Beginning of 2019

Around Christmas and New Year we were birding in Oman, but on the 6th of January we were back in Finland and the first year-tick was a Hooded Crow in Helsinki-Vantaa airfield. On the way to Parikkala we stopped in Lappeenranta to see an Eagle Owl to second yea-tick and also some Mallards were seen.

On the 7th of January I ticked Rock Doves, Jackdaws, Great Tits, Tree Sparrows, Magpies, Yellowhammers, House Sparrows and a Starling that was still in Kangaskylä. In Kannas I saw Blue Tits, a Blackbird, Greenfinches, a Nuthatch, a White-backed Woodpecker and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. On the next days only new birds were a Raven and then a Common Redpoll.

UrpiainenOn the 10th day I saw a Goshawk flying over health-center and in Imatra Vuoksi I saw Goldeneyes and Goosanders. On the 11th day in Siikalahti I saw Willow Tits, a couple of Arctic Redpolls and a Long-tailed Tit, in Kontiolampi a Hazel Hen flew across the road and in Tyrjänkoski I found a Dipper. In afternoon I still ticked Coal Tits and Jays in Kirkonkylä.

On the 12th day we went birding to Imatra and Lappeenranta. We stopped on the way in Simpele Lahnanen where Bullfinches were calling and a family of Whooper Swans were wintering. In Kangaskoski we saw a Dipper before we continued towards Imatra. While driving in Ruokolahi, we surprisingly saw a female Pheasant crossing the road and a little bit later a Black Grouse flew over the road in Imatra motorway.

Along Vuoksi we saw several Cormorants, in Neitsytniemi we saw a couple of Grey-headed Woodpeckers and Long-tailed Tits. In Mehiläismäki we twitched a Hawfinch and a couple of Fieldfares. In Itä-Siitola we saw a wintering Tufted Duck and in Imatrankoski a couple of Smews. In Mellonlahti we saw a rare wintering bird, a Great Crested Grebe and also 5 Whooper Swans, but even though we tried a lot, we couldn’t find any Little Grebes.

In Joutseno we tried once more to find Marsh Tits without luck and in Lappeenranta we saw a Chaffinch, 6 Teals in Reijola and 3 Starlings in Toikansuo. So we weren’t very lucky in Lappeenranta. In the evening we went to movies.

On the 13th day we went to Siberian Jay forest with Elissa Soikkeli and Pekka Punnonen. While skiing we saw 6 Crested Tits and when on the best forest we found 2 Three-toed Woodpeckers and a Black Woodpecker. Then an amazing flock of 23 Pine Grosbeaks flew over us and while celebrating this unexpected record, we noticed that a lonely Siberian Jay had came to see us too. So a couple of hours trip had been really good!

During the week I saw an Arctic Redpoll in our back-yard and a Chaffinch in Kangaskylä. On the 19th day there were 4 Arctic Redpolls in a flock of 35 Common Redpolls in Tarvaslampi and in Kannas I saw a Treecreeper.

On the 20th of January I had managed to arrange a group-twitch to one feeder in Taipalsaari where was a Siberian Tit! There were surprisingly only 10 twitchers participating but the bird was showing very well and it was my 299th species in South-Karelia!

After the twitch we still visited some places in Lappeenranta and Joutseno but saw only a Goshawk in Kaukas, now 7 Teals in Reijola and on the way back home I saw a Sparrowhawk in Kesola.

On the 26th day was the Garden Twitch and in Tarvaslampi there were 6 Arctic Redpolls in a flock of 50 Common Redpolls. We also tried to ring a Nuthatch in Tiviä without luck. A Black Woodpecker was seen on the way back home.


On Sunday we did a short walk in Kangaskylä in a very cold weather. The same Starling was almost in our garden and surprisingly we found a White-backed Woodpecker in a new place. On the last day of January I visited Siikalahti and saw a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, a White-backed Woodpecker and in Kannas a Chaffinch.

On the first of February I visited Siikalahti where I saw a Grey-headed Woodpecker, a couple of White-backed Woodpeckers and a couple of Long-tailed Tits. The Starling was seen again and in the afternoon I started a long drive towards Kirkkonummi. On the way I stopped in Kangaskoski and saw 5 Whooper Swans, a couple of Dippers and finally also a Little Grebe, In Itä-Siitola I saw a Tufted Duck again and then I tried a couple of different Marsh Tits but still without luck. The same Eagle Owl was seen again in Lappeenranta.

