Ticks to my father and Midsummer time

On the 10th of June my father arrived to us for the weekend. He was one of many who had started to collect 100 bird-species in a year which had been a BirdLife Finland project for beginners for some years. Even though he had started +70 years old, he had managed to get more species every year. Now he was coming to do some serious birding with us for the first time. It was time to break old records…

Train arrived late as usual so we were in a hurry to go to eat to Karpalo restaurant. Then we had to hurry to drop our car to service which was going to take for an hour. So we had time to walk around Moskuunniemi with my father. We heard many common birds that we could study, for example a Blyth’s Reed Warbler and we also saw a Honey Buzzard.

After some relaxing in our home we headed to evening trip which we started with Nuthatches. They had left their nest but we found them from the forest nearby. Then we headed to Sinkkosennurkka to check a White-backed Woodpecker nest. A couple of young birds were calling from the nest and at least one of them was looking out for a while but adults were seen only briefly in flight. We also heard a Black Woodpecker drumming further. Then after we had checked that Red-breasted Flycatchers were still at home, we continued to Siikalahti tower from where we saw a Gadwall and then on dam-road we heard a couple of Reed Warblers but they were too far to hear for my father.

On Saturday the 11th day we started at 6 a.m. with a Golden Oriole and an Icterine Warbler in Likolampi. Then we headed to Melkoniemi forests where we hoped to find some Greenish Warblers or Red-flanked Bluetails. But they weren’t found. But we found a familiar Siberian Jay, an adult and a young Goshawk and several families of Common Crossbills and then heard a Crested Tit, a Wood Warbler and a distant Red-breasted Flycatcher. We also ringed 8 nestlings of Pygmy Owl from our nestbox.

During the day we visited Hanna’s parents in Tarvalampi but also ringed some tits and Kestrels there. Then we still went to check that Red-throated Divers were once again on their breeding pond.

In the evening we left to Saari. There we saw a Long-eared Owl and heard a few Great Snipes, a Nightjar, a Water Rail, a Spotted Crake, Bitterns, Corn Crakes, Blyth’s Reed Warblers, a Marsh Warbler and a couple of Grasshopper Warblers which one was also ringed. It was already morning when we still stopped in dam-road where another Marsh Warbler was heard.

We slept long and during the day we headed to Rautjärvi Kokkolanjoki where after some searching we found a Grey Wagtail that was alarming a lot. It probably had a young bird next to the track. Later we saw another young birds flying higher up on the stream.

In the afternoon we went to eat to “Assa” and then my father left to Kirkkonummi by train. In a couple of days we had managed to find 113 species that 102 species my father had managed to see or hear. Not bad from 75-years old quite beginner birder. My father had now 146 species this year so he has the new record already and still work to do to break at least 150 or maybe 160 species.

In the evening I went jogging and heard fledlings of Grey Woodpecker.

During the week Hanna went to photograph bird in different places every time the weather was ok. I was only visiting some places on my lunch-hour. Barnacle Geese started to bring their youngsters to beaches, Red-breasted Flycatchers were still feeding their nestlings, some Greenshanks, Spotted Redshanks, Green and Wood Sandpiper and a Ruff were already migrating south and some young White-backed Woodpeckers were seen and Golden Orioles were singing here and there.

On the 15th day I visited Lappeenranta and in Toikansuo I heard an Ortolan Bunting and saw a couple or Redshanks and a few Little Ringed Plovers. In Joutseno Kotasaari I heard a Great Reed Warbler and in Konnunsuo 3 Ortolan Buntings.

We started weekend with SSP-ringing ad caught a Robin, Sedge Warbler, 2 Common Whitethroats, 2 Garden Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher, a Chaffinch and 3 Common Rosefinches. Then in the afternoon we visited Saari but saw only a Short-eared Owl and heard a few Water Rails. We also ringed a few young Lapwings.

On Sunday the 19th pf June we visited Melkoniemi forests again and now saw a family of 5 Siberian Jays – amazing that they are still breeding! We also saw a family of Hazel Hens and checked that Pygmy Owls were soon ready to leave their nest. In Tarvaslampi we found a Wryneck breeding in one nestbox.

On the 21st day in the afternoon we found a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker nest in Siikalahti and as it had been raining quite a lot it was good to see that Red-breasted Flycatchers were still doing well. On the 23rd we were photographing Long-tailed Tit families and Striped Bugs in Siikalahti. We also saw another Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and the nesting bird too. Icterine Warblers were still singing. In the evening we headed to check best places nearby and heard a Great Snipe, a Nightjat, some Corn Crakes and saw a couple of Long- and Short-eared Owls. In Siikalahti we still heard a couple of Spotted Crakes and a Golden Oriole. Only real nightsingers we heard were just Thrush Nightingales and Blyth’s Reed Warblers.

