April Fools’ Day

In the change of March and April the weekend started well when on the 31st of March after I had got away from work I headed to Rautjärvi Lahnanen. I had heard rumors that a Grey Wagtail had been seen somewhere along the river but I was still surprised when I found a pair there! They had really arrived early – at least if thinking how wintery was the weather. I also found a White Wagtail there.

In the afternoon I still drove to Saari Selänne where I tried to see a Collared Dove for 3 hours but saw only a Sparrowhawk, a Grey-headed Woodpecker and a couple of White-backed Woodpeckers.

In the evening I got a message that a Tawny Owl was calling in Ryhäluoto. We drove there to listen to this rare owl. For some reason Tawny Owl isn’t recorded every year in Parikkala. It was nice to listen to and also record this owl calling in nice and calm weather. We still decided to drive around Siikalahti and heard a Ural Owl there very close to our nest-box.

On the 1st of April in a Fools’ Day we had difficult to stay humorous as there was -15 degrees and still full winter in the morning. Anyway we went birding quite early and on the second try found the Hawk Owl in Tetrisuo. Then after we had seen a couple of Nuthatches we went to walk to Tyrjänkoski where we after some searching found a Dipper. Also 31 Whooper Swans and a couple of Mallards were seen there.

Next we decided to go to Simpele to see if we could get some pictures of Grey Wagtails. It was already plus degrees and very nice weather. We met Harri Patanen on the parking place and soon found all three wagtails soon but couldn’t really get very good pictures even though at least Hanna sat under a hide for some time. In Lahnanen we saw a couple of Goldeneyes, some Whooper Swans and a Little Grebe. Laos a Pygmy Owl was seen in flight briefly. All tits were alarming because of the owl.

Harri decided to go to check Uudensillankoski while we were still trying to get some pictures. But soon we also gave up. Then I got a message from Harri and it was just a very black picture that seemed to be upside down. There maybe was a long-tailed bird but I just thought he had sent me a bad picture of one of the wagtails for some reason. Then 10 minutes later he sent another message with a text; “What is this bird?” and in a much better picture there was a bird that looked like a Rock Pipit! Luckily we were very close to Uudensillankoski and soon found Harri. But the bird had disappeared while Harri had been taking the picture from his back of the camera inside his car to get some shadow.

For 40 minutes we tried to relocate the pipit in vain but saw only a couple of Dippers. We spread to check some areas nearby but weren’t lucky. When we were back on the bridge we still kept on looking the area where Harri had seen the bird when I finally found it! Now we could be sure bout the identification and it was indeed the first Rock Pipit ever in Rautjärvi!

For more than an hour we were watching the pipit walking a long the river and it was really skulking under the vegetation. A couple of times it was perched for a long time on a branch but somehow we managed to show the bird to all twitchers too. When there was nobody else than me and Hanna and we had understood that it was impossible to get good pictures of this bird, we decided to drive home.

In the evening we still did a owl-trip with Hanna and Miika Soikkeli. We drove our traditional route in the western side of Lake Simpele. The trip started well when a Tengmalm’s Owl was calling in Tarvaslampi. Then in 3 hours we heard only one more owl but it was an Eagle Owl which is always a good record in Parikkala. And in last 25 hours we had observed 6 owls – all different species! So our 1st of April had been everything else but a joke!

On the 2nd of April the weather was bad again. The wind was from north and it was hard. So after seeing the same Hawk Owl again we did only a short tour around Siikalahti. During the day we went to put up 3 owl nest-boxes to new places. And in the evening we visited Kokkolanjoki with Miika but couldn’t find neither a Rock Pipit nor Grey Wagtails. We found only a single Robin and a few Dippers.


New tick!

On the 17th of March a couple of pairs of White-tailed Eagles were soaring in Siikalahti. In the late afternoon we started a long drive to Oulu and during the weekend we participated to local bird association PPLY 50-year parties and BirdLife meeting. Only birds we saw in Oulu were a Herring Gull, a couple of House Sparrows and then 3 Rooks that had just arrived to their territory in Raksila. But on the way back we saw a Pheasant in Siikalatva Piippola, a couple of Parrot Crossbills in Pyhäntä Korpineva and a couple of Snow Buntings in Vieremä Lehtoranta.

