More than 2 weeks in Säppi

Towards Pori

On the 9th of October we had packed our car and left driving toward Kouvola early in the morning. In Kouvola we met Teo in a place where I had been sleeping one day earlier. We left our car to the garden and packed everything in Teo’s car and started driving toward Pori.

Driving went quickly and finally we were in Pori where we still bought lots of food and I must say that our car was completely full when we were driving towards Kuuminainen.

In the harbor we met my brother Pirkka who had traveled from Kemijärvi to Helsinki by train, then picked up Arto Aaltonen from Kerava and also ”Jände” and Tom Nordblad had driven from Helsinki. Soon ”Fish-Tommi” arrived and we started to carry our stuff to the boat. And soon we were on the way to Säppi-island.

Finnish-tick right away

The ride was bumpy and we were soon wet and all our bags were wet too. After 30 minutes we finally arrived at harbor next to Prakala where we could see one birder, Jani Vastamäki, standing and watching to his feet. All birders were changing in the island so everyone else was on the harbor and Petteri Mäkelä told us that they can move all the stuff away and to the boat, so we can hurry to Prakala. So we were almost running towards Jani and there he had Asian Desert Warbler just two meters from him!

Asian Desert Warbler that had been in Prakala for a few days already was showing extremely well so we got some pictures right away so soon we left the photographers with the bird and went back to harbor to say thanks and goodbye to everyone, especially to Jani and Petteri. Soon the boat left and we still walked back to watch the warbler.

After some more photographing the warbler and a Tundra Bean Goose that was standing next to us too, we started to carry our luggage towards the bird-station. We had booked the family-part of the station for ourselves with Hanna, Pirkka and Teo, so Arto, Jände and Tom went to the station-side.

New ringing-species to the station

It was already getting late while we were settling down to the station and then we still had to put daily observations to Tiira even though we had seen only the warble rand the goose. After the log Teo went out with a headlamp and a hand net as he wanted to try to catch some snipes. It didn’t take long when he came back carrying a Tundra Bean Goose! It was a new ringing-species to the station and even though it was extremely tame it seemed to be alright.

Routines begin – well

On the 10th of October we started to run the routines. Hanna and Pirkka were the ringers so they left early to Peräkulma to put up the mist-nets and then ringed as long as there were birds coming, or at least Hanna stayed there so long. Then when sun was rising migrating birds were counted in Prakala for two hours. On a couple of mornings it was quite busy with birds in Peräkulma, so I was also helping ringers but then walked to the station when migration-watching was over. After a couple of days it was getting more quiet with ringing, so I stayed in Peräkulma only for an hour or so and then in the end of the week Hanna and Pirkka didn’t need me at all anymore, so I could sleep a little bit later. Unfortunately also migration was very quiet almost every morning. On the first morning we had one of the best mornings as a couple of small flocks of Brent Geese, Eiders, Common and Velvet Scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, some Black and Red-throated Divers, a couple of Red-necked Grebes, 60 Razorbills, some Black Guillemots and one lucky had also a Common Guillemot. Also 4 Purple Sandpipers were seen, but in most mornings it was much more boring. Then after 2 hours we usually had so-called second breakfast and after that we left to walk around the whole island.

On the first morning Hanna was ringing alone as Pirkka wanted to join the island-walk too as he had never been in Säppi before. On the second year in a row there were almost no berries in sea-buckthorns which was the reason there were much less birds on the bushes. Also only one Skylark and 17 Meadow Pipits were seen and also thrushes and tits were only a few. But there were lots of Chiffchaffs and many of them were calling weirdly ”chiwy” calls and the rest were calling normally, this year there were no Siberian Chiffchaffs at all. 17 Chiffchaffs and 2 Willow Warblers were ringed on the first day. Mouflons were easier to see than ever – in best time we saw 19 in same time.

But the most common bird also here was Goldcrest. On the first morning 115 were ringed. Common Redpolls hadn’t arrived yet as only some were ringed and then of course Treecreepers, Robins, Wrens, Dunnocks, common tits and so on were ringed.

We had walked until Eteläkari when Hanna sent a Whats App message – picture of a Siberian Accentor hanging on the mist-net! BOOM! It is still an extremely rare bird at least if that one year (2016) is out of count. So we had to hurry to Peräkulma.

There had been tow boats full of twitchers because of the Asian Desert Warbler that was still in Prakala. Arto had been helping them to see the bird and even now there was one group in the island. So Tom sent a message to Lintutiedotus that the Siberian Accentor will be shown in the bird-station after ringing. It is 15 minutes walk from Peräkulma to the station and we weren’t even in Peräkulma yet, so there was plenty of time to every twitcher to get to the station.

Once we were in Peräkulma, Hanna had already ringed the bird and then we of course took lots of pictures. Then Teo and Hanna left towards the station with the bird, Pirkka stayed in Peräkulma and the rest of us kept on walking around the island. Siberian Accentor was freed next to the harbor where some twitchers still saw it very briefly. But only later we found out that one twitcher had probably panicked when the message about the accentor had been sent and she had got lost in a roundish island where sea can be heard everywhere and it is not long walk to the station which is in the middle of the island from anywhere. She had been walking around in the forest for a couple of hours and even the boat had to wait for 30 minutes before she was finally found. I never thought this to be possible in time when everyone has good maps in their phones.

Teo was waiting us already when we were getting to Kräveli and then we still walked around the rest of the island. The best birds we saw during the whole walk were a Barnacle Goose, a Peregrine, a Merlin, a couple of Golden Plovers, a Black Woodpecker, a few Great Grey Shrikes and some Parrot Crossbills. Hanna still had a possible Olive-backed Pipit calling in Peräkulma but it wasn’t seen at all.

In Prakala the Asian Desert Warbler was still around with the same Tundra Bean Goose and in the evening we heard a Pygmy Owl calling a couple of times with Arto, but it didn’t come to garden mist-net even though we played tape for it.

Hard work continues

On the 11th of October the weather was bad so ”standard” was shorter. Only migrants to mention were 18 Greylag Geese and a Merlin. Asian Desert Warbler was still around and again there were twitchers.

Surprisingly it was a busy morning in Peräkulma where 356 Goldcrests were ringed, also 34 Robins and a Lesser Redpoll was ringed.

Walk around the island produced a Grey Plover, 7 Common Ringed Plovers, a Dunlin and a couple of Short-eared Owls. Again Hanna and Pirkka had a possible Olive-backed Pipit and we went to search for it but when we found a good-looking pipit, it was a Tree Pipit. But while watching the Tree Pipit also another pipit was heard calling from the forest.

In the afternoon we walked half of the island again and in Lännennokka we had a good surprise when Pirkka found a Siberian Accentor! Unfortunately it had a bright ring so it was the same bird we had ringed on the previous day.

In the afternoon Tom and Jände left so there were only four of us left in the island. The Asian Desert Warbler wasn’t found in the afternoon even though we tried a couple of times. Luckily the last twitchers had still seen it, but after that either Great Grey Shrike or Short-eared Owl had probably found it too as they were moving also in Prakala. The bean goose was still around and we saw it flying a couple of times longer distances and it seemed to be shyer too.

On the 12th day Hanna and Pirkka headed to Peräkulma but the weather was so rainy and windy that the morning sea-watch wasn’t done at all. Anyway there seemed to be no birds either. It was very quiet also when we walked around the island, just a couple of Short-eared Owls, a Common Redstart and a Blackcap were seen. Anyway mist-nest were catching well between the rains and 190 Goldcrest and 30 Treecreepers and so on were caught. In the afternoon we opened the nets in the garden and so altogether 52 Great Tits were ringed. Siberian Accentor was still seen in the same place but Tundra Bean Goose had left.

