Real winter

It was a real old-time winter in Parikkala so I wasn’t too excited to do much birding. Waxwing and Fieldfare flocks were still around in the beginning of January and also Blackbirds were still here and there. Our own woodpecker feeder had also a flock of Long-tailed Tits and a Treecreeper with a ring. It was probably same bird than last winter.

On the 6th of January we visited Siikalahti and Simpele and saw some Black Grouses, 2 Sparrowhawks, a Siskin and of course Dippers – 6 of them in Kokkolanjoki. On Saturday we visited Punkaharju where we ringed a Nuthatch in Laakkii and then continued to Lusto where we walked around but didn’t find any Nutcrackers, just a flock of 15 Coal Tits and a couple of flocks of Red Crossbills. Also a couple of Grey-headed Woodpeckers were seen during the day.

On the 9th day I went to play to Lappeenranta and on the way I stopped in Imatra Kymälahti where a couple of Nuthatches and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker were visiting a feeder. In Vuoksi Itä-Siitola I saw a Little Grebe and some Cormorants. In Lappeenranta I saw a flock of 15 migrating Pine Grosbeaks in Pajarila and after the game I twitched Teals and an Eagle Owl

On the 12th day in Siikalahti I saw a couple of White-backed Woodpeckers and in Kangaskylä I still saw a flock of 65 Fieldfares. On the 13th day a Chaffinch was seen in Kannas.

On the 15th of January went skiing to Soininmäki where we saw the familiar Siberian Jays – 3 of them. Also a couple of Crested Tits were heard and also a Hazel Hen was singing and another one was seen briefly. On the way back I still saw a female Capercaillie flying over. On Sunday we went skiing to Siikalahti and heard a noisy Nuthatch and saw the same flock of Long-tailed Tits.

On the 21st I saw a Sparrowhawk in Siikalahti and on the 22nd day we went twitching with Sampsa Cairenius. We drove a long way to Hartola where we were early in the morning but still couldn’t see a wintering Turtle Dove. Then we continued to Asikkala to twitch a Nothern Shrike that had been seen a couple of days earlier but it seemed that it was gone. A couple of Great Grey Shrikes were seen while but nothing else. On the way back we stopped in Lahti Ali-Juhakkala where we saw 2 Little Grebes, a Goshawk, a Teal and a Cormorant and nearby a Sparrowhawk and a Woodpigeon.

On Sunday the 22st day we went to put more food to our feeders and saw the same birds there again. In Kangaskylä we saw a flock of 30 Fieldfares. In the afternoon I had a game in Lappeenranta again so on the way I stopped in Imatra again and saw a Redwing in, a Little Grebe, a Red-breasted Merganser, a Goshawk and some Cormorants and in Lappeenranta I saw Teals in Reijola.

Observation in the end of January were the same. Still some flocks of Fieldfares were seen here and there and on the 19th day we participated Garden Twitch in Tarvaslampi hide and photographed common winter-birds.

J.A.

Year changes in Oulu are

On the 30th day we drove a long way to Oulu where we met my brother Pirkka in Kemira’s small open water place where we twitched a Brent Goose that was wintering with lots of Mallards as a winter-tick.

On the 31st day we woke up before 7:30 a.m. and before 8 o’clock we headed towards Oulunsalo harbor. At 8:30 a.m. the ferry left towards Hailuoto and between the icy sea we sailed to Hailuoto and after 30 minutes we were driving towards Marjaniemi.

In Marjaniemi Pirkka knew the feeder where in the past he had been twitching a Black-throated Accentor. There were people in the cottage and soon we met the owner who was kind and we discussed about twitching both now and on the next day when there would be more twitchers. Owner was putting more food to the feeder and soon after she had left Yellowhammers started to arrive. And almost immediately Pirkka noticed a European Serin that had also arrived next to the feeder. Soon it flew inside one of the feeders where it was impossible to see.

When the Serin left after Yellowhammers we tried to get a bit closer with Hanna to get better pictures but once the birds started to come back, they were a bit too shy so soon we walked back to our ordinary position. And then Serin arrived again to the ground under the feeder. When it left again, we decided to leave too.

Back in Oulunsalo we saw a flock of Black Grouses in Riuttu and a Pheasant in Pajuniemi. Then we twitched a Common Crane in Kempele Alakylä and then headed to Oulu to search a Siberian Tit that had been seen about a week earlier. But we didn’t find it. Then we headed to Tyrnävä to search any new birds but found only some flocks of Yellowhammers. While we were already leaving we saw a male Merlin with a prey in flight.

In the afternoon we did some shopping and then went to buy some food. In the evening we watched a movie and relaxed.

Fireworks started at 6 p.m. and at 11:15 p.m. we left to check if Brent Goose was still in Kemira. Of course there were fireworks there too and only 3 Mallards were present. Soon some other first of January tickers arrived but there was nothing to see. Just before midnight we drove to Kemira pools to see that there were about 100 Mallards flying in the dark sky. So soon we went to sleep.

