On the 10th of May after my work-day we went to Saari with Arttu Valonen. Trip started well when we saw a Black Kite flying over the main road 6. In Pohjanranta we were chatting with Pertti Koskimies when I found a 2nd c-y Pallid Harrier that showed pretty well. Then in Suurenjärvenliete we found a big flock of Barnacle Geese and there was a Red-breasted Goose in a flock. Also a Little Ringed Plover was seen on the flood. But later we saw only the familiar Pheasant, some Spotted Redshanks and a Smew.

In the evening we went with Hanna and a group from Australia to listen and see some night-birds. Luckily we found at least noe Great Snipe lekking and there was also a Ural Owl calling in the same place! Hanna continued with the group until morning but I continued with Arttu to Siikalahti where we listened every corner but found nothing interesting.

On the 11th day I heard a Lesser and a Common Whitethroat, a Blackcap, a Wood Warbler and a Wryneck and on the 12th day also a Bluethroat in Siikalahti. We did a trip to Saari again and on the way twitched early Common Rosefinches in Moskuunniemi. We found geese now in Jyrkilä where was a flock of 12000 Barnacle Geese and again a Red-breasted Goose with them. In Tarassinlahti we saw a Cormorant and a Redshank, in Kanavalampi 670 Wihte-fronted Geese, in Ala-Ollukka 4 Little Ringed Plovers and in Akonpohja 3500 Barnacle Geese.

On the 14th day I saw a Spotted Flycatcher and a few Swifts and on the 15th day an early Blyth’s Reed Warbler in Siikalahti. On the 16th day I saw a migrating Red-backed Shrike and now there were 2 Blyth’s Reed Warblers singing. In the afternoon we headed to Saari where we found an Ortolan Bunting in Akanvaara Tetrisuo, at least 17000 Barnacle Geese in Pohjanranta, 7000 more in Suurenjärvenliete and again a Red-breasted Goose. There were still almost no waders.

On the 17th of May I heard a Garden Warbler and in the afternoon we headed to Virolahti. On the way we twitched a Black-necked Grebe that was now again in Lappeenranta Hanhijärvi.

In Virolahti we stopped briefly in Lintulahti where some Oystercatchers were seen and a White-backed Woodpecker was heard. The evening-migration in Leerviiki was pretty good with Common Scoters and Long-tailed Ducks that were migrating but pretty war on the sea. Arctic and Caspian Terns and a Honey Buzzard were seen as year-ticks.

On the 18th day we started early in Leerviiki and saw some 280 divers. When other birders started to arrive to the beach, the diver-migration stopped. Later during the morning there were about 200 people watching arctic migration. But only some 2000 geese, 2 Temminck Stints, 2 Spotted Redshanks, 98 Ruffs, a Bewick’s Swan, an Arctic Skua and a Black-tailed Godwit were seen – nothing really good.

During the day we visited Kolsinpohja where we heard a White-backed Woodpecker drumming and saw 4 Temminck Stints. In Pyterlahti we heard a Thrush Nightingale and near museum an Icterine Warbler. In Kurkela we saw only White-tailed Eagles and soon we had to drive back to sleep to our tent. In the evening we cooked on the top of Lakakallio while watching thousands and thousands of Long-tailed Ducks migrating over us.


On the 19th of May we woke up before 1 a.m. and soon we were driving towards the north-western corner of Virolahti. We called to Miska Loippo who was coming to the bird-race with us but he was a little bit late. So we stopped a couple of times on the way and found a Spotted Crake and I saw a Ural or Tawny Owl briefly and when we couldn’t find anything else, we drove back to this place to start at 2 a.m.

The Spotted Crake was still heard but the owl was gone. Then we heard a Nightjar before met Miska in some fields. We made lots of stops and got plenty of common species to our list but found nothing better. Finally in Porolahti we head a Corn Crake.

After all we had to hurry to Kolsinpohja where we hoped to see some waders but there were none. Luckily we heard a distant Great Reed Warbler and once back on the parking place we heard a Grey-headed Woodpeckercalling and the same White-backed Woodpecker drumming again.

On the graveyard we heard another White-backed Woodpecker and found a Long-tailed Tit. On the parking place we heard a distant Pheasant.

Then we headed to check Luuvinlampi where we saw a Slavonian Grebe. And soon we were again in Leerviiki where ducks were again migrating. We soon saw both divers and scoters, Long-tailed Ducks and also Scaups. A couple of Red-necked Grebes and an Oystercatcher were seen too, but the migration was pretty bad, so we soon continued.

In Virojoki we had a Yellow Wagtail and in Lintulahti we heard a Water Rail, a Blyth’s Reed Warbler, an Icterine Warbler and also a Marsh Warbler. But we still had hoped to hear Reed Warblers but heard none.

