of Black Redstarts after some searching. Youngsters were close as the adults were alarming all the time, so soon we continued driving south.

We continued until Lohja where we started searching for a butterfly that we had always wanted to see. First we saw a Lesser Purple Emperor and after some walking on rocky area, we heard a Nutcracker. But the target wasn’t found so we continued to flowery meadows nearby. Soon Hanna managed to find lots of flowering Marsh Helleborine, which is very rare orchid inland. And finally also Apollo was found! It left right under our feet and landed only once before it continued to rocky area where we still managed to follow it for some time before it disappeared behind the trees. It was a good beginning for our holiday-trip, but of course we had hoped to get better pictures of this butterfly too.

We visited one orchid-place in Lohja too, but found only Common Tweyblade and Broad-leaved Helleborine.

Our next target was in Paimio where after some searching we managed to find some Sand Lizard. Unfortunately the only big male was too fast to photograph, but several smaller lizards were photographed. This place is the only one where this species can be found and nobody knows how they have arrived. Maybe someone had brought them? Several species of lizards and frogs have been found quite recently in Turku area that can’t be found anywhere else in Finland. We also tried to find Pool Frogs nearby but found only hundreds of tiny European Toads.

It was quite late when we finally arrived to Parainen where we still visited a couple of forest-places that Hanna hoped to have some orchids, but again we found just the same common species. Finally we drove to one small road and parked next to a small field, put up our tent, cooked and went to sleep.

Jurmo

On the 27th of June we visited two more forests in the morning but still didn’t find new orchids. Finally we headed towards Pärnäs. We did shopping in Nauvo and after we had seen a Grey-hedaed Woodpecker flying across the road, we were finally in Pärnäs a bit too early, so we had good time to arrange our luggage and so on.

Eivor-ferry left in time and we climbed to the sun-deck to enjoy hot summer-weather and scan the sea for any seabirds. Pretty soon we saw a Black Guillemot but next better birds were seen several hours later when we already saw Jurmo-island, when some Razorbills and an Arctic Skua were seen.

Once we were in Jurmo we packed our staff to a couple of milk-carts and headed towards the bird-station. There we met Kim Kuntze who had been on island already for a couple of days.

Soon we went to put up the mist-nets as Hanna planned to ring birds while our stay. Then we watched one more football WC-match before we left to count birds on the western side of the island.

There were quite a good number of birds even though it was mid-summer. But not many young birds were seen. Some better bird found on this protected area where in summer only the bird-station crew can go once in a day were 3 Common Shelducks, 4 Turnstones, 5 Little Terns and a male Black Grouse that was seen on the way to this daily routine counting.

In the evening we cooked and then had the log about the birds seen on the island during the day. It was very late when we finally were ready to sleep.

On the 28th of June after less than 4 hours sleeping we woke up to open the mist-nets. After a couple of empty rounds I climbed to the rock to start another daily routine which was morning seawatch.

From 4:15 a.m. we counted every migrating bird for 2 hours with Kim and saw a couple of Razorbills and Black Guillemots, a flock of Common Scoters, a Dunlin and so on. When the seawatch was ending Kim heard a strange bunting-like song from the bog where Hanna was on the mist-nets. I didn’t hear it at all. So Kim decided to go to listen to the song closer and I stayed on the rock for the last minutes of the seawatch. But soon Hanna called that they were listening a strange bunting-song – and I was running!

I still had some 100 meters to run when I heard the song – and it was a Little Bunting! It was really a strange time of the year and even stranger place to find this species. Little Bunting is extremely rare in South-Eastern Finland. Maybe very hot weather had made this bunting to move to wrong direction. Anyway now it was singing in perfect looking habitat on a bog.

We of course tried to tape-lure the bunting to mist-net but it came only once close to the net and then moved further to the bog to sing. And finally it sang there at least until mid-day.

With Kim we walked the eastern counting-route but saw nothing special. Then I went to help Hanna to close the mist-nets and during the day Hanna had ringed only 5 birds and got 2 old controls. Then we headed to the station to sleep.

In the evening we watched again some football and Germany lost! It was tough for Kim but luckily western count started so well that soon we were all again in good mood. From the lagoon we found a beautiful Sandering!


Other better birds were 6 Dunlins and the same Shelducks and Little Terns. We also ringed 4 small Lapwing-youngsters. While we were walking back to the station, we saw a Cuckoo.

