Long birding days

On the first of June it was Monday and once again I headed to Siikalahti on my lunch-hour. Lots of Swifts were flying on the sky and I saw a couple of Hobbies catching one of them as a prey. A Black Kite was seen once again but a Black-tailed Godwit was an unexpected surprise.

In the evening we made another try to see migrating waders in Moskuunniemi and the weather was perfect. In an hour we saw only a single Ruff but then Hanna found a flock of waders from the sky – they were Red Knots! And soon I found another flock and in these flocks were altogether 260 birds. On the way back home we stopped in Kukonkanta and heard a Marsh and a Reed Warbler.

On the 2nd of June my lunch-break was even better when I found a 2nd year Lesser Spotted Eagle. Later I heard that this bird had been flying around for whole morning. In the evening we were back in Siikalahti with a couple of eagle-twitchers and we saw an amazing flock of 660 Red Knots! Also a lonely Broad-billed Sandpiper and a White-fronted Goose were seen but only eagle we saw was seen too briefly – all we could say was that it wasn’t a White-tailed Eagle.

The next days I was seeing mostly the same birds – Black Kite and a Marsh Warbler that was singing very beautifully next to the dam-road. On the 4th day we did a short trip to Saari and heard a River Warbler in Akonpohja. In a couple of days Hanna was photographing in Siikalahti and the best she found were fledlings of Long-tailed tits. Then in the evening of 5th day we went to put up the mist-nets and found 2 small Common Snipe youngsters that we of course ringed.

Then on the 6th day we were ringing and caught maybe the biggest surprise ever in these sessions – a Crested Tit. What it was doing in the reeds? We also caught a male Red-backed Shrike, 3 Sedge Warblers, 1+1c Common Whitethroats, 1 Garden Warbler, 1c Willow Warbler, 1c Great Tit, 1 Chaffinch, 3 Greenfinches, 1 Bullfinch and 1+3c Reed Buntings. During the day I managed to see a White-tailed Eagle nestling for the first time in the nest that we had found earlier. In Siikalahti we saw 150 Swifts, a Black Kite again and a couple of Stock Doves.

On the 7th day we had counts again and we started at midnight. I was rowing more than 10 km during the night and morning around Siikalahti. 2 Garganeys, a couple of Smews, 4 Grasshopper Warblers, 2 Marsh Warblers, a Red-backed Shrike, the family of Ural Owls and a couple of Black Kites were seen.

In the evening we went to check a couple of Great Snipe places and heard 2 + 1 birds before it started to rain.

Again mostly the same birds were seen until the 9th of June when we did counting again. Because of the rain we started late, so we did only the northernmost part of Siikalahti. Then we headed to Saari and saw a Black Kite in Rautalahti on the way. We tried to find Ortolan Buntings but didn’t find any – it is really going to extinct. In Pohjanranta we saw only one wader but it was a Marsh Sandpiper! Also a Grey Heron was seen there. Common Crossbills were on the move and flocks were heard and seen everywhere. In Jyrkilä we saw 2 White-fronted Geese, a Stock Dove and a couple of Short-eared Owls. In Karinmäki we still saw a Grey-headed Woodpecker and heard a Golden Oriole like also in Akonpohja.

On the 10th day I did the rest of the count in the northern part of Siikalahti. After the count we headed to Haukmäki and Soininmäki forests and found altogether 4 or 5 Red-breasted Flycathers, a couple of Crested Tits and a nest of a Coal Tit. But still we found no Greenish Warblers.

11th of June Hanna did the last counts and in the afternoon we went to ring the nestling of the first ever breeding pair of White-tailed Eagles in South Karelia. Pertti Koskimies did all the hard work while we were helping as much as we could, but he is so professional that after all there wasn’t much we could do.

On the 12th day I spent my lunch-hour in Siikalahti together with Aki Aintila and we saw 2 Black Kites. In the afternoon our friend Teo Ylätalo came to do birding with us for the weekend. In the evening we made everything ready for the next morning ringing and then visited a couple of places where we found some Great Snipes. We also saw a couple of adult and heard a few young Long-eared Owls.

On the 13th day we started early with ringing and there were also a couple of young birders from Kerimäki with us. It was pretty quiet morning so with Teo we also caught a Corn Crake that was calling nearby. During the morning we got a couple of Whinchats, 1r+1c Sedge Warblers, 3+2c Common Whitethroats, 4 Garden Warblers, 2+1c Willow Warblers, 1c Pied Flycatcher, 1 Siskin, 1 Common Rosefinch and 2+2c Reed Buntings.

But we had a couple of surprises during the morning. First we heard a loud sound like a fighter plane flying over us – it wasn’t a plane but a flock of 10 migrating Red-throated Divers that were rocketing down from the heights lower down. Then at 8:22 in the full sunshine a Nightjar was singing shortly.

After some sleep we went to see a couple of Parikkala-ticks for Teo and then headed to Siikalahti where a day-calling Spotted Crake wasn’t even a big surprise anymore. A Black Kite was seen and Hanna caught a Thrush Nightingale to ring nearby. Then we went to check one more place in Siikalahti where we found a Black-tailed Godwit and even more surprisingly a Caspian Tern! Also a couple of Golden Orioles were singing there.

In the evening we did a short drive in the forests but saw only a Red-throated Diver on its breeding pond in Savo-side of the border.

On the 14th of June we started at midnight and while driving we heard a River Warbler singing even though we had all windows closed. Then we surprisingly found 3 lekking Great Snipes in a new place!

After we had heard a couple of families of Long-eared Owls , a couple of Nightjars, some Corn Crakes, only a few Blyth’s Reed Warblers and one Grasshopper Warbler, we found some more Great Snipes. It seems this is a good year for this species that still some years ago was extinct in Finland.

We still heard a couple of Spotted Crakes, Golden Orioles and some species already mentioned and then in Akonpohja tried to catch some singers to ring but had no luck. But on the way back home we caught the same River Warbler that was singing next to the main road.

After some sleeping we still headed to Siikalahti where the same white-fronted Goose and also the same Black-tailed Godwit was seen again. A flock of 5 Brent Geese was seen migrating so I finally got a year-tick. Also a lonely Barnacle Goose and a Garganey were seen before Teo left towards Kouvola and I went to sleep again.

