Night-catching

I had bought a Pulsar thermal-camera already a year ago but I hadn’t really been using it much. In a couple of trips abroad I had been using it to find some very difficult birds to see and in Säppi we had caught some waders but in Parikkala I hadn’t been using it almost at all.

Now in autumn ringers in North-Karelia had been ringing huge numbers of Great Snipes and other birds with thermal-camera, head-light and net combo. We decided to try if we could find any birds on the fields nearby. We were already late in the season but we knew that at least some snipes and Woodcocks were still around and more still to come.

In the 16th of September we went for our first try and we managed to find one Great Snipe which we tried to catch but even though I managed to get close to it, I couldn’t catch it. We also found some Common Snipes but they were too shy and and I couldn’t get even close to any of them.

On the 17th evening we tied again. We found a couple of Great and Jack Snipes, some Common Snipes and a Ruff but again we had no change. We were pretty sure that we did still something wrong.

On the 19th we had much longer rod in our net and I managed to catch a Golden Plover but still snipes were too difficult. Then on the 21st evening we saw all species of snipes but had still no luck. I was about to give up, it really seemed hopeless .

On the 22nd evening we had asked more information from our friends in North-Karelia and we had now the last missing piece with us. We had to play so called white noise from a speaker while we walking towards the birds. It was so noise to walk on the field so this loud sound covered our footsteps. We were playing sound of a burbling river. So in a short trip we caught a Woodcock and a Great Snipe. But still Common Snipes were too shy and they all flushed from a distance. It seemed that if there was a flock of birds and one bird flushed, they all came wary and impossible to catch.

On the 24th evening we did a little bit longer trip and checked several fields and caught 3 Woodcocks, 3 Skylarks, a Golden Plover and again a beautiful Great Snipe. And then on the 25th evening we caught a Jack Snipe, 6 Woodcocks and a Skylark and saw a Great Snipe and a Long-eared Owl and heard Brent Geese and Long-tailed Duck flocks migrating.

On the 27th evening we caught a Golden Plover, a Jack Snipe, 2 Woodcocks and a Skylark and on the 28th only a single Common Snipe before the clouds moved away and it became too light to catch anything. Also the night of 29th and 30th was good in the beginning and we caught 2 Jack Snipes, 2 Woodcocks, 2 Great Snipes and a Skylark but then the sky cleared and birds seemed to see us.

On the 1st of October we ringed a Jack Snipe, 11 Woodcocks, a Common and a Great Snipe and a Skylark. From one field I caught 4 birds in a very short time and they were all different kind of snipes (Woodcock included). We of course saw more snipes and 2 Golden Plovers and a Short-eared Owl too.

So it was clear that the best weather to catch birds was cloudy and dark, maybe even foggy or a little bit rainy and it was really good if it was also windy. Birds seemed to stay on the ground in a hard wind.

On the 3rd of October we caught 4 Jack Snipes (+3 were seen), 3 Woodcocks (+2), 1 Common Snipe (+14 this shows how difficult Common Snipes can be) and 1 Skylark. Also 2 Golden Plovers were seen. On the 6th of October maestro Karoliina Hämäläinen joined us for a couple of hours and we got more tips to catching birds but also aging them. We ringed 7 Jack Snipes, 2 Woodcocks and 6 Common Snipes – of course Karoliina caught most of the Common Snipes… And because of night were now dark and also windy we kept on visiting the same fields and on the 7th of October we ringed 3 Common Snipes and 3 Woodcocks, on the 8th of October 6 Jack Snipes, 6 Woodcocks, Common Snipe and 1 Skylark, 13th of October 5 Jack Snipes, 3 Woodcocks, 2 Common Snipes and a Skylark and at least for now the last visit was made on the 18th of October when we caught a Barnacle Goose, 5 Jack Snipes, 2 Woodcocks and 3 Common Snipes.

So after all we were happy how we had been doing. We had caught more than a hundred birds from the fields very close to our home. We hadn’t been further than 10 kilometers away from our home so we had managed to keep our trips quite short. After all it is important to get some sleep too… But for sure we will keep on doing this in the future and next autumn we will start much earlier. It has been really fun!

And it has also been nice to find out how many mammals there are on the fields so close to our home. We had seen an Elk, Roe Deers, Foxes, Racoon Dogs, Brown Hares and Arctic Hares, Bank and Field Voles, Yellow-necked, Stiped Field, Harvest and Northern Birch Mice and a single shrew. We also were on the same fields together with 3 Brown Bears but we didn’t see them. On other person saw the bears with thermal-camera while we were catching birds.

J.A.

Warm autumn

After my trip to West Papua I was having jet-lag so I was ready to go birding early in the morning. So in the early morning of the 27th of August we headed to Kukonkanta where Hanna had made a new ringing place. With only a couple of nets we caught 76 birds – mostly warblers and Reed Buntings but also 3 Blyth’s Reed Warblers, a Common Redstart, 3 Common Rosefinches and a couple of Rustic Buntings. We also saw 2 Nutcrackers. In the evening we went to count birds to Siikalahti and saw 18 Great Egrets and 238 Common Cranes.