We woke up at 6 a.m. and soon we were again in Kemira and checking ducks but there were only about 200 Mallards and no Brent Goose. So we soon continued to Riuttu where we caught 7:30 a.m. ferry. Other twitchers were also on the ferry and soon we were driving towards Marjaniemi again. There we again met the owner of the cottage who must have thought that we are crazy as it was still completely dark. But in few minutes we heard several Yellowhammers arriving to feeder. After 10 or 15 minutes Markku Santamaa arrived and told that he had heard Serin on the way from the parking place.

And after 10 more minutes at 9:15 Serin arrived next to the feeder where it was easily seen by everyone before it flew inside the feeder again. We had got the first tick of the day but still we talked with some friends and saw Great Tits and a Blue Tit as a year-tick before decided to start driving back towards harbor.

We stopped in the village shortly but saw just some Tree Sparrows and then on the way to harbor we saw some Magpies, a Willow Tit, a Red Crossbill and some Great Spotted Woodpeckers. On the ferry we saw a beautiful sunrise while talking more to some friends and saw no birds at all.

In Huikku we saw the same Black Grouse flock again and in Oulunsalo we saw some Jackdaws. The Crane was hiding somewhere but some Hooded Crows and a Greenfinch were seen. As there was still no reports of Brent Goose, we decided to drive towards Liminka. In Kempele Honkanen we saw 4 Collared Doves easily and on the way we saw a Raven. In Virkkula we met some other twitchers. They had heard that a flock of Grey Partridges had been seen flying behind the information center, but they hadn’t seen them at all. We waited for some time until I decided to walk to the field and check if they were in vegetation behind one long ditch. I could see something on the snow about 150 meters from me and called the rest to come and take a scope with them – and there they were – at least 4 Grey Partridges.

Next we drove back to Kempele Alakylä where the Crane was now present and saw a Jay and some Rock Doves on the way.

And then we headed to Oulu where we ticked a Rook in Raksila and then in Hartaanselkä we saw a couple of Goldeneyes but nothing else. We hoped that the goose might have moved there. In Hietasaari we heard some Bullfinches and when the sun was already setting, we headed to Kemira where only the same amount of Mallards was present.

It was already getting dark when we headed again to Hietasaari to try to see a Pygmy Owl but only year-tick was a Blackbird.

In the evening we got food from Sauraha Nepalese restaurant and checked once again Kemira. And after we had watched a movie we went to check it again and now there were more than 300 Mallards but still no Brent Goose.

After all I got only one first of January tick – Serin. My goal had been 2 so I would have got my 150th tick which is so big number that I could have retired but now I must continue at least one more year.

On the 2nd of January we woke up before 8 a.m. and soon we were ready to go to Kemira again. Now there were about 1000 Mallards but still nothing else! Then we said goodbye to Pirkka and left driving toward Kajaani.

On the way we saw a flock of 12 Pine Grosbeaks in Vaala, 30 Common Redpolls in Paltamo and some Black Grouses and so on. Finally we were in Kajaani and Ämmänkoski where we met some other birders too. But unfortunately there was no sign of Mandt´s Black Guillemot. It had been seen still on the previous day but now it was gone. We saw only 3 Whooper Swans, some Common Redpolls, Red Crossbills and 4 Otters. We went to eat and still came back to check the river but before it was getting dark, we decided to start a long way back home. On the way we saw no birds at all and finally we were at home pretty tired.

J.A.

End of the worst year

It was cold winter in December so I wasn’t too excited to do much birding. Fieldfare flocks were still around and after very cold days there seemed to be more and more Blackbirds too here and there.

On the 11th day we were photographing Yellowhammers and other birds in Tarvaslampi in our hide when I noticed a grayish bird. I took pictures and realized that the birds looked like a Pine Bunting! It disappeared soon but from the pictures we could see that there was some yellowish color on its breast – so maybe it was just a hybrid even though otherwise it really looked good. Unfortunately the bird was never seen again even though we visited the hide a few times later during the month.

On the 12th day I stopped in Imatra Vuoksi briefly and saw a Red-breasted Merganser. Also some Cormorants and so on were seen also on other visits when I was going to Lappeenranta to play. But Little Grebe managed to avoid me.

On the 13th day I saw a Hawk Owl and a Sparrowhawk in Kaukola where the big Yellowhammer flock was still around. A White-tailed Eagle flew over me in Kontiolampi and on the 15th day I saw a Whooper Swan in Tyrjä.

On the 18th day we freed a Goshawk that had been living with us for almost 2 weeks. It had been found on the road so it had probably hit by a car. In Kannas we saw 2 Nuthatches and a Treecreeper and on the next day I saw a flock of 13 Gold Finches flying over our house and in Ristimäki I saw a Goldcrest.

On Christmas Eve we did a winter-bird count with Miika Soikkeli. We saw altogether 22 Black Grouse, a Sparrowhawk, 12 Rock Doves, 6 Great Spotted and 2 White-backed Woodpeckers, 87 Waxwings, 4 Blackbirds, 277 Fieldfares, 2 Goldcrests, 65 Blue, 75 Great, 4 Willow and 2 Crested Tits, a Nuthacth, 4 Treecreepers, 15 Magpies, 4 Jays, 38 Jackdaws, 30 Hooded Crows, 48 Tree Sparrows, 7 Greenfinches, 5 Gold Finches, 5 Siskins, 52 Common Redpolls, 54 Bullfinches and 6 Yellowhammers.