During the week I saw mostly the same birds every day. Only surprise was on the 15th day a male Hen Harrier in the middle of the night while listening to Great Snipes. Then on the 16th day I saw the first 6 Ruffs that are already on their way towards south.

On the next couple of days I saw only the same familiar birds. And finally on Thursday the 18th of June we started a holiday that we hadn’t really planned much. We headed towards north and Lapland.


A Self-found tick

On the 19th day I saw only 21 divers migrating in Siikalahti but in the evening we headed to Saari, We did the first stop in Akonpohja and saw a couple of Gadwalls, Honey Buzzards and Whimbrels. We were just about to leave when I noticed a lonely duck sleeping close to reeds on the other side of the lake. It was all the time facing towards me but I managed to see that there was white on the flank and maybe a little bit greyer behind the white area. I waited and waited but the bird stayed in same position.

Anyway I told Hanna to get her scope up too and together we kept on looking at the bird. Finally it turned and we could see the side of it well and it really looked like what I had been hoping. But still we needed to see its head. We waited for some time again until it finally woke up and we could see a black tip and white ring on its bill – it was a Ring-necked Duck!

It was only the second Ring-necked Duck in South Karelia and 26th for Finland. There were quite a few twitchers coming to see the bird and luckily it stayed in Akonpohja for some time.

Other birds we saw in Saari were a nest of a Black Woodpecker, a Common Ringed Plover, 3 Stock Doves, a couple of Short-eared Owls and we ended the tour to a place were a couple of Great Snipes were lekking. I still visited Siikalahti before midnight and heard a Grasshopper Warbler, lots of Water Rails and a Spotted Crake.

On the 20th of May a Common Rosefinch was singing in Siikalahti and the same Ural Owl was seen again. It really started to seem that this owl was breeding in a strange place…

On the 21st day after checking that everything was OK with breeding Nuthatches we headed to Saari where we met some friends that were twitching Ring-necked Duck. The duck was showing pretty well with a flock of Tufted Ducks and a couple of Greater Scaups.

In suurenjärvenliete we found about a flock of 20 000 Barnacle Geese and in KAnavalampi we saw a Slavonian Grebe. We were already heading back to Parikkala when we got a phone call that our friends were looking at a good-looking Cackling Goose candidate. We were soon in Kinnarniemi and I managed to see the goose only shortly before the big flock of 8000 Barnacle Geese flushed for some reason. It really looked good unless the neck – it had black too low to the breast so it was after all a hybrid with Barnacle Goose and either Cackling or Canada Goose. Our friends had also noticed the same thing right before we had arrived.

On the 22nd of May we did the duck-count but there were not many ducks to count and Hooded Crows had destroyed all the nests of gulls already. I stopped in Kaukola when I saw Irina Nordman watching a goose-flock and she had just found a Lesser White-fronted Goose that had been seen already on the previous evening shortly – actually it had been identified only from one birder’s pictures. But unfortunately this was one of the Swedish “shite-birds” with color-rings. Actually it looked like some kind of hybrid and it was clearly with one White-fronted Goose. Nice work neighbors!

During the count we heard a Wryneck and an Icterine Warbler and I found an early Marsh Warbler. In the evening we did a short trip to fields neaby and found some tons of Barnacle Geese but not Ross’s Goose that still had been seen in the area a couple of times.

On the 23rd day we had ringing morning but it was the most boring ever. We caught a Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Common Whitethroats, 2 Reed Buntings, which another one was a controlled bird and the only surprise was a Wood Sandpiper. During the day we went to see Northern Crested Newts but only Hanna saw one very briefly. Anyway we saw quite a few Smooth Newts.

On the 24th of May we did night-bird count so I was rowing around Siikalahti whole night and Hanna was walking a lot on the eastern side of the bay. We both continued then also to normal map-counts, so I counted birds from the islands. Hanna found a River Warbler and altogether we heard 4 Grasshopper Warblers that all were in reeds. 20 Water Rails were heard and we also finally could be sure that the Ural Owl was breeding in one stump as we heard young birds begging for food. I also heard a Corn Crake, saw a flock of 10 migrating Ringed Plovers, a Long-eared Owl, a Stock Dove and again a Black Kite.

In the evening we visited Moskuunniemi and saw a flock of 13 Greater Scaups with 3 Common Scoters. A Corn Crake was calling there too.

On the 25th day we had work and then we were sleeping as we were both extremely tired. Anyway I heard a Golden Oriole in Kangaskylä and while lunch-hour I saw some raptors which a migrating Hen Harrier was the biggest surprise as it was quite late to see one still on migration. I also heard several Icterine Warblers. I the evening we went to see Ural Owls and 2 of them were down from the stump and got ringed. The smallest on was still in the nest that was too high.

On the 26th day after sleeping very bad, I woke up at 3 a.m. and soon found out that Blyth’s Reed Warblers had finally arrived. At 4 a.m. I started map-counts and it was hard work once again. I found mostly just common breeding birds but a male Red-backed Shrike, a couple of Long-tailed Tit pairs and a a few Golden Orioles were found too. In the afternoon we did a trip to Saari where Ring-necked Duck was still in Akonpohja where we also heard a Wryneck and 2 Marsh Warblers and saw a Little Spotted Woodpecker. Only other bird to mention was a Short-eared Owl in Akanvaara Tetrisuo.

On the 27th of May I had free day! Luckily the weather had been so good that I had already done all counts and I still had one day free from ordinary work. So I headed to Soininmäki forests and easily found a Three-toed Woodpecker and a Parrot Crossbill but none better songbird. Then I twitched the River Warbler that was still singing in Siikalahti and then headed to Saari to see if there were any waders but had no luck. The Ring-necked Duck was still in Akonpohja with a lonely Slavonian Grebe, I also saw a Map Butterfly there. After long naps we headed to Rautjärvi Simpele Kokkolanjoki and found what we were searching for when we saw a male Grey Wagtail briefly.

On the 28th day Hanna and Matti were counting and saw a flock of 8 Great White Egrets. It was raining a little bit so I expected that there was possibility to see waders but none was seen in Siikalahti, but everywhere else at least Broad-billed Sandpipers were seen. On my lunch-hour I saw only one egret and in the afternoon I drove to Pohjanranta but saw no waders there either.

