Winter – or something like that

On the 1st of December we started winter-birding in Joutseno with Sampsa Cairenius. We headed first to Pätilä fields and almost the first bird we found was a Snow Bunting that was flying on the sky. But a Great Grey Shrike attacked it right away and chased it away. It’s not easy to be a rare bird in snowy Finland while everyone is trying to eat you… Other birds we found were some Chaffinches, a Goldfinch, a Black Grouse and in other places in Joutseno we still saw a White-backed Woodpecker, 4 Long-tailed Tits, a White-tailed Eagle and a young Common Gull.

In Lappeenranta we saw a Goshawk in Laihia and an Arctic Redpoll in Leiri. Then we headed to Toikansuo where we found a Robin on the famous ditch. We still saw a couple of Blackbirds before I had to go to play rinkball match.

On the 2nd of December there were still 23 Whooper Swans and 19 Mallards in Vartialahti and in Muttelinmäki I found a Pygmy Owl that was hunting in the middle of the day. On the 3rd day a White-tailed Eagle and a Blackbird were seen in Kangaskylä and a young Herring Gull was the only bird on the freezing lake. And on the next day there were also 4 Common Gulls.

On the Independence Day, 6th of December I went birding to forest and it started promising as I saw 3 Capercaillies on the way. A couple of Siberian Jays were found and also a Tree-toed Woodpecker, some Goldcrests, Coal and Willow Tits, a Treecreeper and an Arctic Redpoll that was in a Common Redpoll flock.

On the 8th day we visited Siberian Jays together with Hanna, Elissa and Miika and found 3 birds. We saw again 2 Capercaillies but also a couple of Crested Tits, a Coal Tit and 7 Common Crossbills. In Tarvaslampi I heard a Grey Woodpecker.

On the 9th day 10 Mallards and 42 Goosanders were in Vartialahti and the same Pygmy Owl was again in Muttelinmäki and on the 10th day “asiatica” Nuthatch was in the same place. In Kirkonkylä I saw 2 “europaea” Nuthatches and a Great Grey Shrike flew over me. On the 11th day a lonely White-tailed Eagle was on completely frozen lake and on the next day I saw a flock of Waxwings in Kangaskylä.

On the 20th day a couple of Mallards and a Gre-headed Woodpecker were seen in Tyrjä and 13 Black Grouses in Siikalahti.

On the 21st of December I did a winterbird count in windy weather, but it was the only day I could do it. I saw altogether 32 Black Grouses, 3 Rock Pigeons, 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 50 Blu, 60 Great and 2 Willow Tits, “asiatica” Nuthatch, 3 Jays, 7 Magpies, 10 Jackdaws, 18 Hooded Crows, 4 Ravens, 22 Tree Sparrows, 33 Greenfinches, 55 Redpolls, an Arctic Redpoll, 4 Bullfinches and 55 Yellowhammers and there was a whitish female-bird in the flock that looked like a Pine Bunting, but I really didn’t see it well enough and can’t say if it was a hybrid or just a pale Yellowhammer.

The winter-holiday was spent in Indonesia Bali..

On the 6th of January 2020 we landed to Helsinki-Vantaa airport to autumn-like landscape and weather. The first year-ticks were Hooded Crow and Rock Dove. On the parking place we saw a Mapie and a Great Spotted Woodpecker and then soon while driving Great Tits, Jackdaws and Fieldfares. In Porvoo I saw a family of Whooper Swans, in Kotka we saw a White-tailed Eagle,in Hamina some Ravens and in Luumäki a Jay. Only stop was made in Lappeenranta Toikansuo where we checked the ditch and found a Wren, a Robin, a Goldcrest and Mallards.

On the 7th of January I went to see Siberian Jays and saw also a Hazel Hen and a couple of Common Crossbills. In Moskuunniemi I saw Blue Tits, Redpolls and Siskins. On the 8th day the “asiatica” Nuthatch was still in Muttelinmäki and in Siikalahti I saw a Great Grey Shrike and in Kannas a White-backed Woodpecker and Tree Sparrows. On the 9th day in Kangaskylä I saw Greenfinches and House Sparrows and in Rautjärvi Simpele Kokkolanjoki a Dipper.

On the 10th day in Siikalahti I saw a Grey-headed Woodpecker and a White-backed Woodpecker was already drumming! Willow Tit was a year-tick and also a Great Grey Shrike was seen again. In Vartialahti I saw a Long-tailed Tit, in Kannas some Yellowhammers and in Tiviä another Pygmy Owl. In the evening I made a stop in Imatra Kupari where in almost complete darkness I still saw Cormorants and Goldeneyes.

On the 11th day we participated White-backed Woodpecker ringing-day but unfortunately in a place where were no White-backed Woodpeckers. We ringed a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Blue Tit, otherwise out place was boring, just some Bullfinches and Siskins were seen. So we stopped early and went to say hello to Siberian Jays and saw also a Black Woodpecker and a couple of new Great Grey Shrikes on the way.

On the 12th day while driving over Kokkolanjoki I saw 12 Whooper Swans. In Imatra Vuoksi Itä-Siitola I saw Goldeneyes, Goosanders and Cormorants and also a young Common Gull. In Imatrankoski I saw a female Smew in in Kyyrönkoski a Dipper. I continued to Joutseno along the border and saw a Great Grey Shrike in Kuurmanpohja and then surprisingly a male Pheasant in Suokumaa. In Ravattila I saw 20 Black Grouses and then I continued to Lappeenranta where in Luukkaansalmi I saw another young Common Gull, a Grey Heron and some Goosanders. In Tirilä I still saw 4 Waxwings before I had to go to play again. In the vening I still twitched an Eagle Owl in its ordinary place.

