Winter birding and dipping

On the 1st of December I had to go birding even though I didnät expect to find any winter-ticks in Parikkala. In Koitsanlahti I saw a Nuthatch and a Velvet Scoter and the same Great Crested Grebe was seen from 2 places I visited. 9 Common Gulls were still flying around Lake Simpele and Mallards were seen in two places, but Whooper Swans only in Härskiinmutka. In Tyrjä I saw a Dipper and in Soininmäki a Siberian Jay, a Goldcrest and several Crested Tits. In Tarvaspohj I saw a Grey-headed Woodpecker and in Särkisalmi a Chaffinch and a Blackbird. When I counted that I had seen 29 species I tried pretty hard to find the 30th species of the day but I couldn’t find anything new. Even Rock Doves were missing. So the winter had started as I had expected – it was time to hang binoculars tothe wall for several months.

On the 2nd day I twitched a Barnacle Goose in Imatra as a South-Karelia winter-tick in Imatra Vuoksi. I also saw a Little Grebe there and a Scaup in Immalanjärvi. Then I tried to twitch a Marsh Tit as a year-tick in Joutseno Kivisaari but saw only a huge flock of Yellowhammers with plenty of Chaffinches and a Brambling. In Lappeenranta Luukkaansalmi I still saw 3 Cormorants and a flock of 24 Teals.

On the 3rd day a Black-headed Gull was again in Särkisalmi and on the next day Jouko Rantanen found a Pochard in Muukkosenselkä. The gull was in Särkisalmi still on a couple of next days and Pochard stayed until the whole lake got frozen before mid December.

On the Independence Day we went to see the Siberian Jay again and also saw a couple of Black and 3 Grey-headed Woodpeckers. Also a Blackbird and an Arctic Redpoll were seen and then we accidentally found a carcass where was a young Golden Eagle and also a Goshawk nearby.

On the 7th of December we went to twitch to Helsinki with Sampsa Cairenius. There had been the same Turtle Dove that I had seen on November and also a King Eider, but even though we tried for whole morning we couldn’t find either of the birds. And actually they were never seen again. Only better bird we saw were 2 Scaups in Kallvik. We also tried to see a Little Grebe and then a Black Swan in Kouvola on the way back but we couldn’t find them either. So it was like a one day cut of my whole twitching year…

On the 8th day we counted even 70 Chaffinches on one flock in Koitsanlahti and on the 11th day I saw the Pochard last time.

On the 15th day I tried again to twitch a Marsh Tit in Kivisaari but saw only a Merlin chasing the flock of Yellowhammers and Chaffinches. On the way back to Parikkala, I tried to find another Marsh Tit in Joutseno Kirkonkylä, but again found only a Sparrowhawk, a Goshawk and 2 Coal Tits.

On the 16th day we did an hour walk in Kangaskylä and surprisingly found several better birds. A Grey-headed Woodpecker was calling in our own back-yard, a Starling was found on one feeder, there was a Coal Tit and a Nuthatch in a big flock of tits and on another flock there was a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Also a Goshawk was seen flying over us and 8 House Sparrows were counted in a flock of Tree Sparrows. Then on the next day I counted even 44 Rock Doves which is the biggest flock ever in Parikkala.

Days before Christmas holiday were busy and the winter had arrived so there was no reason to do much birding. On the 22nd of December I did the winter-bird count again. I saw surprisingly a Mallard in a small ditch that was still open, a Hazel Hen, 4 Rock Doves, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, the best birds for a long time – 2 Great Grey Owls, 3 Long-tailed Tits, 11 Blue Tits, 93 Great Tits, a Crested Tit, a Jay, 3 Magpies, 65 Jackdaws, 19 Hooded Crows, 4 House and 44 Tree Sparrows, 13 Greenfinches, 55 Common Redpolls, an Arctic Redpoll and a Bullfinch. So there weren’t many birds in cold and quite windy weather but Great Grey Owl was a new species to count.