Holiday continues in Jurmo

On the 28th of September we woke up early in the middle of a forest-cut. A local store opened already a t 6 a.m. and we had decided to get there at 7 so we hoped that fresh bread was available. Everything else was bought but the bread was a bit oldish. But soon we were ready to drive to Pärnäinen harbor.

We carried our stuff to M/S Baldur which left at 8:30 a.m. towards Jurmo. We stayed on the deck for some time and met some birders that were going to Utö and also 3 gentlemen that were coming to Jurmo for the same time with us. We hadn’t met Juhani and Pekka Virtanen (not relatives) and Kari Tuominen before but soon it was clear that we would get along well. Pretty soon we went to eat to the restaurant and food was extremely good!

It was a long way but finally we arrived at Jurmo where “Jussi”, Pekka and Kari got a ride from a local man so we got both carts for ourselves to get our stuff towards the station. While walking towards the station we already saw a Hobby.

On the station we met Kim Kuntze and Meri Öhman the were soon leaving to the ferry. Also Timo K. Palomäki was of course there and young birder Pyry Laurikka too. After some talking we went to check the mist-nets where Jussi, Pekka and Kari were already working and there were already quite a lot of Goldcrests.

After some time we went to eat something to the station and then left to do counts to western side of the island where is the better route where birds are being counted every day. It was a long way to the beginning of the route and it is very long walk if a visit to Heinäsaari is included. But we were ready to walk a lot!

Like almost always the best birds were found in Heinäsaari where 2 Oystercatchers, a Curlew, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a Ruff, a couple of Dunlins, 12 Purple Sandpipers and a Greenshank were seen. On the route we saw Spotted Redshank, a Long-tailed Duck, one of three Peregrines that we saw during the day and altogether we saw quite a few Grey and Golden Plovers and of course lots of ducks.

It was already getting late when we were walking back towards the station. On the way we saw a Nightjar which was very late record. But there had been quite a few of them around the country, so we hoped to see it later again.

While keeping the daily log we found out that most of the birds we had seen in Heinäsaari, had already been there for some time. Well we didn’t know about them so they had felt much better this way.

Island-competition

On the 29th day we had an island-competition and the main opponent was of course Lågskär. We woke up early and went to watch morning-migration with Timo. It was pretty quiet on the sea but we saw quite a good selection of species like Brent Geese and sea-ducks.

Then we went to walk the eastern route and surprisingly found quite good birds like a Hobby, a Merlin, a Peregrine, 4 Slavonian Grebes, a Jack Snipe and very early young Red-backed Shrike. In west we walked of course to Heinäsaari too and we found again the same waders, the first Pochard of the year for Jurmo and a very late young Cuckoo. Other birds seen on the field and caught from the nets were Blackcaps, Willow Warblers, Parrot Crossbills and so on. Pyry saw a Yellow-browed Warbler in Sorgen and when it was already dark we went to try to find the Nightjar which was found pretty easily but we also saw a couple of Long-eared Owls that Pyry had found and also a Short-eared Owl. Altogether we got 96 species which was the best number in the competition.

Easy day

On the 30th of September we had an easy day between the competition day and the first of October. We did only the eastern route with Teo and saw next to nothing during the day – only new bird was a Common Redstart. Also a couple of Slavonian Grebes, a Hobby, Parrot Crossbills and the same Nightjar was seen again. From the mist-nets we got a few Sparrowhawks but the best observation was maybe a few Queen of Spain Fritillaries that were flying in Sorgen.

October begins

On the first of October we were full of energy as there were some possible month-ticks around. Morning-migration was quite bad maybe because of the misty and windy weather. For the first time ringers had opened mist-nets also on the bog. While sea-watching we could see a couple of nets and there were lots of birds! I called to one of the ringers and asked if they needed help and I got an answer that they were OK. But I left to help them anyway and soon it was clear that all help was needed! Goldcrests were really on the move and nets were full of them! So next few hours we were all helping with the Goldcrests. When we managed to get any mist-net empty, we closed them. And after all only a couple of nets were kept open per ringer. I remember loosing a Lesser Whitethroat and a Tree Pipit from the net too.