On Christmas Day we visited relatives in Punkaharju and saw 2 Nuthatches and a Treecreeper in Laakkii and a Sparrowhawk in Tarvaslampi.

On Boxing Day we headed to Simpele and there were even more thrushes and Waxwings than in Parikkala. Altogether 6 Dippers and 7 Whooper Swans and 3 Mallards were seen on the river. We also saw 2 Sparrowhawks and in Siikalahti on our feeder there were 2 Great Spotted, 2 White-backed and a Grey-headed Woodpecker.

On the 28th day we saw 2 Nuthatches in Kannas and altogether even 7 Blackbirds and on the 29th day a Goshawk in Koitsanlahdenkangas.

J.A.

Independence day rally time

In the beginning of December it was already real winter – all lakes were completely frozen and about 30 cm snow everywhere. Still there were some big flocks of Fieldfares and in Satumäki I saw 200 birds on my lunch-hours.

The 4th day was extremely cold but anyway we went to put up a feeder for woodpeckers to Siikalahti-area. On the way in Kaukola fields we found a flock of 500 Yellowhammers. We of course checked if there were something else but with only binoculars it seemed difficult. But then some birds started to land in front of us to the road and the third closest bird was a Lapland Bunting! It was the first ever in winter in Parikkala and only about sixth in South Karelia – the last one we had found in Joutseno in February 2018. It was my 100th winter-species ever in Parikkala.

In the evening I drove to Kouvola where I got accommodation from Teo Ylätalo again. We still went to search for snipes with headlights but we had no luck.

On the 5th day we left birding around 8 a.m. and same time also Antti Vänskä went to other places to prepare for the next day’s Independence Day bird-race. It was really cold – about -20 degrees and freezing northern wind.

First we saw almost nothing, just a couple of Pheasants and a flock of 40 Goldfinches. In Mustila arboretum we found 2 Nuthatches, Willow and Coal Tits and Treecreepers but nothing else. Then we headed to Elimäki fields where we drove around quite a lot and finally found a flock of 500 Yellowhammers and one single Linnet. But then from the same field we flushed a flock of 20 Grey Partridges! It was my 251st spontaneous species this year which is my record.

A known Hawk Owl was seen easily and then in Ratula we first saw a White-tailed Eagle and then found a green field with of course some snow but it was absolutely full of birds! We estimated about 250 Gold Finches, 100 Chaffinches, 5 Linnets and 10 Brambling before a Sparrowhawk came and chased the flock around. But anyway it was clear that we had to come back on the next day and check the flock more carefully.
We didn’t find anything else but calls to Antti told us that he had managed even better and it started to look very promising for the next day. In the evening we still checked one ditch for snipes before went to eat to a Chinese restaurant together and planned the next day’s schedule.

On the 6th of December we woke up early and before 6 a.m. we left with Teo to search for owls. It was snowing heavily so once again weather forecasts were completely wrong. We didn’t find owls and before 8 we went to pick up Antti and continued to Saksanaho. There we walked to a wet forest to wait. And after some waiting we heard the first Fieldfares, a Blackbird, a Blue Tit, a White-backed Woodpecker, a Siskin, a Treecreeper and then 2 Wrens too. But only Antti heard a Robin and it was not enough as more than half of the team has to identify a species to get a tick in a bird-race. After some waiting I left to drive the car to the other side of the forest where Antti and Teo would walk. But on the way I heard a Robin. I ran back and also Antti had heard a Robin in the same time but from different direction! So we couldn’t count it as we had heard different birds. But luckily Antti and Teo had got a Grey-headed Woodpecker. After we had tried my Robin for some time too, we all walked back toward the car but checked a couple of feeders on the way – and got some common species to our list. Next we continued to one forest-feeder nearby where we saw another White-backed Woodpecker and after some waiting we saw a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. We had really started well!

And next we continued to a place that Antti had found on the previous day. Surprisingly the weather had cleared and sun was shining now. Se we had hopes very high! The place was a small open pool which was full of Mallards. But there were also a family of whooper Swans and when the Mallards flushed we saw also a Teal and a Pintail! And then after some walking also a Grey Heron was seen in flight. And this was not all! In a forest nearby we immediately heard a Pine Grosbeak and after checking some flocks of Common Crossbills, we found 5 Two-barred Crossbills! We also had the first Great Grey Shrike of the day. Unfortunately we missed a Sparrowhawk that only Antti saw but luckily we soon saw a couple of them.

A Velvet Scoter that Antti had seen on the previous day was gone, but a Collared Dove was found quickly. We were even too quickly as we forgot to search for House Sparrows in the same place. Hawfinch was also missing but then in a forest nearby we were lucky again as we found always very difficult Three-toed Woodpecker, a Goldcrest and the second Grey-headed Woodpecker of the day. Soon we ticked Goldeneyes and Goosanders on the river and then headed towards our yesterday’s birds.

