A Self-found tick

On the 19th day I saw only 21 divers migrating in Siikalahti but in the evening we headed to Saari, We did the first stop in Akonpohja and saw a couple of Gadwalls, Honey Buzzards and Whimbrels. We were just about to leave when I noticed a lonely duck sleeping close to reeds on the other side of the lake. It was all the time facing towards me but I managed to see that there was white on the flank and maybe a little bit greyer behind the white area. I waited and waited but the bird stayed in same position.

Anyway I told Hanna to get her scope up too and together we kept on looking at the bird. Finally it turned and we could see the side of it well and it really looked like what I had been hoping. But still we needed to see its head. We waited for some time again until it finally woke up and we could see a black tip and white ring on its bill – it was a Ring-necked Duck!

It was only the second Ring-necked Duck in South Karelia and 26th for Finland. There were quite a few twitchers coming to see the bird and luckily it stayed in Akonpohja for some time.

Other birds we saw in Saari were a nest of a Black Woodpecker, a Common Ringed Plover, 3 Stock Doves, a couple of Short-eared Owls and we ended the tour to a place were a couple of Great Snipes were lekking. I still visited Siikalahti before midnight and heard a Grasshopper Warbler, lots of Water Rails and a Spotted Crake.

On the 20th of May a Common Rosefinch was singing in Siikalahti and the same Ural Owl was seen again. It really started to seem that this owl was breeding in a strange place…

On the 21st day after checking that everything was OK with breeding Nuthatches we headed to Saari where we met some friends that were twitching Ring-necked Duck. The duck was showing pretty well with a flock of Tufted Ducks and a couple of Greater Scaups.

In suurenjärvenliete we found about a flock of 20 000 Barnacle Geese and in KAnavalampi we saw a Slavonian Grebe. We were already heading back to Parikkala when we got a phone call that our friends were looking at a good-looking Cackling Goose candidate. We were soon in Kinnarniemi and I managed to see the goose only shortly before the big flock of 8000 Barnacle Geese flushed for some reason. It really looked good unless the neck – it had black too low to the breast so it was after all a hybrid with Barnacle Goose and either Cackling or Canada Goose. Our friends had also noticed the same thing right before we had arrived.

On the 22nd of May we did the duck-count but there were not many ducks to count and Hooded Crows had destroyed all the nests of gulls already. I stopped in Kaukola when I saw Irina Nordman watching a goose-flock and she had just found a Lesser White-fronted Goose that had been seen already on the previous evening shortly – actually it had been identified only from one birder’s pictures. But unfortunately this was one of the Swedish “shite-birds” with color-rings. Actually it looked like some kind of hybrid and it was clearly with one White-fronted Goose. Nice work neighbors!

During the count we heard a Wryneck and an Icterine Warbler and I found an early Marsh Warbler. In the evening we did a short trip to fields neaby and found some tons of Barnacle Geese but not Ross’s Goose that still had been seen in the area a couple of times.

On the 23rd day we had ringing morning but it was the most boring ever. We caught a Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Common Whitethroats, 2 Reed Buntings, which another one was a controlled bird and the only surprise was a Wood Sandpiper. During the day we went to see Northern Crested Newts but only Hanna saw one very briefly. Anyway we saw quite a few Smooth Newts.

On the 24th of May we did night-bird count so I was rowing around Siikalahti whole night and Hanna was walking a lot on the eastern side of the bay. We both continued then also to normal map-counts, so I counted birds from the islands. Hanna found a River Warbler and altogether we heard 4 Grasshopper Warblers that all were in reeds. 20 Water Rails were heard and we also finally could be sure that the Ural Owl was breeding in one stump as we heard young birds begging for food. I also heard a Corn Crake, saw a flock of 10 migrating Ringed Plovers, a Long-eared Owl, a Stock Dove and again a Black Kite.

In the evening we visited Moskuunniemi and saw a flock of 13 Greater Scaups with 3 Common Scoters. A Corn Crake was calling there too.

On the 25th day we had work and then we were sleeping as we were both extremely tired. Anyway I heard a Golden Oriole in Kangaskylä and while lunch-hour I saw some raptors which a migrating Hen Harrier was the biggest surprise as it was quite late to see one still on migration. I also heard several Icterine Warblers. I the evening we went to see Ural Owls and 2 of them were down from the stump and got ringed. The smallest on was still in the nest that was too high.

On the 26th day after sleeping very bad, I woke up at 3 a.m. and soon found out that Blyth’s Reed Warblers had finally arrived. At 4 a.m. I started map-counts and it was hard work once again. I found mostly just common breeding birds but a male Red-backed Shrike, a couple of Long-tailed Tit pairs and a a few Golden Orioles were found too. In the afternoon we did a trip to Saari where Ring-necked Duck was still in Akonpohja where we also heard a Wryneck and 2 Marsh Warblers and saw a Little Spotted Woodpecker. Only other bird to mention was a Short-eared Owl in Akanvaara Tetrisuo.

On the 27th of May I had free day! Luckily the weather had been so good that I had already done all counts and I still had one day free from ordinary work. So I headed to Soininmäki forests and easily found a Three-toed Woodpecker and a Parrot Crossbill but none better songbird. Then I twitched the River Warbler that was still singing in Siikalahti and then headed to Saari to see if there were any waders but had no luck. The Ring-necked Duck was still in Akonpohja with a lonely Slavonian Grebe, I also saw a Map Butterfly there. After long naps we headed to Rautjärvi Simpele Kokkolanjoki and found what we were searching for when we saw a male Grey Wagtail briefly.

On the 28th day Hanna and Matti were counting and saw a flock of 8 Great White Egrets. It was raining a little bit so I expected that there was possibility to see waders but none was seen in Siikalahti, but everywhere else at least Broad-billed Sandpipers were seen. On my lunch-hour I saw only one egret and in the afternoon I drove to Pohjanranta but saw no waders there either.

On the 29th day a Black Kite and a few Garganeys were seen like almost every day. 3 White-fronted and a single Barnacle Goose was left anymore and sleeping in front of the hide. In the afternoon we went to ring Starling in Tarvaslampi and there were altogether 13 youngsters in 3 nest-boxes. In the evening we went once again to check if the third Ural Owl was to be found and after not seeing or hearing it at all in a couple of night it was a surprise that we found it and even got it finally ringed. We still checked one Great Snipe field and heard at least one distant bird. Also Nightjar was finally added to my year-list.

On the 30th of May Hanna was sleeping long as it was finally her holiday. I headed to Siikalahti where I saw a Black Kite, a Red-backed Shrike, 17 migrating Black and 13 Red-throated Divers and 4 Red-breasted Mergansers. Then I had to go home to sleep some more too.

In the afternoon we headed to Saari and finally managed to find 5 Broad-billed Sandpipers in Pohjanranta. Also a Ringed Plover was seen and in Akanvaara Tetrisuo we saw a Short-eared Owl and in a couple of fields a couple of Stock Doves. In Akopohja we didn’t find Ring-necked Duck anymore so maybe it has moved on or then is just hiding better than before.

On the last day of May we headed to forests and hoped to find Greenish Warblers but found “only” a couple of beautiful male Red-breasted flycatchers. Hanna even managed to get some pretty good pictures of another one.

J.A.