21. elokuuta 2019

Estonian Open 2019

Last weekend I took part to annual bird race in Estonia. This time the race area was Viljandi county, which was total mystery for me and to my teammates. I was in team with my uncle Jände, Tuukka Kupiainen, Juha Sjöholm and Matti Rekilä and our team name was Nahkhiirmees. Name means batman in Estonian language!

Our ferry left from Helsinki at 15.30 last Friday and after two and a half hours we arrived to Tallinn. We drove a bit and after some fixing we got our GPS device for the race.
Short sleep in Suislepa and the race started at 03:am. On our way to our hotel we had nice male Montagu´s Harrier and big flock over 30 White Storks.

Montagu´s Harrier. My camera settigns were totally wrong to take this picture. 

Wake up at 2:20:am and after driving a bit we started our GPS near the place we spent the night.
First half an hour didn´t gave us any species but our luck changed when we first found European Nightjahr, then Long-eared Owl and after few stops we had two calling Pygmy Owls! If that was not enough we had also calling Tawny Owl about half an hour later. Also both, Redwing and Song Thrush showed nicely in our car head lights.
Our first target was Oisu lake tower where we wanted to be at sunrise. Lake was and gave us good species like Common Kingfisher, Eurasian Wigeon, which was surprisingly rare in the area. Also Garden Warbler, Reed Warbler, Great Egret for something to mention. We left the tower to check if  we could find some song birds from the mansion nearby. This was pretty good idea and we added Treecreeper, Spotted Flycatcher, Marsh Tit and some others on our list. Then we went back to the lake and this time we were only team in the tower.

Matti and Tuukka in the tower. 

Juvenile White-tailed Eagle.

Two other teams in the tower too when sun was rising. 

Some Common Terns, more Great Egrets and few other species for us and then we went to check good looking places while we were driving slowly towards Viljandi.

At one point we stopped on a area where was good habitat for Black Redstart, some fields and some houses with gardens.
That stop basically made our race. We had both, Domestic and Tree Sparrows, Red-backed Shrike, Magpie, Black Redstart, Linnet, Whinchat, Common Buzzard, Skylark, Golden Oriole, Collared Dove and so much more with walking only maybe 500m and checking few places. Oriole was very good and it is normally very hard to see in Races. Also Collared Dove was ace, which means that we were only team who saw the species!

There is a big difference in sizes between Woopigeon and Collared Dove.

Most of the time this is how you can see and find Black Redstart in Estonia. 

Soon we arrived to Viljandi where we checked the local graveyard, cause those places area normally full of birds. This was not and we went to see some pools close by. Goldeneye was from there.
We left Viljandi behind and we decided to find some proper woods to have some Tits and maybe other forest species.

We stopped next to a good looking forest and right away we heard and later saw Nutcracker! We walked a bit and soon somebody yelled about Crested Tit and Coal Tit. That point we noticed that we have already all the tits and creeper, so next thin was to find missing Woodpeckers.

Spotted Nutcracker.

Guy and surprisingly good forest around. 

We arrived to Hendrikumoisa which was church park and little graveyard. Others went to have coffee from the shop and I continued searching the birds. I had lone Great-potted Woodpecker and I told that to others. Jände said that we have to see that so we went back. Race rules are simple, over half of the team must see the bird that you can count it on your list!

We didn´t find the woodpecker, but that same time Matti shouted "Montagu´s harrier" !!! Tuukka was with Matti so I ran like crazy, but didn´t see it. We decided to follow the bird and after maybe one kilometer drive we relocated the bird flying over the wood about 50m distance. Nice catch!

Nice habitat for Woodpeckers in Hendrikumoisa, but all we saw were flock of Great Cormorants!! 

There is also another rule which makes this race even harder and it is 150km limitation for driving.
When we made long raptor watch at Valma we had only 20 kilometers left. That is not too much when you have over five hours time left in the race. So we walked, a lot. We found Honey Buzzard, Red-footed Falcon, Hobby, Northern Goshawk and loads of other raptors from same spot, but shame that Lesser-spotted Eagle avoided us effectively.
We walked to Valma shore and there we had Caspian Terns, Lesser, -and Greater Black-backed Gulls, Tufted Ducks, Blyth´s Reed Warbler and Wood Warbler near by. Great fun and loads of birds. Not sure about the Lesser Black-backed Gull race, but here is a video and few picture of the bird.