On the 29th day a Black Kite and a few Garganeys were seen like almost every day. 3 White-fronted and a single Barnacle Goose was left anymore and sleeping in front of the hide. In the afternoon we went to ring Starling in Tarvaslampi and there were altogether 13 youngsters in 3 nest-boxes. In the evening we went once again to check if the third Ural Owl was to be found and after not seeing or hearing it at all in a couple of night it was a surprise that we found it and even got it finally ringed. We still checked one Great Snipe field and heard at least one distant bird. Also Nightjar was finally added to my year-list.

On the 30th of May Hanna was sleeping long as it was finally her holiday. I headed to Siikalahti where I saw a Black Kite, a Red-backed Shrike, 17 migrating Black and 13 Red-throated Divers and 4 Red-breasted Mergansers. Then I had to go home to sleep some more too.

In the afternoon we headed to Saari and finally managed to find 5 Broad-billed Sandpipers in Pohjanranta. Also a Ringed Plover was seen and in Akanvaara Tetrisuo we saw a Short-eared Owl and in a couple of fields a couple of Stock Doves. In Akopohja we didn’t find Ring-necked Duck anymore so maybe it has moved on or then is just hiding better than before.

On the last day of May we headed to forests and hoped to find Greenish Warblers but found “only” a couple of beautiful male Red-breasted flycatchers. Hanna even managed to get some pretty good pictures of another one.


Ringing season starts, Garden Watch, counts, lifer twitch and much more

After the long weekend it was again normal week except Hanna was still teaching from home. Usually the best time of the year to see rare birds in Parikkala is in the beginning of May and the end of April had already been good. But now there was no floods at all so waders were completely missing.

On the 4th of May I was again in Siikalahti on my lunch-hour and together with Esa Sojamo we saw a migrating adult Greater spotted Eagle. Also a couple of White-tailed Eagles, a Black Kite, an early Swift and a Whinchat were seen. In Härskiinmutka I saw 14 Cormorants and a Common Sandpiper and in the evening a Hobby was seen and heard in Tarvaslampi. After sauna we still went to Siikalahti where we heard a Slavonian Grebe and saw a small flock of Ruffs.

During the next day’s lunch-visit I heard a Little Ringed Plover and a Lesser Whitethroat and saw a Northern Wheatear and a White-tailed Eagle. In the evening we went to put everything ready to our ringing place and saw a couple of Lapland Buntings there.

First ringing morning

On the 6th of May we woke up early and at 5 a.m. we had mist-nets up. It was very quiet but some Reed Buntings, a Lesser Whitethroat and a few Willow Warblers and Great Tits were caught. We also heard a Rustic Bunting calling. I had to go to work but Hanna stayed a few more hours but it started to wind and only a few Willow Warblers were caught. Altogether 13 birds were ringed and 2 were birds that we had ringed in the past in the same place.

During my lunch. hour I saw a Black Kite, a couple of White-tailed Eagles and a migrating Golden Eagle. A Common Whitethroat was singing and a flock of 100 Golden Plovers were flying far on the southern side of the bay.

On the 8th day I saw nothing on my day-visit but in the afternoon we went to Siikalahti again. Surprisingly a couple of Marsh Sandpiper arrived to the bay and flew a couple of times over us calling and then continued towards north with some Wood Sandpipers. Other year-ticks were a Spotted Redshank, a Sedge Warbler and a Sand Martin. At least 3 Black Kites were seen and 2 Stock Doves were still around so it seems that they are breeding somewhere nearby.

Because I realized that I had 199 year-ticks I visited several places in the evening but saw only a Greylag Goose. After all I had to twitch a Thrush Nightingale as a year-tick number 200 before midnight.

Garden Watch

On the 9th of May it was the time for Garden Watch. Because of COVID19 the traditional Bird-tower competition had cancelled and birders were competing in their own gardens. We had always known that our garden is a really good place to see birds, but we really hadn’t put it as a test, so it was finally nice to see how many species we could see in our garden during the day.

At 5 a.m. it was raining but it was only good as some ducks had landed to the lake and some waders were also landing or flying low. We soon saw some Long-tailed Ducks and Common Scoters, Wood Sandpipers, Ruffs and even a Little Ringed Plover.

When the rain stopped birds started to sing and soon we heard a Redstart, a Dunnock, Willow Warblers and even a Wren. But still we had expected to hear more song-birds.

Cranes were calling and a Black Woodpecker drumming but of course a Grey-headed Woodpecker, that had been calling actively on the previous morning, was quiet.
We kept on scanning the sky and found some Red-throated Divers with Black –throated Divers, a couple of small flocks of Velvet Scoters, a couple of White-tailed Eagles, finally a couple of local Cormorants and it seemed that there was all the time something migrating – at least passerines very high on the sky. Redpolls, Tree Pipits and Yellow Wagtails were identified and also a couple of Bullfinches flew over us. Also a Reed Bunting was seen.

From the lake we managed to find some Mallard, a couple of Wigeons and Shovelers and a lonely Teal. 3 Scaups were seen in flight and they landed to a small distant flock of Common Scoters. Bitterns were heard but a surprise was a Grey Heron that was migrating.

In early morning we saw a Merlin and later a couple of Hobbies were chasing passerines all the time. Other raptors we saw were a couple of Marsh Harriers, Ospreys and Sommon Buzzards but then we saw a 2nd calendar year Pallid Harrier and also a Black Kite migrating. Finally in the end of the watch we saw also a Sparrowhawk.

New waders were also seen as Lapwings were migrating, a lonely Spotted Redshank was heard from the sky, Common Sandpipers were flying over the lake-surface and a Common Snipe was displaying on the other side of the lake. But some more waders could have been possible.

It started to get windy and we didn’t get almost any new species in a couple of hours, finally some Rock doves and a Slavonian Grebe were seen, but when the wind got easier we saw a Stock Dove, a Cuckoo, some House Martins, Mistle Thrushes, a Yellowhammer, a Redwing and a Meadow Pipit. Still some common birds weren’t found at all, maybe Song Thrush was the most ridiculous one.

