Easter again in Siipyy

Spring wasn’t getting any steps so it was easy to plan a to west coast in Easter. In the beginning of April there hadn’t been any new migrants but the same Hawk Owl was still present in Tetrisuo and on the 5th day it had been around for 5 months! Finally on the 6th day some “first again” Lapwings and Common Buzzards started to arrive. But still there was a lot of snow on the ground so we weren’t worried that we would miss anything in Parikkala while we are away.

Our ordinary plan was to go to Eurajoki Luvia Säppi with a couple of friends but even on the west coast most shores and bays were still frozen so boats were still on the ground. After some trying we had to give up trying to get there. But with Hanna we had an easy decision to go to Kristiinankaupunki Siipyy where we had been a couple of previous Easters. We had always enjoyed birding in Kristiinankaupunki where seawatching had always been great in good light and in good company.

So on the 6th of April we drove a long way to Kristiinankaupunki and it really was still winter as we didn’t see any birds on the way. Finally we parked to Siipyy and put up our camp and went to sleep.

On the 7th day we woke up before 6 a.m. and were soon climbing to Siipyy bird-tower. Soon there were also Jukka Koskelainen, Sami Jansson and Ilkka Iivonen.

Night had been cold but sea was calm and right away we started to see some migration. Visibility was once again perfect so all the most distant birds were possible to identify.

Most birds were seen between 7 and 9 a.m. but then it came pretty quiet. We continued until 11:20 and during the morning I got even 17 year-ticks. Ticks, better birds and numbers had been Bean, White-fronted and Greylag Geese, Common Shelduck, Tufted Ducks, 1314 Common Eiders, Velvet and 264 Common Scoters, 4 Smews, 30 Red-breasted Mergansers, 41 Red-throated Divers, Grey Heron, 38 Black Guillemots, Razorbill, Black-headed Gulls, 2 Rock Pipits, Fieldfares, Mistle Thrushes, Common Crossbills and Reed Buntings.

During the day we checked some fields and in Härkmeri we saw geese flying over us but there weren’t many present – just Whooper Swans and Greylag Geese and a single Barnacle Goose. Other birds we found were a Common Crane, a Golden Plover, 7 Stock Doves and a couple of Meadow Pipits. In Lillsund we found more geese and there were also 40 Pink-footed Geese with numerous Bean and White-fronted Geese. Also a single Curlew was found. In Karijoki Alakuja we found some hundreds of geese too and there were a couple of Barnacle Geese too.

Then we drove back to Siipyy and slept a little. Then we did a short walk in the forest nearby before went to sleep more.

On the 8th of April all the same birders gathered to the tower and we stayed there until 12:20 p.m. Migration was very good and especially Black-headed Gulls and Whooper Swans were still moving when we stopped but we were too tired to continue as we hadn’t been sleeping very well because of the cold night.

Better birds were 2 Shelducks, 30 Wigeons, 4027 Eiders, 1628 Common Scoters, a Kestrel, 98 Oystercatchers, a Green Sandpiper, 3 Arctic Skuas, a Razorbill, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 3 Stock Doves, a Short-eared owl, a White Wagtail, a Parrot Crossbill and then the best bird of the morning was a migrating Grey Wagtail.

During the day we visited only Härkmeri where we saw 16 Pink-footed Geese, a couple of Grey Herons, a Rough-legged buzzard and a couple of Golden Plovers. Then in the evening we did a 1,5 hour owl-trip and heard in the beginning only very noisy Whooper Swans and Greylag Geese but then finally also an Ural Owl.

On the 9th day the night was extremely cold – even -7 degrees. We woke up early and ate well and then climbed to the tower again at 6:16. Now there were Jukka and Sami again but later also Paavo Sallinen, Keijo Linna and Staffan Blom.

Again there was no wind at all and sea started to freeze and finally there were only some open water scratches. Anyway there were birds migrating over the ice too. We saw for example 227 Mute Swans, 36 Pink-footed Geese, a Shelduck, 9 Pintails, 50 Smews, 2002 Eiders, 11 Grey Herons, a Merlin, a Razorbill, 2 Wood Larks, a Rock Pipit, a Song Thrush, 147 Mistle Thrushes, a Rook, 11 Bramblings, a Lapland Bunting and then the best bird of the day a Two-barred Crossbill. Also 116 Common Crossbills and 220 Bullfinches were good numbers.

During the day we slept well and then visited Härkmeri again but found only 10 Pink-footed Geese and a single Common Snipe.

On the 1oth of April we seawatched together with Jukka and Ilkka and Veikko Forsberg who had arrived already at 5:45. The sea was opening again and during the day all ice had melted.

Migration stopped earlier than any other morning so we packed our car at 11 a.m. and left driving towards home. Others still stayed for a half an hour but there was really nothing moving on the sea anymore. Best observations were 2 Shelducks, a Shoveler couple, a male Pochard, 3 Scaups, 3612 Eiders, 152 Velvet Scoters, 49 Smews, 61 Red-throated Divers, a Black-throated Diver, a Red-necked Grebe, 18 Grey Herons, 2 Ringed Plovers, 4 Arctic Skuas, 2 Caspian Terns, 53 Razorbills, 1765 Black-headed Gulls, a Wood Lark, 3 Rock Pipits and a Dunnock.

On the way back home we stopped briefly in Merikarvia Lankoski where we didn’t see regular Grey Wagtails but a Dipper couple was seen building their nest. In Ulvila we saw a female Marsh Harrier and in Pälkäne we had to stop next to a field where were some geese as our old friend Olavi Kemppainen was watching them. When we were leaving we saw a Woodcock flying over us.

In Rautjärvi Laikko we still saw a Wood Lark and finally we were at home quite early. So in the evening I still visited Siikalahti where swans, geese and cranes were heard and surprisingly I heard also a Moorhen! Spring had arrived!