In Parikkala spring had taken some steps during the weekend and snow had melted a lot because of rains. On the 20th day during my lunch-hour I saw a Sparrowhawk, 3 Common Buzzards, a Golden Eagle and a Lapwing. On the 21st day I heard a Whooper Swan and saw a Goshawk, 6 Common Buzzards, 3 Lapwings and in our garden I heard a Goldfinch.

The next day was pretty similar but on the 22nd day I saw already 21 Lapwings and new arrivals were a Stock Dove, 3 Skylarks, a Blackbird and 6 Starlings. On the 24th day Lapwings were already here and there and new bird was a Canada Goose. Landscape was still very snowy and in the afternoon the weather changed cold and rainy again.

On Saturday the 25th of March the weather was cold and windy so we didn’t hurry to go birding. After we had once again seen the same Hawk Owl in Tetrisuo, we continued to Siikalahti Aittavaara where most of the Lapwings had decided to leave back to south but there were still some tens and also 22 Starlings and a Stock Dove. Then we drove to dam-road where we didn’t expect to see anything, but after some waiting Hanna suddenly shouted: “Bearded Reedling!”. She had heard one call from the reeds next to the dam. Of course then several cars were passing us along the road and we couldn’t hear a thing, but then we walked closer and I started to play calls from my phone. And soon we heard some answers and then found a couple of birds from the reedbed. Bearded Reedlings were moving on the snow and very slowly but after all they came close enough sp we could try to get some pictures. There were 1 male and 2 females. We of course sent some messages and soon there were local birders coming to twitch these beautiful birds. It was raining pretty hard for a while but after the rain the birds were found again and luckily everyone managed to see the birds. Surprisingly only a couple of twitchers came a little bit further. In the afternoon wind started to blow so hard that we had to be happy with our pictures and of course we were happy with the observation. There had been Bearded Reedling in Parikkala only in 1998 (a small flock in winter) and 1999 (Hanna heard a bird well) but for me it wasn’t only a Siikalahti and Parikkala tick but also a new bird in South Karelia!

Only other birds we observed in dam-road were a couple of Skylarks and Whooper Swans, Hanna also heard a Linnet. All Lapwings had left back to south.

On the 26th day the weather was awful. Winter was coming back! So it wasn’t a surprise that we didn’t find the Bearded Reedlings anymore. But there are lots of reeds in Siikalahti – hopefully they are staying!
On Monday the 27th I saw some Blackbirds in feeders and a couple of flocks of Snow Buntings. The Hawk Owl was still around but almost all migrants were gone. Just some more Snow Buntings and the same flock of Starlings were seen in Siikalahti. During the week it was very quiet. Mornings were really cold – it was even -17 degrees on the last day. A couple of Woodpigeons were only new birds.


Owls, woodpeckers and other winter-birds

After trip to Oulu February continued like normal winter. Usually there are no bird-surprises this time of the year. In Tetrisuo I still saw a Hawk Owl almost every day and a Great Grey Shrike a couple of times. Only surprising observation was a flock of 20 Redpolls that the Great Grey Shrike tried to attack and after that they were gone.

I drove every day shortly in forests and tried to map forest tits and also Goldcrests that were still surviving. I of course saw also flocks of Black Grouses, some Hazel Hens and even a couple of times Capercaillies: on the 10th day a female and on the 22nd day a couple of males.

On the 11th of February I visited Simpele Kokkolanjoki briefly and saw a Little Grebe and 4 Whooper Swans in Lahnanen. On the 12th day we heard a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in Siikalahti and found surprisingly a flock of 10 Waxwings in Tarvaslampi. And in Tetrisuo we saw the same Hawk Owl watching a young Golden Eagle migrating towards north. On the 13th day in Lahnanen I saw a Little Grebe again, 5 Whooper Swans and in Härskiinmutka I saw a White-tailed Eagle waiting for winter-fishers to leave some fish.

