Self-found goodies and a twitched lifer

On the 1st of September there were about 200 Cranes flying around Siikalahti. A Great White Egret was still shortly visible and from the tower I saw the 1st Smew of the season. On our garden I saw a Merlin landing to a top of a perch-tree and in Kangaskylä I saw a Nutcracker again. In Joukionsalmi there were only 2 Barnacle and 1 Canada Goose – no idea where the geese go from there in this time of year? In the evening I was once again in Joutseno and tried to see the Rock Pipit, but found only a Red-throated Pipit.

I was staying in Joutseno for next night with my friend and visited a couple of times more the Rock Pipit place but only heard it in flight once. 3 Red-throated Pipits were seen and in a big flock of Canada Geese I saw a Barnacle Goose and a Greylag Goose.

On the 3rd day there was a flock of 16 Tundra Bean Geese, 6 Canada Geese, 8 Honey Buzzards, 2 Hen Harriers, once again a young Pallid Harrier, 3 Ringed Plover and a Dunlin migrating in Siikalahti. We visited Saari in the afternoon where we found a Red-backed Shrike in Pohjanranta and 2 Red-throated Pipits and a Bluethroat in Uukuniemi Suurenjärvenliete.

On the 4th day there was again a young Pallid Harrier and a Ringed Plover migrating in Siikalahti. Also a White-tailed Eagle was seen. On the 6th day I went to see Nuthatches to Likolampi and found 2 birds easily. During the day I saw only a Curlew in Siikalahti but in the evening we were there again counting Cranes in dam-road. We saw 320 of them and again 2 Great White Egrets. But the best bird was an Eagle Owl that tried to catch a Crane from flight! I hadn’t seen an Eagle Owl in Siikalahti for more than 10 years and actually in whole Parikkala for many years.

On the 7th day a couple of young Little Gulls were seen in Härskiinmutka and there were some for more than week, even 32 birds in 11th day and still one in the end of month. In Siikalahti I saw one more Ringed Plover and heard a Grey Plover.

It was raining a lot but anyway I tried go birding whenever it was possible. On the 9th of September I was in Siikalahti for whole morning and saw 350 migrating Wigeons, 45 Pintails, a Bittern, a Great White Egret, 2 Grey Herons, 3 Honey Buzzards, a Golden Eagle, 90 Golden Plovers, nice surprise were 2 Dotterels, 2 early Waxwings, a Bluethroat, 20 Sedge Warblers, a Blackcap and very late Wood Warbler.

On the 10th of September I headed to Mikkeli to twitch a warbler that my good friend “Potu” Suojarinne had found on the previous day. He had got some pictures where the bird looked like a Paddyfield Warbler. I was early in the morning in Kenkävero but the weather was very poor. Anyway we found the bird and it really looked strange! It was extremely pale with pale feet and short primary-projection. But it was extremely shy and we saw it only for seconds. We had tried to see it better for 5 hours when it started to rain. And exactly then we got a message that there was a local Sabine’s Gull in Keuruu. We decided to go twitching! After all I was already on half-way!

It was a long drive to Keuruu Kaukanen but luckily stunning adult Sabine’s Gull was still swimming there on Keurusselkä! After some waiting it flew a nice round around the bay and landed very close to us but behind the reeds. But soon it was flying again and flew only some 60 meters from us and cameras were clicking! Soon it flew back to the same rocks, where it had stayed most of the time.

We also saw 2 young Little Gulls, some flocks of Wigeons and a Scaup in a flock of Tufted Ducks. In the evening we still went to see the warbler in Mikkeli and manage to see it much better but it was already quite dark, so the pictures Potu got were still quite poor. Late in the evening we still visited Tuukkala fields where we saw some Ruffs and Ringed Plovers and in Pursiala we saw a late Nightjar. But then I had to start driving back to Parikkala. Luckily on the next day Potu got some better pictures of the warbler and it is still not sure what the bird really was! But at least we have some pictures…

On the 11th day a Grey Plover was seen from Härskiinmutka and in Siikalahti I saw the 1st Rough-legged Buzzard of the season. On the 12th day a Cormorant had arrived to Härskiinmutka and there were 1 to 3 birds every day until the end of the month. On the 13th day a Marsh Harrier was still seen in Siikalahti and in Kullinsuo I saw a Hen Harrier, 5 Dunlins and a Lapland Bunting. While I was jogging in the evening I saw a flock of 500 Brent Geese in Kirjola and later in Siikalahti another flock of 180 birds. Thick fog ruined the evening trip to Siikalahti where only 4 Wood Sandpipers were seen.

On the 14th day 4 White-fronted Geese were found in Kullinsuo amd in Siikalahti I saw a flock of 14 Red-throated Divers. In the evening we counted 322 Cranes, 4 Grey Heron and again 2 Great White Egrets. On the 15th day I counted 1350 ducks in Siikalahti, mostly Wigeons and Mallards, but also 100 Teals, 8 Shovelers, a Pintail, some tens of Tufted Ducks, 1 Scaup, 2 Pochards, 4 only Goldeneyes and 2 Smews.