On the 2nd day Matias Castrén picked me up in Kirkkonummi and together with Matias, Markus Lampinen and Jari Laitasalo we started driving towards Hanko and traditional Bongariliitto weekend. We did some birding in Tammisaari but saw only a Treecreeper and Long-tailed Tits. In Hanko we managed to twitch a Lapland Bunting and a couple of Woodpigeons and in very windy conditions we saw also some Chaffinches a Goshawk and a Sparrowhawk in Hanko centrum.

From the harbors we found Tufted Ducks, a Coot, Mute Swans, Common, Herring and Black-headed Gulls, Long-tailed Ducks, a White-tailed Eagle and a male Red-breasted Merganser. The weather was so bad that nothing else was found and then it was time to drive to Tvärminne where we were having a meeting until 2 a.m.

On the 3rd day we had planned to do more birding but the weather was even worse. We visited only Neljäntuulentupa where we saw some same species as on the previous day and a Fieldfare. After a stop in Kirkkonummi, I continued to twitch a Dunnock in Helsinki Lauttasaari and a Song Thrush in Metsälä. They were both month-ticks and Song Thrush I ave seen now every month. Then I drove back to Parikkala in really bad driving conditions.

During the week I saw only some Waxwings in Kangaskylä. On Sunday the 10th I finally managed to twitch a Marsh Tit in Joutseno. Stil I didn’t see any of them but heard one singing several times. With Sampsa Cairenius we visited also Vuoksi where we saw 5 Dippers in Mellonlahti, a Little Grebe, a Whooper Swan, 12 Cormorants and an Arctic Redpoll in Kupari. The rest of the day I was participating local rarity-committee meeting.

On the 14th day I saw once again the Starling in Kangaskylä, a Black Grouse and a White-backed Woodpecker in Siikalahti and then a flock of 23 Goldfinches in Kangaskylä. On the 16th day I saw 4 Goldeneyes and a Goosander in Kokkolanjoki and on the next day these same birds again but also 4 Dippers.

On the 23rd of February I made the winter-bird count again: a Black Grouse, 7 Rock Doves, a Grey-headed Woodpecker, 3 Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, 23 Blue, 78 Great, 2 Willow and a Crested Tit, 5 Jays, 10 Magpies, 35 Jackdaws, 15 Hooded Crows, 2 Ravens, 10 House Sparrows, 54 Tree Sparrows, 21 Greenfinches, 23 Common Redpolls, 2 Arctic Redpolls, 6 Bullfinches and 2 Yellowhammers.

On the 24th day we visited Siberian Jay again and managed to see it briefly while it was chasing a Pygmy Owl that was calling like in autumn. We also heard a couple of drumming Three-toed Woodpeckers and I heard one more calling. Other birds seen were just tits and Jays. On the way back we saw a Black Woodpecker and the Starling was again seen in Kangaskylä.


Luminen metsä

Winter birding and dipping

On the 1st of December I had to go birding even though I didnät expect to find any winter-ticks in Parikkala. In Koitsanlahti I saw a Nuthatch and a Velvet Scoter and the same Great Crested Grebe was seen from 2 places I visited. 9 Common Gulls were still flying around Lake Simpele and Mallards were seen in two places, but Whooper Swans only in Härskiinmutka. In Tyrjä I saw a Dipper and in Soininmäki a Siberian Jay, a Goldcrest and several Crested Tits. In Tarvaspohj I saw a Grey-headed Woodpecker and in Särkisalmi a Chaffinch and a Blackbird. When I counted that I had seen 29 species I tried pretty hard to find the 30th species of the day but I couldn’t find anything new. Even Rock Doves were missing. So the winter had started as I had expected – it was time to hang binoculars tothe wall for several months.

On the 2nd day I twitched a Barnacle Goose in Imatra as a South-Karelia winter-tick in Imatra Vuoksi. I also saw a Little Grebe there and a Scaup in Immalanjärvi. Then I tried to twitch a Marsh Tit as a year-tick in Joutseno Kivisaari but saw only a huge flock of Yellowhammers with plenty of Chaffinches and a Brambling. In Lappeenranta Luukkaansalmi I still saw 3 Cormorants and a flock of 24 Teals.

On the 3rd day a Black-headed Gull was again in Särkisalmi and on the next day Jouko Rantanen found a Pochard in Muukkosenselkä. The gull was in Särkisalmi still on a couple of next days and Pochard stayed until the whole lake got frozen before mid December.

