July begins and very hot weather continues

We started July with a proper checking that Baillon’s Crake was really not present anymore. While staying several hours in the place, we found a family of Long-eared Owls and a Quail that was calling close to Kuposenmäki. We also saw 6 migrating Whimbrels and a Coot that was flying around the lake and probably left to the night-sky.

On the next night we headed to Saari with Veikka Kosonen and Oskari Saunisto. The Eagle Owl wasn’t heard anymore and we found nothing else either before midnight. So all birds we found were on the 3rd of July. In Kuposenmäki the same Quail was still calling and near Suurenjärvenliete we saw a Short-eared Owl and in Jyrkilä we heard altogether 8 young Long-eared Owls and saw one adult briefly.

Of course we heard plenty of Corn Crakes and Blyth’s Reed Warblers and even tried to catch one Corn Crake without luck. But at least we managed to spend some time and when we continued a Golden Oriole was already singing. After we had seen a family of Northern Wheatears and a Stock Dove we headed towards Akonpohja.

In the end of Selkäsaarentie we heard a Common Grasshopper Warbler already through open windows. We decided to try to ring it. While we were getting our equipment from the trunk, Hanna heard another “locustella” singing behind the very loud Grasshopper Warbler. She thought it was a Lanceolated Warbler! I left to listen to it with my microphone and also to sound-record it, but it was now quiet. So we decided to try to catch both birds. Soon we had the mist-net up and we started to play Lanceolated Warbler and soon the bird was showing well! We managed to get some good pictures before it flew close to the net. It went under the net like a mouse a couple of times but finally we caught it. And soon we had ringed, measured and photographed this first Lanceolated Warbler in Finland this year and the first in Parikkala for 15 years and the bird was released to the same meadow.

We tried to catch the Grasshopper Warbler too but it was too sneaky and only hit the net once and then was singing perched on the net. So after all we left it singing. While catching the birds, we had also heard an Icterine and a Marsh Warbler and seen 3 young Gold Finches and a Whimbrel.

It was already morning when we continued to Melkoniemi forests where our goal was to find Red-flanked Bluetail and hopefully them breeding. In Siberian Jay forests we weren’t lucky even though there had been 2 males singing earlier. So we continued to check that a Red-throated Diver was still on its nest on one pool nearby.

Then we continued near Oronmylly where we had found a female-looking Red-flanked Bluetail earlier. We first heard a Greenish Warbler calling a couple of times but soon found a Bluetail alarm-calling. We also heard a male singing, so there was a couple! We followed the female and soon it started to call intensive “krak-krak” calls. We moved a little bit backwards and waited and finally we saw both male and female carrying food under some branches. Unfortunately boys train was soon leaving so we decided to come back soon.

On the 4th of July we came back to try to find the nest of Red-flanked Bluetails. After all Hanna stayed near the nest for a couple of hours but saw nothing at all! But when we started walking in the forest nearby, we found the female and soon it carried food under one tree-trunk and we found a young bird! Surprisingly this tiny bird was already flying but I still managed to catch it. And of course we ringed it. Then we followed the female and found another fledling that was ringed too. But even though we really tried, we couldn’t find more fledglings, but sure there were more. We even came back in the evening too but saw only the female and heard a male singing further. In the morning Hanna had heard 2 singing birds.

In the evening we headed to Saari and first tried to catch the Quail but it wasn’t interested our tape at all. We did see a couple of Tundra Bean Geese and a couple of Barnacle Geese. Before midnight we headed to try to listen to Lanceolate Warbler but it was already gone. The Grasshopper Warbler was still singing all the time and also a Savi’s Warbler was heard from the lake. It was the same bird that we had heard in spring but now it was closer and it could be heard again after a long time.

On the 5th day the only birds to mention were a family of Nutcrackers that were in Kangaskylä. It would be great to know where they are breeding? The youngsters weren’t very old.

J.A.

Rarities – even lifers

After my trip to Lapland we did a short trip to Siikalahti at night on the 10th to 11th of June. We saw a Long-eared Owl, heard a Corn Crake and 3 Spotted Crakes. We also heard a Savi’s Warbler that Matti Lötjönen found.

On the 12th day we did a long night-trip to Saari and in Akonpohja we heard 3 Great Bitterns, in Pohjansuo we saw a Long-eared Owl and heard a Marsh Warbler. In Suurenjärvenliete we saw a Short-eared Owl and a Goshawk in Jyrkilä we saw 2 Short-eared Owls and a Long-eared Owl and heard a Golden Oriole. In Karinmäki we found a River Warbler, 2 Golden Orioles and a Stock Dove, in Kanavalampi one more Golden Oriole and in Pohjanranta 2 Spotted Crakes were heard. Altogether we had heard 14 Corn Crakes, 7 Thrush Nightingales and 38 Blyth’s Reed Warblers. In the evening we did a run in Tarvaslampi with Miika and heard 5 Chiffchaffs and saw a Capercaillie.

On the 13th day we headed to forests with Miia and Elissa and managed to find one of two Red-flanked Bluetails that had been found earlier. After some trying we managed to catch it and it was the first ever ringed in South Karelia. We also ringed 7 young Pygmy Owls from our nest-box and we also managed to catch the male with mist-net. Then we still ringed a young Woodcock that we found along the road. We also heard a Greenish Warbler, Crested Tits, Common and Parrot Crossbills and a Green Sandpiper.

Then we went to ring more owlets and there were 8 Pygmy Owls in this nest-box. We tried to catch male again but only female came to alarm-call above the net. But then we heard a familiar alarm call and soon saw a female-looking Red-flanked Bluetail close to the net. Unfortunately we couldn’t catch this bird, but it really seemed that it was breeding nearby!

We still went to ring 5 nestlings of a Common Kestrel and some tits in Tarvaslampi and saw also a Black Woodpecker there.

During the week the weather was really hot so not much was seen. A family of Canada Geese and several families of Barnacle Geese were in Kangaskylä grasses.

Baillon’s Crake

On the 18th of June we got a message early in the morning that our friend Karri Kuitunen, who was counting birds in Saari in the same areas where we were making duck-counts, had found a Baillon’s Crake! Soon he also called and told that the bird sounded very strange so we should go to listen to it. But he had also managed to see it and even photograph it and it clearly was a Baillon’s Crake. The place was extremely difficult so we had to go to find out if it was possible to twitch it with more people as there hadn’t been a single Baillon’s Crake in Finland for 11 years!

Soon we were listening to the bird and it really sounded strange! In Xeno-canto there was a recording that claimed to be a female Baillon’s Crake and this sounded exactly the same. I also took some recordings but of course Karri had got much better ones as he was in a canoe. I was in a hurry to get to work but luckily we found the land-owner and managed to get permits to arrange a twitch for the next night. While listening to the bird and arranging the twitch we had also observed Barnacle Geese, a Bean Goose, a Corn Crake, a Spotted Crake and a Black Woodpecker.

After midnight we were driving back to Saari again. Surprisingly we saw an Eagle Owl on the way on one field. Then at 1 a.m. we were in Pohjanranta parking place and there were more than 30 twitchers. Soon we continued to a farm where we could park our cars and continued by feet next to a summer-cottage to listen the crake which luckily started calling. It was quite far from this place where we had got permits to go but after all everyone heard it if not with bare ears then with my microphone.

On the way back home we decided to check one place if the Eagle Owl that we had seen on the way had youngsters and surprisingly we heard one young Eagle Owl begging food there! It was our first ever found breeding of an Eagle Owl in Parikkala.