Goldfinches and a Treecreeper were heard while driving and in Kotola we saw a Kestrel, a Northern Wheatear and heard an Ortolan Bunting. In Lypsyniemi we twitched a Red-breasted Flycatcher and soon we had driven to Huvisaari where we again saw some Coots and heard a couple of more Red-breasted Flycactchers.

Then it was time to go to see raptors as White-tailed Eagle was the only bigger raptor on our list. In Elokallio we soon had some Honey and Common Buzzards, Sparrowhawks and a Marsh Harrier. While driving we saw a Goshawk and in Kurkela we saw Hobbies, a Black Kite and an Osprey. When we had also heard a Crested Tit and Bullfinches we felt that we were doing pretty well.

We realized that we had still too many waders missing on our list so we counted that we could go to end the race to Kolsinpohja. We managed to get to the tower 6 minutes before 2 p.m. but saw nothing. Luckily we walked some 30 meters from the tower to see the area better and found a Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank and during the last minute also a Temminck Stint.

The results were given in the afternoon and also a local team had been doing well. After all we both had got 132 species, but they had 6 species that no other teams had on their lists against our 4, so they won. But anyway we had really had a great time too!

We still had to pick up our tent from Lakakallio and then drive back home. On the way we saw a Wood Lark in Joutseno, a species that we had searched in vain during the race – with that species we would’ve won.

In the evening we still stopped in Siikalahti where we saw a Black Tern that had been hunting insects with many Little Gulls there for whole day.

On the 20th of May I twtched a Marsh Sandpiper in Siikalahti – I saw it 2 seconds in flight. In the afternoon I saw a Long-eared Owl in Huhmarinen while jogging.

Geese migraring, some waders and ringing

On the 21st day Barnacle Geese had started to migrate in good numbers and in one flock I saw a Pink-footed Goose. I also saw 4 Temmink/Little Stints and a Temminck Stint and on the next day I saw 3 Gadwalls and one more Temminck Stint.

On the 23rd day we headed to Saari with Harri Partanen and hoped to see finally some waders. In Suurenjärvenliete we saw 5 Broad-billed Sandpipers, 4 Ringed Plovers and 3 Temminck Stints and heard a Corn Crake and in Kanavalampi 4 Ringed Plovers and 17 Temminck Stints. Only better bird on the next day was a Golden Oriole that was singing in Moskuunniemi.

On the 25th day we woke up early again and at 4 a.m. we had mist-nets up in Papinlahti. In 6 hours we ringed a Common Snipe, 2 Blackbirds, 4 Sedge Warblers, a Blyth’s Reed Warbler, 2 Common Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler, 5 Willow Warblers, a Greenfinch, 5 Siskins, a Bullfinch and a Reed Bunting. We also heard 2 Golden Orioles and Barnacle Geese started to migrate again during the day.

So I went to Siikalahti and finally saw some flocks of Brent Geese too, altogether 1150 birds. Also 114 Black-throated Divers, 8 Hobbies, a Redshank and 2 Ringed Plovers were seen.

In the evening we went birding with Harri while Hanna was leading a couple of British birders. We started with Great Snipes and heard and saw at least 3 birds. We continued with Harri towards Siikalahti and heard a Nightjar on the way but nothing else. The weather was pretty bad but Hanna continued whole night with the group while we went to sleep with Harri.

After a couple of hours sleeping I went back to Siikalahti where I heard nothing but then I drove to Soininmäki where Hanna was also. We soon saw a Crested Tit and a Hazel Hen and then I went to check different part of the forest. I soon found a Red-breasted Flycatcher and a Greenish Warbler that Hanna came to twitch with the group.

I still continued to check how our only owl left (after we had found out that Ural Owl had failed) was doing. Surprisingly Pygmy Owl wasn’t in the nest-box but the eggs felt warm – so let’s hope it is still around. After I had heard another Red-breasted Flycatcher I went to sleep once again for a couple of hours before the ice-hockey WC-final started. Finland won gold against Canada, which was amazing as our team wasn’t even close to our best possible. And they had won Sweden, Russia and then Canada in last games – and especially Sweden and Russia had their best teams maybe ever!

On a couple of next days I heard just plenty of Blyth’s Reed Warblers and saw a couple of Ringed Plovers in Siikalahti. On the 29th of May we were birding in Akanvaara Tetrisuo when we got a call that there had been already in the previous day a Siberian Stonechat in Suurenjärvenliete. We were soon there and luckily found the bird! But then a Black Kite was flying over us and the bird disappeared. Luckily it came back visible soon and soon we were sure that the species was even better for us – a Common Stonechat – only the 2nd ever in South Karelia! So we tried to get some pictures but it was very shy. Soon after the first twitchers had arrived, we desided to continue our trip.

