10. tammikuuta 2018

Winter birding in Helsinki 9.1.2018

Year 2017 is behind and what a year it was. Many new species and good memories.
I was working on 1st of January and because I´m working near the sea I have change to see birds almost every day. I also cycle to work so that gives me some opportunity to see birds.
While I was cycling I had all kind of common stuff like Blackbirds, Domestic Sparrows, Barnacle Goose, Canada Goose and Mallard.
During my day at work I had Back-headed Gull, Common Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls, Whoopers Swans and flock of Long-tailed Ducks.
When I went back home, I took a detour and twitched our famous long staying phoenicuroides-race Black Redstart. Sadly bird was found dead later..

Yesterday I had my first day when I had time for birds. I chose Viikki and Vanhankaupunginlahti, because of many good winter birds like Greylag Goose and Great Grey Owl.
When I arrived to Viikki I noticed a flock of Canada Geese resting on a meadow.

With the flock there was this funny looking C-Goose. 

I continued my walking and then I heard Reed Bunting flying above me. Nice start. After some walk I came to Purolahti and there we have nice small birdtower. From there I had Whooper Swans and lone Greylag Goose with bad wing. It will die soon...




My next target was long staying Great Grey Owl from Mölylä area near by. I walked around there, but like for many others, no bird for me. After an hour I kept going towards Fastholma to see wintering Chiffchaff and Nuthatch.

Nuthatch.

Common Chiffchaff.

And again.

As you can see, these photos are horrible.. I have a story for you about these, but that later.
Nice winter birds and actually my first wintertime (Dec-Feb) Chiffchaff ever.
Also lots of Great-spotted Woodpeckers and Goldfinches around. When I was leaving I also heard Winter Wren. I started to walk back to Mölylä when I noticed an alarm message about the Great-Grey Owl from there. I think I was faster after this info.
During my walk I saw a pack of photographers and they had some interesting bird. I saw that they were photographing something and when I raised my binos I saw this.

Pygmy Owl! 
Great bird, but I was in hurry to see the bigger cousin of this furry little ball. I almost ran. I was excited. I was moving like going to have a lifer or something. It was actually quite long way, but finally I aw the bird sitting on a branch.

Great Grey Owl.

It was sitting like this for quite long time and then it found something to eat. I managed to see when it swallowed a small black thing and flew back to another branch.

Great Grey Owl.

I spend about 30 minutes with this amazing Owl and got some awesome footage with my phone and telescope. Taking video through it was surprisingly easy.



What a bird.

When I walked back to bus stop I had another Greylag Goose and 131 Canada Geese in one big flock. It felt like April!

Greylag.

Many new year ticks, two new winter time ticks and lots of fun. I met Kari Haataja, Hannu Palojärvi and some other familiar faces during the day and I hope your day was at least as good as mine was.

About my camera and pictures. I was worried that my camera finally came to it´s end, but NONSENSE! When I took photos of that famous Black Redstart I had to use all in with ISO number and that was still all in yesterday with sunshine and daylight... Fun.

-Tom

28. joulukuuta 2017

Eastern Black Redstart. 28.12.2017

Something happened after Estonian Open bird race. I had troubles to go out and do any kind of bird watching. Few mega rarities were quite near, but soon I noticed that I had no energy to go.. I diagnosed  that I was going trough some kind of burnout. Birdwatching was not fun or interesting anymore. For example 20th of October Puff-bellied Pipit was introduced from Western Norrskär island. All I did was hoping that I don´t have to go there and twitch. It was first for Finland!

Anyway, today I took my binoculars (first time since August) with me to work and I had plans to go and twitch an interesting bird from Viikki. Two days a go some guy found putative Eastern Black Redstart from there. It was seen by many yesterday and idea of seeing this interesting bird would be  enough for me to go there.

I released from work at 2pm and I cycled straight to Viikki. I met few old buds there and together we waited the bird. This time it took about 30 minutes to see it. Amazing looking bird. It was already little dusky and my camera was in trouble. I set all in with ISO numbers and hoped for the best.
Results were something between bad and very bad.

Possibly the worst set of pictures of Eastern Black Redstart.

Eastern Black Redstart.

Eastern Black Redstart.

Very interesting bird and clearly it belongs to Phoenicuroides-group, if it is not an hybrid between Black Redstart and Common Redstart.

Anyway I had great time and maybe this was a new start for me. Still hoping that I have energy to write here. Actually writing here feels good again.
One thing I have to mention. It was so great to see Olavi Kemppainen again. So warm and kind personality, thanks for the company! And others, it was good to see you.