During the day we had seen also some 20 000 migrating geese, but finally it was 1 p.m. Our target had been to see 75 or 80 species but after all we saw 93 species! Maybe in this day we finally could have got 100 species in Siikalahti, ot then our garden is just at least almost as good place to collect species in this time of year.

In the afternoon we visited Siikalahti and easily saw 10 species that we hadn’t seen in our garden, best ones were a Black-tailed Gofwit and a Peregrine.

Counts begin

On the 10th of May we started mapping counts in Siikalahti. We started with night-singer mapping and some better birds were a Grey Heron, 4 Spotted Crakes, lots of Water Rails, a Jack Snipe and some migrating flocks of Common Scoters. I saw a Long-eared Owl and Hanna heard an early Grasshopper Warbler. Some other birds we heard were Wood Warblers, Bluethroats and Blackcaps.

After the counts we stayed in Siikalahti for some time and saw a migrating Red-throated Pipit, Black Kites, a Hen Harrier and the same Black-tailed Godwit again.

On the 11th day it was raining so I didn’t see much. Only better bird was a Black-tailed Godwit in Lahdensuo.

On the 12th I had free from work to do counts. From the north-western parts of Siikalahti I found lots of birds which 4 Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, 3 Grey-headed Woodpeckers, a Garden Warbler, a Wood Warbler, a Blackcap, a couple of Long-tailed Tits and especially a Red-breasted Flycatcher were nice.

During the day we met our old friend Panu Kuokkanen who is nowadays working in Metsähallitus and now working with bird-wetlands. We showed to Panu all corners of Siikalahti and discussed what could be done to make Siikalahti better in the future. We also saw some birds like a Black Kite, a Honey Buzzard, a couple of Bluethroats, woodpeckers and again a Red-throated Pipit.

On the 13th day I still had free so I did duck-counts. There weren’t many birds but 2 males and a female Gadwalls and 3 males and a female Garganeys were good. Altogether 5 Bluethroats were found and a Spotted Flycatcher was heard as a year-tick.

I stayed in Siikalahti until the afternoon and still saw Black Kites, a Honey Buzzard and a Pink-footed Goose and after short naps I headed to Saari where I saw a Gadwall in Akonpohja, a Heuglin’s Gull in Akanvaara Tetrisuo, a Stock Dove in Pohjasuo and a Long-eared Owl in Karinmäki.

Lifer twitch

On the 14th of May in I got a message that a Long-billed Dowitcher had been found in Kontiolaht i already in the previous evening but it had been now identified. I had to stay at work until 3 p.m. but then we keft towards Linnunsuo with Hanna, Miika and Pekka Punnonen. It was a long way but finally we parked our car and started walking towards the place were some birders were. The bird wasn’t visible but we understood that it had been pretty far and had walked behind some mud earlier. After some waiting it came visible and we all got new Finnish-ticks and also it was the first summer-plumage Dowitcher we had ever seen anywhere. The bird was almost all the time behind something but after all we saw it well enough.

Other birds we saw in Linnunsuo were Spotted Redshanks and Redshanks, 4 Common Ringed Plovers, a Jack Snipe, a Dunlin, a few Bluethroats and a couple of Long-tailed Tits. We also heard an Oystercatcher calling.

On the way back to Parikkala we stopped in Pohjanranta where we saw a Little Ringed Plover.

On the 15th of May a couple of Black Kites, a Goshawk, a Stock Dove and a Redshank were better observation in Siikalahti. On the 16th day we woke up early and had ringing session again. It was very quiet again and altogether we ringed a Robin, 2 Common Whitethroats, 3 Willow Warblers + 1 controlled bird, 3 Pied Flycatchers, a Bullfinch and controlled one Reed Bunting. Other birds seen were 7500 migrating Barnacle Geese and we were just outside the migration line as much more were seen only some kilometers away. In the afternoon we visited Saari and counted about 60 000 Barnacle Geese there – almost nothing else were found, just geese…

Quite a evening trip

On the 17th day we had planned to take it easy as the weather was rainy, but then a Snowy Goose was reported from Koitsanlahti. We headed there immediately and already while driving we saw the birds in a big flock of Barnacle Goose and before we had stopped, I said that it really looked like a Ross’s Goose. Jarmo Pirhonen had accidentally found the bird too so we parked just behind him and he shouted that there was indeed a Ross’s Goose. It was only the 3rd ever Ross’s Goose in Finland but unfortunately this species is in zoo-category. I tried to digiscope some pictures but it was raining so hard that the pictures weren’t good after all.

In the afternoon we drove around the fields around Siikalahti and nearby and counted about 30 000 Barnacle Geese. When twitchers had seen the Ross’s Goose leave from Joukio towards east, we tried to see it in Siikalahti but after all found it in Lahdensuo. Later we saw a Ural Owl that was posing nicely and then maybe the biggest surprise of the day, a small Brown Bear that was running across the road. We managed to follow it with car for some time and Hanna managed to get a couple of pictures of it running inside the forest.

Later we still found a Pink-footed Goose in Siikalahti and a nest of a Nuthatch near Likolampi – so it wasn’t a bad evening trip at all not far from home.

On the morning of 18th of May I saw the Ross’s Goose briefly flying with masses of Barnacle Geese in Lahdensuo. In Härskiinmutka I counted amazing 440 Common Terns and in Siikalahti I saw a Black Kite again. In the evening we went to see Kurhonselkä by boat with Arttu Valonen. The weather was great but there weren’t many birds. Luckily a couple of flocks of Long-tailed Ducks with some Common and Velvet Scoters were found and seen pretty well.


Rarer spring-birds too

On the 22nd of April I sis a short visit to Siikalahti and saw first a female Hen Harrien and then a female Pallid Harrier migrating. Also 5 Whimbrels and a House Martin were new arrivals. In the evening we went to listen to Moor Frogs and saw also a Spotted Crake.

On the 24th of April we did a short evening visit to Saari and found a Short-eared Owl displaying high on the sky. One or two more birds were hunting on the field. Then we drove to a Capercaillie displaying forest to put up tents. Two male Capercaillies were seen before we started to sleep.

At night Hanna, who had already been in this place once before, heard a Tengmalm’s Owl and we both heard a couple of small flocks of Common Scoters. Early in the morning a couple of Capercaillies arrived but they stayed pretty far from our tents. Altogether we saw 3 males and 2 females but we got only some distant pictures.