On the 13th of October the morning sea-watch was done again but still it was very quiet. I was helping in Peräkulma because of the weather was perfect and we had expected to have a busy morning but after a couple of hours it was already very quiet. Altogether 175 Goldcrests were ringed.

During the walk we saw the same Siberian Accentor still in Lännennokka and once we reached Eteläkari we noticed that there were lots of Cranes migrating over the mainland. We counted altogether 1365 Cranes and also saw some flocks of Barnacle Geese. I also saw a Golden Eagle flying very distant somewhere over Pori but it had turned and started to glide when others found it. Also a distant Rough-legged Buzzard and pretty good crow-migration was seen – including a couple of Rooks. But nothing else to mention was found.

A little price

On the 14th day I was in Peräkulma again but it was very quiet. But while checking the nets I heard a promising ”tic” call and as I had already a Little Bunting playing next to one of the nets, I just kept on checking the mist-nets. So it wasn’t a big surprise that on the next round there was a Little Bunting hanging on one of the nets. When also an Arctic Redpoll was caught on the same round it meant that Teo and Arto also came to twitch these birds and once again the morning-watch was short.

We left to walk around the island only when we got new people as Anti Peuna, Nico Ordax and Miia Mannerla arrived. After we had carried their stuff to the station we left to twitch Siberian Accentor. But unfortunately it wasn’t found anymore. In Eteläkari we heard a Hume’s Leaf Warbler calling shortly but quite distant. Antti managed to started recording the call but a little bit too late as only the last call was recorded. And of course that call wasn’t very typical as it had probably been called in flight. Soon we found a Jack Snipe and then finally a Rock Pipit which was finally a year-tick. Also a couple of Short-eared Owls were seen again and then we found the same Little Bunting with a ring. It was about 500 meters from Peräkulma, so it tells something that we found the ringed birds later from the field too. It was good that everyone saw this Little Bunting.

And again something better

On the 15th day morning-watch was boring again – it was tough to stay awake. Also walk around the island was quiet but again Hanna stroke as she sent a message of a Pallas’s Leaf Warbler in hand! Of course we all went to see and photograph this one of the cutest birds. Anyway for me the observation of the day was when I finally flushed a Woodcock! I had somehow missed this bird in my every trip to Säppi even though it had been seen at least twenty times while I had been there – sometimes very close… Well of course Pallas’s Leaf Warbler was better…

But while walking we still found anything new – except a couple of Woodpigeons and Arctic Redpolls. The same Little Bunting was still there.

More people, better parties – but still not many birds

On the 16th of October it was still very quiet. Some tits had arrived to the island and we hoped that something better had come with them but nothing was found. The first Snow Bunting was heard which usually means that autumn is over – but we know that the rarest birds are coming very late… 150 Barnacle Geese, 10 Scaups, a Grey Plover, 8 Purple Sandpipers, 3 Woodcocks, 3 Rooks, a Goldfinch and a ringed Waxwing were birds to mention.

In the evening Petteri Mäkelä, Sebastian Andrejeff, Markus Lampinen, Pasi Alanko, Jan Lundgren and Elissa Soikkeli arrived and Pirkka, Arto and Miia had to leave. Elissa came to our side where Antti had also stayed and Petteri, ”Sepi” and Markus went to station-side with Nico while Pasi and ”Lunkka” had arranged a room from Säppi-foundation building where they stayed in small radio-room. Pasi is a radio-amateur and soon he had put up long antennas to the light-house and carried several boxes full of radio-equipment to their room.

On the 17th of October morning was as boring as ever even though there were more pairs of eyes watching. A few Wood Larks were flying around which one of them seemed to stay in the garden. At midday Matti and Mimosa Mäkelä and Mika Bruun arrived and it was Antti’s tour to leave. All newcomers stayed in station-side which was now very full. The island was walked around again but only better bird was the same Grey Plover.

After quiet days a nice hand-tick

The 18th of October was one more quiet day. The best bird in the morning was a young Lesser Black-backed Gull that was flying around the island. Anyway the most memorable happening was done in the garden. Hanna had put up a low mist-net next to a seed-trap that had been on the ground for Wood Lark. Once we came back from an empty walk around the island, we noticed that one Wood Lark was right next to the net. After some time I decided to make a run and managed to push the bird to the net! It was only the second ever ringed Wood Lark in Säppi!


On the 19th day there wasn’t much to mention: A Short-eared Owl was seen and the same Lesser Black-backed Gull again. Weather was bad so in morning sea-watch we were only with Teo. Quite a few better birds were seen during the day by others, the most interesting was seen in the garden where a possible Siberian Accentor was seen and heard briefly. Also a Purple Sandpiper, a Grey-headed Woodpecker, a Wood Lark, a Blackcap, a ”tic” bunting and a Twite was seen but I saw none of them… But the next day looked really promising, so it was going to be The day.

The day – or at least pretty good

On the 20th of October morning started in hurry as we found out that everyone from the station-side were going to do morning-watch to Eteläkari. And they were already leaving. It is quite far, so we were a bit late with Teo and so we had already missed a Rock Pipit. Migration wasn’t too good but the weather was excellent! The first better bird for us was a Twite the was flying over us. Soon Teo found a lonely diver flying high on the sky and it was very difficult to find with telescope. When I finally found it, it was a Great Northern Diver! I lost it again to blue sky but luckily after some searching everyone found it. Even Mika, who was walking towards us along the shore managed to see it.

Just a little bit later we heard a tit calling and I thought that it is the first Willow Tit of the trip but others were already hearing it better – a Siberian Tit! We played a little bit tape and soon it was flying around us and landing too close to photographers. It stayed so long that also Pasi and ”Lunkka” managed to come to see the bird. Hanna and ”Elli” put a tape to play for it in Peräkulma, but unfortunately it was never seen again.

When we still had a Grey-headed Woodpecker calling visible – another Säppi-tick, a flock of Parrot Crossbills and a Merlin, it is easy to say that the morning had been really good!

During the day Matti and Mimosa left and Tomas Swahn arrived and only then we left to walk around the island. It had been quiet on the mist-nets, so also Hanna and Elli were with us. We didn’t get far when Petteri found a Firecrest in Lännennokka! It was with a couple of tits and Goldcrests and they were very mobile. So not everyone saw it right away but luckily I relocated it a couple of hundreds of meters further and there it stayed in small area almost on the ground for so long that everyone managed to see it.

Other birds seen were a couple of Grey-headed Woodpeckers more, several Great Grey Shrikes, a Goshawk, at least a couple of Twites that were calling in a flock of Common Redpolls, a few Arctic Redpolls and more Snow Buntings, Waxwings. So colder weather had started to bring new birds but for some reason it didn’t show on the mist-nets.

The weather forecast was awful for the next days so The day was celebrated in station-side. Even the log was long and frustrating as some were already so drunk. It was really good that we had own side for us who wanted to sleep.

Rain and misery

On the 21st day we could all sleep longer and relax. It was good as with Teo we had been working hard for several weeks every day! Part of the island was checked by some of us but some were sleeping almost whole day. Luckiest birders had seen a late Greenshank and a Purple Sandpiper but I saw only 3 Jack Snipes. Garden mist-nets were opened a couple of times so some Great Tits were ringed between the rains.

On the 22nd of October the weather was even worse. I decided to walk around the island anyway. There was no wind at all and visibility was great even though it was raining almost all the time. So I managed to see more grebes including a Slavonian Grebe too, 4 Purple Sandpipers and 2 Jack Snipes. The biggest surprise of the day was that when a boat visited the island for some other reason, Petteri, Mika and Lunkka decided to leave.

In the evening Teo cheered us up and managed to finally catch a Woodcock that he had been trying in several evenings. I finally got a hand-tick of this species.