On the 20th of June we did a day-trip to Lappeenranta. On the way we saw 65 adult and 25 young Barnacle Geese and a White-fronted Goose in Joukionsalmi. Then we drove to Korvenkylä where it took some time to find a Booted Warbler but finally it was found and both heard and seen briefly. Also a Wryneck and a Hen Harrier were found there. A European Serin was far easier as it was singing continuously in Rakuunamäki. It was hard to get photographs but after some trying we managed to get some pictures.

Then we continued to Askola pools where we saw an Oystercather and Little Ringed Plover families, some more Little Ringed Plovers, 8 Common Redshanks, 2 Spotted Redshanks and Wood Sandpipers, 6 Dunlins, 18 Ruffs, 7 Curlews, a Common Sandpiper and 96 Lapwings.

After some shopping we still twitched a Grey Wagtail that was seen briefly in Imatra kaupunkipuro.

On the 21st day a Common Redshank was seen in Siikalahti and on the next day I saw a Heuglin’s Gull there.

On the 24th day we arranged the second Baillion’s Crake twitch which was successful. More than 20 twitchers were happy to hear the bird that was calling more normally now.
On the way back home we heard the same young Eagle Owl again and this time it was so far from the previous place that we could be sure that it was already flying. Then we still went to twitch a Quail that Elissa had found in Tarvaslampi. Then Hanna went to do counts that she had agreed to do and I had to go to work.

Mid-summer twitching

I ended my day at midday and then we left to a long drive to Hanko with Hanna and Elissa. There had been several extremely rare birds in Finland recently but I hadn’t been able or then I had just been too tired to go twitching. But now it was Midsummer so I had one extra holiday so we went twitching. There were no updates of the bird for several hours and Teo Ylätalo who had organized the boat was almost going to cancel the whole trip but finally we got information that Bimaculated Lark was still in Kemiönsaari Morgonlandet. The last group of twitchers hadn’t found the bird in time but they had bought an extra hour from the captain and in last 10 minutes they had finally seen the bird in flight a couple of times. So we could continue driving to Hanko Itäsatama.

We were in harbor very early but there were several friends coming to the same boat so the time went fast. And finally at 7 p.m. we, 14 twitchers, left towards Morgonlandet, 14. On the way we saw an Arctic Skua, a Razorbill and a few Black Guillemots. And once we got to Morgonlandet we started to walk towards the highest point of the island as we hoped to see the bird also in flight. We had walked maybe 50 meters when I heard a soft “Brruii” call from the sky and found the Bimaculated Lark flying! We all managed to see it immediately!


So we had plenty of time and after some time we found the lark again but it was flushed to the sky and then it landed to a place where all the terns were breeding so we couldn’t follow it. But soon we found it with our telescopes and we could follow it for a long time and we really saw it well. But it was too difficult to get pictures. Later we still saw the lark in flight a couple of times when it was flying with some Starlings.

When we still had 30 minutes left on the island, we decided to walk a little bit around the island with Teo. We found a Marsh Warbler but really nothing else. But other birds we had see during our stay on the island had been a Rock Pipit, some Black Guillemots, a family of Turnstones, some Arctic Skuas, a Whimbrel, some Dunlins, Ruffs, a Red-necked Phalarope and so on.

Finally it was time to leave and on the way back to Hanko, we still saw some Razorbills and Black Guillemots. Then we drove a little bit to Tvärminne and found a place to put up a camp.

We slept until 5 a.m. and at 6 o’clock we were in Vedagrundet. There was almost nothing moving on the sea but a couple of Waders were seen on the shore and some Arctic Skuas were on the islets. Mika Teivonen came there too so we spent some more time watching to the sea but saw only a Rock Pipit and a Black Guillemot on one island and a couple of Common Shelducks and heard a Redpoll flying past.

Then we decided to continue to Uddskatan where we walked a long way until we were on the place where a Collared Flycatcher female had been seen earlier visiting a nest-hole. With some by phone we finally were in a right place and then immediately heard the bird calling and soon found it visible too. And after a long wait we saw it visiting the hole that a male Pied Flycatcher had visited already a couple of times. So there will be interesting-looking flycatchers in the future.

We continued to the tip of Uddskatan to do some more seawatching but again saw just a couple of Rock Pipits, a Black Guillemot, 4 Razorbills and 3 Velvet Scoters. While walking back we heard a Marsh Warbler.

Then we twitcher a Moorhen youngsters in Haaga Park before continued to Talholmarna where were too many people already, so we continued to Svanvik. There we saw 9 Caspian Terns, a couple of Shelducks and heard again a Marsh Warbler. In Kobben we saw 2 Spotted Redshanks and a Yellow Wagtail and then we decided to start a long way back to home.

In Helsinki we still twitched one more month-tick that was breeding but it was not clear if the youngsters were hybrids or not. I have to keep the species as a secret so it can stay safe without too many photographers. After we had seen still a Goshawk we continued our driving.

In Imatra we still twitched a Grey Wagtail in Tainionkoski and saw also an Oystercatcher there.

Another twitch

On the 26th of June I had to go twitching again as an Eastern Imperial Eagle was seen first in Helsinki and then in Sipoo and it seemed to continue along the coast to east. I drove to Hamina Hevoskallio where I managed to get right on time when the bird was expected to arrive, but even though it had still been seen in Loviisa and Pyhtää, it was never seen anywhere more east. We did see a White-tailed Eagle and always nice Lesser Spotted Eagle, but of course they weren’t what we had hoped.

When I finally gave up, I still went to twitch an Arctic Warbler in Summa, which was a good year-tick and always a very good species in Southern Finland.

On the 27th day we organized one more Baillon’s Crake twitch but the bird wasn’t heard anymore which was of course a disappointment for us and 20 twitchers. On the way back, we twitched a Quail again in Tarvaslampi which was a lifer for young birders from Kerimäki – Veikka Kosonen and Oskari Saunisto. Then we continued to SSP-ringing again which was still very quiet. Only 2 Blackbirds, a Song Thrush, 2 control Sedge Warblers, 1 c Common Whitethroat, a Willow Warbler and 3 Reed Buntings were caught.

And again a lifer-twitch

On the 29th of June I left to a long twitch to Kajaani where a White-tailed Lapwing had been found on the previous evening. There were no updates of the bird after 1 p.m. but I kept on driving and finally arrived to Vuolijoki Otanmäki pool after 8 p.m. There were about 30 twitchers scanning the pool and its islands. I decided to scan the skies instead and after 1.5 hours I found a flock of Lapwings flying high on the sky and there it was – a White-tailed Lapwing with 12 Lapwings.

I shouted as loud as I could and the birders who were close to me found the bird immediately but after all other birders that were around the pool didn’t find it even though it was flying on the sky for several minutes before the flock continued towards south as far as we could see with our scopes.

On the way back home I stopped in Joensuu Vehkalahti where I heard a male Little Crake after some waiting. Finally I was back at home at 2:30 a.m. And after a couple of hours sleeping, I had to go to work.

J.A.

Bird-race holiday

On the 28th of May I started another 10 days holiday this spring but after work I still had to be nervous as our car was in service and it wasn’t absolutely sure it will be fixed. But luckily everything went smoothly and after 3 p.m. I was able to start a long drive towards Oulu.

I stopped only once on the way to fill the tank and buy some snacks and finally after 9 a.m. I was in Kempele Vihiluoto. Miska Loippo had arrived a little bit earlier and together we went to bird-tower to check the water-level and of course birds there.

