On Säppi island once again

On Thursday the 19th of October Hanna had to be at work until midnight. But then she had the next day free so she could start her autumn-holiday early. I had also taken holiday for the Friday already so we were ready start our journey already at night.

We tried to sleep a couple of hours but I wasn’t able to get any sleep, so at 2 a.m. we packed our car and started driving through Finland towards west.

We stopped only once and finally we were in Pori before the sun was rising. We parked to Konepajanranta where we waited for some time and when it was getting lighter outside, we started to check all gulls that were arriving to the river and roof-tops.

We saw one good looking Caspian Gull-candidate but too briefly. It flew too soon behind the buildings. Then we saw only Herring and Greater Black-backed Gulls. But we heard calls of a Common Kingfisher and I saw a single White Wagtail before we decided to leave.

Next we continued to Maaviiki to check swans and geese that were feeding in thick flock on one field. There were about 800 Taiga Bean Geese, some White-fronted Geese and a few Pink-footed, Greylag and Barnacle Geese and lots of Whooper Swans. In Viikinäinen we saw a single young Moorhen and then we drove to Kallo where we walked around the island but saw only a couple of Arctic Redpolls, a Snow Bunting and a Parrot Crossbill.

Then it was ime to go to eat. We drove to a local pizzeria where we met also Teo Ylätalo and Elissa Soikkeli who had driven all morning from Kouvola. After we had eaten we went to do shopping and then it was time to head to Kuuminainen harbor.

We were in the harbor too early but we started to carry our stuff to the boat already. Then we had to wait for some time to Teppo Lehtola and Tomas Swahn to arrive but right on time at 3 p.m. we were ready to leave towards Säppi island.

A half an hour later we were in Säppi harbor where we loaded our stuff to the dock and then helped some friends of ours that were leaving to get their stuff to the boat. And soon with help of a couple of friends that had already arrived earlier we were carrying our stuff towards the station.

Veikka Kosonen and Riku Kangasniemi had arrived a few days earlier and Paul Boijer had stayed longer but visited home for a few days at some point while Ahti Ihonen and Pyry Laurukka had been on the island for almost 2 weeks already.

We just carried our stuff to the station and soon most of us left to walk around that part of the island that hadn’t been checked in the morning. We found a late Grenshank, a Grey-headed Woodpecker and a Nutcracker that was a new Säppi-tick for me. When we had just finished and were back at the station we got a message that Teppo and Tomas had managed to catch a Lesser Whitethroat that had been found a day earlier. And it looked like an eastern subspecies – maybe blythii.


In the evening we organized our stuff and then participated to a log and found out that there weren’t too many birds seen before we had arrived.

On the 21st of October Hanna headed to mist-nets with Teppo very early and the rest of us woke up later but so that we were ready to start the morning seawatch exactly when the sun was rising. This time we were doing the seawatch in Eteläkari as there had been a bad visibility to the sea because of haze from Prakala recently. There wasn’t much moving on the sea but a couple of Merlins were seen and one more later. Common Crossbills were seen a lot and during the day we had counted 426 individuals.

After the breakfast we headed to walk around the whole island and found a Purple Sandpiper, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and then in the end we found a Hawk Owl in Prakala.


Next days had the same schedule and on the 22nd day Teppo, Riku, Paul and Ahti left the island. The best birds of the day had been 23 Purple Sandpipers, very photogenic Tengmalm’s Owl, 1637 Common Redpolls and so on. Also the Nutcracker was posing nicely on a very different places than usually – on rocks and seabuckthron-bushes.


We really worked hard but there were no presents for us even though the island was really hammered every day and on mist-nets there were also taped playing. But after all the highlights of the days were the breakfast after morning seawatch and the dinner in the evening and of course sauna that was heated up every second evening.

On the 23rd of October Elissa still saw the same Greenshank for the last time and Hanna heard a Nuthatch in Peräkulma but otherwise it was just common autumn birds around. On the 25th day we saw a Brent Goose and a Rock Pipit and the numbers of Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Treecreepers that were extraordinary numerous were at the top – 53 and 42 birds. And then finally – first time for a very long time – we had to rush to mist-nets where Hanna had caught a beautiful male Firecrest. Of course we had to go to see and photograph this bird even though it wasn’t even a year-tick. After all we saw altogether 75 species this day.


On the 26th of October a Shore Lark flew over us when we were seawatching in the morning. It was calling differently than usually but when Hanna heard the same bird in Peräkulma, it was already calling normally.

We kept on working hard but no more prices were got. Weather was very nice all the time so it could have been worse but of course we had hoped to find something – anything – rare. In the end of the week only birds that made me smile were Common Snipes, Jack Snipes and Woodcocks that were still found here and there and then on the 28th day some spontaneous celebrations were seen when we saw a female Black Grouse arriving to the island – it was the second Säppi-tick for me during the trip.


On the last day, on the 29th of October, we still saw a Short-eared Owl arriving to Kräveli and the same Lesser Whitethroat was still around /even though we hadn’t seen it every day as it had been very sneaky). We still walked on the different parts of the island briefly and found still some snipes and woodcocks but after all we had to give up.

Finally we had cleared up the places and packed everything and carried our stuff to the harbor. And then Tommi arrived to pick us up and it was once again time to say goodbye to Säppi. I had never thought that I could stay in this island for 9 days without getting a single year-tick! Maybe next time I have to visit the island in any other time of the year than in October. I have been in this island for 90 days but only in October and I have seen 151 species of birds. There are lots of common spring and summer birds missing on my list.