On the 13th day a flock of 300 Yellowhammers was in Siikalahti but there was nothing with them. On the 14th I went to Haikanniemi where still was some open water! I saw a young Herring Gull but nothing else on the lake, just 2 Black Grouses we on the trees. A couple of laters I visited the place again as it was the latest day that there had ever been open water in Lake Simpele. The Herring Gull was still there.
On the 17th of January we drove to Oulu where I met both my brothers. So during the weekend we went to play rinkball with Riku and for the first time in maybe 20 years we were playing on the same side. We also went to Dream Theater concert to Teatria and then on Sunday the 19th we did some birding with Pirkka. Best birds were twitches – a Siberian Tit in Hietasaari and a couple of Glaucous Gulls in Pateniemi.

It was again very warm so almost all snow had melt, but still it was a surprise when I found 15 Whooper Swans in a field in Siikalahti on the 21st of January. A lonely swan was found in Tyrjä too. I also heard a possible Common Kingfisher there but I heard it only once so I couldn’t be sure – actually the only other possibility was an Otter. On the 22nd day there was a couple of Goosanders in the big open water area in Haikanniemi. In Joukio I saw a flock of 22 Goldfinches, probably they were migrants too? On the 23rd the same Whooper Swan was in Tyrjä but I also saw a Dipper there.

On the 25th day we saw a Goshawk in Kangaskylä, in Mustiinpohja I saw a flock of 28 Black Grouses and while driving to play again I stopped in Vuoksi where I counted 22 Cormorants, in Itä-Siitola I saw a young Herring Gull and in Kupari I saw a Little Grebe. On the Kupari feeder I saw 5 Chaffinches and an Arctic Redpoll.

On the 26th a Coal Tit was seen in Kirkonkylä and in our garden we saw a big mixed flock of Redpoll and Siskins. It is the first time that Siskin is common here in this time of year. On the 17th day the same Pygmy Owl was closer to Siikalahti and probably the same asiatica Nuthatch had moved to Siikalahti. On the 29th day the Pygmy Owl was again in its ordinary place. In Särkisalmi I saw a lonely Waxwing on one feeder. On the 30th a White-tailed Eagle was in frozen Kirkkoselkä and on the last day of January an adult Herring Gull flew over our house. Another spring-bird again.

1st of February we went again to see Siberian Jays and after some searching found a single bird. Also Crested Tits, a Treecreeper and Common Crossbills were seen and a couple of Hazel Hens heard. On the 2nd day we were in Tyrjä again and saw a Dipper, a Black Grouse, a Coal Tit and Common Crossbills, in Kannas we saw a Blackbird as a year-tick.

At least from 7th of February a family of Whooper Swans was staying in a field in Siikalahti and on some days there were also other adult birds, which are probably wintering the coldest time of winter in Kokkolanjoki, not further. A Hazel Hen was also seen and a Grey-headed Woodpecker was already calling. On the 8th we saw a couple of Great Grey Shrikes in Siikalahti and a Brambling in Kannas.

On the 9th a couple of Parrot Crossbills flew over me in Tarvaslampi and then we drove around Lake Simpele. A couple of Dippers were found in Peruspohjanjoki and in Kokkolanjoki we saw 14 Whooper Swans, 3 Goosanders, 3 Goldeneyes, 9 Mallards and a Dipper – some of these were again spring-records.

On the 11th the same Pygmy Owl was again in Siikalahti, a couple of White-backed Woodpeckers were also seen. And on the 12th there were 4 White-tailed Eagles with winter-fishers on the frozen Kirkkoselkä. There were also 6 adult Herring Gulls and on the next day I saw a flock of 8 Herring Gulls in Haikanniemi and 15 was flying over our house – spring is coming.

On the 15th day the Pygmy Owl was there again and in Siikalahti we saw the Nuthatch, a female White-backed Woodpecker and heard a Grey-headed Woodpecker. On the 16th of February I headed to Kouvola Valkeala Sydänmaa to twitch a Snowy Owl. It was already 20 years when I had seen the big white last time! I hoped to get some pictures of this beauty but it had flight to a willows just minutes before I arrived. So I saw only the shape of the bird. And I couldn’t wait for long it to move again as I realized that my game was an hour earlier than I had though, so soon I had to hurry to Lappeenranta.

On the next days there were Whooper Swans in Siikalahti, different number of birds every day. Also Nuthatch, White-backed and Grey-headed Woodpeckers, 2 Great Grey Shrikes and Black Grouses were seen. On the 17th of February I found a flock of about 50 Siskins in Kirkonkylä and on the 20th day I saw a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in Siikalahti. On the 21st day there were already 40 Herring Gulls and a White-tailed Eagle in Härskiinmutka and on the next day the same Nuthatch and a couple of White-tailed Eagles on the ice.

The first real bird-day was on the 23rd of February. We started trying to see eagles in Tyrjänmäki but the weather was worse than we had expected. Anyway we stayed there for a couple of hours without eagles but saw a Two-barred Crossbill flying over us. We continued to Siikalahti where we saw a very early Starling, a Long-tailed Tit, a Black Woodpecker and a flock of 50 Magpies before it started snowing. We almost gave up but luckily waited for the weather getting better and then in short time we saw a young White-tailed Eagle migrating and adult either migrating or then it was just one of the local birds flying North-East and then a Golden Eagle that was soaring shortly in south but unfortunately it continued towards south and didn’t come closer at all. On the way back home we still saw a couple of White-tailed Eagles standing on the frozen lake.

But then the weather changed much more like real winter. At nights it was more than -10 degrees so during the days I saw only the same birds again. The same Nuthatch and the same Pygmy Owl were the best birds during the week. Hanna was spending a holiday and spent time with her camera in Tarvaslampi in her hide and also in cold weather in Siikalahti.

J.A.

End half of November

In the end half of November I was birding only during lunch-hours and weekends. It was once again dark all the other time.

There was again some open water in Siikalahti where some tens of Whooper Swans and some Mallards were swimming but soon the bay froze and these birds moved to Vartialahti. Lake Simpele was still open and some Goosanders, Common and Herring Gulls and a couple of White-tailed Eagles stayed still.