On the 16th of February Merja Laari found a Great Grey Owl in Siikalahti and it was really showing well. This adult bird was hunting voles and a couple of times it flew very close to me. We of course didn’t try to get close to the bird so we didn’t disturb its hunting. The problem is that usually photographers think that the owl is tame and doesn’t matter but mise and voles do disappear if people are too close. But anyway this time I was lucky and the owl flew a couple of times very close to me and I managed to get some good pictures. We also saw a Black Woodpecker.

On the 17th day a couple of White-tailed Eagles were sitting together on ice and in Simpele I saw 6 Whooper Swans, Goldeneye and Goosander couples and a Great Grey Shrike. On the 18th day we went to try to see the wintering Collared Dove in Saari Selänne with Pekka Punnonen but in very bad weather we saw only a Sparrowhawk and a Pygmy Owl that came to see if there was a Yellowhammer, a Tree Sparrow or a tit to catch from the feeder.

On the 19th of February we were lucky when we arrived to Tarvaslampi – a Pygmy Owl had just attacked to a Yellowhammer and was killing it on the snow under the feeder. Soon it flew to a branch were it still finished the bunting. Luckily we both had cameras with us!

There were a good selection of woodpeckers visiting our feeders around Siikalahti and when Hanna had a week winter-holiday she was photographing there a lot. She even had 2 British protogrpahers with her for a few days. Hanna had built a new hide that was easy to put up anywhere. They also spent some time in a hide in Tarvaslampi and visited Kokkolanjoki and did some forest-birding and so on.

On the 24th and 25th day I saw both Hawk Owls – in Tetrisuo and in Järvenpää. In Tiviä we saw a Goshawk and also a couple of Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers were found and of course also Grey-headed and White-backed Woodpeckers. A Couple of Nuthatches had arrived to their territory in Kannas.

On the 26th day we went skiing to Saari and of course we tried to see the Collared Dove in Selänne. It was cold and windy and we didn’t see the bird in the first visit but after skiing we went back and after some waiting the bird finally arrived. On the 27th day Hanna photographed nice aurora borealis!

On the first of March I visited Simpele and saw a Whooper Swan and a Goosander couple and in Siikalahti 4 species of Woodpeckers and a Nuthatch in Kannas. On the 3rd day the first Herring Gull of the “spring” was on the ice close to fishers.

On the 4th of March I did a winter-bird count and saw 2 Black Grouses, 4 Herring Gulls, 10 Rock Doves, a Grey-headed, a Black, 16 Greater Spotted and 2 White-backed Woodpeckers, 5 Goldcrests, 6 Long-tailed, 44 Blue, 76 Great, 2 Crested and 1 Willow Tit, 2 Treecreepers, a Great Grey Shrike, 9 Jays, 14 Magpies, 26 Jackdaws, 16 Hooded Crows, 2 Ravens, 20 Tree Sparrows, 7 Greenfinches, my first ever spring-time Pine Grosbeak in Parikkala, 17 Bullfinches and 3 Yellowhammers,

On the 7th day I saw already 8 Herring Gulls but then it came very cold again and it was sure that there were no more migrants coming. Tits and Greenfinches were already singing, a Treecreeper was singing once and even a couple of Siskin were seen in their territory so maybe spring is arriving some day? It was good to see that even it was more than -20 degrees some nights, I still found some Goldcrests but many didn’t survive these last very cold nights. So the only new year tick for a long time was a Tengmalm’s Owl that was singing in Tarvaslampi on the 16th day.


Photographing trip to Oulu-area

In the second half of January there weren’t many birds around. But I did some birding every day if the weather was OK. There were still some Goldcrests alive in the forests and also some forest-tits that are really getting rare nowadays. In Moskuunniemi I still saw the Brambling almost every time I tried to see it.

On the 21st of January we went to Imatra to do some shopping. On the way we stopped in Rautjärvi Simpele Lahnanen where we saw 10 adults and 1 young Whooper Swans, Mallards, a male Goldeneye and also a Little Grebe. Of course a couple of Dippers were also seen. In Imatra we saw of course Goldeneyes, Goosanders and Cormorants and then a female Teal that was with many Mallards in Mansikkala.