On the Independence Day we went to see the Siberian Jay again and also saw a couple of Black and 3 Grey-headed Woodpeckers. Also a Blackbird and an Arctic Redpoll were seen and then we accidentally found a carcass where was a young Golden Eagle and also a Goshawk nearby.

On the 7th of December we went to twitch to Helsinki with Sampsa Cairenius. There had been the same Turtle Dove that I had seen on November and also a King Eider, but even though we tried for whole morning we couldn’t find either of the birds. And actually they were never seen again. Only better bird we saw were 2 Scaups in Kallvik. We also tried to see a Little Grebe and then a Black Swan in Kouvola on the way back but we couldn’t find them either. So it was like a one day cut of my whole twitching year…

On the 8th day we counted even 70 Chaffinches on one flock in Koitsanlahti and on the 11th day I saw the Pochard last time.

On the 15th day I tried again to twitch a Marsh Tit in Kivisaari but saw only a Merlin chasing the flock of Yellowhammers and Chaffinches. On the way back to Parikkala, I tried to find another Marsh Tit in Joutseno Kirkonkylä, but again found only a Sparrowhawk, a Goshawk and 2 Coal Tits.

On the 16th day we did an hour walk in Kangaskylä and surprisingly found several better birds. A Grey-headed Woodpecker was calling in our own back-yard, a Starling was found on one feeder, there was a Coal Tit and a Nuthatch in a big flock of tits and on another flock there was a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Also a Goshawk was seen flying over us and 8 House Sparrows were counted in a flock of Tree Sparrows. Then on the next day I counted even 44 Rock Doves which is the biggest flock ever in Parikkala.

Days before Christmas holiday were busy and the winter had arrived so there was no reason to do much birding. On the 22nd of December I did the winter-bird count again. I saw surprisingly a Mallard in a small ditch that was still open, a Hazel Hen, 4 Rock Doves, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, the best birds for a long time – 2 Great Grey Owls, 3 Long-tailed Tits, 11 Blue Tits, 93 Great Tits, a Crested Tit, a Jay, 3 Magpies, 65 Jackdaws, 19 Hooded Crows, 4 House and 44 Tree Sparrows, 13 Greenfinches, 55 Common Redpolls, an Arctic Redpoll and a Bullfinch. So there weren’t many birds in cold and quite windy weather but Great Grey Owl was a new species to count.



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.


Autumn-holiday in Säppi again

After 5 days in Siikajoki Tauvo I just washed some clothes and on the next day, Friday the 19th of October, started Hanna’s holiday and at midday we started to drive towards Pori.

We stopped only once and still we were in Kuuminainen only 15 minutes before our boat left towards Säppi. Matti and Mimosa Mäkelä, Ari Pitkälä, Tuomas Ketonen, Niklas Paulaniemi and Lassi Kangasmäki were also packing their stuff to the boat and soon we were on the sea.

30 minutes later we were in Säppi where some of the birders who had already been on the island for some days came to help us to carry our stuff to the station. Soon we were joining Pettri Mäkelä, Markus Lampinen, Sebastian Andrejeff, Valtteri Salonen and Paavo Sallinen on the log.

Last two days had been quiet but at least there were now more birders than maybe ever!

On the 20th of October we woke up early and tired as night had been quite noisy. Markus and Hanna left to mist-nets and most of the rest of us headed to Prakala to routine seawatch.

When the sun was rising we started to count all the migrating birds and kept on counting for 2 hours like every morning. The quality of migration was good even though the numbers weren’t very big, so some stayed in Prakala even longer. So altogether we saw 49 Purple Sandpipers, 31 Razorbills, 15 Black Guillemots, flocks of Long-tailed Ducks, Common Scoters and Velvet Scoters, some Common Eiders, one mixed flock with some Scaups, a couple of Black and Red-throated Divers and a Great Crested and a Red-necked Grebe.

Just before the count was over we got a message that Markus and Hanna had seen and heard a Hume’s Leaf Warbler in Peräkulma where they were ringing. It was fa, but anyway some of us hurried there. Markus and Hanna were busy as they had mist-nets full of Redpolls and unfortunately Hume’s Leaf Warbler was already long gone and after some searching we walked back to the station.

After we had eaten something we left to walk around the island with almost everyone, except the ringers. There weren’t many birds in the island but again the quality was good as we saw 2 Jack Snipes, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a White-backed Woodpecker, a migrating Rock Pipit, 3 Twites and of course quite a good number of other more common birds.