On feeders there were lots of tits, especially Blue Tits. And on ordinary places I saw Grey-headed and White-backed Woodpeckers and Nuthatches. A couple of Great Grey Shrikers were still around and in Siikalahti I saw a couple of flocks of Black Grouses and heard some even lekking.

New November species weren’t easy to find, nut on the 22nd day I saw a flock of 4 Waxwings moving towards south where is much better berry-winter. We have no berries at all in Parikkala.

On the 23rd day we tried to find the Common Rosefinch which had been still seen during the week by some twitchers. But it hadn’t been seen for a couple of days anymore and we didn’t find it either. In Tyrjänkoski we found a Dipper..

On the 24th day I visited Soininmäki forest and on the way I saw a Goshawk and a male Capercaillie that was posing well. I stopped only shortly in Soininmäki but managed to fins a Tree-toed Woodpecker.

During the day we did a trip to Saari with Hanna, Elissa and Miika. In Suuri Rautjärvi we twitched a Black-throated Diver and saw also a White-tailed Eagle. We also saw a Black Woodpecker, a couple of Hazel Hens and Great Grey Shrikes, a Fieldfare and a Chaffinch before we stopped in Kanavalampi and managed to twitch a Hawk Owl. We managed to get some pictures of this mobile owl before a male Goshawk chased it to the forest.

The last week of November it started to feel like winter. It was snowing and snow brought some light to the landscape. But it also means that there are no new birds to be found anymore.

On the last day of November I did a trip to Simpele where I saw a couple of Dippers and a Goshawk in Änkilänsalo. A Nuthatch in Roukko was my 65th species during November in Parikkala-Rautjärvi -area.

J.A.

The craziest lifer-twitch, winter-bird count and a self-found month-ticks

After autumn-holiday in Säppi it was cold and wintery in Parikkala. There was snow on the ground and smaller bays were already freezing. On the 27th of October there was still some open water in Siikalahti and on my lunch-hour I counted 5 Bean and 5 Barnacle Geese, 52 Wigeons, 2 Teals, 26 Mallards, 2 Pintails, 60 Tufted Ducks, 3 Greater Scaups, 3 Long-tailed Ducks, a White-tailed Eagle, a Goshawk that had caught a Woocdcock and in Härskiinmutka I saw 11 Great Crested Grebes, a Cormorant and a Black-headed Gull.

The cold weather continued and on the next days I saw only a flock of 20 Chaffinches in Kullinsuo, 2 Long-tailed Ducks in Rautalahti and a Velvet Scoter in Särkisalmi.

The change of the month I was driving towards Mäntsälä. After rinkball I got information that a Cattle Egret that had been staying there a couple of days was roosting on a spruce and it was well visible as there was so much different kind of lights around. So I thought it would be 100 % sure to see it even at night. So on the 1st of November at 1 a.m. I parked to a parking place of some store and soon found a white spot on the spruce. It wasn’t moving at all but when one car stopped right under the tree the egret woke up. I noticed that there were twitchers in the car and I showed them to drive towards me. Luckily they saw me and didn’t get up from their car as they wouldn’t have seen the bird and the bird might have moved unvisible. Anyway now I had seen the bird well enough and after long driving I managed to sleep an hour before I had to go to work.

On November we had the traditional race in Parikkala-Rautjärvi area. So I managed to visit Siikalahti where I still saw 2 Wigeons, 5 Tufted Ducks, a Long-tailed Duck, 5 Goldeneyes, a Black Grouse and a White-tailed Eagle, Tivianlampi where I saw a Greater Scaup, Kannas – Great Grey Shrike, Särkisalmi – 6 Smews and 24 Rock Doves, Rautalahti – 2 Common Scoters and Kirkonkylä where I saw a Nuthatch and Siskins.

On the 2nd of November I did winter-bird count. Altogether I saw 49 Whooper Swans, 28 Goosanders, 2 Great Crested Grebes, 3 White-tailed Eagles, a Goshawk, a Black-headed Gull, 28 Common Gulls, 24 Rock Doves, 13 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Fieldfares, a Godlcrest, 64 Blue, 108 Great and 6 Willow Tits, an asiatica Nuthatch, a Great Grey Shrike, 18 Jays, 32 Jackdaws, 20 Hooded Crows, 10 Ravens, 11 House and 31 Tree Sparrows, 18 Greenfinches, 56 Siskins, 220 Redpolls, an Arctic Redpoll, 21 Bullfinches, 2 Yellowhammers and the best bird was a lonely Two-barred Crossbill wich was a new species to my count.

On the 3rd day we visited Siberian Jays and luckily saw 3 of them! The missing couple had came back! We also saw 7 Common Crossbills, some Goldcrests, a Treecreeper, 2 Crested Tits and heard a couple of Hazel Hens and a Capercaillie flushing. In Tarvaspohja we saw 5 Common Scoters and in Särkisalmi 2 Fieldfares. We still went to try to ring the asiatica Nuthatch but it was too shy. In the afternoon I still saw 5 Bean Geese in Siikalahti and a Velvet Scoter in Koitsanlahti. Then in the evening I saw a Woodcock in flight in Lappeenranta.

On the 4th day I saw only a Great Grey Shrike in Kangaskylä but on the 5th I was again in Lappeenranta where I visited Kaislanen where I saw 4 Mute Swans, some Wigeons and Tufted Ducks and a Velvet Scoter. In Luukkaansalmi I saw 4 Cormorants, a White-tailed Eagle and a White-backed Woodpecker.

On the 8th of November I had 4 Herring Gulls in Härskiinmutka and 12 Long-tailed Tits in Raikanniemi. On the 9th day we checked the Lake Simpele in foggy weather from several places but found only a Long-tailed Duck in Tähtiniemi. In Simpele Kokkolanjoki we saw 2 Dippers and 5 Mallards. Then it started to rain very hard and rained whole weekend.