In the end of January the Hawk Owl had moved to Tetrisuo. I started to be sure that there was after all only one Hawk Owl that was moving in a huge area around Siikalahti and also along main-road 6 until Särkisalmi. On the 22nd day we saw the same owl when we were skiing around Siikalahti. We also saw a Pygmy Owl and a couple of flocks of Long-tailed Tits. On the 23rd day I saw a Nuthatch in Moskuunniemi.

In the evening we went to take pictures of a comet that was showing on the night-sky.

On the 28th of January was the Garden Twitch. We participated at our feeder in Tiviä where we saw a White-backed and a Grey-headed Woodpecker and Long-tailed Tits and so on. Then we spent another hour in Tarvaslampi in our hide but there weren’t any better birds.

On the 29th day we visited Simpele again and in Lahnanen we saw a Little Grebe, 4 Whooper Swans and a female Goldeneye. On a short trip we observed 3 Grey-headed Woodpeckers and the same Hawk Owl again in Tetrisuo where on the next day I saw also a Great Grey Shrikecwhich was showing also later.

To Oulu area

On Wednesday the 1st of February after work we started a short holiday. I packed our car full and at 3:30 p.m. went to pick up Hanna from work and then we started a long drive to Oulu. We stopped only once on the way and were finally in Oulu after 9 p.m. We stayed night in my brother Riku’s camper.

On the 2nd of February we did some shopping and then went to eat with Riku and his son Eetu. Then we drove to Liminka Virkkula information center where we did some organizing and soon our guide arrived and we followed him a short way to a parking place that was in the middle of a forest. When we parked our car we saw a couple of caravans that had been made as photographing hides. And in front of them there was a carcass and an adult White-tailed Eagle just left from the carcass because of us. There had been a photographer inside another caravan from early morning and for sure he wasn’t happy but what we could do?

Soon we were inside our camper and had the heating on. And in a few minutes we had everything ready for taking pictures. But we had to wait for a long time before anything happened but finally a young Northern Goshawk arrived to the carcass and we could take some pictures. This hawk was eating so much that we were afraid that there was nothing left for our main-targets.

This Goshawk ate for a long time but then suddenly froze still and opened its wings. And immediately another young Goshawk attacked it. They both dropped down to snow where they had a short fight before flying to the forest. Unfortunately I had just taken video and didn’t manage to get any pictures of this fight.

It was soon getting dark and we stayed still and waited for something more to happen. Our caravan was finally getting warmer and after 5 p.m. we heard an Eagle Owl calling behind us. Soon it called again and then also a female started calling a little bit more distant on the other side of a small open area. Then it continued like this whole night! A male was calling about every 40 minutes and almost every time female was answering. They always called about 10 minutes and then it was again quiet – only trees were banging in freezing night.

It was a long wait! Hanna was sleeping a couple of times at midnight and early in the morning we both slept shortly in turns. Finally at 6 a.m. we heard an Eagle Owl calling closer than ever and soon Hanna whispered that the bird had arrived to the carcass. I had to slowly sneak to my seat and camera that were as far as possible from the bed.

Luckily the owl started to eat immediately and we started to take pictures! There were 2 lights pointing to the carcass so there was pretty good light to take pictures even though it was still completely dark outside.

After the owl had eaten a long time it rose its “ears” up and called shortly and then a female Eagle Owl arrived to the carcass. Unfortunately there was no room for both birds, so male had to fly away.

The female wasn’t eating too long but after a half an hour it came back to eat some more. When the sun was already setting we still heard these owls a couple of times but then it was time to start waiting for the day-birds to arrive.

Before 10 a.m. the same young Goshawk arrived again and at least a couple of other Goshawks were calling nearby. After at least 2 young birds had been on the feeder a couple of times also an adult male Goshawk arrived. But it could eat only shortly as an adult White-tailed Eagle that had arrived to the top of a spruce a little bit earlier didn’t let it eat but chase it away. But then this White-tailed Eagle arrived to eat which was very nice!

The eagle stayed there for some time until it flew to top of a tree again. Then it was quiet for some time until the adult Goshawk arrived but again the eagle chase it away even though it didn’t come to eat at all.

Just before mid-day a Grey-headed Woodpecker was seen and it was a new Liminka-tick for me. There were no Grey-headed Woodpeckers around in last century.