We still heard a White-backed Woodpecker, a Golden Oriole and an Icterine Warbler and saw a couple of Ringed Plovers and Redshanks and a single Common Scoter in Kanavalampi and a White-fronted Goose and a Garganey in Pohjanranta.

On the 30th of May we went to Siikalahti very early and checked every corner but found only some Golden Orioles. On the last day of May I went in heavy rain to check that Red-throated Divers were nesting on their traditional pond right on the wrong side of border in Savo.

The next days we were’t doing much as we soon had out trip to Japan.


Some rarities and Bird-tower competition

After Eastern during the week some spring-birds were seen: On the 23rd of April in Särkisalmi I saw 11 Black-throated Divers, 32 Great Crested Grebes, a Red-breasted Merganser and a singing Chiffchaff. In Siikalahti I saw a couple of White-tailed Eagles and a Merlin. On the 24th day in Särkisalmi I counted 28 Black-throated Divers, 48 Great Crested Grebes, a Slavonian Grebe and a Common Sandpiper. In Siikalahti I saw 5 Rough-legged Buzzards and an early Hobby. In the evening we visited Siikalahti again and saw 3 Garganeys, 6 Slavonian Grebes, heard 7 Water Rails and a Long-eared Owl. On the 25th day in Särkisalmi was 52 Great Crested and 2 Slavonian Grebes, in Siikalahti 5 Rough-legged Buzzards a couple of Common Crossbills and in the evening I saw a Ruff in Kinnaniemi. On the 26th day a Willow Warbler was singing in Särkisalmi and in Siikalahti I saw 4 Cormorants, a Black Kite, 39 Golden Plovers and a Whimbrel. In Moskuunniemi I heard a Dunnock and in the evening 2 Spotted Crakes were calling in Siikalahti.

On Saturday the 27th of April we were birding whole day. We first were in Siikalahti from 7 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. We saw 41 Barnacle Geese, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers, 45 Black and a Red-throated Diver, 4 White-tailed Eagles, 2 Hobbies, 104 Golden Plovers, a Whimbrel, 15 Greenshanks, 2 Wood Sandpipers, 6 Common Terns, 12 Little Gulls, a Heuglin’s Gull, a White-backed Woodpecker, a Barn Swallow, a Tree Pipit, 18 Waxwings, 2 Willow Warblers and lots of Bramblings. In the afternoon we headed to Saari and in Kinnarniemi and Jyrkilä we saw single Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Bitterns visible in Akonpohja, a couple of Linnets in Pohjanranta, 3 Bewick’s Swans in Suurenjärvenliete, and a Merlin in Karinmäki. On the way back we checked one Ural Owl nest-box and there was a female! During the day all Lake Simpele had melted!

On the 28th day we were in Siikalahti again whole morning. A Greylag Goose, a Black Kite, a Redshank, 2 fighting male Black Woodpeckers, a Sand Martin, even 16 House Martins, a Yellow Wagtail and a Nuthatch were the best observations.

On the 29th of April I saw almost nothing but on the last day of April I saw one more Black Kite, 4 Hobbies, a Whimbrel and a Redshank in Siikalahti and a Pied Flycatcher was singing in Muttelinmäki. In the evening we headed to listen some night-birds and in Siikalahti we heard 7 Water Rails and a Whinchat and saw a migrating Short-eared Owl, in Kontiolampi we heard a migrating Grey Heron and saw a Ural Owl and in Kullinsuo we heard very well displayed Jack Snipe. Then in Kolmikanta we heard a Tengmalm’s Owl and another one in Tiviä where also a couple of migrating flocks of Common Scoters were heard. So we had really good 2.5 hours!

On the 1st of May we headed to Saari early in the morning. We stopped in Härskiinmutka where we saw 3 Long-tailed Ducks. In Akonpohja we counted 500 Black-headed Gulls and saw a Slavonian Grebe and some Smews. When we were again driving along the main road, we saw a flock of 200 Barnacle Geese flying over us. We stopped and scanned the flock with binoculars and found a single Red-breasted Goose! While watching the goose we heard a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker calling and a Goldfinch singing.

In Pohjanranta we saw a couple of Graylag Geese and White-tailed Eagles, but in Suurenjärvenliete we were lucky again! First we counted 38 Greenshanks and 4 Ruffs but then I noticed a lark in strange place in wet field, maybe it looked little pale too. I took my scope and found out that it was a Greater Short-toed Lark! A new species to Parikkala! Hanna soon had her scope too and I decided to get some pictures of it through my scope. But I realized that my phone was in our car. When I was back with my phone, a Lapwing attacked the lark and chased it to the other side of the flood and after that we still heard it a couple of times but finally I saw it landing to the other side of bigger flood where it was impossible to follow.

