Long end of winter

On the 4th of February we visited Siberian Jays. 3 birds were found and these beautiful birds were once again fed well. Other birds seen in the forests were a Treecreeper and a Long-tailed Tit.

On the next days I did some birding on my lunch-hours saw the Chaffinches in several feeders, some Brambling in Kirkonkylä, Coal Tits, Blackbirds and Fieldfares.

On the 7th day there were a couple of Great Grey Owls in Tetrisuo and it seemed that there were many of them everywhere around Parikkala. A couple of dead Ural Owls were found later and the rings told that these birds had been ringed in Mikkeli and Ruokolahti. Unfortunately also some too tame Greay Grey Owls and a couple of dead Tengmalm’s and one Tawny Owl were found, so owls didn’t have enough to eat. There was just too much snow.

I visited Simpele Kokkolanjoki a couple of times and saw wintering Whooper Swans, some Dippers and found a Great Grey Owl there too. In Konkapelto I saw a Sparrowhawk. In the afternoon I twitched a Tengmal’s Owl that Matti Lötjönen found in Siikalahti.

I was playing in Lappeenranta every weekend so I stopped in Imatra Vuoksi several times. There I saw the wintering Smews, a Scaup and of course Cormorants, Goosanders and Goldeneyes. While driving I saw some Great Grey Shrikes.

On the 10th of February we went to Joutseno with Hanna and her sister Elissa and brother Miika. We twitched Oriental Turtle Dove in Haukilahti which finally showed up after more than an hour waiting. In Hyvättilä we didnät find Collared Doves but surprisingly I found a Lapland Bunting visiting one feeder with Chaffinches and Yellowhammers. It was my first record in February ever.

I was in Lappeenranta also on the next day and birds seen there were a Teal in Reijola, a Great Crested Grebe, 4 Cormorants and a family of Whooper Swans in Luukkaansalmi.

On the 13th day I saw a Nuthatch in Kirkonkylä and on the next days I visited Siikalahti several times but found only some White-backed and Grey-headed Woodpeckers. On the 15th day there were a family of 11 Whooper Swans in Tyrjänjoki where a Black Woodpecker was also drumming.

On the 17th of February we left to Thailand where we birded with Mikko Ala-Kojola and Antti Peuna in Northern part of the country from 18th of February to 3rd of March. Trip report can be found here: North Thailand.

On the 4th of March we drove back to Parikkala and saw a Hawk Owl in Porvoo and a Great Grey Shrike in Loviisa. Once we were in Parikkala I wore lots of clothes and left to do winterbird-count.
There weren’t many birds: 4 Whooper Swans flying over, 22 Rock Doves, Black Woodpecker, 8 Great Spotted Woodpecker, White-backed Woodpecker, Waxwing, 2 Fieldfares, only 9 Blue Tits, 55 Great Tits, Coal Tit, Crested Tit, not a single Willow Tit, Treecreeper, Jay, only 7 Magpies, 77 Jackdaws, 9 Hooded Crows, 2 Ravens, 7 Tree Sparrows, 11 Greenfinches, Common Redpoll, 12 Bullfinces and 12 Yellowhammers. I also saw a Least Weasel.

The spring was really not even close! During our trip to Thailand it had been the coldest time of whole winter and still it was snowing more and more. So I didn’t find many new birds and most of the wintering birds had also disappeared. On the 6th day I found 10 Mallards in Tyrjänjoki. They had probably overwintered there? On the 9th day I saw the first Herring Gull in Vuoksi. On the 10th day we went to find 2 Dippers in Peruspohjanjoki, in Kokkolanjoki we saw 2 Goosanders, in Kannas 2 Arctic Redpolls and in Tyrjä a new Great Grey Owl.

On the 11th day I saw 11 Herring Gulls in Vuoksi, then with Sampsa Cairenius we managed to see the Collared Doves in Hyvättilä and Oriental Turtle Dove again in Haukilahti, even though it had been told to disappear already some time ago. But then it came colder again.


