4. huhtikuuta 2020

Firecrest with Vilma and walk with the kids. 2.4.2020

Finally time to write about our nice twitch on 2nd of April.

I have had many night shifts lately and that has effected my birding of course cause you have to sleep after your shift.
On second I woke up quite early and when Julius went to have his daily nap I took Vilma with me cause the alarm of Firecrest came about half an hour before. Drive to Espoo took us about 25 minutes and we arrived to the full parking lot. First Firecrest for the year in Finland attracted quite many twitchers and we had to take care of the distances because of the Covid-19 virus.

After walking about 200m we were at the place where the bird was seen last time but it was lost. About 10 people were looking at it and I said to Vilma that let´s walk a bit around the small area. Took me like two minutes to find the bird! I noticed a small bird moving in a bush and it was easy to identify it. I told others to come closer and the bird moved a bit higher so all saw it quite well. Photographing it was real pain in the ass and my Sony RX10 had troubles to focus behind the branches. I managed to get few pictures and soon we left to check the Spools near by. More and more people gathered so it was good time to move on.
Moment when I found the bird. Can you spot it? 

There is not too many flying photos of Firecrest. 

Cute bird. 

Vilma had raisins and her own camera with her. 


Quite much wildfowl at the pools. Pochards, Tufted Ducks, Gadwalls, Mallards, Coots and Goldeneyes. Later spring this place is full of birds and one of the places where Slavonian Grebe nests in capital area.
We walked around the pools, and at some point Vilma started to vine about going to the car and home, so we left. It was good hour we spend there and nice birds to my year list.

Mixed flock of ducks. Female Pochard, Tufted Ducks, Coots and Gadwalls.

Gadwall pair. 

Female Goldeneye



After we came back home we had some food and then I took both kids with me to have a walk where we spot teddy bears from the windows. This has been an international Facebook challenge or something.
We walked around the neighborhood and we had quite many bears. At some point we decided to have a small adventure at the woods and we ended up walking around the whole Hallainvuori area! It took us about an hour to do all that. I had my camera with me but not too many birds around. Great-spotted Woodpecker, Siskins, Parrot- and Common Crossbills and other common stuff.
Here is a picture of Common Crossbills.

Male Common Crossbill. 


What a day. Good rarity, some other common, but always good species. Now my year list is 99 species, so soon I hit the one hundred mark.
More birding later.
Stay healthy!

-Tom

30. maaliskuuta 2020

Sunny Viikki birding. 29.3.2020

Yesterday I went to check the Viikki fields and Vanhankaupunginlahti bay with my bicycle. It was nice crispy weather with one degrees and clear sky. First I went though fields and my first stop was in Hakalanniemi tower. Fields were empty, just a handful of Geese and lots of Lapwings. Skylarks were singing and it felt a bit like spring.
I saw that there is just one guy in the tower so good to go. Cause this Covid-19 virus is running in Helsinki area you must be careful with that.
It was nice to noticed that the guy was Aleksi Mikola. Together we scanned the sky and the water area, but nothing really interesting came up. Common Snipe, some Eurasian Teals, flock of Smews, White-tailed Eagle etc. Nice morning anyway.
Soon more and more people started to visit the tower and we decided to leave. We checked a field near by before Aleksi left and I found two White Wagtails from there. Nice spring birds! It was nice to have some company, even for a short period of time.

Whooper Swans and Canada Geese in Vanhankaupunginlahti.

Fields were surprisingly empty.

My trusted companion, Kona Unit. 




Soon after that I went back to the fields and stayed there about two hours. At some point I got alarm message of Redkite heading east from Kirkkonummi. Wind was blowing from North and I was quite sure that if the bird continues same route, it can be seen from the spot I was standing.
I also talked with my uncle Jände and he came little later. I was freezing after that two hours and because there was no sign of the Kite we left. Best birds during my watch were Lapland Longspur, flock of 48 Lapwings, Common Buzzard and two Meadow Pipits...

Distant Common Buzzard. 


I came home and after some food I took my kids and we went to play outside. We walked around the Viikki area and kids had good time. During the time we were out I had Great-spotted Woodpecker, Robin, Stock Does, Woodpigeons, big flock of Linnets etc.

European Robin.

House Sparrow having a sand bath. 



