Spring

Finally it started to feel like spring on the 19th of March when we were in Siikalahti with Veikka Kosonen and Oskari Saunisto for 5 hours. A Sparrowhawk, a few Common Buzzards, a Woodpigeon, the same Skylark, a Great Grey Shrike, a Chaffinch, a Gold Finch, a few Common Crossbills and a Snow Bunting were seen. Also a Grey-headed, a White-backed and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker were seen. On the next day the weather was more arctic and in a couple of hours we saw 5 migrating Skylarks, 15 Lapwings, 4 Starlings and so on. In the evening we heard a Tengmalm’s Owl in Kannas.

During the week I saw a White-tailed Eagle and 18 Lapwings on the 21st, 41 Lapwings, 3 Woodpigeons and a Canada Goose on the 22nd, a couple of Stock Doves, a Fieldfare and a Linnet on the 23rd, a couple of probable Twites migrating and a Goldeneye on the 24th and then the 25th there were a couple of Goldeneyes and Goosanders in Särkisalmi. At weekend the weather was bad again and I was playing rinkball. Only birds to mention were 2 Wood Larks along the motorway in Imatra.

The weather was bad during the next week too but on the 1st of April it finally started to happen again. I was enjoying a strike from work and of course in Siikalahti and saw a Common Crane, a Stock Dove, 28 Woodpigeons, 14 Lapwings, a Chaffinch and 14 Snow Buntings. At weekend I was in Vierumäki playing in Finnish championship tournament for more than 40-years old players and we came 4th which wasn’t good ranking. I also managed to loose a tooth and brake a couple of ribs. It seems that I am getting too old for playing… On the way I saw Hawfinch in Imatra, Kestrel in Joutseno and then on the way back a Goshawk in Koitsanlahti.

I would have been on sick-leave because of my ribs but strike was also on so I was free to do birding a lot. Unfortunately weather was still awful. On the 4th of April I managed to stay in Siiaklahti a couple of hours before I was completely frozen and I saw 6 White-tailed Eagles, 90 Woodpigeons, 7 Snow Buntings and so on. Then I went to find a couple of nests of Nuthatches.

On the 5th day there was lot of snow on the ground again – it had been snowing whole night. So only place to see birds were on feeders. So it wasn’t a surprise that the best bird was also found on the feeder – a Wood Lark was visiting Minna Terävä’s feeder in Siromäki together with Yellowhammers and Chaffinches. On the 6th day I saw 42 Woodpigeons, 6 Cranes. 12 Skylarks and surprisingly a male Hen Harrier which really looked early in snowy landscape. On the 7th I saw a Kestrel and on the way to dentist to Imatra I saw 22 Snow Buntings and a Merlin in Kaukopää. On the 8th day I saw the first couple of Mallards of the year in Parikkala in Särkisalmi – that maybe tells you how awful the winter and late spring can be?

On the 9th day the spring started again! We stayed in Siikalahti with Veikka Kosonen from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and many other birders were there too. We saw 21 Tundra Bean Geese, 8 Goosanders, 4 Marsh Harriers, 10 Sparrowhawks, 10 Common Buzzards, 2 Ospreys, 2 Kestrels, a Peregrine, 32 Cranes, 191 Lapwings, a Curlew, a Green Sandpiper, 2 Common Snipes, 26 Black-headed, 1 Common and 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Stock Doves, 230 Woodpigeons, 2 Wood Larks, 4 Meadow Pipits, 15 White Wagtails, 62 Blackbirds, 4 Mistle and 1 small thrush, 160 Chaffinches, 2 Linnets, 16 Snow and 6 Reed Buntings. In Kannas we heard a Wren and saw a couple of Nuthatches.

On Sunday we were with Veikka, Oskari and Pekka Punnonen from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. in a bit worse weather and saw less bird, but 4 Cormorants. a Curlew, 3 Stock Doves, a Wood Lark and a Linnet and so on were seen.