On the 25th we woke up in Papinlahti as we had been sleeping on our carpets. In SSp we got a Blackbird, a Redwing, 3 Sedge Warblers, 2+1c Common Whitethroats, Blue and a Great Tit, 1+2c Common Rosefinches and a Reed Bunting. Other birds seen or heard were a Long-eared Owl, a Red-backed Shrike, a Linnet and a Yellow Wagtail. In the I we saw 3 Stock Doves in Tetrisuo.

On the 26th we heard a young Pygmy Owl and saw an adult and young Long.eared Owls in Papinlahti. Then we made a night-trip to places between Särkisalmi and Saati but heard only Thrush Nightingales, Blyth’s Reed Warblers, a couple of Corn Crakes, one Marsh Warbler and Nightjar and again saw adult Long-eared Owls and heard some youngs.

On the 27th day we visited Siikalahti and managed to run and catch a young Crane which of course was ringed. Red-breasted Flycatchers were still there and also a White-backed Woodpecker was seen.

The last days of June were very hot so I wasn’t birding much. Hanna still went out every morning to photograph and managed to get some nice pictures.

J.A.

Beginning of June photographing

On the 1st of June after work I drove to Saari Pohjanranta to twitch a couple of Marsh Sandpipers. Other birds were all the same that I had seen on the previous day. I also made a stop in Akonpohja where I heard a singing Marsh Warbler.

On the 2nd day it was raining – I think last time it had been raining it had actually been snowing. So I visited again the wader places in Saari but saw only a Golden Plover in Akanvaara Tetrisuo.

On the 4th day we headed to Savonlinna Punkaharju to Lake Saimaa shore to ring a nestling of a Ural Owl that was in a nest-box close to Tapani Nisula’s cottage. The mama owl was shy so the ringing was easy. But the youngster was so big that it didn’t want to go back to the nest anymore. It had been seen practicing its wings already on the previous day so it was ready to go.

Then Tapani had a surprise for us and together with him and his cottage-neighbors Laura and Harri Helenius we left by boat to Saimaa to see Saimaa Seals that Tapani knew very well as he has been monitoring them for years.

Soon we were checking places where seals used to be but three first places were empty. But then we finally found a nice Saimaa Seal on a rock. It was a little bit wary, so we didn’t try to get close. Also another one was swimming nearby. But then the third pale seal was very curious-looking and we managed to get really good pictures. Here also was another young seal swimming too but it was diving all the time. On the island next to us there was a Red-breasted Flycatcher singing so the atmosphere was really nice!

We crossed bigger open water and saw an Oystercatcher on one rock and then found one more Saimaa Seal on a rock behind some reeds. Then we still drove to see some landscapes before headed back. It had been really nice trip in good company and very nice weather – thanks to Tapani, Laura and Harri!

On the 5th of June we had SSP-ringing again but the result was weak: only 2+1c Sedge Warblers, 1 Lesser and 3+1c Common Whitethroats and 1c Great Tit were caught. We also heard a calling Red-backed Shrike and a singing Golden Oriole.

Karoliina Hämäläinen and Laura Oinas had come from Joensuu to Parikkala to ring birds and their dream was to catch a Golden Oriole. They had been searching for an oriole for whole night but they hadn’t even heard a single bird. So I told them which place I thought might be the best and asked if they can catch an Oriole I could go to see and photograph it. And they really made it and caught an amazing male Golden Oriole! I had less than a kilometer by car to go to see the bird and it really was beautiful. Congratulation to Karoliina and Laura and thanks for calling me to take some pictures.

In the afternoon we still made a trip to Saari and saw 18 Rock Doves, 2 male Gadwalls and a Grey-headed Woodpecker in Akonpohja, a Tundra Bean Goose in Jyrkilä, a couple of Gadwalls in Suurenjärvenliete, a Short and a Long-eared Owl in Ollukka and a Linnet in Tarassiinlahti.

On the 6th day we went to photograph White-backed Woodpeckers and Nuthatches to their nests. We also heard one more Golden Oriole.

And on the 7th day we photographed a Red-breasted Flycatcher that was feeding nestlings. Hanna was on summer-holiday so she had more time for photographing. So in the evening she still went to Saari to photograph Short-eared Owl and managed to get some pictures. And I must say that we of course do all photographing so that we are not disturbing bird at all.

