October begins with good birding

On the 1st of October we were having Siikalahti autumn birding day. It was the 5th time we tried to see as many species as possible in Siikalahti by walking around and watching from the bird-towers. I decided to get to Siikalahti early in the morning by bike. On the way I heard a Pygmy Owl calling in Muttelinmäki and I got to Siikalahti dam-road already at 6 a.m.

I walked a little bit along the road and soon heard another Pygmy Owl! It was till dark, but I managed to see this little owl pretty well while it was calling very actively. There were amazing numbers of Barnacle Geese on the southern side of the bay and their calling sounded amazing! They were all flushed a couple of times and it sounded like a bomb! Unfortunately too many flocks left to fields too early, so I couldn’t count them at all.

At 7 a.m. Hanna arrived and we walked to the northern side of the bay. It took 2 hours to walk to the end of Raikanniemi and back, but we had altogether 51 species. Some of the better species were a Wren, a Hen Harrier, Goldcrests, Treecreepers, Dunnocks, Willow Tits, 6 Parrot Crossbills, a White-backed Woodpecker, 2 Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, Great Crested Grebes, Goosanders, Black-throated Divers, a Black Grouse and already the 3rd Pygmy Owl of the morning! This bird was enjoying sun on the top of a dead tree and Hanna got some nice pictures of it.

We were back on the dam-road tower at 9 a.m. and Harri Partanen had already been walking on the other side of the tower for almost 2 hours. He had seen 2 Coal Tits and heard a Grey-headed Woodpecker, a Water Rail and a Chiffchaff. Two latter ones were heard again soon. Merja Laari had stayed on the tower and she had seen 2 Grey Herons. Soon also Matti Lötjönen arrived.

The morning had been nice calm and sunny but it started to get windier and cloudy. The wind was from south-west but anyway we saw quite an amazing selection of bird-species in next few hours. We had 6 Bewick’s Swans, 12 Long-tailed Ducks, 3 Smews, 4 White-tailed Eagles, a late Marsh Harrier, 7 Common Buzzards, 4 Rough-legged Buzzards, a late Osprey, a Kestrel, a Peregrine, 110 Cranes, a Golden Plover, a Ruff, a Jack Snipe, about 900 Wood Pigeons, 100 Waxwings, 30 Long-tailed Tits, a Great Grey Shrike, a Gold Finch and 4 more Parrot Crossbills.

When others had left we moved to the main bird-tower with Hanna and were checking the masses of Barnacle Geese and found 2 Pink-footed Geese but also 2 Scaups, a Long-tailed Duck and another White-backed Woodpecker.

I had a break in the afternoon but came back after 2 hours and stayed until the sunset. The last couple of hours Miika Soikkeli and Matti Lötjönen were also enjoying the Barnacle Geese masses coming to roost on the bay with me. We estimated 17000 of them, which was for sure less than there had been in the morning. The only new species for the day was a Coot, but we also saw the same Peregrine again and another Osprey was migrating towards south even though it was already getting dark.

After all we had 83 bird-species during the day in Siikalahti. One more species, a Cormorant, had been seen but it was seen while using a car.

On the 2nd of October I decided to get to the main tower early in the morning to see the masses of Barnacle Geese. There were incredible lots of them and I estimated 20000 birds on the bay and 8000 birds more flying around. Unfortunately there weren’t any Goshawks or White-tailed Eagles before 8 a.m. when my recorder was out of batteries.

Other birds seen were 43 Parrot Crossbills, a Grey-headed Woodpecker, a White-backed Woodpecker and a Gold Finch.

After breakfast we were photographing 2 Nutcrackers in Kangaskylä and then continued to Saari with Hanna. The first bigger flock of about 2500 Barnacle Geese were seen in Rautalahti. In Akanvaara Tetrisuo and in Pohjansuo were no interesting birds, but in Pohjanranta we saw 2 Lapwings and a Ruff. In Suurenjärvenliete we saw 3000 Barnacle Geese and in Jyrkilä about 7000. There we found also the best bird of the autumn; a Red-breasted Goose! It was showing pretty well in 150 meters.

In Tarassiinlahti we saw 8000 Barnacle Geese and also 2 Pink-footed Geese. In Karinmäki we had a late Northern Wheatear and in Kuposenmäki at least 5000 more Barnacle Geese. Altogether we saw 7 or 8 White-tailed Eagles and 3 flocks, 118 birds, of migrating Cranes in Saari.

In the afternoon I still stayed a couple of hours in Siikalahti and saw 3 White-tailed Eagles, a nice 2nd year Golden Eagle, a Hen Harrier, the same Marsh Harrier again and 3 Goshawks.

J.A.