On the 29th of August I saw a young Red-footed Falcon in Siikalahti and on the next day I found a young Curlew Sandpiper in Suurisuo. On the 31st day with Arttu Valonen we saw 119 migrating Golden Plovers and a Rustic Bunting. On the 1st of September we saw a 2nd year Pallid Harrier male and in Saari we found good numbers of Red-throated Pipits and in Pohjanranta we saw a young Little Stint and 3 Dunlins.

On the 2nd of September we were in Kukonkanta againa and caught 48 birds, mostly Sedge Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Reed Buntings. In Suurisuo there was a Curlew Sandpiper again and in Saari we saw again Red-throated Pipits and the same waders.

On the 3rd day we ringed even 103 birds. We had now a couple of more nets. Mostly we caught Blue Tits but also good numbers of warblers and Reed Buntings. Better birds were a Bluethroat and a Common Rosefinch. We also saw a Water Rail, a Sand Martin, 190 Coal Tits which 2 were ringed, 5 Rustic Buntings (2r) and the best were 55 migrating Red-throated Pipits and 6 were ringed.

On the 4th day Erkko Elonen found a 2nd year Greater Spotted Eagle in Siikalahti. It satyed there for a few days and on the 6th day I saw even 2 similar looking birds there. Nothing else really was found during the week – just the first flock of Bean Geese and 22 Great Egrets and so on.

On the 9th day we ringed 100 birds. Robins and Reed Buntings mostly but also 5 Bluethroats, a Goldcrest, a Long-tailed Tit, a Siskin, a Lesser Redpoll, 4 Rustic Buntings and 6 Coal Tits. We ringed even 22 species and saw also 100 Coal Tits and 8 Rustic Buntings and so on. In the evening we went to sauna to Tarvaslampi and had mistnets up for an hour or so and caught a single Tengmalm’s Owl.

On the 10th day we ringed 88 birds, mostly Willow Warblers, Reed Buntings, Coal Tits (10), Robins, Blue Tits, Chiffchaffs and Tree Pipits. We counted 310 Coal Tits and saw also a Great Egret, a White-backed Woodpecker, 8 Red-throated Pipits, 8 migrating and 4 ringed Rustic Buntings and a late Common Rosefinch.

On the 11th of September we saw a Little Stint again in Pohjanranta. And then on the 12th day I had to go twitching! Luckily I got free from my work and could leave already at 11:30 a.m. In Mikkeli I picked up my old friend “potu” Suojarinne and then we still had a long drive to Mänttä-Vilppula.
In Mänttä-Vilppula we parked to Kolho small harbor and from the shore we could already see two distant spots in the middle of the lake – there was a Herring Gull and the first Great Shearwater for Finland! But soon a boat came to pick us up and we got a ride very close to the bird! This tame bird had been fed by fishermen for a few days so we got an opportunity to get excellent pictures!

When we had taken enough photos we drove back to the harbor where the next twitchers were already waiting for their ride. People in Kolho really made perfect job so I can’t really thank them enough! After a long drive I was back at home after 10 p.m..

On the 14th day we counted 492 Cranes and 17 Great Egrets. Also the first Barnacle Goose and 2 late Nightjars were seen. On the 15th day a Nutcracker was in Muttelinmäki and in Siikalahti there were Cranes migrating. In the evening we saw already 510 Barnacle Geese migrating.

On the 16th day it was raining so we couldn’t go ringing. So after the rain we headed towards Saari, but we got stuck already at Rautalahti where we counted 135 migrating Golden Plovers, saw the first flock of 70 Brent Geese, some ducks and Barnacle Geese and 2 Great Egrets, 3 Stock Dove, a Common Ringed Plover and the best bird was an adult Grey Plover. In Saari we saw a 3rd year male Pallid Harrier in Akanpelto but almost nothing else. In the evening we saw a beautiful Eurasian Eagle-Owl perched on the top of an electric post.

On the 17th day we ringed 82 birds in Kukonkanta. Even 43 Reed Buntings were caught and we also saw an adult male Pallid Harrier, 2 Common Ringed Plovers and heard a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

On the 21st day a Bewick’s Swan had arrived to Siikalahti and also 20 Velvet Scoters were seen migrating. On the 22nd evening we saw a Scaup and heard a distant owl that was probably a Ural Owl.

On the 23rd day we ringed 78 birds, mostly Reed Buntings (30) but also Robins, Chiffchaffs, and so on. Early in the morning we saw very good passerine migration – Chaffinches, Barmblings, Meadow Pipits, Reed Buntings, White Wagtails with some Barn Swallows and the first flock of 14 Waxwings and so on but nothing better. Only better birds on mist-nets were a Bluethroat, 2 Tree Sparrows and a late Sedge Warbler. We still counted 120 Coal Tits but only 3 were ringed.

During the day I managed to get pictures of a Nutcracker in Tarvaslampi and in the afternoon we headed to Saari where in Pohjanranta we saw 7 Lapwings, in Pohjasuo a Whinchat and in Akanvaara Tetrisuo 3 Bewick’s Swans.