On the 8th day Hanna was photographing Sedge Warblers when she suddenly noticed a Spotted Crake on the reeds. Amazingly this crake came so close that Hanna managed to get good pictures! During my lunch-hour I went to photograph Nuthatches again. In the evening we visited Siikalahti and saw a Common Redshank that left towards south – it is autumn already…


J.A.

Best birding time they said

Like so many times it seemed that the best rarity time of the year had been in the end of April and beginning of May. Of course more and more birds were still arriving but nothing better was found – or at least the better ones were the same that we had already seen.

On the 10th of May in Saari we saw a couple of Slavonian Grebes and a Little Ringed Plover and heard a Sedge Warbler in Akonpohja, saw a couple of Gadwalls in Kanavalampi, a flock of Common Scoters and a couple of Long-tailed Ducks in Tarassiinlahti where we also saw a migrating White Stork. But then on the rest of the trip we saw only a Whimbrel, some Stock Doves and a Hen Harrier.

On the 11th day a flock of Greater Scaups and Common Scoters were in Härskiinmutka and in Moskuunniemi I heard a Wryneck. In the afternoon I was checking owl nest-boxes with Savo-boys and one female Ural Owl was found. Other birds we found were a Goshawk and a Blackcap.

On the 12th day I met Arttu Valonen and Matti and Liisa Kapanen in Siikalahti. While chatting we heard and saw a Red-throated Pipit flying over us. Later we saw also a Black Kite again. In the afternoon I went to check some nest-boxes but saw only a Hazel Hen couple.

On the 13th day I went to see a Tengmalm’s Owl that was nesting in an old Black Woodpecker nest-hole. Then in the afternoon we went to Saari and saw a female Capercaillie on the way close to the road. In Akonpohja we saw a couple of Garganeys, Ruffs and even 45 Spotted Redshank. In Karinmäki we saw a Hazel Hen couple and in Ollukka we checked a big flock of Barnacle Geese and found a Red-breasted Goose couple! In Pohjasuo we counted 92 Golden Plovers and in Pohjanranta we saw a Common Ringed Plover. Again several Stock Doves were seen so it seems that they are finally breeding In Parikkala.

On the 14th day we had the first SSP-ringing. We heard a Jack Snipe and a Red-throated Diver early in the morning and altogether we caught only 2 Lesser and 1 Common Whitethroat, a Sedge and 2 Willow Warblers and 2r+1c Reed Buntings. Our ringing place was still very wet. In the evening we headed to Saari where in Akonpohja we saw 2 Little and 4 Common Ringed Plovers. Then we drove to Kanavalampi where we put up photographing tents and hoped to get photographs of waders. Quite a few ruffs and some Spotted Redshanks were around but we hoped them to get closer in the morning. While waiting for the night we heard a Water Rail and a Black Woodpecker and saw a Garganey and a couple of Gadwalls.

But at night almost all waders left and in the morning there were only some Ruffs left. So we didn’t get many pictures and all other birds we saw were just the same as in the evening.

Once we had packed our tents we checked the other places in Saari and heard a couple of Wrynecks in Tarassiinlahti, saw a Red-throated Pipit in Jyrkilä, a Spotted Flycatcher in Akonpohja and a Bewick’s Swan in Pohjanranta. There were huge flocks of 15 000 and 25 000 Barnacle Geese in Pohjasuo and Akanavaara Tetrisuo and a Long-eared Owl was calling in Tetrisuo in the middle of the day.

On the 16th only bird to mention was the first Thrush Nightingale and on the 17th I saw the first Swifts. In Saari we saw 3 Little and 5 Common Ringed Plovers in Akonpohja, a Temminck Stint in Pohjanranta, a Dunlin and a couple of Garganeys in Kanavalampi and 112 Golden Plovers in Akanvaara Tetrisuo. Also some bigger flocks of Yellow Wagtails and again some Stock Doves were seen.

On the 18th I heard the first Common Rosefinch and on the 19th day I saw 6 Greater Scaups in Härskiinmutka. After we had checked again some nest-boxes we had to save a Barnacle Goose that had managed to get stuck to a fence from its foot in Siikalahti. There we saw also a couple of Redshanks. In the evening I hurried to Moskuunniemi Hernesaari to see arctic migration and managed to see a couple of flocks of Velvet and Common Scoters, 950 Long-tailed Ducks and an Oystercatcher, also an Icterine Warbler was heard singing.

