Spring year-ticks

The weather was finally changing warmer but still it was minus degrees at nights. Snow was melting quickly anyway when sun was shining and there were some days with almost no wind at all and of course some warm rains too.

On the 9th of April I saw already a flock of 45 White Wagtails and 20 Meadow Pipits and finally first flock of 6 Tundra Bean Geese, a Greylag Goose, a Common Redshank, 3 Golden Plovers and the best bird – a Shore Lark that was flying towards south. Also 8 Black-headed Gulls, Goshawk, Kestrel, White-backed and Grey-headed Woodpecker and a Linnet were seen. In the afternoon I visited Särkisalmi where I saw 6 Mallards, 6 Goldeneyes and a Goosander.

But then it came a couple of quieter days again and on the 10th day I saw only a White-tailed Eagle, a Rough-legged Buzzard, a Great Grey Shrike, a couple of Marsh Harriers, a Long-tailed Tit and 5 Common Crossbills and on the 11th day a White-tailed Eagle, a Merlin and heard a Great Bittern.

The 12th day was a bit better again so I visited Siikalahti a couple of times. I saw 3 Hen Harriers, 3 Song Thrushes, 4 Ospreys, a Wood Lark, 65 White Wagtails and 45 Snow Buntings. In Särkisalmi I saw a Bittern standing on the reeds and when a couple of Whooper Swans came to look at it, it opened it wings and looked even more stupid than normally.

Black Kite

On the 13th day I heard the first Robins and a Dunnock and on a couple of visits to Siikalahti I saw 43 Tundra Bean Geese, 3 Kestrels, 2 Goshawks, 8 Sparrowhawks, 2 White-tailed Eagles, 4 Linnets and then in 5 minutes I saw a Black Kite and a male Pallid Harrier. Later I still saw a possible female Pallid Harrier but it was too distant.

On the 14th day I went to Lappeenranta to play rinkbandy Finnish Championship tournament. It was funny to play on the highest level first time since 1999. We lost 2 games but managed to play a draw against a team which came second after all. And even I managed to make a couple of goals and give an assist which wasn’t too bad as we did only 8 goals altogether. Between the matches I did some birding and visited Joutseno Konnunsuo where I saw a Peregrine, 3 Green Sandpipers, Common Gulls, 5 Rough-legged Buzzards and so on. In Kivisaari I saw 3 Curlews and in Luukkaansalmi 4 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

On the 15th of April we were in Siikalahti for a long time and saw 20 Tundra Bean Geese, a Greylag Goose, a Teal, 18 Mallards, 4 Goldeneyes, 5 White-tailed Eagles, again a Pallid Harrier and a Black Kite migrating in 5 minutes, 2 Hen Harriers, 2 Rough-legged Buzzards, 4 Coots, 7 Curlews, 3 Green Sandpipers, 13 Common Snipes, 70 Black-headed, 4 Common and 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Stock Dove, a Northern Wheatear, a Great Grey Shrike, a Brambling, a Gold Finch and a flock of 25 Common Crossbills.

On Monday the 16th of April I was in Siikalahti on my lunch-hour and I was talking with Esa Sojamo and Pertti Koskimies when I noticed an eagle on the north-eastern sky – it was a beautiful adult Greater Spotted Eagle! It was soaring a couple of minutes and then continued towards north-west. A Water Rail was heard when a Marsh Harrier tried to catch it from the reeds.

Then then next days were quiet again. First there was no wind at all and then it turned northern. Anyway it was quite warm, but only migrating birds were Curlews. There were already a couple of hundreds of geese, mostly Tundra Bean and White-fronted but also some Barnacle and Canada Geese and also some Taiga Bean and almost every day also at least one Greylag Goose. Only year-ticks were a Chiffchaffs and a couple of Wood Cocks that I saw in the evening.

On the 19th day I saw a Grey Heron, 8 Wigeons, a White-tailed Eagle and 12 Waxwings on my lunch-hour but surprisingly my evening visit was much better when I found immediately a Black Kite, then soon saw a Mute Swan landing to a field with some geese and then Matti Lötjönen called that he had found a Great Grey Owl nearby. I saw a southern, eastern and northern species in 30 minutes. Later I still found that there was also a Bewick’s Swan on the field with Whooper Swans and the Mute Swan. So it was nice to see all species of swans on the same field.

