Ringing season starts, Garden Watch, counts, lifer twitch and much more

After the long weekend it was again normal week except Hanna was still teaching from home. Usually the best time of the year to see rare birds in Parikkala is in the beginning of May and the end of April had already been good. But now there was no floods at all so waders were completely missing.

On the 4th of May I was again in Siikalahti on my lunch-hour and together with Esa Sojamo we saw a migrating adult Greater spotted Eagle. Also a couple of White-tailed Eagles, a Black Kite, an early Swift and a Whinchat were seen. In Härskiinmutka I saw 14 Cormorants and a Common Sandpiper and in the evening a Hobby was seen and heard in Tarvaslampi. After sauna we still went to Siikalahti where we heard a Slavonian Grebe and saw a small flock of Ruffs.

During the next day’s lunch-visit I heard a Little Ringed Plover and a Lesser Whitethroat and saw a Northern Wheatear and a White-tailed Eagle. In the evening we went to put everything ready to our ringing place and saw a couple of Lapland Buntings there.

First ringing morning

On the 6th of May we woke up early and at 5 a.m. we had mist-nets up. It was very quiet but some Reed Buntings, a Lesser Whitethroat and a few Willow Warblers and Great Tits were caught. We also heard a Rustic Bunting calling. I had to go to work but Hanna stayed a few more hours but it started to wind and only a few Willow Warblers were caught. Altogether 13 birds were ringed and 2 were birds that we had ringed in the past in the same place.

During my lunch. hour I saw a Black Kite, a couple of White-tailed Eagles and a migrating Golden Eagle. A Common Whitethroat was singing and a flock of 100 Golden Plovers were flying far on the southern side of the bay.

On the 8th day I saw nothing on my day-visit but in the afternoon we went to Siikalahti again. Surprisingly a couple of Marsh Sandpiper arrived to the bay and flew a couple of times over us calling and then continued towards north with some Wood Sandpipers. Other year-ticks were a Spotted Redshank, a Sedge Warbler and a Sand Martin. At least 3 Black Kites were seen and 2 Stock Doves were still around so it seems that they are breeding somewhere nearby.

Because I realized that I had 199 year-ticks I visited several places in the evening but saw only a Greylag Goose. After all I had to twitch a Thrush Nightingale as a year-tick number 200 before midnight.

Garden Watch

On the 9th of May it was the time for Garden Watch. Because of COVID19 the traditional Bird-tower competition had cancelled and birders were competing in their own gardens. We had always known that our garden is a really good place to see birds, but we really hadn’t put it as a test, so it was finally nice to see how many species we could see in our garden during the day.

At 5 a.m. it was raining but it was only good as some ducks had landed to the lake and some waders were also landing or flying low. We soon saw some Long-tailed Ducks and Common Scoters, Wood Sandpipers, Ruffs and even a Little Ringed Plover.

When the rain stopped birds started to sing and soon we heard a Redstart, a Dunnock, Willow Warblers and even a Wren. But still we had expected to hear more song-birds.

Cranes were calling and a Black Woodpecker drumming but of course a Grey-headed Woodpecker, that had been calling actively on the previous morning, was quiet.
We kept on scanning the sky and found some Red-throated Divers with Black –throated Divers, a couple of small flocks of Velvet Scoters, a couple of White-tailed Eagles, finally a couple of local Cormorants and it seemed that there was all the time something migrating – at least passerines very high on the sky. Redpolls, Tree Pipits and Yellow Wagtails were identified and also a couple of Bullfinches flew over us. Also a Reed Bunting was seen.

From the lake we managed to find some Mallard, a couple of Wigeons and Shovelers and a lonely Teal. 3 Scaups were seen in flight and they landed to a small distant flock of Common Scoters. Bitterns were heard but a surprise was a Grey Heron that was migrating.

In early morning we saw a Merlin and later a couple of Hobbies were chasing passerines all the time. Other raptors we saw were a couple of Marsh Harriers, Ospreys and Sommon Buzzards but then we saw a 2nd calendar year Pallid Harrier and also a Black Kite migrating. Finally in the end of the watch we saw also a Sparrowhawk.

New waders were also seen as Lapwings were migrating, a lonely Spotted Redshank was heard from the sky, Common Sandpipers were flying over the lake-surface and a Common Snipe was displaying on the other side of the lake. But some more waders could have been possible.

It started to get windy and we didn’t get almost any new species in a couple of hours, finally some Rock doves and a Slavonian Grebe were seen, but when the wind got easier we saw a Stock Dove, a Cuckoo, some House Martins, Mistle Thrushes, a Yellowhammer, a Redwing and a Meadow Pipit. Still some common birds weren’t found at all, maybe Song Thrush was the most ridiculous one.

During the day we had seen also some 20 000 migrating geese, but finally it was 1 p.m. Our target had been to see 75 or 80 species but after all we saw 93 species! Maybe in this day we finally could have got 100 species in Siikalahti, ot then our garden is just at least almost as good place to collect species in this time of year.

In the afternoon we visited Siikalahti and easily saw 10 species that we hadn’t seen in our garden, best ones were a Black-tailed Gofwit and a Peregrine.