Then at 12 o’clock we packed and left to Oulu. We slept an hour in Riku’s camper again and then in the afternoon left to eat with Riku and his wife Pirjo. We searched for a restaurant that wasn’t full for some time and finally found room in Rooster. There we met also my another brother Pirkka and his daughter Iina. And after we had eaten we left toward ice-hall with Hanna and my brothers. There was soon Dream Theater playing.

We found a parking place surprisingly easily and walked to the doors which were still closed! There were not many people either! Then we noticed a sign on the door that told that the concert had been cancelled! Only then I got a text-message that told the same thing! It was only 10 minutes to the beginning of the concert!

Later I noticed that I had got an email that told that the concert had been delayed by an hour. That is the reason why there weren’t so many people yet but the final cancelling was really made only 10 minutes before the doors were about to be opened in the changed schedule. On the next day we heard that there had been too weak stage for the band to play safely or roadies to work or even for the audience. Somebody had really messed up badly! Luckily we hadn’t been driving 500 kilometers just only because of this concert but we still had a lot to do!

Of course it was a disappointment that the concert had been cancelled but at least moneys were supposed to be paid back. We decided to do something else and went to movies to watch Finnish Sisu-movie which wasn’t very good. But the Premium-hall of Plaza-movie theater was an experience with its crazy soft seats.

On the 4th of February we woke up early at 4 a.m. and left towards Utajärvi. Before 5 a.m. we parked to Utanen where we were supposed to meet our guide. But when we saw nobody we started to eat some breakfast and meanwhile I checked my email if there was something new about the canceled concert. But I found a message that told that the meeting in Utanen had been delayed by 30 minutes.

It was -24,5 C degrees cold but of course it was warm in our car. We had just finished our breakfast when other cars started to arrive and soon our guide arrived too. We followed his car for about 10 kilometers along small roads to parking place from where we still had 300 meters walk to hides.

We pulled our stuff with a ledge to the hides and we got a hide that was in the middle. Soon the heater was on and candles burning under small icy windows so they might melt a little and give us some visibility outside.

The hide was soon very warm so it was really big temperature difference between inside and outside. And of course our cameras were in but part of objectives outside. We had done everything possible with my 100-500mm lens to avoid moisture to get inside but when the sun was setting and I was taking some pictures of a distant Grey-headed Woodpecker I noticed that the picture was completely grey! My lens was completely foggy and I found out that unfortunately there was already some moisture inside the lens too! Maybe it had got some moist in already in Ecuador and now it had frozen inside the lens? Luckily Hanna was using her RF400mm and had also similar zoom with her. And as there was still nothing happening outside I was able to change the lens. Otherwise I wouldn’t have taken any pictures during the day!

On both sides of our hide there were some feeders for passerines and nice branches and sticks where to photograph them but they were in too sharp angle from our hide so we couldn’t turn our cameras there. There were only a couple of branches in front of our hide and even though we had put some bird-food next to them, there were almost no birds at all visiting these branches.

I had been following the visitors of the left side feeder for a long time through the only open-melted tiny glass that we got before I finally saw a Siberian Tit shortly. But it visited so briefly and in a place that wasn’t visible for Hanna at all.

So after all we didn’t take any pictures at all until at 1:35 p.m. when an adult Golden Eagle finally arrived to the top of spruce quite far behind the open area.

Soon the eagle flew straight towards us and landed to a Red Squirrel that had been put to a branch as a carcass. But the squirrel was so frozen that eagle managed only to cut half of its tail. So soon the eagle flew to a snowy hill where was a hare to eat. Here the eagle started to eat well.

A couple of times the eagle was moving from carcass to another one but I didn’t manage to get any really good flight-pictures even though the weather and light were perfect. Maybe the holes for the lens were a little bit too small for flight-photographing – for sure for Hanna’s lens they were. But I had also taped my lens well to the fabric that was also very hard because of the extremely cold weather. But here it is good to mention that Finnature is building new hides to this place already in this winter so they probably will have a bigger photographing-holes that are planned for lenses that are getting bigger and bigger.