When we were in Peräkulma, Markus and Hanna were still ringing and during the day they ringed more than 200 birds. Ari was also ringing in Prakala and also from the station’s feeder and he got 60 birds, so the daily sigma was very good.

While we were talking with Markus and Hanna, Petteri asked if they had also bunting’s “tick” –calls on the player as we had heard at least Little Bunting singing from the player. But then we saw a small passerine flying over us calling and it landed to a perch next to us. I managed to get it to my scope soon and it was a Little Bunting!

I hurried to put my mp3-player close to the mist-net, but then others already saw the bunting flying towards another net and there it was hanging!

After we had taken enough picture of Little Bunting, some decided to continue straight to the station but with Tuomas, Sebastian and Niklas we kept on towards Kräveli. From the sea-buckthorn bushes we found several Blackcaps and some saw also a late Garden Warbler.

When we were on the tip of Kräveli with Tuomas and waited for Sebastian and Niklas, we heard a Hume’s Leaf Warbler calling behind us. Soon we heard more calls but almost too clearly. And we found Sebastian and Niklas playing Hume’s Leaf Warbler. But the first calls had been a real thing and that was why they were now playing! Sebastian had managed even to record some calls.

Luckily I soon heard it calling again and together with Tuomas we hurried after the bird that seemed to follow a flock of tits that were moving quickly further from us. After some chasing I managed to see the bird a couple of times very briefly and the last views were seen in flight together with Tuomas.

I have never really liked the way how spontaneous-ticks are being counted in Finland but in most used rules I got my 300th spontaneous-tick!

In the evening we had sauna and some were up until very late even though most of them had to leave quite early on the next morning beacuse of there was a storm coming later during the day.

On the 21nd of October we headed very early to open mist-nets with Hanna. Weather was bad so there weren’t many birds coming. Markus, Valtteri, Niklas, Lassi and Paavo left early when the wind wasn’t too bad yet, so there weren’t so many birders anymore.

Young Bar-tailed Godwit was still around but nothing else really was seen during the day. Also on mist-nets we caught only common species like Goldcrest, Treecreepers, Wrens, different kind of tits, a couple of Bullfinches, a Brambling and a European Robin.

On the 22nd day it was still bad weather and quiet on mist-nets. So after a couple of hours I joined the rest that had quit the morning sea-watch and we walked around the island. We saw one migrating young Hen Harrier, even 11 Blackcaps and finally I saw also one Garden Warbler. Hanna ringed only 17 birds and controlled 4.

On the 23rd day Hanna went alone to mist-nets and soon the rest of us were sea-watching. Weather was already better and we also saw more birds. The best bird was a Short-eared Owl that came from the sea and landed to Prakala. Also a male Hen Harrier, 3 Bean Geese, 2 Red-necked Grebes, 3 Merlins, 7 Purple Sandpipers, 5 Razorbills, a Rock Pipit and a couple of Rooks were seen too.

The walk around the island produced 9 Blackcaps and even 3 Garden Warblers but nothing better. Hanna had also better day on mist-nets and she ringed more than 100 birds. Best bird was a Lesser Redpoll but also 36 Long-tailed Tits, 41 Goldcrests, 17 Treecreepers, a Blackcap and so on were ringed.

In the afternoon Petteri, Mimosa, Matti, Sebastian and Tuomas left, but Pekka and Anja Rintamäki arrived, so there were only 5 of us in the island anymore. While having the log we were joking that we should find something so rare that Petteri should come back. When Petteri sent a message that he had forgotten bag full of food to the station, we started to choose what would be the species…

On the 24th of October the weather forecast looked good so Hanna and Ari left both to Peräkulma. Pekka and Anja opened the mist-nets by the feeder so I had to go to sea-watching alone. Wind was stronger than it was supposed to be and it was pretty cold – it felt like autumn. And sea was very quiet and soon Hanna sent a message that also mist-nets were hanging quite empty.

I saw a Red-throated Diver, a Red-necked Grebe and a Purple Sandpiper. After the sea-watch I headed to the station to eat as I planned to walk around the whole island. But then I got a message from Hanna where she asked: “Are there any other species like this than a Yellowhammer? This is small!”. But the picture than she had sent didn’t show up. The internet-connection was down. So I called to Hanna (and luckily phones were now working in this island of mysterious connections) and asked them to bag this bird until I can see the picture. I told her that it could be “rutila” – a Chestnut Bunting! Then I told her to send the picture also to our Säppi WhatsApp-group.