On the 11th of November I did a quick luch-trip which was really good! In Kannas I found immediately a White-backed and a Grey-headed Woodpecker. Then I saw a bird flying with Greenfinches that looked interesting. It landed under a feeder and I immediately identified it as a young Common Rosefinch! The latest Common Rosefinch before this in South-Karelia ever had been on the 16th of September!

In Vartialahti I saw a lonely Barnacle Goose and in Kontiolampi I found another good bird as there was a Reed Bunting seen briefly.

On the 12th day I just went to check that Common Rosefinch was still around. I found it on different garden where was also a good feeder. I also heard a Nuthatch and saw a Grey-headed Woodpecker again, and in Vartialahti there was a lonely Mallard.

As Common Rosefinch had never been twitchable in November before, there were the first twitchers on the next day. They managed to see the bird but I couldn’t see it during my lunch-hour with Harri Partanen. But on the next day I saw it again and I also saw a couple of Coal Tits and a lonely Parrot Crossbill.

In the evening we drove to Hämeenlinna to BirdLife weekend. On the way we listened Finland finally getting to European Championship tournament in soccer. Early in the morning of 16th of November we did a short walk in Varikonniemi and saw a Common Woodpigeon which was a ridiculous month-tick, a Goshawk, a couple of Goldfinches, a Treecreeper and so on. The rest of the day went in BirdLife meeting. Then on the next day we had more meetings but also a short 30 minutes bird-race where teams were made randomly. Our team saw 14 species in the middle of the quiet afternoon but the best bird was a usurprise as we saw a Song Thrush.

In the afternoon we still drove to Mäntsälä to twitch the Cattle Egret again. It was found feeding between motorways just one meter from the road. It was difficult to see any other way than from a moving car, but we managed to find a small road from where we could walk next to the motorway to see the bird a little bit better. Then we had still a long way to drive back to Parikkala.

J.A.

Autumn-holiday in Säppi again

On Friday the 18th of October after midday we started a long drive towards Pori. In Kouvola we picked up Hanna’s sister Elissa and then after only one stop to fill the tank, we were in Kuuminainen at 18:15 p.m. Also Teo Ylätalo parked to the harbor in the same time. The boat was already waiting for us with Pekka and Anja Rintamäki on board. Soon we had carried our stuff to the boat and 30 minutes later we were in Eurajoki Luvia Säppi.

Paavo Sallinen and his 2 sons were leaving the island so after we had managed to get our stuff away from the boat we still helped him with his stuff. Arto Aaltonen and Tomas Swahn were also helping us, Arto had been there for a week and Tomas several weeks already.

We carried our stuff to the bird-station and after we were ready we still participated to evening-log. Then we met also Kari Mäntylä who had been ringing on the island for a week. After the log we were soon ready to go to sleep.

The 19th of October. I slept bad as there were several people snoring in our room. So I woke up early and found out that the weather was better than it had been on the forecasts. So I woke up Hanna and Elissa who were supposed to start their ringing week. They were a little bit late, so I went to open the mist-nets to Peräkulma which is a long way from the station. Once I was ready Hanna and Elissa were arriving there and I walked back to the station where others had also woken up.

When the sun was rising we were in Prakala starting the morning sea-watch which is done every morning. On 2 hours every migrating bird is counted. It was pretty quiet but some Razorbills, Black Guillemots and Common Eiders were nice for us inlanders.

Right when the seawatch was over it started to rain. So also Hanna and Elissa, who had caught only small amount of birds but a late Common Redstart as the best bird, came to the station- Luckily the rain stopped soon so we headed to walk around the whole island.

We started from Luotsitupa and headed towards Eteläkari and soon Tomas found a good-looking gull perched on Präälä-islet. It really looked like a Caspian Gull but the distance was too long and hard wind made it even more difficult to see exact identification-marks. We tried to walk closer along the shore but then the bird walked behind the island and wan’t visible anymore. Then it started to rain and after we came back from the cover most of the gulls were gone and this bird wasn’t seen anymore.

We also flushed 2 Jack Snipes and saw a young Lesser Black-backed Gull on our walk and after we had completed the whole round, we still did some sea-watching in Prakala. Then Tomas found 5 Purple Sandpipers on Präälä.

On the 20th of October we headed to Peräkulma and mistnets with Hanna, Elissa and Teo. On the way we flushed a couple of Tengmalm’s Owls on the forest. We managed to put up the mistnets well before the sunrise. But it was again very quiet morning. We caught some Goldcrests, Treecreepers and Bullfinches but almost nothing else. Meanwhile also the morning sea-watch was quiet but during the morning we saw altogether 8 migrating Merlins! During the day it started to rain again so we closed the mistnets and headed to the station to sleep. And again there was too noisy in our room.

Once we woke up Arto, Anja and Pekka had helped Kari to get his stuff to the harbor as he was leaving. I went to help Petteri Matti and Mimosa Mäkelä to bring their stuff to the station but it seemed that they didn’t need more help.

After the log we were soon ready to go to sleep, but first I carried my bed to the kitchen as I wanted to sleep well the rest of the trip.

On the 21st of October the best birds on the seawatch were 333 grey geese and 60 even more unidentified geese. We continued also after the time was full and saw altogether 3 Rough-legged Buzzards and 3 too distant skuas. It was still quiet on mistnets but a Siberian Chiffchaff was caught.

During the day we headed to walk around the island again and it started well as a White-backed Woodpecker was found almost immediately. But then it started to go worse: First I missed a Rock Pipit that flew over us. Then we got a message that a Gyr Falcom had been seen in flying towards south. We started to seawatch but after 10 minutes I found a huge falcon coming towards us over the island. It came exactly towards us and I shouted ”Gyr!”. It flew over is less than 15 meters high and we did the mistake and just watched with bare eyes this majestic bird flying over us. I sent the message about the bird but then we checked pictures that Petteri had managed to get – it was actually just a huge young Peregrine Falcon. Soon Petteri noticed a small bird flying behind us and all he saw was a clear eye-brow. I also saw the bird and for sure it was a phyllosc-warbler. But it flew far to the forest and wasn’t found again.

