Around May Day – rarity time

On the last days of April it was finally time for some better birds. On the 29th day I visited Särkisalmi early in the morning and met Perttu Valonen there. Together we found 11 Oystercatchers, a Common Scoter and the first ever Velvet Scoters in April in Parikkala – a couple. There were also much more other birds than in earlier visits. So I had to visit Lemmikonsalmi too and there were 4 Common Scoters and 4 Long-tailed Ducks.

On the 30th day we visited Särkisalmi again but all better birds were gone, but now there were already 50 Great Crested Grebes. Then we continued to Siikalahti where soon also Veikka Kosonen and Oskari Saunisto arrived. Boys were participating a weekend-long bird-race and we were going to help them. They even stayed at night in our home. The best way to start a race like this was to stay whole morning in Siikalahti. We stayed until 2 p.m. and it was worthy! There were also many other local and other birders with us and we saw good numbers of birds! Early in the morning we saw a Common Sandpiper, 8 Bewick’s Swans and a Slavonian Grebe was local in front of us. Migration wasn’t too good but still we saw a Black-tailed Godwit, a Whimbrel, a couple of Common Terns, Little Gull, 10 Rough-legged Buzzards, a Hen Harrier, a Red-throated Diver, a few Hobbies, a Stock Dove, a Tree Pipit and so on.

At 1 p.m. we were about to go to eat and then continue to Saari but I thought we should stay another 30 minutes. Everyone agreed and we kept on scanning the skies. After 10 minutes I found a big bird flying low on the northern sky. It looked interesting but it was still too far. After some 20 seconds I had seen that it was not a raptor or a Crane so it was probably a stork. I told everyone to try to find the bird but carefully so there wasn’t too much movement as I might lose the bird. When everyone had found it, I knew what we were watching – it was a Black Stork!

The bird was flying very low and disappeared a couple of times behind the tree-tops but luckily it was always found again. We were sure that it will pass us from the eastern side of the bay so Hanna and Matti decided to try to get closer. Hanna went just a couple of hundreds of meters but Matti drove to Kaukola fields. Finally the bird went between them so we all could see it pretty well but we didn’t get good pictures. It was a new self-found tick for me and a lifer for everyone else!

We still decided to stay until 2 p.m. but we were maybe too happy already and found nothing else. So it was time to go to eat.

In the afternoon we checked Lemmikonsalmi and then continued to Saari where we checked all possible places. There weren’t too many birds but some flooded fields had lots of Greenshanks and Green Sandpipers. In Akonpohja we saw a couple of Gadwalls. in Riionsalmi a Spotted Redshank, in Kanavalampi a Rook, in Karinmäki a couple of Short-eared owls and in Suurenjärvenliete a Little Ringed Plover and a Common Sandpiper.

We dropped Hanna to Suurenjärvenliete where she had decided to stay overnight in a photographing tent. It was already getting dark when we started driving back but still stopped a couple of times and in Lääviensuo we heard a couple of Long-eared Owls. We still visited Siikalahti but heard nothing new and then were at home at 10 p.m. It had been a long day!

On the May Day we woke up at 5 a.m. again and went first to see Capercaillie lek. We saw 4 males but nothing else really. Then we checked Särkisalmi before continue to Melkoniemi forests. Some roads were still too snowy to drive but we managed to find a Northern Wheatear, a couple of female Capercaillies, Common Crossbills, Wren and so on.

Next we drove to Siikalahti where were lots of people again. The sky looked empty but in an hour we saw a Black Kite and a flock of 7 Whimbrels. After some shopping we were about to drive to Saari again but I realized that one tire was flattening. So we had to visit a service to fill the tire, then drive back home to get Oskari’s car, drive to garage where we moved our stuff to Oskari’s car and left my car.

Then we drove to Lemmikonsalmi where everything started to go well again as we found a couple of Common Shelducks – a lifer for boys! In Akonpohja we saw again lots of Greenshanks and Green Sandpipers but also 3 Spotted Redshanks and a Common Redshank. 3 Barn Swallows flew over us. When we climbed to the tower the weather turned really bad – very windy and hails and snow.

We didn’t stop in Pohjanranta as there were other birders. It was also more than 1 p.m. already so it was time to drive towards Suurenjärvenliete to pick up Hanna. While driving I got a message that Karri Kuitunen had found a Black Scoter in Joutseno Tiuruniemi. So my phone started to ring quite a lot and we really couldn’t do much birding. So we were soon in Suurenjärvenliete where we still saw a Little Ringed Plover, a Common Sandpiper, a Wood Sandpiper and a Black-tailed Godwit. Then we picked up Hanna and started to drive to home.

I really wanted to go to twitch the Black Scoter but boys were already in tight schedule. So I called to Harri Partanen and luckily he was interested to go twitching. Hanna was of course joining us as she wanted to get a WP-tick.

So soon we were at our home where boys packed their car and then left to Savo to their homeground to try to find more species to their rally-list. And soon we were driving towards Joutseno with Harri.

I had thought that this would be an easy twitch but little I knew. When we were in Tiuruniemi we found out that the bird was in a flock of Common Scoter and quite far on completely open lake Saimaa! There was also awful haze so we could hardly identify males and females of the flock.

Some Red and Black-throated Divers, Red-necked Grebes and Red-breasted Merganser were seen a little bit closer, but unfortunately the flock of scoters were moving further and haze was getting worse. But we knew the visibility would get better later when it starts to get colder.

After an hour it started to rain and got colder. And when the rain stopped the visibility was clear! And quite soon someone found the right bird which we all could find after some searching. There were more twitchers some hundreds of meters from us and I called to them but they were probably a little bit lower that us and therefore they couldn’t identify the bird. But once they came to same place with us they also found it. After all we all managed to see the Black Scoter surprisingly well.

When it started to get warmer the haze came back and we decided to leave. It had been a great May Day time once again. I think this is the best time of the year here! Boys also proved it as they won the bird-race with their 123 species quite clearly. They had managed to get some more species in Savo and the best self-found birds had been a Pink-footed Goose and a Pallid Harrier.