October 2009

October – Still on Foula

We started October in Foula, Shetland. The 1st of October was one of the best bird-days ever when a Buff-bellied Pipit and a Pechora Pipit were still seen and photographable and in the evening we found the rarest bird we have maybe ever found – a Veery! It was 8th for Britain. On the 2nd day we left Foula and went to main island where we birder for a couple of days. At 5th of October we flew back to Finland. The whole trip-story can be read here: Foula trip: 15th of September to 5th of October 2009 (For example Veery, Pechora Pipit, Buff-bellied Pipit, Taiga Flycatcher, Hornemann’s Arctic Redpolls, Short-toed Lark, Red Grouses and so on).

End of arctica

On the 6th of October I had still free from work. I was birding in Parikkala and checked all the best fields for arctic geese and managed to find more than 20000 Barnacle Geese. Also some Bean and White-fronted Geese were found and a real good one a Red-breasted Goose! Other birds found were some hundreds of Whooper Swans, a Bewick’s Swan, a Crane, a Goshawk, a Grey-headed Woodpecker and a Great Grey Shrike.

Only one twitcher managed to see the Red-breasted Goose before the flock of 4000 Barnacles with it was flew around and the bird disappeared. I tried to relocate the bird again as I had done once already when I first found it from Kontiolampi and then relocated it in Kullinsuo, but even though I hoped to find it from Siikalahti and get a new local path tick, only birds I found were 500 Barnacles, a White-tailed Eagle, 450 Wigeons, 70 Coots, a Scaup, 230 Whooper Swans and some other ducks.

On the 7th of October I had a funny year-tick when I found my first Brent Goose of the year. During the next days I was checking all the geese nearby and there were still some 10000 of them in Tyrjä-Kontiolampi-Kullinsuo –area. Still there were only 30 Bean and White-fronted Geese. In Tiviänlampi I saw a Common Scoter and in Härskiinmutka a Cormorant and a Grey-headed Woodpecker was calling in Likolampi. On the 10th of October we caught and ringed a Tengmalm’s Owl in Tarvaslampi.

On the 11th day we saw 3 Long-tailed Ducks in Härskiinmutka, a Parrot Crossbill and 1200 Barnacles in Särkisalmi, about 9000 Barnacles and 2 hybrids between Barnacle and maybe Red-breasted and a family of Bewick’s Swans where adults were ringed in Saari area. Still on the way back home we saw 3000 Barnacles in Liuharanta.

On the next days the geese left and only some small flocks were seen. Then it became very quiet! Normal birding trips around Siikalahti were pretty boring, just a couple of Black-throated Divers, some Smews, some Great Grey Shrikes and still some ducks and lots of Whooper Swans were seen.

On the 17th day we saw a couple of Nutcrackers in Punkaharju, as usual. And on the 18th day there was again some arctic migration in Siikalahti, I saw 1780 Long-tailed Ducks, 196 White-fronted Geese, 5 Scaups, 22 Velvet Scoters and heard once a clear call of Richard’s or Blyth’s Pipit, but I couldn’t see the bird at all. It probably landed somewhere in the middle of Siikalahti? Also 3 Goldfinches and 8 Long-tailed Tits were migrating and a Grey-headed and a White-backed Woodpecker were fighting.

Next days were all similar: only better birds were last flock of 76 Barnacle Geese, 2 White-tailed Eagles, 3 Scaups, 31 Long-tailed Ducks, a Goshawk, 3 Great Grey Shrikes, 3 Coal Tits and a Woodcock in Siikalahti, a Hazel Hen and 2 Common Scoters in Vartialahti and a flock of 30 White-fronted Geese in Härskiinmutka.

On the 23rd day I took a swine flu and normal flu injections and came sick! But still I had to go twitching! I drove to Kajaani where I tried to find a Hume’s Leaf Warbler, but found only a Garden Warbler and a Blackcap. I continued to Oulu to my brother Riku in the late evening.

On the 24th day I woke up early and drove to Hailuoto ferry. I met some groups of twitchers and also Tuomas Väyryen with whom we continued to Tömppä. There we walked some time around almost birdless big area before we found a flock of Snow Buntings, 2 Jack Snipes and then finally some waders. There were some Dunlins, a Knot and only one Grey Plover. Luckily then we got a call that there were more plovers visible from Riisinnokka and we rushed there along the shore and there it was a long-staying first ever for Finland American Golden Plover! Soon all the waders flew there to Isomatala and we counted 11 Dunlins, a Knot, 5 Grey Plovers plus a lifer. Other birds there were 2 Mute Swans and a migrating White Wagtail. After watching American Golden Plover for some time we decided to go birding with Tuomas. We walked a long was back to our car and then on the way we saw a Black Grouse, 2 Jays, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and a flock of Long-tailed Tits – all good Hailuoto species. Then we drove to Mäntyniemi where we saw a flock of Parrot and Common Crossbills before we continued to Keskiniemi.
Keskiniemi was absolutely empty but when we had walked through the meadow we I surprisingly heard a familiar call, a Rock Pipit flew over us calling and we saw the bird pretty well too.
In Pöllä and Kuivasäikkä we saw only 8 Black Grouses and 3 White-tailed Eagles but Ojakylänlahti was once again full of birds! With a couple of thousands of Whooper Swans and a thousand of ducks there were 60 Smews, a Shoveler, 3 Scaups, a Greylag and a Bean Goose and a family of Mute Swans. Also a White-tailed Eagle, Black-headed Gulls and a Reed Bunting were seen before we had to hurry to the ferry.

On the 25th of October I woke up early again and headed to Kajaani again. In Vuottolahti I noticed a big dead bird on the middle of the road and stopped. Surprisingly it was a 2nd c-y Pomarine Skua! Once I made it to Kirjastonranta I heard the Hume’s Warbler had been seen already. I was walking around a small bushy area for hours with several other birders but we found only a Blackcap and a Dipper. Then at 12 o’clock we heard 5 clear calls of Hume’s Leaf Warbler very close but just couldn’t find it anywhere! After all I was there for more than 7 hours and never saw the bird! But the calls we heard were so clear that I could easily make a decision that I had got my 600th WP-tick!

On the 27th day there were still 156 Whooper Swans in Siikalahti and a Velvet Scoter and a Black-throated Diver in Härskiinmutka. And on the 28th 18 Starlings in Kangaskylä and on the 29th 120 Common Gulls, 4 Black-headed and 4 Herring Gulls in Saharanta. In Siikalahti there were 83 Swans, 110 Mallards, 35 Wigeons, a Pintail, a Teal, 5 Tufted Ducks, 4 Scaups, 2 Smews and 35 Goldeneyes. It had clearly become cold in the north!

And then it came cold here too! Siikalahti got frozen. On the 30th of October there were still 72 Whooper Swans, 14 Mallards, 4 Wigeons, 7 Tufted Ducks, 4 Goldeneyes and a Smew in small open water areas. I also went to see Siberian Jays that were found easily.

But when we did a winter bird count on the last day of October and walked 18 kilometres around Siikalahti, it was completely frozen. Whooper Swans were standing on the ice and a Wigeon was trying to find a place to land. Best birds we saw were 54 Swans, 7 Mallards, a Hazel Hen, 3 Black Grouses, 2 White-tailed Eagles, a Black and a White-backed Woodpecker, 7 Long-tailed Tits, a Great Grey Shrike, 4 Starlings and so on. Lake Simpele was still open of course and there were 100 Goosanders and 70 Common Gulls. Altogether 34 species and 876 birds were seen.