Hanna strikes again

On the 23rd of October the weather was finally better but still we were on the sea-watch with Teo and Pasi only. The same Lesser Black-backed Gull was seen again after a couple of days. In the end we were just waiting for the 2 hours to end as we wanted to hit the bushes. But only a migration Short-eared Owl that landed to the island was seen. About at 11 a.m. Hanna sent a message about a silent Hume’s or Yellow-browed Warbler that had been seen briefly in Peräkulma. We of course messaged back that: “Catch it!”.

And after an hour or so Hanna sent a message that she had a Hume’s Warbler in her hand! We hurried again to Peräkulma and almost ran through Hanhisto, but of course later walked back to check it well. Hume’s Leaf Warbler was one more price for our patient ringing-team that always stayed in Peräkulma late even though it was quiet. Every rare bird we have ever caught in Säppi has been in the afternoon. It was great to have another cute rarity in hand and of course lots of pictures were taken. When we released the bird it stayed on the top of the closest tree for some time and we could see it well but it wasn’t calling.

One more day

The 24th day was quiet in the ground, on the sea and in the air. I managed to dip one more Rock Pipit, which seems to be a habit. Nothing else to mention happened even though we were really trying…

Last day’s hurry”

On the 25th of October we had the last day of our long trip. Luckily winter-time had stated at night so we had an extra hour for us. Hanna ja Elissa still left to Peräkulma and the rest of us to morning-watch. It was quiet but good selection of species were seen, but anyway after an hour we decided to leave and walk around the island with Teo.

In Lännennokka Teo flushed a warbler that he thought was a Chiffchaff. There had been a Chiffchaff in the same bush on the previous day. I saw the bird in flight but I saw some color on its vent. It landed to a tree straight against the sun where it of course looked dark, before it dropped inside the bushes. Soon we heard a Chiffchaff calling and we thought that it had been the same bird again. Anyway I played Radde’s Warbler tape for some time and tried to see the bird again but it had disappered into the junipers. I even said that: ”Maybe there were two birds and something will be found here after we had left”. But soon we continued walking as we didn’t have too much time.

Later we saw a Chiffchaff and we had a feeling that there were quite a few new birds on the island. Nothing better was found anyway and finally we were back on the station about an hour before our boat. Luckily we had packed and cleaned our side on the previous evening as a half an hour before our boat we got a message that Tomas and Sebastian had found a Dusky Warbler – in Lännennokka! Immediately I was sure that it was the same bird we had seen…

We ran to Lännennokka and luckily heard the Dusky Warbler ”tacking” immediately! The bird was also seen briefly before also Hanna and Elissa managed to get there. After some waiting we heard the bird again and then it flew to the Siberian Accentor bush where we saw it extremely well! Luckily the bird had been found early enough for us! It was a WP-tick for Hanna, so after all it was the best bird of the whole trip!

Soon we had to hurry back to the station, carry our stuff to the harbor where Tommi’s boat had just arrived. Soon we were on the way back to Kuuminainen and luckily the ride wasn’t wet this time. In the harbor Petteri was picking up Nico to the railway-station and soon we had packed our cars and left towards Kouvola, Elissa was following us.

Our car stopped once to eat on the way but after a long drive we were in Kouvola where we moved our stuff to our car, said goodbye to Teo and continued to Parikkala.

A long, more than 5 weeks, holiday was finally over. Altogether 175 species had been observed but it seemed that all the best birds had been in Säppi. An Asian Desert Warbler, a Siberian Accentor, a Pallas Leaf, a Hume’s Leaf and a Dusky Warbler had made our trip! Many good birds had been seen also in Oulu-area and Jurmo too, but I think if World is still the same next year, other destinations will change but Säppi stays in program.

J.A.

Holiday continues in Jurmo

On the 28th of September we woke up early in the middle of a forest-cut. A local store opened already a t 6 a.m. and we had decided to get there at 7 so we hoped that fresh bread was available. Everything else was bought but the bread was a bit oldish. But soon we were ready to drive to Pärnäinen harbor.

We carried our stuff to M/S Baldur which left at 8:30 a.m. towards Jurmo. We stayed on the deck for some time and met some birders that were going to Utö and also 3 gentlemen that were coming to Jurmo for the same time with us. We hadn’t met Juhani and Pekka Virtanen (not relatives) and Kari Tuominen before but soon it was clear that we would get along well. Pretty soon we went to eat to the restaurant and food was extremely good!

It was a long way but finally we arrived at Jurmo where “Jussi”, Pekka and Kari got a ride from a local man so we got both carts for ourselves to get our stuff towards the station. While walking towards the station we already saw a Hobby.

On the station we met Kim Kuntze and Meri Öhman the were soon leaving to the ferry. Also Timo K. Palomäki was of course there and young birder Pyry Laurikka too. After some talking we went to check the mist-nets where Jussi, Pekka and Kari were already working and there were already quite a lot of Goldcrests.

After some time we went to eat something to the station and then left to do counts to western side of the island where is the better route where birds are being counted every day. It was a long way to the beginning of the route and it is very long walk if a visit to Heinäsaari is included. But we were ready to walk a lot!

Like almost always the best birds were found in Heinäsaari where 2 Oystercatchers, a Curlew, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a Ruff, a couple of Dunlins, 12 Purple Sandpipers and a Greenshank were seen. On the route we saw Spotted Redshank, a Long-tailed Duck, one of three Peregrines that we saw during the day and altogether we saw quite a few Grey and Golden Plovers and of course lots of ducks.

It was already getting late when we were walking back towards the station. On the way we saw a Nightjar which was very late record. But there had been quite a few of them around the country, so we hoped to see it later again.

While keeping the daily log we found out that most of the birds we had seen in Heinäsaari, had already been there for some time. Well we didn’t know about them so they had felt much better this way.

Island-competition

On the 29th day we had an island-competition and the main opponent was of course Lågskär. We woke up early and went to watch morning-migration with Timo. It was pretty quiet on the sea but we saw quite a good selection of species like Brent Geese and sea-ducks.

Then we went to walk the eastern route and surprisingly found quite good birds like a Hobby, a Merlin, a Peregrine, 4 Slavonian Grebes, a Jack Snipe and very early young Red-backed Shrike. In west we walked of course to Heinäsaari too and we found again the same waders, the first Pochard of the year for Jurmo and a very late young Cuckoo. Other birds seen on the field and caught from the nets were Blackcaps, Willow Warblers, Parrot Crossbills and so on. Pyry saw a Yellow-browed Warbler in Sorgen and when it was already dark we went to try to find the Nightjar which was found pretty easily but we also saw a couple of Long-eared Owls that Pyry had found and also a Short-eared Owl. Altogether we got 96 species which was the best number in the competition.

Easy day

On the 30th of September we had an easy day between the competition day and the first of October. We did only the eastern route with Teo and saw next to nothing during the day – only new bird was a Common Redstart. Also a couple of Slavonian Grebes, a Hobby, Parrot Crossbills and the same Nightjar was seen again. From the mist-nets we got a few Sparrowhawks but the best observation was maybe a few Queen of Spain Fritillaries that were flying in Sorgen.

October begins

On the first of October we were full of energy as there were some possible month-ticks around. Morning-migration was quite bad maybe because of the misty and windy weather. For the first time ringers had opened mist-nets also on the bog. While sea-watching we could see a couple of nets and there were lots of birds! I called to one of the ringers and asked if they needed help and I got an answer that they were OK. But I left to help them anyway and soon it was clear that all help was needed! Goldcrests were really on the move and nets were full of them! So next few hours we were all helping with the Goldcrests. When we managed to get any mist-net empty, we closed them. And after all only a couple of nets were kept open per ringer. I remember loosing a Lesser Whitethroat and a Tree Pipit from the net too.