After an hour or so also a female eagle arrived and together these eagles were feeding on a hare. It was clear that they had been practicing a lot as they really know how to shred the carcass together. The light was already getting worse for photographing and quite soon the male flew to the top of a spruce and then left. The female stayed until 3:23 p.m. until it flushed and disappeared behind the tree-tops.

At 4 p.m. we packed our things and left towards our car. Soon everyone else was there too. We drove to Muhos to eat and then continued to Villa Finnature to stay over night,

Villa Finnature was really nice and it must be a perfect place for Finnature to stay with their clients. It must be really good place to stay for every birder and photographer group that comes to Oulu area. We can highly recommend it!

On the 5th of February we woke up at 5 a.m. and soon we were ready to leave to the hides again. Our guide came to get new carcass from the freezer and together with another group that was again coming to the hides we followed her to Utanen. There was one more car soon and then we drove to the parking place and walked to the hides again.

We were staying in the same hide again and we put some more food for tits as we still hoped to get some pictures of a Siberian Tit too. The weather was more cloudy and for some reason much more quiet. There were only some Great, Blue and Willow Tits visiting the feeders. I decided to sleep a couple of hours and didn’t miss a thing.

After 11 a.m. Siberian Tit finally visited the branches in front of the hide right from us. And soon it came to visit the couple of branches where we could photograph it. It was very mobile but after an hour trying I had managed to get some pictures.

The bird visited the stick that Hanna could photograph only twice but she also got some pictures. We also photographed other tits and Jays and then a Grey-headed Woodpecker came to the right branch – it seems they are everywhere nowadays.

The Golden Eagle arrived about same time than on the previous day. It stopped only briefly on a top of a spruce and then flew straight to the hare. I managed to get good pictures of the bird arriving.

I had some setting a little bit wrong as I had expected the bird to fly a little bit higher against the forest but luckily I managed to fix them somehow.

Now the eagle was just eating. It didn’t change place at all. And it stayed shorter time and female was seen only once in flight behind the trees – it didn’t come to eat at all. After an hour or so the male also left and never came back even though we waited until 4 p.m. again.

In the evening we had a long drive back to Parikkala. We drove via Kainuu and nothing happened on the way really. In Liperi we stopped to eat and we were finally at home at 10 p.m. It had been a great trip even though there had been small misfortunes too.

Thanks to Finnature’s Jari Peltomäki, our guides Jukka, Janne and Tanja and Irene who helped us to book the hides and give all instructions. We will come back!

- J.A.

Christmas, winter-bird count and beginning of January

After a trip to Ecuador I had to work a couple of days before a short Christmas break. On the 22nd of December I went to put more food to our feeder in Tiviä and surprisingly heard a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker calling there. I also saw a small flock of Black Grouses and on the next day there was a Nuthatch visiting the feeder.

On Christmas Eve we went to Saari to twitch. On the way we saw a flock of Black Grouses and while we were driving towards Selänne we saw a White-tailed Eagle flying on the sky. In Selänne we found lots of Yellowhammers and also a female Chaffinch. While we were talking with the person who was living there and having the feeder, the Collared Dove arrived to a spruce to the garden. But soon it flew towards the biggest farm that was on the neighbor.

We still visited our own feeder and saw a flock of Long-tailed Tits and a Nuthatch there. The the rest of the day we were in Tarvaslampi with Hanna’s family. There we saw a Pygmy Owl, a Grey-headed Woodpecker and had sauna and ate well.

On Christmas Day I did winter-bird count. I saw 12 Black Grouses, 3 Rock Doves, a Grey-headed Woodpecker, 5 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 3 Goldcrests, 62 Blue, 95 Great and 3 Willow Tits, 2 Treecreepers, a Great Grey Shrike, 6 Jays, 15 Magpies, 54 Jackdaws, 8 Hooded Crows, 7 Ravens, 4 Tree Sparrows, 17 Greenfinches, 35 Bullfinches and 14 Yellowhammers.

On Boxing Day we went to Rautjärvi Simpele Kokkolanjoki where we found a male Pochard in Uudensillankoski. We also saw 2 Whooper Swans, 11 Mallards, 3 Dippers and so on. And on the 28th day the Pochard was still there.


