September 2005

September – Duck counts and rally in Hailuoto

The beginning of September was boring. Only birding I did were the duck-counts in Siikalahti and Saari. On the evening of 3rd day I saw a Nightjar while I was driving home from a rink-bandy tournament.

Counts were difficult because of hunters in Saari and a single hunter – a White-tailed Eagle in Siikalahti. All the ducks in Siikalahti were hiding and when the eagle flew all the ducks were flying too. So the ducks were changing places all the time! Somehow I managed to do the counts anyway. Only better observations were some Gadwalls. I saw also some Water Rails and one late Spotted Crake. Of course I saw also northern birds on their migration like Red-throated Pipits, Rustic Buntings, Bluethroats and Merlins.

On the 4th day we twitched a Buff-breasted Sandpiper in Joutseno Konnunsuo. It was nice to see this species well this time.

I tried to catch some Tengmalm’s and Pygmy Owls but even everybody else were ringing good numbers I never caught a single owl.

Hanna had a long weekend with other bird painters in Hanko. She photographed some raptors and other flying birds there but she also had a possibility to photograph a Great Snipe in Helsinki.

Meanwhile I was doing the duck-counts. I also tried to find Yellow-browed Warblers but I wasn’t lucky. One weekend when Hanna was in Tarto Estonia I birded around the clock with both Matti and Harry but again I wasn’t lucky. Only good observation was a Raccoon Dog which I managed to photograph somehow.

On Friday 23rd of September we started our way to Hailuoto bird rally with Potu and Harry. It was a long drive to Liminka bay where we had our first real stop. We couldn’t see anything special there but soon we drove to my brother Riku where we met also another brother Pirkka who joined our rally team. Soon we were in a Hailuoto ferry where we met also a couple of other teams.

We had a small cottage in Ranta-Sumppu where we met a couple of more teams having their cold drinks. It was already late and we were tired because of our long drive, so soon we went to sleep – we had an early start next morning.

We woke up half past five and already 6 o’clock we were on our way to northern beaches of the island. Luckily the road was good this time (last autumn we were stuck when we were driving to twitch a Lesser Short-toed Lark).

We reached the Keskiniemi right on time when the rally started 7 a.m. There was no migration on the sea, so the first species were common ones: Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Goldeneyes, Redpolls, Common Gulls etc. Some flocks of Common and Parrot Crossbills were flying over the pine-forest. When we walked on the shore we saw some better species like White-tailed Eagle, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black-throated Diver, Common Scoters, 4 young Little Gulls, Long-tailed Tits, Wheatear, Dunlins, Ringed Plovers and finally also Sanderling.

We walked back to our car and on the way we saw more Dunlins with 3 Knots and Sanderling but also 2 Golden Plovers.

Then we drove to Marjaniemi where we saw only a Velvet Scoter and briefly one phylloscopus-Warbler. Next species we found were Collared Dove, House Sparrows and Starlings near the village. Soon we saw also first common ducks and Swallows and a small flock of Bean Geese.

Next we drove to the biggest fields where we found a Merlin, Cranes, Kestrel, a flock of Waxwings, more Starlings ans a Great Grey Shrike.

Kirkkosalmi was really good! First we found a Treecreeper and Coots of course, but then a Hen Harrier, Shovelers and Gadwalls. And our half an hour raptor-watching was fabulous: a coupe of Sparrowhawks, an old White-tailed Eagle again, a Peregrine Falcon and a female Goshawk were good ones. One more bonus was a male Black Grouse that passed the bird tower.

A long drive to Rautaletto was almost a waste of time but finally after a long trying we found one new species – a Tree Pipit. And again we saw shortly a phylloscopus but it disappeared.

Usually Kaarannokka has been quite empty but this time it was good: a Grey Heron, Spotted Redshank and Smews were added to our rally list. Unfortunately a harrier was again a Hen Harrier and the flock of Golden Plovers had no Grey Plovers in it. Also an immature White-tailed Eagle and a Peregrine were seen.

Our last place was Pökönnokka. We knew every team had been there but we had to go there too. You never know what you may miss there. We saw a flock of Little Gulls on the sea but no a chlidonias Tern another tram had seen earlier. Skylark, Red-breasted Grebe and Ruff were our last species. So finally we had seen 82 species in 11 hours.

We came 4th in a rally but we were happy. All other teams had at least one local birder in their team. Together there had been more than 100 species in a rally. But this time there was no big rarities, only a Yellow-browed Warbler and that chlidonias Tern.

In the late evening we went by ferry back to Oulu where we left Pirkka and the rest of the team continued to Siikajoki Tauvo ringing station. When we reached the parking place of Tauvo it was already late – an Ural Owl was calling!

In the station there was a Tengmalm’s Owl tape playing but we couldn’t catch any. We only saw one owl on flight before we went to sauna.

We woke up early again and heard Matti Tynjälä (the ringer) had changed a Pygmy Owl tape. And when I went out there was a Pygmy Owl hanging in a mist net!

We made a couple of mist net rounds and caught some Reed Buntings, Robins, Great and Willow Tits, Siskins, Goldcrests, a Blackbird, a Treecreeper and a Yeallowhammer.

Soon we walked to the coast to count all the shorebirds. The round took some 3 hours and we saw 13 Mute Swans, a Peregrine, 170 Dunlins, a Sanderling, 10 Ringed Plovers, a Spotted Redshank, a Great Grey Shrike and a young Marsh Harrier.

Once we were back in the station we said goodbyes for Tynjälä family, and started our way back home. We had planned to make one stop because of searching for Yellow-browed Warblers in Kaasa harbour. Even several birders had already been there in the very same morning we hoped to have some luck .But we were lucky even earlier… On the way we saw two grouses crossing the road, I stopped and we realized there were a flock of 14 Willow Grouses on the side of the road! It was surprising but even bigger surprise was that Harry got a lifer! It was such a surprise I forgot to turn to Kaasa!

So I had to decide where to make the stop for the warblers. I decided to drive to Raahe Yrjänä. After a short drive we had our first stop there, I put the CD on and… we heard an answer! A Yellow-browed Warbler was repeating to our tape! But then it suddenly stopped and we never saw the bird!

So we had to make more stops. Second stop was a waste of time but then on third stop there came a big flock of tits. And then I found a Yellow-browed Warbler just above us on the top of a tree. And we saw it well! The second lifer for Harry and also a lifer for Potu. So finally we could start our long way back to east.

In total we saw 100 species in our trip which is a good number in autumn. But we also drove more than 1300 kilometres! And we were all working on Monday morning!

The last days of month were again busy! I did a couple of duck-counts but nothing special was found. Some arctic ducks were seen like Scaups, Barnacle Geese and White-fronted Geese, but only good thing was a perfect concert of our favourite rock band Dream Theater in Helsinki.