There were lots of birds: a couple of Mute Swans, a Common Shelduck, several Pintails, Gadwalls and a Garganey, about 20 Greater Scaups, a Slavonian Grebe, a couple of Red-necked Grebes, a Pheasant, a Great Bittern, a couple of Black-tailed Godwits, a flock of Broad-billed Sandpipers, a few Temminck Stints, a Short-eared Owl and a Bullfinch was heard. In a short visit in the evening we saw so many birds that we started to think if we should start our bird-race here next day?

After 11 p.m. I went to pick up my brother Pirkka from Oulu railway-station and finally after midnight we were ready to go to sleep in our comfortable room in hotel Vihiluoto.

PPLY bird-race

On the 29th of May Antti Vierimaa arrived at Vihiluoto and soon we had packed our car full of optics, food and birders. Miska had managed to visit the bird-tower briefly and he hadn’t seen as many birds as in the evening but he had seen a Pochard there. Anyway we decided to stay in ordinary plan and were soon driving towards Oulu Sanginjoki,

We checked a couple of places on the way but found nothing interesting and the drove to Kupareisenpolku. Already on the parking place we heard a Red-flanked Bluetail singing and as we knew it was very late day for this species, we decided to begin our race at 11:26 a.m. The race had to bee started between 11 and 12 o’clock.

But the rest of the forest was very quiet. After some time we had found only a Common Crossbill and a Treecreeper. So we soon had to move on. Our next bird was a young Ural Owl that was seen already far when it was sitting inside the nest-box. The we hurried to listen to a Wren that Antti knew and after some searching it was finally found. Luckily we also saw a Sparrowhawk and a Honey Buzzard there. And soon we were ticking a Pygmy Owl on its nest. Also this bird was just quickly listened so we didn’t really disturb the bird.

Next we headed to Pateniemi where we found out that there was very windy on the coast. Little Ringed Plovers were found easily but only other better bird we found was a Pheasant. In Oritkari we saw only a Northern Wheatear and luckily saw a migrating Rough-legged Buzzard and also the second Honey Buzzard of the day

We were late in our schedule so we almost skipped Oululahti but luckily decided to go there anyway and saw 20 Broad-billed Sandpipers, a Little Stint and a Caspian Tern there. In Vihiluoto the sea was quite rough but still we managed to see Greater Scaups, a Garganey, a Common Shelduck and some Velvet Scoters there. We had hoped to see more but the weather was against us. While driving towards Kempele we saw some Black-tailed Godwits on one field and then in Kempele we managed to find a calling Collared Dove quite easily. Then our next target was an Ortolan Bunting which wasn’t easy as it was singing very far and staying mostly quiet but finally we all heard it.

It was so windy that we made a decision to spent a lot of time for only one species and drove a long way to Relletti to tick a Great Grey Owl. On the way back we tried to twitch a Pallid Harrier couple that had been seen on one field several times but we weren’t lucky. But we were lucky to see a couple of Short-eared and one Long-eared Owl.

Finally we parked to Liminka Virkkula and walked to the tower where the wind was still strong. Some Broad-billed Sandpipers and Caspian Terns were seen but then we heard a Marsh Sandpiper calling and the bird was also seen. Then we saw a migrating harrier that first looked like a female Montagu’s Harrier but when it finally started soaring, it looked more like a Pallid – so it was left unidentified.

In Lumijoki Sannanlahti we saw some Barnacle Geese and n Arctic Skua on Lamukari and on the shore bay there were some Red-necked Phalaropes swimming. Also one Yellow Wagtail was seen.

It was already getting late when we headed to twitch a Tengmalm’s Owl that Antti had found while preparing to the race and then in Siikajoki Tauvo Merikylä we saw that there was still some migration going on far on the sea. So we quickly headed to Kaasa where we still managed to see some flocks of Common Scoters and Long-tailed Ducks and also a lonely Red-necked Grebe.

Then it was time to head to Munahieta. I was till closing the doors of our car while the others saw a Ural Owl. Then in Munahieta we found out that water-level was so low that there was a huge sandy plateau! After some walking we realized that it would take whole night to see the possible waders that usually were on the other side of Ulkonokka and we decided to turn back. With Pirkka we saw briefly a Merlin in flight but as more than half of the team has to see the bird we couldn’t get a single new species!

But now we managed to save some time so soon we headed to Säikänlahti that wasn’t in our ordinary schedule at all. And luckily there was a male Smew with many Goldeneyes.

The day changed while we were heading to Hummasti where we once again heard a couple of Jack Snipes. In Raahe we heard a Water Rail in Aittalahti, saw Canada Geese and a Lesser Black-backed Gull in Lapaluoto and then twitched a Great Reed Warbler in Järvelänjärvi. It was a new North-Botnic species for me. In Raahe city we still saw a Starling before we hurried towards Pyhäjoki to find night-singers. In Teerelänpuhto we heard a Stock Dove and then along Eteläinen Penkkatie we heard a couple of Thrush Nightingales and a single Blackcap.

Morning sea-watch was made in Ulkoharmi where we spent some time to find a suitable place and then ended up to a swimming beach. From the sea we found some Black-throated Divers and one Red-throated Diver and then surprisingly heard a Willow Grouse calling on the shore! But nothing else was seen so soon we did hit the road again.

In Parhalahti we saw nothing new but then second visits in Aittalahti and Järvelänjärvi gave us Coots and Slavonian Grebes. Those grebes had a nest too close so we almost didn’t see it at all!

In morning we hurried towards Siikajoki Vartti and then got a message that there was a Bee-eater right next to the cross there! So we headed there even faster than normally but anyway the bird was already long gone. There were some teams and other twitchers so we stopped there anyway briefly and it was a good stop as a Blyth’s Reed Warbler was singing and 2 Waxwings were seen. But soon we continued to Vartti where Antti had once again prepared well for us!

Soon we saw Black Woodpecker nestlings and then heard a Hawk Owl before we were even close to the nest. The along one forest-road Miska found a distant harrier displaying on the sky and soon we found out that there was a couple. They were far and in horrible light but slowly they came closer and closer and finally we could identify them as Pallid Harriers! And then we saw this couple chasing a Goshawk!

Our traditional bog-visit was again good as we saw a Golden Plover and a Whimbrel. a Few timed we had found a Montagu’s Harrier territory there but now we saw only a Hen Harrier which was a tick anyway. We were in a hurry so we had to continue towards the shore as we still missed many waders. On the way we finally saw some House Sparrows but in Alhonmäki we saw nothing new. Then in Karinkanta we saw a couple of Red-backed Shrikes but in Säärenranta the wind was awful again so no more species were seen.

Finally 24 hours were full and slowly we drove to Liminka Virkkula where I dropped Antti and Pirkka to go to do the log. I gad to go to drop Miska to Vihiluoto so he could start driving home. Finally I drove back to Virkkula to listen the results. Kalle Hiekkanen, Pauli-Pekka Österberg, Eino Hiekkanen and Ville Suorsa won with 161 species but we were second with our 154 species. The third team had got 150 species. After all we could be satisfied with our result as most of us were living far from Oulu and Antti hadn’t been birding much in resent years. Anyway he had done huge work with preparations during the last 32 weeks so thanks Antti!

I was already very tired when I dropped Antti to Vihiluoto to continue home with his car. Then we still went to eat with Pirkka before I dropped him to the railway-station and then I drove to my brother Riku. After some time I was ready to go to sleep and after all I slept for 14 hours in Riku’s caravan.

Tauvo

On the 31st of May I woke up and it had been raining a lot. I visited Vihiluoto, Kiviniemi and Oritkari and saw some Dunlins and Gadwall – both species we had missed on the race. Other birds I saw were the same birds than before. In the afternoon I went to Riku’s place but in the evening I picked up Antti and we headed to Siikajoki Tauvo ringing station.

