Spring is here

On the 11th of April it really started to feel like spring in Parikkala. In Siikalahti I saw Canada Geese, Teals, Mallards, Goldeneyes, White-tailed Eagles, Marsh Harriers, Sparrowhawks, a Rough-legged Buzzard, an Osprey, a Kestrel, Cranes, Common Snipes, Black-headed Gulls, Stock Doves, Meadow Pipits, White Wagtail, Fieldfares, Redwings and Mistle Thrushes, Starlings, Chaffinches, Reed Buntings and so on. In Särkisalmi there were Goosanders and a Common and a Lesser Black-backed Gull.

On the 12th day new arrivals were Wigeons, Pintails, a Water Rail. a Golden Plover, a Curlew, a Green Sandpiper and a Wood Lark. In Särkisalmi I saw a Smew couple and in Tetrisuo there were 3 Hen Harriers chasing voles. Next day in Siikalahti I saw a Song Thrush and in Tetrisuo a flock of 10 Lapland Buntings. On the 14th day a Merlin was in Siikalahti and in Tetrisuo a Greylag Goose and a Brambling and it seemed many species were getting more numerous.

We had high expectations for the weekend but after all the weather wasn’t as good as the forecasts had been. Saturday started well with a Peregrine and a Barnacle Goose in Tetrisuo and in Siikalahti better birds were a Pochard and a Wood Lark. Then I drove and checked several places nearby but found almost nothing. I even went to check Capercaillie lekking place but there were some people nearby and saw only 3 males perched on the trees. One of them was more active and I could get some distant pictures. In the afternoon we saw again a Nuthatch in Kannas and in Lahdensuo we found a strange-looking shrike which probably has again some Northern Shrike genes?

On the 16th day a Bittern was already calling and a couple of Grey Herons were migrating. There were already 8 Marsh Harriers and 13 Rough-legged Buzzards migrated but otherwise it was quiet in Siikalahti. So we headed to Saari where in Akanvaara Tetrisuo we found 9 Twites in a flock of Linnets. And then in the same place we found also 2 Shore Larks! These both species are very rare here in Parikkala. But then we checked all the other places and only better bird was a Rook in Kanavalampi. In the evening there was still a flock of 4 Greylag Geese in Tetrisuo.

During the beginning of the week I saw just the same species as before but we spent some time in Tetrisuo photographing Hen Harriers and Rough-legged Buzzards that were staying there because of numerous voles and northern wind. Also Skylarks and some Lapland Buntings were seen on the field. On the 19th day the only new species was a Dunnock and on the 20th day there were a couple of Great Crested Grebes in Särkisalmi and in the evening we saw a Greenshank and a couple of Woodcocks in Tetrisuo.

On the 21st of April a Black-throated Diver was in Särkisalmi and after the work we went to Saari. In Akonpohja we saw a Greylag Goose and an early Garganey. In Uukuniemi Suurenjärvenliete we found 3 Black-tailed Godwits, in Kanavalampi a Gadwall and in Riionsalmi we heard a Hawfinch. There was still some snow in Saari and the floods weren’t big yet but there were really lots of Green Sandpipers. We saw altogether 130 Green Sandpipers and in best place there were even 65 birds!

On the 22nd day we were in Siikalahti from 6:30 to 12. The weather was again much worse than had been promised and the wind was from north-east. But it was still very warm and therefore there were lots of people in the tower. 10 Cormorants, a female Pallid Harrier, 24 Rough-legged Buzzards, a Barn Swallow and a Hawfinch were the best birds. Also a Common Ringed Plover was found on one flood and a Peregrine we seen chasing pigeons and ducks.

Then we still headed to Saari with Veikka Kosonen and Oskari Saunisto but all the better birds had moved on and nothing new had arrived. The second Peregrine of the day was in Akanvaara Tetrisuo and again we counted more than 150 Green Sandpipers.

23rd day was colder and wind was northern so there were now room in the dam-road tower. I saw 2 Shovelers, 7 Cormorants, a Grey Heron, 14 Rough-legged Buzzards, a Wood Sandpiper and a Barn Swallow. Then together with Matti Lötjönen we saw a nice young Golden Eagle that was soaring right above us and while we were taking pictures of it, we suddenly saw another eagle coming to the picture! It was very pale and it really looked like a Lesser Spotted Eagle to me. It was quite high and soared only once when it was already very far but I thought I had seen enough for the positive identification. But in the evening while I was checking the pictures the bird started to look big-billed and also very long-winged. I sent pictures to some friends and got comments that it looked more like a fulvescens Greater Spotted Eagle. And after checking books I think that’s what it was.

Hanna had stayed one full day in a hide next to one flood in Saari and tried to get pictures of ducks and waders. In the afternoon I went to pick her up and then we checked all the best places again. The best birds were 3 Bewick’s Swans, a Black Kite and 3 Barn Swallows in Suurenjärvenliete, 2 Bewick’s Swans, 2 Common Redshanks and a migrating young Pallid Harrier in Pohjanranta and still there were lots of Green Sandpipers – 40 in the best place.

In the evening we still went to Siikalahti bird-tower and most of the bay was already open. There was a Slavonian and a Red-necked Grebe and then surprisingly a Greater Black-backed Gull with other gulls. An early Little Gull was also seen and there were already 42 Tufted Ducks too.