Finally the chaos was over so we could go to count the routes. We first walked the eastern route where a Slavonian Grebe and a couple of Jack Snipes were seen, Then we continued west where all the same waders were still around and Curlew was a month-tick. In the evening a Nightjar was seen again and was another tick.

During the day ringers had ringed more than 1200 birds which 938 were Goldcrests!

Something little better

We kept on working hard on the next days too. On the 2nd of October I went again very early to put a Red-flanked Bluetail tape to the mist-net but nothing was there before the routinely ringing started. On the seawatch we saw some flocks of geese and one flock was Greylag Geese. A few Wood Larks were also seen and after 2 hours we went to have “second breakfast” to the station. Then we heard a call from Pyry’s walkie-talkie that a Red-flanked Bluetail had been caught. It was already the second bluetail in hand during this trip but it was again a month-tick! Ringers were very happy as they had never caught a bluetail before – it was good that they got some quality in the middle of thousands of Goldcrest.

In the east we saw a Common Redstart but other birds were just the same. In harbor we saw plenty of Moon Jellyfish that were interesting to see.

Hard work

Every day we walked from 12 to 21 kilometers with Teo depending on if we visited west and Heinäsaari or not. On some days we walked less but anyway we worked very hard to find anything better on the field but nothing better was to be found. On the 3rd day we saw a big raptor migrating over the sea and of course a Red Kite was seen migrating in Uto a half an hour later. It felt bad, but we were sure that we had seen a different bird as we thought our bird had looked most likely a Honey Buzzard. Anyway this Red Kite hadn’t been far either…

White counting in west Crane migration started and we counted 1621 birds. Also a couple of flocks of Scaups were seen and in the evening a Nightjar and a Short-eared Owl were seen.

On the 4th of October early in the morning we saw a Hobby finally as a month-tick but the rest of the day was boring. Only thing to mention was that Pyry left and Tapani Veistola arrived. Then on the 5th day we walked like crazy around the island again and still saw 2 Oystercatchers, a Curlew, a Red Knot, 5 Purple Sandpipers, a Greenshank, a Wood Lark, a Razorbill, a Peregrine, a couple of Willow Warblers and so on. So quite a few nice birds but nothing really good.

On the 6th of October the weather was really bad so we were keeping rain under trees while trying to make eastern route. We flushed a good-looking pipit that flew up to the sky and never landed. On the next morning an Olive-backed Pipit was found on Utö. Soon we flushed another pipit that landed to trees but our binoculars were absolutely wet, so we couldn’t see it well enough for a long time. But somehow I managed to clear my lenses and identify it as a Tree Pipit…

In west all the waders except Bar-tailed Godwit were still around. In Sorgen we saw a Lesser Whitethroat briefly and mist-nets produced a Blackcap and lots of Chiffchaffs that seemed to be everywhere so maybe there was still something rare to be found?

The last day

But the 7th of October was our last day. The weather was perfect so we decided to leave all routes to other birders and just went to search rarities. In Sorgen we heard “tac” -calls and saw a brown bird flying briefly – it was really good Dusky Warbler candidate, but even though we searched it for a couple of hours, it was never seen again. Just before we had seen the bird a Dusky Warbler had been found in Utö and when we had just stopped searching for our bird, we got a message that another Dusky Warbler had just arrived from somewhere to the same place. We had an idea from where it had probably arrived…

When ringers reported that they had seen a Blackstart near the station, we decided to go to twitch it. It was a stunning adult male bird, but anyway it wasn’t exactly what we had hoped to see. And it was one more bird to the list that we hadn’t found by ourselves. We still found a Tree Pipit and a Common Redstart but really nothing…

A visit at home

Finally we had to start walking towards the harbor where we had already carried our stuff in the morning. In M/S Baldur we ate well again and somehow the ferry-trip went fast. Then we had a very long driving to Kouvola where I went to sleep to an apartment that Teo’s family had empty. Next morning Teo dropped me to the railway-station and I took a train to Parikkala where I had to go to count ducks in the afternoon.

During the count I saw a family of Bewick’s Swans, even 6 Gadwalls, 4 Scaups, a male Pochard and a Long-tailed Duck in Siikalahti. Then I had to do shopping, laundering and packing – our autumn-trip wasnt over yet – not even close! We still had a long trip to Säppi to go!

J.A.