On the 20th I heard first Garden Warblers and in the afternoon we finally found a Pygmy Owl incubating 8 eggs on one of many nest-boxes we checked. The same bird had been also nesting in our nest-box last summer but it was at least 5 kilometers from this one. We also saw a couple of Capercaillier and Hazel Hens. In the evening we checked a couple of fields and found a single Great Snipe standing in the middle of one field.

On the 21st we saw a Black Kite and an Arctic Tern in Siikalahti. Then we headed to Saari again and found a couple of Temminck Stints and a Redshank in Tarassiinlahti and a Black-tailed Godwit, a Dunlin and a couple of Temmincj Stints in Suurenjärvenliete. We also saw a couple of White-backed Woodpeckers and more Stock Doves again.

On the 22nd we went o Punkaharju Haukmäki and hoped to find some forest species. Only one Red-breasted Flycatcher was found but we also flushed a Capercaillie and heard a Red-throated Diver. In the afternoon we went to ring the nestlings of Ural Owl and once again we had a very aggressive mom-owl! Then we still went to ring nestlings of Starling and a male Wryneck in Tarvaslampi. On the way back home we still twitched a Golden Oriole in Moskuunniemi.

On the 23rd there were 200 Long-tailed Ducks and 2 Scaups in Härskiinmutka and in the evening I saw 865 Long-tailed Ducks migrating. Also a small flock of Common Scoters and a Short-eared Owl was seen. Then at night I went to a short round and heard a Nightjar in Sounio and some calls of migrating flock of Brent Goose in Sammallampi. On the 24th 7 Common Ringed Plovers were mirating in Siikalahti and on the 25th I finally saw the first Honey Buzzard – also a Black Kite was seen again. It also seemed that there were more Icterine Warblers around than in many years.

On the 26th we had SSP again and it was pretty good. We caught 2 Robins, 2 Common Redstarts, 2 Blackbirds, 2 Sedge Warblers, 4 Common Whitethroats, 3 Willow Warblers, 2 Pied Flycatchers, 3 Blue and 2 Great Tits, 3 Common Rosefinches and 1 Reed Bunting. We also heard a Golden Orioleand a Spotted Crake. In the afternoon we went to Saari again and saw a male Pheasant in Kanavalampi, a Goshawk in Tarassiinlahti, a Black-tailed Godwit and a Dunlin in Suurenjärvenliete, a Corn Crake (heard), 2 Ringed Plovers and 7 Temminck Stints in Pohjanranta, a Tundra Bean, 3 White-fronted and a late Pink-footed Goose and both a Short and a Long-eared Owl in Akanvaara Tetrisuo.

On the 27th I saw a flock of 130 Brent Geese and already 65 Swifts in Siikalahti. In the evening I heard a Blyths’s Reed Warbler in Moskuunniemi and also 163 Whooper Swans and 2 Oystercatchers were seen migrating. Also a nice couple of Golden Orioles were seen. Then I still continued to a short night-trip and found a Grasshopper Warbler both in Kontiolampi and Sammallampi, a Moohen in Siikalahti and a Spotted Crake in Kirkkolahti. On the 28th day in Siikalahti I saw 2 Tundra Bean and 2 White-fronted Geese and 101 Black-throated Divers. Then I was too tired and I had to go to sleep.

On the 29th we started Saari-trip by checking that Slavonian Grebes had arrived to Valkialampi. In Kanavalampi we saw 4 Tundra Bean Geese and heard a couple of Golden Orioles. In Jyrkilä we saw a single Brent Goose on a field (much rarer to see than Red-breasted Goose) and in Pohjanranta we saw 2 flying Bean Geese and a Temminck Stint and heard a Corn Crake again. But it really started to feel like the best spring was over.

On the 30th I checked the Tengmalm’s Owl nest and there were 2 youngsters watching from the whole. Then on my lunch-hour I twitched a Curlew Sandpiper in Pohjanranta. It was my first spring record ever in Parikkala. Also 4 Temminck Stints were seen. In the evening went jogging and saw a Short-eared Owl in Tetrisuo.

On the last day of May we went to see Tengmalm’s Owls and the nest was empty but we found one youngster perched on a top of one spruce.

J.A.

Bird-tower competition again after 2 years

On the 2nd of May I didn’t get any birthday-ticks as my car was still in garage and the weather was poor. Once the tire had been fixed I went to check Särkisalmi and Lemmikonsalmi and saw altogether 53 Black-throated Divers.

