May 2005

May – Almost too much work

The beginning of May was full of working. We had counts even it was a back-winter and snow on the ground. On the 1st morning of May I saw on a half-frozen N-side of Siikalahti 8 Oystercatchers and a Canada Goose. During the day I saw Whimbrels, Wheatears, a wheatear, Wood Sandpiper and in Särkisalmi a Garganey. With Harry we did a duck counts and saw 18 species of water birds even 4 Gadwalls and 3 Long-tailed Ducks.

On my birthday I was working in Health Centre but in afternoon I managed to do some birding and to see a Short-eared Owl.

On the 3rd day best observations were a Common Scoter, Black Kite and a Rustic Bunting. Also 1st Little Gulls, Common Terns and Swallows arrived.

On the 4th day the new species during the morning were a Red-throated Diver and a House Martin but the best observation was a 5th c-y Greater Spotted Eagle we saw beautifully with Hanna.

During the next day I did some birding with my parents that had arrived to us. We visited several places in Saari area and managed to a Black-tailed Godwit, Rustic Bunting, Gadwall, Ruffs and lots of great views. In the evening we saw another Black-tailed Godwit in Siikalahti.

At night we did a night counts in Siikalahti, but the year seemed to stay bad for Crakes. We heard only a few Spotted Crakes and Water Rails. Only interesting observation was a call of Oystercatcher from the darkness.

On 6th day I was doing the water-counts again when I got a message that there was a Ferruginous Duck in Lappeenranta. Of course I had to get there. I always go if a lifer is not further than 100 km. surprisingly I got company because my friend Mikko Ala-Kojola was in Parikkala. So after an hour we had a new lifer!

On the next day we had a national bird tower competition. We managed to see 90 species from the tower in 8 hours. The very best observation was a Pomarine Skua, but also Pink-footed Goose, Gadwalls, Pheasant, Redshank, Waxwings, early Sand Martin and a Lapland Bunting were nice. We were again the 2nd best tower in inland – Parikkala Tarassiinlahti, our neighbour was the best with amazing 98 species.

The rest of the day was also good. On the way back to my car we saw a White-backed Woodpecker which was a good bird for Markus Keskitalo who had came to join our team. In the evening there was a flock of 19 Steller’s Eiders that was seen from our backyard.

On the 8th of May I saw from our backyard 750 migrating Bean Geese, but also some Barnacle and White-fronted Geese. Also one White-tailed Eagle was seen. A couple of day later I saw a migrating Short-eared Owl there.

Next few days were quiet but on 12th day in Siikalahti I saw 2300 Bean Geese and a flock of Cormorants, Lesser Whitethroats, a cuckoo, a Honey Buzzard, a couple of Hobbies and better ones were a Peregrine and a Montagu’s Harrier.

Next new species for the year were a Thrush Nightingale, Wood Warbler, Bluethroat and Swift and a flock of Bar-tailed Godwits. I also found a pair of Wool Larks.

On the 15th day the better observations were a White-tailed Eagle, a Black Tern and 2 early Red-necked Phalaropes.

On 17th day I did manage to se a Lesser Spotted Eagle from our backyard but anyway the day was miserable. Because of the work I missed a good Geese migration with amazing Red-breasted Geese. Luckily I managed to twitch Red-breasted Flycather as a Siikalahti tick, otherwise I would have been really sad.

On the 18th of May I finally had some good luck – first we found a male Red-crested Pochard (only one in whole country this year) in Siikalahti, and after the work I left to do some migration-watching for a couple of days to Virolahti. On the way I saw a male Red-footed Falcon in Ylämaa so everything was getting better. I also twitched a Dotterel in Miehikkälä and in Virolahti Hurppu we had some sea watching at Hurppu with Miika Suojarinne in the evening. We saw nothing special but Arctic Tern, Turnstone, Eider and so on were year-ticks.