We were driving past Merikylä crossing when Antti shouted: “What the hell is that – a Turkey!” I stopped the car and indeed there was a Turkey couple walking along the road! We took some pictures of thees escapees before continued the last kilometers to Tauvo.

We got our stuff to station and after some time Matti Tynjälä, who was going to ring in the station for whole season, woke up. It was about 10 p.m. and we had planned to sleep a little bit before the morning but soon we were putting up the mist-nets. After all I slept for a couple of hours and then went to help Matti.

The best bird of the morning from the mist-nets was a Bluthroat but even better bird was an Eagle Owl that was heard calling. Also Antti woke up early enough to hear it. It was nice morning and we caught some Pied and Spotted Flycatchers and so on, but later most birds were just Willow Warblers. With Antti we checked the nets for whole morning and saw about 100 Common Crossbills and heard a Red-throated Diver.

At midday we slept a couple of hours again and then in the afternoon we went to walk around whole Ulkonokka. It was once again very difficult to get to Munahieta because of there was so much water on the meadow and reedbeds, but finally we made it and then it was a long way to walk around the sandy plateau. 48 adult and 24 young Greylag Geese, 4 Common Shelducks, 19 Dunlins, a Red Knot, 59 Broad-billed Sanspipers, a Red-necked Phalarope, a Little Tern and a couple of Arctic Skuas were the best birds we saw.

In the evening Matti started to talk about a Blyth’s Reed Warbler that he had ringed on the morning before we had arrived. He wondered why it had been so short-winged. I asked if he had any pictures of the bird and once he showed the first picture I was shocked – he had ringed a Paddyfield Warbler – the first for North-Botnic! Luckily it had been several hours before we had arrived and not for example while we had been walking a round Ulkonokka…

In the evening I slept a couple of hours again and then woke up to check mist-nets. It was quite poor night and in the morning there were only a few Willow Warblers coming. So after all I went to sleep for 5 more hours and when I woke up Antti had also just awaken.

Hailuoto

In the afternoon we still helped Matti to close the nets and then drove to Oulu where I dropped Antti at home and then I decided to continue to Hailuoto. I managed to drive straight to a ferry and soon I was in Hailuoto. There I still checked Potinhamina where I saw 16 Common Shelducks, 2 Arctic Skuas, 8 Caspian Terns and 3 Dunlins and then still saw a Short-eared Owl in Keskikylä before I was in Marjaniemi where I started to sleep in my car.

On the 3rd of June I woke after a couple of hours sleeping and walked to the tip to seawatch at 2:10 a.m. After a couple of hours I finally saw the first migranting Common Scoters. Then in few hours I saw altogether 34 Razorbills, 103 Cormorants and also Common and Velvet Scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, Black and Red-throated Divers and a single Short-eared Owl.

In the morning I drove to Keskiniemi where I walked long walks to both directions along the shore. Between the walks I slept a couple of hours in my car. There weren’t many birds but one Sanderling and one Broad-billed Sandpiper were found and well photographed. Also a couple of Turnstones, Common Ringed Plovers, a couple of Gadwalls and Common Shellducks were seen.

Then I still visited Kirkkosalmi, Ulkokarvo and Potinhamina but only bird to mention was a Black-tailed Godwit. Then I drove to the harbor and soon I was on the ferry back to Oulunsalo.

Sea-Lapland

Next I drove a couple of hours to Kemi where I finally parked to “Allu” Hamari’s garden. Allu had prepared a good meal and after that we watched ice-hockey from television. I was already really tired when Allu told that we had two choices, either we would leave immediately birding or then at 7 a.m. I thought that 7 a.m. was too late as the weather-forecast was very hot for the next day. So after all only 30 minutes later Jouko Kärkkäinen came to pick us up and we headed to Ajos harbor. There we tried to start the engine of Jouko’s boat but even though the engine had just been on service, it didn’t start! Luckily Allu had another engine and after an hour delay we were finally on the sea!

It was again much windier than it was told to be so it was very wet ride! Soon we were all freezing. The first stop was made to make us warm mostly on one small rock but then in Keilakrunni we saw some really good birds! We saw 3 Common Eiders and 7 Black Guillemot there and they are not common birds in Lapland!

Then we continued to our main destination to Selkä-Sarvi where we did counts by walking around the whole island. Some Turnstones, Temmink Stints, a couple of Arctic Skuas and a Razorbill were seen there.

Then we just enjoyed summer morning on the island before we headed back to the sea. We checked several islands and rocks before we were on the shore again where we still started to check some places. Some more Turnstones, Arctic Skuas and a Velvet Scoter and so on were seen and then even 3 Garganeys but then I started to feel far too tired to continue. It was still a long and bumpy way back to Ajos and finally we were back to Allu’s place where I finally got possibility to go to sleep again. An I slept for 14 hours again.

To north

During the day we left driving north with Allu, both with own cars. In Tervola we ticked a Thrush Nightingale that Allu and Jouko had found earlier and also heard a Chiffchaff and saw a Starling before we continued to Rovaniemi.

In Rovaniemi we checked first Suksiaapa where we saw a couple of Slavonian Grebes, a Smew and a Black Woodpecker. In Niskanperä we saw a Red-throated Diver and a Common Scoter and in Harjulampi a couple of Great Crested Grebes. In Aronperä we saw nothing interesting so soon we continued towards Kemijärvi.

In Kemijärvi we went to check Sellu sewage pools with Pirkka as he had found a Ring-necked Duck there a couple of days earlier. But the duck wasn’t found vut we saw a couple of Gadwalls, a Garganey, a Red-throated Diver, a few Temminck Stints and 13 Jackdaws – good preparation for the race anyway.

After we had eaten pizza with Pirkka’s family, we started driving towards north again. In Pelkosenniemi Savukoski crossing we tried to find Little Buntings but found a Rustic Bunting. A White-tailed Eagle fle over us too. In Sokanaapa we saw a Great Grey Shrike, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Black-throated Diver and some Smews.

In Sodankylä we stopped in Ilmakkiaapa where only a couple of Bean Geese and a Broad-billed Sandpiper were observed but then Iso Moskujärvi was excellent! First we found a couple of White-fronted Geese, then Velvet and Common Scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, Shovelers, Black-throated Divers, a Goshawk and heard a Lesser Whitethroat. Also Sompiojärvi was good as we saw 16 White-tailed Eagles, lots od Smews, Velvet Scoters, a Spotted Redshank and when it was getting late we heard and saw altogether four Willow Grouses.

Finally we were in Saariselkä where Allu had managed to get us a cottage. There we had sauna before we went to sleep.

On the 6th of June we hit the road only a 8 a.m. and in Laanila river we found nothing but on the feeder of Savottakahvila we found a couple of Pine Grosbeaks. In Kaunispää hillside we found easily a single Dotterel. In Kaamanen 4 Tuulen Tupa we stopped for coffee and ice-cream and and saw a Siberian Tit on the feeder.

Then we headed to Inari Ivalo Mellanaapa where we met Juhani Honkola and saw a Jackdaw, a Rough-legged Buzzard and a couple of Lapwings.

In Utsjoki we headed to Skalluvaara where on the pools we saw a couple of Greater Scaups, Red-necked Phalaropes, a couple of Bluethroats, 8 Long-tailed Skuas and a tame Temminck Stint.

In Mantojärvi we saw one more Rough-legged Buzzard. We had heard that there were almost no voles and lemmings in whole Lapland, so there were almost no raptors either. On Utsjoki Ailigas we were lucky to find a Ptarmigan immediately when we reached the top and then in the village we saw a Siberian Tit flying in front of our car. Then we still followed Teno river and made some stops on the way to Karigasniemi and saw a White-tailed Eagle and a Merlin. I managed to see one Ptarmigan in flight on the top of one mountain on Norwegian side of the river.