Luckily we soon found a Twite that was even singing shortly and then saw another Twite so at least I got one year-tick.

Once we reached Lepistö we flushed a pipit that sounded first like a Tree but then like an Olive-backed Pipit. Luckily some of us saw it on the tree-tops and I saw it maybe best and identified it as an Olive-backed Pipit! We sent the message to the others and left the bird to the top of the trees.

Soon we met Antti J. Lind who has a cottage on the island nowadays. He asked if Petteri and Tomas are not checking their phones for messages. He had seen a Firecrest in Parikivi, just behind the ringing place an hour earlier. Tomas had got the message but just missed it but Antti seemed to have a wrong number for Petteri.

But the Firecrest wasn’t found by us or Hanna and Elissa who were still ringing. But soon they closed the nets and left to Lepistö to try to twitch the Olive-backed Pipit with Pekka, Anja and Arto. They couldn’t relocate the pipit but the found a Nuthatch (asiatica) that Markus Lampinen had ringed on the previous week.

We continued our walk and still saw briefly a female-plumage Common Redstart and then another one that was calling exactly like a Red-flanked Bluetail. Actually we sent a message about a bluetail to the others before found out that it was actually a young male Redstart. But the call was high ”hiii” which fits better to Black Redstart, so maybe it was an eastern one? Unfortunately it was already getting dark and we didn’t see the bird very well. So after all the day had been very chaotic but anyway we had manged to make some good observations…

In the evening we tried to catch owls but only heard a Pygmy Owl calling back to the tape. Once we had closed the nets a Tengmalm’s Owl also called a couple of times on the garden.

On the 22nd of October seawatching was windy but some skuas were seen. 2 of them were identified as Pomarine Skuas, 1 as an Arctic Skua and 7 were unidentified. Luckily Pomarine Skuas were seen from Peräkulma too where Hanna and Elissa caught 3 Siberian Chiffchaffs which may be some kind of record? During seawatch also a Short-eared Owl was seen.

We started the walk from Peräkulma and while walking there we heard a Yellow-browed Warbler calling shortly. Otherwise there weren’t many birds around but we found a very late Tree Pipit in Hanhisto. After so much hassling on the previous day some may have thought that we had mistaken with our Olive-backed Pipit, but at least I had seen the bird so well that it was not really thought by us.

After the shorter walk I walked back to Peräkulma where after a couple of mistnet rounds we closed the nets.

On the 23rd day seawatching was again windy but again we saw a single Pomarine Skua and also a Common Guillemot landing to the waves behind Prakala. Razorbills, Black Guillemots and Common Eiders were seen more than in other mornings and a couple of Purple Sandpipers too.

It was still quiet on mistnets but finally some Long-tailed Tits were also caught. For some reason the whole island had almost no sea buckthorn berries so there were almost no tits and not a single sylvia-warbler. The first flocks of Redpolls were flying too high around the island like most of the Long-tailed Tits too.

Mäkelä-trio were leaving so Petteri also went to pack his stuff and Tomas had promised to sweep our neighbor’s chimney. So we walked around the island with Teo. In Luotsitupa we heard a couple of Parrot Crossbills and in Lepistö we flushed the Olive-backed Pipit again. The weather was calm in this part of the island and the bird landed also to the ground a couple of times, so we alarmed everyone else to see the bird. Even Hanna and Elissa closed the mistnets and took one net with them as it seemed to be possible to catch this bird. So we left this bird again and kept on walking with Teo.

Tree Pipit was found again in Hanhisto and also a Common Redpoll was seen again briefly. But when we got information that Olive-backed Pipit hadnt been found, we turned back to help searching this rarity. It didn’t take long when we found the bird again and after all everyone who was there managed to see the bird well. But it was again flying high on the top of trees so we didn’t manage to catch it. When the mistnet was taken away we found the same Nuthatch again.

During the evening we tried to catch some owls again and Teo took a hand net and left to Prakala with headlamp to try to catch snipes. Tengmalm’s Owl was only heard again but Teo managed to catch a couple of Jack Snipes and a Common Snipe which was very nice!

On the 24th of October Hanna and ”Elli” left early again and with Teo and Arto we were seawatching again from the sunrise. One Pomarine Skua was seen again and a Long-eared Owl came to the island again. From the mistnets the best bird was a late Willow Warbler.

With Teo and Tomas we walked around the island. Olive-backed Pipit wasn’t found in windy Lepistö but the same Common Redstart was once again seen very briefly. Then we received a message with a Pallas’s Warbler in Hanna’s hand! So we all were soon hurrying to Peräkulma to see this beautiful Siberian gem!

Altogether 8 Chiffchaffs were seen during the day so we were really expecting to find something else too, but not this day, yet.

On the 25th of October the weather was extremely foggy so we were almost sleeping during the seawatch. Anyway some birds were moving but most of them too far in the fog. Then we received a picture of another Siberian gem – a Yellow-browed Warbler in hand – so soon we all were again heading to Peräkulma.

After a quick breakfast we headed once again to Peräkulma with Teo. On the way we heard strange high-calling bird that I had no idea what it was. Unfortunately it was moving inside a dense forest and too fast. In Peräkulma one more Siberian Chiffchaff had been caught and it was a ”lifer” for Teo, so we had to twitch this sub-species too. This bird was calling actively on hand so we got a nice video of it.

While walking in Hanhisto we heard Goldcrests from the forest and went to see the flock. Then we heard a Hume’s Warbler calling several times but saw this bird only too briefly while a Goldcrest was chasing it. So it wasn’t observed well enough for Rarity Committee.