Next day was pretty good! During the morning we saw a couple of hundreds Divers, a Pomerine Skua and then a good Barnacle Geese migration begun. During the morning we saw 35000 Barnacle Geese some thousands Brent Geese and one blue morph Snowy Goose. Anyway the weirdest observation of the day was a fully albino Oystercatcher that migrated over us with a flock of Barnacle Geese. Other birds seen were Arctic Skuas, a Grey Heron, 100 White-fronted Geese, a Red-necked Phalarope, a Short-eared Owl, a Dunlin, Ringed Plovers and a twitch of the day was a beautiful male King Eider.

During the day we watched for raptors in Kurkela, but we saw nothing else than a Black Kite. A nice twitch was also a nest of White-backed Woodpecker in Lintulahti. The female had been ringed as a nestling in Parikkala last summer!

After short sleep it was a morning again and we headed to Hurppu again. I managed to miss the only species for the day, a Lesser White-fronted Goose, when I was doing something important in deep forest. Only birds for me were a weird Canada Goose-like Barnacle Goose, a Shelduck, Black Guillemot and Short-eared Owl.

After potu (Miika) had left home I stayed at Kurkela and tried to anything. And we had lucky – first I found a female Pallid Harrier and later we saw a female Red-footed Falcon and a probable Lesser Spotted Eagle. Later in the evening I started my way home.

The Red-crested Pochard was still in Siikalahti and also the first Great Reed Warbler had arrived. Surprisingly potu arrived also there and with him we watched to the sky for the whole hot day. We did see 2 Pink-footed Geese, but the observation of the day was made almost in my backyard when we found a Barred Warbler.

During the next night we had a night-trip with Hanna’s bird watching course, but nothing interesting was found. Luckily first Corn Crake had arrived and of course Thrush Nightingales, Spotted Crakes and Water Rails were seen too.

On 22nd day we birded in Saari and found a Ringed Plover, Canada Geese, Great Reed Warblers, a Grey Heron and two couples of Scaups. Later in Siikalahti we saw 7000 Barnacle Geese and 550 Brent Geese. After the duck-counts we were ready to rest fo a file.

During the next days new year ticks were Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Temminck’s Stint, Reed Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Nightjar, Grasshopper Warbler, Golden Oriole and Wryneck so it was a summer. I also twitched a Greenish Warbler that Hanna had found with her course group and Nutcrackers in Punkaharju so almost all easy year ticks were collected.

On the 27th of May it was my turn to lead a bird course to Lieksa. The course was a bog and forest bird course so we birded in beautiful bogs and old forests. On my drive I managed to find 2 flocks of Dotterels and a Bewick’s Swan but then I had a long dive to north.

At afternoon I arrived at Kitsi where the “students” were already. At six o’clock we started with lessons. After getting to know each others we started to get familiar with birds.

On 28th day at 5 a.m. we were on our way to Autiovaara forest. The weather was windy but we heard 2 Red-breasted Flycatchers, Wren and lots of common forest birds and I hope everybody learn some of the songs. We continued to Patvinsuo bog where we walked 8 kilometres and saw Whimbrels, Golden Plovers, Wood Sandpipers, Ruffs, Smews, Yellow Wagtails, Common Crossbills, Bramblings, Bean Geese and a Canada Goose. On the walk back we saw a Viper and a Hobby and then it was time to rest. In the evening the wind was horrible and we lost the electricity. It was a nightmare for me because we couldn’t do any birding and I couldn’t use data-projector. But we really had a good time and we studied with just my computer.

During the second course day we went to Hemminvaara but the wind was even worse than before. Anyway we managed to see a Greenish Warbler singing and some other forest birds we needed, so everyone was happy. At midday everything was done so I could start my way back home. On the way I saw again 4 Dotterels.

On the last day of May I saw a waited Little Ringed Plover and lots of common night singers and the first River Warbler. I also twitched a Booted Warbler from Imatra and then it was time to start almost as busy June.