Nice day with few new species for the year. Next week should be little bit warmer, so maybe more and more birds will arrive.
More later.

-Tom 

23. maaliskuuta 2020

Sunny day at Viikki and lots of dipped birds.. 22.3.2020

I had nice bike ride around the Viikki and Vanhankaupunginlahti today. I started from Taka-Viikki where I tried to see Dipper, but no luck and then I headed to the fields. I had 13 Snow Buntings, Wood lark, Great-grey Shrike, loads of Geese and many singing Skylarks.

Distant flock of Snow Buntings. 

Same birds in flight. 

Yellowhammer was singing its heart out. 


From the Fields I ride to Fastholma where I watched the feeder for some time. Two Bramblings, Great-spotted Woodpecker and singing Robin were something to mention.
After Fastholma I slowly went back to home. I stopped few times, for example at Majavakallio where I checked the White-tailed Eagle nest and Grey Heron colony. Six Smews at the bay.

Grey Heron.

White-tailed Eagle and Crows.

Robin was singing in Fastholma.

Male Brambling.

Female Brambling.


Later I got an alarm message of Red Kite heading East from Kirkkonummi. I took Vilma and we tried to see the bird from Viikki fields. No luck, but few Snow Buntings, Rook and few flocks of migrating Geese were nice.
After this we went back home to pick up Julius and we drove to Vihti where we tried to twitch a local celebrity Western Capercaillie. Again I had no luck today, but kids had fun in the park and I saw a lone Common Buzzard.. We spend an hour there and checked few places near by, but no bird.


So, three targets, zero success.. I guess it will pay back some day, but I must say that I was a little bit pissed today. Maybe next time.

-Tom

8. maaliskuuta 2020

Few birds from the weekend. 8.3.2020

This weekend has been running around the capital area to some birthday parties with my family and just relaxing at home when possible.
On Saturday we had Sanni´s god daughter´s birthday in Espoo and most of the afternoon was spent there. Today we visited in Pakila, where we had our friends son´s party. Lots of cake and stuff this weekend! I had first Woodpigeon of the year while driving back home from there!

Later today I had my mother visiting us and we decided to take the kids outside. We had good time in playground and we also visited Viikki staples to see some horses. Vilma was so excited about those! Julius was sitting in a stroller and he just wanted to play some ball. I was hoping to see some spring birds, but nothing really in the area... Loads of Crows, pair of Ravens, Jackdaws, House Sparrows, Green Finches etc.
Sun was shining and it was really nice spring weather.

First Coltsfoot (tussilago farfara) for the year.

Jackdaw with only a little white collar.

This bird had much more and it was the "blondie" of the flock. Great looking bird. 

Rather odd looking male Mallard with almost bluish peak.

One of many Hooded Crows.

What a weather. 

We also gave some bread to the Mallards and kids had fun.

Hopefully more birds next week!

-Tom 

3. maaliskuuta 2020

Rest of the February and first few days of March.

February passed and nothing really happened to me birdvicely after the amazing Snowy Owl at 16th.
I have been working and cause I´m cycling I have always change to see something when I go to work or back to home. On 17th I got Reed Bunting from Vanhankaupunginlahti, 18th I twitched my earliest ever Northern Lapwing from Viikki and from work I noticed an mobile Hawfinch, so nice species without any real birding.

Lapwing in Viikki.

On 19th both of my bikes were stolen... So I had small break of cycling. That didn´t slow me down and I found Eurasian Nuthatch from Meilahti and same day I saw three Canada Geese in Pikkuhuopalahti. Especially Nuthatch was super cool. I left work and I was walking towards buss stop and I heard the call and then bird moved quickly around me quite close and disappeared behind the buildings.
On 23rd I was driving with my family and I found a flock of big birds flying above Marjaniemi. I stopped in traffic lights and checked the flock with binoculars and all the birds were Grey Herons, 18 of them in same flock!

On 25th I took this picture of White-tailed Eagle with my mobile phone while I waited a buss.
White-tailed Eagle and Hooded Crow.

On 27th I had special night with Vilma and we had her first Ice Hockey game. Helsinki IFK was playing against Assat from Pori and we had good time! Thanks to my coworker Jenni for the tickets!
I also had flock of Tufted Ducks and lone Greater Scaup female in Westend, Espoo that same day!