Finally the chaos was over so we could go to count the routes. We first walked the eastern route where a Slavonian Grebe and a couple of Jack Snipes were seen, Then we continued west where all the same waders were still around and Curlew was a month-tick. In the evening a Nightjar was seen again and was another tick.

During the day ringers had ringed more than 1200 birds which 938 were Goldcrests!

Something little better

We kept on working hard on the next days too. On the 2nd of October I went again very early to put a Red-flanked Bluetail tape to the mist-net but nothing was there before the routinely ringing started. On the seawatch we saw some flocks of geese and one flock was Greylag Geese. A few Wood Larks were also seen and after 2 hours we went to have “second breakfast” to the station. Then we heard a call from Pyry’s walkie-talkie that a Red-flanked Bluetail had been caught. It was already the second bluetail in hand during this trip but it was again a month-tick! Ringers were very happy as they had never caught a bluetail before – it was good that they got some quality in the middle of thousands of Goldcrest.

In the east we saw a Common Redstart but other birds were just the same. In harbor we saw plenty of Moon Jellyfish that were interesting to see.

Hard work

Every day we walked from 12 to 21 kilometers with Teo depending on if we visited west and Heinäsaari or not. On some days we walked less but anyway we worked very hard to find anything better on the field but nothing better was to be found. On the 3rd day we saw a big raptor migrating over the sea and of course a Red Kite was seen migrating in Uto a half an hour later. It felt bad, but we were sure that we had seen a different bird as we thought our bird had looked most likely a Honey Buzzard. Anyway this Red Kite hadn’t been far either…

White counting in west Crane migration started and we counted 1621 birds. Also a couple of flocks of Scaups were seen and in the evening a Nightjar and a Short-eared Owl were seen.

On the 4th of October early in the morning we saw a Hobby finally as a month-tick but the rest of the day was boring. Only thing to mention was that Pyry left and Tapani Veistola arrived. Then on the 5th day we walked like crazy around the island again and still saw 2 Oystercatchers, a Curlew, a Red Knot, 5 Purple Sandpipers, a Greenshank, a Wood Lark, a Razorbill, a Peregrine, a couple of Willow Warblers and so on. So quite a few nice birds but nothing really good.

On the 6th of October the weather was really bad so we were keeping rain under trees while trying to make eastern route. We flushed a good-looking pipit that flew up to the sky and never landed. On the next morning an Olive-backed Pipit was found on Utö. Soon we flushed another pipit that landed to trees but our binoculars were absolutely wet, so we couldn’t see it well enough for a long time. But somehow I managed to clear my lenses and identify it as a Tree Pipit…

In west all the waders except Bar-tailed Godwit were still around. In Sorgen we saw a Lesser Whitethroat briefly and mist-nets produced a Blackcap and lots of Chiffchaffs that seemed to be everywhere so maybe there was still something rare to be found?

The last day

But the 7th of October was our last day. The weather was perfect so we decided to leave all routes to other birders and just went to search rarities. In Sorgen we heard “tac” -calls and saw a brown bird flying briefly – it was really good Dusky Warbler candidate, but even though we searched it for a couple of hours, it was never seen again. Just before we had seen the bird a Dusky Warbler had been found in Utö and when we had just stopped searching for our bird, we got a message that another Dusky Warbler had just arrived from somewhere to the same place. We had an idea from where it had probably arrived…

When ringers reported that they had seen a Blackstart near the station, we decided to go to twitch it. It was a stunning adult male bird, but anyway it wasn’t exactly what we had hoped to see. And it was one more bird to the list that we hadn’t found by ourselves. We still found a Tree Pipit and a Common Redstart but really nothing…

A visit at home

Finally we had to start walking towards the harbor where we had already carried our stuff in the morning. In M/S Baldur we ate well again and somehow the ferry-trip went fast. Then we had a very long driving to Kouvola where I went to sleep to an apartment that Teo’s family had empty. Next morning Teo dropped me to the railway-station and I took a train to Parikkala where I had to go to count ducks in the afternoon.

During the count I saw a family of Bewick’s Swans, even 6 Gadwalls, 4 Scaups, a male Pochard and a Long-tailed Duck in Siikalahti. Then I had to do shopping, laundering and packing – our autumn-trip wasnt over yet – not even close! We still had a long trip to Säppi to go!

J.A.

Long autumn-holiday begins in Oulu area

Because of corona every holiday-plans had been moved to the future. We had planned to go to Luvia Säppi with Hanna during autumn-holidays for two weeks and I had also took one extra week free from work, but only 3 weeks before my holiday I got news that my working equipment will get changed and it will take 2 weeks. So I decided to get 2 more weeks free and I had only one week left to plan what to do. I had plans to go to Oulu anyway on the second weekend of my holiday, so it was easy to decide to start in Oulu-area. Teo Ylätalo from Kouvola had been with us in Säppi on the previous autumn and was again coming with us and I knew that he was also free earlier, so I sent my plans to him and soon I got an answer that he would like to join me. So we were first going to Oulu-area for 8 days, then to Jurmo island for 9 days before getting to Säppi for 2 weeks.

On the 18th of September after work I still had to go shopping and pack but soon Teo arrived from Kouvola and of course we had to go birding soon. We headed to Siikalahti where we put up a few mist-nets too. While counting Cranes (670), we saw also 90 Whooper Swans, a Bewick’s Swan, a Peregrine Falcon, 2 Bitterns, 16 Great White Egrets, a flock of 60 migrating Pintails, a Rough-legged Buzzard, 3 Golden Plovers and 5 Gold Finches. Only a Dunnock, a couple of Robins, a Redwing, 2 Willow Tits and a Chaffinch were caught and ringed.

On the 19th day we headed to Siikalahti before the sun was rising and put up mist-nets again. A Black Grouse, a couple of White-tailed Eagles, 2 Hen Harriers, an Osprey, a Golden Plover, a Grey Plover, 3 Ruffs, a Black Woodpecker, a Great Grey Shrike and a flock of 25 migrating Lapland Buntings were seen and a Water Rail and a Common Crossbill were heard. From mist-nets we caught quite a few Bramblings and Chaffinches but also a Goldcrest, a Song Thrush, a Yellowhammer and some Great Tits. Finally we packed everything to Teo’s Volvo and started driving towards Oulu.

Liminka

We stopped only once on the way and finally arrived at Liminka. We knew there had been a flock of Lesser White-fronted Geese for the first time in decades in autumn in Liminka-bay and when we still had some kilometers to Virkkula we saw a flock of geese flying above the road. I counted the birds and there were 23 of them and I remembered that it was exactly the number of Lesser White-fronted Geese that had been reported. We stopped the car and indeed they were Lesser White-fronted Geese! 22 adult and 1 young bird were flying around for some 10 minutes and then left toward inland and never came back – they were seen 3 days later in Kerkini, Greece! Only then we saw plenty of other flocks of geese flying over Liminka-bay, we had been very lucky to find this flock first!

In Rantakylä fields we saw 5 Pink-footed Geese with numerous Taiga Bean Geese and also a Merlin, a flock of 300 Starlings and 3 Linnets. And from Virkkula bird-tower we saw a Greater White-fronted Goose, a Greylag Goose, 29 Pink-footed Geese with hundreds of Taiga Bean Geese, but also 2 Hen Harriers and Peregrines and a Hobby. Finally we had to hurry towards Oulunsalo and Hailuoto-ferry and while driving we still saw a Nutcracker in Liminka-city.

To Hailuoto

Finally we were in Riuttu and soon our ferry left towards Hailuoto. It was almost dark when we arrived to Hailuoto and we decided to drive straight to Koninnokka which we had chosen to be our camping place. Soon I had my tent up and Teo went to sleep into his car where he had a comfortable bed.