On the 24rd day we ringed 55 birds that were almost all Reed Buntings, Robins and Chiffchaffs. 2 Bluethroats were controlled and sky seemed to be empty,

On the 26th day I saw 3 Pink-footed Geese, 8 Scaups, a Peregrine Falcon, a Rough-legged Buzzard and so on in Siikalahti. The best bird was found by Harri Partanen, who found a Bar-headed Goose in Kullinsuo. It was nice to go twitching in Parikkala! In the evening I tried to get a Siikalahti-yeartick of the goose but all grey geese came to Siikalahti too late-

On the 27th day I saw the same Bar-headed Goose in Kullinsuo again but on the next day it was found early in the morning from Huhmarinen so I got my Siikalahti-yeartick. On my lunch-hour I saw a young Pallid Harrier and a couple of Pink-footed Geese. And in the evening we were in Siikalahti bird-tower again and this time geese arrived earlier and Bar-headed goose was with them. We also saw a late Willow Warbler and a Pochard.

On the 29th day Bar-headed Goose was again in Kullinsuo and in the afterinoon we went to Saari with Arttu but only birds to mention were 13 Common Ringed Plovers in Pohjanranta and a late Red-throated Pipit in Akanvaara Tetrisuo.

On the 30th of September the weather was bad but I still saw a couple of Barn Swallows migrating. In Lahdensuo we saw a couple of Pink-footed Geese and in Kangaskylä a Nuthatch. In the evening we still went to the tower and saw a late Marsh Harrier and so on.

On the first of October the weather was still bad so we started from Siikalahti where we saw a Dunlin and a Ringed Plover on the road. Then we headed to Saari where in Akanvaara Tetrisuo we saw 2 Lapwings and in Jyrkilä 2 hybrids of Barnacle and Cackling Goose, but nothing else really.

In the afternoon I still headed to Rautjärvi Simpele Lahnanen with Harri Partanen and we managed to find 2 Grey Wagtails. We also saw 2 migrating Pink-footed Geese and then we visited Kullinsuo where the Bar-headed Goose was again.

On the 2nd of October the Bar-headed Goose was again in Huhmarinen in the morning. There were also lots of arctic birds migrating but I had to go to work and on my lunch-hour the migration had stopped. I saw only one flock of Brent Geese but a couple of Parrot Crosbills were my Siikalahti year-tick number 192 and Parikkala-yeartick number 216. I still saw a couple of Hazel Hens and in the afternoon I visited Pohjanranta where I saw a Ruff, a Hen Harrier and a Capercaillie that flew past the tower.
On the 3rd day the only interesting bird was a Lesser Black-backed Gull that was found in Härskiinmutka. I got closer to it and realized that it was very pale so it was either Heuglin’s or Lesser Black-backed Gull not our ordinary Baltic Gull. I got excellent pictures of this tame bird. When I went to see it again after a couple of hours it was laying down on the top of a streetlight. And then after an hour I got a message that it was still there but now laying dead!

I decided to contact local electric company Parikkalan Valo and they helped me to get the bird down and after I had taken some pictures of it, I packed it well as I was thinking that this bird might have died to bird-flu. Then I contacted Finnish Food Authority that is dealing with bird-flu and they really wanted to get this specimen. Now it is on our freezer waiting to get a ride to Helsinki.

J.A.

Longer twitching trip

On Friday the 21st of July on my lunch-hour I decided that we will go to the first real twitching trip of the year once I get away from work. I had a plan that we would drive to Raahe where a Paddyfield Warbler and a Lanceolated Warbler had been singing in a same place. Warbler would be a lifer for Hanna and it was also one of a few species that I had only heard in Finland. With both these species I would also get my 300th species in PPLY-area (Oulu area bird association). Then we would do some birding and then drive back via Sotkamo (Sociable Plover) and Lieksa (Avocets). Unfortunately there were no reports of Lanceolated Warbler and Avocets for a couple of days.

Once I got from work we left driving even though the weather forecast was getting worse. It was raining so badly in Parikkala that we almost gave up. But luckily the rain stopped pretty soon and once we drove more and more also the forecast started to look more promising.

After almost 500 kilometers we were finally in Pattijoki Kotiranta and we continued along a small road until a pasture. There we parked and wore wading-trousers and started to walk towards the sea.

After a kilometer or so walking and wading we were in a right place. There we soon saw a White-tailed Eagle, an Arctic Skua and a Little Tern and heard a Caspian Tern. But there were nothing singing in the reeds.

After some searching we found a family of Sedge Warblers and saw a pale-looking warbler in flight. Then after some waiting we heard a Paddifield Warbler starting to sing. It was singing very shortly and then stayed quiet again until it finally started to sing well. And once it had again been quiet for some time it suddenly flew to a top of a reed and started to sing there. We managed to get some pretty good pictures of this bird.

It was about 9 p.m. so it wasn’t good time for Lanceolated Warbler yet, so we started to walk back towards our car. And then I got a message that a White-rumped Sandpiper had been found in Pori. Soon I got more information and the finder was Juha Niemi who had found the same species also 29 years ago! So the identification was 100% sure. So we decided to change our plans and headed to Raahe where we bought some snacks and so on and started to long (again about 500 kilometers) drive towards Pori.