In the evening it had started to wind very hard. When we were back in the station we met Mikko Ylitalo who had arrived in the evening. We ate well again and then kept the log and once again it was very late when we got to sleep.

On the 29th of June the wind was very strong so there was no possibility to put up any mist-nets. Also morning seawatch was very chilly! Kim probably wasn’t too much worried when he left after one hour to pack and towards the ferry.

We counted birds in east with Hanna and saw some more waders than on the previous days. During the day we slept well again and the in the evening headed west with Mikko. Again we found more waders. So it wasn’t a surprise that after counting good numbers of Redshanks and Greenshanks, we also saw some Wood Sandpipers and a Spotted Redshank. Then we saw a good-looking wader flying over us with a couple of Greenshanks, but it was a little bit too brief. But luckily we found the bird again and saw it very well after all – it was a Marsh Sandpiper! It was already the second very rare bird in South-Eastern Finland for us on this Jurmo-trip.It was only the 7th Marsh Sandpiper in Jurmo ever!

It was freezing cold walking in the wind, but finally we were back on the station. Hot food helped and after a long log we went to sleep even later than previous nights.

On the 30th of June the wind had calmed down and when I climbed to the rock to count migration, Hanna left to open the mist-nets. More Common Crossbills were now moving and we counted 281 birds and also the first Two-barred Crossbill of the autumn was seen and heard.

Hanna caught again only a handful of birds but a young Thrush Nightingale was a good catch. And finally one Common Crossbill was caught too. Crossbills were landing to the bog to drink and stayed quite low on the trees but didn’t fly closer to the mist-nets. But we had noticed that bigger flocks were landing to the patch in the pine-forest, so after I had counted birds in east, we moved all the mist-nets there. Hanna also dug a couple of water-pools for the birds. And soon she started to catch more of these rarely caught birds!

I was watching to the sea from the southern shore for some time but quite soon I walked back to pine-forest to help Hanna. While we were ringing the last Common Crossbill of the morning, we saw a Honey Buzzard migrating over us.

After the lunch Hanna headed back to mist-nets and I left to count bird in west. It was much faster to count the birds alone, but there weren’t so many waders anymore. Sanderling was still there but unfortunately Marsh Sandpiper was gone. Only new bird on the count was a Green Sandpiper.

Once I was back in the pine-forest Hanna had just caught some more Crossbills but they were the last ones. During the day she had ringed 38 of them!


In the evening we were watching football and having the log and it went late again.

On the 1st of July I woke up first and climbed to watch to the sea. Soon arrived Mikko too and Hanna headed to open the mist-nets in pine-forest. There were still some flocks of Common Crossbills, but most of them left and the new flocks weren’t coming to drink to Hanna’s pools. So, only one Common Crossbill was ringed in the whole morning. Luckily some other birds were caught, so it wasn’t too boring for Hanna.

After the morning-watch we headed west with Mikko but saw nothing new there, except a Honey Buzzard that was soaring above us for some time while a noisy flock of Redshanks were following it. A couple of Cranes were seen on the way but they soon left to fly to the sea.

Once we had taken off all the mist-nets we slept a couple of hours, packed and cleaned our room and headed towards the harbor. Mikko had decided to stay one more day.

On the way back to Pärnäs we were mostly just sleeping in Eivor. We were finally in Pärnäs at 6:30 p.m. and after shopping in Nauvo, we continued to Parainen.

Turku area

In the evening we still managed to find some extremely rare Fly Orchids. Light was already quite bad, so soon we headed to put up the ferry to the same familiar place.

On the 2nd of July we slept long and after breakfast we went to photograph Fly Orchids again. We found quite a lot of them and Hanna was extremely happy seeing these strange orchids.

During the day we visited Kaarina Kuusistonlahti and Littoistenjärvi Järvelä and saw a couple of Moorhens, Grey Herons and Gadwalls and so on. Then we headed to Turku botanical garden where we heard a family of 6 Hawfinches and heard another Moorhen.

Later we also tried to find Alpine Salamander, but without luck. It was one more species that nobody knows why they were found in this place. Then we still visited Raisio Raisionlahti where the only interesting bird was a Lesser Redpoll. As we still had some time, we went shopping and I managed to watch one more football match before we headed to harbor.

Åland

After one hour Viking Grace -ferry left towards Åland. We had dinner in a fine restaurant and the rest of the time I was watching football again. Finally we were in Lumparland Långnäs at 1:05 a.m.