In Mustila we heard a Nuthatch immediately and saw a Willow Tit. Soon we found also Coal Tits and surprisingly also a Crested Tit. Next we continued to Elimäki fields and surprisingly a Pheasant was in the same spot in the middle of the field again. Also the Grey Partridges were found again – this time there were 18 birds on the other corner of the field than on the previous day.

We tried two different known Hawk Owls but without luck. So we had to hope that we could find a new one somewhere. Next we went to our green field and saw Gold Finches, at least 250 Chaffinches, 50 Linnets, 10 Bramblings and after some searching we found also a Twite. It was my 252nd spontaneous year-tick. As we still hadn’t seen Hawk Owl, Black Woodpecker or Black Grouse, we decided to drive along a longer road towards our next destination and it was good as Teo found a Hawk Owl perched on a wire on one field.

Next we headed to a rubbish tip where we found Starlings and finally also House Sparrows. Then we continued to Dipper place and after a long wait and search we finally found one.

It was already getting late when we went back to forest-feeder to see if Long-tailed Tits were feeding before they go to sleep. And there they were!

Last hour or so we still tried to find an Eagle Owl but at 4:30 p.m. the rally ended and we drove to a service nearby where the results were given after pizzas. There were 4 teams and after the 25 most ordinary-species we were in second place. Of course some sea-birds like Mute Swans and gulls had been seen on the coast. But soon it was clear that we had seen more species than other teams. And after all we won with our 54 species quite clearly, as the rest of the teams had seen 43 to 45 species. We had been in Kouvola all the time but the race area was whole Kymenlaakso. Our result was the second best in Kouvola ever and it had been real winter now! Antti told that this had been his best Independence race ever. And still we had missed species like Robin, Hawfinch, Black Woodpecker, Black Grouse, Hazel Hen, Redwing, almost all raptors and owls, all gulls and so on. So maybe one day we can get 60 species?

Finally it was time to say goodbye to everyone. Teo dropped me to my car and I had a long drive back to Parikkala. It had been a great visit in Kouvola again! Next serious birding is probably on the 1st of January 2022..

Well I visited the woodpecker-feeder on the next day but it was quiet. A Long-tailed Tit visited trees next to it and on the parking place I saw and heard a Pine Grosbeak when it flew over me.

J.A.

Dark and gloomy – as it always is in November

After 2 weeks in Säppi on the 1st ov November I visited Siikalahti and saw a Hawk Owl that Matti Lötjönen had found and also 150 Whooper Swans, Mallards, some Wigeons, 10 Tufted Ducks, 3 Greater Scaups, a flock of Black Grouses, a Coot, a Three-toed Woodpecker flew over me, a Greater Grey Shrike, a flock of Gold Finches and a lonely Brambling with a huge pox-virus tumor. In Härskiinmutka I saw a few Great Crested Grebes. After work I went back to Siikalahti and after some waiting saw a Great White Egret flying over me – it was the latest ever in Parikkala.

On the 2nd day I saw a Black-throated Diver and a White-tailed Eagle in Härskiinmutka and again a Great White Egret in Siikalahti but this was the last time that it was seen. On the 3rd day I saw a Smew, and a Long-tailed Duck in Siikalahti, a flock of 32 Smews, a Common Scoter, 4 Long-tailed Ducks, Waxwings and heard a Nuthatch in Särkisalmi.

On the 6th day we did suck-counts in Saari and still saw Whooper Swans, Mallards and Wigeons here and there, in Pohjanranta we saw a flock of 422 Barnacle Geese and a lonely Tundra Bean Goose and a flock of Goosanders with a Red-breasted Merganser. 5 Goldeneyes, 8 Tufted Ducks and a Greater Scaup were in Akonpohj and a Long-tailed Duck in Nivalahti. Outside the count we saw a flock of 30 Smews, another Red-breasted Merganser and 3 Velvet Scoters. Also some gulls and a couple of White-tailed Eagles were seen.

After the count we picked up Elissa Soikkeli and drove to Imatra Immalanjärvi to twitch. Luckily Great Northern Diver was found easily and it was showing quite well. It was my first identified big diver in South Karelia. On the way I saw a Pygmy Owl somewhere in Rautjärvi.

On the 7th of November I did winterbird-count. The weather was worse than had been in forecasts so I was very wet. But there were lots of birds anyway! I saw 95 Whooper Swans, a Wigeon, 4 Mallards, 6 Tufted Ducks, 3 Greater Scaups, 4 Goldeneyes, a Hazel Hen, 22 Black Grouses, a White-tailed Eagle, 36 Common Gulls, 2 Rock Doves, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 36 Waxwings, a Robin which was a new species to my counts, 2 Blackbirds, even 1229 Fieldfares, 2 Redwings, 13 Goldcrests, 98 Blue, 158 Great, 5 Willow, a 2 Crested and a Coal Tit, 2 Treecreepers, a Great Grey Shrike, 8 Jays, 15 Magpies, 163 Jackdaws, 22 Hooded Crows, 4 Ravens, 20 Tree Sparrows, a Chaffinch, 9 Greenfinches, 8 Siskins, 188 Common Redpolls, 17 Common Crossbills, 58 Bullfinches and 15 Yellowhammers.