We gave up pretty early and still heard a Pheasant and found a Wood Lark and a flock of 20 Waxwings.

In morning we did again a trip in Saari and saw 4 Gadwalls in Akonpohja, a couple of Great Grey Shrikes, a Northern Wheatear in Suurenjärvenliete and 5 White-tailed Eagles in Tarassiinlahti.

Hanna still decided to spend one more night with Capercaillies and when I had dropped her to her tent, I continued to Pohjanranta to twitch a Little Grebe without luck. But I found a second year Pallid Harrier perched on a stump. Soon it flew pretty close to me and continued towards north.

On the 26th of April I counted water-birds again in Siikalahti. The big water-area was counted without surprises but on dam-road I met Harri Partanen and while chatting I noticed a passerine landing to the fence of the parking place and it was a beautiful male Black Redstart! We got some pictures before Meadow Pipits chased it to the sky and it disappeared. Soon I noticed a raptor migrating towards north and identified it as a Black Kite!

Meanwhile Hanna was only listening Capercaillies as they stayed too far, but she heard a Rustic Bunting singing too.

I continued to southern side of the bay and while counting geese I found a beautiful Red-breasted Goose! It was swimming with other geese to an area which can’t be seen from any towers but I managed to one single picture where it can be seen. It was never seen after that.

Other birds seen were 18 Bewick’s Swans, 2845 Tundra Bean, 439 Greater White-fronted, 508 Barnacle and 2 Canada Geese, 21 Pintails, a couple of Garganeys, 101 Tufted Ducks, 121 Goldeneyes, 9 Great Crested Grebes and 5 Red-necked Grebes. It seemed that migration of most of the ducks was already gone.

After the count I drove to pick up Hanna and on the way I saw a Black Kite soaring over the road. Soon we were heading to Siikalahti again and on Huhmarinen we found one more Black Kite perched on the field! Hanna managed to get some very good pictures of this bird when it flew over us a couple of times.

We stayed in Siikalahti for several hours and found a Greylag Geese and I saw a Pink-footed Goose briefly. I had seen seven species of geese in Siikalahti during the day! We also counted 25 migrating Rough-legged Buzzards, a couple of White-tailed Eagles, a Peregrine and one amazing black-and-white raptor that really looked like a Booted Eagle first but after all was identified as a ”börringe” Common Buzzard. Also 5 Little Gulls and 3 Stock Doves were seen.

In the afternoon we still went to check the last owl nest-boxes but all we found were cold eggs in one Pygmy Owl nest-box. It had probably given up because of the lack of food. So after all we hadn’t got a single breeding owl in our 90 nest-boxes! We saw a male Capercaillie in the forests. In the evening I still went to Siikalahti and saw 2 migrating Short-eared Owls.

The week started very well when on the morning of 27th of April I got information that there had been a Ring Ouzel in Surumäki. I drove there immediately and luckily saw this shy birds a couple of times briefly. I also heard a Hawfinch there. During the day I visited Siikalahti and saw the same Peregrine and Black Kite and 4 Cormorants. In the evening we went to listen to Moor Frogs to southern side of the bay and heard some new Water Rails and 2 Spotted Crakes.

On the 28th of April I saw a couple of Common Scoters and Red-breasted Mergansers in Härskiinmutka and the same Ring Ouzel was again seen briefly in Surumäki. During my luch-hour I first found a Black Kite soaring on the sky but once I got bored watching this ”common” bird, I noticed a bigger raptor soaring above it – a Lesser Spotted Eagle! Also a Merlin, a Golden Plover and small flocks of Waxwings and Lapland Buntings were seen.

On the 29th I visited Siikalahti only very shortly as it was snowing very hard. Anyway a Black Kite was soaring on the sky with a Common Buzzard. The rest of the day we were just taking easy but in the evening we remembered to go out to our garden as our neighbor Matti Lötjönen had seen and heard a redstart-species in two previous evenings. We just walked down the stairs and noticed a female-plumaged Black Redstart feeding in front of us!

On the 30th of April we did the water-bird count together. Hanna counted the bigger wtare-area and I counted all the other parts of the bay. Hanna saw a male Pallid Harrier briefly but the rest of the count was pretty boring. Only nice thing was to find 27 male and 17 female Pochards which is the best number for several years. Hanna also saw a Gadwall male again.

During the lunch-hour I was lucky again as I found a 2nd year Greater Spotted Eagle soaring on the sky. It flew over the dam-road nicely and it looked like it was going to stay on the bay but after all it was never seen again. I also saw a possible male Pallid Harrier but too briefly just disappearing behind the forest.

In the evening we packed the car and started driving towards south. We drove straight to Virolahti Lintulahti where we saw a Pied Flycatcher, 5 Barn Swallows and 6 Wood Sandpipers and so on. We put up the camp to Lakakallio and also Hanna’s sister Elissa was there. We visited the rock just briefly and saw about 200 Common Scoters and a couple of Caspian Terns.

The first of May we started early and headed to Leerviik where we started sea-watching at 5:20 a.m. Migration was pretty quiet but still 230 Black-throated Divers, 4 Red-throated Divers, 58 Pintails, 19 Shovelers, 2 Common Pochards, 85 Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Hobbies, a Peregrine, 15 Whimbrels, 19 Little Gulls, 7 Barn Swallows, a Tree Pipit and so on were seen. Also a few Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs were heard and a couple of Common Sandpipers were seen.

Hanna’s brother Miika arrived too and pretty soon we continued to Kolsinpohja where we found 4 Great White Egrets! Also a Ruff and a White-backed Woodpecker were seen. Then we headed to Kurkela where some White-tailed Eagles, a couple of Whinchats and a Yellow Wagtail were seen.

In the evening Miika continued ome to Kotka but the rest of us drove west to Porvoo Ruskis where we easily found a couple of Bearded Reedlings from the reeds. In Sikosaari we saw nothing interesting but on the other side of the bay we saw a Rook and heard a couple of short calls of a Great Snipe! Then we drove to Emäsalo where we put up the camp and soon were sleeping.