We still drove to Lemland and turned to a small forest-road where we put up the tent while a couple of Nightjars were singing.

On the 3rd of July we woke up late and the headed to Herröskatan where we immediately found Greater Butterfly-orchid, Common Spotted Orchids and Moorland Spotted Orchids, Bird’s-nest Orchids, CommonTwayblades and closer to the bird-tower also some already dry Elder-flowered Orchids. Bird-tower was in pretty bad shape and extremely difficult to climb up, but the view was stunning. We saw some Black Guillemots and while walking back to the parking place we found a Nuthatch and a Hawfinch.

After a good lunch we decided to walk another round in Herröskatan and soon we met a local lady who told us that she knew a place for Narrow-leaved Helleborine. So we followed her until the carpark and then quite a long way until the place where had been lots of Narrow-leaved Helleborines flowering earlier. But this year they had been flowering already in the end of May! After some searching we found some leafs but not a single flower anymore.

After we had twitched a Great White Egret in the border-bay of Mariehamn and Jomala, we continued to Hammarland where Hanna knew one more orchid-place. This area was fenced and inside the fence there were lots of Lady’s-slipper Orchids and Narrow-leaved Helleborines, but they were all already dried. Outside the fence we tried to find some flowers and surprisingly we found one Narrow-leaved Helleborine which had somehow stack to button. It was much better to take pictures than only leafs.

When we were back at our car, we noticed that our clothes were full of ticks! Only thing we could do was to strip down immediately and anyway we both had already 3 ticks in our skin! Tens of them were found climbing on our clothes so we had to change all clothes, before we could continue towards Eckerö.

We drove until Styrsingsudden where we planned to visit in the sea-watching place, but when we had walked 5 meters from the car, we noticed several ticks climbing on our trousers already! So we desided to just put up the tent in the middle of the road as far as possible from any plants and to go to sleep.

4.7. We had planned to sleep only for a couple of hours and then cook some food but after all we woke up only before 8 a.m. on the next morning. then we hurried to the shore and after picking up some ticks from our clothes, we started seawatching. In a couple of hours we saw 10 Razorbills, 4 Black Guillemots, some unidentified alcids and surprisingly 2 to 4 Common Guillemots. Also 2 Arctic Skuas, 3 Turnstones, a Hobby and so on were seen.

Then we headed to bogs to search for new orchids, but we couldn’t find any. The most interesting observation was a brownish snake that I almost step on. It was most probably a Smooth Snake, but unfortunately I couldn’t see the spots on its back well enough to be sure. Some Treecreepers, Coal Tits, Wrens and a Goshawk were the only better birds and while we were walking towards the next bog Jyrki Normaja called and told that he was visiting one orchid-place soon. We had planned to visit the same place so it was of course clever to join him and have several pairs of eyes searching our target-species.

So after some driving we met Jyrki and also Rami Lindroos who was living in Vårdö. We tried to find Fen Orchids for some time but couldn’t find any of these extremely rare orchids. It is normal that some orchids aren’t flowering every year at all.

Next we continued to one more bog in Jomala where we walked a couple of hours and finally found some Early Marsh-orchids and Flecked Marsh-orchids Then Jyrki called and told that he had found one single Bog Orchid in one more bog in Eckerö. We thought that we had already spent enough time on our bog, so Hanna asked if Jyrki could somehow give us coordinates how to find that Bog Orchid. Luckily phones can give exact coordinates and then the rest of the instructions were given like: “There is one more reddish tussock than others with a small birch-tree. 10 meters east from the tussock there is a rock. In the middle of this line and one meter left is the orchid.

Once we had driven to this place it was still quite a walk into the middle of the bog where we finally found the right tussock. And then Hanna found the tiny Bog Orchid immediately. It was an orchid that Hanna had hoped to see for a long time. While Hanna was photographing the orchid I managed to find some more of them nearby.

We still visited Storby Postbryggan and Sandviken in the evening and saw some Shelducks, Slavonian Grebes and Little Ringed Plovers. Then we headed to Styrsingsudden where we put up the tent to exactly same spot and after dinner we were ready to sleep.

On the 5th of July I woke up to seawatch at 5 a.m. Hanna joined me soon after she had collected some ticks from our tent – both outside and inside. These bloody bastards were following us to the road in the middle of the night!