On the 3rd day the best birds were a couple of Garganeys in Siikalahti. In the afternoon we headed to Saari and on the was saw a Slavonian Grebe and a couple of Common Scoters in Särkisalmi. In Saari we saw a Spotted Redshank in Akonpohja, a couple of Gadwalls, in Kanavalampi, a couple of Ruffs in Jyrkilä and a Red-throated Diver in Pohjanranta. Also lots of Greenshanks, Common Snipes and Pintails and some Wood Sandpipers and Common Sandpipers. On the next evening I heard a Long-eared Owl in Siikalahti.

On the 5th I saw a Whinchat in Siikalahti and 4 Long-tailed Ducks, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, 10 Barn Swallows and 6 House Martins in Särkisalmi. Pirkka arrived at night to spend traditional Bird-tower competition weekend.

On the 6th day early in the morning I saw 11 Long-tailed Ducks, 3 Common Scoters, 3rd c-y Great Black-backed Gull and heard a couple of Pied Flycatchers, a Willow Warbler and a Hawfinch in Särkisalmi. On my lunch-hour I went to Siikalahti where dam-road tower was almost full. A Merlin, a couple of Sand Martins and Yellow Wagtails were the birds to mention. In the afternoon we headed to Saari and checked Lemmikonsalmi on the way where we saw 10 Long-tailed Ducks and 6 Common Scoters.

In Saari we saw a couple of Gadwalls, a Slavonian Grebe, a Black Kite and a Peregrine and heard a Common Cuckoo in Akonpohja, saw a Goshawk in Riionsalmi, a couple of Northern Wheatears and Stock Doves in Karinmäki, a Common Ringed Plover in Jyrkilä, a couple of Hazel Hens, a Temminck Stint, 95 Wood Sandpipers, 60 Common Snipes and 10 Lapland Buntings in Suurenjärvenliete. It was getting late when we started to drive back to Parikkala but still stopped in Kinnarniemi Lääviensuo to check more Barnacle Geese. We had checked about 50 000 of them but in this last flock we got the price and found a beautiful male Red-breasted Goose!

On the 7th of May we woke up before 4 a.m. and soon heard a Common Redstart singing in our back-yard. And pretty soon we were walking towards Siikalahti bird-tower. In Kasinmäki we heard a Wood Warbler singing and it seemed that spring had really taken big steps at night.

Before 5 a.m. also Matti Lötjönen arrived and our small team was ready to start the race. We started with a couple of Greater Scaups that were the closest birds on the bay. Also other ducks were seen soon as we even managed to see Smews, Pintails, 2 male Garganeys and a couple of Gadwalls. The weather was great but still there were not many migrants moving. Also visibility was amazing but we couldn’t find any important passerines from the tops of trees around the bay. Willow Warblers and a Pied Flycatcher were heard but many easy species were missing like a Robin and a Dunnock. Luckily all thrushes were seen after a hard work. During the day wind got very strong and we really couldn’t get many passerines to our list.

But other birds were going well and during the morning we saw an Oystercatcher, several Common Sandpipers, a Lesser Spotted, a White-backed and as the biggest surprise of the day also a Three-toed Woodpecker! A linnet and a Common Crossbill were heard but only a couple of Siskins were seen and no other carduelis-species.

Luckily the hard southern wind also brought some birds during the day. We saw a couple of Black Kites, even 2 2nd c-y Pallid Harriers, a Hen Harrier, a couple of Rough-legged Buzzards and Hobbies, 2 Cormorants, a Rook, a Stock Dove, a Whimbrel and then also a sub-adult Greater Spotted Eagle and a White Stork!

During the day the wind was so hard that there was not many birds moving anymore. So in the last 2 hours we got only a single new bird – a Goshawk. After all we had seen 95 species and in whole country we were the 15th best tower and once again the best tower inland. Also Pohjanranta and Tarassiinlahti were once again on the top of inland competition.

After we had eaten we relaxed just a little and then did a short afternoon trip. We saw a Tengmalm’s Owl looking from nest-hole, a couple of Grey-headed Woodpeckers and some other species that we hadn’t seen in the competition. In the evening we also did a short trip but it was raining and the only better birds were a couple of Greylag Geese in Kullinsuo.

On the 8th day we slept longer and left birding at 7 a.m. Hanna had been spending night in Suurenjärvenliete again so with Pirkka we headed to Saari and we were supposed to be in Suurenjärvenliete at midday.

On the way we saw a couple of Gadwalls in Härskiinmutka and heard a Lesser Whitethroat and a Blackcap in Moskuunniemi. Then we drove to Ruokosuo to twitch a White Stork that had been found in the evening. And there it was perched on the top of a post.

