Waiting for autumn

After Hailuoto-rally I started week in Siikalahti with 6 Great White Egrets. Earlier in the morning there had been even 8 birds. I saw also 6 Grey Herons and there had been at least 15 of them. But even more surprising was to see a flock of 24 Curlew Sandpipers and 12 Dunlins migrating over the dam-road! When I still saw a White-backed Woodpecker I could say that the week had started well.

Next morning I saw again 6 Great White Egrets and 4 Gadwalls landing to the bay. A Water Rail was calling and when I was driving to work I saw a Nutcracker in a usual place in Kangaskylä. On my lunch-hour I saw a White-tailed Eagle and a male Hen Harrier. We visited Siikalahti also in the evening and saw 84 Cranes, 2 Red-backed Shrikes, a Ruff and a Golden Plover.

On the 15th of August I did a short biking-trip with Matti Lötjönen in the morning but only some Great White Egrets were seen in Siikalahti. On my lunch-hour 3 Cormorants were seen migrating and in the evening we tried to catch Nightjars in Tarvaslampi but even though at least 2 birds came to fly close to our mist-net, we didn’t catch any. On the next couple of days a couple of Great White Egrets were seen and on the 17th of August I saw 3 Pochards and a Smew from the bird-tower.

On the 18th day we were ringing again in Papinlahti and caught 2 Tree Pipits, a Yellow Wagtail, 2 Sedge Warblers, 4 Lesser Whitethroats, a Common Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warblers, a Blackcap, a Chiffchaff, 9 Willow Warblers, a Blue Tit, 20r and 5c Great Tits, a Red-backed Shrike, 12 Greenfinches, 7 Yellowhammers and 7 Reed Buntings.

On the 19th day I saw a Little Stint, 2 Temminck Stints, a Ringed Plover, 9 Grey Herons and 7 Great White Egrets in Siikalahti. During the day we visited Saari and found one more Great White Egret in Pohjanranta. Also a couple of Red-backed Shrikes were found, 260 Cranes seen in Jyrkilä and in Tarassiinlahti we found a flock of 75 Yellow Wagtails with one nice male Red-throated Pipit.

On the 20th of August duck-hunting started so ducks started to catcher to Siikalahti which is protected. I saw more than 200 Mallards arriving almost immediately when the hunting started. I the evening I went to bird-tower to see if there were any better ducks but found only some Pochards and Tufted Ducks with numerous Mallards and Wigeons and so on.

On the 21st day I saw a female Pallid Harrier extremely well when it was migrating over the dam-road and then started to soar right over me. Also 4 Great White Egrets were seen.

On the 22rd day I saw a Great Bittern and a Goshawk was chasing corvids which are too numerous nowadays. In the evening I went jogging in Tarvaslampi and saw one male and 3 female Capercaillies, 3 Black Grouses and a Hazel Hen. After sauna we tried to catch Nightjars again and managed to ring one. It was our second ringed Nightjar after one that Hanna had caught when I was in Hailuoto.

On the 23rd day evening we counted 368 Cranes arriving to Siikalahti. A couple of Water Rails were calling and at least 300 Swallows were coming to roost to the reeds. Also a flock of 18 Bean Geese arrived but it was already too dark to identify them to (sub)species.

On the 24th of August I saw 10 Great White Egrets, a Temminck/Little Stint and a White-tailed Eagle.

On the 25th we drove to Helsinki to Bird Fair. It was nice to see many friends and after testing lots of optics I bought new Zeiss Victory 10×42SF binoculars and Hanna new Zeiss Harpyia telescope which was the first that was sold in Finland!
Hanna stayed in Helsinki as she had BirdLife meeting but I visited Espoo Laajalahti in the evening and saw a Common Shelduck, a Red Knot, a couple of Curlew Sandpipers and a Temminck Stint. Then I drove to Hanko Vedagrundet where I slept in a car.

On the 26th of August it was raining heavily in the early morning but luckily it stopped soon. I walked to the shore and saw 2 Red Knots, 3 Curlew Sandpipers, a Temminck Stint, 29 Dunlins, a Turnstone and 3 Bar-tailed Godwits. Then I tried to see a Sandwich Tern on the sea but once again had no luck with it.

I was just leaving to Kirkkonummi to eat with my parents when I got a message that there was 2 local Sandwich Terns in Halias. It was a long walk to Gåsörsviken and once I got there the terns were already long gone. Anyway I stayed there for an hour and saw quite a lot of Common and Arctic Terns, an Arctic Skua, 2 Red Knots, an Oystercatcher and a Garganey.