So we continued through Jyrkilä to Tarassiinlahti, then to Kanavalampi and Karinmäki and then through Poutasenryhmä back towards Parikkala. We still found a couple of Pink-footed Geese from the flocks of geese and a couple of Garganeys but nothing else to mention.

On the 2nd of May I was working in Imatra and it was raining whole day so I didnät get any birthday-ticks. In the evening the weather turned cold and it started snowing! My brother Pirkka drove from Kemijärvi in extremely bad weather and was in Parikkala at 1 a.m.

On the 3rd of May the ground was white! There was at least 5 cm snow! Wind was also very strong! We left to work with Hanna and Pirkka decided to sleep as it really wasn’t birding weather! On my lunch-hour we drove around Siikalahti and saw amazing numbers of Song Thrushes, other thrushes and Chaffinches along the roads and in every other place where wasn’t snow. Also some Pied Flycatchers, Lapland Bunting and a Northern Wheatear were seen. It was crazy! We also saw a couple of Garganeys in dam-road.

So in the afternoon we headed to Saari where was even more snow and more was dropping from the sky almost all the time. But we saw more Song Thrushes than I have ever seen and lots of other birds too like Tree Pipits on the roads. Chafflinches were trying to get killed under the cars, so we had to drive very slowly. First we stopped in Akonpohja where we found a flock of some thousands Barnacle Geese. Even though it was snowing heavily Pirkka managed to find a Red-breasted Goose! Luckily the flock soon flew closer and we saw the bird very well. From the tower we saw a Slavonian Grebe and some Smews again and in Pohjanranta the same 2 Greylag Geese and a Redstart. In Suurenjärvenliete there was about 20 cm snow and awful wind but anyway we soon heard a Short-toed Lark and it flew over us. We saw to which field it landed but never found it again. But we photographed Chaffinches and Lapland Bunting that were digging holes to the snow on the fields to get something to eat. If we kicked snow away from the field, immediately Chaffinches came to feed there! The floods were under snow too and almost only waders we found were a flock of 45 Common Snipes that looked very poor while they were sleeping on the snowy field.

In Ryhjä we saw a Pheasant which was the first one for me in Parikkala for a couple of years. In Kanavalampi we saw a Spotted Redshank and a Whinchat and when sun was already setting, we checked Pohjanranta again and saw 4 Velvet Scoters. Finally we were back at home and went to sleep early. The weather forecast didn’t look promising to our bird-tower competition.

We woke up before 4 a.m. and were in Siikalahti so early that we stopped first on the dam-road where we heard a Spotted Crake very well. Then we walked to bird-tower where our whole team was soon. Then we had to shovel snow away from the tower! At 5 a.m. the traditional bird-tower competition started. We started with 4 Whimbrels that were migrating south – they had realized that Finnish summer was too short and snowy.

We, Janne, Hanna and Pirkka Aalto, Mikka and Elissa Soikkeli, Matti Lötjönen and Ilpo Kuusisalo were trying to find birds from the tower for 8 hours. Ilpo came a little bit late but showed us a Redstart that was on the path close to the tower. Other better birds seen almost immediately were 5 female Smews, a lonely Black Grouse, a couple of White-backed Woodpeckers and a Bittern called one good series of calls.

The wind was awful and it was still very cold! We were freezing but anyway I was scanning the sky with Matti, Hanna and Ilpo were scanning the bushes and trees far behind the bay, Pirkka was mostly scanning local birds, Miika was listening to the wind and Elissa was keeping the list of birds we had observed.

Slowly the list was getting longer and Pintails, Common Terns, Little Gulls, some common waders with always difficult in Siikalahti a Common Sandpiper, a Chiffchaff, some Lapland Buntings and so on were seen. A couple that was living behind the bay had still a feeder in their garden and we got some species identified from the feeder. For example Starlings, a Blackbird, a Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Bramblings, Greenfinches and Tree Sparrows were seen only close to the feeder.

Matti had arrived from Italy at night and started to feel tired and cold in the wind and gave up so I kept on scanning the sky mostly alone, but I found a migrating Grey Heron , 4 Hobbies and a Rook in the morning and later during the day when it was getting a couple of degrees warmer (even the rest of the snow melt from the tower at midday) I still found a Black Kite, a Stock Dove, a few White-tailed Eagles, 2 Rough-legged Buzzards and Elissa noticed a Heuglin’s Gull flying over us – the last one isn’t a full species, but nice anyway. Also some Yellow Wagtails, Swallows, House Martins and a couple of Sand Martins were seen and even a Northern Wheatear and a Whinchat were found only from the sky. Finally Pirkka managed to find a couple of Garganeys hiding with other distant ducks and Ilpo noticed a couple of Gadwalls flying over us. And finally we heard a Tree Pipit too from the sky.

