January 2010

Winter with big W

The first of January in Hanko

We were in Kirkkonummi on the New Years eve with my parents and my brother Pirkkas family. On the 1st of January we went birding to Hanko with Hanna and Pirkka. It was still dark when we parked to Siuntio spa where Pirkkas family was staying. We had a surprisingly poor breakfast and continued towards south with Pirkkas car. It was still early when I got a message that my friends from “Takaveto” bird race team had already seen a Kingfisher in Raasepori Pohja Fiskars Ruukki. I checked a map and realized that the next cross was turning there. So after 15 minutes we were there and we still hadn’t seen a single bird on the way, so we really hoped to get a Kingfisher to the 1st year-tick.
Well then we saw some 300 Mallards, 2 Goldeneyes and a flock of Feral Doves before we heard a call of a Kingfisher and this gem of the rivers landed just 15 metres from us. It’s always a beautiful bird! We still walked some time along this beautiful river but saw only some Bullfinches. When we were leaving I found a small bird perched on the top of one tree and yes – it was a Pygmy Owl!

In Raasepori Karjaa we saw Hooded Crows, a Raven, a Jay and Great Tits, in Raasepori Tammisaari a Great spotted Woodpecker and Magpies before we arrived at Hanko –the southernmost tip of Finland. While we’re driving through the city we saw Blue Tits, Fieldfares, Herring Gulls, Blackbirds and Jackdaws before we found our way to Western Harbour. There with Mallards we saw Goosanders, 3 Black-headed Gulls, 37 Tufted Ducks, a Common Gull, a Coot, 8 Mute Swans and Waxwings. Then also “Takaveto” Andreas Lindén, Vesa Jouhki and Jaakko Aarniala arrived there and together we continued to Varisniemi where a local Peregrine had been seen in many days earlier.

The weather was very bad for sea watching, it was -12 degrees, windy and bad haze in the air. 3 White-tailed Eagles was flying here and there between the islands, a Common Buzzard flew over us, and a Great Black-backed Gull, a Cormorant and a Greenfinch were also seen. Soon we left the others to try to see the Peregrine which of course was the main target for many birders to see as a 1st of January –tick. We continued to search the open bays. In 4-tuulen tupa it started to snow very hard but anyway we managed to find 4 Long-tailed ducks and a Smew amongst 230 Goldeneyes. In Itälahti we found 4 Scaups and in Högholmen we heard a Goldcrest and counted 50 Whooper Swans before I found something perched on the top of a sea mark. The haze was really bad but the shape and also the darkest looking cap really made me think that it could be a Peregrine even though we were at least 15 kilometres from its usual places. Luckily soon a White-tailed Eagle planned to perch to the same sea mark and the thing that we weren’t sure at all if it was a bird at all rose up and flew up over the haze and we could immediately tell it really was a Peregrine! We send a message to a beeper and knew there’d be many birders coming soon. Luckily one birder had just arrived there and he promised to keep the bird in control so we could continue to other places.

In Tiilitehdas we still saw a couple of Smews before we drove back to Siuntio and later to Kirkkonummi.

Bad luck

On the 2nd of January Hanna went to Zoological Museum to finish her paintings in dioramas. I had planned to go birding but my car broke down. I managed to drive it to a service station but of course there was not repairman at work on Saturday. So I left the car there. On the next day we saw a Goshawk flying over Kirkkonummi centre and then even though it was horribly cold weather lend my fathers car and went to Espoo Kaitalahti. On the way we saw a Pygmy Owl and in Kaitalahti we saw 30 Siskins and heard some Bearded Reedlings before we came back to my parents where Pirkka’s family was also again. With Pirkka we walked a little bit around Pappilanmäki and saw House Sparrows and 2 Goldfinches. In the afternoon we took a train to Parikkala.

So I left my old car to Kirkkonummi where it was fixed. But anyway I decided to change to a newer car and managed to find a good similar 5 years old Berlingo that had only 28000 km driven. So next 3 weeks I was without a car and birding only some short biking trips in Parikkala. The weather was still horribly cold with -20 degrees or more all the time!