On the 11th day I woke up early as ribs were hurting so I decided to go to see lekking Capercaillies. I managed to see 4 males and a female and also a Woodcock and a Black Woodpecker. Then I stayed in Siikalahto from 7:30 to 3 p.m. and saw 20 Tundra and 3 Taiga Bean, 10 White-fronted, 2 Canada and 4 Barnacle Geese, a Cormorant, 5 White-tailed Eagles, a Hen Harrier, 7 Curlews, a Common Snipe, 80 Black-headed Gull, 40 Meadow Pipits, even 100 Wagtails, a Song Thrush and 3 Linnets.

On the 12th day I was again in Siikalahti and from 7:20 to 2 p.m. I saw 45 Taiga Bean, 1 White-fronted and 18 Canada Geese, a Bittern, a Grey Heron, 6 White-tailed Eagles, a Hen Harrier, 3 Ospreys, 16 Curlews, again a Wood Lark, a Redwing, 3 Long-tailed Tits, 6 Linnets and so on. And on the 13th day I saw 4 Kestrels, a Green Sandpiper, 7 Snipes, a Black Woodpecker, a couple of Robins, 11 Mistle Thrushes and in Huhmarinen I saw again 2 Wood Larks. It had been the first spring ever for Wood Larks.

On the 14th I was on dam-road from 8:30 a.m.to 12:00 a.m. and best observations were 2 Bitterns, a Greylag Goose, a Golden Plover and 2 Black Kites that arrived to the bay together. Also 35 Curlews and so on were seen.

Then I started driving a long way across the country. In Hämeenlinna I stopped for shopping and surprisingly saw there 2 Oystercatchers and some Great Crested Grebes and Coots. Then I picked up Hanna from the railway station where Hanna arrived from Helsinki where she had been teaching diorama-painting for a week. Then we continued to Kristiinankaupunki Siipyy where we put up the camp.

On the 15th of April we woke up at 5 a.m. and soon were climbing to Siipyy tower where Veikko Forsberg arrived soon and later also Matti Pajunen. It was good to be again, for the second time, in Eastern in Siipyy. We sea-watched until midday and I got too many year-ticks – more than 20. Better species and numbers were 2 Shovelers, 10 Pintails, 816 Eiders, 23 Long-tailed Ducks, 1276 Common and 54 Velvet Scoters, 9 Smews, 109 Red-throeated and 1 Black-throated Diver, 5 Red-necked Grebes, a Goshawk that caught some bird from the sea and was swimming to the shore, an Osprey, 188 Oystercatchers, 2 Ringed Plovers, 482 Curlews, 6 Arctic Skuas, 20 Black Guillemots, 20 Razorbills, 9 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 4 Dunnocks, 1205 Chaffinches, 5 Lapland Buntings, 55 Snow Buntings and so on.

In the evening we visited Härkmeri fields and fields on both sides of Kristiinankaupunki and Karijoki border and saw quite a few geese – both Taiga and Tundra Bean Geese were numerous but also surprisingly many White-fronted and about 10 Pink-footed Geese were seen. We also saw a single Common Shelduck and 6 Gadwalls in Härkmeri.

On the 16th we were in the tower again from 5:30 to midday and this time with Ilkka Iivonen. Better birds were 60 Bean and 2 Pink-footed Geese, 266 Mallards, 27 Pintail, 6 Shovelers, 882 Eiders, 20 Smews, 61 Red-throated and 3 Black-throated Divers, 3 Great Crested and 3 Slavonian Grebes, 2 Grey Herons, a Marsh and a Hen Harrier, 602 Curlews (126 in one flock!), 2 Green Sandpipers, 5 Arctic Skuas, 34 Black Guillemots, 2 Caspian Terns, 1275 Black-headed Gulls, 2 Short-eared Owls, 97 Mistle Thrushes, 16 Bramblings, 63 Redpolls, 107 Yellowhammers and so on.

In the afternoon we drove to Härkmeri and tried to see a Red Kite that had been in Pori migrating North but it made an U-turn and went back to Pori. We saw only a couple of Rough-legged Buzzards and 4 Ringed Plovers.