8 minutes before the end I found a Black-tailed Godwit from the sky and luckily Hanna and Pirkka manged to see it before it dropped behind the forest. It was our last and 88th species. We didn’t see some very common birds like Willow Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Robin, Jay, Black Woodpecker and so on, but I had never thought we could get this good list in this weather! But once again Saari Tarassiinlahti had managed to beat us with one single more species and they were the best inland tower in whole country. Anyway the day had been memorable! It had been the coldest bird-tower competition ever!

After a visit at home we left to Lappeenranta Haapajärvi with Pirkka. There we managed to twitch a Black-necked Grebe with help of some birders that were in the tower. The bird was hiding extremely well, but luckily these people had seen it already. It was a new lifer for Pirkka. On the way back we stopped in Imatra Immalanjärvi without any better records and in Rautjärvi Lamminkylä where we luckily saw 2 Wood Larks easily.

On the 5th of May we went to Saari onece again and it felt and it looked like spring again. On the way we ringed the Ural Owl female and checked that it had one small chick and 2 eggs. In Akonpohja we saw 4 Common Scoters, in Ansunmäki 16 Whimbrels, in Pohjanranta 2 Little Ringed Plovers and a couple of Linnets and in Suurenjärvenliete a beautiful adult female Peregrine. We also heard Short-toed Lark calls from the sky but couldn’t locate the bird at all so we didn’t count it. In Kanavalampi we counted 41 Pintails, 2 Gadwalls and 2 Bewick’s Swans. In Karinmäki we found a big flock of Barnacle Geese but found nothing interesting from the flock. On the way back we stopped again in Pohjanranta and there was another flock of geese and after some scanning Elissa found a Red-breasted Goose. Also 2 Gadwalls were seen and 2 Common Crossbills flew over us. Then Pirkka had to start his long drive back to Kemijärvi.

With Hanna we still drove to Siikalahti where together with Arttu Valonen and Mika Teivonen we heard a Garganey and a Sedge Warbler and saw 3 migrating Sand Martins and 2 White-tailed Eagles.

During the week I wasn’t birding much but on the 6th day I twitched a Great White Egret that Arttu had found in Rautalahti. In Simpelejärvi I saw some flocks of Tufted Ducks, Long-tailed Ducks and Common Scoters with 4 Velvet Scoters and 11 Scaups. In the evening we went to check some owl nest-boxes with Arttu but they were empty. Only a Cuckoo and a Haze Hen were heard. On the 7th day it was raining almost whole day. I tried to rest, so I’d have strength to keep on birding on better days.

On the 7th of May I checked some empty nest-boxes and saw nothing either, but on the 8th fay we checked more nest-boxes with Hanna and found one Pygmy Owl which got a ring. We also saw 3 Hazel Hens. In the late evening we visited Siikalahti and heard 2 Spotted Crakes, a flock of Common Scoters and then in Tiviä a Tengmalm’s Owl was still active. On the 9th day only birds to mention were 2 Velvet Scoters that were with Common Scoters and Long-tailed Ducks in Härskiinmutka


Eastern in Siikalahti

On Maundy Thursrday I visited Siikalahti only briefly as I had been more or less sick during the week. So I saw only a couple of Pintails, 2 adult White-tailed Eagles and a Hen Harrier. In Särkisalmi I saw 4 Great Crested Grebes.

On Good Friday we stayed in Siikalahti from 8:25 a.m. to 3 p.m. and it was still northern wind. Exactly 100 Rough-legged Buzzards were seen migrating which was a great record. But not many other birds were moving. We saw a Greylag Goose, 20 Barnacle Geese, 2 Black-throated Divers, heard 4 Water Rails, 2 Whimbrels, a Redshank, a Stock Dove, 2 Waxwings and 5 Jays. After a short break I still went to see if there were still more Rough-legged Buzzards moving in the evening but saw only 2 of them. Also a Hen Harrier was seen and from the tower I saw 4 Shovelers, 6 Pintails, 12 Smews and 3 Tufted Ducks.

On the 20th of April we were in Siikalahti from 8:30 a.m. until midday but still it was very quiet. 6 Marsh Harriers, a Hen Harrier, 15 Rough-legged Buzzards, 6 Ospreys and 3 Gold Finches were seen. I also heard Penduline Tit -like calls shortly but saw nothing, so it was just one more bad observation.