On the 2nd of May we started sea-watching at 5:30 a.m. and in hard eastern wind we stayed there until 8 a.m. It was a great morning but unfortunately we had an appointment in Helsinki so we had to leave too early. Anyway we managed to count 78 Scaups, 75 Common Eiders, 51 Velvet Scoters, 16 Red-throated Divers, 87 Black-throated Divers, 11 Red-necked Grebes, a Razorbill, 20 Black Guillemots, 370 Little Gulls and the best birds were flocks of 25 and 4 Steller’s Eiders.

But we had to drive to Helsinki Viikki early as we had to be in Lintuvaruste bird-equipment shop at 9:30 a.m. a half an hour before it was actually opening. Miika was also there and soon we got 4 different kind of scopes and went out to test them. We walked to the field where an Isabelline Wheatear had been found on the previous day, so it was easy to decide what we were looking while testing scopes. Other birds seen were a couple of Whinchats, Common Redstart and a Yellow Wagtail and so on.

After an hour we walked back to the shop and started shopping. Both Miika and Elissa bought Kowa-telescopes and also similar tripods and heads for scope, but I still kept on the scopes in front of the shop. After all I decided to stay with Zeiss and bought similar Harpia than Hanna already had got about 1.5 years. We both also bought new Gitzo Gimbal heads!

It was already afternoon when we started driving away from Helsinki. Luckily I checked Lintutiedotus and noticed that a Lesser White-fronted Goose had still been seen in Tuusula. We weren’t far so soon we parked to Terrilä. After some searching we managed to find a sleepy goose in a flock of a couple of hundreds of other geese. It was a good lifer for Miika and Elissa.

Soon we were back in Emäsalo where we camped in the same place and after some cooking went to sleep early. And the whole night it was raining hard.

On the 3rd of May we woke up early and at 5 a.m. we were on the shore. Surprisingly our old friend Petri Lampila was also there but soon also Antti Peuna, who we had met on the previous day in Helsinki, arrived. Unfortunately there was thick fog on the sea!

While chatting the time past quickly and finally the sea opened. But still there was almost no migration. But when birds were seen, they often were something better. A gadwall landed to the shore, 3 flocks – altogether 200 Oystercatchers were migrating, a Temminck Stint and a Razorbill were seen only by some of us but luckily first a Bar-tailed Godwit and then a single male Steller’s Eider were seen better.

At 9:25 a.m. I found a tern flying straight towards us and it just looked somehow interesting. But I could see only the silhouette and te way it was flying very strong and straight. It was getting close, but I could see nothing about it. When it was passing us, I saw it well for a second – a Sandwich Tern! I shouted to the others but it was too late – everyone saw the bird but it was continuing similarly straight and strong away so that only silhouette and the way of flight were possible to see. It was a Finnish-tick for me, but somehow I felt more bad about it as I didn’t identify it earlier or at least noticed about this bird that was flying so strong to others sooner. Maybe with my old scope I could have identified it sooner, but with my new scope I was maybe too careful – the view is quite different after all.

The migration was quiet so some gave up sooner but with Aleksi Mikola we still saw a female-plumaged Two-barred Crossbill flying over us. It was accompanied with another unidentifeid crossbill and together they flew to south to the sea!

At 11 a.m. we also gave up and while walking to the parking place, we heard a couple of singing Wood Warblers. Mikka continued to home but we still continued to Ruskis where 4 Bearded Reedlings, a flock of 180 Wood Sandpipers and so on were seen.

Then we still stopped in Loviisa Haravankylä where we cooked but saw only some White-tailed Eagles. Then ”Elli” continued to Kouvola and we towards Parikkala. We still stopped in Luumäki Taavetti fish-ponds and in Imatra Kymälahti but without anything new.


Common spring birds (mostly)

In the beginning of April there weren’t any surprises in birding. In Peltola a couple of Greylag Geese were with 800 other grey geese and there were more than 10 Bewick’s Swans with Whooper Swans. A lonely female Pochard was swimming in open water area in Siikalahti.

The spring was so early that Siikalahti was melting fast so I had to do the first waterbird count already on the 4th of April. 17 Bewick’s and 330 Whooper Swans, 2 Taiga Bean, 600 Tundra Bean, 250 Greater White-fronted, 3 Greylag and 42 Canada Geese, 16 Wigeons, 6 Teals, 94 Mallards, now also a male Pochard, 30 Goldeneyes, a male Smew, 6 Goosanders and a 2 Coots were seen. Other birds that were seen during the count and after it were 5 White-tailed Eagles, 2 Goshawks, an early Osprey, a Golden Plover, a Black-headed Gull, 4 Stock Doves, a Long-tailed Tit and a couple of Gold Finches.

On the next day I stayed again in Siikalahti for a few hours but saw only a couple of Pintails and Tifted Ducks, a Sparrowhawk, a Common Snipe, 23 Black-headed Gulls and 14 Snow Buntings. Hanna spent whole morning in a photo-hide next to the field and tried to get pictures of geese. The best pictures were got from Hooded Crows. It was a long morning as Hanna got out only when a White-tailed Eagle flushed all the geese in the afternoon.

On the 6th of April I did a short lunch-hour visit to Siikalahti but finally found a Pink-footed Goose that was in a big flock of geese. Also a female Marsh Harrier had arrived. In the evening we found a 2 c-y Rook in Peltola field.

On the 7th day the weather was nice and warm, so it wasn’t a surprise that 13 Barnacle Geese landed to the goose-flock. A female Hen Harrier was seen briefly but then we saw 3 Golden Eagles migrating in same time! Also 2 White-tailed Eagles were on the sky then. Hanna spent the day and evening again in photo-hide.

Golden Eagle

After my work-day I went back to Siikalahti but there hadn’t been any more eagles. I stayed there until the evening and saw 2 adult White-tailed Eagles, 7 Rough-legged Buzzards, 2 Common Kestrels, a Common Curlew, a White Wagtail, a couple of Redwings, 18 Fieldfares, a Mistle Thrush and about 350 Black-headed Gulls and 20 Common Gulls were flying over the bay. Both Pintails and Tufted Ducks were seen six pairs.

