Spring-life

On the 10th of May after my work-day we went to Saari with Arttu Valonen. Trip started well when we saw a Black Kite flying over the main road 6. In Pohjanranta we were chatting with Pertti Koskimies when I found a 2nd c-y Pallid Harrier that showed pretty well. Then in Suurenjärvenliete we found a big flock of Barnacle Geese and there was a Red-breasted Goose in a flock. Also a Little Ringed Plover was seen on the flood. But later we saw only the familiar Pheasant, some Spotted Redshanks and a Smew.

In the evening we went with Hanna and a group from Australia to listen and see some night-birds. Luckily we found at least noe Great Snipe lekking and there was also a Ural Owl calling in the same place! Hanna continued with the group until morning but I continued with Arttu to Siikalahti where we listened every corner but found nothing interesting.

On the 11th day I heard a Lesser and a Common Whitethroat, a Blackcap, a Wood Warbler and a Wryneck and on the 12th day also a Bluethroat in Siikalahti. We did a trip to Saari again and on the way twitched early Common Rosefinches in Moskuunniemi. We found geese now in Jyrkilä where was a flock of 12000 Barnacle Geese and again a Red-breasted Goose with them. In Tarassinlahti we saw a Cormorant and a Redshank, in Kanavalampi 670 Wihte-fronted Geese, in Ala-Ollukka 4 Little Ringed Plovers and in Akonpohja 3500 Barnacle Geese.

On the 14th day I saw a Spotted Flycatcher and a few Swifts and on the 15th day an early Blyth’s Reed Warbler in Siikalahti. On the 16th day I saw a migrating Red-backed Shrike and now there were 2 Blyth’s Reed Warblers singing. In the afternoon we headed to Saari where we found an Ortolan Bunting in Akanvaara Tetrisuo, at least 17000 Barnacle Geese in Pohjanranta, 7000 more in Suurenjärvenliete and again a Red-breasted Goose. There were still almost no waders.

On the 17th of May I heard a Garden Warbler and in the afternoon we headed to Virolahti. On the way we twitched a Black-necked Grebe that was now again in Lappeenranta Hanhijärvi.

In Virolahti we stopped briefly in Lintulahti where some Oystercatchers were seen and a White-backed Woodpecker was heard. The evening-migration in Leerviiki was pretty good with Common Scoters and Long-tailed Ducks that were migrating but pretty war on the sea. Arctic and Caspian Terns and a Honey Buzzard were seen as year-ticks.

On the 18th day we started early in Leerviiki and saw some 280 divers. When other birders started to arrive to the beach, the diver-migration stopped. Later during the morning there were about 200 people watching arctic migration. But only some 2000 geese, 2 Temminck Stints, 2 Spotted Redshanks, 98 Ruffs, a Bewick’s Swan, an Arctic Skua and a Black-tailed Godwit were seen – nothing really good.

During the day we visited Kolsinpohja where we heard a White-backed Woodpecker drumming and saw 4 Temminck Stints. In Pyterlahti we heard a Thrush Nightingale and near museum an Icterine Warbler. In Kurkela we saw only White-tailed Eagles and soon we had to drive back to sleep to our tent. In the evening we cooked on the top of Lakakallio while watching thousands and thousands of Long-tailed Ducks migrating over us.

Arctica-race

On the 19th of May we woke up before 1 a.m. and soon we were driving towards the north-western corner of Virolahti. We called to Miska Loippo who was coming to the bird-race with us but he was a little bit late. So we stopped a couple of times on the way and found a Spotted Crake and I saw a Ural or Tawny Owl briefly and when we couldn’t find anything else, we drove back to this place to start at 2 a.m.

The Spotted Crake was still heard but the owl was gone. Then we heard a Nightjar before met Miska in some fields. We made lots of stops and got plenty of common species to our list but found nothing better. Finally in Porolahti we head a Corn Crake.

After all we had to hurry to Kolsinpohja where we hoped to see some waders but there were none. Luckily we heard a distant Great Reed Warbler and once back on the parking place we heard a Grey-headed Woodpeckercalling and the same White-backed Woodpecker drumming again.

On the graveyard we heard another White-backed Woodpecker and found a Long-tailed Tit. On the parking place we heard a distant Pheasant.

Then we headed to check Luuvinlampi where we saw a Slavonian Grebe. And soon we were again in Leerviiki where ducks were again migrating. We soon saw both divers and scoters, Long-tailed Ducks and also Scaups. A couple of Red-necked Grebes and an Oystercatcher were seen too, but the migration was pretty bad, so we soon continued.

In Virojoki we had a Yellow Wagtail and in Lintulahti we heard a Water Rail, a Blyth’s Reed Warbler, an Icterine Warbler and also a Marsh Warbler. But we still had hoped to hear Reed Warblers but heard none.

Goldfinches and a Treecreeper were heard while driving and in Kotola we saw a Kestrel, a Northern Wheatear and heard an Ortolan Bunting. In Lypsyniemi we twitched a Red-breasted Flycatcher and soon we had driven to Huvisaari where we again saw some Coots and heard a couple of more Red-breasted Flycactchers.