On the 31st of December we drove towards Helsinki. On the way we stopped in Kokkolanjoki and found no Pochard anymore but in Kangaskoski we found a male Long-tailed Duck. In Imatra Vuoksi we saw a Little Grebe and a couple of Tufted Ducks and a Goshawk. In the afternoon we were in familiar Skyline Hotel where we had booked a room. In the evening we went to movies and then went to sleep early. It was again good to sleep near the airport as there weren’t too many fireworks.

Little Grebe

The year was changing and there wasn’t many good birding moments during the year so it was good that the year was finally over. Of course I did three excellent trips to other countries and after all I had 1405 World year -ticks!

On the 1st of January 2023 we woke up early and soon were driving towards Hanko. We were there in Kalasatama about 8 a.m. and soon had seen a Blackbird, Mallards, Common and Herring Gulls, Goldeneyes, Hooded Crows and Jackdaws. Then we walked to Sunnantie where a group of twitchers were already standing.

We talked with some friends but soon some movement was seen under the bushes that were next to the feeder. Some were using thermal cameras and there was a bird or a mouse moving in the bush. After some waiting there was lighter and with our scopes it was possible to identify that it was indeed the bird we had been waiting – a Little Bunting,

On the same place we had also Great Tits, Bullfinches, Tree Sparrows, Long-tailed Ducks, Mute Swans and Siskin. Then from harbor we saw some Goosanders too. But soon we were driving towards Tallholmarna.

We saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker while driving but soon we were walking to the shore next to Neljän tuulen tupa. It was still quite dark but I started to scan the rocks and islets and after some searching found 3 Purple Sandpipers! We had got already 2 First of January –ticks before the sun had risen!

We made a decicion to concentrate only to ticks even though it might have been nice to just do birding in Hanko as the weather was excellent. But after we had seen a flying Velvet Scoter, we decided to start driving towards Espoo.

On a long drive we saw a Treecreeper flying across the road, a Great Grey Shrike on a top of a tree, Ravens, Rock Doves, Magpies, a Sparrowhawk and Yellowhammers before we parked to Soukka. While walking along slippery paths towards Kasavuori we heard some Goldcrests.

There were only handful of birders on the top and the weather was still too calm. Weather forecasts had promised much more wind and it was exactly what we needed to see eagles. Anyway soon we saw some White-tailed Eagles and also Great Black-backed Gulls, Greenfinches and a Goshawk but in a couple of hours we saw nothing else. We really had hoped to see a Greater Spotted Eagle or at least a Golden Eagle!

Finally we had to give up as there had been a couple of Razorbills local in Porkkala for whole day. So we drove a long drive to Luotsikärki where luckily Mika Bruun showed us the birds right away.

We still had time so we drove to Sunds tower and kept on searching for eagles. Again several White-tailed Eagles were seen and finally after an hour Jörgen Palmgren found an adult Golden Eagle perched on a top of one spruce. But Greater Spotted Eagle wasn’t flying at all during the day. Of course on the next day it was seen again. The last year-ticks we got were Parrot Crossbills, a Crested and a Blue Tit and a Black Woodpecker.

But anyway our First of January had been excellent and we had got 4 new ticks – my record is now 153 species.
In the evening we had a long drive back home. On the way we twitched once again the same Eagle Owl in Lappeenranta.

Hawk OwlIn Parikkala it was much more winter than in South. On the 3rd day I saw Jays, a Dipper in Tyrjä and a Grey-headed Woodpecker on our feeder and on the 4th day Black Grouses in Tiviä and the same Hawk Owl again next to main road 6.

On the 6th of January we visited Kokkolanjoki again. On the way we saw a Pygmy Owl flying across the road. But along the river we saw only 8 Dippers and a Great Grey Shrike.

On the 7th day we drove to Saari together with Arttu Valonen. We were there too early so we decided to try to drive through some fields if we could find a Great Grey Owl somewhere. Then in Jyrkilä we saw a Great Grey Owl in flight but unfortunately it flew to the forest and we got no pictures.

At 9 a.m. we were in Selänne and while we were talking to the feeder-keeper again we saw the Collared Dove flying towards the farm. Also the same Chaffinch was seen again, a Willow Tit was calling and a Coal Tit was visiting the feeder.