Finally at 2:30 a.m. we were in Kuuminainen where we continued along a small track toward the sea. We had planned to stop to a parking place that had been told in Lintutiedotus-messages and then sleep for an hour or so as it was the darkest time of the night. We thought that there was nobody now as the birds had been seen still at 10:36 p.m. and then we thought everyone had left. But once we got to the parking place, it was completely full! We managed to find another good place to park our car and then we met a few friends of ours who told that there had been also a message that told that the bird had been seen also at midnight. So we had to start walking towards the sea.

After 1.5 kilometers walk we finally saw people standing against the dark sea. We slowly walked there and then heard where the bird had been seen and soon could find some waders walking between the rocks. It was very dark but somehow we could identify Ruffs, some shanks and Dunlins.

After about 30 minutes Aleksanteri Pikkarainen and Andreas Lindén found a good-looking bird but it took some time to find as they were standing in different places and their notes were different as the bird was in different side of some rocks as they looked it from different angles. But finally we also managed to see the correct bird while it was hiding behind some rocks.

The bird looked good but it was still too dark. And of course we were quite far from it as we didn’t want to disturb the birds. There were more and more twitchers coming all the time. After all this was only 9th White-rumped Sandpiper ever in Finland and the first twitchable for 29 years! Finally the bird climbed to a rock and stopped there and we could see it well enough so I was sure I had just seen my 400th species in Finland!

About 30 minutes later it started to get a little bit lighter and then it was easier to find this skulking bird that was almost all the time behind some rocks. And finally sun started to rise and we could see it better and better.

Other birds we saw were about 20 Dunlins, 4 Curlew Sandpipers, a Ringed Plover, 4 Spotted Redshanks, 2 Grey Plovers and so on. Then after some more waiting White-rumped Sandpiper finally stopped to a rock again and I managed to get some kind of pictures of it. And then suddenly some Dunlins flushed to the sky and also White-rumped Sandpiper flew after them but soon landed back even though the Dunlins disappeared to the sky.

While watching the bird we of course chatted with many friends that were also present. Aleksanteri Pikkarainen also took a picture of us only ones who had got the 400th Finnish-tick – me and famous bird-photographer Tomi Muukkonen.

We started to feel so tired that we had to start walking back towards our car. We heard some Redpolls on the way and they sounded like Lesser Redpolls. Once we were back in the parking place we got a message that White-rumped Sandpiper had left with some Dunlins.

We drove a little and then stopped and put up our hammocks to the forest and soon we were asleep. After a couple of hours it started to rain a little so we had to put up tarps too. But then we slept until 11 a.m.

Once we had packed our camp we continued to Kaarluoto bird-tower where we saw more than 200 Greylag Geese and 20 Grey Herons and so on. Then we decided to drive to Reposaari where we managed to twitch a Mandarin Duck in Junnilanjärvi. Then we still tried to find a Little Grebe in Kirrinsanta without luck.

But then we had to start a long (again about 500 kilometers) drive back to Parikkala. When we were driving I realized that we were driving through Tampere. And so soon after Tampere we parked to Kangasala Kirkkojärvi and walked to the tower when we managed to twitch a long-staying Red-crested Pochard and also a Common Shelduck in a couple of minutes.

Then we still had a long drive back to home. In Parikkala we still did some shopping and then went to put our mist-nets ready.

On the 23rd of July we woke up at 3 a.m. and soon we were opening the mist-nets. We were sure we would catch plenty of birds but again we had to be disappointed. We caught only a Song Thrush, 3 Sedge Warblers, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 3 Common Whitethroats, a Blue Tit control, a Siskin and 4 Reed Bunting. Luckily we heard a singing Greenish Warbler that was a new Parikkala year-tick to me. It is easy to say that we should have stayed somewhere in western coast for another day and Hanna could have done SSP-ringing during the week while I am at work.

In the evening we still visited Siikalahti where we saw a family of Red-backed Shrikes, a couple of Spotted Redshanks and 4 Grey Herons and already 15 White Egrets.

In the end of July interesting observations were on the 24th day a Dunlin in Saari Pohjanranta, on the 25th day 2 Little Ringed Plovers and a Temminck’s Stint in Suurisuo and 6 Dunlins in Siikalahti. On the 26th day there was a Garganey in Suurisuo and on the 30th a Temminck’s Stint again. On the 30th of July I also saw 20 migrating Velvet Scoters in Siikalahti and also already 13 Great Egrets, 2 Golden Plovers, a Whimbrel, a Dunlin, 5 Stock Doves, a young Great Grey Shrike, an Icterine Warbler, 2 Golden Orioles and the best birds were 2 Grey Wagtails that we saw flying over dam-road. It was a new Siikalahti-tick! On the last day of July there were still tens of Barnacle Geese in the village but soon they were about to leave. In Suurisuo I saw a Pintail and in Kukonkanta I heard a Ringed Plover.

On the 1st of August there were already 16 Great Egrets in Siikalahti and on the 4th a Little Ringed Plover in Suurisuo. On the 5th day I saw the first Hen Harrier of the season, but then it was time to go home to get my luggage and start walking towards the railway-station. While I was walking I heard a Great Egret calling from the sky. I was about to start almost 3 weeks trip to West-Papua!

