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…

J.A.

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.


J.A.

Leap day weekend

On Friday the 28th of February I packed my car and first just drove around Siikalahti where I saw 14 Whooper Swans and then continued towards south. In Joukio I saw a couple of Whooper Swan more and then in Rautjärvi a flock of 7 Black Grouses.

In Imatra I stopped in Kupari where on feeder I saw Siskins, 4 Long-tailed Tits, a Chaffinch, a Blackbird and a White-backed Woodpecker. On the River Vuoksi I saw a Dipper and 8 Cormorants.

The weather was changing and it really was like winter. It was snowing and windy. I still continued to Joutseno Konnunsuo where I saw a Great Grey Shrike and a Hawk Owl that was posing extremely well.

Then I had to hurry to play rinkball again. We won the game and qualified to semi-finals.

After the game I drove to Kirkkonummi where Hanna and Pirkka were already with my parents. Hanna had been shopping in Helsinki and Pirkka had arrived on the previous day. We planned a little bit our next day which was Leap day, an important day for crazy twitchers. It is quite common to collect species for Leap Day list.

The alarm was ringing at 5 a.m. but actually I hadn’t been able to sleep at all. After breakfast we headed towards west. And after more than an hour driving we parked to Salo Särkisalo Finby where on a feeder there had been a Little Bunting for 9 days already. We walked to the garden and soon more twitchers arrived. A Black Woodpecker and a A Grey-headed Woodpecker were calling and soon Blue and Great Tits started to visit the feeder.

The weather turned awful. It was snowing very much so soon there was nice snow-layer on the ground – for the first time in whole winter in this area. We waited and waited and counted 45 Yellowhammers and saw a Sparrowhawk, a couple of Blackbirds, a Treecreeper, some Common Crossbills but Little Bunting was missing.

A couple of times someone was claiming that they had seen the bunting but after all there was no message in Lintutiedotus. After more than 3 hours waiting, we decided to give up as we had planned to do a lot of birding in many places.

First we drove to Perniö where we found a wintering Crane standing in the middle of a snowy field. While we were driving again, we saw the first Common Buzzard and the next stop was made in Salo Kauniainen where we saw 8 Woodpigeons and a Pheasant. In Susi-Saari fields it was still snowing but luckily it stopped and soon we found Fieldfares, 2 Common Kestrels and also saw a Goshawk and a Sparrowhawk.

But soon it started snowing again so we continued towards Turku. On the way we saw again a couple of Woodpigeons and a Sparrowhawk and finally we parked to Uittamo where we twitched a female Pintail that was with some Mallards in a small open water area.

Our next target was the most important of the day. We parked to Raisio Tahvio and surprisingly there were no other birders. There were some people driving around with very noisy quad bikes. Soon we found flocks of Yellowhammers flying around but they landed only for a second or two and then flushed again because of the noise. Finally the bikes stopped and Yellowhammers landed to some distant treetops. The weather was finally good and the light was excellent. So after some scanning I found what we had been searching for – a young male Pine Bunting! It was a lifer for Hanna and Pirkka as all female Pine Buntings had been rejected some years ago. Soon the flock flushed again but we decided to try to see the bird still better. So we waited for some time until I found the bird again. It was now seen a little bit better and after all we were happy to keep on going. Other birds we saw in Tahvio were a flock of 9 Long-tailed Tits, a Goldfinch, a Goshawk and a Great Grey Shrike.

Our ordinary plan had been to go to Pori but we had to change our plans when we had spent so much time in the morning. So now we decided to go back to Salo where a Kingfished had been found and the Little Bunting had been seen reliably.

In Kaarina we saw a White-tailed Eagle and in Paimio Meltola we found a Merlin perched on an electric-wire. We continued to Kokkola ferry boat terminal and luckily Kingfisher was showing all the time. There we saw also 6 Black-headed Gulls. And soon we took a ferry and continued towards Kemiönsaari.

While driving we saw a couple of Willow Tits, a White-tailed Eagle and a Great Grey Shrike and after almost an hour driving we parked again in Särkisalo Finby. Soon we were looking the same feeder and junipers again.

After a long waiting we heard a Little Bunting calling somewhere on the top of trees but nobody saw it. But finally someone saw it on the bushes from where it flew up to the treetops where everyone managed to finally see it.

We still drove to Salo where we tried to see a Meadow Pipit in Halikonlahti. We flushed several Pheasants and also 2 Grey Partridges but someone has decided that partridges are not countable in Salo. I can’t see any difference between them and Pheasant.

It was getting late when we still drove to Susi-Saari again and found a Hawk Owl very easily. Then we went to eat to ABC. On the ay back to Kirkkonummi we still tried to twitch a Long-eared Owl but it was quiet. We made several stops on the way and heard an Eagle Owl in Salo Korvenkylä. When we finally were in Kirkkonummi we still tried to twitch a Tawny Owl but without luck. We were (at least I was) very tired when we were back at our parents. Anyway I had got 12 Leap Day ticks so now my list is 87 species. Next try is after 4 years.

On the next morning, the 1st of March the weather was awful in Kirkkonummi, first time snow there too. Anyway we left to Porkkala where we went to Luotsikärki which was a good decision as it was only a short walk to the shore. There were some Crested Tits and Goldcrests on the trees and on the sea we saw some flocks of Long-tailed Ducks, some Mute Swans and a single Cormorant. After some scanning the visibility got better and we could see the distant islets where a flock of Purple Sandpipers had been seen. But we still had to wait for some time before we could see them. The visibility was till pretty bad but after all we managed to see at least 5 Purple Sandpipers running on the rock.

Soon it was snowing again so we decided to continue towards Helsinki. We went to one garden where we had got information that there was already Tawny Owl youngsters outside their nest-hole. After we had seen some Fieldfares and a Treecreeper we met a kind photographer who showed us all 3 youngsters but also an adult owl. They were all sleeping on the trees and they looked very pathetic in this wet weather.

Next we continued to Porvoo Ruskis and when we parked between 2 bridges and got out the weather was again awful, now it was raining. There were some other twitchers too and we heard that Azure Tits had been seen about an hour ago. We spread to search them from a huge reedbed-area and soon heard some Long-tailed Tits and Blue Tits, but couldn’t find the Azure Tits. I saw a Bearded Reedling crossing the road briefly and a White-tailed Eagle was soaring on the sky once the rain finally stopped. Then also a Starling was seen flying with a flock of Fieldfares. Then someone shouted that they had seen the Azure Tits. We hurried after them but they were already gone. Finally after a couple of more rains, I finally saw one Azure tit flying with Blue and Long-tailed Tits. Then I saw one but Pirkka and Hanna saw probably another bird very briefly. And finally one bird was flying higher over the reeds, so everyone managed to see it very well.

We still saw a Reed Bunting before we decided to drive to the city to eat. Then we started a long drive back to Parikkala. Pirkka still stayed in Southern Finland on his holiday. His family was also arriving on the next day.

We made the only stop in Lappeenranta where I saw an Eagle Owl briefly in flight. We had got a hard weekend but some very good birds had been seen!

J.A.

Winter – or something like that

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The winter-holiday was spent in Indonesia Bali..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

J.A.

End half of November

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

J.A.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

J.A.