In the evening we still twitched a Tundra Bean Goose that had been discussed a lot as the bird looked quite strange. The bird was easy to find in Helsinki Malminkartano. Then we drove back to Parikkala and on the way stopped in Lappeenranta where an Eagle Owl answered to our calls in a usual place.

On the 27th of August we counted 330 Cranes and even 11 Great White Egrets! Next day I saw a Bluethroat, a Common Redstart, 7 Spotted Flycatchers and a migrating Nutcracker. On the 19th day I saw a Nuthatch in Likolampi and a Little Gull in Härskiinmutka. On the 30th day evening I saw a Hazel Hen, a Black Grouse, a Woodcock and a Nightjar in Siikalahti.

On the last day of August I saw 23 Velvet Scoters and 175 Common Scoters in Härskiinmutka and in siikalahti I saw a Merlin, a Nutcracker, a Cuckoo, a Bluethroat and in Raikanniemi some Long-tailed Tits, a Coal Tit and a Garden Warbler and so on.

I started September with a Grey-headed Woodpecker that was in our garden. In Siikalahti I saw a Bluethroat, a Common Whitethroat and a Blackcap. On the way to Lappeenranta I twitched once again a Grey Wagtail in Kokkolanjoki and then I visited in Askola where I saw 2 Little Stints and a Cormorant.

On the 2nd of September we did the last ringing in Papinlahti. Morning was very wet so we caught only 10r+3c Reed Buntings, 11 Willow Warblers, 2 Bluethroats, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Yellowhammers, a Tree Pipit, a Dunnock and a control Great Tit. Hanna saw a young Pallid/Montagu’s Harrier flying over the mist-nets and also 3 Cormorants were seen migrating, a Red-backed Shrike seen and a Rustic Bunting was heard.

On the 3rd day there were 12 Great White Egrets in Siikalahti and a too distant Pallid/Montagu’s Harrier. On the 4th day evening we counted 741 Cranes and saw again 11 Great White Egrets that flew from northern side to southern side to roost in a tree. Also 2 young Hen Harriers and a flock of 26 Tundra Bean Geese were seen.

Next days I visited Siikalahti on my lunch-hours and also most evenings. Some Great Bitterns were seen and on the 6th and 7th day there was a local young Pallid Harrier flying around over the reeds. On the 7th day I saw a Great Black-backed Gull in Härskiinmutka and an amazing flock of 13 Arctic Skuas in Siikalahti! In the evening we counted 644 Cranes and saw a migrating Bar-tailed Godwit and a couple of Long-eared Owls that were chasing each other right in front of us.

On the 8th day we stayed in dam-road for whole morning and it started extremely well when we almost immediately heard a Yellow-browed Warbler calling. After some whistling and tape-luring the bird came right next to us and Hanna managed to get a couple of pictures before the bird disappeared. Other better birds during the day were a Ringed Plover, a Lapland Bunting, a Red-throated Pipit and amazingly 5 to 7 Rustic Buntings!

On the next day we stayed in dam-road even longer and experienced quite a harrier-show! We saw at least 3 different young Pallid Harriers and one adult male. Then we saw one too distant Pallid/Montagu’s Harrier and 2 Hen Harriers and of course some local Marsh Harriers. Other birds we saw were 80 migrating Tundra Bean Geese, a flock of 25 Cormorants, a Black Kite, 17 Honey Buzzards, 42 Common Buzzards, 50 Sparrowhawks, 6 White-tailed Eagles, 6 Hobbies, a Dunlin, a Red-throated Pipit, a Yellow Wagtail, a Lapland Bunting and a couple of Redpolls.

During the day I visited Saari but saw only 285 Cranes in Jyrkilä and a couple of Hen Harriers. In the evening Cranes surprised us in Siikalahti and went to roost to the southern side of the bay so we couldn’t count them. But we saw a migrating Peregrine, a Woodcock, a Bluethroat and of course Great White Egrets.

During the week the weather changed and it started to feel like autumn. Great white Egrets were still around and there were at least 11 of them again on Monday. I still counted close to 600 Cranes and saw one more too distant Pallid/Montagu’s Harrier. But rainy weather was disturbing birding on the next days, so nothing new was seen.

J.A.