On the 17th we were with Veikko, Ilkka, Sami Jansson and Kari Korhonen and better birds were 215 Barnacle Geese, 6 Shelducks, 323 Tufted Ducks, 226 Mallards, 1486 Eiders, 156 Long-tailed Ducks, 8062 Common and 456 Velvet Scoters, 500 Goldeneyes, 211 Red-breated Mergansersm 266 Goosanders, 32 Smews, 282 Red and 8 Black-throated Divers, 15 Great Crested, 80 Red-necked and 6 Slavonian Grebes, 7 Grey Herons, a Black Kite that was very special bird for everyone else than us – maybe even the first ever seen from the tower, 4 Merlins, 453 Curlews, 7 Arctic Skuas, 145 Razorbillsm 6 Caspian and 5 Common Terns, 1705 Black-headed Gulls, 583 Woodpigeons, a Wood Lark, a small lark that was just a little bit too far to be positively identified as a Short-toed Lark but it really looked like one, a Rock Pipit, 122 White Wagtails , 147 Mistle Thrushes and so on.

In the evening we visited Storsjöträsket but saw nothing better.

On the 18th day we were with Jukka Koskelainen, Ilkka, Sami, Kari and Paavo Sallinen and when we were leaving at midday, Veikko came to continue as there were still birds moving. Better birds were 1709 Bean Geese, a White-fronted Goose, 3 Shelducks, 204 Teals, 2142 Common Eiders and finally 2 (distant) male King Eiders, 6433 Common and 547 Velvet Scoters, 720 Goldeneyes, 250 Red-throated Divers, 6 Slavonian Grebes, 16 White-tailed Eagles, a Ringed Plover, 2 Caspian and 7 Common Terns, a Long-eared Owl, 105 Mistle Thrushes and so on.

At midday we started a long drive back home and right away we realized that we had spring completely broken so we had to drive very carefully. So the only birding stop in Merikarvia Lankoski where we saw a Grey Wagtail easily but we didn’t stop in Pori where the same Red Kite was still around. Then it was a long drive until we still stopped close to home in Simpele Ritakoski and surprisingly managed to twith both a Grey Wagtail and a Kingfisher even though it was already 8:30 p.m. Then we still visited Siikalahti where 6 Water Rails and some Bitterns were calling.

On the 19th day I had to go to work and on the lunch-hour I saw 84 MAllards, 44 Teals, 3 Pochards, a Tufted Duck, a Hen Harrier, 2 Rough-legged Buzzards, 11 Coots and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. And in the afternoon I saw a Redshank in Tetrisuo.

The strike was about to continue on the next day but unfortunately for me it was cancelled. So I visited in Siikalahti only briefly during the week. Only better birds were a Tree Pipit on the 20th, some Smews in Särkisalmi and the first House Sparrow in Parikkala this year! It’s really difficult species nowadays.

On the 21st of April 16 Wigeons, 5 Smews and a Redshank was seen and in the afternoon I had drive our car to service. On the 22nd I was biking near our home when I saw a female-plumaged Black Redstart! Then I got a ride from Harri Partanen to Siikalahti where we saw a Black Kite and 3 Rough-legged Buzzard before Harri drove me to service to get our car.

At weekend we started mornings with visits in Särkisalmi where were already Great Crested Grebes and a single Slavonian Grebe. Then we stayed in Siikalahti for a long time with Savonlinna youngsters and Merja Laari and many other visitors. In best or worst times the tower was full of people. Saturday morning was great and we saw amazingly 3 different Pallid Harriers, 3 Hen Harriers, a Peregrine, 17 Rough-legged Buzzards, 6 White-tailed Eagles, 7 Golden Plovers, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 13 Green Sandpipers, 5 Greenshanks, a Stock Dove, a Dunnock, 100 Bramblings and a Barn Swallow that was going towards south in the afternoon when the wind turned to blow very coldly from north.

So Sunday was much colder and we were absolutely freezing but still saw a Greater Spotted Eagle, a Black Kite, 5 Rough-legged Buzzards, 9 Ospreys, a Merlin and an early Hobby. Also 158 Cranes and 2 Chiffchaffs were seen.

The last days of April were cold as always in this time of year when it would be most important to have warm nights. Then we might get some rarities and many crakes and so on. But now the last days were quite boring and not many new birds were seen. A Merlin, more ducks, divers and grebes, a couple of Black-tailed Godwits, the first Greenshanks and a Chiffchaff, a Pink-footed Goose found in a flock of other geese, again a Black Kite, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and so on. But then on the very last days of April it started to happen more…

J.A.