J.A.

Summertime – quiet time

In the beginning of June I saw the first better birds on the 2nd day when in Siikalahti I saw a second year Heuglin’s Gull, in Suurisuo a Pintail, in Saari Pohjanranta a Black Kite and then in the evening I heard a Great Snipe in an ordinary place. On the 3rd of June there was 3 Ringed Plovers in Suurisuo and in Joukio there was already the first little juvenile with Barnacle Geese. In the afternoon we went to ring a couple of young Ural Owls in Savonlinna Punkaharju Kurkiniemi. We also checked the only owl-nest in Parikkala and there were also 2 young Ural Owls watching from their nest. Unfortunately they were breeding in an impossible trunk to ring them.

On the 5th day we had SSP-ringing and it was the worst morning ever: 1r+1c Common Whitethroats, 2 Garden Warblers, a Willow Warbler and a Pied Flycatcher. A Long-eared Owl was seen and Corn Crake and Golden Oriole were heard. There were also some Common Crossbills migrating.

From 6th to 22nd of June we were in Northern Finland and Varanger Norway. There will be a trip-report soon. Unfortunately we had some problems with our home-sites right now.

When we were back in Parikkala, I dropped Hanna who was sick to Parikkala and continued straight to Imatra Kurkisuo where a Short-toed Eagle had been seen for a couple of days. It was seen again while I was still driving but luckily a couple of friends of mine stayed there and once I got there they helped me to see the bird too. After maybe 30 minutes waiting it was finally flying again.

The Short-toed Eagle was seen most of the time for the next 2 hours. A couple of times it landed behind the forest but soon it was again hanging in the wind. This stunning 3rd year bird was a new South-Karelia tick.

Then we still continued with Sampsa Cairenius and Rami Lindroos to Joutseno Kotasaari where we managed to see a Penduline Tit very briefly. It was very windy so we didn’t see anything else.

When Hanna was OK again we tried to twitch the eagle on the 24th day. Hanna’s sister Elissa and brother Miika were with us and we stayed in Karhusuo for several hours but the eagle was already gone. We did see a family of Great Grey Shrikes.

On the 25th day we did duck-counts in Saari but saw nothing interesting. On the 26th day we had SSP again: a Robin, 2 Common Whitethoats, 3+1c Sedge Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher, 7+1c Great Tits, 5 Blue Tits and 2 Reed Buntings. Common Crossbills were migrating and we also found a nest of a Wryneck.

On the 27th of June I saw a family of House Sparrows in Kangaskylä – they aren’t completely extinct yet. In Siikalahti I saw 2 male and 1 female Gadwalls, a Dunlin, a Stock Dove, a family of Thrush Nightingales and in the evening heard a Common Grasshopper Warbler. After midnight I still heard 3 young Long-eared Owls in Kaukola and then still continued to Saari where I heard several Corn Crakes, a Grasshopper Warbler, a couple of Nightjars and a Great Snipe before I finally heard a Black Redstart that Karri Kuitunen had found on the previous night in Kangas. During the day I had surprisingly 2 Oystercatchers in Kangaskylä.

At night 29th and 30th of June we twitched a Quail that Erkko Elonen had found in Koitsanlahti Kapakkasuo. We also heard young Long-eared Owls. Then on the last day there was a Grey Heron in Kirkkoranta and we heard a migrating Whimbrel through open window at home.

On the 1st of July we did another night-trip to Saari. In Rautalahti we heard a River Warbler, but then we heard only Corn Crakes and some Blyth’s Reed Warblers and saw a Long-eared Owl until in Tarassiinlahti we finally heard a Marsh Warbler which was a year-tick. Then another Marsh Warbler was heard in Karinmäki and then we heard more Corn Crakes, Blyth’s Reed Warblers and some young Long-eared Owls, only one Spotted Crake and then another River Warbler but nothing rare was found.

On the 2nd day we saw a male Hen Harrier, 2 Temminck’s Stint and 3 Dunlins and a young Grey-headed Woodpecker in Siikalahti. And on the next days the same Dunlins were still there but nothing new was found.

On the 5th of July we left together with Harri Hölttä towards Luumäki very early at night. When we finally were in Taavetti we immediately heard a Yellow-browed Warbler that Pekka Karhu had found earlier. We listened to this actively singing bird for some time before continued to Joutseno Kotasaari to search for Penduline Tit. Tit was not found but we heard a Reed Warbler and saw a Spotted Redshank, a Ringed Plover, a flock of 700 Starlings and I managed to see a female Citrine Wagtail very briefly.

On the 6th day I saw a young Little Ringed Plover in Kukonkanta where they had been breeding. On the 8th day we did a forest-trip but only a Hazel Hen, a couple of young Goshawks, some tits and Wrens were heard. Then just 200 meters outside Parikkala in Savonlinna Punkaharju Riukonkangas we found a Wood Lark. During the day we did a short field-trip and found a couple of surprises – a Hen Harrier in Lahdensuo and a Great Grey Shrike in Kullinsuo. Anyway the best observation of the day was a Broad-bordered Bee-Hawk (butterfly) that we saw in Siikalahti.