In the afternoon we headed to Saari and visited all the regular places. We found a Hen Harrier and 11 Linnets in Pohjanranta, a Hen Harrier, 8 Golden Plovers and 3 Greenshanks in Suurenjärvenliete, 5 Golden Plovers and a White-backed Woodpecker in Tarassiinlahti, 2 Bewick’s Swans in Kanavalampi and a Northern Wheatear in Karinmäki. We also saw a Weasel playing hide and seek under logs. In the evening I still twitched a Black-tailed Godwit in Siikalahti.

On Eastern Sunday it was still quiet on migration. From 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. we were in Siikalahti and I saw a Black Kite early in the morning and we saw another one later during the day. 4 Rough-legged Buzzards, 120 Cranes, 2 Linnets and a Chiffchaff were seen. In the evening we still headed to bird-tower and counted 45 Tufted Ducks, 36 Pochards, 13 Smews, 10 Great Crested Grebes and saw a stunning adult male Peregrine migrating. On the dam-road we didn’t hear any Jack Snipes even though Common Snipes were active. In Huhmarinen we heard a distant Long-eared Owl.

On Eastern Monday we still headed to Siikalahti and stayed there from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Finally the wind had turned southerly and it was also cloudy, we had got enough sun on previous days. Thrushes and Chaffinches were migrating, but otherwise it was still surprisingly quiet. We saw 5 local Bewick’s Swans, a Greylag Goose, 10 Black-throated Divers, again one Black Kite that was soaring some time over the bay before continued migrating towards north, 17 Rough-legged Buzzards, a Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Greenshanks, a Heuglin’s Gull, a Song Thrush, 32 Mistle Thrush, 2 Chiffchaffs, 3 Lapland Buntings and a Linnet. In Särkisalmi we saw 11 Black-throated Diver and a Red-necked Grebe that had accompanied the Great Crested Grebes.

So we had been out most of the Eastern but the birds that we had seen had been very previsible…


Spring finally coming

After coming back from Jurmo it was still more like winter in Parikkala. Common Starling was still visiting a feeder and only migrants I saw on the 18th of March were some Herring Gulls. On the 19th day I saw some Whooper Swans and 5 Lapwings.

On the 21st of March I saw a migrating Starling, a Common Buzzard and a White-tailed Eagle and on the 22nd day evening a beautiful Great Grey Owl was seen in Siikalahti.

On the 23rd day I saw already 25 Lapwings, 3 Blackbirds, 3 Common Buzzards and a Skylark and in the evening we did a short owl-trip but heard only a single Long-eared Owl in Siikalahti.

On the 24th day it felt more like spring when we saw 3 Greylag Geese, 3 Canada Geese, 4 White-tailed Eagles, 2 Sparrowhawks, 6 Common Buzzards, 70 Lapwings, 4 Stock Doves, 6 Woodpigeons, 6 Skylarks, a Meadow Pipit, 8 Starlings, a Goldfinch and a Reed Bunting. Also a couple of Grey-headed Woodpeckers and a Black Woodpecker was seen.

During the week the weather was colder again and I saw only a flock of 35 Snow Buntings and some lonely migrant.

On the 29th of March it started to happen again and there was even some open water in Siikalahti. 31 Whooper Swans with 2 very early Bewick’s Swans, 2 Greylag Geese, 19 Tundra and 2 Taiga Bean Geese were counted. Also 70 Lapwings, 2 or 3 White-tailed Eagles, 17 Woodpigeons, 14 Skylarks, a Rook and 3 Reed Bunting were seen.

On the 30th of March we participated to Wilderness rally together with Miska Loippo. We had a huge area from Tyrjä to Saari Akanvaara. Our first stop at 3 a.m. was amazing when we heard a couple of Eagle Owls calling together and they even copulated just 300 meters from us and called every different call.

But then no other owls were heard and morning came too early and we missed some time before we were in Tyrjä on the best places to be in early morning. But still we heard several Black Woodpeckers and plenty of Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Also a couple of Goshawks, 2 Capercaillies, nice flock of 30 female Black Grouses and about 10 heard males, a flock of Common Crossbills, a White-backed Woodpecker, a couple of Wood Larks were found. Also Goldcrest and Siskin were finally got as year-ticks.

We tried to check every corner of our area with Miska and Hanna was walking whole morning along smaller roads. During the day it started to blow quite strong which made birding difficult. We also visited Tyrjänmäki for an hour and saw 2 White-tailed Eagles and some Common Buzzards. Other better birds found in the afternoon were a Dipper and a Mistle Thrush.