Then it was time to go to see raptors as White-tailed Eagle was the only bigger raptor on our list. In Elokallio we soon had some Honey and Common Buzzards, Sparrowhawks and a Marsh Harrier. While driving we saw a Goshawk and in Kurkela we saw Hobbies, a Black Kite and an Osprey. When we had also heard a Crested Tit and Bullfinches we felt that we were doing pretty well.

We realized that we had still too many waders missing on our list so we counted that we could go to end the race to Kolsinpohja. We managed to get to the tower 6 minutes before 2 p.m. but saw nothing. Luckily we walked some 30 meters from the tower to see the area better and found a Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank and during the last minute also a Temminck Stint.

The results were given in the afternoon and also a local team had been doing well. After all we both had got 132 species, but they had 6 species that no other teams had on their lists against our 4, so they won. But anyway we had really had a great time too!

We still had to pick up our tent from Lakakallio and then drive back home. On the way we saw a Wood Lark in Joutseno, a species that we had searched in vain during the race – with that species we would’ve won.

In the evening we still stopped in Siikalahti where we saw a Black Tern that had been hunting insects with many Little Gulls there for whole day.

On the 20th of May I twtched a Marsh Sandpiper in Siikalahti – I saw it 2 seconds in flight. In the afternoon I saw a Long-eared Owl in Huhmarinen while jogging.

Geese migraring, some waders and ringing

On the 21st day Barnacle Geese had started to migrate in good numbers and in one flock I saw a Pink-footed Goose. I also saw 4 Temmink/Little Stints and a Temminck Stint and on the next day I saw 3 Gadwalls and one more Temminck Stint.

On the 23rd day we headed to Saari with Harri Partanen and hoped to see finally some waders. In Suurenjärvenliete we saw 5 Broad-billed Sandpipers, 4 Ringed Plovers and 3 Temminck Stints and heard a Corn Crake and in Kanavalampi 4 Ringed Plovers and 17 Temminck Stints. Only better bird on the next day was a Golden Oriole that was singing in Moskuunniemi.

On the 25th day we woke up early again and at 4 a.m. we had mist-nets up in Papinlahti. In 6 hours we ringed a Common Snipe, 2 Blackbirds, 4 Sedge Warblers, a Blyth’s Reed Warbler, 2 Common Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler, 5 Willow Warblers, a Greenfinch, 5 Siskins, a Bullfinch and a Reed Bunting. We also heard 2 Golden Orioles and Barnacle Geese started to migrate again during the day.

So I went to Siikalahti and finally saw some flocks of Brent Geese too, altogether 1150 birds. Also 114 Black-throated Divers, 8 Hobbies, a Redshank and 2 Ringed Plovers were seen.

In the evening we went birding with Harri while Hanna was leading a couple of British birders. We started with Great Snipes and heard and saw at least 3 birds. We continued with Harri towards Siikalahti and heard a Nightjar on the way but nothing else. The weather was pretty bad but Hanna continued whole night with the group while we went to sleep with Harri.

After a couple of hours sleeping I went back to Siikalahti where I heard nothing but then I drove to Soininmäki where Hanna was also. We soon saw a Crested Tit and a Hazel Hen and then I went to check different part of the forest. I soon found a Red-breasted Flycatcher and a Greenish Warbler that Hanna came to twitch with the group.

I still continued to check how our only owl left (after we had found out that Ural Owl had failed) was doing. Surprisingly Pygmy Owl wasn’t in the nest-box but the eggs felt warm – so let’s hope it is still around. After I had heard another Red-breasted Flycatcher I went to sleep once again for a couple of hours before the ice-hockey WC-final started. Finland won gold against Canada, which was amazing as our team wasn’t even close to our best possible. And they had won Sweden, Russia and then Canada in last games – and especially Sweden and Russia had their best teams maybe ever!

On a couple of next days I heard just plenty of Blyth’s Reed Warblers and saw a couple of Ringed Plovers in Siikalahti. On the 29th of May we were birding in Akanvaara Tetrisuo when we got a call that there had been already in the previous day a Siberian Stonechat in Suurenjärvenliete. We were soon there and luckily found the bird! But then a Black Kite was flying over us and the bird disappeared. Luckily it came back visible soon and soon we were sure that the species was even better for us – a Common Stonechat – only the 2nd ever in South Karelia! So we tried to get some pictures but it was very shy. Soon after the first twitchers had arrived, we desided to continue our trip.

We still heard a White-backed Woodpecker, a Golden Oriole and an Icterine Warbler and saw a couple of Ringed Plovers and Redshanks and a single Common Scoter in Kanavalampi and a White-fronted Goose and a Garganey in Pohjanranta.

On the 30th of May we went to Siikalahti very early and checked every corner but found only some Golden Orioles. On the last day of May I went in heavy rain to check that Red-throated Divers were nesting on their traditional pond right on the wrong side of border in Savo.

The next days we were’t doing much as we soon had out trip to Japan.

J.A.