On the 9th day we had SSP again: a Common Snipe, a Whinchat, a Song Thrush, a Sedge Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat, 11 Common Whitethroats, 4 Pied Flycatchers, 3+1c Blue Tits, a Chaffinch, a Siskin, 2 Common Rosefinches, and 7+1c Reed Buntings which the control was very nice as it wore a ring with a text Budapest – it had been ringed in Hungary!

During the day we went to ring some nestlings of Pied Flycatchers in Tarvaslampi. Then we continued to Saari where in Akonpohja we saw a family of Gadwalls and in Jyrkilä we found a good flooding field with 17 Greenshanks, 8 Spotted Redshanks and 50 Wood Sandpipers.

On the 11th of July we visited to floods in Jyrkilä again and counted 110 Wood Sandpipers, 19 Greenshanks, 2 Spotted Redshanks amd a Dunlin. In Pohjanranta we saw 6 Stock Doves. On the 12th day in evening in Siikalahti we saw the first Great Egret of the season and again a Great Grey Shrike. It is really not normal to see Great Grey Shrikes in summertime. On the 13th of July Hanna stayed whole night in a hide and managed to photograph a Spotted Crake. In the morning she got also pictures of a Wood Pigeon.

On the 14th of July we headed to night-trip to Saari again. We started in Pieni-Matko where we ringed a Grasshopper Warbler and a Corn Crake. The rest of the trip wasn’t very good, just Corn Crakes, young Long-eared Owls, some Spotted Crakes and Nightjars and then one of the River Warblers that we had found earlier. Only one Blyth’s Reed Warbler was heard so it seems that singer-time is over.

On the 15th day the flood in Jyrkilä had dried and there was only some Wood Sandpipers and a single Little Ringed Plover. On the 16th day we had SSP again and 5 Robins, a Blyth’s Reed Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat, 2+3c Common Whitethroats, a Chiffchaff, 4 Willow Warblers, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Blue Tit control, a Chaffinch, 2 Siskins and 8 Reed Buntings were caught. Common Crossbills were migrating, a Corn Crake calling and a Golden Oriole still singing.

On the 18th of July I was once again visiting the only are of Siikalahti where it is possible to see some waders and while walking through a field I flushed a Great Snipe! Finally Siikalahti-tick! On the next day I saw a young Hazel Hen in Siikalahti and in the afternoon we went to check one nest that our friend had found and there were 2 young Common Buzzards that were already flying. We also saw 4 young Capercaillies. In the evening we visited Siikalahti where we saw 4 Great Egrets, our friends had seen more.

J.A.

May birding

Spring was coming slowly but every day something new was seen. On the 13th of May we were in Siikalahti from 6:20 a.m. to 1 p.m. and saw 71 Black-throated Divers, a Red-throated Diver and heard a couple of Bluethroats. A Pallid Harrier looking bird was seen a little bit too far. In the evening we had to come back to twitch a family of 4 Red-breasted Geese that Jarmo Pirhonen found.

On the 14th day we did the first SSP-ringing and it was surprisingly dry and green in our mist-netting area. We caught 2 Fieldfares, a Lesser and 2 Common Whitethroats, 2 Willow Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher, a Common Redstart and a Chaffinch and controlled a Great Tit. While ringing we head a Siberian Chiffchaff singing shortly and a Little Ringed Plover migrating and then in one migrating flock of Barnacle Goose we saw 2 Red-breasted Geese.

During the midday we were in Siikalahti and there was saw a 1st summer fulvescens-type of Greater Spotted Eagle. In the evening we still headed to Saari and on the way we saw some Long-tailed Ducks, Common Scoters and 2 Greater Scaups in Härskiinmutka and one more Red-breasted Goose in a big flock of Barnacle Geese in Lääviensuo. In Pohjanranta we still saw 4 Temminck’s Stints and a Marsh Sandpiper and later we still found a couple of Short-eared Owls and Great Snipes.

On the 15th day only bird to mention was late at night when I heard a Nightjar in Sounio and on the 16th day I saw a couple of Honey Buzzards and heard a Wryneck in Siikalahti. In the afternoon we went to Saari with Arttu Valonen and the tour started well when a Great Reed Warbler was singing in Akonpohja. Also 4 Gadwalls were seen there and later we found a couple of Common Rosefinches but nothing else really.

On the 17th day Swifts had arrives and geese were really migrating big time! I saw 4 Brent Geese too but all the time sky was full of flocks of Barnacle Geese. A late Merlin was also seen. In the evening we checked some owl-nestboxes but they were all empty. A Red-backed Shrike and a Spotted Flycatcher were seen and at night we still visited Siikalahti where we heard a Spotted Crake and saw a Long-eared Owl.

On the 18th day we were in Oravaniemi Ehro for whole morning but saw only 24 Velvet Scoters, 4 Greater Scaups and 3 Red-throated Divers. A Black Kite was flying around and a too distant eagle was seen but it really looked like a Lesser Spotted Eagle. During the day we twitched a Stone Curlew in Tohmajärvi Värtsilä Hopeakallio with Arttu. It was quite distant so pictures were really bad. On the way back to Parikkala we saw a Hen Harrier and a Red-backed Shrike. In the evening we still saw a Short-eared Owl in Tetrisuo.

