Owls, woodpeckers and other winter-birds

After trip to Oulu February continued like normal winter. Usually there are no bird-surprises this time of the year. In Tetrisuo I still saw a Hawk Owl almost every day and a Great Grey Shrike a couple of times. Only surprising observation was a flock of 20 Redpolls that the Great Grey Shrike tried to attack and after that they were gone.

I drove every day shortly in forests and tried to map forest tits and also Goldcrests that were still surviving. I of course saw also flocks of Black Grouses, some Hazel Hens and even a couple of times Capercaillies: on the 10th day a female and on the 22nd day a couple of males.

On the 11th of February I visited Simpele Kokkolanjoki briefly and saw a Little Grebe and 4 Whooper Swans in Lahnanen. On the 12th day we heard a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in Siikalahti and found surprisingly a flock of 10 Waxwings in Tarvaslampi. And in Tetrisuo we saw the same Hawk Owl watching a young Golden Eagle migrating towards north. On the 13th day in Lahnanen I saw a Little Grebe again, 5 Whooper Swans and in Härskiinmutka I saw a White-tailed Eagle waiting for winter-fishers to leave some fish.

On the 16th of February Merja Laari found a Great Grey Owl in Siikalahti and it was really showing well. This adult bird was hunting voles and a couple of times it flew very close to me. We of course didn’t try to get close to the bird so we didn’t disturb its hunting. The problem is that usually photographers think that the owl is tame and doesn’t matter but mise and voles do disappear if people are too close. But anyway this time I was lucky and the owl flew a couple of times very close to me and I managed to get some good pictures. We also saw a Black Woodpecker.

On the 17th day a couple of White-tailed Eagles were sitting together on ice and in Simpele I saw 6 Whooper Swans, Goldeneye and Goosander couples and a Great Grey Shrike. On the 18th day we went to try to see the wintering Collared Dove in Saari Selänne with Pekka Punnonen but in very bad weather we saw only a Sparrowhawk and a Pygmy Owl that came to see if there was a Yellowhammer, a Tree Sparrow or a tit to catch from the feeder.

On the 19th of February we were lucky when we arrived to Tarvaslampi – a Pygmy Owl had just attacked to a Yellowhammer and was killing it on the snow under the feeder. Soon it flew to a branch were it still finished the bunting. Luckily we both had cameras with us!

There were a good selection of woodpeckers visiting our feeders around Siikalahti and when Hanna had a week winter-holiday she was photographing there a lot. She even had 2 British protogrpahers with her for a few days. Hanna had built a new hide that was easy to put up anywhere. They also spent some time in a hide in Tarvaslampi and visited Kokkolanjoki and did some forest-birding and so on.

On the 24th and 25th day I saw both Hawk Owls – in Tetrisuo and in Järvenpää. In Tiviä we saw a Goshawk and also a couple of Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers were found and of course also Grey-headed and White-backed Woodpeckers. A Couple of Nuthatches had arrived to their territory in Kannas.

On the 26th day we went skiing to Saari and of course we tried to see the Collared Dove in Selänne. It was cold and windy and we didn’t see the bird in the first visit but after skiing we went back and after some waiting the bird finally arrived. On the 27th day Hanna photographed nice aurora borealis!

On the first of March I visited Simpele and saw a Whooper Swan and a Goosander couple and in Siikalahti 4 species of Woodpeckers and a Nuthatch in Kannas. On the 3rd day the first Herring Gull of the “spring” was on the ice close to fishers.

On the 4th of March I did a winter-bird count and saw 2 Black Grouses, 4 Herring Gulls, 10 Rock Doves, a Grey-headed, a Black, 16 Greater Spotted and 2 White-backed Woodpeckers, 5 Goldcrests, 6 Long-tailed, 44 Blue, 76 Great, 2 Crested and 1 Willow Tit, 2 Treecreepers, a Great Grey Shrike, 9 Jays, 14 Magpies, 26 Jackdaws, 16 Hooded Crows, 2 Ravens, 20 Tree Sparrows, 7 Greenfinches, my first ever spring-time Pine Grosbeak in Parikkala, 17 Bullfinches and 3 Yellowhammers,

On the 7th day I saw already 8 Herring Gulls but then it came very cold again and it was sure that there were no more migrants coming. Tits and Greenfinches were already singing, a Treecreeper was singing once and even a couple of Siskin were seen in their territory so maybe spring is arriving some day? It was good to see that even it was more than -20 degrees some nights, I still found some Goldcrests but many didn’t survive these last very cold nights. So the only new year tick for a long time was a Tengmalm’s Owl that was singing in Tarvaslampi on the 16th day.