On the 20th of September we saw a Sparrowhawk in Koninnokka before we packed our car and continued to Rautaletto parking place. Soon we were walking towards Riisinnokka. After we had seen only a few birds we finally got to Riisinnokka where we saw 20 migrating Bean Geese, 2 Grey Herons, a Hen Harrier, a Peregrine, 10 Grey Plovers, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Spotted Redshanks, 3 Chiffchaffs, a Coal Tit and 4 Dunnocks. After we had walked back to our car, we continued towards north-eastern corner of the island. We met Juha “Jurtsi” Markkola on the way but soon continued to Keskiniemi where we met also some old friends as Meski-family was there. There we saw 5 Grey Plovers, a Sanderling and a Northern Wheatear. In Mäntyniemi we saw 2 Grey Plovers, a Red Knot and 2 Sanderlings and in Virpiniemi 3 Grey Plovers, 2 Golden Plovers and a Little Stint. Then while walking back to car we found a Yellow-browed Warbler. And while driving again we saw a Waxwing.

In Marjaniemi the wind was already too strong so we saw only a couple of Velvet Scoters. Near village-fields we saw a Woodcock and in Patelanselkä at least 10 Gadwalls. Kirkkosalmi was almost completely empty as only bird to mention was a Grey Heron. In Ulkokarvo Petsamo we saw a Peregrine, a Marsh Harrier and a Blackbird and then a Great Grey Shrike from the car. The last place to visit was Pökönnokka where water was high but still we found 10 Golden Plovers, 4 Jack Snipes and also saw a young Arctic Skua, which was the third year-tick of the day.

Again Liminka-bay and Siikajoki

Soon we were in a ferry again and then in Liminka where we saw again about 1000 Taiga Bean Geese. We continued to Lumijoki Sannanlahti to put up a camp and we still heard a couple of migrating Grey Plovers from the sky before we started to sleep.

On the 21st day morning there was a noisy flock of about 800 Starlings in the reeds in Sannanlahti. But only other birds we saw from the tower were a few White-tailed Eagles. So soon we continued to Varjakka where only a Woodcock and some Common Crossbills were seen. The weather was turning to very bad but still we continued to Säärenranta where a few Ringed Plovers and Dunlins and a ringed Chiffchaffs were seen. The weather seemed to be better in Liminka so we turned back and went to try to twitch 2 Bar-headed Geese that had been seen there in Haaransilta. But only a small flock of Taiga Bean Geese were present. Rooks were seen while we tried to find Collared Doves in Vanha Liminka but we had no luck. We again visited Virkkula too but saw nothing new there. So finally we went to eat and shopping before we continued to Siikajoki Tauvo.

Tauvo

It had been raining for quite a long time but luckily it stopped when we parked to Hietapakka from where we carried our stuff to Tauvo ringing station. There we met Matti Tynjälä who was my old friend and the main ringer of the station. We also found out that Matti had arrived to the station already on the previous day when a big group from Jyväskylä had left. I had somehow thought that the change was today – so we were one day late… Well at least we hadn’t missed anything as the weather had been mostly very poor and we had been able to visit many good birding places which had been just almost empty…

Teo got a bed in the station but I decided to go to another building as I prefer sleep in quite cold. In the evening while checking the mist-nets, we saw a flock of 40 Bean Geese, a Black Grouse and caught some Redpolls, Fieldfares, a Redwing, a Brambling and a couple of Willow Tits.

On the 22nd day we were checking the nets with Teo but caught only 39r+17c Redpolls, 1+3c Bramblings, 14 Fieldfares, 3 Redwings, 1+4c Great, 4+3c Blue and 2+4c Willow Tits, a Treecreeper and 3+1c Reed Buntings. Other birds seen were 15 Parrot and a couple of Common Crossbills, Black Woodpecker, 2 White-tailed Eagles and a flock of 20 Ruffs that was seen from the tower. In the evening I went jogging and run around Tauvo which was exactly 10 kilometers. Then it was good to have sauna.

On the 23rd day the morning started great as on the first round we caught 1, on the second 2 and on the 3rd round 3 Yellow-browed Warblers! We were estimating already how many big record we will make, but then we caught none during the rest of the day.

We also caught 3 Chiffchaffs, Redpolls that weren’t seen in the field at all but somehow they were all hanging on the nets 71+22c, one Lesser Redpoll, 3 Siskins, 4+1c Bramblings, 2+1c Chaffinches, 3+3c Robins, 4 Dunnocks, 3 Meadow Pipits, 12+2c Reed Buntings, a Blackbird, always as nice Great Grey Shrike and of course three common species of tits. A couple of Coal Tits were seen and some flocks of Parrot Crossbills were seen and heard, but almost nothing else was seen while checking the nets.

In the evening we walked around Ulkonokka which was a hard job! We saw 12 Mute and 88 Whooper Swans, 22 Great Crested Grebes, 6 Cormorants, 2 White-tailed Eagles, a Merlin, 3 Grey, 19 Golden and 5 Ringed Plovers, 2 Spotted Redshanks, 25 Dunlins, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 8 Snipes, 900 Teals, 300 Mallards, 120 Wigeons and 40 Pintails and so on.

On the 24th day we had put a Reed Bunting song to one of the mist-nets and it was very productive – almost too productive. We caught lots of Reed Buntings and Redpolls in the same time so all bird-bags were soon full. Luckily the panic was soon over when the birds stopped moving so strong. Altogether we ringed 61+4c Reed Buntings, 40+4c Redpolls, 9+1c Bramblings, 9 Fieldfares, 7 Redwings, a Song Thrush, 3+3c Robins, again 4 Yellow-browed Warblers, 7 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, a Yellowhammer, same tits again but also 17 Long-tailed Tits, 2 Dunnocks, a Goldcrest and a Treecreeper. In the evening I did a short run again before sauna. And finally also a Tengmalm’s Owl was caught before we went to sleep.

The morning of the 25th of September was warm, it was almost 15 degrees and even at night it had been 12,5 degrees. Even a Mourning Cloak butterfly was seen flying. But during the day it started to rain. Reed Bunting and Redpoll were still the most numerous birds in mist-nets but there weren’t many of them. But like so often the quality is many times more interesting than quantity. I had woken up very early in a couple of mornings to clean the mist-nets and put some bird-songs to the mist-nets. And one song had been a Red-flanked Bluetail. So on the first round the first bird on the first mist-net and right next to the tape was a beautiful young Red-flanked Bluetail! It had been a record year in Finland for Red-flanked Bluetail so it wasn’t a huge surprise to catch one but anyway it was my first ever autumn record. Also a couple of Chiffchaffs, a Goldcrest, same tits, some Bramblings and Fieldfares, a Yellowhammer, a Dunnock and a nice Pygmy Owl and a stunning Black Woodpecker were caught, so our visit to Tauvo had got perfect ending.

Oulu

In the afternoon we put everything ready for the winter as there was nobody coming to the station anymore which was a pity as the best time of the year was just beginning. Then we drove to Liminka where we did some shopping again and after checking Haaransilta and a Pheasant in Vihiluoto we met my brother Pirkka in Kempeleenlahti. From the tower we saw a couple of Slavonian Grebes but then Teo left towards Virkkula where he had booked night from the hostel and we left with Pirkka to Oulu.

We stayed with my brother Riku’s caravan and in the evening we ate well and had sauna.

On the 26th of September we woke up quite early and had a good breakfast and then we soon were ready for a big test! When corona had started in March I had sent a message to my brothers that it’s time to start training, after 6 months there is a half-marathon in Oulu. Riku had problems with his feet, but Pirkka was ready to join the test. He hand’t been running almost at all ever, but now after 6 months training we were both ready. About at midday we drove to Tuira, walked to Raatti, warmed up a little but and at 1 p.m. the running started!