On the 19th day the first Garden Warbler was heard in Moskuunniemi and a Reed Warbler in Siikalahti. In Saari Akonpohja we saw 3 Gadwalls and in Pohjanranta a Black Kite, a couple of Temminck’s Stint and at night we still heard a Great Snipe and saw a Long-eared Owl.

Hanna stayed a night in a hide again and tried to photograph ducks and waders. I went early to Siikalahti again and saw a couple of Oystercatchers, 74 Black-throated Divers and 112 Ruffs. Then I went to pick up Hanna from Saari but there we saw nothing new. In the evening we went to Papinlahti to make everything ready for SSP and heard a Corn Crake there.

On the 12th of May we had the worst SSP ever – only one Willow Warbler and one Common Whitethroat were ringed and one Common Whitethroat was controlled. A Golden Oriole was singing and during the day in Siikalahti we saw 14 Honey Buzzards and heard an Icterine Warbler.

On the 22nd day a Blyth’s Reed Warbler was singing in Kukonkanta and on my lunch-hour I hurried to twitch a Broad-billed Sandpiper in Pohjanranta. In the evening I visited Siikalahti-tower where are less birds than ever! Only ducks were a Gadwall couple. The funniest observation was an Elk family that crossed the bay.

On the 23rd day I saw a Temminck’s Stint and head a couple of Golden Orioles on my lunch-hour and . In the afternoon we headed to Saari with Arttu but all geese had gone. Only a couple of Tundra Bean Geese were still seen and a couple of bigger flocks of Yellow Wagtails were still found on the fields. In the evening we were in Hernesaari but there were too many mosquitoes so we had to give up before the sunset. We still twitched a River Warbler in Ristimäki and then checked some more places but all I found were a Blyth’s Reed Warbler, a Long-eared Owl and a Spotted Crake.

On the 24th day we were in the evening in Härskiinmutka where were less mosquitoes and we surprisingly saw 4 Great Egrets flying towards southwest. At night I heard a River Warbler and saw a Ural Owl and a flock of Barnacle and Brent Geese.

On the 25th day we went early in the morning to Soininmäki forest and there we tried to twitch a Greenih Warbler that Arttu head heard on the previous morning. But only better bird we found was a Red-breasted Flycatcher which was my 200th species in Parikkala this year! On my lunch-break I saw a Red-backed Shrike in Siikalahti and in the afternoon we headed to Saari to make duck-counts. We saw 4 Gadwalls, 6 Garganeys and a Black Kite again and heard altogether 5 Golden Orioles. Then we decided to drive to Kitee Kesälahti Pivanganpolku where we twitched a Firecrest. Unfortunately it started to rain almost immediately after we had heard and seen this nice bird.

On the 26th of May I saw 2 Black Kites in Siikalahti and a Redshank, a Ringed Plover and a Heuglin’s Gull in Pohjanranta. At night a couple of new Great Snipes, a Common Grasshopped Warbler, some Corn Crakes and Nightjars and a Long-eared Owl were found. On the 27th day we went to Punkaharju to check the last empty nestboxes. In Haukmäki we heard a Red-breasted Flycatcher and saw a Greenish Warbler. In the afternoon we twitched another Firecrest that was found in Joutseno – it was the first ever in South Karelia. Then we still went to Kotasaari where a Great Reed Warbler was singing, to Konnunsuo where a Hen Harrier and a couple of Ortolan Buntings were found and to Imatra Immalanjärvi where a Common and a Great Reed Warbler were heard. In the evening we still did a boat-trip with Arttu to Kurhonselkä where we saw some gulls, terns and breeding Barnacle Geese and so on.

On the 28th day the morning was spent in Ehro but only one flock of Long-tailed Ducks were migrating. We continued in Siikalahti where we saw a bit more than a thousand Brent Geese and more than hundred Whooper Swans, again a Black Kite, a Hen Harrier and so on. In the afternoon I showed to our good old friend Harri Orenius a White-backed Woodpecker, a Ural and a Tengmalm’s Owl and a Nuthatch on their nests. On the 29th day a couple of Black Kites were seen in Siikalahti and a new River Warbler was heard in Tiviä.

On the 30th and 31st night we did a long tour with Arttu but all we found were Spotted Crakes, Water Rails, Corn Crakes, a Long- and a Short-eared Owl, a Great Snipe, Blyth’s Reed Warblers and a couple of River Warblers – so nothing new. On the last day of May I still saw a Red-backed Shrike in Lahdensuo and a 2 Temminck’s Stint in Suurisuo. We ended the month by twitching a probable Lesser Scaup in Kouvola Lappalanjärvi. It was a bit late so there wasn’t enough light to see it well so I couldn’t celebrate my 400th Finnish-tick yet. I hope there are some good pictures taken earlier. The bill looked good for Lesser Scaup but otherwise it was too much Greater Scaup-like. After all I did put it to my log as a Greater Scaup.

