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

3. elokuuta 2017

Last days in Sardinia and summary 28.7-2.8.2017

Already back home.. Great vacation in Sardinia and here is few pictures from the last few days we spend there. Mostly I had only my tourist mode on, but I managed to see dark morph Eleonora´s Falcon flying North from Maria pina beach!

Beautiful sunset in Alghero harbor. 

Long-tailed Blue in Alghero city.

So our last morning was yesterday and I woke up at 6.30am. I went to check the nearby forest, but it was totally dead. Only one singing Blackcap, few Chaffinches, Firecrest, Splender-billed Gull and lots of Sardinian Warblers.
I noticed a field like area other side of the main road and went to look that area. Some Spanish Sparrow flocks, lone Hoopoe, Stonechat and nice surprise, Eurasian Stone-curlew!
Place looked really dead but it was full of birds. After Stone-curlew I had three Kestrels, two Sparrowhawks and Buzzard.
On my way back I had to take one photo of the most common bird here, Sardinian Crow (Corvus Corone Sardonius). These Crows are smaller and more slender than in Finland. In flight it looks more like a Woodpecker than Crow.
Our plane was on time and it left from Fertilia airport at 11.35 am and we were back home about four hours later.

Eurasian Stone-curlew.

Male Spanish Sparrow.

Sardinian Crow.

Summary:

Great island for birdwaching, but maybe in other month than July. I guess May and later maybe August-September are great there.
I missed one of my targets which was Corsican Finch. It can be found in one area in Sardinia and it´s much easier in Corsica Island.
Totally I had 66 species which is pretty good when you are birding alone and you travel with your family.
New lifers for me were Tyrrhenian Spotted Flycatcher, Balearic Woodchat Shrike, Moltoni´s Warbler and Marmora´s Warbler. With first two I have to wait until next year when they got the full species status.
Other nice birds for me were Red Kites, Red-creasted Pochards, Griffin Vultures and that lone Eleonora´s Falcon.
I can recommend Alghero for holiday, but nothing really special there. Old town is beautiful and has violent, colorful history. People are nice, but only about 10% speaks English.
Cagliari, Bosa and Porto Torres were nice and worth to visit, especially Cagliari and Bosa. Yesterday morning I red that there was fifth Little Swift for Italy in Cagliari day after we were there.

Next weekend we are spending in our Summerhouse and I will try to post something from there.

-Tom

30. heinäkuuta 2017

Last days with car in Sardinia. 25.7-28.7.2017

on 25th we had nice morning at the beach and later afternoon we drove to the beautiful city called Bosa. I knew that on our way we are going to see some Griffon Vultures, because this road and mountains near it are the only place where this majestic raptor breeds in Sardinia.
Also the road from Alghero to Bosa is one of the most breathtaking I have ever seen.
After all we aw only eight Griffons, but that is cool. Only one came little closer for photos.

Griffon Vulture.

We had nice dinner in Bosa and place is really worth to visit, if you are visiting this area.

Vilma walking in Bosa.

Lots of lookout stops during the drive from Alghero to Bosa.

On 26th we had same kind of morning and afternoon was time to move around. We checked some capes along the western shoreline of the island and lots of beautiful places was found.
We saw lots of Kestrels, Spotless Starlings, Buzzards, Sardinian Warblers, different looking Lizards etc during our trip. For Vilma maybe the best moment was to see four horses. She was talking about those horses all night after that.

Porticciolo.

27th we had family trip to Stintino, which is a small city in the North-western end of the island.
The place is famous for many beautiful beaches and we wanted to see the one which is named the most beautiful in Italy, biacci della Pelosa.
We arrived at half ten and place was totally full.. We had luck to find a parking spot and from there was about 800m walk to the beach where you had a small patch, size of a stamp. We did not like that at all... So much people, so much noise, lack of a space and privacy. Place is a real beauty, but maybe when it is empty :)
Pretty soon we left and continued to the place where was supposed to be some Flamingos. There was not. Too many people, not birds. Holiday season is possibly the worst time to look birds in this kind of places. Some Stonechats, Swallowtail butterflies, Kestrels etc.
During the drive to Stintino I had many raptors, including some Marsh Harriers and one Lesser Kestrel. Also big flocks of Yellow-legged Gulls, Spanish Sparrows, Cirl Buntings and Turtle Doves.

Roadside Common Buzzard.

Yellow-legged Gulls.

Swallotail in Stintino.

My last day with car was 28th and I started very early. First I went to Capo Caccia, place where we visited together few days earlier. Place looked good and I wanted to check it.
During my drive I had to stop three times because Deers where running around and cross the road.
First I had two big males with great horns and then few females. Closer to Caccia I had very close Peregrine Falcon and smaller falcon, which I think was male Peregrine. Awesome birds.
When I finally arrived to Capo Caccia, the area where I wanted to visit was closed.. I walked around, took some photo of the view and moved a bit to area where I could walk around.

Morning.

Nice sea view.

Later I found this Peregrine little bit further away.

I walked around the bushes and many Sardinian Warblers were flushes after I heard a call of Marmora´s Warbler! I was sure that there i some, but never saw it and call disappeared very soon...
A flock of Barbary Partridges were around and at least four juveniles this time.
Next place was Lago Baratz and this time I had my telescope with me.
I made some stops, but nothing interesting before the lake. I parked my car and noticed interesting looking butterfly near by.
Some kind of variation of Speckled Wood I guess.

Same species, different individual. 

I continued to the lake and checked it with my telescope. Not much new, but one White Wagtail, some Mallards, lots of Red-creasted Pochards, some Common Pochards, Little Grebes etc.

Phone scoped Pochards.

Shitty photo of Little Egret.

I watched the lake about 45 minutes, but nothing really interesting appeared.. Same Dragonflies around (Long Skimmer and Broad Scarlets) with one new species, Lesser Emperor! New species to my dragonfly list if I kept a record of them. 
I left and stopped near the visitor center of the lake and then I saw a little bird with orange-grey combination. I watched the bush/small tree and then I found it. Male Subalpine Warbler! Or should I say Motoni´s Warbler! Bird moved rapidly behind the leafs in small area. At this point I started to take my camera out of my backpack when bird moved in top of the bush and Tyrrhenian Spotted Flycatcher came and flushed the bird away. I got picture of smiling Flycatcher, but not this amazing new bird for me. I tried to relocate the bird, but I found only few Sardinian Warblers and more evil Flycatchers. :(

This bird did it..

Time was flying and I had about an hour time before I had to return my rental car. I choose to go near the airport, where I saw lots of birds last time. I still wanted to find something new. 
I arrived to the place I found last time and noticed big flock of Spanish Sparrows, few Serins, Greenfinches, Spotless Starlings, few Gold Finches and couple of Corn Buntings.

Spanish Sparrows.

Male Sardinian Warbler.

European Serins.

I drove a bit and soon I noticed small flock of European Stonechats and with them few Zitting Cisticolas! 

Zitting Cisticola.
Soon it was time to return the car. It is always sad, because car give you some many opportunities to do and go around. Now I have to watch some local birds and enjoy the time with my family. I will visit the Pinya Maria forest again some morning, so at least one more post coming from here. Now we have few days left before going back home. 
Almost all target species in my bag, I´m happy. 

-Tom