It was nice to run in familiar places and quite soon running started to feel easy even though my last week preparing hadn’t been very good – I had walked quite a lot with wellingtons in a deep mud and water. Anyway I managed to break my record and managed to get under 1 hour and 50 minutes. But Pirkka did something amazing as his goal was first just to pass the half-marathon, but then we had been talking about something like 2 hours and 15 minutes – but he needed only 1 hour and 56 minutes!

After the run it started to rain heavily so soon we had walked to our car and drove back to Riku’s house where we just relaxed the rest of the day.

On the 27th day we said goodbye to Riku’s family, drove to Liminka where we saw 20 Pink-footed and 40 Barnacle Geese in Haaransilta before in Virkkula we met Teo who had been birding around Liminka. Teo had managed to finally see the Bar-headed Geese in the morning but as the weather was pretty bad, we decided to say goodbye to Pirkka and started driving towards south. Pirkka went to Tyrnävä and of course found the Bar-headed Geese there.

Via Kalajoki towards south

With Teo we drove until Kalajoki Letto where we walked to the beach and after some searching we found some waders. First we saw just Ringed Plovers and Dunlins but then found a Grey Plover, a Little Stint and the bird we had been searching for – the latest ever Terek Sandipiper. There were also a couple of thousands of gulls but we found nothing interesting. So soon we continued to Kalajoki to eat.

After some more driving we surprisingly saw 3 Collared Doves in Vöyri Oravainen and also stopped to check one good-looking bay there but saw nothing special. It was already getting dark when we stopped to do shopping in Pori and then continued until Raisio where we ate well again. We still continued until Parainen Nauvo where we camped in a forest-cut. Long after midnight we finally got to sleep.

J.A.

Waiting for autumn

On the 1st if September I visited Siikalahti a couple of times, on my lunch-hour I saw a couple of White-backed Woodpeckers, a Common Ringed Plover, a couple of White-tailed Eagles and so on and in the evening we counted 578 Cranes and saw 18 Great White Egrets, 3 Grey Herons and still one late Nightjar.

On the 2nd day I heard a Red-throated Pipit and saw a couple of Black Woodpeckers and in the evening I counted the biggest number of Cranes ever in Siikalahti – 858 birds. 18 Great White Egrets were again flying towards Sokkiinselkä to roost, a Woodcock flew over and still 4 Water Rails were calling. On the 3rd day 6 Hobbies were still hunting and young Common Ringed Plover was flying around the bay with a young Dunlin.

On the 4th day I saw the first flock of Whooper Swans that had arrived from somewhere and surprisingly there was an adult Bewick’s Swan with them. It was an early record. 3 Golden Plovers and a Hen Harrier were also seen on my lunch-hour and after work I twitched a Common Kingfisher and a Grey Wagtail in Simpele Kokkolanjoki Lahnanen. Then in the evening we were working hard to make Saari Pohjanranta a better place for waders in the future.

On the 5th of September we started trying if there were any Rustic Buntings moving in Siikalahti and put up a few mist-nets. We caught 3 Dunnocks, 2 Robins, a Redstart, 2 Blackbirds, a Redwing, 4 Lesser and 2 Common Whitethroats, 2 Garden Warbler, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Blue, 5 Great and a Willow Tit, a Treecreeper and 2 Chaffinches but not a single bunting. From the dam-road we saw also 4 Cormorants, 2 young Honey Buzzards, 2 White-tailed Eagles, a Hen Harrier, a Merlin, a Common Ringed Plover, a Stock Dove and 14 Gold Finches.

On the 6th day we caught a Dunnock, 2r+1c Robin, a Sedge Warbler, 2 Blackcaps, a Goldcrest, 2 Great Tits, a Chaffinch, a Reed Bunting and 4 wonderful Rustic Buntings. At least 3 more Rustic Buntings were calling around the mist-nets and we also saw a Hen Harrier, a couple of Rough-legged Buzzards, a Merlin, 19 Golden Plovers, a Common Ringed Plover, a Stock Dove, 3 Sand Martins, a Bluethroat, 3 Red-throated Pipits and the best bird of the day was a migrating Black Kite.

After I had done a 2 hours run, we still went to Siikalahti to count ducks. We saw a Greylag Goose with 3 Tundra and 1 Taiga Bean Goose, 783 Wigeons, 49 Teals, 592 Mallards, 14 Pintails, 2 Shovelers and so on. The best bird I saw was an eagle that I saw very briefly but it looked like an almost adult Golden Eagle but I couldn’t rule out the same age Eastern Imperial Eagle… Luckily a man who lives next to the place where I saw the bird saw the bird too and he happened to photograph a lot and he got some pictures of it and from the pictures I could identify the bird as a Golden Eagle – but I still don’t understand what such an old bird is doing here in this time of year?

On the 7th day a Bewick’s Swan was still in Huhmarinen with the same geese but on the next day it was gone. Then I counted 578 Cranes, saw a migrating flock of 60 Common Scoters and now 20 Great White Egrets.

The next few days were quiet, but on the 11th day I saw a Great Grey Shrike and the first migrating Coal Tit. In the evening we tried mist-netting again and caught a Redstart, a Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warblers, a Blue Tit and a Chaffinch.

On the 12th of September we were ringing whole morning and caught 5 Robins, a Lesser and a Common Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, 2 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warblers, 3 Goldcrests, 3 Blue Tits, a Treecreeper, a Reed Bunting and because of pretty good migration 17 Chaffinches and 3 Bramblings, but again no project-species. We also saw 11 Bean Geese with an early Pink-footed Goose, 10 Cormorants, a Hen Harrier, stunning young Pallid Harrier, 2 Goshawks, a Rough-legged Buzzard, nice flock of 20 Bar-tailed Godwits, 10 small waders that probably were Dunlins, a Little Stint, a Yellow Wagtail and a Nutcracker.

On the 13th day a Bewick’s Swan was found in Särkisalmi with Whooper Swans, 78 Barnacle, 58 Canada and 3 Tundra Bean Geese. In the evening 20 Great Whites, 3 Grey Herons and a Bittern, 580 Cranes, a Whinchat and a Nutcracker were seen. On the next day only new birds were a Red-throated Pipit and 3 Coal Tits.

On the 15th day we did duck-counts again and counted 1019 Wigeons, 393 Mallards, 24 Shovelers, 6 Pintails, 35 Teals, a Gadwall, 22 Barnacle Geese and so on. In the evening we put up the mist-nets but caught only a Robin and a Blackcap. But we estimated 750 Cranes and 20 Great Whites and a Bittern were seen again.

On the 17th day there were already 1000 Barnacle Geese and 250 Tundra Bean Geese with 4 Greater White-fronted and at least 1 Taiga Bean Geese in Siikalahti and I still heard a Water Rail calling. On the next day there were already 3000 local and 3000 migrating Barnacle Geese but better were 1450 Brent Geese in 3 flocks. Also a Lapwing and a couple of Ruffs were seen during my lunch-hour.

J.A.

August birding

The change of the month was spent with friend on Lake Saimaa. We still didn’t see any Saimaa Seals but in Taipalsaari I saw a Little Stint and on the way back I saw a White-tailed Eagle and a Grey Heron in Lappeenranta.

On the 4th of August I saw a young Temminck Stint and on the next evening a Great White Egret. a Grey Heron and a Great Bittern. Then on the 6th day I saw a couple of Stock Doves.

On the 8th of August we were ringing in SSP-project again. Bushes were wet so birds weren’t moving much. We caught a Whinchat, 4 Sedge Warblers, 8 Lesser and 2 Common Whitethroats, a Chiffchaff, 7 Willlow Warblers, a Blue and a Great Tit, 2 Red-backed Shrikes, a Common Rosefinch and 2 Reed Buntings. A Golden Oriole was singing still shortly and we heard a bird that was calling like a Red-flanked Bluetail but we never saw it. Luckily soon after this mysterious bird had disappeared we heard a Grey Plover calling from the sky so at least one good bird was ticked.