Lesser Black-backed Gull, race unknown.

From Valma we visited Vaibla ringing station where we noticed some good birds around the station including Marsh Warbler, two Red-breasted Flycatchers and Blackcaps.

Sympetrum Vulgatum.

Vaibla ringing station. 
We covered the area pretty well before moving to Joesuu bird tower for some raptor and lake watch. Some Ringed Plovers, Ruff, Greenshanks, Teals, Great Egrets and some other small waders which were so far that there was too much thermal ripple to id those. Coot was calling from the river and we got something other too from there.

View from Joesuu tower. 

After the tower we had just enough kilometers that we could move back to Vaibla station to search more birds from the bushes, but nothing really appeared and our time was up when we were there.

Race ending ceremonies were at the same place where we spent that last night, so we had to drive almost an hour to get there and we of course grabbed few beers for the evening.

The race summary uses the same mantra every year. We all have basic species list and this time it was 85 species. First you tell how many you miss from that list. our list was five short so 80 basic species. Then all the teams one by one starts to tell species, one at the time. First was something like Osprey an then all the teams one by one tells if they have it or not. This continues until all the teams have told all their species. I like the way this goes and it makes it thrilling till the end.

Anyway, long text, so finally we were at fourth spot with 112 species and four aces. It was very good spot, but we lost about 20 species for the winners.

Here is the final results.


Next morning we all woke up quite early and we went back to see some birds. We visited Vaibla where we had Red-breasted Flycatcher and Barred Warbler on hand and we drove back to Tallinn along small roads and fields. Many Lesser-spotted Eagles, loads of White Storks and few Common Buzzard. Also Kestrel and few other species we did not see in the race, of course!
With the few other lesser-spotted Eagles we had interesting Eagle which had both, Greater- and lesser spotted eagle features. Juha got amazing photos of the bird, so maybe something comes up of that.

One of many many White Storks we saw during the trip.

Possible hybrid between Greater- and Lesser Spotted Eagle.

1cy Barred Warbler. 

Bird this cool deserves at least two pictures! 

1cy Red-breasted Flycatcher.

Lesser-spotted Eagle with white ring. 

What an weekend with great birds and company. This race is always great fun and I really recommend to participate if you ever have a time and interest for that. You can imagine race with sea shore and how many other species you can add in that number. This time no sea, so sea birds are hard, obviously.
Thanks for the company Jände, Tuukka, Matti and Juha, and thanks for the organizers to make this great event possible.

More birding this week with Julius.


16. elokuuta 2019

Lammassaari with Julius. 13.8.2019

On 13th I took Julius and together we went to check if the rain has stopped any waders during their migration. Normally this time of the year is very god for those species, but this year has been poor.
We walked around the woods before we enter to the wooden path which take you to Lammassaari.
We stopped on first platform and from there I found three Red-backed Shrikes and a Great white Egret. Not bad I thought. We continued towards the island and lots of Lesser whitethroats calling around the area in deep bushes. Few Yellow Wagtails passed the reeds, but nothing better this time.
From the Lammassaari I counted 14 Ringed Plovers, nine Greenshanks, lone Broad-billed Sandpiper, one Common Sandpiper and three Woodsandpipers. Also some Caspian Terns, big flock of Barnacle Geese and two Sparrow Hawks around the area. Julius was sleeping and I was trying to find something better, but again, luck was not on my side. Five Common Snipes came from somewhere and lone Whinchat, that was all. Funniest species was Goat Moth caterpillar when we walked back to my car.
Few photos from the trip.

Maybe this one got the inner beauty. Goat Moth, Cossus Cossus.

Great White Egret. 

Adult male Red-backed Shrike. There was also two juveniles close by.

Distant Broad-billed Sandpiper. 

Part of the big flock of Barnacles. 

Nice birds and fun with my little boy.
This weekend I will take part to annual Estonian Bird race and this time the race locates in Viljandi county, which is in Southern part of the country. Great fun coming.
More local birding next week with Julius. And almost forgot to mention about Long-eared Owl I heard while jogging tonight.