I ate the rest of my noodles very quickly and ran towards the harbor where usually was better connection. When the picture finally downloaded Jani Vastamäki had already sent a message: “rutila?”. And the bird in the picture really looked like one! So I sent: I think it is Chestnut Bunting”.

I called to Hanna again and we decided that we would walk to Peräkulma to see the bird. Hanna and Ari still had other nets open and at least a couple of birds to ring. So I helped Pekka and Anja to close their mist-nets and soon we were hurrying towards Peräkulma.

It was a long walk, at least to Pekka who had broken his femur a couple of times in last a couple of years very badly. But finally we were there and soon I took the bird from the bag and it really was a young Chestnut Bunting!

After taking some pictures, I helped Ari to close the last mist-nets and then we planned to walk to the station to take some more measurements of the bird. There had been some discussion about the identification of the bird in internet where the first picture had already been spreading, so we wanted to make everything sure. But of course I had also handled some Yellow-breasted Buntings in my youth and this had nothing to do with it.

This bird was very small, it had nice chestnut-colored rump, almost completely dark tail with only hint of white on the outer tail-feathers. The bill was plain grey, but the base of the lower bill was pink and on the shoulders it had weird greenish tone. It really was the second Chestnut Bunting for Finland!

Hanna had seen and heard the bird flying to a juniper next to one of the mist-nets. It had sounded something between Yellowhammer and Rustic or Little Bunting, so she had decided to push the bird to the mist-net. Luckily she had succeed and while she was handling the bird, she noticed that it was small, it had streaky but yellow breast, the tail-feathers were strangely pointed and the cap looked also strange. She had first thought if Yellowhammer could in some strange plumage look like this, but then she had carried the bird to Ari who had been sea-watching nearby. Ari had mentioned Yellow-breasted Bunting but anyway they started to search if there were better options in old Svensson’s book. But as there was nothing easily found, Hanna sent a message to Janne.

While we had been photographing the bird we heard that first boats were being booked and twitchers have already begun their trip towards Säppi. Luckily father Salokangas had agreed to substitute Tommi, who was on holiday.

We were soon on the station and some more measurements were taken and then we started to plan where to release the bird. It was too long walk back to Peräkulma where was also very windy now. Prakala would have been optimal place for twitching but it was also extremely windy. So we decided to release the bird to an open area next to the harbor where sun was shining and was no wind at all. And soon Chestnut Bunting flew to a small bush where was also at least one Wren.

Then we decided to spread around the open area so we could see if the bird decided to move somewhere else. But we didn’t see anything moving and 40 minutes later the first twitchers arrived and Petteri and Matti were amongst them.

After some waiting we still couldn’t see any birds so a few twitchers walked through the open area and the bird wasn’t found. Hanna had heard something ticking once from the forest behind her and she went to see if there was something. And after some searching she flushed the bird from a small open area next to path. Hanna called me, but I couldn’t hear a thing. Then she sent a message to WhatsApp -group and soon Petteri organized the twitchers to walk slowly towards Hanna.

And soon all twitchers were behind a small rock-fence and saw Hanna sitting in the middle of the small open area and Chestnut Bunting was feeding just in front of her.

Here the bunting stayed and soon the second wave of twitchers arrived and Petteri and the first group had to leave. Petteri had his forgotten bag with him.

I walked with the second group to see the bird while Hanna still stayed with the bird. There were many friends and familiar faces again and after all the bird stayed in the same spot until all 4 groups of twitchers had seen the bird and left the island. It was feeding all the time and we still saw it at 5:27 p.m. when it flew behind a small hill and didn’t come back anymore.

In the evening a Dipper was found from the harbor by twitchers and we of course ticked this geed Säppi-tick. Later our neighbor had warmed up sauna and the atmosphere was great on the log!

On the 25th of October Hanna went to Peräkulma, Ari opened mist-nets in Prakala and Pekka and Anja on the feeder. I checked the bunting place before the sea-watch but couldn’t see it. After some sea-watching the first group of twitchers arrived and Ari kept on sea-watching while I walked to the bunting-place with the group and told everything that could help finding the bird. And of course my advice was just to wait for the bird to arrive to the familiar spot. Then I went back to sea-watching.

There were some Long-tailed Ducks, Common and Velvet Scoters, a couple of Black and a Red-throated Divers, a Black Guillemot and a Purple Sandpiper seen on the sea-watch and just before 9 a.m. we got a message that the bunting had arrived to the same place again.

