Spring finally coming

After coming back from Jurmo it was still more like winter in Parikkala. Common Starling was still visiting a feeder and only migrants I saw on the 18th of March were some Herring Gulls. On the 19th day I saw some Whooper Swans and 5 Lapwings.

On the 21st of March I saw a migrating Starling, a Common Buzzard and a White-tailed Eagle and on the 22nd day evening a beautiful Great Grey Owl was seen in Siikalahti.

On the 23rd day I saw already 25 Lapwings, 3 Blackbirds, 3 Common Buzzards and a Skylark and in the evening we did a short owl-trip but heard only a single Long-eared Owl in Siikalahti.

On the 24th day it felt more like spring when we saw 3 Greylag Geese, 3 Canada Geese, 4 White-tailed Eagles, 2 Sparrowhawks, 6 Common Buzzards, 70 Lapwings, 4 Stock Doves, 6 Woodpigeons, 6 Skylarks, a Meadow Pipit, 8 Starlings, a Goldfinch and a Reed Bunting. Also a couple of Grey-headed Woodpeckers and a Black Woodpecker was seen.

During the week the weather was colder again and I saw only a flock of 35 Snow Buntings and some lonely migrant.

On the 29th of March it started to happen again and there was even some open water in Siikalahti. 31 Whooper Swans with 2 very early Bewick’s Swans, 2 Greylag Geese, 19 Tundra and 2 Taiga Bean Geese were counted. Also 70 Lapwings, 2 or 3 White-tailed Eagles, 17 Woodpigeons, 14 Skylarks, a Rook and 3 Reed Bunting were seen.

On the 30th of March we participated to Wilderness rally together with Miska Loippo. We had a huge area from Tyrjä to Saari Akanvaara. Our first stop at 3 a.m. was amazing when we heard a couple of Eagle Owls calling together and they even copulated just 300 meters from us and called every different call.

But then no other owls were heard and morning came too early and we missed some time before we were in Tyrjä on the best places to be in early morning. But still we heard several Black Woodpeckers and plenty of Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Also a couple of Goshawks, 2 Capercaillies, nice flock of 30 female Black Grouses and about 10 heard males, a flock of Common Crossbills, a White-backed Woodpecker, a couple of Wood Larks were found. Also Goldcrest and Siskin were finally got as year-ticks.

We tried to check every corner of our area with Miska and Hanna was walking whole morning along smaller roads. During the day it started to blow quite strong which made birding difficult. We also visited Tyrjänmäki for an hour and saw 2 White-tailed Eagles and some Common Buzzards. Other better birds found in the afternoon were a Dipper and a Mistle Thrush.

The results were again given in Pitkäjärvi and all other teams had also had a good day! Team Valonen won once again but we were second. We would’ve won if only birds were giving points, but in this rally also mammals give points – and we hadn’t seen a single mammal…

On the 31st of March we were whole morning in Siikalahti and saw again a Bewick’s Swan. A Great Bittern was calling quietly. Other birds seen were a Merlin, 2 Common Cranes, a rare here Great Black-backed Gull and White-backed, Grey-headed and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

On the 1st of April a Bewick’s Swan was still there in Siikalahti and other birds seen were 5 White-tailed Eagles and a Linnet. On the next day I counted 88 Whooper Swans but the Bewick’s was gone. Bean Geese were now accompanied with some White-fronted Geese and Canada Geese were still around too. Some other migrants were seen too but nothing new.

On the 3rd day I saw 3 male Hen Harriers, 2 Common Snipes and a White Wagtail. A flock of 53 Starlings were nice too. On the 4th day a Marsh Harrier, a Kestrel, 2 Coots and 2 Golden Plovers were seen.

On the 5th of April the best birds were a flock of 100 Snow Buntings, a Rough-legged Buzzard and a Grey Heron. In the afternoon I drove to Iisalmi where we had fun evening with some of my old friends. During the weekend we participated to +40 years rinkball Finnish championship tournament and got bronze. While in Kuopio I saw a Lesser Black-backed Gull as a year-tick. On Sunday when I was back in Parikkala I visited Siikalahti and saw a Common Pochard.

On the 8th day the first Wrens and Robins were singing along the road to Siikalahti and I also heard a Nuthatch. The first Common Teals, Goosanders and a Stock Dove were seen in Siikalahti. On the 9th day I saw a Green Sandpiper and some Redwings. Also a Great Grey Shrike was seen and in the afternoon I saw an Arctic Redpoll in our back-yard.

On the 11th day I saw an Osprey and a Curlew and on the next day I saw too distant eagle that looked pretty interesting but was too far…

During the weekend we were in Finnish Champinship rinkball tournament in Varkaus, but I was sick, so I was only watching the games. It was very frustrating as I am the captain of the team and this was maybe my last possibility to play in the best level – well maybe one more year? On Sunday when I was back at Parikkala I visited Siikalahti shortly even though I was still in very bad shape. I saw 9 Rough-legged Buzzards and a Merlin.

Hanna had been staying in her hide at weekend for several hours and got some nice pictures of some early migrants like Starlings, Robins and Siskins.

On the 15th of April 7 White-tailed Eagles, again 9 Rough-legged Buzzards, 51 Cranes, a couple of Wigeons and 2 very early Little Ringed Plovers were found in Siikalahti. In the evening we saw also a Woodcock. About 200 geese were already flying around.

On the next day new arrivals were 3 Smews and also 10 Pochards, 4 Hen Harriers, 25 Sparrowhawks, 31 Rough-legged Buzzards were seen. Again I saw a too distant eagle that looked good but was just too far to be sure as it was just gliding away. The first Water Rail was calling and about 10 Curlews and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were migrating, more than 1000 Chaffinches with some Bramblings were also counted. On the 17th day only birds to notice were a flock of 6 White-tailed Eagles. In the evening we visited the hide in Siikalahti where Whooper Swans were giving us a good show.