But the best observation of the whole day had been a Lynx that we saw crossing the road somewhere on the way. It stopped pretty close next to the road but behind some bushes but I managed to get some pictures of it. Then it walked further but stopped to stare at us so that only its head was visible.

In the evening we got an apartment in hotel in Karigasniemi and we watched icehockey WC final Finland – Canada. Unfortunately Finland lost in overtime and finally we were able to go to sleep.

Lapland bird-race

In the bird-race morning we woke up at 8 a.m. and an hour later we were in a shop next door. Soon we were driving towards Ailigas but there we found out that the gate up to the fjeld was closed so we had to forget some species. Then we headed to Piesjänkä which was our starting place.

We walked along drier parts of Piesjänkä to the lakes and once we reached the shore it was time to start the race. We started with a flock of 70 Long-tailed Skuas, singing Lapland Bunting and Bluethroat and displaying Jack Snipe – not bad! We also found a Smew, some Long-tailed Ducks, Common Scoters, Red-necked Phalaropes and so on.

We checked the lake several times until we had to start walking back towards our car. Now we walked through the wet parts of the bog and soon found a Dunlin and a Broad-billed Sandpiper. Other surprises weren’t found until we were near the parking place where we heard a Bar-tailed Godwit calling inside the fences of reindeer round-up. Also a Merlin was seen flying against Ailigas.

Once we were driving, we saw a Kestrel in flight and a couple of stops gave us only some common northern species. In Inari Ahvenjärvi we saw a couple of Velvet Scoters and in Siltajärvi we heard a very northern Sedge Warbler. In Muotkaruoktu we saw a couple of Pine Grosbeaks on a feeder and in Ukonjärvi a couple of Black-throated Divers, Cormorants and Heuglin’s Gulls. So again a couple of good species!

In Pikku-Peitsamo we heard a Little Bunting singing and in Neitiaapa we saw a flock of 39 Taiga Bean Geese, but in Mellanaapa we saw only Lapwings. Then we twitched a breeding Siberian Tit and saw a Hazel Hen on the way which was very good as was also a very northern Hobby that flew over the road. In Kaunispää we weren’t lucky as Dotterel wasn’t found – there were again too many people on the top. Only a Northern Wheatear was seen there.

In Sodankylä we visited the lakes we had prepared earlier. In Sompiojärvi we saw several White-tailed Eagles but also a Golden Eagle! Also a Spotted Redshank, Temminck Stints, and a couple of Willow Grouses were seen. In Iso Moskujärvi we saw the same White-fronted Geese, Shovelers and this time a female Goshawk.

Then it was time for the first long drive of the race. We drove through Pelkosenniemi where we saw a couple of Capercaillies and Woodcocks. The day changed before we got to Kemijärvi where we checked some places without anything else than a Garden Warbler, but on the sewage pool we saw a Garganey, a couple of Pochards, a Red-throated Diver and heard a Red-necked Grebe. On the previous morning the Ring-necked Duck had been seen again, but again after that it was not seen.

Then we had a long drive to Rovaniemi where in Apukka we got a Skylark and later we heard several Common Rosefinches, a couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers and saw a Sand Martin and some Common Swifts. In Vitikanpää we saw Redshank and heard a Lesser Whitethroat, in Aronperä we saw Little Ringed Plovers, in Pöykkölä we had Pheasants and a couple of Common Whitethroats, in Harjulampi Great Crested Grebes and in cemetery we twitched a Wood Warbler. Then in Tuomilampi we saw a Slavonian Grebe, in Vanttauskoski we heard a Blackbird and in Auttiköngäs we saw a couple of Dippers.

We had still two hours to go when we reached Posio Korouoma parking place. Soon we were walking along a patch that was in very bad shape. All the bridges had collapsed so it was a long and slowly way. We were almost running but heard some Dunnocks, Wrens, Common Crossbills, saw a Parrot Crossbill and also a very angry Rustic Bunting. Finally we reached our ending place a couple of minutes before the race was over but saw nothing new there in time.

After some relaxing we climbed up along very broken steps up to the edge where we saw a Peregrine flying on the sky. And then a Black Woodpecker landed to the nearest tree and while walking back towards our car we still heard a couple of Treecreepers and then also a couple of Red-flanked Bluetails! So we had 4 species we had missed in the race!

In the race we had 124 species and won clearly. The record in the race was 125 species so we were close. But it really wasn’t good bird-year as there were almost no voles and therefore no raptors. Also many other birds were more difficult than in a normal year.

On the way to Kemijärvi we tried to twitch an Arctic Warbler in Juujärvi but found only a couple of Rustic Buntings and a Sparrowhawk (one more species that we had missed). A Red-throated Diver was on the nest on one pond and in Kostamo we heard a Little Bunting.

In the evening Allu left towards Kemi (he planned to sleep on the way soon) and pretty soon I went to sleep too and slept again 14 hours.

On the 10th of June we still visited sewage pools with Pirkka and saw Gadwalls (missed in the race), Garganeys, Pochards and a Red-necked Grebe. Then I had to start a long way back to home. Somewhere in southern Kemijärvi I saw a Jay crossing the road… I didn’t see anything else on the way. I ate good Thai-food in Suomussalmi and finally was at home after 9 p.m.

It had been a hard birding-holiday with too little sleep! But I had seen 185 species (without a Willow, Crested and Coal Tit!). Let’s see how long it takes to recover from this holiday?

J.A.

Raining rare birds

After a trip to Jurmo I didn’t waste my time sleeping as I had to go on the first morning to Saari to twitch a couple of White Storks in Akonpohja. Then I drove back to Siikalahti where I had stayed only some minutes when I found a Greater Spotted Eagle from the sky. This eagle was very worn and it had quite pale stomach. After soaring some time on the western sky it continued towards Särkisalmi where it was also seen. Otherwise Siikalahti was quiet so soon we continued again to Saari with Hanna.

We did some migration watching in Kanavalampi with Arttu Valonen, Juha Kettunen and Arto Laaksi and saw a couple of Honey Buzzards and Swifts and heard a Corn Crake, a Wryneck and a Grey-headed Woodpecker.

On the 16th of May we participated to a Garden Twitch. We started at 5 a.m. and immediately found some Long-tailed Ducks, Common Scoters and even 7 Greater Scaups from the lake. There was almost no migration but anyway we saw lots of species. We continued until 2 p.m. continuously and then had a 1.5 hours brake and went to check that Ural Owl chicks were still too small to ring and we also tried to reliese an adult male Hen Harrier that had been living with us for a week after it had hit a window in Saari. But the harrier was still too weak to go. Then we still continued in our garden and saw the best species: first a Pink-footed Goose was seen migrating with other geese and then a Black-tailed Godwit was flying towards south. Altogether we saw 88 species from our garden.

On the 17th of May we did duck-counts in Saari again. In Akonpohja we saw a Gadwall and a Little Ringed Plover, in Kanavalampi a couple of Gadwalls and in Pohjanranta a couple of Pink-footed Geese and a couple of Marsh Sandpipers that left to continue their migration. In the evening we still twitched a Savi’s Warbler in Akonpohja and went to listen to Great Snipes and heard on bird in an ordinary place.

On the 18th day it was time to go to work again after a good birding holiday. In the afternoon I was planning to sleep a little but then I got a message that there were 2 Red-breasted Geese in Tetrisuo and of course I had to go to see them as it is only a couple of kilometers from our home.

