12. lokakuuta 2020

Säppi bird observatory 9.10-11.10.2020

 Last Friday I picked up my uncle Jände and together started our drive to Pori and after that to Säppi island bird observatory. From Helsinki it is about three hour drive and because we had some time to waste we visited our friend Juha in Kaanaa before we arrived to the small marina where the boat was waiting us. 

At the marina we met Janne, Hanna and Pirkka Aalto, Teo Ylätalo and Arto Aaltonen. Weather was totally horrible, windy and rainy, so you can imagine how wet was the ride to the island.. we all were wet after that and some of the stuff we had in boat was completely wet. 

When we arrived to the island our main target was Asian desert Warbler, which was found couple of days earlier. Jani Vastamäki kindly showed the bird for us and it was a real surprise that it was very tame and came very close to the people. Also showy Bean Goose was near by and it also caught our attention. Soon the people who was in the island before us left and we carried our stuff to the station. Because we arrived around half past four, there was only time to check places near by before the dark came. New lifer in Finland was amazing start to our trip and I thing the Desert Warbler was new species for almost all of us! 

Asian desert Warbler twitching.

Beautiful evening in the island.

Asian desert Warbler.

The bird was moving on a ground like mouse.

Even with the branch I like the background and the bird in this photo.

Warbler caught some kind of caterpillar.

Bean Goose.

Sunset was beautiful. 

At some point after dark Teo came with this! 

Saturday we were full of hope and eagerness to see something very rare. We started from the shore where we had some sea watch. Every morning there is mandatory sea watch for two hours. In that time we picked up some nice species like two Common Guillemots, four Purple Sandpipers, 60 Razorbills, about ten Black-throated Divers, some Red-throated Divers, two Red-necked Grebes, and lots of common stuff. Especially Rock Sandpipers and Guillemots were nice species for Helsinki city boy and here those are very rare. We also checked the Asian desert Warbler because some twitchers were waiting the info and the bird was still there! 

Säppi lighthouse in morning light.

Janne, Hanna and the company put some nets and Hanna was ringing during the sea watch. Quite soon we all were there and from that point we started to walk around the island and checking all the bushes and meadows for some rarities. 

Walking was slow, but some good birds were found. Juvenile Peregrine Falcon was flying over the island and just before that we had Merlin flying above us. Not too many birds, but mostly Meadow Pipits, Wrens, Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests, Treecreepers and other common stuff. At some point I checked my phone and there was a picture of Siberian Accentor from Hanna, who caught it from the net!! We were opposite side of the island and we had to start long walk back to the area where the nets are. Took us about 20 minutes to get there, but shit it was worth it! What a beauty it was. Here you can see. Bird was first calendar year male and almost only bird from that round. At this point we realized that we have to show the bird for the twitchers, because there was some in the island twitching the desert warbler! I send an alarm and told that the bird will be at the station in 15 minutes and Hanna will release it there. About 15 people in the island saw it and later it was seen in the field by some. 

Distant Merlin flying away.

One Highland Cattle from the bigger herd.

Juvenile Peregrine Falcon.

Small flock of Redpolls. 

Siberian Accentor.


Janne and the bird.

One of my all time favorites. What a bird! 

We continued walking around the island, this time we took another direction. At some point near cape Prakala Janne found some interesting small bird which was saying "tsak" or "check" and I also heard it once. Really sounded like Dusky Warbler, but bird this rare you must see and we did not see the bird. Great-grey Shrike came close, so that was maybe the reason the bird disappeared. Very few birds in windy side of the island. Only one Sky Lark, some Meadow Pipits, Grey Heron, Tits, Chiffchaffs and stuff. Hanna and Pirkka saw flying Pipit which they identified Olive-backed Pipit, but in Finland you really have to see those birds properly, so later we tried that without any luck. What a shame. 

Walking in Hanhisto area. 

Checking every bush in cape Kraveli

Soon the dark came and I went to put the sauna on. There is possibly one of the best saunas in the word in Säppi island and we enjoyed it very much. Can´t really complain about the day when you see Asian desert Warbler, Siberian Accentor, two Guillemots, four Purple Sandpipers and Peregrine Falcon in same day!! 

Sunday started with some rain and after little waiting we were at the net site. We spend most of the remaining time there, because me and Jände had to leave the island just after midday.. 

Nets were full of birds, but nothing really interesting this time. Huge numbers of Goldcrests, many Wrens and other common birds. At least the weather was nice. 

