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.