So soon there was again a new boat full of twitchers coming but not all twitchers left. Some had made an agreement to stay on the island until 3 p.m. So father Salokangas would’ve to make at least one extra trip after bringing all the twitchers.

The bird stayed on the same place again almost all the time. A few times it visited rocky area and the forest but always came back to feed along the path.

After the sea-watch we walked around most of the island with Mika Teivonen and Jarmo Koistinen who were staying whole day on the island. But all we could find was one Garden Warbler.

Once we came back to bunting place the last group of twitchers had just arrived. It started to rain very hard, so I went to get more clothes. After 20 minutes I walked to the bunting place and found frustrated twitchers. The bird had walked behind some rocks just one minute before they had arrived but it had never come back.

Sooni it started to rain again and also wind was getting stronger all the time. And soon Salokangas was coming back again, so we decided that only those twitchers left, who had already seen the bird. Soon twitchers started to walk more around the area but the bird wasn’t found anymore. It had probably been feeding enough and when the weather had changed dramatically, it had decided to go somewhere to sleep.

At 4:30 p.m. the last twitchers left empty-handed and even though we still checked the bunting place in the evening and several times during the next days, it was never seen again.

On the 26th of October the weather was still colder. I went to help Hanna to put up the mist-nets but then walked to the other side of the island to sea-watch. It was very quiet on the both sides of the island.

During the day we walked around the whole island with Ari and saw a Garden Warbler and 6 Blackcaps, a Dipper again and a few Purple Sandpipers. The bird of the day was after all a Waxwing that Pekka caught by the feeder.

In the evening we saw one more Purple Sandpiper in Präälä with Hanna. In the evening we had sauna again.

The 27th day was almost similar to the previous one but there were even less birds. Only Hooded Crows were migrating, 436 altogether with one Rook on the flocks. During the walk around the island we saw a Goshawk, a Merlin, a Common Snipe and a Parrot Crossbill. Long-tailed Tits and Common Redpolls raised the ringing sigma over 50 birds and also a Blackcap and a Dunnock were caught.

On the 28th day I went to mist-nets with Hanna, Pekka and Anja were by the feeder and Ari in Prakala. It was very quiet! We caught a couple of flocks of Long-tailed Tits. I walked around Hanhisto and until Eteläkari, but saw only a Song Thrush and a Wren.

The wind was very strong so we started to take off the mist-nets early. At 10:30 a.m. we took the last ones off and walked to the station where we cleaned the building and packed everything.

We had already carried our stuff to the harbor when Ari got a phone-call that some strange sea-bird had been seen in Pori flying towards Säppi. We were soon scanning to the sea but the visibility was extremely poor. So we couldn’t find anything and soon Tommi Salokangas arrived to pick us up.

After 30 minutes we were in Kuuminainen, we packed our car and said goodbye to Pekka, Anja and Ari and started a long way back to Parikkala.

It had once again been amazing autumn-holiday in Säppi! One single bird can save the whole autumn! I had planned to go to Corvo, Azores for whole autumn, but even though I tried whole summer to get an accommodation there but it was so difficult that I gave up with the idea at least when I bought new binoculars. Of course then it was the best autumn ever on Corvo… But after Hume’s Leaf Warbler, my 300th spontaneous bird in Finland and Chestnut Bunting, my whole autumn had been saved. And I had also got my first WP-tick of the year. So after all we had really had an amazing autumn-trip again!


Autumn-holiday in Tauvo

On Saturday the 13th of October I was playing a rinkball tournament in Lappeenranta but our games ended (too) early. So I drove back to Parikkala, left my huge gear-bag and got food from local restaurant and started to drive towards Siikajoki.

It was a long drive but finally I was in Tauvo Hietapakka from where I carried my stuff to the ringing-station where Pirkka and two of his children Iina and Veikka were already playing Tengmalm’s Owl tape.

I was very tired and pretty soon I went to sleep.

On the 14th of October we started to check mist-nets before the sun was rising. A Redwing, 7r+2c Blue Tits, 45r+4c Great Tits, 2r+3c Willow Tits, a Greenfinch, 31 Redpolls and 9 Arctic Redpolls were caught during the day.

I also saw 19 Black Grouses, heard a Gold Finch and a couple of flocks of Parrot Crossbills and 2 Tree Sparrows were visiting the feeder briefly.

In the afternoon we planned to walk to Ulkonokka but water was so high that we soon turned back. Only 105 Whooper and 7 Mute Swans, a White-tailed Eagle and a Merlin were seen.

In the evening we played Tengmalm’s Owl tape again and one bird was caught and ringed.

