Spring and hardcore birding

On the 1st of May there was only Common Redpolls migrating in Siikalahti. The same Bluethroat was still singing and a Peregrine flew over. Pretty soon we decided to drive to Saari where we did water-bird counts. We saw 2 male Gadwalls in Akonpohja and couples in Kanavalampi and Tarassiinlahti. There were lots of birds but nothing special. A Blackcap was seen in Hiekkaniemi and in Pohjanranta we saw a female Pallid Harrier, a Peregrine Falcon and a couple of Oystercatchers.

My brother Pirkka arrived at night and we headed straight to Siikalahti where we heard the same Bluethroat and a Spotted Crake.

On the 2nd of May on my birthday we started in Siikalahti but saw nothing interesting. Of course Pirkka got plenty of year-ticks! Only new bird for me was a Hobby. Then we twitched a Tengmalm’s Owl and a Nuthatch before headed to Saari. A Slavonian Grebe was in Valkialampi and then it was quiet until we got to Kanavalampi where we saw Bewick’s Swans, a Black-tailed Godwit, a Garganey and a Red-breasted Goose. In Suurenjärvenliete we found 2 more Red-breasted Geese, a Black-tailed Godwit and a Marsh Sandpiper! When we were about to drive back, we got a message that probably the same Bar-headed Goose that I had found earlier was now in Kinnarniemi and of course we drove to see it. In the evening we still headed to Siikalahti and managed to see the long-staying American Wigeon. So we had really started well!

On the 3rd of May we had a Garganey and a White-tailed Eagle in Siikalahti and then both in Kontiolampi and in Kolmikannankangas a Pallid Harrier. When we were in Lahdensuo, we saw a White-tailed Eagle soaring on the sky with a Short-eared Owl. Then I got a message that there was a strange-looking chat in Lappeenranta. I got a couple of pictures of the bird and I wasn’t sure what it was. So we decided to go twitching. On the way we got a message about the exact place. Once we got there, we were alone. After some searching we found a few Whinchats and with them there was this 2nd year male Siberian Stonechat too. After I had got a few pictures all chats flew to top of high spruces and then they all disappeared. The weather had warmed up and they probably continued their migration?

On the way back we twitched a singing Grey Wagtail in Rautjärvi Simpele Ritakoski where we also saw some House Martins. Then we rested a little bit went to check that Little Ringed Plovers were back in Kukonkanta before headed to Saari again. In Akonpohja we saw a Slavonian Grebe, 4 Bewick’s Swans, 3 Gadwalls, in Pohjanranta a Little Ringed Plover, in Jyrkilä 5 Whimbrels, in Suurenjärvenliete a Grey-headed Woodpecker, a Black Woodpecker and a Lapland Bunting and in Tarnala a Hen Harrier but nothing better really.

On the 4th of May was the Bird-tower competition. We had lots of clothes when we walked to Siikalahti bird-tower. At 4:56 a.m. I found the American Wigeon and we had long 4 minutes to wait until the race begun. Luckily the bird stayed visible long enough and actually even 2 extra seconds! Then in next 8 hours we didn’t see it at all!

It was very cold and even raining but of course we saw many common species. When the weather finally started to get better we still kept on doing OK but still we saw only common birds. After several hours Hanna’s brother Miika counted that we had already got 85 species and it really sounded crazy – we had possibilities to our record!

Spring had been late so there were still some early migrants and now it was finally getting warm so we also got some later migrants like a Common Cuckoo, a Sedge Warbler, a flock of Common Scoters, a Hobby, a Merlin, Whimbrels and so on.

When it started to get warm we saw a Red-breasted Merganser, a Hen and a Pallid Harrier, a couple of Rough-legged Buzzards, a Common Redshank, a Black-tailed Godwit, an early Common Swift, a flock of Waxwings and so on but then it went quiet. Luckily at 12:40 p.m. we still had a Linnet flying over us but last 20 minutes didn’t give us any more species. We really hoped to see a White-tailed Eagle, a Sand Martin or Grey-headed or White-backed Woodpecker or so on.

After all we had got 100 species which was the first time ever! Also Saari Pohjanranta tower got the same result so together we were the first inland towers ever to get 100!

We rested a little bit and headed to Saari again and saw 3 Bewick’s Swans, a Garganey and a Black-tailed Godwit in Kanavalampi but nothing else really. Hanna stayed again in a hide for the night. With Pirkka we still headed to Siikalahti in the evening and we heard a Jack Snipe.

On the 5th of May we didn’t find anything new and then Pirkka had to start a long drive back to Kemijärvi. With Hanna we saw a Little Ringed Plover and a flock of Waxwings in Pohjanranta and then we twitched a Hawfinch in Särkisalmi.

On the beginning of the week I was tired so I just visited Siikalahti on my luch-hours and saw only a Black Kite there and a couple of Oystercatchers in Kangaskylä.

On the 8th of May I took an evening train to Lappeenranta and there we left with a couple of friends to Pori. We were in Pori early on the next morning and in Tikkula we heard a Thrush Nightingale.