13. elokuuta 2019

Suomenoja with Julius. 12.8.2019

Yesterday e had nice walk around Suomenoja, Espoo with Julius. Place is famous of breeding Horned Grebe and loads of other wildfowl.
I was hoping that Julius could sleep and I could look around, but the first round around the lake was me listening Julius and how he imitates a dog. It is pretty hilarious when one year old tries to do that, so I didn´t mind. Soon we saw our first Common pochard, witch was one of the easiest shortage from my year list. Huge numbers of Gadwals, but I wasn´t on a mood to count them all. I think around hundred birds around the area. Also Common Teal, Mallard and Showeler were pretty numerous.
After walking a bit further I found three Horned Grebe chicks with different kind of ducks and Common Moorhens were also quite common.
Julius was still awake, so I walked second lap and I was back at Grebe place where he finally turned into a sleep. I had time to check the area properly and I just left the stroller near the tower. Loads of Red Admiral butterflies with lone Peacock Butterfly and few Small Tortoiseshelles. Soon a man walked to the tower with telescope and he kindly showed me a long staying Little Grebe and I showed him a Garganey I found half an hour earlier. Good birds and some you really not see too often.
I also tried to photo some Wood Sandpipers, but pretty soon we got some light rain and all the actual light were gone.
Julius slept like one and a half hour and during that time I walked back to our car and we went back home.
Here is some photos from the day.

Vanessa Atalanta.


Common Moorhen.

Wood Sandpiper.

Juvenile Horned Grebe. 

Some stretching. 

Aglais Io.

Can you find the Little Grebe. 

Female Common Pochard. 

Still one adult Black-headed Gull with juveniles. 

More tomorrow, we are going to walk around the Viikki fields and stuff. Let´s see what we can find from there.


Loviisa Summerhousing 10.8-11.8.2019

We had very nice and warm weekend in our Loviisa summerhouse. We gathered with my family, cousins, my uncle and my brother to check some stuff from there and same time enjoying some good time with relatives. It has been over a year when my grandfather passed, and we were checking all the stuff he left behind.

Anyway I had time to watch some birds in our yard and beach during the day. Some dragonflies around too and at least Aesna Cyanea, Aeshna Grandis with Sympetrum Vulgatum and Sympetrum Flaveolum.
White-tailed Eagle, some Grey Herons and few migrating flocks of Swallows worth to mention.

Here is few pictures from the days we spent there.

Grey Heron.

Sympetrum Flaveolum

Sympetrum Vulgatum

Pied Flycatcher.

Thanks you for everyone who attended, we had great fun.


28. heinäkuuta 2019

Hartola summerhouse with Vilma. 20.7-22.7.2019

We had a short window to visit our summer house back in 20th of July. Sanni and Julius went to Asikkala to visit my mother in law and I took Vilma with me to Hartola. Hartola is about two hour drive from our home and finally we arrived later at the evening there. Last light was so smooth and beautiful, so I took my drone and had some epic photos of the area from 150 meters. Also my mother arrived from some party and she is spending her whole three week vacay there.

Me and our cottage. 

Left top lake called Rautavesi and top right Jääsjärvi. Small lake in the middle I have no idea. 

Our cottage. Even my car is visible from this ankle. 

Jääsjärvi, East side from our summerhouse. 

Next two days we had sauna, good food and some maintenance stuff. I washed my car, emptied our outhouse and tried to find some birds, butterflies and dragonflies.

Red-eyed Damselfly, Erythromma Najas. 

Red-eyed Damselfly, Erythromma Najas. 

Juvenile White Wagtail. 

Female Silver-studded Blue, Blebejus Argus. 

Dark-green Fritellary, Argynnis Aglaja. 

Willow Warbler behind the branch. 

Brimstone, Gonepteryx Rhamni. 

Great times and always nice to just go to the countryside and have a little break of the city life. After the weekend I have had only work, work and work. Next week is last before my five week paternal leave and I bet much more posts again when that time comes. Still few easy year ticks around the capital area here and I have planned to visit many different places with Julius. Also Estonian Open bird rally coming at middle of August.
More later.