Bird-tower competition again after 2 years

On the 2nd of May I didn’t get any birthday-ticks as my car was still in garage and the weather was poor. Once the tire had been fixed I went to check Särkisalmi and Lemmikonsalmi and saw altogether 53 Black-throated Divers.

On the 3rd day the best birds were a couple of Garganeys in Siikalahti. In the afternoon we headed to Saari and on the was saw a Slavonian Grebe and a couple of Common Scoters in Särkisalmi. In Saari we saw a Spotted Redshank in Akonpohja, a couple of Gadwalls, in Kanavalampi, a couple of Ruffs in Jyrkilä and a Red-throated Diver in Pohjanranta. Also lots of Greenshanks, Common Snipes and Pintails and some Wood Sandpipers and Common Sandpipers. On the next evening I heard a Long-eared Owl in Siikalahti.

On the 5th I saw a Whinchat in Siikalahti and 4 Long-tailed Ducks, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, 10 Barn Swallows and 6 House Martins in Särkisalmi. Pirkka arrived at night to spend traditional Bird-tower competition weekend.

On the 6th day early in the morning I saw 11 Long-tailed Ducks, 3 Common Scoters, 3rd c-y Great Black-backed Gull and heard a couple of Pied Flycatchers, a Willow Warbler and a Hawfinch in Särkisalmi. On my lunch-hour I went to Siikalahti where dam-road tower was almost full. A Merlin, a couple of Sand Martins and Yellow Wagtails were the birds to mention. In the afternoon we headed to Saari and checked Lemmikonsalmi on the way where we saw 10 Long-tailed Ducks and 6 Common Scoters.

In Saari we saw a couple of Gadwalls, a Slavonian Grebe, a Black Kite and a Peregrine and heard a Common Cuckoo in Akonpohja, saw a Goshawk in Riionsalmi, a couple of Northern Wheatears and Stock Doves in Karinmäki, a Common Ringed Plover in Jyrkilä, a couple of Hazel Hens, a Temminck Stint, 95 Wood Sandpipers, 60 Common Snipes and 10 Lapland Buntings in Suurenjärvenliete. It was getting late when we started to drive back to Parikkala but still stopped in Kinnarniemi Lääviensuo to check more Barnacle Geese. We had checked about 50 000 of them but in this last flock we got the price and found a beautiful male Red-breasted Goose!

On the 7th of May we woke up before 4 a.m. and soon heard a Common Redstart singing in our back-yard. And pretty soon we were walking towards Siikalahti bird-tower. In Kasinmäki we heard a Wood Warbler singing and it seemed that spring had really taken big steps at night.

Before 5 a.m. also Matti Lötjönen arrived and our small team was ready to start the race. We started with a couple of Greater Scaups that were the closest birds on the bay. Also other ducks were seen soon as we even managed to see Smews, Pintails, 2 male Garganeys and a couple of Gadwalls. The weather was great but still there were not many migrants moving. Also visibility was amazing but we couldn’t find any important passerines from the tops of trees around the bay. Willow Warblers and a Pied Flycatcher were heard but many easy species were missing like a Robin and a Dunnock. Luckily all thrushes were seen after a hard work. During the day wind got very strong and we really couldn’t get many passerines to our list.

But other birds were going well and during the morning we saw an Oystercatcher, several Common Sandpipers, a Lesser Spotted, a White-backed and as the biggest surprise of the day also a Three-toed Woodpecker! A linnet and a Common Crossbill were heard but only a couple of Siskins were seen and no other carduelis-species.

Luckily the hard southern wind also brought some birds during the day. We saw a couple of Black Kites, even 2 2nd c-y Pallid Harriers, a Hen Harrier, a couple of Rough-legged Buzzards and Hobbies, 2 Cormorants, a Rook, a Stock Dove, a Whimbrel and then also a sub-adult Greater Spotted Eagle and a White Stork!

During the day the wind was so hard that there was not many birds moving anymore. So in the last 2 hours we got only a single new bird – a Goshawk. After all we had seen 95 species and in whole country we were the 15th best tower and once again the best tower inland. Also Pohjanranta and Tarassiinlahti were once again on the top of inland competition.

After we had eaten we relaxed just a little and then did a short afternoon trip. We saw a Tengmalm’s Owl looking from nest-hole, a couple of Grey-headed Woodpeckers and some other species that we hadn’t seen in the competition. In the evening we also did a short trip but it was raining and the only better birds were a couple of Greylag Geese in Kullinsuo.

On the 8th day we slept longer and left birding at 7 a.m. Hanna had been spending night in Suurenjärvenliete again so with Pirkka we headed to Saari and we were supposed to be in Suurenjärvenliete at midday.

On the way we saw a couple of Gadwalls in Härskiinmutka and heard a Lesser Whitethroat and a Blackcap in Moskuunniemi. Then we drove to Ruokosuo to twitch a White Stork that had been found in the evening. And there it was perched on the top of a post.

We decided to visit Akanvaara Tetrisuo where we saw a Short-eared Owl and a Hen Harrier before drove back to Ruokosuo where the White Stork was now feeding on the field. We parked our car next to the field and surprisingly the stork decided to walk next to us only 4 or 5 meters from us. So I got some really good pictures! Nearby in Pohjasuo we saw 64 Golden Plovers.

In Pohjanranta we saw the same White Stork that was now flying towards south. It was flying shortly with a White-tailed Eagle before moved on. We continued to Akonpohja where we found a Black-tailed Godwit and a Common Ringed Plover and from the tower we saw 4 Common Scoters.

In Kanavalampi we saw a couple of Gadwalls but then we had to continue to Suurenjärvenliete where we still saw a Little Ringed Plover and 11 Spotted Redshanks. Hanna was ready and soon we drove to do some shopping to Saari where we then sayd goodbye to Pirkka who started a long way back to Kemijärvi. We also drove back home to relax.

J.A.