On the 19th day I had a great 15 minutes before my work. First I twitched a Golden Oriole in Moskuunniemi and then stopped in Härskiinmutka where some Brent Geese were seen in flocks of Barnacle Geese and then I found 3 skuas coming over me and there were 2 Arctic Skuas and a Pomarine Skua! In the afternoon we twitched a Quail in Akonpohja and heard also a Blyth’s Reed Warbler. A short stop in Pohjanranta was good too as there was a Marsh Sandpiper.

On the 20th day only bird to mention was a Pygmy Owl in a nest-box with 8 eggs. On the 21st day between the rains I saw 1717 Brent Geese, 450 Long-tailed Ducks, 160 Common Scoters, 20 Velvet Scoters, 141 Black-throated Divers, amazing 340 local Common Terns and a flock of 12 Arctic Skuas in Härskiinmutka. In the evening we finally managed to check the rest of the owl nest-boxes. And once again we had a bad owl-year.

On the 22nd of May we went to duck-counts again to Saari. On the way we noticed a raptor on a field in Akanpelto and stopped to check it and it was a Lesser Spotted Eagle! The eagle was eating something but soon flew behind a small forest and we decided to move on.

The count went without surprises but a Black Kite was seen in Kanavalampi and then in Jyrkilä we found a flooded field where were 4 Broad-billed Sandpipers, a Temminck Stint, 10 Ringed Plovers and then in a big flock of Barnacle Geese there were 2 Red-breasted Geese!

In the evening I had to go twitching as an Avocet had been found in Savitaipale Lavikanlahti. It was good to see a new South Karelia tick but also several old friends! Also a couple of Marsh Sandpipers, a Redshank and a Temminck Stint was seen there.

On the 23rd day we started SSP-ringing in our still flooded site. Only birds caught were Sedge Warbler 1r + 1c, 2 Common Whitethroats, 1c Willow Warbler, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 2 Common Rosefinches and 1c Reed Bunting. A migrating female Hen Harrier was also soon and a couple of Golden Orioles were calling.

On the 24th day I got information that waders were on the move and some had dropped to flooded fields here and there. So on my lunch-hour I drove quickly to Saari Akanvaara Tetrisuo to check this usually best field and found 130 Grey Plovers, 3 Red Knots and 80 Dunlins. Also a Short-eared and a Long-eared Owl were seen. After work I hurried back to Saari but some of the waders were already gone but now a Dotterel was found. In Jyrkilä I found an amazing flock of 670 Dunlins and with Barnacle Geese there were a Pink-footed and a Bar-headed Goose! Dunlins, Ringed Plovers and some Grey Plovers were found in other fields too but no new species. On my third visit to Akanvaara Tetrisuo I saw a Common Shelduck that had been found on the previous day. In the evening we went to check some fields in Parikkala and in Kullinsuo we saw about 100 Dunlins, 4 Broad-billed and 17 Ringed Plovers and in Kontiolampi 21 Ringed Plovers, a Dunlin and a Broad-billed Sandpiper. Some Stock Doves were seen during the day here and there which is nice.

On the 25th of May there were still some waders around and on my lunch-hour I saw 19 Ringed Plovers, 8 Broad-billed Sandpipers and a Little Stint in Kullinsuo. In Kontiolampi I heard and also saw a Marsh Warbler. In the evening we went ringing some nestlings and it started awfully as the forest around our Ural Owl nest had been cut and the nest was empty! A Pygmy Owl still had too small youngsters but Starlings had almost too big ones, some had maybe left their nest-box already? Then our first Nuthatch looked bad too as when I opened the box I first noticed a dead female laying on the bottom! But there were 7 quite big nestling and male seemed to do well with feeding them continuously. So we ringed these nestlings with color-rings and hope to see them in the future again.

On the 26th day I took it easy – and went to run 3 hours and 28 kilometers… On the next day I had to go twitching again and drove to Lappeenranta Joutseno Korvenkylä pool to see a nice female Grey (Red) Phalarope. The light was poor so I didn’t stay there for long – this time a new South-Karelia tick was the most important thing.

J.A.

Spring-trip to Jurmo

On the 5th of May after finishing duck-counts in Saari, I packed our car and started a long drive. It started to rain soon so after all I drove until Turku where I did some shopping and then continued along Saaristotie. It was already dark when crossed by ferry to Nauvo and there I drove to the same place where I had been tenting last autumn. Now I had to sleep in a car.

On the 6th of May I woke up early and drove to Nauvo to do the last shopping. Then I dropped my big bags to Baldur ferry, parked my car to a big parking place close to the shops and then walked to the ferry with my optics. The ferry was now leaving from Nauvo as Pärnäinen harbor was under construction.

It was still raining so I went to sit inside the ferry, but pretty soon the weather cleared and I climbed to the deck where a couple of birders were already. A couple of Arctic Skuas, 10 Black Guillemots and 12 Razorbills were seen before I decided to go to eat to the restaurant. And soon Jurmo was visible in the horizon.

Once I got to Jurmo I tried to find milk-wagons but there were none. Then I started to think if I had arrived in right time and day. I called to one man that was in the ringing station and they hadn’t expected me to come yet. I had come one day too early! So I carried my optics a long way to the station, took wagons and walked back to the harbor to pick up the rest of bags.

While walking I already got many year-ticks: Common Redstart, Whinchat, Pied Flycatcher, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat and Wryneck. Most of these species had arrived to the island today but now there were plenty of them.

There were already 7 people on the station so it was full. But I left my bags outside and took my place from sauna. Luckily I knew all the people and they knew that I didn’t need too much space. And anyway 3 of them were leaving at 5 a.m. on the next morning.

I still had time to go to do some birding so I walked first to Sorgen and then inside the forests and managed to see a Hen Harrier, a Hobby, some Common Shelducks and even a Little Tern. During the day there had been several Ring Ouzels, a Black Redstart and even 2 Avocets had been seen flying over the island but it seemed that most of the birds had moved on.

On the 7th of May we woke up very early and Jussi and Pekka Virtanen and Kari Tuominen were leaving. Kim Kuntze and Meri Öhman left to put up the mist-nets and together with Vesa Virtanen and Timo Palomäki we left to do morning migration watching which is done every morning for 2 hours.

Like usual there weren’t much migration but some Common Eiders, Common and Velvet Scotersm Long-tailed Ducks, Black-throated and a few Red-throated Divers, Razorbills and a Black Guillemot and so on were seen. We managed to see a flock of Purple Sandpipers far on the western tip of the island which was a new May-tick for me. It was very cold and I hadn’t go time to organize my thngs yet so I didn’t have enough clothes. So after 2 hours I hurried to the station to eat warm breakfast.

The day continued with station routines so Timo and Vesa did counts in east I went to count birds in west. And the rest of the trip I did every second day west and east counts. My count started well with a Little Tern and a Turnstone and then I found a couple of Purple Sandpipers and managed to get quite good pictures of another bird. From the pictures I realized that it had a flag and soon I got information that it had been ringed here in Jurmo a couple of years earlier.

Other birds seen were a couple of Common Shelducks, common ducks, Oystercatchers, a Curlew, a Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Redshanks, Common and Arctic Terns, gulls, a Yellow Wagtail as a year-tick and so on. In the afternoon Petri Puolakka arrived as the second ringer – he came by the ferry that I was supposed to arrive too.

In the afternoon and evening I walked around the island and photographed a couple of Rock Pipits but as I found nothing interesting I went to tick a Water Rail that had been calling on the bog for some days already.