In the evening we did duck-count in Siikalahti and there weren’t much to tell – 305 Mallards. There seemed to be more Great White Egrets so we stayed until the evening and after sunset saw 10 birds leaving to roost. We also counted 80 Cranes and heard at least 6 Water Rails.

On the 9th day we headed to Saari where was as quiet as we had expected. In Pohjasuo we saw a Linnet and a Gold Finch. Then I Suurenjärvenliete I had just said that: ”I wonder if we will see any single bird”, when I noticed a big raptor flying over us – it was a 2nd year Greater Spotted Eagle! Soon the eagle left towards south and luckily Juha Vesaoja saw the bird in Saari Selänne continuing towards Russia. I still saw a Nutcracker briefly but nothing else was seen later.

On the 10th of August a couple of Nutcrackers were in Kangaskylä and on the 11th day there were quite some raptors in Siikalahti. A couple of Hen Harriers and White-tailed Eagles were seen but I had only my lunch-hour so nothing better was seen.

On the 12th day a couple of Goshawks and again 10 Great White Egrets were seen. It was already dark when we were on the way back home and in Muttelinmäki we flushed a Nightjar from the road. On the next evening I saw a Temminck Stint, already 320 Cranes and heard a Nightjar.

It was quiet on the next days too and on the 15th day a visit in Saati was extremely quiet. Only 5 Meadow Pipits and 214 Cranes were seen – and a Nutcracker in Kangaskylä.

On the 16th f August we were ringing again and caught a Dunnock, 2 Common Redstarts, 2 Sedge Warblers, 8 Lesser and 2 Common Whitethroats, 3 Garden Warblers, 7r+2c Willow Warblers, a Great Tit control, a Greenfinch and a Reed Bunting. In the evening I did along run in Melkoniemi forests and saw a few Black Grouses, a Hazel Hen and a female Capercaillie.

On the 17th day I saw a White-tailed Eagle and a Ringed Plover and on the 18th there were 94 Great Crested Grebes, 10 Cormorants and a White-tailed Eagle in Härskiinmutka. In Siikalahti we saw a Smew, 9 Great White Egrets and on the way back home we saw a Nightjar.

On the 20th of August the duck-hinting started so I was in Siikalahti waiting for ducks to come there to safety. Some small flocks arrived during my lunch-hour. Also 15 Cormorants and a Ringed Plover were seen. In the evening we did duck-counts to see if there were more ducks but only 148 Wigeons, 97 Teals and 416 Mallards were numbers to mention.

On the 21st of August I was running a long run in Melkoniemi again and saw a male Capercaillie. In the evening we tried to catch migrating Nightjars but only one bird was heard calling shortly.

On the 22nd day we stayed in Siikalahti dam-road for a few hours and saw a couple of Nutcrackers, a White-tailed Eagle, a Stock Dove and a flock of 12 Long-tailed Tits. It was till very quiet! On the next day I was running again and saw a Common Redpoll in Kangaskylä, a White-tailed Eagle in Härskiinmutka, a Hazel Hen in forests and a Hen Harrier in Tetrisuo. In the evening we saw another Hen Harrier, 8 Great White Egrets and the last Swifts of the summer.

On the 25th of August a flock of 5 Bean Geese were flying around and on the next day I saw a Short-eared Owl flying high over Siikalahti. On the 27th day a 2nd year White-tailed Eagle was seen and elsewhere an adult and young were still visiting the nest. On the 28th day I heard a Brambling, saw a young Hen Harrier and 2 young Honey Buzzards. In Kangaskylä I heard a Redpoll again.

On the 29th of August we had the last ringing in Papinlahti. We managed to do all 12 ringings. We caught a Dunnock, a Bluethroat, 2 Sedge and 2 Blyth’s Reed Warblers, a Lesser and a Common Whitethroat, 3 Willow Warblers, a Blu Tit, 2 Greenfinches and the best bird we had ever caught in this place – a young Red-breasted Flycatcher! During the day we drove to Simpele Kangaskoski to twitch a Common Kingfisher. Hanna managed to see it briefly but the rest of us only heard it calling. Also a Gret Wagtail had been found so we twitched it too in Ritakoski. It flew to Lahnanen where we managed to see it better and get some pictures too.

In the evening we did duck-counts and the also crane and egret-count. 223 Wigeons, 96 Teals, 550 Mallards, 15 Pintails, 26 Canada Geese and so on were counted. I also saw a Ural Owl and heard a Moorhen. In the evening we counted exactly 700 Cranes and 15 Great White Egrets, 2 Grey Herons, 3 Bitterns and also saw 3 Lapwings, a Woodcock, 5 Hobbies, 5 Bean Geese, a Greylag Goose and then 3 small dark geese which one was very small. Maybe they were 2 Greater and one Swedish Lesser White-fronted Geese that had been seen in Parikkala earlier in summer? We also heard altogether 11 Water Rails.

Next evening I spent again in Siikalahti and counted cranes. It was very cloudy so birds were difficult to count even though they arrived earlier. I managed to see 669 Cranes and even 18 Great White Egrets. Also 305 migrating Wigeons and 10 Golden Plovers were seen but nothing else. And then on the last day of the month only bird to mention was a Hen Harrier.

J.A.

Midsummer with some surprises

After trip to Lapland we went to sleep early as we had to wake up very early on the next morning. And on the 28th of June we were putting up the mist-nets when the sun was rising. It was still pretty quiet and we caught only a Robin, 2 Fieldfares, 2 Redwings, a Song Thrush, 4r+4c Sedge Warblers, 1+1c Garden Warblers, 2 Willow Warblers, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Blue Tit, 9 Great Tits, a Greenfinch and a Common Rosefinch. Only better bird seen during the ringing was a migrating Whimbrel.

After sleeping we still went to count ducks in Siikalahti and had 8ad+10pull Whooper Swans, 52 Wigeons, 22+6 Teals, 198+12 Mallards, 4 Pochards, 5 Tufted Ducks, 17+33 Goldeneyes, 2 Black-throated Divers, 4 Great Crested and 10 Red-necked Grebes, 4 Grey Herons, 15+21 Coots, some common waders and only a handful of gulls and terns without any young. Only other bird to mention was a Red-backed Shrike.

On the 29th day I saw a Black Kite flying around the bay and later I heard that the nest that I had found in spring had been abandoned for some reason.

On the 1st of July we counted 160 adults and 50 young Barnacle Geese in Joukio and found that one birds had a satellite on its back. We soon found out that it was a Dutch bird that had been visiting Siberia on previous summer but now it was with breeding birds in Joukio. We visited the farmers on both side of the road and got permits to catch geese later. We actually noticed that the antenna wasn’t well attached on the goose’s back and we agreed with Dutch people that it’d be good to get the satellite off from this bird. On the 2nd day I also counted 6 adult and 15 young geese in Kangaskylä.

On the 3rd day I still saw both Black Kites on the bay and in the evening we went to ring nestlings of Wryneck that were on one nest-box in Särkisalmi. These birds were very big and after a couple of days they left their nest-box.

BlackcapOn the 4th day we had ringing morning again and caught 2c Sedge Warblers, a Blyth’s Reed Warbler, 2 Common Whitethroats, 2r+1c Garden Warblers, a male Blackcap, 2 Willow Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher, a Blue Tit and 4+1c Great Tits, a Common Rosefinch, 2 Yellowhammers and 4 Reed Buntings. Long-eared Owl fledlings were calling whole morning on a spruce-forest nearby and a couple of Golden Orioles were singing.