Station and lighthouse.


Goldcrest dancing.

And another one. 

Smallest bird in Europe.

Ringing team Hanna and Pirkka.

Dunnock close-up.


Redpoll in my hand.

At 1.30 pm our boat left towards main land and our next target was Dusky Warbler in Pori, which was found by my friend Petteri Mäkelä earlier that day. We picked Juha Sjöholm from Kaanaa and together we went to twitch. Soon after we arrived we foudn a group of people and just after we arrived the bird showed very quickly and called few times! Nice! Later it was calling again few times, but we never saw it again. This species is pretty famous of this kind of behavior. It was nice to see Matti Rekilä and his family there too and Juha Kylänpää with his bicycle too. He is making the new Finnish record of eco-ticks in one year. Good luck with that Juha! Here is few pictures from the site. 

Dusky Warbler was calling from somewhere there! No change to get any photos..

Common Chiffchaff in same place.

Later we started our drive back home and we arrived around seven a clock back to Helsinki. 

What a trip. Desert Warbler was lifer and the Siberian Accentor was only 12th record in Finland outside of the record breaking influx year 2016 when there was 66 birds in Finland and many more in Europe. Desert warbler was 13th record for Finland, so both very rare birds! 

Thanks for the company Jände, Janne, Hanna, Pirkka, Teo and Arto. Without you this trip would have been much less fun. And good luck others for your period in the island. Let there be lots of rare birds! 


8. lokakuuta 2020

Pallas´ Leaf Warbler 7.10.2020

 Yesterday I was working and during the day I noticed that Pallas´ Leaf Warbler was found from Tähtitorninmäki, Helsinki by Antti Salovaara. I really wanted to see the bird, but I had to run around the Helsinki. At some point I was very close to the place and I decided to give it 15 minutes. I walked in the park where the bird was seen and I met my friend Matti Rekilä there. We were talking and soon we heard a promising call. We walked towards the call and there was at least eight twitchers watching the bird! Bird was hiding in a large tree and I saw it first only shortly. After five minutes the bird moved to the smaller tree and it was very easy to watch. I even got these poor shots with my mobile phone! 

Pallas´ Leaf Warbler

The place. Some guy walked into my photo... 

Shame that I had only my mobile with me...

And one more.

Soon I had to leave back to work, but damn I was happy. This species is getting more and more rare every year and I checked our Tiira database and there is only 19 records of Pallas´ Leaf Warbler in Uusimaa county during the last decade. 

Here is Matti´s amazing picture of the bird.

This weekend I have high hopes for the birds, let´s see what is going to happen. 


4. lokakuuta 2020

Last two weeks and Long-billed Dowitcher 4.10.2020

 Last two weeks has been real struggle. I hurt my leg pretty badly in a football game and after that I had to visit in magnetic resonance imaging to see that the leg is still OK. Doctor even mentioned surgery, so I was quite worried... 

Anyway all good now but still area above my knee hurts like hell and can't run properly. This is also a reason why I have spent most of my free time at home. Few walks with kids and Sanni, but that's all. Autumn migration is going in big numbers. From our yard I have seen some Sparrow Hawk migration, some Thrush migration, some Redpolls, Goshawks and first flock of Waxwings. Those are the real sign of up coming winter time. 

Catocala Fraxini, the largest moth in Finland. Day before I hurt my leg.

As you can see, my leg looked pretty nasty.

On 27th I was at the playground with my kids and my attention was caught this smart looking juvenile White-tailed Eagle. Always worth of two pictures. Kids had fun.

Juvenile White-tailed Eagle.

And a bit closer.

On 29th I went to check a small ruderate in Kivikko. Only two kilometers from my door, but I visit there awfully infrequently. Place was full of birds and I counted at least eight Robins, five Dunnocks and some Meadow Pipits. Also two Common Chiffchaffs around in the bushes. 

Kivikko ruderate. Good place for autumn passerines.

This week, which is ending in few hours I was working normally, but Vilma got ill, so I had to take her to Covid-19 test and we had to wait the results at home. Test was negative, thank god and she is getting better and better all the time. Little bit bad luck in our family lately.. 

Today I was finally full of energy and ready to do some proper birding, but when I woke up I noticed a rain... I stayed home until I got message of Long-billed Dowitcher in Tuusula, only 25 minute drive from home! I have seen one before in Pori back in 2014 or something, but this one so close, I had to go. 

