March 2005

March – Spring comes and the wildness rally

The March started mild again and the day was getting longer quickly. I birded quite a lot, but nothing much was found in the beginning of the month. The Blackcap was still in Savonlinna and another month-tick was a Jack Snipe. In Siikalahti I saw Grey-headed, White-backed and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, Black Grouses and Long-tailed Tits. We went to look at the Siberian Jays again. They weren’t breeding yet, but last years birds weren’t anymore with their parents.

Finally the owls started to call. In Parikkala Melkoniemi we heard a couple of Tengmalm’s Owls and Tawny Owls. We had planned to listen to owls a lot but then started the only colder period in whole winter so we had to forget our plans.

On the 19th and 20th of March we went to Kuopio where was a one kind of bird weekend. It was nice to see lots of old friends.

After the Kuopio trip the spring finally started. First migrants were Herring Gulls which I saw in Imatra Vuoksi River. On 22nd of March there were already 104 gulls. On the 24th day we saw a Snow Finch and some Herring Gulls in Siikalahti. On 25th the first Whooper Swan, a couple of Rooks, a Buzzard and a couple of Starlings were seen in Siikalahti. In Vaaranmäki we saw also a migrating Sparrowhawk.

On 26th day we finally had a different kind of rally that Jari Kontiokorpi had planned. All six teams got their own areas where they had to find the birds. The areas were either in Ruokolahti or in Rautjärvi. The rally time was from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. All the species were worth of 1 point, but for example each White-backed Woodpecker was worth of 10 points, Grey-headed Woodpecker 6 points, Capercaillie 5 points, Pygmy Owl 4 points, Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 point and so on. The main reason for the rally was to find new White-backed Woodpeckers and that’s why the CD-player was aloud in this rally.

Our area was the SW-part of Ruokolahti. We started at 4 a.m. from Äitsaari. The place was great for the owls – we heard 4 Tengmalm’s Owls, 1 Ural Owl, 1 Eagle Owl and 4 Pygmy Owls in 2 hours. The morning came too early but we continued in Äitsaari, where we still found a Great Grey Shrike, Snow Finch, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and lots of Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Then we continued to the western side of main road 6, where were almost no birds at all. We found only another Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Buzzard and some Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

Finally we managed to find also a White-backed Woodpecker! The couple came to have a look who was calling when we had our CD on. That was about our 50th place where we had been playin the CD.

Because there were almost no birds in other places than Äitsaari we decided to drive back there to finish our rally. Of course we tried to find more White-backed Woodpeckers, but a Capercaillie, a Black Woodpecker and a Sparrowhawk were worth of some points too.

After the rally all teams got together in one cottage in Rautjärvi. All teams were happy to the rules of this new rally and even some teams had no possibility to win the rally because of the poor area everyone had seen new places and some better birds too.

In a whole rally total of 7 White-backed Woodpecker (3 new), 23 Grey-headed, 21 Black, 5 Lesser Spotted, 1 Three-toed and 157 Great Spotted Woodpeckers and 5 Capercaillies were seen. 10 Tengmalm’s Owls, 19 Pygmy, 2 Ural and 3 Eagle Owls were heard. A total of 51 species were found even there had been almost no migration at all. Esko Veijalainen and Jussi Valonen won clearly but the biggest surprise was a number of Grey-headed Woodpeckers that Juho and Jukka Könönen and Kari Kärkkäinen had seen – 12. We were 5th.

In Eastern I saw a White-tailed Eagle in Siikalahti. During the next night we went to Tyrjä to listen to owls. We heard 4 Tengmalm’s, an Ural and an Eagle Owl. In Siikalahti we saw 2 Ural Owls but then we got stuck with our car. Finally a tractor pulled us away from the snow at 1 a.m.

During the next day all other birders saw Eagles. We were some hours in Siikalahti but saw nothing. A calling Pheasant was our best observation.

At the end of month the spring was coming slowly. On the last day I saw again a White-tiled Eagle, some Buzzards, Skylarks, Starlings and a Kestrel. At Joutseno Konnunsuo I saw 11 Lapwings and a Canada Goose. At night on the way back to Parikkala I saw an Ural owl and a Tengmalm’s crossing the road.