On the 8th day I saw a Redwing in the village and a Great Crested Grebe, some Tufted Ducks and Greater Scaups and a Common Scoter and a couple of White-tailed Eagles around Lake Simpele. On the 10th day there were 3 Long-tailed Ducks but not many other ducks in Siikalahti anymore. On the 11th day I visited Siberian Jays and saw all 3 birds.

On Friday evening we drove to Kirkkonummi where we stayed with my parents. On the next morning we headed to Helsinki wherein Viikki we released a Starling that had been living with us for a couple of weeks. It had been attacked by Jackdaws and it was in really bad shape but now it was good to go. Then we continued to Fastholma where we tried to twitch a late Rustic Bunting without luck. We heard a Robin and saw some flocks of Bearded Reedlings, a Great Grey Shrike, a Common Scoter and a Smew.

Then we tried to twitch an Isabelline Wheatear in Vuosaari but it was also gone. Last night had been cold and wind had been northern. Then we did some shopping in Itäkeskus and Hanna continued to city to do more shopping but in the afternoon I headed to Lauttasaari to twitch a late Spotted Flycatcher. But I was too late and didn’t find it either. In the evening we went to Stam1na concert.

On the 14th day we drove back to Lauttasaari where we found the Spotted Flycatcher easily. I took some pictures of this bird and somehow it looked a bit brownish. An hour after we had left, we got a message that this bird might be a Mediterranean Flycatcher – or then some strange eastern subspecies. It was caught, measured and DNA was got so maybe soon we will find out what it was. It was also the last time it was seen as next night was very cold.

We still visited Espoo Laajalahti where we saw a young Golden Eagle and a Common Buzzard but no much else. In the afternoon we drove back to Parikkala.

During the week I saw a Blackbird in the village and a Goshawk and a Hawk Owl in Siikalahti. On Friday I did the last duck-count in Saari but there were only some Whooper Swans, 7 Mallards, a Goldeneye and some Goosanders. It started to feel like winter.

At weekend I participated rink-ball Finnish championship tournament even though I had quit playing almost a couple of years ago. But LaPo team from Lappeenranta needed a player and after all I was ready to join them. It was a good tournament and we got bronze-medals!

Next week winter really came! First all small lakes got frozen and it started to snow. On the 23rd day I still saw 5 Canada Geese and a Velvet Scoter in Härskiinmutka and a Hazel Hen in Muttelinmäki. On the 26th a Redwing was in a big flock of Fieldfares in Satumäki. Also some big flocks of Waxwings were feeding rowanberries. In Rautjärvi Kokkolanjoki I saw a couple of Dippers and in Imatra Immalanjärvi a Scaup and on Vuoksi river some Tufted Ducks and Cormorants.

At weekend we visited Siberian Jays and saw 2 of them. Also a Coal Tit and a couple of Hazel Hens were seen. On the last days of November it was snowing a lot and even Lake Simpele got frozen. Still on the 29th day I photographed a Velvet Scoter in Särkisalmi but on the next day even it was frozen!

J.A.

Two weeks in Säppi again

Mega-twitch

On Friday the 15th of October our holiday finally started and early in the morning we started driving towards Helsinki. We parked to Herttoniemi and started walking towards Viikki Purolahti.

After 15 minutes walking we were already close to the bird-tower and then we got a message that the Brown Shrike that had been found on the previous day was still present close to Mäyrämetsä. We had only 5 more minutes walking. And soon we saw a few birders and kindly they told us where to look at and soon we found the shrike that was moving low on vegetation along a ditch about 80 meters from us.

The shrike was hiding a lot so we had time to watch other birds too. We saw a Great White Egret flying over us and a flock of Lapwings. A Great Grey Shrike gave us a heart-attack when it was in the same where Brown Shrike had just seen and it was eating something brown. But luckily after a long wait the Brown Shrike showed up again and also my brother Pirkka managed to see it. Pirkka had arrived to Helsinki by car-train.

Pirkka had parked his car to the other side of Viikki, so after all we started to walk back to our cars and then started driving towards Pori. On the way we saw a White-tailed Eagle and a couple of Rough-legged Buzzards in Humppila.

In Pori we went to eat and there we met Mikko Ala-Kojola who had arrived by train from Oulu. Soon also Pirkka came there and after we had eaten Mikko packed his luggage to Pirkka’s car and we headed to supermarket to do some shopping. There we met Elissa Soikkeli and Veikka Kosonen who had driven from Kouvola. Veikka had first taken a train from Kerimäki.

We had already on the way got information that waves were too big and wind was far too strong to get to Säppi so we had asked Petteri Mäkelä where we could stay for a night or even several. Petteri had promised that we could stay in his cottage in Leveäkari. Petteri was still driving from Helsinki where he had also been twitching, so after shopping we left to do some birding.

Weather was harsh but in Leveäkari bird-tower we saw a Peregrine, a Hen Harrier, 60 Coots, 3 White-tailed Eagles and a Grey Heron.

It was getting late when we headed to Petteri’s cottage where he showed us the places and soon we were warming up sauna. We had enough room but on the next morning there were still at least a couple of more birders joining us, so we started to think that we might need another place to stay if we still can’t get to Säppi on the next day.