We decided to visit Akanvaara Tetrisuo where we saw a Short-eared Owl and a Hen Harrier before drove back to Ruokosuo where the White Stork was now feeding on the field. We parked our car next to the field and surprisingly the stork decided to walk next to us only 4 or 5 meters from us. So I got some really good pictures! Nearby in Pohjasuo we saw 64 Golden Plovers.

In Pohjanranta we saw the same White Stork that was now flying towards south. It was flying shortly with a White-tailed Eagle before moved on. We continued to Akonpohja where we found a Black-tailed Godwit and a Common Ringed Plover and from the tower we saw 4 Common Scoters.

In Kanavalampi we saw a couple of Gadwalls but then we had to continue to Suurenjärvenliete where we still saw a Little Ringed Plover and 11 Spotted Redshanks. Hanna was ready and soon we drove to do some shopping to Saari where we then sayd goodbye to Pirkka who started a long way back to Kemijärvi. We also drove back home to relax.

J.A.

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.

J.A.

Spring

Finally it started to feel like spring on the 19th of March when we were in Siikalahti with Veikka Kosonen and Oskari Saunisto for 5 hours. A Sparrowhawk, a few Common Buzzards, a Woodpigeon, the same Skylark, a Great Grey Shrike, a Chaffinch, a Gold Finch, a few Common Crossbills and a Snow Bunting were seen. Also a Grey-headed, a White-backed and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker were seen. On the next day the weather was more arctic and in a couple of hours we saw 5 migrating Skylarks, 15 Lapwings, 4 Starlings and so on. In the evening we heard a Tengmalm’s Owl in Kannas.

During the week I saw a White-tailed Eagle and 18 Lapwings on the 21st, 41 Lapwings, 3 Woodpigeons and a Canada Goose on the 22nd, a couple of Stock Doves, a Fieldfare and a Linnet on the 23rd, a couple of probable Twites migrating and a Goldeneye on the 24th and then the 25th there were a couple of Goldeneyes and Goosanders in Särkisalmi. At weekend the weather was bad again and I was playing rinkball. Only birds to mention were 2 Wood Larks along the motorway in Imatra.

The weather was bad during the next week too but on the 1st of April it finally started to happen again. I was enjoying a strike from work and of course in Siikalahti and saw a Common Crane, a Stock Dove, 28 Woodpigeons, 14 Lapwings, a Chaffinch and 14 Snow Buntings. At weekend I was in Vierumäki playing in Finnish championship tournament for more than 40-years old players and we came 4th which wasn’t good ranking. I also managed to loose a tooth and brake a couple of ribs. It seems that I am getting too old for playing… On the way I saw Hawfinch in Imatra, Kestrel in Joutseno and then on the way back a Goshawk in Koitsanlahti.

I would have been on sick-leave because of my ribs but strike was also on so I was free to do birding a lot. Unfortunately weather was still awful. On the 4th of April I managed to stay in Siiaklahti a couple of hours before I was completely frozen and I saw 6 White-tailed Eagles, 90 Woodpigeons, 7 Snow Buntings and so on. Then I went to find a couple of nests of Nuthatches.

On the 5th day there was lot of snow on the ground again – it had been snowing whole night. So only place to see birds were on feeders. So it wasn’t a surprise that the best bird was also found on the feeder – a Wood Lark was visiting Minna Terävä’s feeder in Siromäki together with Yellowhammers and Chaffinches. On the 6th day I saw 42 Woodpigeons, 6 Cranes. 12 Skylarks and surprisingly a male Hen Harrier which really looked early in snowy landscape. On the 7th I saw a Kestrel and on the way to dentist to Imatra I saw 22 Snow Buntings and a Merlin in Kaukopää. On the 8th day I saw the first couple of Mallards of the year in Parikkala in Särkisalmi – that maybe tells you how awful the winter and late spring can be?

On the 9th day the spring started again! We stayed in Siikalahti with Veikka Kosonen from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and many other birders were there too. We saw 21 Tundra Bean Geese, 8 Goosanders, 4 Marsh Harriers, 10 Sparrowhawks, 10 Common Buzzards, 2 Ospreys, 2 Kestrels, a Peregrine, 32 Cranes, 191 Lapwings, a Curlew, a Green Sandpiper, 2 Common Snipes, 26 Black-headed, 1 Common and 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Stock Doves, 230 Woodpigeons, 2 Wood Larks, 4 Meadow Pipits, 15 White Wagtails, 62 Blackbirds, 4 Mistle and 1 small thrush, 160 Chaffinches, 2 Linnets, 16 Snow and 6 Reed Buntings. In Kannas we heard a Wren and saw a couple of Nuthatches.

