Bird-tower competition week

On the 5th of May my brother had arrived on the previous evening from Kemijärvi. On my lunch hour we were in Siikalahti but in cold northern wind we saw nothing special – but of course many year-ticks for Pirkka. After my work the weather was even worse so we just went to twitch a Tengmalm’s and a Ural Owl from their nests and when Hanna was free from work and also the weather was getting better we headed to Saari. On the way we checked Slavonian Grebes in Valkialampi, in Akonpohja we saw a couple of Gadwalls and a Black-tailed Godwit, in Akanvaara Tetrisuo a Hobby, in Suurenjärvenliete a couple of Gadwalls, a Garganey, a Redshank, 50 Lapland Buntings and 42 Greenshanks, in Kanavalampi both a Bar-tailed and a Black-tailed Godwit and a couple of Spotted Redshanks, in Karinmäki a Whimbrel and a Northern Wheatear and we ended the trip with the best birds of the trip in Pohjanranta where we saw a couple of Marsh Sandpipers.

On the 6th day was Bird-towere competition and our team had us three and Matti Lötjönen and Harri Hölttä. Morning was cold but calm so the visibility was really good. In a couple of hours we saw a lot of species and the best one was a Little Grebe that Pirkka found. Other nice birds were a male Long-tailed Duck that was calling, a flock of migrating Common Scoters, a Gadwall, a couple of Garganeys and so on. Surprisingly there weren’t any Pintails anymore. Pretty soon it came difficult to find new species but of course we saw some like a flock of 3 Black-tailed Godwits, a Red-throated Diver, 2 Lapland Buntings, a Common Crossbill, a Linnet, a Black Woodpecker and a Spotted Redshank and so on. When the day got a little bit warmer some raptors were seen but only better one was a Black Kite. A Short-eared Owl was a nice surprise and finally also a Greater Spotted Eagle was seen migrating. Pretty soon after the eagle it started snowing very hard! So it wasn’t a surprise that even after the weather got better, we got no more new species and 1 p.m. the race was over. After all we had seen 90 species and the first time ever we were third in Parikkala as Pohjanranta got even 97 and Tarassiinlahti 91 species.

In the afternoon we dropped Hanna to Suurenjärvenliete and there we immediately saw a Peregrine flying over us. While we were fixing Hanna’s tent Pirkka saw a male Citrine Wagtail briefly but luckily it was refound soon with a female! Hanna was already in the hide and soon the flock of wagtails were feeding right in front of her and Hanna could photograph both Citrine Wagtails the rest of the evening! In Suurenjärvenliete we saw also 77 Greenshanks, in Kanavalampi we saw a pair of Gadwalls and 2 male Pochards, the same Bar-tailed Godwit and a Redshank and a Merlin and another Merlin was in Pohjanranta. On the way back to Parikkala we still saw a female Capercaillie. At night we still visited Siikalahti where we heard Jacksnipes in a couple of places and saw a Long-eared Owl.

On the 7th of May we slept longer and then went to see that a Little Ringed Plover was still in Kukonkanta and close to Siikalahti we saw a Stock Dove and a Nuthatch. On dam-road we were mostly talking with other birders but luckily Perttu Valonen was still focused on birds and found a White Stork migrating. We also heard a Redshank and I saw a Cuckoo migrating but otherwise it was pretty quiet. So we went to eat and then Pirkka had to start a long way back to Lapland. But he stopped some times on the way and in Sotkamo he found a Sociable Lapwing!

After I had slept long I went to pick up Hanna. In Kanavalampi there were still a couple of Gadwalls and in Jyrkilä I saw a Short-eared Owl.

On the 8th day I twitched a Wryneck in Moskuunniemi and in the afternoon we were checking empty owl nest-boxes. On the 9th day together with Harri Partanen we drove to Pohjanranta where a couple of Red-breasted Geese and a Marsh Sandpiper had been seen. There were lots of Barnacle Geese swimming but I found one Red-breasted Goose easily. After some time I found also another nice bird from the flock – a female Common Shelduck – which is much more difficult bird here than a Red-breasted Goose. We still checked Pohjasuo and found another or the same Red-breasted Goose there.

On the 10th day a Sedge Warbler was singing in Siikalahti and a Lesser Whitethroat in Kannas. In the afternoon we did waterbird counts in Saari and the best birds were an Oystercatcher in Tarassii, two pairs of Gadwalls and a pair of Slavonian Grebes in Akonpohja and in Pohjanranta there was a Marsh Sandpiper. There were also thousands of Barnacle Geese everywhere but nothing else really. At night we still went to listen to some places with Harri Partanen but only better birds we heard were a couple of Thrush Nightingales in Siikalahti. But we saw a Tawny Owl in Sammallampi and a Long-eared Owl in Kontiolampi.

On the 11th of May a Common Whitethroat was singing in Siikalahti and a Little Ringed Plover and a female Hen Harrier were migrating. In the evening more empty owl nest-boxes were checked. And on the 12th day only birds to mention were a Wryneck in Siikalahti and a Slavonian Grebe in Vartialahti,