In the evening of the 8th day I saw 20 adult Bewick’s Swans swimming and probably there were more on the fields. 200 Mallards were flying between the field and the bay and again I saw 6 Rough-legged Buzzard migrating. The same Rook was still flying around and in Särkisalmi I heard a Robin singing.

On the 9th I counted already 61 Barnacle Geese in Peltola. After work-day we packed our car and started driving south. We stopped in Joutseno Korvenkylä to twitch a male Common Shelduck but then continued towards Virolahti. On the way we saw a Green Sandpiper and stopped in Ylämaa Väkevänjärvi but saw nothing interesting there. In Virolahti we put up a camp in Lakakallio.

On the 10th of April we headed early to Leerviik and there we watched to the sea for whole morning with Hanna’s sister Elissa and brother Miika. We counted 890 Cormorants but saw also a Gadwall, Common Eiders, Oystercatchers, some Black-throated Divers and Great Crested Grebes, a Grey Heron, a Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Razorbill that had something wrong as it was swimming in strange position all the time and wasn’t diving at all.

During the day we drove to Vilkkiläntura where we saw a couple of Shovelers and Garganeys. In Hämeenkylä fields I saw a Meadow Pipit and then in Kurkela we tried to see raptor for a couple of hours but saw only a Merlin, a Marsh Harrier, an Osprey, some Common Buzzard and Sparrowhawks and of course White-tailed Eagles. In Lintulahti and Hanski we saw nothing better.
On the 11th of April the morning was very quiet, only 560 Cormorants were counted migrating. After visiting Lintulahti again we headed to Hamina. We visited Klamila and Kattilainen on the way but then parked to Lupinlahti when it was snowing very heavily. Anyway we managed to find 3 Caspian Terns and hear a Redshank calling. Next we drove to Tallimäki where we found a Collared Dove after a little bit of searching.

In Kirkkojärvi we tried to see raptors but the weather was against our plans. We saw only a Goshawk and a Marsh Harrier. From the tower we heard some Water Rails and we also saw an old nest of a Penduline Tit.

Next we drove to Salminlahti but saw only plenty of Grey Herons. Then we decided to drive to Kouvola Junkkarinjärvi where we saw 40 Common Snipes and I saw briefly a Jack Snipe too. We still tried to twitch a Red-breasted Goose but found no geese at all and then a Black Redstart without luck either. We had planned to do birding in Kymenlaakso for one more day, but the weather forecast was so bad that after all we decided to drive back to Parikkala.

On the 12th of April I did a waterbird count again. The weather was luckily getting bad later in Parikkala, so I managed to count all bay in time. I saw 26 Bewick’s and 179 Whooper Swans, 220 Tundra Bean, 250 White-fronted and 880 grey geese, 30 Barnacle Geese and 8 Canada Geese, 84 Wigeons, a male Gadwall, 80 Teals, even 563 Mallards, 19 Pintails, 22 Pochards, 58 Tufted Ducks, 81 Goldeneyes, amazing 85 Smews, 5 Goosanders and 53 Coots. Also 83 Lapwings and 16 Curlews were counted. Also 27 Meadow Pipits were seen and a Grey-headed and a Lesser Spooed Woodpecker heard. We still managed to twitch an Oystercatcher in Saharanta and 3 Haw Finches in Kirkonkylä before the weather turned bad.

a href=”http://www.caligata.com/birdersdiary/?attachment_id=9261″ rel=”attachment wp-att-9261″>On the 13th day we did only a short drive to the fields nearby in the morning as the weather was still crap. 3 Lesser Black-backed Eagles, a couple of Stock Doves and a Brambling were seen. In Moskuunniemi we heard a Nuthatch. When the weather was getting a little bit better we went birding to Saari, where we first counted 300 Teals in Akonpohja, then twitched a Great White Egret in Pohjanranta where also 3 Green Sandpipers and a flock of 1000 Wood Pigeons were seen. In Jyrkilä we saw a Goshawk, a Hen Harrier and a couple of Stock Doves. In the evening we still went to Siikalahti where we saw a Greylag Goose and heard even 10 Water Rails. While driving home we saw a Long-eared Owl flying over the road.

After Eastern the weather stayed pretty bad. Anyway I visited Siikalahti every day, usually a couple of times. On the 14th day we saw a Garganey, a Shoveler and a Slavonian Grebe that was with 4 Great Crested Grebes. In Kirkkoselkä we saw a Black-throated Diver and counted 1500 gulls when the sun was setting down.

On the 15th of April a Green Sandpiper was the only bird to mention on the lunch-hour, but in the evening we found a Song Thrush, a Grey Heron and counted 22 Bewick’s Swans. On the next day I saw already 5 Marsh Harriers but the weather was still so bad that on Friday we started to check our owl nest-boxes. No owls were found but a Hen Harrier was seen and in the evening there was an early Spotted Crake calling in Siikalahti.

On the 18th day we continued checking the nest-boxes but they were empty. Dunnocks, a Wren, a Goldcrest, a Hazel Hen, some Black Grouses and then surprisingly a Wood Lark were found. We also saw a Hen Harrier and a Merlin. In the evening we visited Siikalahti but saw only swans and geese.

On the 19th day I did the duck-count again but most of the migrants were gone. 1500 Tundra Bean and 400 White-fronted Geese and especially 45 Bewick’s Swans were numbers to mention. a Gadwall male was still chasing a Mallard female and also a Garganey was seen. After the count we headed to check more nest-boxes and after a long day we had checked altogether 75 nest-boxes without any sign of owls! But a couple of good records were made as we saw a couple of Two-barred Crossbills and a flock of 4 Cormorants migrating.

On the 20th of April a couple of Greylag Geese were in Siikalahti and an Oystercatcher again in Kangaskylä. On the 21st day 27 Bewick’s Swans, a Red-necked Grebe and a Greenshank, altogether 6 Great Bitterns and 14 Water Rails were found in Siikalahti. Then the next day was so quiet that I already started to think that I wouldn’t see any better birds in whole spring…


Early spring

In the beginning of March there was almost no snow, which is really no normal! On the 2nd day there were 12 Whooper Swans and a couple of Mallards in Siikalahti and also the same Nuthatch was still around. In Kannas I saw an Arctic Redpoll and in Kirkkoselkä some Herring Gulls and a couple of White-tailed Eagles. On the next day there were 20 and then on the next 34 Whooper Swans and also Herring Gull-number came up up to 62 birds on the 6th of March.