After some breakfast we continued to Enäjärvi where we found an American Black Duck immediately! It was sleeping in the middle of the lake with a Mallard. Soon it woke up and swam a little bit along the shore before it disappeared to the vegetation. We also heard a Spotted Crake there.

We continued to Kaarluoto where we soon heard a couple of Bluethroats and a Common Reed Warbler. Then Miika Alatalo found a Long-billed Dowitcher that was feeding with Ruffs. There were big flocks of Ruffs flushing up to the sky all the time and suddenly the dowitcher disappeared with one flock. But luckily it soon came back alone and stayed quite close to us so we could get some pictures.

We still went to Yyteri surffiranta where we saw a couple of Little Terns, 2 Common Shelducks and 58 Bar-tailed Godwits and so on before started a long way along the coast towards south. In Rauma Unaja we saw a Great Egret over us.

In Mynämäki we stopped in Mietoistenlahti where we hadn’t been before. A Gadwall, a couple of Common Shelducks, a few Greater Scaups and Bar-tailed Godwits and a Red-breasted Flycatcher were found. Then in Masku I found a harrier from the moving car and once we got out it was already very far. We just took lots of pictures of it and at home I checked the pictures and it was a female Pallid Harrier.

In Salo we twitched a Collared Dove in Helenankatu and then headed to Omenojärvi where after some searching we saw a distant Ferruginous Duck. Then we still visited Aneriojärvi but the light was very bad for checking numerous geese there. In Helsinki Vuosaari we twitcher a Moorhen and then we still stopped in Hamina Lupinlahti where we saw 22 Caspian Terns. In Lappeenranta I took a train again to Parikkala. It had really been good Ascension Day!

On the 10th of May we headed to Pohjanranta in the afternoon. There we twitched a Grey Plover that Arttu Valonen and his friends had found. Then we counted birds there. On the way back we twitched a Ring Ouzel in Savikumpu. It was singing even though the weather was very windy.

On the 11th day we headed once again to Saari and in Kinnarniemi we found a Brent Goose on the way. The Grey Plover was still in Pohjanranta where we saw also a Little Ringed Plover, a Black-tailed Godwit and a Common Redshank. Then along the main-road 6 we twitched a couple of Red-breasted Geese before we found one more Red-breasted Goose in Pohjasuo.

In Kanavalampi we counted birds and saw 37 Spotted Sandpiper and 5 Common Redshanks. In Matikaisennurkka we saw a female Hen Harrier and in Mikkolanniemi a Black Kite was soaring on the sky. In Suurenjärvenliete we found a Marsh Sandpiper and then we went to count birds in Nivalahti. I dropped Hanna to hide again before I continued to Pohjanranta where I saw probably the same lonely Red-breasted Goose. In Akonpohja floods I saw a couple of Common Ringed Plovers, a Black-tailed Godwit and 5 Common Redshanks. On the way back to home I still stopped in Lääviensuo where I found a Pink-footed Goose. And in the evening I still went to Siikalahti where I saw 4 Gadwalls, a couple of Garganeys, even 205 Tufted Ducks but no American Wigeon.

On the 12th day a Wood Warbler was singing in Moskuunniemi and then I went to count birds in Akonpohja and Tarassiinlahti. In Akonpohja I saw a Black Kite, a Slavonian Grebe and a Common Pochard and in Tarassiinlahti a Gadwall and one more Black Kite.

On the 13th of May 8 Greater Scaups migrated in Siikalahti and the same Bluethroat was still singing. On the 14th day the landscape was finally changing green and in Siikalahti I heard a Thrush Nightingale, a Wood Warbler, a Sedge Warbler and some Common Whitethroats. After work Arttu picked me up and then we picked up Merja Laari in Särkisalmi and then we drove a long way to Kuopio Vuotjärvi to twithc the first A-category Ross’s Goose in Finland!

This Ross’s Goose had been ringed in Nunavut Canada and last autumn it had been found in Norway. Since that it had been seen in Denmark, Belgium, Nederland, Germany, Sweden and Estonia. In Finland birders had been hoping that the bird would continue to Finland with Barnacle Geese, but instead it was again found in Norway on the 9th of May. Maybe the bird was going back to Canada?

This bird had been moving with another unringed Ross’s Goose and when a lonely Ross’s Goose was found in Kuopio Lupinlahti on the 12th of May everyone expected it to be one more escaper. But then on the next evening birders saw a metal-ring on its leg and on the next morning photographers managed to read this ring – 2127-23516 – it was the same bird!

Unfortunately this goose was quite far but at least we managed to see it – and even the ring was visible at some point. On the way back we ate in Kaavi and then in Joensuu Reijola we saw a Bar-headed Goose which we also managed to photograph quite well.

Still about one week ago I had thought if I am going to get any Finnish-ticks this year. And now I had got 2 of them in a week – an American Black Duck and a Ross’s Goose, Maybe next I will found something by myself? I hope so…

J.A.