When back in Peräkulma we saw the same ringed Willow Warbler and then Teo heard one more Goldcrets flock from the forest. There were quite a few of them on the top of spruces but some were also on leafless birch. And from there I found a very beautiful Firecrest! Teo found the bird soon and he stayed following the bird while I ran to tell Hanna and Elissa to come to see it. Unfortunately the bird had gone missing just before we were back an it wasn’t found anymore.

Meanwhile in Hanhisto Tomas had heard a high-calling bird and after 5 minutes searching managed to find it visible and it was a Hawfinch. He recorded the call and it was clearly the same call we had heard earlier with Teo.

It was still quiet in Kräveli which is often the best are but not this year as there were no berries. We concentrated on Goldcrest and after all stayed in pretty small area the rest of the day. While we were walking back towards the station we found one more flock and Hanna and Elissa were chasing the same flock too. we found a small warbler with shiny ring on its leg but it was on the top of the tree against the sun. After all we saw enough to identify it as a Yellow-browed Warbler.

After a short break we still walked to Hanhisto with Teo and from the forest we found a flock of Long-tailed Tits and then a greyish wing-barred warbler following them. They were going too fast so we didnät see the bird well but it could have been a Humes’s Warbler… Meanwhile Tomas saw a Short-eared Owl in Lännennokka and we still saw the same Tree Pipit in Peräkulma – it looked pretty weak.

In the evening we had sauna and the log was done quite late.

On the 26th day we headed to mistnets with Hanna and Elissa. But it was once again too quiet. I was seawatching most of the time and saw a Common Guillemot pretty well and 55 Whooper Swans migrating over the mainland, 55 Red-breasted Mergansers and a Purple Sandpiper. Also several White-tailed Eagles and a Hen Harrier were seen far. We also did a couple of short walks nearby and saw the same Willow Warbler again.

On morning seawatch a couple of Pomarine Skuas and an Arctic Skua had been seen but when Teo and Tomas left to walk around the island they almost immediately found a Firecrest again! Elissa also left to twitch it and saw A White-backed Woodpecker on the way but the Firecrest was gone missing too soon. From the mistnets we still caught one more Siberian Chiffchaff and finally the first Redpoll, which has been the most numerous bird on the previous autumns.

When Teo and Tomas came to Peräkulma, a Peregrine flew over us. Then I followed them to check the rest of the island. Hanna stil stayed on the mistnets for a couple of hours. We still saw the same Common Redstart, finally a little bit better and it maybe didn’t look so common as it had a clear pale panel on its wings. Maybe some eastern – samamisicus? Also the same Nuthatch was seen again in Lepistö.

Pekka and Anja had left the island in the afternoon so there weren’t too many birders anymore. In the evening we were packing and cleaning the house and so on.

On the 27th day the weather was cooler so we were freezing on the seawatch. Only better observation was a flock of 49 Snow Buntings and also a Rough-legged Buzzard was seen.

It was a bit more busy on the mistnets and Hanna ringed about 50 birds altogether with some new ringed species for the trip like a Redwing, a Willow Tit, a Greenfinch and 2 Siskins, but nothing better.

After the seawatch Tomas saw a redstart-species on the garden and it was probably a Black Redstart as it flushed from the roof of one building. But unfortunately it disappeared. We walke from Peräkulma to Eteläkari with Tomas and Teo but saw only the same Willow Warbler. Then we had to hurry to carry our stuff from the station to the harbor. Tomas stayed in Eteläkari and soon saw a flock of 5 Two-barred Crossbills coming our way and luckily we managed to see them with Teo. Then Tomas also found a Black Redstart but we were already packing our stuff to the boat with Hanna, Elisssa, Teo and Arto. Tomas was leaving alone to the island.

In Kuuminainen we packed our cars and said goodbye to Teo and Arto and stlil saw a Woodpigeon before left towards home. Once again winter arrived and the driving conditions were really bad! Luckily we managed to get to Parikkala late in the evening safe.

J.A.

Autumn in Siikalahti and a bit in other places too

Great White EgretOn the 14th of Septempber it felt like autumn when we parked to Siikalahti dam-road in dawn. We put up the mist-net and started counting Cranes leaving their roost. Cranes were getting up to the sky in too big flocks and they were impossible to count but 8 Great White Egrets were easy to count.

It was still pretty dark when I found a reddish harrier flying past us and it really looked good. Luckily it was soaring so low that there were trees on the back-ground and we could see it well enough to identify it as a young Montagu’s Harrier.

We saw also 3 Honey Buzzards, 3 Hen Harriers, 28 Common Buzzards, 3 Kestrels, 2 Merlins, 2 White-tailed Eagles, 3 Marsh Harriers and 2 Ospreys so raptors were moving.

But it was very quiet on mist-nets, only a Wren, 2 Robins and 2 Yellowhammers were ringed. A Moorhen was calling but still we couldn’t see it, 4 Cormorants and also 6 Brent Geese were seen.

When the weather turned worse, we headed to Likolampi where we put up a trap for Nuthatch. There had been a male that we had ringed 3 years earlier but also an unringed female that Hanna caught a couple of days later.

On the 15th day we were again in Siikalahti until midday and caught 7r+1c Robins, a Sedge Warbler, an adult Lesser Whitethroat, a Blackcap, 4r+1c Great Tit and a Yellowhammer. A Black Grouse was lekking, a Grey-headed Woodpecker calling actively and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and even a migrating Three-toed Woodpecker were also seen. Now we managed to count 741 Cranes and also 6 Great White Egrets and a Grey Heron were seen.

Cranes
Lesser WhitethroatBlackcap

Early in the morning Chaffinches and Siskins were moving but other migration was surprisingly quiet. Some bigger flocks of Wigeons were seen, altogether 500, with about 50 Pintails. 2 Hen Harriers and a Hobby were only better raptors. Surprisingly the best birds were waders as we saw 2 flocks of Dunlins (54 birds) and 4 Grey Plovers. On the way back home we went to check 2 more Nuthatches in Kirjolankangas.