J.A.

Bird-tower competition week

On the 5th of May my brother had arrived on the previous evening from Kemijärvi. On my lunch hour we were in Siikalahti but in cold northern wind we saw nothing special – but of course many year-ticks for Pirkka. After my work the weather was even worse so we just went to twitch a Tengmalm’s and a Ural Owl from their nests and when Hanna was free from work and also the weather was getting better we headed to Saari. On the way we checked Slavonian Grebes in Valkialampi, in Akonpohja we saw a couple of Gadwalls and a Black-tailed Godwit, in Akanvaara Tetrisuo a Hobby, in Suurenjärvenliete a couple of Gadwalls, a Garganey, a Redshank, 50 Lapland Buntings and 42 Greenshanks, in Kanavalampi both a Bar-tailed and a Black-tailed Godwit and a couple of Spotted Redshanks, in Karinmäki a Whimbrel and a Northern Wheatear and we ended the trip with the best birds of the trip in Pohjanranta where we saw a couple of Marsh Sandpipers.

On the 6th day was Bird-towere competition and our team had us three and Matti Lötjönen and Harri Hölttä. Morning was cold but calm so the visibility was really good. In a couple of hours we saw a lot of species and the best one was a Little Grebe that Pirkka found. Other nice birds were a male Long-tailed Duck that was calling, a flock of migrating Common Scoters, a Gadwall, a couple of Garganeys and so on. Surprisingly there weren’t any Pintails anymore. Pretty soon it came difficult to find new species but of course we saw some like a flock of 3 Black-tailed Godwits, a Red-throated Diver, 2 Lapland Buntings, a Common Crossbill, a Linnet, a Black Woodpecker and a Spotted Redshank and so on. When the day got a little bit warmer some raptors were seen but only better one was a Black Kite. A Short-eared Owl was a nice surprise and finally also a Greater Spotted Eagle was seen migrating. Pretty soon after the eagle it started snowing very hard! So it wasn’t a surprise that even after the weather got better, we got no more new species and 1 p.m. the race was over. After all we had seen 90 species and the first time ever we were third in Parikkala as Pohjanranta got even 97 and Tarassiinlahti 91 species.

In the afternoon we dropped Hanna to Suurenjärvenliete and there we immediately saw a Peregrine flying over us. While we were fixing Hanna’s tent Pirkka saw a male Citrine Wagtail briefly but luckily it was refound soon with a female! Hanna was already in the hide and soon the flock of wagtails were feeding right in front of her and Hanna could photograph both Citrine Wagtails the rest of the evening! In Suurenjärvenliete we saw also 77 Greenshanks, in Kanavalampi we saw a pair of Gadwalls and 2 male Pochards, the same Bar-tailed Godwit and a Redshank and a Merlin and another Merlin was in Pohjanranta. On the way back to Parikkala we still saw a female Capercaillie. At night we still visited Siikalahti where we heard Jacksnipes in a couple of places and saw a Long-eared Owl.

On the 7th of May we slept longer and then went to see that a Little Ringed Plover was still in Kukonkanta and close to Siikalahti we saw a Stock Dove and a Nuthatch. On dam-road we were mostly talking with other birders but luckily Perttu Valonen was still focused on birds and found a White Stork migrating. We also heard a Redshank and I saw a Cuckoo migrating but otherwise it was pretty quiet. So we went to eat and then Pirkka had to start a long way back to Lapland. But he stopped some times on the way and in Sotkamo he found a Sociable Lapwing!

After I had slept long I went to pick up Hanna. In Kanavalampi there were still a couple of Gadwalls and in Jyrkilä I saw a Short-eared Owl.

On the 8th day I twitched a Wryneck in Moskuunniemi and in the afternoon we were checking empty owl nest-boxes. On the 9th day together with Harri Partanen we drove to Pohjanranta where a couple of Red-breasted Geese and a Marsh Sandpiper had been seen. There were lots of Barnacle Geese swimming but I found one Red-breasted Goose easily. After some time I found also another nice bird from the flock – a female Common Shelduck – which is much more difficult bird here than a Red-breasted Goose. We still checked Pohjasuo and found another or the same Red-breasted Goose there.

On the 10th day a Sedge Warbler was singing in Siikalahti and a Lesser Whitethroat in Kannas. In the afternoon we did waterbird counts in Saari and the best birds were an Oystercatcher in Tarassii, two pairs of Gadwalls and a pair of Slavonian Grebes in Akonpohja and in Pohjanranta there was a Marsh Sandpiper. There were also thousands of Barnacle Geese everywhere but nothing else really. At night we still went to listen to some places with Harri Partanen but only better birds we heard were a couple of Thrush Nightingales in Siikalahti. But we saw a Tawny Owl in Sammallampi and a Long-eared Owl in Kontiolampi.

On the 11th of May a Common Whitethroat was singing in Siikalahti and a Little Ringed Plover and a female Hen Harrier were migrating. In the evening more empty owl nest-boxes were checked. And on the 12th day only birds to mention were a Wryneck in Siikalahti and a Slavonian Grebe in Vartialahti,

J.A.