On the 24yh day on a morning visit in Särkisalmi I saw a Gadwall couple, 4 Common Scoters and already 20 Black-throated Divers. During my lunch-hour I saw only a Ruff and twitched a couple of Little Ringed Plovers in Kukonkanta. In the evening we went to change tires and on the way we saw a Northern Wheatear in Kukonkanta and in Särkisalmi we saw 9 Common Scoters and heard a Wren. At night I still went to Siikalahti and heard 2 Jack Snipes and a Ural Owl. Moor Frogs were already very noisy too. But the funniest observation was a migrating Gadwall that I heard calling from the sky.

On the 25th of April in Särkisalmi I saw a Black-tailed Godwit that was on the ice with many ducks. In Siikalahti we saw a Common Sandpiper. On the 26th day the only year-tick was a Spotted Crake and on the 27th a Slavonian Grebe had moved to Särkisalmi and I heard also a Pied Flycatcher. On my lunch-hour I saw a Black Kite and a migrating Black-tailed Godwit and in the evening we made a trip to Saari with Harri Hölttä. In Akonpohja we heard a Willow Warbler and saw 2 male Pochards and a Heuglin’s Gull, in Akanvaara Tetrisuo 365 Golden Plovers, in Jyrkilä a Stock Dove, in Suurenjärvenliete a Black-tailed Godwit and a Common Redshank and in Tarassiinlahti a couple of Rooks.

On the 28th day in Härskiinmutka I saw 73 Common Scoters and also a Common Tern and a Hobby. During my lunch-hour I checked some other open-water places but found no Steller’s Eiders. Some parts of Lake Simpele were still frozen. I heard a couple of Tree Pipits in Oravaniemi. In the afternoon I heard a Whimbrel in Kullinsuo and in the evening we had to go to count ducks in Saari. There were lots of Pintails everywhere and also 5 Gadwalls in Kanavalampi. Only other good bird was a Peregrine in Pohjanranta. Hanna spend next 26 hours in hide tent photographing ducks.

Hanna had a cold night. Flood pools froze and even Lapwings had frost on their feathers. Later during the day Hanna photographed ducks, waders and adult and young White-tailed Eagles.

On the 29th day a Common Redstart was singing in our garden and in Härskiinmutka I saw a couples of Velvet Scoter and Red-breasted Merganser. In Moskuunniemi I heard a n early Blackcap. On my lunch-break I saw a couple of Gadwalls in Siikalahti and also a Pergrine, 21 Barn Swallos and 9 House Martins. It was very warm – even 20 degrees! In the afternoon I still did a trip to Saati where I saw 4 Gadwalls and a Redshank in Kanavalampi, a Whinchat and a couple of Northern Wheatears in Karinmäki and a Black Kite in Ollukka.

On the 30th day weather had changed completely and it was freezing cold wind and raining. I slept longer but when I woke up I found Veikka Kosonen and Oskari Saunisto from our garden. They had already started a young birders bird-race very early and had 57 species on their list. Last year they hadn’t got driving license yet so I had been helping them to win the race so they wanted me to join them again. The weather was poor so we started to try some more difficult birds but in this weather some of them weren’t seen, but we had a Little Ringed Plover in Kukonkanta, a Black-tailed Godwit and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in Siikalahti and then went to twitch 2 Great Egrets that Matti Lötjönen had found in Kirkkoranta. Then we checked some fields but found only another Little Ringed Plover. Then it was time to go to Saari and on the way we saw a couple of Slavonian Grebes in Valkialampi and a Capercaillie in their lekking place. In Akonpohja we found a Spotted Redshank, a Yellow Wagtail and another Little Ringed Plover. In Jyrkilä we saw a beautiful leucistic Black-headed Gull, in Suurenjärvenliete 3 Bewick’s Swans, a couple of Hobbies and Spotted Redshanks and even 72 Greenshanks, in Kanavalampi 4 Gadwalls and a Common Redshank, in Tarassiinlahti a Linnet, a Cormorant and a couple of Red-throated Divers and in Pohjanranta a Heuglin’s Gull. On the way we saw a Tenglmalm’s and a Ural Owl on their nests and in the evening we still headed to Siikalahti where a couple of Jack Snipes were lekking and also a Long-eared Owl was heard. during the day boys had got already 102 species.

On the 1st of May the weather was a little bit better so we started with a Common Redstart in our garden and a Blackcap and a Wood Warbler in Moskuunniemi. Then we saw a Nuthatch in Kangaskylä and then we headed to Siikalahti. We stayed on the dam-road for several hours and in northern wind there was not much migration but of course some new species were seen. A Grey Heron, a Black Kite, 3 Hen Harriers, a Rough-legged Buzzard, a Common Sandpiper, a couple of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, a Wood Lark, a flock of 10 Waxwings, a Linnet and a Goldfinch were birds to mention. In the afternoon we headed to forests but only new species we found was a Crested Tit, also a couple of Hazel Hens were heard. Then boys still continued to Savo to try to find more species from their home-ground. But they managed to get only a few species and after all they got 124 species and they came 4th in the race. Winner had got some more but two other teams had got the same number but they had more so called ace-species.

The weather turned really bad again so on the next day I slept a lot even though it was my birthday. Only new birthday-tick was a Common Ringed Plover that was migrating in Siikalahti. There was a Hoopoe in Rautjärvi and a White Stork in Saari but I slept too long. But on the 3rd day I woke up early and went to see the White Stork in Akonpohja. On the way I saw also a Pink-footed Goose in Lääviensuo. During my lunch-hour I saw a Sand Martin and a couple of Stock Doves and in the afternoon a Common Redshank. On the 4th day winter was coming! It was snowing in the evening but anyway we were to Saati to fix Hanna’s hide that had been collapsed in storms. In suuranjärvenliete we saw 4 Gadwalls and then we still twitched a Bar-tailed Godwit in Kanavalampi.