On the 16th of September I was participating to a forest-run in Melkoniemi forests where I ran about 18 kilometers in very hard terrain in 2 hours and 10 minutes. In the afternoon the first 5 Barnacle Geese were in Kullinsuo and also a Bluethroat, 2 Whinchats and a Sedge Warbler were found. In Siikalahti I saw a Rough-legged Buzzard and heard a Red-throated Pipit and in the evening we were trying to catch some owls in Tarvaslampi and caught one Tengmalm’s Owl.

On the 17th day I was again in Siikalahti for whole morning until afternoon and saw 2 Tundra Bean Geese, 45 Barnacle Geese, 2270 Brent Geese, 31 Black-throated Divers, 13 Grey Herons, a White-tailed Eagle, 28 Sparrowhawks, 17 Common Buzzards, a Kestrel, a Peregrine, a Hobby, 37 Golden Plovers, a nice flock of 6 Arctic Skuas, 2 Grey-headed Woodpeckers, 2 Black Woodpeckers, 12 Swallows, 5 Chiffchaffs, 5 Goldcrests, a Spotted Flycatcher, 10 Coal Tits, 5 Redpolls and a Nutcracker.

On the 18th day I saw once again a young Pallid Harrier. I got some pictures of the bird and it is not certain if the bird is a hybrid between Hen and Pallid or a pure Pallid. I also heard a call from the sky that sounded like an Olive-backed Pipit but never saw the bird at all, so hopefully it was just a strange Tree Pipit… A couple of Barnacle Geese flocks were promising that soon they are everywhere again…

On the 20th day the geese were migrating, but on very western route so it wasn’t that awful to be at work. While on my lunch-hour I saw a flock of 1100 Brent Geese while walking towards Siikalahti tower. Under the tower there were several Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers so I started pishing and amazingly found a Yellow-browed Warbler! It was only my 2nd ever in Siikalahti and in whole South-Karelia! Because of Lake Ladoga which is right next to us in east, they are very rare here!

On the 21st day I saw about 3000 Barnacle Geese, 34 Brent Geese and about 150 White-fronted and 80 Tundra Bean Geese. A couple of Tufted Duck flocks were also migrating and in one of the flocks there were 2 Scaups and 2 Long-tailed Ducks. 2 White-tailed Eagles were scaring 11 Grey Herons that were still around but Great White Egrets weren’t seen at all anymore.

On the 22nd of September there was lots of geese already in Tetrisuo. There was still only a small patch treshed, so birds were difficult to count, but with some thousands of Barnacle Geese there were hundreds of Tundra Bean and White-fronted Geese, 200 Whooper Swans and 4 Bewick’s Swans. While driving along the field-road I flushed a Jack Snipe.

On the 23rd day I ran my first ever marathon in Joutseno. It was hard but even though I had almost too tired in the end I managed to finish after 4 hours and 22 minutes. In a half-way I was still in 4 hours speed, but after 25 kilometers the last 17 were awful. It took a long time to take a shower and eat and just sit and wait before my legs felt better and I walked to my car where my phone told that there had been a Black-winged Pratincole in Joutseno for almost whole day! It had been very difficult as it had been flying around but the last observation was just minutes ago, so I decided to drive there – after all it was just 10 kilometers to Kivisaari! But even though there were some other twitchers too, the bird wasn’t seen in the afternoon at all. I did see a late Little Ringed Plover, 2 Long-tailed Tits and a Merlin and a White-tailed Eagle. In the evening we still tried to catch some owls in Tarvaslampi, but thick fog covered the area too soon, I only heard one Tengmalm’s owl high from the sky.

On the 24th day we were in Siikalahti for whole morning until afternoon and saw a Vewick’s Swan, 6 Grey Herons, 2 White-tailed Eagles, 3 Rough-legged Buzzards, an Osprey, a Ringed Plover sp, a White-backed Woodpecker, a Sedge Warbler, a Great Grey Shrike and a Parrot Crossbill. In the afternoon we visited Saari with Miika and saw a Lapland Bunting in Akanvaara Tetrisuo, a Hen Harrier and a Little/Temminck Stint in Pohjanranta, a White-tailed Eagle and a Red-backed Shrike in Suurenjärvenliete and of some big flocks of geese with nothing better than some Bewick’s Swans.

On the 25th I surprisingly heard a Moorhen in Siikalahti and still saw a Lesser Whitethroat. On the 26th a Hobby was still seen and in the afternoon we went with Miika to twitch a Desert Wheatear in Kitee Puhos. The bird was seen easily thanks to some locals and of course the finder Kimmo Järvinen. It was only my second Desert Wheatear in Finland.

On the 27th of September I visited Siikalahti tower briefly on my lunch-hour and finally saw my first ever Red-breasted Goose in Siikalahti! It was my local-patch tick number 241! There were some 10 000 Barnacle Geese so it wasn’t easy to see, but luckily Mikko Karkia spotted the bird! In the evening we tried to twitch the bird with Hanna and there were also some Desert Wheatear twitchers stopping on the way back to Helsinki, but the bird wasn’t found. We did see a migrating flock of 30 Common and 4 Velvet Scoters and 6 local Scaups and there were even more geese now – about 12 000 Barnacle and 2000 grey geese! Still 2 Swallows were also seen.

On the 28th day I saw a Peregrine, 10 Long-tailed Tits, a late Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaffs and heard a couple of times calls that really sounded like a Pallas’s Warbler but I didn’t find anything like that… One Little Gull was still flying in Härskiinmutka.

J.A.