Birding Pori

On the 16th of October we woke up early and headed to Reposaari where we parked to Lontoo. Soon also Antti Peuna and Pyry Laurikka arrived. They had started driving early from Helsinki. We first walked a bit in the windy village before continued to the shore. Pyry and Hanna saw a Purple Sandpiper briefly but soon almost all of us saw another bird flying between the waves. Also a couple of Velvet Scoters, a White Wagtail and a Blackcap were seen.

Next we checked Surf-beach which was full of surfers – the weather was good for them. But there were no birds at all. It was easy to see why our boat wasn’t going to move today either – waves were huge! Even Petteri told us that he had never seen so big waves in Yyteri. Next we met Petteri and Ville-Veikko Salonen and walked around Kirrinsanta together but found nothing interesting.

We still visited Enäjärvi bird-tower where we saw a couple of Pochards and Teemuluoto tower where we saw young Marsh and Hen Harriers.

In the afternoon we needed to find another place to stay and luckily we got rooms from River Motel. In the evening we went to city to eat to a Nepalese restaurant. While walking we saw a flock of 500 Starlings and some Rooks.

On the 17th day we started in Yyteri dog-beach where we found 14 Dunlins and a Ringed Plover. Hanna managed to crawl close enough for some pictures. Surf-beach was quiet again and nearby on sanddynes we found nothing else than Yellowhammers. Then we headed to famous Yyteri beaches and walked first to Sannannokka. On the way some of us wore boots and managed to flush a Jack Snipe. Then while getting close to the tower we found a couple of Bearded Reedlings that were hard to see because of the wind was moving the reeds so much. From the tower we saw a Brent Goose, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a very late Black-tailed Godwit, a couple of Grey Plovers and a male hybrid between a Mallard and a Pintail.

From other 3 towers we saw nothing new so next we headed to Kallo island. There we met some familiar birders from Porvoo. With Veikka we saw a late Lesser Whitethroat briefly but otherwise it was just too windy. While getting back to our cars we still saw a Gadwall.

In Hevosluoto we walked around some pools and saw a injured Canada Goose, a Woodcock and so on. On the way back we stopped along the river in Liljanluoto and amazingly found two Kingfishers! In the evening we still headed to Tikkula where we saw Linnets, Goldfinches, a Pheasant and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Then we went to eat to same restaurant again.

On the 18th day we headed first to Eteläranta which was another great place. We saw probably the same Brent Goose again, 110 Taiga Bean Geese, a couple of Cranes, a Gadwall, 15 Smews, 3 Grey Herons and a couple of Great Grey Shrikes. In Kaarluoto we saw nothing new but in Ooviiki we saw a flock of 6 Bearded Reedlings .

Then we headed back to River Motel where we packed everything well and headed shopping again. Finally we headed to Kuuminainen harbor where we started to pack the boat immediately. The captain Tommi Salokangas arrived quite soon and started to start the engines. We had agreed to leave at 2 p.m. but it was only a couple of minutes to when Paavo Sallinen arrived too and soon we had finally packed everything and were ready to leave towards Säppi.

Finally to Säppi

Tommi had said that it was still going to be a wet trip, so we had packed everything extremely well and waterproof. And it really was a hard trip! Tommi did his best but anyway we got water in quite a lot. One killer-wave hit us quite bad, but otherwise it didn’t feel too bad. And finally after 50 minutes we were in Säppi harbor which was nice as I had started to feel sea-sick.

Then we unpacked the boat and started to carry our stuff to the station. We had really lots of stuff but finally we were ready to go to do some birding! There hadn’t been any birders for a week so we were keen to see what we could find! Hanna, Pirkka, Elissa and Veikka left to put the mist-nets ready.

It starts well

The weather was now OK but we could soon find out that there weren’t many birds in the island after storms. Several families of Muflons were seen and there were also lots of big Water Voles. In Hanhisto we found first Meadow Pipits and 3 White Wagtails and then Antti flushed a big pipit! The bird landed quite far so we called to mist-netters to join us to flush it again. And soon the bird flushed again. It was quiet and flying quite far but we managed to see it quite well and get some pictures too. And then it landed to seaweed. It was a Richard’s Pipit! Soon it was flying again and disappeared over the forest but luckily we had all seen it well.

When we continued to walk around the island, we still saw a Goshawk, a migrating flock of Bean Geese but nothing else than ordinary birds. When we were back in the station, we still had to make everything work in the station. After all 3 Aaltos, Elissa and Veikka got to the family-side and the rest to station side.

The log was long because of internet-connection was very bad and there were no needed papers. But after all we were ready to go to sleep.

On the 19th of October ringers and their helpers headed to put up mist-nets very early as the ringing was starting 30 minutes before the sun was rising. At sunrise the rest of us went to “pommikoppi” to do regular 2 hours seawatching.

There wasn’t much migration but flocks of Common Scoters and Wigeons and a Grey Heron were seen. A couple of young Lesser Black-backed Gulls were flying around the island and a couple of Smews were swimming with masses of Tufted Ducks and Goldeneyes. I also saw an Otter briefly.