-Tom

18. elokuuta 2017

Estonian Open 2017 11.7-13.7.2017

Last weekend I took part to Estonian Open bird race, which is annul in different locations in Estonia.
This years race was in Lääne-Virumaa county and area was pretty unknown for us.
In our team we had My uncle Jände, Matti Rekilä, Gustaf Nordenswan and me. We arrived to Estonia at friday afternoon and after we found our hotel, we had nice dinner nearby. Also lots of race plans were made during the drive to the area and in dinner table.
Race time was 03-17 and we started our race at 03.25 Also there was a kilometer limit (150km) so that made this even harder.
First species for the day was calling Ural Owl. Great species and often pretty hard to hear in this race. Second species was White Stork, standing in its nest. We also had Pygmy Owl, some Thrushes etc during the dark-time.

Sunrise near the Vohtu Country house. 
During the morning we had really nice time, lots of birds, some good, some from the base list. Grey Plovers, Curlew Sandpipers, Bar-tailed Godwits, Long-tailed Duck, Black and Velvet Scoters, lone Black-throated Diver, Grey Wagtails, Kingfisher, White-backed, Middle-spotted and Black Woodpeckers, Common Rosefinch etc.

White Stork in morning light.

Great Egret is common bird in Estonia.

White-backed Woodpecker.

Grey Wagtail.

Grey Wagtail.

Later afternoon is always harder, but we managed to find some nice species like Thrush Nightingale, Sanderling and Sandwich Tern.
When the clock was five in the afternoon we had 125 species on our list. Not bad I think.
In the race ending ceremonies we noticed that our 125 is nothing when comparing to the winning teams total.
Team Takaveto (Margus Ellermaa, Vesa Jouhki, Markus Lampinen, Jari Laitasalo and Jukka Salokangas) had amazing 151 species! Great job guys and congrats!
Our team was on seventh place. I was very happy how we handled the day and more important, we had great time the whole day.
Next morning we had lots of time before our ferry back to Finland, so we twitched Ruddy Shelduck from Paldiski area, near Tallinn. It was only second for me in Estonia, so good species. Other nice birds were many Lesser-spotted Eagles, Male Montagu´s Harrier and big flock of waders in Shelduck place.

Bar-tailed Godwits and Red Knots. 

Ruddy Shelduck! 


I must thank Matti, Gusse and Jände for amazing company and taking me with them into the race. I also thank Mariliis Paal and Uku Paal for making this great event possible every year! Since 2010 I have missed only one race and I hope many more will come in the future.

-Tom

10. elokuuta 2017

Butterfly weekend in Hartola summerhouse. 4.8-7.8.2017

Last weekend we had great three nights in Hartola, our summerhouse with my family and mother.
Most of the time the weather was bad, but when it was not, I went outside to look around.
Lots of Butterflies and some Dragonflies near the cottage and I spent lots of time there.
Here is some photos from there.

Lesser Marbled Fritellary. (Brenthis Ino)

Second brood Map Butterfly (Araschinia Levana) 

High Brown Fritillary (Argynnis Adippe)

Essex Skipper (Thymelicus Lineola)

Arran Brown (Erebia Ligea)

Ringlet (Aphantopus Hyperantus)

When I walked more further I noticed this amazing Silver-washed Fritellary flying from flower to another.
Silver-washed Fritellary (Argynnis Paphia)

Same individual. 

Very good looking butterfly.

We also collected a lot of blue, raspberries and some mushrooms (Chanterelle).
Some dragonflies around too and I saw at least these species.

Immature male Common Spreadwing (Lestes Sponsa)

Male Beautiful Demoiselle. (Colopteryx Virgo)


Female Beautiful Demoiselle (Colopteryx Virgo)

Female Moustached Darter (Sympetrum Vulgatum)

Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula Quadrimaculata)

Brown Hawker (Aeshna Grandis)

female Black Darter (Sympetrum Danae)

It seems that area is much better for insects than birds. I drove to the known place and found Capercaillie about 10km from our summerhouse. Bird left from the road when I drove and noticed it little bit too late. Other birds during the weekend were Common Cranes, Some Whinchats, Common Whitethroats, adults and juv Hobbys, Grey Heron, Common Buzzard etc. Not much.

Common Cranes.

Only lifer this weekend came from the butterfly family when I spotted at least three of these!

Maybe the worst photo of Hornet Moth ever (Sesia Apiformis), but there it is. 

I was surprised how big these Hornet Moths are. Great find.
Around 30 species of Butterflies, 8 species of Dragonflies etc this time.
Thanks for the company Sanni, Vilma and my mother.
This upcoming weekend we are going to the Estonia and it is time for this years Estonian Open bird race. Wish us luck!


-Tom