On the 15th day we started with the same Tengmalm’s Owl that was again on the mist-net. Other birds were a Blackcap, 25 Long-tailed Tits, 5 Blue Tits, a Coal Tit, control Crested Tit, 5r+1c Willow Tit and the control had a Russian ring, a Jay, controlled Redpoll. an Arctic Redpoll and a Bullfinch.

The most surprising record was a Wild Boar that I saw behind the furthest mist-nets. I heard a branch cracking behind me and realized that there was a Wild Boar maybe 12 meters from me! I managed to take a couple of pictures of the animal, but it was behind very thick bushes, so it can hardly be seen in the pictures. But I have no idea if there has ever been a Wild Boar anywhere near ever!

A Grey-headed Woodpecker was heard and seen briefly and a Hazel Hen was whistling nearby.

The 16th of October started well when there were 2 Mistle Thrushes in raptor mist-net. I also saw an “acrocephalus” warbler which was probably a Reed Warbler, but it was in bad light and views were too brief.

Other birds caught were 1r+1c Robin, 18 Long-tailed Tits, 13r+5c Blue Tits which one had been ringed in Uppsala Sweden, even 82r+22 Great Tits (surprisingly many were adults), 3r+2c Willow Tits, a year-tick Siberian Tit, a Treecreeper, 2 Redpolls, an Arctic Redpoll, a Bullfinch and 2 Yellowhammers.

From the tower I saw a Black-throated Diver and a Red-necked Grebe migrating, 5 Long-tailed Ducks and so on. A Goshawk was flying over Ulkonokka. In the evening we caught another Tengmalm’s Owl.

On the 17th of October we caught a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, a Song Thrush, 1r+5c Long-tailed Tits, 7r+3c Blue Tits, 70r+30c Great Tits, 1r+3c Willow Tits, another Siberian Tit, 9 Redpolls, 8 Arctic Redpolls and 2 Bullfinches.

During the day I walked around whole Ulkonokka and it was a tough job! The reeds and bushes have grown so thick that it was difficult to find the shore! And it was also raining all the time! I found 10 Mute Swans , 12 Common Scoters, a Velvet Scoter, 2 Great Crested Grebes, a Grey Plover, a Jack Snipe, 12 Black-headed Gulls and 40 Snow Buntings.

On the 18th day the rain stopped just before the dawn but birds weren’t moving in wet bushes. We caught only 3 Robins, 3 Blue Tits, 13r+14c Great Tits, 3r+3c Willow Tits, one more Siberian Tit, 2 Greenfinches, 72 Redpolls and 30 Arctic Redpolls.

One or two Grey-headed Woodpeckers visited the station back-yard but they didn’t hit the mist-nets. In the afternoon we cleaned the station buildings, took off the mist-nets and left driving back to home.


Autumn in Parikkala

On the 15th of September autumn started officially when a Barnacle Goose was flying around Siikalahti. Also a mixed flock of Taiga and Tundra Bean Geese was seen and other better birds were a Merlin, a couple of Red-throated Pipits and Bluethroats, 13 Coal Tits, 2 Rustic Buntings, and a Dunlin. In Kannas we saw a couple of Eurasian Nuthatches, in Vartialahti a Common Scoter and 2 Great White Egrets like in Siikalahti too and in Kullinsuo we saw a couple of Hen Harriers.

On the 16th day there was a Grey Heron with Great White Egrets, already 70 Barnacle Geese, 6 Marsh, 4 Hen Harriers and 2 too distant Pallid Harrier candidates, 3 Hobbies, 3 Red-throated Pipits, a Bluethroat, a Blackcap, a Rustic Bunting and so on.

We also tried to twitch a Mandarin Duck in Savonlinna with Harri Partanen and Elissa Soikkeli but of course this was one of the days it was not found at all. Only bird seen was a Nutcracker in Haapasalmi.

On the 17th day I saw the first flock of Waxwings and a couple of flocks of Brent Geese. On the 18th day I finally saw a young Moorhen that had been heard several times during a couple of weeks but had stayed unidentified. Still 665 Cranes arrived to roost to Siikalahti with Great White Egrets and singles of Grey Heron and Great Bittern.

On the 19th day I saw a Yellow Wagtail in Kangaskylä and on the next day I counted the record number of Rock Doves ever in Parikkala, 40 birds.

