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.