On the 5th day I heard a couple of Two-barred Crossbills while jogging and then on the 6th day we went to catch Barnacle Geese with a few friends. And like almost every time nothing went as planned but after all we managed to get between water and a quite a big flock of geese. Then we put up the fences and the trap and walked the flock to the trap. When we had just managed to get whole flock to the trap we noticed 2 grey geese swimming with a big flock of Barnacle Geese. There was a Greater White-fronted Goose but another bird looked promising. Juho Saukkonen took some pictures of the bird and from the pictures we could identify it as a Lesser White-fronted Goose! But we were in the middle of chaos with lots of Barnacle Geese in the trap so we had to concentrate on ringing them.

When the first adult was caught all birds that were able to fly tried, and mostly succeeded, to escape. But still we had lots of adult and young birds to ring. After all we ringed 13 adults and 32 young birds and controlled 2 birds that we had ringed a couple of years earlier.

When we were ready we noticed that grey geese were closing the shore and soon walking towards the field. We waited for them to go further from the shore and then with Juho we ran between them and the lake. Unfortunately Greater White-fronted Goose was flying well but after a quick run, I managed to catch the Lesser White-fronted Goose! Unfortunately it was again a Swedish ”plastic-goose” with color-rings.

Anyway we took quite a lot of pictures of our exotic goose and then released it to follow its companion that was different species. I hope they are not going to do anything more together…

In the evening we visited Saari Pohjanranta briefly and hoped to see some waders but saw only some Wood Sandpipers.

On the 7th of July I saw a Nutcracker in Kangaskylä, which was a year-tick. On the 8th day I checked Pohjanranta again but saw only a few Greenshanks and Wood Sandpipers. In Joukio both grey geese were still around. And in the evening we went to check that a Grasshopper Warbler that had been heard in Papinlahti was really that species.

On the 9th day we went to catch geese again with a bit smaller group of friends and managed to catch only a small flock which surprisingly many adults were able to fly and in the chaos also some young geese managed to escape. Anyway 2 adults and 11 young birds were ringed and again we controlled one 2 birds that had been ringed 2 years ago. On the other side of road all birds were already running when they saw our car, both grey geese with them.

On the 10th of July I found a Great White Egret in Siikalahti and after all there were two birds together. Also a Spotted Redshank was heard.

On the 11th day we left early to Joutseno. In Konnunsuo we tried to twitch a Quail but managed to see only a Hen Harrier and a Short-eared Owl and hear an Ortolan Bunting and a distant flock of Two-barred Crossbills. We tried to twitch another Quail too but without luck. Then we headed to Lappeenranta to twitch a European Serin and after an hour I heard a couple of seconds song and then we both heard flight calls that were good for Serin. It would have been a Finnish-tick for Hanna, so she decided not to take a tick as she heard it still quite bad.

When it started to rain, we headed to Toikansuo and twitched a family of Moorhens on the way. On the hill we met Pekka Punnonen and Matti Vanhapelto and after some waiting we had seen only some local waders. But then 10 Dunlins and 3 Temminck Stints landed to feed to the pools. We also saw an Oystercatcher, 2 Little Ringed Plovers and a Green Sandpiper before it started to rain too bad. So we went to visit a couple of shops which was the first time for months because of Covid19.

In the evening I went to check if there were any waders in Siikalahti and found a Black-tailed Godwit again but also 5 Dunlins. And on the next day there were 2 Dunlins and 4 Temminck Stints. So I managed to get my 200th species in Parikkala this year. We visited also Pohjanranta again and there was a young Black-tailed Godwit, a Whimbrel and 3 Temminck Stints.

On the 13th of July 2 Great White Egrets were seen again in Siikalahti and surprisingly there were some waders feeding right under their feet – Wood Sandpipers, a Dunlin, a Temmink Stint and even a Curlew Sandpiper.

On the 14th day in the evening we did duck-counts again and saw 7ad+10juv Whooper Swans, 51+26 Wigeons, 50+12 Teals, 334+11 Mallards, 3 Shovelers, a Pochard, 4+2 Tufted Ducks, 4+22 Goldeneyes, 2 Great Crested and 10 Red-necked Grebes, 2 Great White Egrets, 3 Grey Herons, 8+44 Coots, 71 Lapwings, 15 Common Snipes, 6 Dunlins and again only some gulls and Common Terns which one couple had 3 youngsters.

On the 15th day a female Hen Harrier was migrating in Siikalahti and on the 16th day I counted 67 Rock Doves in Kangaskylä. The white-tailed Eagle was seen last time on the nest – now we are hoping to see it somewhere outside the nest soon.

Next days I visited Siikalahti and hoped for some more waders and on the 16th day I saw 3 Dunlins. Also Golden Orioles were heard here and there – it seems that there are some more than on previous years.

On the 18th day we went to ring again and caught some more birds: 20 Reed Buntings, a Robin, a Blackbird, 2 Fieldfares, a Song Thrush, 5 Redwings, 3 Sedge, 4 Blyth’s Reed and 3 Garden Warbler, 4 Common Whitethroats, 2 Blackcaps, 3 Willow Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher, a Great Tit, a Red-backed Shrike and the biggest surprise was a Jay. But even bigger surprise was a skylark-like ”sriiu” call that we heard from the sky and saw a slim, yellowish wagtail with dark throat flying over us – a young Citrine Wagtail!

In the afternoon we were about to go birding to Saari when I noticed a dead woodpecker on the ground on our neighbor-building – it was a young White-backed Woodpecker… In Saari we saw a Hen Harrier and a Grey Heron in Tetrisuo, 3 more Grey Herons and a couple of Stock Doves in Pohjanranta, a rare midsummer record – a Tundra Bean Goose in Suurenjärvenliete and 2 more Stock Doves in Jyrkilä.

On the 19th of July we were some hours in Siikalahti where 2 Great White Egrets were still around and also a Spotted Redshank, a Yellow Wagtail and so on were seen. The most interesting record was made in our own garden where we saw a family of Common Redpolls.

On the 20th day I saw a Dunlin and again a Curlew Sandpiper and a Stock Dove was calling actively. On the 21st day I saw a migrating Great Grey Shrike which was again one more strange mid-summer record. Actually I had seen 4 species in 3 days that I had never seen before in July in Parikkala.

Hanna spent some time in a hide that she had built for wader-photographing. She had also been hard-working to make the surrounding muddy. She managed to get excellent pictures of Wood Sandpiper and Common Snipes – hopefully there will be also other species soon…

On the 24th day I counted a record of 74 Rock Doves and in Siikalahti a Great White Egret and a Dunlin were seen and Golden Oriole still singing and calling. And on the 25th day I saw again a Curlew Sandpiper.

On the 26th we had ringing again and we had hoped to catch lots of birds but bushes were probably too wet. It was very quiet almost whole morning but on one round we got more than 30 birds. Altogether we caught 24r+2c Great Tits, 7+1c Willow Tits, 3+1c Lesser Whitethroats and Reed Buntings, 2 Blyth’s Reed Warblers and Red-backed Shrikes, 1+1c Sedge Warblers, a Robin, a Common Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler and a Yellowhammer. A Golden Oriole was calling a and a Linnet flew over us. In the evening I saw a Dunlin and a Curlew Sandpiper in Siikalahti.

The end of July went without any better bird-observation even thought I did some birding every day. Great White Egrets were seen every day but only one or two birds. On the 30th day I saw again a Greater White-fronted Goose that had been hiding well for a long time, a Cormotant, a couple of Hen Harriers, probably the same long-staying Curlew Sandpiper, 6 Dunlins and 2 unidentified small stints that probably were Broad-billed Sandpipers but I saw them too briefly.

J.A.