Weekend in Säppi

In the end of the week I was studying in Tampere but on Friday after the last lectures I started to drive towards Pori. I was there in time and met Petteri Mäkelä and Markus Lampinen and a big group of young birders in a shop in Länsi-Pori. Most of these youngsters I knew only by name before but it was good to meet Sebastian Andejeff, Ossi Tahvonen, Aleksi Mikola, Tomas Swahn, Teppo Lehtola, Valtteri Salonen, Niklas Paulaniemi and Lassi Kangasmäki.

Everyone else except me and Petteri were going to stay in Säppi island for at least 10 days so there were lots of shopping to do! But somehow we managed to squeeze everything in 3 cars with all the people. And we just made it in time and were in Kuuminainen harbor before 6:30 p.m. when our boat was leaving.

After 30 minutes sea-journey we were in Säppi and carried all our stuff to the old lighthouse-keepers cottage. It was already getting dark but we managed to see some birds too, the best one was a Three-toed Woodpecker that flew over us.

The evening was nice. We put up the mist-nets to the garden and played some owl-tapes, but only heard a Tengmalm’s Owl. After all we went to sleep pretty early as everyone hoped to do some good birding next morning.

On the 10th of October we woke up at 6 a.m. and soon the cottage was full of people doing their breakfast. But pretty soon we were walking towards the shore for morning seawatchng. Markus and Valtteri were going to put up the rest of the mist-nets and do the ringing.

The weather was almost too good so there weren’t many birds migrating. A Shoveler was flying around with Mallards and a Scaup was only better migrating bird. After a couple of hours we decided to start walking around the island. We found some Jack Snipes, a Three-toed Woodpecker, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, a Redstart, some Chiffchaffs, 6 Gold Finches, 14 Parrot Crossbills, 4 Snow Buntings and an adult Peregrine that landed to Hanhisto. On the mist-nets Markus ringed more than 100 birds but most of them were common tits, good number of Treecreepers were also ringed.

In the evening we played some owls again and managed to catch one Tengmalm’s Owl. Anyway the evening was quite easy after hard birding without bigger prices.

On the 11th of October a Pygmy Owl was calling on the backyard but it didn’t hit the mist-nets. After quickly breakfast we were all except Teppo who was doing ringing walking for the Kräveli and morning-seawatch.

There were more birds moving and divers and scoters with some Long-tailed Ducks, Red-necked Grebes and even Black Guillemots and Razorbills were seen. A Greenshank was flushed from the shore and a Grey Plover was heard. Petteri also found an owl migrating and after a long wait it came close enough so we could identify it as a Short-eared Owl.

While the seawatch Teppo called to Petteri and told that he had heard and seen an Olive-backed Pipit! We thought it would land to Hanhisto meadows and even the younger birders were keen to go there immediately, we had to do the morning-seawatch first. It was a good decision as after 10 minutes we heard clearly an Olive-backed pipit calling and found the bird turning around above us and fly towards south again. While we were still celebrating, I saw a big diver landing in front of us and when I got it to my scope I identified it as a Great Northern Diver! So it was already the 2nd lifer for many of us and a real self-found tick to me! The diver was fishing and also swimming together with a Cormorant for some time and then left towards west, but seemed to land again behind Prakala. Soon Teppo called us that he head seen and also recorded the pipit so it was time to celebrate some more!

Of course there were twitchers coming to the island as the year-tick listers were still missing both of these species. After our seawatch we walked around the island again but couldn’t find the diver nor the pipit. Again we flushed several Jack Snipes, saw the same Redstart, found a Blackcap and Parrot Crossbills but then it was time for me and Petteri to go packing. At 3 p.m. came the boat and we said goodbye to the rest of the group and left towards Kuuminainen.

Just before 4 p.m. I started a long drive towards home where I was finally after 10 p.m. It had been really nice weekend in Säppi!

After a weekend in Säppi, it started to be really autumn in Parikkala. On the 12th of October I counted more than 300 Whooper Swans, 120 Wigons, 90 Mallards and some other common ducks but saw also a Gadwall in Siikalahti. The Gadwall was present also on the 14th day when also 2 Bewick’s Swans were still seen.

On the 17th of October I did October count around Siikalahti. Altogether I saw more than 300 Whooper Swans, 616 Barnacle Geese, 70 Wigeons, 111 Mallards, a Pintail, a Hazel Grouse, 3 Black Grouses, 13 Great Crested Grebes, 7 Black-headed Gulls, 20 Rock Doves, a Wood Pigeon, 2 Great Grey Shrikes, 9 Long-tailed Tits and so on. In the afternoon I still twitched a Slavonian Grebe and a Red-necked Grebe in Vartianlahti and on the way there saw a Nutcracker in Muttelinmäki.

On the 18th of October we drove to Helsinki and left to Icelandfor a week!

J.A.