There were birds moving so we seawatched until 10 a.m. and counted 15 Common Eiders, 42 Common Scoters, 20 Velvet Scoters, 35 Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Great Crested Grebes, a Red-necked Grebem 6 Cormorants, 3 Lapwings, a Turnstone, an Arctic Skua, 14 Black Guillemots, 58 Razorbills, again 2 Common Guillemots, a Caspian Tern, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 12 Starlings.

We visited again Postbryggan and Sandviken briefly before continued to Jomala Torpfjärden. Also this tower was in bad shape and extremely dangerous to climb up. We counted 185 Mute Swans, 7 Common Shelducks, 13 Lapwings, 28 Common Ringed Plovers, 13 Ruffs, 12 Greenshanks, 10 Wood Sandpipers, a Spotted Redshank and a Temminck Stint.

After all these ticks, dangerous bird-towers and numerous deers along the roads we had started to think that this must be our most dangerous summer-trip ever!

Next we continued to Ramsholmen where cows had eaten all the orchids already but we found 3 Nuthatches and from the reed-bed we found a couple of young Bearded Reedlings.

After shopping we continued a longer way to Finström Bomarsund castle, where Hanna had been 29 years earlier. After some walking around the castle, we continued to Vårdö ferry-harbor, but decided to turn back and towards Geta.

We stopped briefly in Saltvik Haga fields where we saw a huge flock of 1500 Jackdaws. Finally we were in Getaberget where we decided to sleep in a car for an hour or two.

Once we woke up most of the tourists had left and the parking place was almost empty. So we climbed to watch views from the tower and then walked a long way to visit a couple of caves.

A couple of hours later we climbed back to the parking place and luckily the weather had changed and the sun was shining again. So we decided to try to find Smooth Snakes from the rocky and heathery terrain. No snakes were found so once we were back, we decided to ask, if we could go to shower in the camping area. We paid 5 € for the shower and after all we could have paid much more – it was so refreshing!

In the evening we still drove to the border of Saltvik and Finström to put up the tent. And after a good meal we were ready to sleep.

On the 6th of July after slowly start we headed to Lemland Nåtö hazel-grove. Cattle had eaten all the flowers, but on the shore we saw some Slavonian Grebes also found a nest of a Velvet Scoter. We also photographed tame young Bullfinches before walking back to our car.

Then we still went to eat in Mariehamn and checked that Great White Egret was still on its ordinary place, before we headed to harbor. And an hour later Viking Grace left towards Turku.

We were first on the sundeck but the rest of the trip went watching football and shopping. Once we were in Turku, we drove to Kaarina Järvelä again and tried to find European Green Toads but without luck. We also visited bird-tower on the other side of the pool which was in Lieto. Then we drove once again to Parainen to put up the tent.

Last twitching

On the 7th of July we woke up late and while having breakfast butterflies started to fly. We saw several Fritillary-butterflies and a single Silver-washed Fritillarythat was having territory around our tent. We also met a local butterfly-watcher who asked if we had found any Apollos yet. And almost immediately we saw one flying over us high on the sky.

Soon we drove tha last kilometers to the butterfly-place that we had been told. There we met Tom and Kaija Lindroos and some other butterfly-photographers. Immediately we found some Apollos and also Lesser Purple Emperors. Finally we managed to get good pictures of Apollo too! So pretty soon we were happy enough to start a long drive towards east.


In Salo we felt so tired that we stopped at Halikonlahti, where Hanna slept a little and I visited a couple of bird-towers. Only some Dunlins, Spotted Redshanks and Gadwalls were seen and soon we hit the road again.

Finally we stopped in Lappeenranta where we visited one orchid-place but found nothing interesting. Then we visited Kaislanen, where I managed to see a Black-tailed Godwit briefly. Then we drove to Joutseno to one more butterfly-place to out up the tent. After one more long football match I finally was ready to go to sleep.

On the 8th of July we weren’t in a hurry as it was raining. Luckily the rain stopped and it soon got hotter. But still butterflies weren’t flying. So we visited Kotasaari where we saw 2 Dunlins and Kukkuroinmäki where we surprisingly found a family of Great Grey Shrikes.

We still drove back to butterfly-place but saw nothing interesting, so we started to head towards home. Next we stopped in Imatra where we checked one place that could be the right one to find one more extremely rare orchid, but maybe it wasn’t the right place at all. Then the last stop was made in Simpele Kokkolanjoki where we saw a Grey Wagtail in a couple of minutes.

Finally we were home and it was good to know that I still had one week sick-leave and could rest well after a hard but successful trip.

J.A.