On the 18th day I saw a flock of 14 Barnacle Geese and a couple of Great Crested Grebes in Särkisalmi and the first Tufted Ducks and Pochards, 4 Greylag Geese, a Peregrine, a Cormorant and heard a Greenshank in Siikalahti


At weekend the weather was very bad as usual. On Saturday we did a good tour in Saari but found almost nothing. 3 Greylag Geese, a couple of Shovelers, Merlins and Golden Plovers. Boring…

On Sunday we were almost whole day in Siikalahti with several visiting friends. Migration was quiet but at least some Rough-legged Buzzards were moving and we counted 34 birds. But we got some goodies too as a female Pallid Harrier was seen a couple of times pretty well, a younger Golden Eagle migrated quite distant and a Black Kite was seen late in the afternoon. Also 6 Bewick’s Swans, 3 Greylag Geese, 18 Pochards, 2 White-tailed Eagles, 61 Cranes, 67 Curlews, a Whimbrel and a Snow Bunting were seen.

Week started quietly and on Tuesday the 24th day I saw a couple of Black-throated Divers, an early Spotted Redshank, a couple of White-tailed Eagles, a Greylag goose, a Whimbrel and 20 Lapland Buntings in Siikalahti. After my work I had to drive to Uukuniemi Suurenjärvenliete to twitch a Mandarin Duck that was a new species and maybe the 300th species for Parikkala. The flood was huge and there were lots of ducks but I couldn’t find the Mandarin Duck. I counted 35 Green Sandpipers and at least 70 Song Thrushes were seen in huge flocks of Fieldfares and Redwings. I checked all best places in Saari too but found only a couple of Bewick’s Swans, a Whimbrel and several flocks of about 40 Curlews but I expected to find much more…

On the 25th of April there were 3 Oystercatchers and 2 Black-throated Divers in Särkisalmi and in Siikalahti I saw a flock of 22 Greenshanks. In the evening we had Parikkala and Rautjrävi Bird-club meeting where nice pictures were shown. On the 26th day a flock of 11 Common Scoters and a Common Sandpiper were in Särkisalmi and in Siikalahti I saw a Garganey, a couple of Shovelers, a Whimbrel and heard a Ringed Plover migrating. After work I went back and managed to relocate a 3rd c-y Greater Spotted Eagle which was showing well a few times. But crows were chasing it all the time, so it didn’t come very close. Other birds seen were a female Hen Harrier and the first Barn Swallow. In the evening I went to check one owl nest-box and there was a Ural Owl.

On the 27th of April I saw in Särkisalmi 72 Great Crested Grebes, 24 Black-throated Divers, 2 Red-necked Grebes, 2 Slavonian Grebes, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, 14 Smews and so on. In Siikalahti I saw a Greylag Goose, 4 Cormorants, a White-tailed Eagle, 3 Little Gulls and heard a Tree Pipit. In the evening a group of 4 Catalan birders came and we still saw a Long-tailed Tit, a Grey-headed Woodpecker, a couple of Bewick’s Swans, a Black Grouse and then of course went to see a Ural Owl too.

On the 28th day I was again in Siikalahti and there was a nice group of birders it was quite enjoyable even though migration was still quiet. We saw a couple of Gadwalls, a Slavonian Grebe, 3 White-tailed Eagles, 23 Rough-legged Buzzards, 2 Hen Harriers, 3 Common Terns and a flock of 10 Parrot Crossbills. I was away from the dam-road for 15 minutes and missed the same Greater Spotted Eagle but luckily Catalans saw it. In the afternoon we did a tour to Saari but saw only a couple of Grey Herons and of course some, but only some flocks of geese. In the evening we still heard a White-backed Woodpecker drumming in Siikalahti, but didn’t see it.

On the 29th day we went to try to see Siberian Jays but the birds didn’t show up. Luckily we saw a Three-toed Woodpecker drumming. In Särkisalmi we saw an Oystercatcher and the rest of the day I was again in Siikalahti where a couple of Bewick’s Swans, 9 Cormorants, a male Pallid Harrier, a Hobby, a couple of Whimbrels, a flock of 10 Ruffs and 2 Black-tailed Godwits, a couple of Wood Sandpipers and a House Martin were seen.

On the last day of April a Common Redstart was singing in our garden. During my lunch-hour I saw almost nothing in Siikalahti, but in the evening I went jogging in Tarvaslampi and finally saw the first Capercaillie of the year. After sauna we still went to Siikalahti and heard a Spotted Crake and a distant Jack Snipe as year-ticks.

Next 2 weeks should be really good time to find something better so I hope to find something better than “every spring rarities”…

J.A.