The results were again given in Pitkäjärvi and all other teams had also had a good day! Team Valonen won once again but we were second. We would’ve won if only birds were giving points, but in this rally also mammals give points – and we hadn’t seen a single mammal…

On the 31st of March we were whole morning in Siikalahti and saw again a Bewick’s Swan. A Great Bittern was calling quietly. Other birds seen were a Merlin, 2 Common Cranes, a rare here Great Black-backed Gull and White-backed, Grey-headed and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

On the 1st of April a Bewick’s Swan was still there in Siikalahti and other birds seen were 5 White-tailed Eagles and a Linnet. On the next day I counted 88 Whooper Swans but the Bewick’s was gone. Bean Geese were now accompanied with some White-fronted Geese and Canada Geese were still around too. Some other migrants were seen too but nothing new.

On the 3rd day I saw 3 male Hen Harriers, 2 Common Snipes and a White Wagtail. A flock of 53 Starlings were nice too. On the 4th day a Marsh Harrier, a Kestrel, 2 Coots and 2 Golden Plovers were seen.

On the 5th of April the best birds were a flock of 100 Snow Buntings, a Rough-legged Buzzard and a Grey Heron. In the afternoon I drove to Iisalmi where we had fun evening with some of my old friends. During the weekend we participated to +40 years rinkball Finnish championship tournament and got bronze. While in Kuopio I saw a Lesser Black-backed Gull as a year-tick. On Sunday when I was back in Parikkala I visited Siikalahti and saw a Common Pochard.

On the 8th day the first Wrens and Robins were singing along the road to Siikalahti and I also heard a Nuthatch. The first Common Teals, Goosanders and a Stock Dove were seen in Siikalahti. On the 9th day I saw a Green Sandpiper and some Redwings. Also a Great Grey Shrike was seen and in the afternoon I saw an Arctic Redpoll in our back-yard.

On the 11th day I saw an Osprey and a Curlew and on the next day I saw too distant eagle that looked pretty interesting but was too far…

During the weekend we were in Finnish Champinship rinkball tournament in Varkaus, but I was sick, so I was only watching the games. It was very frustrating as I am the captain of the team and this was maybe my last possibility to play in the best level – well maybe one more year? On Sunday when I was back at Parikkala I visited Siikalahti shortly even though I was still in very bad shape. I saw 9 Rough-legged Buzzards and a Merlin.

Hanna had been staying in her hide at weekend for several hours and got some nice pictures of some early migrants like Starlings, Robins and Siskins.

On the 15th of April 7 White-tailed Eagles, again 9 Rough-legged Buzzards, 51 Cranes, a couple of Wigeons and 2 very early Little Ringed Plovers were found in Siikalahti. In the evening we saw also a Woodcock. About 200 geese were already flying around.

On the next day new arrivals were 3 Smews and also 10 Pochards, 4 Hen Harriers, 25 Sparrowhawks, 31 Rough-legged Buzzards were seen. Again I saw a too distant eagle that looked good but was just too far to be sure as it was just gliding away. The first Water Rail was calling and about 10 Curlews and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were migrating, more than 1000 Chaffinches with some Bramblings were also counted. On the 17th day only birds to notice were a flock of 6 White-tailed Eagles. In the evening we visited the hide in Siikalahti where Whooper Swans were giving us a good show.


Long weekend in Jurmo

On the 14th of March I had a short holiday and I had decided to go to Parainen Jurmo to get some feeling of spring. The driving weather was awful as all the roads were completely frozen, but I managed to get to Pärnäinen ferry-terminal just 15 minutes before Eivor left towards Jurmo.

Already in Pärnäinen I got a couple of year-ticks when I saw a couple of Common Eiders, a Great Black-backed Gull and later on the ferry I saw 6 White-tailed Eagles, a Long-tailed Duck, 29 Common Eiders, 2 Black-headed Gulls, 14 Great Black-backed Gulls, 3 Black Guillemots and so on.

When Eivor stopped briefly in Nötö, I saw a Rook, a Woodpigeon and 5 migrating Lapwings. It was already getting dark when the ferry was finally in Jurmo and in the harbor I saw a Grey Heron flying over the sea.

I walked to the bird-station where I met Timo Palomäki and Arto Aaltonen who had just started the log. So I soon knew pretty well what birds had been on the island and after I had eaten, we were ready to sleep. I had been traveling whole day so I was very tired.

On the 15th of March we woke up before 6 a.m. but soon we found out that there was very thick fog outside. Anyway we climbed to the hill to the daily migrationd watch. But the fog was so bad that soon Timo and Arto gave up and I stayed for the rest of the time alone almost without any observations. A Greylag Goose and a Snow Bunting was heard and some Skylarks seen.

During the day I walked the western route and counted all birds. A Black Grouse was flushed and 9 Greylag Geese migrated over me but otherwise it was very quiet. I still saw a Ringed Plover and a Yellowhammer before I turned to Heinäsaari. It was a long walk to the tip of Heinäsaari but it was worthy – I saw the Turnstone that had been overwintering there. It was the first overwintering Turnstone ever in Finland!