Eco-birding

On the 4th of January I managed to relocate the flock of 10 Pine Grosbeaks and also 8 Hawfinches in Satumäki. Other year ticks were Tree Sparrows, Redpolls and Yellowhammers. Also a flock of 7 Siskins was nice.

On the 5th day we twitched the Pine Grosbeaks and Hawfinhes with Pekka Punnonen and Jari Kiljunen but found also a Nuthatch and 2 Coal Tits in Satumäki. Also a Willow Tit was a year-tick. In Siikalahti we saw a nice Ural Owl and in Melkoniemi forests we saw a Treecreeper and some Crested Tits but Siberian Jays were hiding because of the freezing weather. In Rautjärvi Kokkolanjoki we still saw 3 Whooper Swans and 2 Dippers.

Imatra counting -weekend

On the 8th day Miika Suojarinne came to do some birding with me so after seeing all birds in Satumäki we saw amazing 3 Pygmy Owls (2 in Siikalahti and 1 in Koitsanlahti) and continued To Rautjärvi Kokkolanjoki where we now managed to twitch a Little Grebe. In the afternoon we still found a Grey-headed Woodpecker in Siikalahti.

On the 9th day we had a traditional bird-walk in Imatra. We walked around area between Jakola and Rajapatsas and the weather was still so cold that we really were more driving than walking. Anyway the start was great with a Great Grey Shrike in Kupari and a Sparrow Hawk, a Goshawk, a Fieldfare and a Coal Tit in Jakola. Unfortunately the rest of the day wasn’t that good, a Goldfinch, a Siskin, 2 more Goshawks, 34 Great- Spotted Woodpeckers, 81 Blue Tits, 296 Great Tits, 157 Tree Sparrows, 7 House Sparrows (it is really getting rare), 185 Greenfinches, 100 Bullfinches and 215 Yellowhammers and so on were seen. Before the results we still managed to witch a Canada Goose in Itä-Siitola and 2 Smews and a Little Grebe in Keskusliikenneasema. The evening was again fun with lots of pictures mostly from Canada.

On the 10th day we stopped again in Vuoksi -river and saw a Long-tailed Duck. A drive to Konnunsuo was boring; only 3 Black Grouses were seen. In Lappeenranta Toikansuo we saw 2 Teals, 2 Fieldfares, a Goshawk and in a flock of 9 Redpolls also an Arctic Redpoll. A Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was also seen. In Kourulanmäki we saw a Linnet in a flock of Greenfinches but another Linnet and 2 Twites that had also stayed there weren’t found. A Goldfinch still flew over us in Myllymäki but later we found out that this winter also Lappeenranta was very empty!

Too cold!

I was still biking in Satumäki and other parts nearby but I didn’t see anything new before on the 16th day when we saw a Herring Gull flying over us. I have no idea where it was going or coming? On the same day we had 250 Waxwings on our back-yard.

On the 22nd day I took a train to Kirkkonummi and on the next morning drove my old car to Hämeenlinna where I changed it to a better one and continued to Lappeenranta where we had a meeting with our bird-association government. It was late in the evening when I was back in Parikkala.

It was still amazing cold so I wasn’t birding almost at all. In the 26th day I still saw 2 Pine Grosbeaks in Satumäki and on the next day a Fieldfare in Kangaskylä. At night I got very sick and the next days I was just lying on the bed.

On the 30th day I wasn’t really ok yet but anyway I went to play an ice-hockey game to Savonlinna. On the way I twitched a Golden Eagle in Nousiala rubbish tip.

Garden twitch

On the last day of January the weather changed; it wasn’t that cold anymore but it was snowing A LOT! I managed somehow to drive to Tyrjä where I saw a Dipper. And luckily in the afternoon the snowing stopped for a half an hour so we could participate to the biggest birding event in Finland to a Garden Twitch. With some help of hissing we managed to see 60 Great Tits and 15 Blue Tits and a Fieldfare, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, 3 Feral Pigeons and some House Sparrows, Greenfinches and Hooded Crows. But after the Twitch I still managed to see a flock of 19 Waxwings and a Goldfinch that was singing. It maybe thought that the spring was coming because of it was only -8 degrees anymore.