During the first days of week I didn’t see much: On Tuesday I saw 5 Rough-legged Buzzards and 8 Great White Egrets. On Wednesday I counted 1300 Barnacle Geese, 60 Brent Geese, 50 Bean Geese and 12 Greater White-fronted Geese. 110 Cranes were migrating, a Bittern was still seen, again 6 Great White Egrets, 4 Ruffs and a migrating Three-toed Woodpecker. In the evening I saw a Great White Egret, 751 Cranes and a Woodcock.

On the 20th of September I saw the first Waxwings and 8 Cormorants in Härskiinmutka. In the afternoon my parents arrived to Parikkala for weekend. In the evening we headed to count Cranes and saw 747 Cranes and saw 4 Great White Egrets, 2 Grey Herons, a Rough-legged Buzzard some Bean Geese and so on.

On the 21st day we headed to dam-road early but mist-netting was quiet, only 2 Robins, 3 Great Tits, 5 Blue Tits and a Yellowhammer were caught. A Bluethroat and a Dunlin were seen and 57 migrating Jays counted. When my parents arrived we still saw Great White Egrets and Grey Herons, a Grey-headed Woodpecker, a flock of 18 Long-tailed Tits and so on.


Bluethroat

But then we headed to Saari. In Pohjanranta we saw a Rough-legged Buzzard, in Uukuniemi Suurenjärvenliete a Merlin and a Hazel Hen, in Jyrkilä a White-tailed Eagles and a Great Grey Shrike. In Tarassiinlahti we finally found lots of geese as I had promised to my parents that we will see lots of them.

From Tarassinlahti tower we saw about 10000 Barnacle Geese on the lake and some thousands on the fields too. A Rough-legged Buzzard and a White-tailed Eagle were hunting and a White-backed Woodpecker flew past us. I was checking the swimming geese for the fifth time when I found a Red-breasted Goose! It wasn’t easy to see in the middle of the flock and we lost it after Hanna had also seen it. But luckily I found it later from the field and we all could see it well.

Rough-legged Buzzard

In Karinmäki we saw a Merlin and in Kanavalampi a young Red-throated Diver. In Pohjanranta we found another big flock of geese with one single Bean Goose which was only grey goose we saw in Saari. The rest of the evening was spent in Tarvaslampi with our parents.

CranesOn the 22nd day the wind made mist-netting impossible so we quit after only one Bullfinch and one Yellowhammer. Barnacle Geese were migrating but surprisinglt western route, but we estimated about 13000 birds. 310 Brent Geese, a Bittern, Great White Egrets, a Bewick’s Swan, 10 Rough-legged Buzzards, 316 Cranes, 1270 Wood Pigeons and so on were seen. When my parents arrived we headed to bird-tower and saw a Smew and a Taiga Bean Goose that was in a flock of Tundra Bean Geese. Then we still went to visit Kullinsuo and Lahdenkylä fields but saw nothing interesting there. After we had eaten it was time to say goodbye to my parents. In my evening jog I still saw a Peregrine in Siikalahti.

During the week on the 24th day I counted 6500 Barnacle Geese but grey geese were still missing. On the 25th day I saw a Nutcracker in Kangaskylä and 6 Rough-legged Buzzards in Siikalahti. On the 26th day a Bewick’s Swan, 15 Cormorants and the last Swallow were seen in Härskiinmutka. Other birds during the week were the same familiar birds seen also before.

On Friday I started the weekend by driving to Joensuu to twitch a young Red-backed Shrike in Höytiäinen. Luckily I saw the bird pretty well even though it was mobile and stayed very low and wasn’t so easy to most of the time. I also saw 6 migrating Bewick’s Swans, a Golden Plover, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and surprisingly also a pale adult Arctic Skua.

On Saturday we spent the whole day in Siikalahti and tried to see as many species as possible in Siikalahti. We started walking to Raikanniemi and back from the dam-road and saw 50 common species. Only better ones were a Grey-headed Woodpecker, Wren and a Water Rail. We also heard some flocks of Common Scoters migrating above the clouds. During the day we still saw 1000 Brent Geese, 31 Black-throated Divers, 6 Red-breasted Mergansers, 6 Great White Egrets, 2 Grey Herons, 5 White-tailed Eagles, 4 Goshawks, 3 Rough-legged Buzzards, a Peregrine, 215 Cranes, a Lapwing, 3 Grey-headed Woodpeckers, 2 White-backed Woodpeckers, a Three-toed Woodpecker, 100 Waxwings and so on. Altogether we saw 76 species during the day.

On Sunday the 29th of September we did a trip to Saati but there weren’t many birds. After some searching we found some big flocks of geese but we weren’t interested of them. We had hoped to find something better, but only birds to mention were 8 Long-tailed Ducks in Tarassiinlahti and the same Red-throated Diver still in Kanavalampi.

Rough-legged Buzzard

On the last day of September there were at least 13000 Barnacle Geese and some hundreds of grey geese in Siikalahti. Also 3 Long-tailed Ducks and 4 Smews were seen.

J.A.

Finnish BirdFair, searching for falcons and ringing buntings

On Friday the 23rd of August we headed to Kirkkonummi and on Saturday we participated to Finnish BirdFair in Helsinki Viikki. Hanna was working there but I was only meeting many friends and of course I had to also buy some books and so on. Also Elissa and Miika came to test telescopes and about at midday my father also arrived and soon we headed together to do some birding.

First we drove to Espoo Laajalahti where always is some waders in this time of year. We soon found a Broad-billed and a Curlew Sandpiper, a Little Stint, Dunlins, Lapwings, Golden Plovers, Common, Green and Wood Sandpipers, Common Ringed Plovers, Caspian Terns, Gadwalls, Grey Herons and Red-backed Shrikes and so on.

