November

After coming back from Säppi, it was freezing cold in Parikkala. There was no snow but Siikalahti had frozen completely. Luckily the weather was warming up again and after some days the bay was open again.

On the last days of October I saw an adult Golden Eagle, a couple of White-tailed Eagles and Goshawks and some Long-tailed Tits in Siikalahti and a couple of Chaffinches in Kangaskylä.

We had again November bird-race in Parikkala and Rautjärvi area and I started it with some common birds plus 2 Velvet Scoters in Rautalahti and Nuthatches in Kirkonkylä and Kannas. I also managed to twitch a late Hen Harrier in Siikalahti and 3 Barnace Geese in Särkisalmi. On the 2nd day I went to see the last Siberian Jay and saw a Long-tailed Duck on the way in Särkisalmi.

On the 3rd day we birded in Saari and saw a Common and a Velvet Scoter and a Great Crested Grebe in Rautalahti, a flock of 32 Barnacle Geese and som Long-tailed Tits in Akonpohja, 8 Canada Geese in Lahdenpohja, a Sparrowhawk in Tetrisuo and a couple of Smews and a White-tailed Eagle in Pohjanranta. Later we still saw some Great Grey Shrikes, one more Smew and a Great Crested Grebe and some Arctic Redpolls. But the best bird of the day was found in Uukuniemi Suurenjärvenliete where we found a very late Common Snipe. In Särkisalmi we still saw a Black-headed Gull.

On the 4th day I did the winter-bird count again. Altogether I saw 77 Whooper Swans, 22 Mallards, 3 Smews, 211 Goosanders, a Hazel Hen, 20 Black Grouses, 2 Great Crested Grebes, a White-tailed Eagle, a Goshawk, a Rough-legged Buzzard, 25 Common Gulls, a Herring Gull, 10 Rock Doves, heard a Pygmy Owl, a Grey-headed Woodpecker, 2 Black Woodpeckers, 6 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Blackbird, a Fieldfare, a Mistle Thrush, 10 Goldcrests, 35 Blue, 117 Great and 4 Willow Tits, a Nuthatch (a new species for the count), a Treecreeper, 12 Jays, 25 Magpies, 65 Jackdaws, 20 Hooded Crows, 13 Ravens, 2 House and 34 Tree Sparrows, 4 Chaffinches, 37 Greenfinches, 18 Redpolls, an Arctic Redpoll, 19 Bullfinches and 5 Yellowhammers.

On the 5th day I saw a couple of Tufted Ducks and a Long-tailed Duck and heard a Goldfinch in siikalahti bird-tower and in the afternoon I headed back to Siikalahti to twitch a Bewick’s Swan and managed to see also 2 Great White-fronted Geese, a Crested Tit and a flock of 3 migrating Parrot Crossbills.

On the 6th of November I checked southern part of Lake Simpele and found a couple of Great Crested Grebes, a White-tailed Eagle, a Smew and saw a Hazel Hen and some Black Grouses. On the next day I chcked northern part and saw a Long-tailed Duck, a Smew, a couple of Common Scoters, a Great Crested Grebe and the best bird was a late Slavonian Grebe in Mukkosenselkä. Some more Common and Herring Gulls were now seen but no other gulls, except the same Black-headed Gull that was still lingering in Särkisalmi.

On the 8th day there were 9 Barnacle Geese in Särkisalmi and on the 9th day there were already 215 Whooper Swans in Siikalahti. A Bewick’s Swan and a lonely Great White-fronted Goose and some Mallards, Wigeons, Goldeneyes and 2 Tufted Ducks were still there too. In Vartialahti I saw 8 Barnacle Geese and in Särkisalmi 3 Smews. I also managed to twitch a Kittiwake in Saari Akonpohja which was only my second ever in South-Karelia and Parikkala.

