First of January ticking

We landed to Helsinki-Vantaa after a week in Fuerteventura on New Year, just some 40 minutes after midnight. After we had managed to get back to our car, we drove to a hotel nearby where we had booked a room. It was almost 2 a.m. when we were ready to sleep.

Too soon, at 6 a.m. we woke up and before 7 a.m. started driving toward Helsinki Vanhankaupunginlahti. It was surprisingly only less than 10 km to Pornaistenniemi where were already a couple of twitchers. Soon there were more twitchers coming and after an hour waiting the bird we had been waiting showed up – an Eastern Black Redstart! It was still dark, but this early had always showed up under the lights before it moves to feed to much more difficult places. Because of the darkness we didn’t get any better pictures either.

Eastern Black Redstar

When we left the bird with growing number of twitchers it was still quite dark and only other birds we had observed had been Great tit, Blackbird, Common Redpoll and Blue Tit.

Soon we had driven to Espoo Kaitalahti where were also quite a lot of twitchers already and more following us from Vanhankaupunginlahti. Soon the morning start light up so also birds started to wake up. Hooded Crow, Raven, Brambling, Mallard and some better birds like Wren and Bearded Reedlings were observed before we got information that the bird we were waiting had been found and it was a bit further close to the bird-tower. There were too many birders to fit to the tower so we stayed on a rock nearby. Twitchers could see the bird from the tower but the just couldn’t give us good instructions where it really was. So I decided to move a little bit from the noisy crowd and soon I heard clearly a Pallas’s Leaf Warbler calling on the reeds in front of us. Not many of us heard it and again people were moving noisily. Luckily the bird soon called again a couple of times so we were happy with this observation and left towards the next ticks. Other birds we had seen and heard while chasing the warbler had been Reed Bunting, Mute Swan, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Herring Gull, Bullfinch, Great Black-backed Gull, Siskin, Magpie, Goosander and Coal Tit.

We headed to Helsinki Lauttasaari and saw a Sparrowhawk and Goldeneyes on the way. After some searching in Särkiniemi we managed to find an extremely tame Song Thrush which was very well hidden just 1 meter from the walking street. It was just so easy to miss that we had passed it a couple of times before noticing it.

Then we started a longer drive towards North-East. Waxwings were still seen in Lauttasaari, but the next new year-tick was seen only in Sipoo when we saw the first Jackdaws. Somehow we had missed this species earlier. We also realized that we hadn’t seen any Rock Pigeons anywhere!

In Porvoo we saw a Common Buzzard perched over the main-road and finally we turned towards Lapinjärvi. Our target was Bewick’s Swan but before we reached the place, we got information that the bird hadn’t been found anymore. So we decided to try if it was in Liljendal Sävträsket where we saw some Whooper Swans. But neither Bewick’s Swan or a Pochard that had been there earlier were found.

In Loviisa we saw 4 Black Grouses and a Great Grey Shrike and finally we parked to Kotka Marttila. I noticed a Starling on a top of one tree and soon we found again some twitchers looking towards a feeder I one garden. There were lots of birds, so we ticked 4 Arctic Redpolls, Tree Sparrow, Yellowhammer and Greenfinch before our target Lesser Whitethroat arrived. It was quite dark-looking bird so I hope someone will catch it soon and examine which sub-species or species it really is…

While walking back to our car, we heard a Goldfinch and then we follow a couple of twitchers from Kouvola to see a Pochard that was in Jumalniemi nearby. It was only a year-tick for us like was a Cormorant too.

As there were nothing more to twitch as First of January –ticks, we decided to start driving towards Parikkala. We had planned to try to find a Ural Owl in Parikkala, but we were lucky and just accidently found one on the way in Luumäki Heimala. It was our 5th First of January -tick and altogether I have seen now 141 species in this day in Finland. Ii is a crazy sport to collect these ticks, but so much fun!

Finally we were in Parikkala where we still decided to drive around Siikalahti as there had been a Great Grey Owlin Huhmarinen fields. It was completely dark, but we found the bird perched just next to the road on an electric-pole. Last year I had seen 196 species in Siikalahti, not a Great Grey Owl…