On Sunday we were with Veikka, Oskari and Pekka Punnonen from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. in a bit worse weather and saw less bird, but 4 Cormorants. a Curlew, 3 Stock Doves, a Wood Lark and a Linnet and so on were seen.

On the 11th day I woke up early as ribs were hurting so I decided to go to see lekking Capercaillies. I managed to see 4 males and a female and also a Woodcock and a Black Woodpecker. Then I stayed in Siikalahto from 7:30 to 3 p.m. and saw 20 Tundra and 3 Taiga Bean, 10 White-fronted, 2 Canada and 4 Barnacle Geese, a Cormorant, 5 White-tailed Eagles, a Hen Harrier, 7 Curlews, a Common Snipe, 80 Black-headed Gull, 40 Meadow Pipits, even 100 Wagtails, a Song Thrush and 3 Linnets.

On the 12th day I was again in Siikalahti and from 7:20 to 2 p.m. I saw 45 Taiga Bean, 1 White-fronted and 18 Canada Geese, a Bittern, a Grey Heron, 6 White-tailed Eagles, a Hen Harrier, 3 Ospreys, 16 Curlews, again a Wood Lark, a Redwing, 3 Long-tailed Tits, 6 Linnets and so on. And on the 13th day I saw 4 Kestrels, a Green Sandpiper, 7 Snipes, a Black Woodpecker, a couple of Robins, 11 Mistle Thrushes and in Huhmarinen I saw again 2 Wood Larks. It had been the first spring ever for Wood Larks.

On the 14th I was on dam-road from 8:30 a.m.to 12:00 a.m. and best observations were 2 Bitterns, a Greylag Goose, a Golden Plover and 2 Black Kites that arrived to the bay together. Also 35 Curlews and so on were seen.

Then I started driving a long way across the country. In Hämeenlinna I stopped for shopping and surprisingly saw there 2 Oystercatchers and some Great Crested Grebes and Coots. Then I picked up Hanna from the railway station where Hanna arrived from Helsinki where she had been teaching diorama-painting for a week. Then we continued to Kristiinankaupunki Siipyy where we put up the camp.

On the 15th of April we woke up at 5 a.m. and soon were climbing to Siipyy tower where Veikko Forsberg arrived soon and later also Matti Pajunen. It was good to be again, for the second time, in Eastern in Siipyy. We sea-watched until midday and I got too many year-ticks – more than 20. Better species and numbers were 2 Shovelers, 10 Pintails, 816 Eiders, 23 Long-tailed Ducks, 1276 Common and 54 Velvet Scoters, 9 Smews, 109 Red-throeated and 1 Black-throated Diver, 5 Red-necked Grebes, a Goshawk that caught some bird from the sea and was swimming to the shore, an Osprey, 188 Oystercatchers, 2 Ringed Plovers, 482 Curlews, 6 Arctic Skuas, 20 Black Guillemots, 20 Razorbills, 9 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 4 Dunnocks, 1205 Chaffinches, 5 Lapland Buntings, 55 Snow Buntings and so on.

In the evening we visited Härkmeri fields and fields on both sides of Kristiinankaupunki and Karijoki border and saw quite a few geese – both Taiga and Tundra Bean Geese were numerous but also surprisingly many White-fronted and about 10 Pink-footed Geese were seen. We also saw a single Common Shelduck and 6 Gadwalls in Härkmeri.

On the 16th we were in the tower again from 5:30 to midday and this time with Ilkka Iivonen. Better birds were 60 Bean and 2 Pink-footed Geese, 266 Mallards, 27 Pintail, 6 Shovelers, 882 Eiders, 20 Smews, 61 Red-throated and 3 Black-throated Divers, 3 Great Crested and 3 Slavonian Grebes, 2 Grey Herons, a Marsh and a Hen Harrier, 602 Curlews (126 in one flock!), 2 Green Sandpipers, 5 Arctic Skuas, 34 Black Guillemots, 2 Caspian Terns, 1275 Black-headed Gulls, 2 Short-eared Owls, 97 Mistle Thrushes, 16 Bramblings, 63 Redpolls, 107 Yellowhammers and so on.

In the afternoon we drove to Härkmeri and tried to see a Red Kite that had been in Pori migrating North but it made an U-turn and went back to Pori. We saw only a couple of Rough-legged Buzzards and 4 Ringed Plovers.

