Autumn in Parikkala

On the 15th of September autumn started officially when a Barnacle Goose was flying around Siikalahti. Also a mixed flock of Taiga and Tundra Bean Geese was seen and other better birds were a Merlin, a couple of Red-throated Pipits and Bluethroats, 13 Coal Tits, 2 Rustic Buntings, and a Dunlin. In Kannas we saw a couple of Eurasian Nuthatches, in Vartialahti a Common Scoter and 2 Great White Egrets like in Siikalahti too and in Kullinsuo we saw a couple of Hen Harriers.

On the 16th day there was a Grey Heron with Great White Egrets, already 70 Barnacle Geese, 6 Marsh, 4 Hen Harriers and 2 too distant Pallid Harrier candidates, 3 Hobbies, 3 Red-throated Pipits, a Bluethroat, a Blackcap, a Rustic Bunting and so on.

We also tried to twitch a Mandarin Duck in Savonlinna with Harri Partanen and Elissa Soikkeli but of course this was one of the days it was not found at all. Only bird seen was a Nutcracker in Haapasalmi.

On the 17th day I saw the first flock of Waxwings and a couple of flocks of Brent Geese. On the 18th day I finally saw a young Moorhen that had been heard several times during a couple of weeks but had stayed unidentified. Still 665 Cranes arrived to roost to Siikalahti with Great White Egrets and singles of Grey Heron and Great Bittern.

On the 19th day I saw a Yellow Wagtail in Kangaskylä and on the next day I counted the record number of Rock Doves ever in Parikkala, 40 birds.

I visited Siikalahti every day at least on my lunch-hour but the birds were just the same on the next few days. Then on Saturday I was running a half-marathon in Joutseno and it took some time from birding. Actually too much time as I am not in good shape at all…

On the 23rd of September I saw 10 Bewick’s Swans, a small flock of migrating Brent Geese, 21 Great White Egrets, a Honey Buzzard, a couple of Hobbies, a young Peregrine, a late Wood Sandpiper, a Red-throated Pipit, 20 Coal Tits and so on.

On the 24th day I saw a couple of Lapland Buntings and heard the Moorhen again. It was still very difficult to identify from the voices as there were several Water Rails calling and at least one of them was calling very weirdly and also a noisy family of Otters was living in the same reedbed.

On the 25th day the first 2 Rough-legged Buzzards were seen and even 13 Great White Egrets, a late Sedge Warbler and even later Wood Sandpiper were also seen. Then next days were really quiet, only the last Swallows of the autumn were seen.

On the 29th day we had a traditional Siikalahti-day with local birdwatching club. I stayed in Siikalahti for whole daylight and counted 1500 local and 7000 migrating Barnacle Geese, 600 migrating Wigeons with some Pintails and Shovelers. Also a Pochard and a Scaup were seen. A flock of 21 Cormorants, 8 to 10 Great White Egrets, 2 Grey Herons, a young Marsh Harrier, 3 Hen Harriers, 6 Common and 7 Rough-legged Buzzards, a Peregrine, a Moorhen, 2 Water Rails, only 5 Cranes, 3 Golden Plovers, a Ruff that was flying around with a Dunlin, 100 Waxwings, 14 Mistle Thrushes 12 Coal Tits, 4 Great Grey Shrikes and so on – altogether 76 species were seen.

On the 30th of September we saw a possible Cackling Goose in Saari Jyrkilä but it was too distant and for sure not a hutchinsii or minima – so probably some kind of hybrid? In Akonpohja and Kanavalampi we saw a single Great White Egrets, only about 10 000 Barnacle Geese were seen and finally some White-fronted Geese too. In Tarassiinlahti we saw a Peregrine and in two places altogether 8 Rock Doves.

On the first of October I headed early to Siikalahti and it was worthy as I saw not only Great White Egrets but also a Bittern to October-ticks. In Kangaskylä I saw a Nutcracker and later in the afternoon we went to check an injured Goshawk to Kirkonkylä and saw also at least one Nuthatch there.

On the 2nd of October after work I hurried to Rautalahti Muukkosenselkä to twitch a Gannet, but the founder had lost the bird while changing place. So I spent the rest of the day searching for it and checked every possible corner of Lake Simpele but saw only some Black Grouses and 5 Cormorants. Late in the evening I still visited Siikalahti and heard a Moorhen, 2 Water Rails and saw a single Crane to arrive roosting with 9 Great White Egrets.

On the 3rd day I saw 7 Long-tailed Ducks in Muukkosenselkä. During the day geese were migrating, but I was working and in the afternoon I had to drive to Imatra. Geese still kept on going whole night, but on the next day the weather had changed again and early in the morning Siikalahti was frozen around the dam-road. Luckily some Great White Egrets were still there so it was not yet time to give up hope to find something better.

On the 6th day we were in Siikalahti until midday without any better birds and then headed to Saari with Miika and Elissa Soikkeli. In Akanvaara Tetrisuo we found immediately a Shore Lark and also 2 Stock Doves, a late Northern Wheatear, a Linnet and Skylarks and so on. Only about 7000 geese were found around Saari and only other birds to mention were 3 Golden Plovers and 2 Ruffs.

On the 7th day I spent 9 hours in Siikalahti and saw a Bewick’s Swan. about 12 000 migrating Barnacle Geese, 1771 Brent Geese, 8 Great White Egrets, 4 White-tailed Eagles, a young Golden Eagle, 31 Rough-legged Buzzards, a Kestrel, a Merlin, a Peregrine and heard 3 Water Rails.

8th of October I saw 6 to 9 Great White Egrets and on the 10th day flocks of 50 Brent Geese and Long-tailed Ducks. In the evening we tried to catch Tengmalm’s Owls in Tarvaslampi, but only one bird was heard. On the 11th day Hanna color-ringed 2 Nuthatches in Likolampi and on the 12th day there were again even 11 Great White Egrets and 2 Rough-legged Buzzards in Siikalahti. On the 13th day a late Yellow Wagtail was seen and heard migrating over dam-road – it sounded and looked strange, so it was probably some eastern origin? In the afternoon my long-waited holiday finally started!