We had just stopped the seawatch when we got a message that ringers had caught a Pallas’s Leaf Warbler. We of course hurried to Peräkulma to see it. And then there were so many Goldcrests, tits and other birds in the nets that we all had to help there for an hour.

So we could start walking around the island quite late but we found a couple of Jack Snipes, a Hen Harrier, a late Tree Pipit, a Blackcap and a Great Grey Shrike – the Richard’s Pipit was gone. In calm side of the island we saw 9 Chiffchaffs feeding actively and in Takalahti I saw a Little Bunting briefly before it disappeared to the forest. A couple of other saw it only in flight and heard it calling.

Day’s ringings included 166 Goldcrests, 109 Blue Tits, 55 Great Tits, 11 Treecreepers and so on. Altogether 370 birds had been ringed. One more observation to mention was 3 Tree Sparrows that were first seen coming from the sea while morning seawatching and then they stayed on the station feeder for the rest of the day.

More little rarities

On the 20th day the weather was really bad again so there was no possibility to open up the mist-nets at all. We managed to do the morning seawatch and saw a few Razorbills, a couple of local Red-necked Grebes and Purple Sandpiper and so on. When the rain finally got weaker, we all walked around the island and found a couple of Jack Snipes, 12 Purple Sandpipers, still 3 Wagtails which one had problems with foot and one with wing. Then in Takalahti Pirkka found a Little Grebe which was only the 4th in Säppi ever! And on the other side of the bay we found a Little Bunting. So after all the day was good even though we were completely wet.

On the 21st day the weather was excellent so the ringers and their helpers headed to Peräkulma with high hopes. For the seawatching the weather was too good but a couple of Great Crested Grebes, a Red-necked Grebe, 6 Purple Sandpipers, a lonely Dunlin, 620 Common Gulls and a single adult winter-plumaged Little Gulls were seen.

But it was extremely quiet in mist-nets, so only Hanna and Elissa stayed there while the rest of us left to walk around the island. The best bird was found by Antti. Also Pirkka heard it calling and shouted to the rest of us that were walking along the shore that it sounded like a Yellow-browed Warbler. It was so windy that we could see that Pirkka’s mouth was moving but we heard nothing. Then we heard a hard shout “Humei!” We all hurried towards the forest and Antti and probably some were running too fast as when we saw Antti I managed to hear one call of a warbler and then it was gone. To me it had sounded more like a Pallas´s Leaf Warbler but Antti was sure it had been a Hume’s Leaf Warbler. We tried to find it for some time but weren’t lucky. Antti had managed to record some calls and we tried to listen to them from his recorder but in wind and bad speakers it sounded more like Yellow-browed Warbler.

When Antti was pack at home, he moved the recordings to his computer and managed to make the sounds louder. And again he thought it was indeed a Hume’s Leaf Warbler. He sent the recordings to Andreas Lindén who confirmed the identification. So after all it had been a Hume’s Leaf Warbler…

But let’s get back to the walk around the island. The best bird we saw was a Rock Pipit that Hanna and Elissa found in Hanhisto, but we all managed to twitch it.

Bad weather

On the 22nd day the weather was awful again. So again the boat had been cancelled and Pirkka and Mikko had to stay an extra-day. The best observation was dead Grey Seal that we found far from the sea but waves took it to the harbor. Most of the day was spent inside. In the evening we had sauna which was nice!

Firecrest

The 23rd day was also quiet both on mist-nets and sea. Pirkka and Mikko got their boat and Oskari Saunisto and Thomas Swan arrived. After we had carried their stuff to the station, we walked around the island. A couple of Woodcocks and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Merlin, same Woodpigeon as every day, last lonely Wagtail, a Blackcap, 7 Chiffchaffs and one Siberian Chiffchaff were seen.

Next day the weather was great but still it was quiet. Paavo and Antti left to walk around while we were still watching empty sea. Antti saw a Pine Grosbeak and Paavo an interesting warbler but too briefly. It might have been a Hume’s…

Then we got message that ringers had caught a Firecrest! Actually it was Oskari who had picked it up from the net and only then he had realized that it was something better! We had to give up seawatching and hurry to Peräkulma to see one more beautiful catch.

Boat came to pick up Elissa, Antti and Paavo and unfortunately no one arrived. So there weren’t too many birders anymore but of course we walked around the island again. The weather turned much worse, but better species during the day were a Red-throated Diver, 3 Red-necked Grebes, 8 Purple Sandpipers, 3 Woodcocks, a Black Woodpecker, a Rock Pipit, a ringed Lesser Redpoll, a lonely Arctic Redpoll in a flock of 300 Redpolls, even 300 migrating Common Crossbills and 25 more local and 8 Parrot Crossbills. It had been very cold night and day inland so also 13 Snow Buntings were seen.

Not many birds – but lots of pictures

On the 25th of October it was again windy and seawatching was better. 14 Purple Sandpipers, 20 Black Guillemots, 16 Razorbills were seen and more all these were seen also later. Also a couple of Great Black-backed Gulls were seen. But again it was a very quiet day on mist-nets.

The wind had been very hard from south so with Veikka and Oskari we walked only the calm side of the island. But in the evening Pyry went to southern side to Eteläkari too and found a Shore Lark which we of course had to twitch.