On the 7th of March I did a winter-bird count and saw 35 Whooper Swans, 2 Black Grouses, 7 Rock Pigeons, 2 Black, a Grey-headed, 18 Great Spotted and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, 3 Blackbirds, 39 Blue, 98 Great and 5 Willow Tits, a Great Grey Shrike, 12 Jays, 23 Magpies, 45 Jackdaws, 56 Hooded Crows, a Starling, 7 House Sparrows, 30 Tree Sparrows, 16 Greenfinches, 2 Goldfinches, 19 Siskins, 176 Common Redpolls, 2 Common Crossbills, 11 Bullfinches and 32 Yellowhammers.

In the evening we did an owl-trip to Melkoniemi and heard a Long-eared Owl, 3 Ural Owls and a Tengmalm’s Owl so it seems that we might have better owl-year after many years!

On the 8th day we were in Siikalahti for some hours and saw an early Merlin, 2 Common Buzzards, a Snow Bunting, a Skylark and 3 Lapwings. In the evening an Eagle Owls couple was heard.

On the 9th day 78 Whooper Swans, 11 Lapwings, a White-tailed Eagle, a Common Buzzard, 2 Stock Doves, 3 Skylarks and a Snow Bunting was seen in Siikalahti. But then a couple of next days were rainy and only better birds were some White-tailed Eagles, a couple of Stock Doves, 4 Goldfinches and on the 12th day already 105 Whooper Swans.

On the 13th of March an early female Wigeon in Siikalahti. Also 2 male Goldeneyes, now 143 Whooper Swans and also very early Bewick’s Swan and 2 Tundra Bean Geese were found. The weather was now colder and rainy so only some lonely Lapwings were seen.

But then on Sunday the 15th of March the wind was from south again, but still it was quite freezing. We stayed in Siikalahti from 10:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and saw some Common Buzzard, a Goshawk, 3 Stock Doves, a Starling, a Bewick’s Swan, 200 Whooper Swans and then got a price when a Golden Eagle was seen migrating.

On the 17th day it was cold again and nothing new was seen in Siikalahti but in Särkisalmi I found 3 Canada Geese. And on the next day the same and one more Canada Goose was in Siikalahti.

On the 19th day a new noisy Bewick’s Swan couple had arrived to the flock. Also 3 Taiga Bean Geese were with Tundra Bean Geese. An early Bittern had started calling weakly and also a couple of Goosanders, 60 Lapwings, 10 Skylarks, a Stock Dove, a White-backed Woodpecker, a Grey-headed Woodpecker, 4 Common Buzzards and 21 Starlings were seen. But then the northern wind got strong and nights were very cold. So on the 20th day only a Stock Dove and a Woodpigeon were seen migrating south, 19 Skylarks were flying around and on the Whooper Swan flock there were now 4 Bewick’s Swans, 6 Greater White-fronted Geese, 11 Canada Geese and of course some Tundra Bean Geese. I also saw an “asiatica” Nuthatch that was still around.

I started the weekend with a crazy twitch. An amazing early White Stork had been found in Joutseno in the evening and it was roosting in a tree visible, so I went to twitch it in the middle of the night. In the morning we stayed in Siikalahti from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and saw 22 Tundra Bean Geese, 10 Greater White-fronted Geese, 4 White-tailed Eagles, 3 Stock Doves, 28 Skylarks and a Common Crane arrived to the bay. In the evening we did a owl-trip but heard nothing else than very noisy ice from the lake.

On Sunday Hanna was spendin the whole morning in a hide trying to photograph swans and geese but the night was very cold and birds weren’t moving almost at all. From 8:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. I saw a Sparrowhawk, a Linnet, 2 Goldfinches and 2 Reed Buntings. The Common Crane was still around and also some Woodpigeons and a flock of 32 Snow Buntings were seen.

On the 23rd of March the wind was finally southerns again but still the sky was almost empty. But I saw a lonely Twite migrating over me calling and then found a lonely goose arriving to the bay against the sun. Lonely geese are often interesting so I followed it until it started to land to the flock of swans and geese that were swimming on the bay and it indeed was a Greylag Goose. So two pretty good birds were seen in a short visit.

On the 24th day I counted 290 Whoopers and 88 Tundra Bean Geese. In Särkisalmi I heard a Nuthatch. On the next day a Wigeon couple had arrived to the bay and Common Crane had got a couple. Bittern was also calling better already. I visited Siikalahti a couple of times shortly but still saw already 53 Woodpigeons so migration had really started. The best birds were found in Särkisalmi where were early couples of Pintail and Smew.

On the 26th of March there were 7 Bewick’s Swans and 2 Greylag Geese with the flock and also a Coot and some Common Teals had arrived to the bay. In Särkisalmi Jouko Rantanen found an amazing early Gadwall that I managed to twitch. Both subspecies of Nuthatch was seen. On the 27th day mostly the same birds were seen but now there were already 320 Tundra Bean Geese and 40 Greater White-fronted Geese. A female Hen Harrier was seen briefly and a Common Snipe flew over us. In the afternoon we did a tour in Saari but saw mostly just some swans and geese. A Rough-legged Buzzard was in Ratila, a couple of Cranes and 3 Bewick’s Swans in Pohjanranta.

On the 28th day 600 Bean Geese and almost 100 White-fronted Geese , 100 Mallards and 7 Wigeons were counted. Two Bitterns were calling, 2 Mistle Thrushes, Linnets and Goldfinches were migrating and 5 Stock Doves, 5 Reed Buntings and 22 Snow Buntings seen. Otherwise the day was quiet.

On the 29th day the weather was much worse but birds better. I saw a Lapland Bunting and a Wood Lark migrating with Skylark-flocks. A Common Kestrel arrived and a Merlin was also seen. Also a stunning flock of 80 Snow Buntings was seen.

On the last days of March the weather was really bad. It was snowing and cold. So I was mostly checking the geese and swans and counted 370 Whooper Swans, 15 Bewick’s Swans, 900 grey geese and 48 Canada Geese. A female Pochard was swimming with Goldeneyes in a small open water area on the bay.