When I arrived the car park was already full, so I left my car at the side of the road. Lots of people were looking the bird and last time it was seen half an hour before landing in a field. We waited and waited and more people arrived. Finally there was about 100 people. Mika Ohtonen took some role and told everybody that they have to keep the distances between others to avoid the possible exposure. That was a good thing I think. 

Rantamo in Tuusula is very good place for birdwatching. 

Lots of people. This was taken just before we saw the bird.

After and hour it was decided that if we all want to see the bird, someone must walk to the field and scare the bird a bit so it will fly. Five people went there and soon they found the bird calmly feeding in the field. Pekka Komi and Matti Rekilä went to take some photos before others walked closer. The bird took off and next situation was very weird. It moved about five meters and landed even closer to the people in the field and started to run. I saw the bird flying and landing, but after that it was hiding again. 

Second try and this time it really took off. It made long flight and finally after minute or so it landed to the open water area where everybody saw it nicely. I even got some poor flying pictures of the bird. Also on Jack Snipe took off from the field and got picture of it too! 

Long-billed Dowitcher. This was just before I left the site.

Dowitcher in flight.

From this picture you can see the supercilium of the bird.

Details from the upper side of the bird.

Finally Jack Snipe and Matti Rekilä in same photo.

Matti and Jack Snipe.

At the site during the wait I had time to look a bit of big Goose flock quite far away and some Greater White-fronted Geese and Bean Geese in mixed flock with Barnacles. 

Later I came home and we did short visit to our Loviisa summerhouse to pick up some stuff before the winter. My father also joined us. Great ending for nice day. Some big flocks of Geese migrated also there, but not sure what kind. I think I heard Greater White-fronted Geese from some flock. 


20. syyskuuta 2020

Red-flanked Bluetail and Yellow-browed Warbler. 20.9.2020

 Today was suppose to be  just relaxing with my family and do something nice with the kids. I was drinking my morning coffee when I saw a message of Red-flanked Bluetail pretty near our house, maybe 15 minute drive away. At that point I had seen only one ever and that on was in Jyväskylä some years ago, so pressure was rising. Finally after 15 minutes of thinking I took Julius and together we went to try the bird. 

Took us about that fifteen to drive there and I noticed Mikko Salonen, Kimmo Heiskanen and somebody else already walking away from the spot. I called Kimmo and he kindly told me where to go.

First we went just without stroller to see the bird and then I was hoping that I can carry the stroller to the spot and see the bird with them too. I was lucky. Bird was hiding when we arrived, but I found it quite high up from a tree. I saw all the details and bird was calling many times! Great way to start your day! Then we went to pick up the stroller and when we came back we heard the bird still calling, so stroller tick in the pocket! 

Julius at the place.

Bird this rare in capital area attracts lots of people. About fifth record in Helsinki.

More and more people came and the bird disappeared after calling clearly further away. At this point I heard that there is Yellow-browed Warbler in Vuosaari, not too far away. We drove about 15 minutes and funny thing was that we arrived to the place which was exact same where the yesterdays Hoopoe was. This Warbler was found by the twitchers who came to see the Hoopoe! 
Situation was bad. Bird was gone and nobody knew where to look, people just walked around the area. I choose to walk small road where nobody was searching and I was a bit surprised when I found the bird near the kindergarten building. First it just moved in small trees, but finally when another birder arrived it started to call couple of times! We alarmed others and almost everybody at that point saw the bird. 
I even got this amazingly poor record shot. Light was straight from the behind of the bird, so was not easy to get any details showing in the picture.

Possibly the worst picture of Yellow-browed Warbler ever. 

I was happy and Julius wanted to continue, so we left and visited my friends new bike shop, which will open soon in Vesala area. Nice space for bike service and other things. Julius got blueberries from the store cause he was so patience and calm when I looked the birds! 

Later we roped Sanni to work and we had nice time in different parks around Helsinki. FInally we met my friend Jonne and his daughter and went to the playground near our house. During the stay I noticed some kind of Heron flying towards us and I was stunned when I realized that it really was Great-white Egret! What a ending for great day of rare birds. Great Egret is not rarity here, but not really the bird you expect to see in a place like this. 

Great-white Egret.

Can´t really complain about my day. Only thing little bothers me is that I didn´t get any photos of the Bluetail. Maybe arriving 10 minutes earlier and I could have set of poor record photos, who knows.. 

Till net time.