The visibility got a little bit better when it started to rain but still I didn’t see anything better than some ducks. But when I started to walk back I saw a Shore Lark flying over me with 2 Skylarks. When I was acl on the western route, I saw 28 more Skylarks, 2 couple of Lapwings and again the same Shore Lark.

I walked slowly back to the station when it got extremely foggy again. There were plenty of Blackbirds and Greenfinches visiting the feeder with a couple of Chaffinches and 3 Reed Buntings. After I had eaten I still did a short walk towards east and saw a Common Shelduck. But soon I walked back to the station to rest as it was not worthy to get wet.

When we were already sleeping Tarmo Lehtilä, Rusto Suksi and Ilkka Lehtonen arrived to the station. They had come to twitch the Turnstone as a month-tick and stayed on the station for weekend.

On the 16th day the twitchers left towards west early. Timo climbed to watch migration and together with Arto we headed to count western route.

It was still foggy and clearly less birds around than on the previous day. The Ringed Plover was found again and a couple of Shelducks on the lagoon. When we were turning towards Heinäsaari Risto called that they had seen 3 Purple Sandpipers in flight and then I heard Tarmo shouting that the Turnstone was just found.

We also walked to see the Turnstone again and after some waiting we saw a flock of 29 Purple Sandpipers and most of the flock landed to some rocks briefly. Unfortunately a wintering Dunlin wasn’t in the flock. We still saw 3 Black-headed Gulls and 4 migrating Eurasian Wigeons before we headed back to the route.
When we were back on the station I ate well and headed to walk to the forests. It was raining a lot but anyway I managed to find 3 Woodcocks.

In the evening the weather was excellent so it wasn’t a surprise that a Long-eared Owl started to call in the village.

On the 17th of March we headed to morning migration watch with a big group. Only Timo headed west. The weather was very good but we knew it was turning bad soon. The migration was very good and in 2 hours we saw 7 Razorbills, 2 Black Guillemots, 51 Canada, 3 Greylag, 3 White-fronted and 2 Tundra Bean Geese, 253 Common Eiders, 15 Long-tailed Ducks, 22 Common Scoters, 23 Red-breasted Mergansers, 7 Cormorants, 12 Lapwings, a Stock Dove and a Mistle Thrush. Also we saw at least 15 White-tailed Eagles and a female Black Grouse.

Soon the weather changed very windy, cold and wet, but I still did a long walk but saw only some Black-headed Gulls and a Woodcock.

I was wet when I got back to the station and soon I had packed everything and it was time to start walking towards the harbor. Only Timo was leaving to the island and he was going to stay whole spring.

The weather was so bad that we stayed inside the ferry all the way. Finally we were in Pärnäinen more than an hour early as the ferry didn’t stop in every island.

And the driving weather was again extremely bad! It took more than 2 hours longer than usually to get back home. Luckily I managed to drive safely and was at home after midnight.


First migrants

On the 2nd of March we headed to Tyrjä to see migrating eagles. The weather was very good but turned worse slowly. Anyway the only 2 White-tailed Eagles were seen after a couple of hours scanning empty skies. Also a Whooper Swan was migrating so the first migrants were finally seen by us too.

On the 3rd day we walked a short walk around Kirkonkylä and saw a Nuthatch and a Treecreeper.

I had lots of games in Lappeenranta in the beginning of the month and I stopped several times on Vuoksi and Kokkolanjoki but saw only a couple of Herring Gulls and Whooper Swans in Vuoksi and a Goosander, a couple of Goldeneyes and some Dippers in Kokkolanjoki.

On the 8th of March I saw a Whooper Swan flying around frozen and still very snowy Siikalahti and a Gtey-headed Woodpecker and a couple of White-backed Woodpeckers were already actively calling and drumming.

On the 9th day we headed to Lappeenranta and stopped on the way in Imatra. The weather was really bad but 10 Cormorants and an Arctic Redpoll were seen in Kupari, a hybrid Gooded x Carrion Crow in Imatrankoski and 3 Arctic Redpolls, a Lesser Redpoll and 15 migrating Herring Gulls going south.

On the 10th day there was a Great Grey Owl on one feeder in Kangaskylä for whole say. Luckily it left when it was getting dark and seemed to be in good shape. A Starling was still seen too, so it has been wintering succesfully.

On the 13th day ”Potu” Suojarinne was visiting Parikkala and we visited Siikalahti where we met a ringer who was just ringing a White-backed Woodpecker. We saw also another White-backed Woodpecker and heard a Grey-headed Woodpecker.