Counts begin

On the 10th of May we started mapping counts in Siikalahti. We started with night-singer mapping and some better birds were a Grey Heron, 4 Spotted Crakes, lots of Water Rails, a Jack Snipe and some migrating flocks of Common Scoters. I saw a Long-eared Owl and Hanna heard an early Grasshopper Warbler. Some other birds we heard were Wood Warblers, Bluethroats and Blackcaps.

After the counts we stayed in Siikalahti for some time and saw a migrating Red-throated Pipit, Black Kites, a Hen Harrier and the same Black-tailed Godwit again.

On the 11th day it was raining so I didn’t see much. Only better bird was a Black-tailed Godwit in Lahdensuo.

On the 12th I had free from work to do counts. From the north-western parts of Siikalahti I found lots of birds which 4 Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, 3 Grey-headed Woodpeckers, a Garden Warbler, a Wood Warbler, a Blackcap, a couple of Long-tailed Tits and especially a Red-breasted Flycatcher were nice.

During the day we met our old friend Panu Kuokkanen who is nowadays working in Metsähallitus and now working with bird-wetlands. We showed to Panu all corners of Siikalahti and discussed what could be done to make Siikalahti better in the future. We also saw some birds like a Black Kite, a Honey Buzzard, a couple of Bluethroats, woodpeckers and again a Red-throated Pipit.

On the 13th day I still had free so I did duck-counts. There weren’t many birds but 2 males and a female Gadwalls and 3 males and a female Garganeys were good. Altogether 5 Bluethroats were found and a Spotted Flycatcher was heard as a year-tick.

I stayed in Siikalahti until the afternoon and still saw Black Kites, a Honey Buzzard and a Pink-footed Goose and after short naps I headed to Saari where I saw a Gadwall in Akonpohja, a Heuglin’s Gull in Akanvaara Tetrisuo, a Stock Dove in Pohjasuo and a Long-eared Owl in Karinmäki.

Lifer twitch

On the 14th of May in I got a message that a Long-billed Dowitcher had been found in Kontiolaht i already in the previous evening but it had been now identified. I had to stay at work until 3 p.m. but then we keft towards Linnunsuo with Hanna, Miika and Pekka Punnonen. It was a long way but finally we parked our car and started walking towards the place were some birders were. The bird wasn’t visible but we understood that it had been pretty far and had walked behind some mud earlier. After some waiting it came visible and we all got new Finnish-ticks and also it was the first summer-plumage Dowitcher we had ever seen anywhere. The bird was almost all the time behind something but after all we saw it well enough.

Other birds we saw in Linnunsuo were Spotted Redshanks and Redshanks, 4 Common Ringed Plovers, a Jack Snipe, a Dunlin, a few Bluethroats and a couple of Long-tailed Tits. We also heard an Oystercatcher calling.

On the way back to Parikkala we stopped in Pohjanranta where we saw a Little Ringed Plover.

On the 15th of May a couple of Black Kites, a Goshawk, a Stock Dove and a Redshank were better observation in Siikalahti. On the 16th day we woke up early and had ringing session again. It was very quiet again and altogether we ringed a Robin, 2 Common Whitethroats, 3 Willow Warblers + 1 controlled bird, 3 Pied Flycatchers, a Bullfinch and controlled one Reed Bunting. Other birds seen were 7500 migrating Barnacle Geese and we were just outside the migration line as much more were seen only some kilometers away. In the afternoon we visited Saari and counted about 60 000 Barnacle Geese there – almost nothing else were found, just geese…

Quite a evening trip

On the 17th day we had planned to take it easy as the weather was rainy, but then a Snowy Goose was reported from Koitsanlahti. We headed there immediately and already while driving we saw the birds in a big flock of Barnacle Goose and before we had stopped, I said that it really looked like a Ross’s Goose. Jarmo Pirhonen had accidentally found the bird too so we parked just behind him and he shouted that there was indeed a Ross’s Goose. It was only the 3rd ever Ross’s Goose in Finland but unfortunately this species is in zoo-category. I tried to digiscope some pictures but it was raining so hard that the pictures weren’t good after all.

In the afternoon we drove around the fields around Siikalahti and nearby and counted about 30 000 Barnacle Geese. When twitchers had seen the Ross’s Goose leave from Joukio towards east, we tried to see it in Siikalahti but after all found it in Lahdensuo. Later we saw a Ural Owl that was posing nicely and then maybe the biggest surprise of the day, a small Brown Bear that was running across the road. We managed to follow it with car for some time and Hanna managed to get a couple of pictures of it running inside the forest.

Later we still found a Pink-footed Goose in Siikalahti and a nest of a Nuthatch near Likolampi – so it wasn’t a bad evening trip at all not far from home.

On the morning of 18th of May I saw the Ross’s Goose briefly flying with masses of Barnacle Geese in Lahdensuo. In Härskiinmutka I counted amazing 440 Common Terns and in Siikalahti I saw a Black Kite again. In the evening we went to see Kurhonselkä by boat with Arttu Valonen. The weather was great but there weren’t many birds. Luckily a couple of flocks of Long-tailed Ducks with some Common and Velvet Scoters were found and seen pretty well.


J.A.