On the 8th of May we started from the hill and did migration watching again. But no I was wearing almost all clothes I had with me. We saw quite good geese migration with some flocks of White-fronted Geese, a single Bean Goose and of course Barnacle Geese which I really didn’t care to see… Other birders were happy with the geese but I was much more interested to see a collybita Chiffchaff that Kim caught from the mist-net. It was good to study and photograph this subspecies which seems to be much more common in southern Finland that has been thought.

The walk in east was productive even though there were quite a few tourists walking on the shore. I managed to find a stunning male Ring Ouzel and a male Black Redstart too. But they were both too shy to get almost any pictures.

Other birds during the day were a Gadwall, a Smew, an Osprey, 25 Whimbrels, a Turnstone, a couple of Little Terns, Rock Pipits and 2 more Black Redstarts in the harbor. Before the log in the evening we still saw a Common Whitethroat from the window. The log was long again and it was very late when we went to sleep. And then Petri came from the mist-nets with a couple of Mallards! Of course we had to see these rare mist-net birds – and then the alarms were on again about at 4 a.m.

On the 9th of May morning I went to help Petri to bog mist-nets. Finally the wind was south-western, so there were quite a few Song Thrushes, Robins (still too many Robins, altogether 348 ringed), a Tree Pipit, Common Redstarts, Blackcaps, some Lesser Whitethroats, Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher, a Goldcrest and a Thrush Nightingale and so on. Best birds were a Swedish and a Swiss Robin)

I climbed a couple of times to the hill to see migration and once I was there on the right time as an amazing flock of 270 Song Thrushes rose from the pine-forest to the sky.

In west I was on the south-western tip counting the birds that were outside the counting area when a flock of Purple Sandpipers landed to the shore. I tried to get close with my camera but they were moving a little bit further. I still decided to try another part of the flock and surprisingly they didn’t care at all. So after all I was laying down just 2 meters from the actively feeding birds. It was amazing! Birds were also calling actively and I did my best even though I still haven’t got time to study my camera almost at all.

Again I managed to get pictures of birds with flags too so it will be interesting to hear where are they from. After a half of an hour photographing I had to continue my count and I slowly moved further from the birds that still didn’t care at all.

On the lake I saw 12 Dunlins and after the count I heard calls of a Little Ringed Plover. Other birds during the day were a couple of Short-eared Owls and several Rock Pipits. In the evening Petri went to the west with a net and a flashlight and managed to caught some birds which a Teal and a Common Ringed Plover were the most interesting ones.

On the 10th of May it should have been rainy in the morning so almost everyone was sleeping. But I have used to check the weather in case and again the weather forecast had been wrong. I woke up the ringers and Petri hadn’t been slept for long. Anyway we agreed that I go to open mist-nets to pine forest for him. But Kim and Meri had made a decision to go west to search for rarities. I immediately thought this wasn’t clever as the weather looked perfect for passerines and it would have been good to have all possible nets open.

And the morning was extremely busy indeed! There were amazing numbers of Blackcaps and Common Redstarts and many other passerines too. Pied Flycathers, Whinchats, Lesser Whitethroats, Song Thrushes, a Mistle Thrush, a few Wood Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers, a Red-breasted Flycatcher, a Sedge Warbler and so on. If all the mist-nets would have been open, many records would have been crushed. A couple of showers made us hurry even more but luckily it wasn’t raining too much. A couple of Ring Ouzels were seen while being busy.

There were amazing numbers of birds in the whole island. New arrivals that I also managed to see or hear were a Swift and a Cuckoo. Finally Kim and Meri arrived from west and kept on helping Petri. So I was free to go to east again and there I managed to find a male Garganey, a Jack Snipe, a couple of Turnstones and a few Rock Pipits. I also saw a Hawfinch and in the evening there seemed to be Blackcaps and Common Redstarts everywhere!

On the log we made careful counts and the numbers were amazing: 11 Wrynecks, 224 Common Redstarts (68 ringed), 109 Whinchats, 74 Northern Wheatears, 97 Lesser Whitethroats (33), 21 Common Whitethroats, 488 Blackcaps (176), 88 Chifchaffs (44), 31 Willow Warblers and 93 Pied Flycatchers (63 + a Swedish control). With 2 or 3 ringers and all nets all the numbers would have been easily doubled! Also 3 foreign controls were caught: a Russian Robin, an Italian Common Redstart and a Swedish Pied Flycatcher.

And with good migration in the morning too we found out that we had made a record in daily species too as we had seen altogether 122 species during the day! And only rarer bird had been a Great Snipe that Timo and Vesa had seen.

On the 11th day we headed to the bog with Petri while Kim and Meri went to the forest. It was surprisingly quiet and but some better birds were caught like 2 collybita Chiffchaffs, 2 Thrush Nightingales and a Grasshopper Warbler. And finally Kim called that he had caught a beautiful male Collared Flycatcher – it was the species that I had been hoping most! Petri got the flycatcher to his ringing list and then a lot of pictures were taken of course. Later I went to photograph also an Icterine Warbler that was caught.

Finally we left Kim and Meri to check all the nets and left west with Petri. It was very quiet day overall, but we saw some distant Purple Sandpipers, a Bluethroat briefly and then a very strange-looking leucistic Lesser Whitethroat which was one of 109 Lesser Whitethroats of the day!

A couple of Black Redstarts were seen in our garden and a male Red-backed Shrike was seen briefly too. In Sorgen I found probably the same Ortolan Bunting that Vesa and Timo had seen in east and Spotted Flycatchers had arrived. After the log a Nightjar was caught which is always nice.

On the 12th day we were in the forest with Petri and Kim and Meri on the bog. It was very warm morning and it started nicely with a Reed Warbler. But soon it was so quiet that I had to find out something else to do as Petri didn’t need help. So I climbed to migration watch with Timo and Vesa and soon Kim called that he had found another male Collared Flycatcher. It was on the southern forest and we could see it with our telescopes from where we stood. The bird was catching insects on the top of alders. Later I tried to get pictures of this bird but it was too high up on the trees.

In the afternoon Jari Helstola and Ohto Oksanen arrived and Petri left. Ohto put up many new mist-nets around the island and Jari is one of the hardest working birders I have ever met, so the expectations were high that something better will be found soon.

In the evening I went east again and found another Black Redstart and now there were a couple of Garganeys. A couple of Bluethroats were seen in the garden with another Black Redstart. A Reed Warbler was singing next to the pasture and Garden Warblers had arrived, even 22 birds were counted altogether (10 ringed). Altogether 4 Red-breasted Flycathers had been found and a male Collared Flycatcher was found in the pine forest, but it was maybe the same as in the morning. Also the same Ortolan Bunting was still around.

On the 13th of May I went to migration watching with Vesa and Timo. It was quiet but the “Hessu” called that some birders were watching a possible Pied Wagtail somewhere on the moor. We saw the birders and almost immediately saw a good-looking “yarrellii” in front of them. I ran to get my camera from the station but of course the bird was long gone already. But these birders had got really good pictures and it really looked good for a young male Pied Wagtail. I went to search it from Sorgen but saw only a Gadwall and a Red-breasted Flycatcher. I soon climbed to the hill again and we kept on watching migration which almost wasn’t at all, but then Vesa said: “There is something interesting on the track”. I found the bird soon and immediately said: “It’s a female Siberian Stonechat or Stonechat!” And then the bird flight and showed its creamy-white rump without stripes and it was easy t identify as a Siberian Stonechat.

