Winter begins – finally

On the 15th of December there were still 200 Whooper Swans in Vartialahti and still also 30 Mallards, a Wigeon, a Scaup and Velvet Scoter. On the 17th day There were 150 swans and the Wigeon had disappeared but same Scaup and Velvet Scoter were still there. In Raikanniemi I saw 15 Canada Geese and in Tyrjä 9 Black Grouses and a Black Woodpecker. On the 18th day I saw 11 Canada Geese and a Goldeneye in Moskuunniemi and a Grey-headed Woodpecker near Siikalahti. On the 19th day I saw 12 Whooper Swans in Koitsanlahti with 19 Mallards. Also a Great Grey Shrike was seen nearby. In Joukio I saw a Blackbird and 2 Velvet Scoters and 112 migrating Fieldfares in Tähtiniemi. Black Grouses were seen in a couple of places and 3 Starlings in Kangaskylä.

On the 20th of December I decided to try how many species I can find in Parikkala in the darkest time of the year. I started in Särkisalmi where I saw the common tits, Tree Sparrows, Bullfinches, Yellowhammers and a Grey-headed Woodpecker. Then in Petala I saw the same Blackcap again, Waxwings and Fieldfares. Then I continued to forests where I found out that there was much more snow than I had expected. Surprisingly I didn’t get stuck and found Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Treecreeper, a Redpoll, a Hazel Hen, Common Crossbills, Willow Tits, a flock of Pine Grosbeaks and a Jay but a Crested Tit was heard on the wrong side of the border of Savo.

I managed to get away too without getting stuck and saw Ravens. In Särkisalmi I saw a White-backed Woodpecker and 2 Rock Pigeons, but In Moskuunniemi I couldn’t find a Nuthatch. Only new species there was a Common Gull. In Kangaskylä I had Greenfinches but no Starlings or House Sparrows. In Raikanniemi I saw a Goldeneye. Vartialahti still had Whooper Swans, 15 Mallards, a Scaup and a Velvet Scoter and in Tyrjä I managed to see a Dipper easily, but nothing else – I had hoped to find at least some Black Grouses. Nuthatch wasn’t found on my second try either nor were the Starlings or House Sparrows. In Ristimäki I had a Hawfinch flying over me and it was already getting dark when I got to Tähtiniemi. Lake was empty but a Goshawk flew over me and was my 38th species of the day in Parikkala (a Crested Tit was 39th). I think it was a good result even though I didn’t see a House Sparrow, a Nuthatch, a Great Grey Shrike, a Black Grouse, a Chaffinch, a Starling or some other species that were still around.

On the 21st day we were birding in Imatra with Pekka Punnonen and Petri Salakka. In Immalanjärvi we saw 2 Black-throated Divers, 2 Long-tailed Ducks and 2 Scaups and in Vuoksi-river 7 Whooper Swans, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and a Coot which I had never seen in winter in South Karelia before. Waxwings were numerous and Blackbirds were seen here and there. Also a Great Grey Shrike was seen. We still had 3 Starling in Lappeenranta Toikansuo with Pekka before I had to go to a bandy-match.

On the 22nd of December I still saw 71 Whooper Swans, 3 Canada Geese and a Golden eye in Vartialahti which was now freezing very fast. In Moskuunniemi I saw 6 local and 12 migrating Whooper Swans and in the village I saw a Starling again. On the 23rd day it was really getting cold and I went to see the last open waters in Haikanniemi and Tähtiniemi but I couldn’t find a single bird there anymore. In Ristimäki I saw a Blackbird and in Koitsanlahdenkangas I found a flock of 20 Pine Grosbeaks.

In the Christmas Eve we were visiting Hanna’s relatives and eating a lot! And the next day we were just eating a lot…

J.A.