Ringing SSP and Red-footed Falcon

After our trip to French Guiana we drove late in the evening back from Helsinki to Parikkala. On the way we saw a Nightjar in Hamina and an Eagle Owl that almost hit a truck that was driving in front of us in Rautjärvi Kangas.

We were in Parikkala 1 a.m. and we just dropped our luggage at home and then went to Papinlahti to put mist-nets ready. And then after a couple of hours sleeping we were ready to open the nets and SSP-ringing started. We caught a Redwing, a Sedge Warbler, 3 Blyth’s Reed Warblers, even 22 Lesser and 15 Common Whitethroats, 9 Garden and 4 Willow Warblers, 2 Pied Flycacthers, a Great Tit and 2 Common Rosefinches. We also saw a couple of Grey Herons and heard a Great Egret calling a couple of times.

I wasn’t very motivated in birding after the trip but luckily the better times were about to begin. On the 8th of September there were already 13 Great Egrets in Siikalahti and also a Great Bittern and a Grey Heron was seen. Young Water Rails were calling and a few Stock Doves were seen in flight. On the 9th day we were still suffering from jet-lag when we heard a Whimbrel migrating over our house.

On the 12th day there was a flock of 250 Siskins eating stones in our garden. Some of the birds were so tired of eating them that I had to carry them away from the road.

On the 13th day we did a trip to Saari and found 6 Greylag Geese in Pohjanranta and 10 Stock Doves in Pohjasuo. On the way back we drove to Tarvaspohja where some non-birder had claimed to seen a Purple Heron. Of course there was no Purple Heron but a young Grey Heron and a Great Egret.

On the 14th of September we had SSP again and we got a Tree Pipit, a Common Redstart 1 control, a Blackbird, a Song Thrush, a Blyth’s Reed Warbler, 10+1c Lesser and 3 Common Whitethroats, a Garden and 3 Willow Warblers and 3 Common Rosefinches. In the evening we saw 19 Great Egrets in Siikalahti.

On the 15th day I saw a Grey Heron and a Great Egret in Härskiinmutka. During my lunch-hour I saw a stunning Greater Spotted Eagle flying towards north in Siikalahti.

On the 17th and 18th morning there were flocks of Common Scoters in Härskiinmutka and about 20 Great Cormorants. On the 18th I also saw finally a Red-backed Shrike in Siikalahti – where have they been this year? And the next morning there were 25 Cormorants and 81 Great Crested Grebes in Härskiinmutka. One grebe had tiny youngsters on her back.

On the 20th of September we drove to Helsinki to Bird Fair where Hanna was again working. On the way in Pyhtää Siltakylä we saw a young Pallid or Montagu’s Harrier while driving on the motorway where it was impossible to stop or even slow down.

In Viikki Hanna went to the fair and I walked to Hakala bird-tower. On the last days there had been huge numbers of Red-footed Falcons migrating north in Latvia and Estonia and some had already been seen in Finland too. One had been seen from the Bird Fair too. So we were scanning the sky for several hours and saw quite a few small raptors but most of them were other species or then some clearly migrating ones were in a bad light and flying very fast towards north. But after all we managed to identify 2 Red-footed Falcons. Other birds we saw were 2 Dunlins, 2 Temminck Stints and some Spotted Redshanks and Golden Plovers.

I went to the Bird Fair for the last hour and of course met so many friends there that I couldn’t really do any shopping. Then we helped to pack everything there. My brother Pirkka had been in a meeting in Helsinki and we met him right after we had managed to pack everything. And nicely our phones told than a Laughing Dove that had been seen in several place around Helsinki on last couple of weeks had just been relocated in Sipoo Söderkulla. It was only 20 kilometers drive to Söderkulla and there Jari Kostet was photographing a tired-looking dove that is not tickable (yet) in Finland. We took of course some pictures and then talked with several birders that arrived before we had to start driving to Kirkkonummi.

In Kirkkonummi we stayed with our parents and on the 21st morning we headed towards south with Pirkka and my father. We started birding in Billskog on the border-field of Siuntio and Inkoo and easily found a Red-footed Falcon that had been found there on the previous evening. We also saw a flock of 30 Linnets and 12 Golden Plovers.

Then after some driving I noticed 2 harriers flying over a field in Kämpbacka. They landed to a field but unfortunately were flying again when we got our car parked. They flew directly away but we could identify one bird as a young Hen and another as a young Pallid Harrier. Hanna also got some pictures where identification was possible.