The Siberian Stonechat was extremely mobile so I could get close to get any good pictures but luckily it stayed on the open area for so long time that everyone managed to see it before it disappeared. Then I still stayed on the hills for some time and found 4 migrating Caspian Terns. And while I was walking to the station I heard calls of a Collared Flycather close to the last mist-nets but couldn’t find the bird. And once I was in the station, Kim called that there was a female Collared Flycatcher on the mist-net exactly where I had heard the calls. It was good to get a possibility to study a female flycatcher well.

During the day I did western count again and it was very good. Little Terns were seen at least 4, amazing flock of 350 Purple Sandpipers were flying on the islets and finally I saw the local pair of “schinzii” Dunlins and even managed to get good pictures of them. Also a Temminck’s Stint was seen and a couple of Ruffs. While I was walking back I found probably the same Siberian Stonechat but it disappeared almost immediately. Other goodies during the day were a Marsh Harrier, a Black Redstart and altogether 5 Red-breasted Flycatchers.

In the evening Kim and Meri had ordered berry-pie from the hotel to celebrate Siberian Stonechat that had been a Jurmo-tick to everyone else except Timo and Ohto, even to “Hessu” who is the leader in Jurmo-ticks.

On the 14th of May we woke up early and we had packed everything already with Vesa. Then we did a short walk near the church and heard a Common Rosefinch as a year-tick. Soon we had to start walkimg towards harbor.

On the ferry we climbed to the deck where a couple of birders coming from Utö were already. We didn’t see many birds but before Nötö Vesa found a couple of alcids and immediately I realized that they were different in size and shape. With scope it was easy to see that one was a Razorbill but another one was a Common Guillemot. These birds were flying towards Jurmo, so we called to “Hessu” and surprisingly they managed to see these birds but from very big distance.

We also saw a Grey Heron, a Black Guillemot and a dozen of Slavonian Grebes. Finally we arrived at Nauvo where we carried our bags to our car and started driving. I dropped Vesa to Kaarina and continued alone.

I had been sleeping very badly on the previous night and overall I hadn’t got enough sleep as days are extremely long in Jurmo. So I decided to do some twitching on the way. There had been a Montagu’s Harrier and a Mandarin Duck in Vantaa, but once I got near the harrier was gone already. So I tried to find Mandarin Duck in a couple of places but wasn’t lucky. It was very hot day, so I started to feel that my long underwear was too much…

There had been a Hoopoe in Porvoo, so I continued next to Bosgård where I met a few birders who hadn’t found the bird. I kept on searching for it for an hour and already gave up once but still decided to come back after I had driving accidently towards wrong direction and I had to drive past the place again. Then I was lucky and saw a Hoopoe flying high over me.

I had planned to go to Virolahti for the next morning but there had been so many good birds in Parikkala that I decided to drive home after all. I still made a stop in Joutseno Kotasaari where together with Sampsa we heard 3 Great Reed Warblers, a Wryneck, saw 3 Sand Martins and a Little Ringed Plover but nothing better than those.

Finally I was in Parikkala where I still went to listen to a Nightjar in Sounio and a Spotted Crake in Siikalahti. Finally I was at home and I was extremely tired but happy – the trip to Jurmo had been excellent!

J.A.

The first of May bird-race in Kymenlaakso and the beginning of May

Our team to Kymenlaakso First of May bird-race gathered our accommodations parking place. And soon together with Hanna, Teo Ylätalo and Elissa Soikkeli, we headed to owl-forests. It was only 5 minutes to 3 a.m. when we heard a female Ural Owl calling but unfortunately it stopped calling 2 minutes too early. So at 3 a.m. we had to start the race with some common songbirds.

Luckily later we found some good night-species like a Jack Snipe, a Spotted Crake and finally an owl too as a Tawny Owl started calling actively. Soon we headed towards south and in Hamina Kirkkojärvi we heard a couple of Water Rails and a Savi’s Warbler. Then we ticked a Moorhen that was calling very weakly and saw a Red-throated Diver migrating and a Northern Wheatear almost in the city. Then we continued towards Virolahti Harvajanniemi while making some stops on the way and the best birds we heard were a Grey-headed Woodpecker and some Tree Pipits.

There wasn’t much migration on the sea but we got some better species like Common and Velvet Scoter, Gadwall, Slavonian Grebe, Caspian and Arctic Tern.

After searching a Collared Dove without luck we stopped in Lupinlahti where some Pochards and Little Gulls were seen and also a flock of Barn Swallow and House Martins. Then in one nice forest we searched for some time before we found a Treecreeper and a Nuthatch and heard a Stock Dove calling, but new woodpeckers weren’t found.

Then it was time to head inland and to Kouvola where we visited quite a few bird-lakes and also an old forest. We suffered finding new species but luckily a flock of Waxwings, a Hazel Hen, a White-tailed Eagle, a Merlin, a Little Ringed Plover, a Wren, a Crested and a Willow Tit were found. We also tried to find a Kingfisher and a Black Redstart but without luck. But then a desperate search of a Wood Lark was a success.

We were running out of time and Teo counted our species and fell on agony as we had about 20 species than on normal year. But I had a feeling that the spring was just so late that there weren’t more species. So we decided to push until the end and luckily Lesser Black-backed Gull and Golden Plover were seen before we headed to our last point to Jaalanlahti.

There had been good numbers of waders in Jaalanlahti in the morning but they were almost all gone so no new wader-species were seen. But luckily Canada Geese, Garganeys, a Smew and a couple of Hen Harriers were seen before it was 6 p.m. and the race ended.

After all we had got 122 species which was about 20 species less that the winning result had usually been. But I was sure that if any team had got 130 species – they were lying… Because of Covid19 the results were sent by email and quite soon we were driving towards home.

On the next morning we got the results and we had won with our 122 species. The second team had got 2 species less and the 3rd had got 113 species. Altogether there had been 6 teams.

On the 2nd of May we slept long and were in Siikalahti only after 8 a.m. We stayed on the dam-road for a couple of hours but only Bramblings and some Lapland Buntings were moving. We also saw a couple of Wood Sandpipers before we went to eat. Then we headed to Saati to make the counts again. It was my birthday and I had my self-bought present Canon R5 with 100 to 500mm lens finally with me. The shipment had been problematic so Hanna still hadn’t got her lens and all our memory-cards were still somewhere. I had managed to get one memory-card in Kouvola on the previous day thanks to Elli! In Särkisalmi we saw a Nuthatch and then in Saari the best birds were a Peregrine in Pohjanranta, a Great White Egret and a Cormorant in Tarassiinlahti, a couple of Short-eared Owls, a twitched Citrine Wagtail in Suurenjärvenliete, a couple of Pink-footed Geese and a Spotted Redshank in Kanavalampi.

On the 3rd day a Red-throated Diver, a couple of Red-breasted Mergansers and some Cormorants was seen in Härskiinmutka and in Siikalahti a couple of Little Gulls and 5 House Martins were seen. In the afternoon we ringed the Nuthatch in Särkisalmi. On the next day the only birds to mention were 65 Tufted Ducks in Siikalahti.

On the 5th of May I had the first day of my holiday. In Härskiinmutka I saw a flock of 20 Oystercatchers and soon we were driving towards Saari with Arttu Valonen who helped me in duck-counts. A Gadwall, a Willow Warbler and a Hawfinch were seen in Akonpohja, a couple of Pink-footed Geese were still in Kanavalampi, a male Greater Scaup in Tarassiinlahti and also a couple of flocks of Common Scoters, a Hobby, altogether 30 Whimbrels and a Stock Dove were seen and then in Suurenjärvenliete we saw a Citrine Wagtail again and also a Jack Snipe.

During the day I started a long drive towards South-west. My destination was Jurmo island where I was about to stay for more than a week!

J.A.