Quiet

On the 26th there was nothing much different. It was very quiet on mist-nets but on the sea Black Guillemots, Razorbills and a Common Guillemot were seen. 15 Red-throated Divers and a Black-throated Diver were also seen. The Shore Lark was still around but nothing new was found even though we walked around the whole island. Only interesting observation was that in Hanhisto Tomas saw a Brent Goose landing to the shore. We walked closer and after some searching found the birds on the ground – and it was dead. There was some blood on gooses neck and mouth. Hanna had already seen the bird earlier and it had been fine. We have no idea what had killed. We surely would’ve seen if any raptor had attacked it, if not 4 Purple Sandpipers that were seen on the shore (they’ve got sharp bills) or then one of those huge Water Voles…

On the 27th of October the best birds of the seawatching were 3 Common Guillemots, 30 Red-throated and 23 Black-throated Divers. Around the island we saw nothing new – just all the same chiffchaffs, Robins, Dunnocks, Blackcaps, Wrens, Song Thrushes and so on – only 1 to 3 birds of each species and in same places as every day.

In the evening boat took Petteri and Mimosa Mäkelä, Sebastian Andrejeff, Valtteri Salonen, Pekka Rintamäki and Ari Pitkälä with his granddaughter Sanni. It was good to have more birders.

Boys hit

After the log Veikka and Oskari took headlights and a net and left to try to catch any bird. After an hour we hadn’t heard anything from them so Hanna sent a message that they could give up. But I thought that these youngsters weren’t coming back with empty hands.

We had fallen asleep when we heard noise from outside. Hanna went to see what was happening and as she didn’t come back, I had to go out too. Veikka and Oskari were there with a small bird-bag and everyone seems to be very excited. They had caught the Shore Lark! They had first seen a Jack Snipe and a Short-eared Owl and then tried to catch a couple of Different Woodcocks without luck before Veikka had accidentally flushed a Shore Lark on his feet. He had already been sad as he hadn’t noticed the bird early enough but after some walking he had noticed the bird again just next to his feet. He managed to put net over the bird slowly and it was caught! Boys then tried to call me but the connections are really bad. So they had to carry the bird in a bag to the station.

Hanna ringed the Shore Lark and it was identified as a young male. Finally it was released to Prakala seaweeds but it flushed to a dark night-sky. It had been quite the end for a day!

Same birds

On the 28th day the morning was very foggy so we skipped seawatching. We the fog cleared we left to walk around the island. The Shore Lark was nor in Lännennokka with ring on its foot. Then we saw a Little Bunting in several places around the island but it seemed that it might have been one and the same bird. We were already close to the station when we once again found it on seaweed and managed to take really good pictures of it. When it flushed Petteri saw one in station garden. And after all we had seen a Little Bunting seven times during the day – so after all we decided that that must have been at least 2 birds. Other birds we saw were a few Lesser Redpolls and 77 Razorbills that were seen flying around in the fog.

Kittiwake

The 29th morning we saw 18 Red-throated Divers, 2 Red-necked Grebes, 111 Razorbills and even 4 Common Guillemots. Walk around the island was poor until Petteri found a young Kittiwake from the sea in Karinnokka. It was very far but still identifiable. We really tried hard whole day but we found nothing else interesting. We also tried to mist-net owls but only saw briefly and heard a Tengmalm’s Owl that never flew to the net.

Same same again

On the 30th day we had station-competition against Hanko Halias. At night the Tengmalm’s Owl was still heard and on seawatch we saw all the ordinary species with Red-throated and Black-throated Divers, Red-necked Grebes, Purple Sandpipers, Razorbills, Black Guillemot and one more Common Guillemot.

Walk around the island without surprises, only the same species, actually the same birds than every day. The Woodpigeon was still around and as I had never been in any island this late, I saw many species later than ever. When we were in Peräkulma we took away the mist-nets which was easy as we had so many people working. After all we lost to Halias quite clearly.

On the 31st of October was our last day. So we woke up early to pack and clean. I headed to morning seawatch alone. Veikka found a Hawk Owl next to sauna which we all managed to twitch before it disappeared to the forest carrying a Water Vole. I still saw all the same species with a single Common Guillemot again.

It seemed that he day was really good as thrushes and many other birds were on the move. I still had an hour after seawatch and saw a Chiffchaff in Poponiemi and a Blackcap and a Robin in Prakala. Pyry had been walking in south whole morning and still saw the Shore Lark and also a Little Bunting.

Towards home but still one twitch

At 11 a.m. the boat arrived and luckily the weather was nice and calm now. After 30 minutes we were in Kuuminainen, somehow managed to pack everything and everyone to cars and left to Pori. There we drove to Konepajanranta where we tried to twitch a Caspian Gull but there weren’t many gulls and then a White-tailed Eagle arrived and there were no gulls at all left.

Then we dropped Pyry, Veikka and Oskari to the railway station and said goodbye to everyone. We were hungry so we drove to Pori center to eat. While eating we got a message that there was a Caspian Gull in Maaviiki which we went to twitch soon. We also saw a Stock Dove there.

Then we had a long drive back to Parikkala where we were at 8 p.m.

J.A.