I visited Siikalahti every day at least on my lunch-hour but the birds were just the same on the next few days. Then on Saturday I was running a half-marathon in Joutseno and it took some time from birding. Actually too much time as I am not in good shape at all…

On the 23rd of September I saw 10 Bewick’s Swans, a small flock of migrating Brent Geese, 21 Great White Egrets, a Honey Buzzard, a couple of Hobbies, a young Peregrine, a late Wood Sandpiper, a Red-throated Pipit, 20 Coal Tits and so on.

On the 24th day I saw a couple of Lapland Buntings and heard the Moorhen again. It was still very difficult to identify from the voices as there were several Water Rails calling and at least one of them was calling very weirdly and also a noisy family of Otters was living in the same reedbed.

On the 25th day the first 2 Rough-legged Buzzards were seen and even 13 Great White Egrets, a late Sedge Warbler and even later Wood Sandpiper were also seen. Then next days were really quiet, only the last Swallows of the autumn were seen.

On the 29th day we had a traditional Siikalahti-day with local birdwatching club. I stayed in Siikalahti for whole daylight and counted 1500 local and 7000 migrating Barnacle Geese, 600 migrating Wigeons with some Pintails and Shovelers. Also a Pochard and a Scaup were seen. A flock of 21 Cormorants, 8 to 10 Great White Egrets, 2 Grey Herons, a young Marsh Harrier, 3 Hen Harriers, 6 Common and 7 Rough-legged Buzzards, a Peregrine, a Moorhen, 2 Water Rails, only 5 Cranes, 3 Golden Plovers, a Ruff that was flying around with a Dunlin, 100 Waxwings, 14 Mistle Thrushes 12 Coal Tits, 4 Great Grey Shrikes and so on – altogether 76 species were seen.

On the 30th of September we saw a possible Cackling Goose in Saari Jyrkilä but it was too distant and for sure not a hutchinsii or minima – so probably some kind of hybrid? In Akonpohja and Kanavalampi we saw a single Great White Egrets, only about 10 000 Barnacle Geese were seen and finally some White-fronted Geese too. In Tarassiinlahti we saw a Peregrine and in two places altogether 8 Rock Doves.

On the first of October I headed early to Siikalahti and it was worthy as I saw not only Great White Egrets but also a Bittern to October-ticks. In Kangaskylä I saw a Nutcracker and later in the afternoon we went to check an injured Goshawk to Kirkonkylä and saw also at least one Nuthatch there.

On the 2nd of October after work I hurried to Rautalahti Muukkosenselkä to twitch a Gannet, but the founder had lost the bird while changing place. So I spent the rest of the day searching for it and checked every possible corner of Lake Simpele but saw only some Black Grouses and 5 Cormorants. Late in the evening I still visited Siikalahti and heard a Moorhen, 2 Water Rails and saw a single Crane to arrive roosting with 9 Great White Egrets.

On the 3rd day I saw 7 Long-tailed Ducks in Muukkosenselkä. During the day geese were migrating, but I was working and in the afternoon I had to drive to Imatra. Geese still kept on going whole night, but on the next day the weather had changed again and early in the morning Siikalahti was frozen around the dam-road. Luckily some Great White Egrets were still there so it was not yet time to give up hope to find something better.

On the 6th day we were in Siikalahti until midday without any better birds and then headed to Saari with Miika and Elissa Soikkeli. In Akanvaara Tetrisuo we found immediately a Shore Lark and also 2 Stock Doves, a late Northern Wheatear, a Linnet and Skylarks and so on. Only about 7000 geese were found around Saari and only other birds to mention were 3 Golden Plovers and 2 Ruffs.

On the 7th day I spent 9 hours in Siikalahti and saw a Bewick’s Swan. about 12 000 migrating Barnacle Geese, 1771 Brent Geese, 8 Great White Egrets, 4 White-tailed Eagles, a young Golden Eagle, 31 Rough-legged Buzzards, a Kestrel, a Merlin, a Peregrine and heard 3 Water Rails.

8th of October I saw 6 to 9 Great White Egrets and on the 10th day flocks of 50 Brent Geese and Long-tailed Ducks. In the evening we tried to catch Tengmalm’s Owls in Tarvaslampi, but only one bird was heard. On the 11th day Hanna color-ringed 2 Nuthatches in Likolampi and on the 12th day there were again even 11 Great White Egrets and 2 Rough-legged Buzzards in Siikalahti. On the 13th day a late Yellow Wagtail was seen and heard migrating over dam-road – it sounded and looked strange, so it was probably some eastern origin? In the afternoon my long-waited holiday finally started!