On the 17th of March we twitched a Ural Owl in Moskuunniemi and on the 18th day we put up some nest-boxes for Nuthatches. A couple of birds were seen on their territories and a Treecreeper was singing already. The first Lesser Spotted Woodpecker of the year was seen in Siikalahti. And in Kirjolankangas we photographed a Pygmy Owl that was hunting on a feeder.

On the next few days I visited Nuthatches a couple of times, but they weren’t visiting the nest-boxes yet. A flock of Long-tailed Tits was also seen.

On the 23rd of March I started to visit in Siikalahti on my lunch-hours, but saw only some Long-tailed Tits and 2 Common Crossbills.

On the 24rd of March was wilderness bird-race again. Our area was in the middle of Ruokolahti. The start was amazing, it was -22 degrees, but we soon heard a couple of Ural Owls in Ahjärvi and later altogether 7 Pygmy Owls in 10 minutes! But then the rest of the day was quite boring. It started to wind pretty hard and only better birds we found were a Grey-headed Woodpecker, a Dipper and an Arctic Redpoll. Other birds we got some points were a Hazel Hen, 35 Great spotted Woodpeckers, 4 Goldcrests, 2 Coal Tits, 20 Crested Tits, 39 Willow Tits, 5 Treecreepers, 11 Jays, a Common Crossbill and 57 Bullfinches. After all we got anyway 2nd most points while Harry Nyström, Jarkko Rutila and Ari Salminen had worked very hard in much better area and won clearly.

On the 25th day a family of Whooper Swans had arrived to Särkisalmi and finally on the 28th day I saw some migrants in Siikalahti when I saw 17 Herring Gulls, a Sparrowhawk and 2 White-tailed Eagles.

The end of March had been too cold and frustrating but luckily on last 2 days some birds were finally seen. Whooper Swans, Goshawks, Herring Gulls and woodpeckers were seen on both days and on the 30th day I saw 3 Common Buzzards, a Merlin, a Woodpigeon, a Starling, 2 Goldfinches and a Wood Lark which is quite rare here. And on the 31st day we saw a White-tailed Eagle, 2 Common Buzzards, 2 Stock Doves, 2 Woodpigeons, a Rook and 15 Snow Buntings. In the evening we still saw a new Great Grey Owl in Tarvassaari.

On the 1st of April we tried to ring this Great Grey Owl but without success. In Melkoniemi we saw 9 Black Grouses and in Särkisalmi 4 Snow Buntings before we drove to Siikalahti. There we saw 2 White-tailed Egles, 2 Sparrowhawks, 4 Common Buzzards, a Kestrel, a Goldfinch and so on, but it was still very quiet comparing what we have used to see this time of year.

There was still too much snow so only some new birds arrived. On the 4th day I saw a White-tailed Eagle, 15 Lapwings, a Stock Dove, 5 Woodpigeons and a Reed Bunting. On the 5th day only birds to mention were 44 Snow Buntings, but on the 6th day I saw a Marsh Harrier, a Kestrel, a Stock Dove, 47 Woodpigeons, 6 Starlings and finally the first Skylark and so on.

On the weekend we expected to see much more but still we were disappointed. It had been raining during the night so snow had been melting, but on Saturday the wind was northern and even though I was 6 hours in Siikalahti, I saw only 4 Cranes, 2 Marsh Harriers, 4 White-tailed Eagles, 2 Merlins, 2 Kestrels, 20 Blackbirds, a Mistle Thrush, a Redwing, 7 White Wagtails, 50 Snow Buntings, 2 Reed Buntings and do on. And on the 8th of April we saw 3 Canada Geese, 2 Mallards, a Black-headed Gull, a Stock Dove, 15 Skylarks, again a Wood Lark, 8 Meadow Pipit, 12 White Wagtails, 4 Fieldfares, 6 Mistle Thrushes, 45 Chaffinches, a Siskin, a Linnet, 50 Snow Buntings and a Great Bittern that was hiding between the vegetation on still completely frozen bay.

But now it started to feel like spring and weather-forecasts look promising. I hope to see much more birds soon!

J.A.