On the 17th we were with Veikko, Ilkka, Sami Jansson and Kari Korhonen and better birds were 215 Barnacle Geese, 6 Shelducks, 323 Tufted Ducks, 226 Mallards, 1486 Eiders, 156 Long-tailed Ducks, 8062 Common and 456 Velvet Scoters, 500 Goldeneyes, 211 Red-breated Mergansersm 266 Goosanders, 32 Smews, 282 Red and 8 Black-throated Divers, 15 Great Crested, 80 Red-necked and 6 Slavonian Grebes, 7 Grey Herons, a Black Kite that was very special bird for everyone else than us – maybe even the first ever seen from the tower, 4 Merlins, 453 Curlews, 7 Arctic Skuas, 145 Razorbillsm 6 Caspian and 5 Common Terns, 1705 Black-headed Gulls, 583 Woodpigeons, a Wood Lark, a small lark that was just a little bit too far to be positively identified as a Short-toed Lark but it really looked like one, a Rock Pipit, 122 White Wagtails , 147 Mistle Thrushes and so on.

In the evening we visited Storsjöträsket but saw nothing better.

On the 18th day we were with Jukka Koskelainen, Ilkka, Sami, Kari and Paavo Sallinen and when we were leaving at midday, Veikko came to continue as there were still birds moving. Better birds were 1709 Bean Geese, a White-fronted Goose, 3 Shelducks, 204 Teals, 2142 Common Eiders and finally 2 (distant) male King Eiders, 6433 Common and 547 Velvet Scoters, 720 Goldeneyes, 250 Red-throated Divers, 6 Slavonian Grebes, 16 White-tailed Eagles, a Ringed Plover, 2 Caspian and 7 Common Terns, a Long-eared Owl, 105 Mistle Thrushes and so on.

At midday we started a long drive back home and right away we realized that we had spring completely broken so we had to drive very carefully. So the only birding stop in Merikarvia Lankoski where we saw a Grey Wagtail easily but we didn’t stop in Pori where the same Red Kite was still around. Then it was a long drive until we still stopped close to home in Simpele Ritakoski and surprisingly managed to twith both a Grey Wagtail and a Kingfisher even though it was already 8:30 p.m. Then we still visited Siikalahti where 6 Water Rails and some Bitterns were calling.

On the 19th day I had to go to work and on the lunch-hour I saw 84 MAllards, 44 Teals, 3 Pochards, a Tufted Duck, a Hen Harrier, 2 Rough-legged Buzzards, 11 Coots and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. And in the afternoon I saw a Redshank in Tetrisuo.

The strike was about to continue on the next day but unfortunately for me it was cancelled. So I visited in Siikalahti only briefly during the week. Only better birds were a Tree Pipit on the 20th, some Smews in Särkisalmi and the first House Sparrow in Parikkala this year! It’s really difficult species nowadays.

On the 21st of April 16 Wigeons, 5 Smews and a Redshank was seen and in the afternoon I had drive our car to service. On the 22nd I was biking near our home when I saw a female-plumaged Black Redstart! Then I got a ride from Harri Partanen to Siikalahti where we saw a Black Kite and 3 Rough-legged Buzzard before Harri drove me to service to get our car.

At weekend we started mornings with visits in Särkisalmi where were already Great Crested Grebes and a single Slavonian Grebe. Then we stayed in Siikalahti for a long time with Savonlinna youngsters and Merja Laari and many other visitors. In best or worst times the tower was full of people. Saturday morning was great and we saw amazingly 3 different Pallid Harriers, 3 Hen Harriers, a Peregrine, 17 Rough-legged Buzzards, 6 White-tailed Eagles, 7 Golden Plovers, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 13 Green Sandpipers, 5 Greenshanks, a Stock Dove, a Dunnock, 100 Bramblings and a Barn Swallow that was going towards south in the afternoon when the wind turned to blow very coldly from north.

So Sunday was much colder and we were absolutely freezing but still saw a Greater Spotted Eagle, a Black Kite, 5 Rough-legged Buzzards, 9 Ospreys, a Merlin and an early Hobby. Also 158 Cranes and 2 Chiffchaffs were seen.

The last days of April were cold as always in this time of year when it would be most important to have warm nights. Then we might get some rarities and many crakes and so on. But now the last days were quite boring and not many new birds were seen. A Merlin, more ducks, divers and grebes, a couple of Black-tailed Godwits, the first Greenshanks and a Chiffchaff, a Pink-footed Goose found in a flock of other geese, again a Black Kite, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and so on. But then on the very last days of April it started to happen more…

J.A.