On the 10th day I was supposed to start driving to Kirkkonummi early in the morning, but the weather was so bad that I decided to sleep longer. When I finally left I still decided to drive around Siikalahti and found a Hawk Owl in Kaukola. Then I still decided to check Tyrjänkoski if there were any Dippers and that’s why I dipped big time! I got a message that there was a Purple Heron in Kouvola Lappalanjärvi and I started driving there immediately and didn’t stop at all on the way. But once I finally got there I was the first one to miss it! It had just flight behind some islands and even though there were more and more twitchers coming, the bird was not seen anymore.

I drove to Lappalanjärvi also on the next morning with a couple of friends Antti Peuna and Juha Kettunen, but the Purple Heron was never found again. Some birds we saw in Lappalanjärvi were 2 Red-throated Divers, 24 Velvet Scoters, 7 Long-tailed ducks, 4 Tufted Ducks, a Scaup, a Rough-legged Buzzard and a Snow Bunting. We gave up at midday and were quite early back in Helsinki where we headed to Viikki Mölylä with Juha. After some waiting we saw a late Great White Egret in flight. We also saw a couple of Starlings. Then we continued to Kallvik where we easily found a long-staying Turtle Dove which was a year-tick. I still continued to Pikku Huopalahti but didn’t find a late Moorhen there.

Next 2 days I was studying from dawn till dusk but luckily on the 13th day we quit a bit earlier and I visited Lintuvaruste and managed to twitch a Black Redstart that was almost in front of the shop.
On the 14th day I counted 245 Whooper Swans and now there were 2 Bewick’s Swans, 12 Wigeons, 32 Mallards, 6 Tufted Ducks, a Scaup, 3 Long-tailed Ducks and 4 Goldeneyes in Siikalahti too. A couple of Coal Tits and a White-backed Woodpecker were also seen.

On the 15th day I visited Simpele and found a late Song Thrush, but nothing else new was found fo a couple of days even though on the 17th day we checked many places with Miika Soikkeli. Only new birds were an Arctic Redpoll in Saari Tarassiinlahti and a Common Scoter in Siikalahti. Now the count was 257 Whooper Swans.
On the 18th day we went to Savonlinna Punkaharju Hirvikoski to see if there were something arctic migrating as the wind was finally from north-east. It was really cold and windy so we managed to stay on the shore of big Lake Saimaa only for an haour and a half, but we managed to see 2 Black and 1 Red-throated Diver, 4 Velvet Scoters, a White-tailed Eagle and an adult and young Great Black-backed Gull. During the day I drove to Lappeenranta to play and after seeing the same Song Thrush again I stopped in Simpele Kokkolanjoki and saw a Dipper.

On the 19th of November Siikalahti was frozen again, 230 Whooper Swans were keeping a small area open and there were also 43 Mallards, a lonely Wigeon and 2 Tufted Ducks with them. Nezt day there were only 177 Whooper Swans, 29 Mallards, a Wigeon and 2 Goldeneyes and at least 2 swans had frozen death. They had probably been sick or weak birds and now food for White-tailed Eagles and other predators.

On the 21st day I saw the lonely Siberian Jay again, but also a nice male Three-toed Woodpecker. I also saw a Nutcracker in Kangaskylä first time for a long time. On the next days the winter had really started and I saw only a Blackbird in Särkisalmi. On the 24th day we started from Hanna’s hide in Tarvaslampi and then continued with Arttu Valonen to see the Siberian Jay and also the Three-toed Woodpecker. Later we continued to Rautalahti where we saw 2 Canada Geese, a Goshawk and shortly a big passerine in flight which probably was a Skylark, but it was seen too briefly and in bad light. In Moskuunniemi we saw 60 Common and 8 Herring Gulls.

On the 25th day we ringed a Nuthatch in Koitsanlahti and saw also 2 Chaffinches and Arctic Redpolls there. In Mantkanniemi we saw a Velvet Scoter, in Tähtiniemi 10 Black Grouses and then in Kokkolanjoki 3 Dippers, but nothing else even though we checked several places.

The rest of the month was boring and all I saw were some Long-tailed Tits, a White-tailed Eagle, a Chaffinch and on the 30th of November 8 Cormorants in Imatra Vuoksi.

After all I had seen 69 species in Parikkala and Rautjärvi, which was pretty good number as many common species were completely missing.

J.A.