Next we headed to Finno where after some searching we found 4 Moorhens and also Gadwalls, a Common Pochard and a Slavonian Grebe. Then we still drove to Ämmässuo rubbish tip as I thought it might be the best possibility ever for Elissa and Miika to see a Caspian Gull. But the wind was straight from the smelly compost and it really wasn’t nice birding. Anyway we were checking gulls for more than 30 minutes and once I saw a good candidate but it disappeared too soon. But anyway I could show how difficult even Herring and Greater Black-backed Gulls are.

In the evening I still went to Kirkkonummi Saltfjärden where I saw 675 Common Cranes, 223 Greylag Geese and a couple of Great White Egrets.

On Sunday I headed to Laajalahti again and together with many familiar birders we counted 199 migrating Sparrowhawks. The same Little Stint was still there but other better waders were gone. The best birds we saw was a Spotted Eagle that we found a little bit too late and it was seen only gliding slowly away. It looked like a Greater Spotted Eagle in my opinion. Then a plover-looking bird was found high up from the sky and luckily I managed to get it to my scope and identify it as a young Dotterel.

during the day I picked up Hnna from Helsinki where she had been in BirdLife meeting. On the way back home we still stopped in Lappeenranta Kourulanmäki where we managed to twitch a young Black Redstart. We also saw plenty of Linnets there.

During the week and last days of August I visited Siikalahti many times and saw Great White Egrets (at least 3), Grey Herons (maximun 5) and Great Bitterns (2), at least 2 Hen Harriers, Lapwings and a Grey-headed Woodpecker and on evening visit we heard several Water Rails and counted 617 Common Cranes. On the 29th day I saw a young Pallid Harrier migrating together with a young Hen Harrier and in the afternoon we did a short trip to Saati where we saw 3 Hen Harriers in Pohjasuo, a Bluethroat and a Common Rosefinch in Suurenjärvenliete and a Hawfinch in Ryhjä. On the last light we were in Siikalahti and counted 734 Common Cranes. On the next day we headed to Saari again as we hoped to find some Red-footed Falcon which had been seen all around Southern Finland. But we found only the long-staying Great White Egret in Pohjanranta, a couple of Hen Harriers and one too briefly seen small falcon.

On the 31st day we tried bunting-ringing in Siikalahti. All around Finland ringers had been trying to catch Rustic Buntings with tape and north from us the results had been amazing. It seemed that there were more Rustic Buntings than decades! But we caught no buntings at all, just a couple of Garden Warblers, a Blackcap, 2 Sedge Warblers, 3 Robins, 2 Chaffinches, a Blue Tit and 5 Great Tits. We did hear a Rustic Bunting calling a couple of times but never saw any. While ringing we were also scanning the sky on the dam-road and saw 11 species of raptors, which a migrating Peregrine, a Goshawk, a Hen Harrier and a White-tailed Eagle were the best ones – we still had no Red-footed Falcons. In the afternoon we again went to Saari but had nothing new. In Härskiinmutka we counted 12 Cormorants.

On the 1st of September we had the last SSP-ringing. We caught 1r+1c Robins, a Bluethroat, a late Blyth’s Reed Warblers, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Willow Warblers, a Blue Tit, a Yellowhammer and 12 Reed Buntings. The best bird of the morning was a very late River Warbler that was singing shortly close to our mist-nets but we didn’t manage to push it to the nets. We also heard about 10 Dunnocks migrating, finally the first Red-throated Pipit, a Black Grouse was heard lekking, Grey-headed Woodpecker calling, Coal Tit singing and also a Nuthatch was calling shortly nearby. During the day I did a long run and saw a flock of 35 Goldfinches in Liuharanta. In the evening we counted 419 Cranes and saw 7 Great White Egrets in Siikalahti.

On the 2nd day a short visit in Siikalahti producted a Gadwall and I continued to Kullinsuo where I finally found a young Red-footed Falcon. It was perched on the wire but almost immediately flew up to the blue sky and disappeared. In Härskiinmutka I saw later a flock of 30 Canada Geese.

Other birding during the week was quite boring. The same Gadwall was seen again and 15 Lapwings were still counted. On the 5th day evening we counted 620 Cranes and saw again 7 Great White Egrets and a single Bittern. One evening we went to sheck if the Red-footed Falcon had stayed in Kullinsuo after all. No birds were seen on the fields but in Kontiolampi we saw a big male Lynx running in front of our car for more than a hundred meters!

On the 8th of September we tried to catch Rustic Buntings again and after we had seen a couple of Rustic Buntings migrating, we finally caught one. We also ringed 11 Robins, a Sedge Warbler, a Chiffchaff, 2 Blue Tits, 6 Great Tits, a Treecreeper, 3 Yellowhammers and a Reed Bunting. From the bushes we also heard a Wren and a Red-breasted Flycatcher, saw a Lesser Whitethroat, Goldcrests and briefly a chiffchaff that was calling like a Siberian Chiffchaff. From the dam-road we saw a young Red-footed Falcon migrating, a Grey Heron, 5 Great White Egrets, 3 Honey Buzzards, a Hen Harrier, a Golden Plover, a Ruff, 5 Black, a Grey-headed, a White-backed, a Lesser Spotted and even a Three-toed Woodpecker, more than 200 Tree Pipits, Dunnocks, a Coal Tit, a Spotted Flycatcher and 2 Lapland Buntings.

On the 9th day I saw a Smew from the bird-tower and during the afternoon the weather warmed up to 26 degrees. I spent a nice summer-evening in dam-road and counted 734 Cranes and surprisingly saw a Wild Boar! It was coming straight towards me but then heard a car coming a disappeared to the bushes where it had came from. I also saw 7 Great White Egrets, a Bittern and 4 Wood Sandpipers.

Then the weather turned like in autumn. It was still southern wind, but much colder. On the 12th of September I saw 6 Bean Geese and 5 Dunlins.

J.A.