The weather had been too good to see many birds in Hanko but anyway we saw a Velvet Scoter, in Vedagrundet, a Grey Plover, an Oystercatcher and 14 Caspian Terns in Svanvik, 150 Yellow Wagtails in Täktom, a young and very tame Curlew Sandpiper in Långören and so on. Then we still went to eat in Hanko before driving back to Kirkkonummi.

In the afternoon we still headed to Espoo Laajalahti with 2 cars so we could continue to Parikkala straight from there. In Laajalahti we saw 7 Curlew Sandpipers, 7 Dunlins, 2 Little Stints, 2 Great Egrets and so on – and of course met many birders. Then we had to start a long way back to home and my father drove Pirkka somewhere with a transportation to the airport.

On the way back home we stopped in Loviisa Vanhakylä where earlier during the had been a record-flock of 22 Red-footed Falcons! There was a ringer trying to catch them but without success. Anyway we saw 10 falcons there and stayed the rest of the evening there trying to help the ringer and get pictures but without luck. After all we were at home about at midnight.

On the 22nd of September on my lunch-hour I checked every field nearby and finally in Tiviä Tarhamäki I saw a single Red-footed Falcon flying on the sky with a Common Kestrel, but soon it continued toward north-east. In the evening we went to check fields in Saari but found no Red-footed Falcons only 3 Hen Harriers and Great Grey Shrike and so on.

On the 23rd day I found a Red-footed Falcon in Kolmikanta Koskuinmäki and in Siikalahti there were also 3 of them. In the evening 2 more were found in Tetrisuo and finally we managed to get some pictures of one of the birds that was perched on a top of a tree.

On the 24th we were hoping that a Red Kite that had been seen flying south in Kitee and Kesälahti would continue to Siikalahti. I had only my lunch hour and then evening but still we saw 2 Black Kites migrating, 3 Red-footed Falcons were still around and then in the evening we counted Cranes and Great Egrets and saw 475 and 22 birds.

On the 25th I heard a Common Ringed Plover and saw 22 Golden Plovers migrating. In the afternoon in Saari we saw a flock of 15 Long-tailed Tits in Akonpohja and in Pohjanranta we found and adult and a young Caspian Terns! Also 2 Stock Doves, 165 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Great Egrets and a Grey Heron was seen there. But the rest of the places had almost nothing, just a Great Grey Shrike still in Akanvaara Tetrisuo.

On the 26th at least 2 Red-footed Falcons were still in Siikalahti and also a Cuckoo was migrating. We checked all the fields nearby but found nothing. In Kirkkoranta we saw 2 Great Egrets. And on the 27th we had the last SSP of the season. It was still very warm summer day so there were no surprises. We caught a Robin, 3 Common Redstarts, a Sedge Warbler, 6 Lesser and a Common Whitethroat, 5 Garden and 7 Willow Warblers, a Spotted Flycatcher, 1+1c Blue Tits, 1+1c Bullfinches and 3 Reed Buntings. When we were already taking away the mist-nets I found a Red-footed Falcon soaring on the sky. But it was flying so high that it disappeared to the clouds. Then we went to Siikalahti where in few hours we saw 2 or 3 Red-footed Falcons, a Bittern, 2 White-tailed Eagles, a Goshawk and 6 local and 14 migrating Honey Buzzards and so on.

On the 28th morning we were ringing again in Papinlahti but this time we were playing some autumn-project birds from the tapes. But it was very warm and foggy so there was still no migration. We caught a Tree Pipit, a Robin, a Sedge and 2 Blyth’s Reed Warblers, 3 Lesser and 2 Common Whitethroats, 7 Garden Warblers, a Chiffchaff, 15 Willow Warblers, 2 Greenfinches, 4 Bullfinches and 3 Reed Buntings.

During the day we were again for a few hours in Siikalahti and saw again a migrating Black Kite. It didn’t make me happy as the Red Kite had already moved through Parikkala and had been this morning for several hours in Lappeenranta Vihtola where many had seen it. This was only the 4th ever in South Karelia and the first twitchable – and still missing on my list. We also saw a Red-footed Falcon, 14 Tundra Bean Geese and a late Golden Oriole.

On the 29th I saw 28 Cormorants in Härskiinmutka and in the evening we counted 584 Cranes and 15 Great Egrets in Siikalahti. On the last days of September I saw nothing even I did some birding.

J.A.