Next we decided to go to see Siberian Jays and as the forest-roads were too snowy, we had to walk several kilometers to get there. While walking we found some Crested Tits, a Goshawk and a couple of Hazel Hens. But Siberian Jays were missing, we walked in the forest for some time but found nothing.

Around Siikalahti we found a Sparrowhawk in Kannas and I saw a Pygmy Owl briefly in flight but then nothing else was found.

On the 8th day we decided to try Siberian Jays again with Arttu. We managed to drive another road until the place but again jays were missing. Luckily we found a Three-toed Woodpecker.

Other birds we saw during the morning were a Great Grey Shrike in Koirniemi and a Blackbird and 2 Grey-headed Woodpeckers in Tarvaslampi. But the weather was really poor so nothing else was found.

White-backed woodpeckerOn the 11th of January I spent lunch-hour in Moskuunniemi and watched Harri Partanen’s feeder. It was busy and I saw Yellowhammers, Siskins, a Common Redpoll, Long-tailed Tits and a Brambling. Also a White-tailed Eagle flew over. Then in our own feeder in Tiviä I saw a female White-backed Woodpecker.

The rest of the week weather was getting worse and worse. But on Saturday the 14th we still went to ski 12 kilometers in Kinnarsalmi-Tönkivaara. We saw a female Capercaillie and a Goshawk and some forest-tits.

On the 15th day I decided to ski to Siberian Jay forests and even though the weather was awful I managed to find 4 Siberian Jays. I also saw a flock of Black Grouses, a Hazel Hen and a Crested Tit.


Independence day rally again in Kouvola

On the 5th of December we drove to Kouvola after my work-day. When we were finally at Hanna’s sister Elissa’s apartment we ate well and then I still went to some night-birding with Teo Ylätalo. While we were birding and saw a single Long-eared Owl sisters could plan their first independence-day rally.

On the 6th of December we woke up at 5:20 and at 6 o’clock Teo came to pick me up. We started from the owl-place but of course we couldn’t find it. We checked many fields but found absolutely nothing and finally at 8:15 we were picking up Antti Vänskä and then headed to Tanttari.

When sun was rising we heard the first birds – Bullfinches. And soon we started to find other common birds too but also a Wren, a Grey-headed Woodpecker, a Hazel Hen and a Pygmy Owl.

We continued to Kymi-river and found a Kingfisher and a Grey Heron easily and of course some Whooper Swans, Mallards, Goldeneyes and Goosanders. Abd after some more places along the river we had seen also a Common Scoter, a couple of Velvet Scoters and a Great Grey Shrike. Then a couple of Dippers were also seen easily.

But then neither Collared Doves or a Nutcracker were found. Only a flock of Common Crossbills were seen before we started to drive towards south. A Hawk Owl was found easily and we also saw a flock of Black Grouses before we continued to Raussila where we had got info about Stock Doves and Grey Partridges. They were both found surprisingly easily so we had time to drive until Tammijärvi where a Smew and a couple of Sparrowhawks were seen.

Collared Doves didn’t show up on the second try either but a Chaffinch was found while searching for them. Then another visit to Raussila area gave us a Common Kestrel and soon we had to hurry to see Pheasants. Then we finally made it to rubbish tip where all Jackdaws and Hooded Crows had already left but luckily we still saw a couple of Goshawks, a Common Buzzard and also surprisingly a couple of Linnets.

Then sun had already set and the last hour and a half we tried to find Long-eared Owls but without luck. At 4:30 p.m. the rally ended and at 5 o’clock we were in Anjalankoski ABC where we first had pizza and the the results were given. There had been only 5 teams in the race, 3 in Kouvola, biking in Kotka and one along the coast.

Surprisingly Team Gulls had got 54 species and won. We had also had a pretty good day but still missed some too easy birds like a Fieldfare, a Long-tailed Tit or some woodpeckers and so on. Anyway we had got 52 species and came second. Third team had some species less and then Hanna and Elissa had found 39 species in Kouvola. They also had a couple of “aces” and several species that we had missed. So they had managed quite well as the first-timers.

In the evening we had a long drive to Parikkala where everything is already covered with snow and ice so there won’t be much bird-news before spring…