Moment before the game started. Home team HIFK with red jerseys.

On 28th I finally got my new bike Kona Unit and I was able to cycle again. During the ride back home I visited Viikki fields and the same flood which had the Lapwing earlier was totally frozen! Crazy looking sight when people were ice skating there that day. I also had three Greylag Geese in next field and few calls of Bearded Reedlings before the fields from the reed bed.

Nice sunny weather gave us some minus degrees and this little lake was frozen. 

The last day of February (29th) I had White-throated Dipper in Malmi from my car, so good luck with this species this time.
First of March gave a a small flock of  Long-tailed Tits at my backyard and yesterday I had Spotted Nutcracker in Laakso and Stock Dove in Arabianranta.

On second of March I counted 33 Canada Geese and three Greylags from Viikki. 


So nice variety of different birds even when you just keep you eyes and ears open. Next weekend I hope I could visit Porvoo where two Azure Tits are hanging in one place. They were found last weekend.

-Tom 

16. helmikuuta 2020

Snowy Owl. 16.2.2020

I was spending normal Sunday morning with my family when I noticed an alarm message of Snowy Owl from our alarm system. I knew that yesterday someone had seen this species in Kouvola area, but I still was surprised that it was found again.
Sanni was super, like she normally is and let me go and I was driving only 30minutes after the bird was found.
It was one of the longest hour and forty minutes in my life and when I arrived to the road where the bird was seen I was sure that this can´t be the right place. It looked like shopped forest and some small cliffs, but that was all, until I arrived to the right place where was small field. I was still driving when I saw the Owl from the car and dude, it was huge! I continued and parked where the other twitchers were and started to look the bird.
It was sitting on a branch the whole 25 minutes I spend there and most of the time it looked our group and then trimmed his/hers feathers. It was a good thing cause when birds take care of the feathers, normally they are in good condition.

There are few different opinions of the age and sex of the bird.
I think that the bird was a female, maybe third calendar year bird, and this is only based on lack of dark areas in feathers, huge size and feeling. Few people were talking about little bit older male, but not really a old enough to get pure white outfit. I have troubles to believe that, but like in many things, I´m not an expert.
We kept nice distance to the bird so everyone could see the bird and it won´t disappear too soon.

After 25 minutes I left and drove straight to home and we took our kids with their cousins to activity park in Ruoholahti and we had good time there. Vilma and Julius were so tired and took maybe 10 minutes to get them to bed after supper.
Here is few pictures of the bird.

Snowy Owl.

What a beast. It was a size of a small eagle. 

Bird this rare attracts people. You can see a small white dot in a tree, that was the bird. 

So, one of my dream come true birds today, amazing feeling. I didn´t really expect this coming. I tried to twitch this species once from Kokkola, but no success and now like 5 years later I finally got it. Normally twitching does not give me that kind of euphoria feeling, but today it came, like big time. Wow.
First, but hopefully not the last lifer for the year.

-Tom 

15. helmikuuta 2020

Cycling around. 15.2.2020

Today I had time to go out and I took my bicycle and made about 7km tour around Vanhankaupunginlahti and close by places.
I started just after sunrise and my first stop was in Majavakallio where I took a look of the Vanhankaupunginlahti water area. Before that I had Great-grey Shrike at Viikki fields.  Most of the bay was frozen and only few birds around. Celebrity White-tailed Eagles around and one bird was sitting on a nest. There is now breeding attempt in Vanhankaupunginlahti and I hope all goes well. Place is in small island where normally we have tens of Grey Heron nests, so let´s see what happens.
Grey-headed Woodpecker took of from a tree when I arrived to the place and I had time to watch it in flight when it headed towards Lammassaari.

Island where White-tailed Eagles planned to nest.

Lone Eagle at the nest behind the Mute Swan flock.


I continued towards Fastholma where I knew a feeder and some nice records like White-backed Woodpecker, Nuthatch etc.
I met Aki Aintila and his better half? and they told that place was quite empty. I still wanted to take a look and when I arrived the first bird I saw in the feeder was male White-backed Woodpecker! Finally got even decent photos of this species. Also got single Willow Tit, many Great-and Blue Tits, Blackbirds, Great-spotted Woodpecker and some others.
I walked around and at some point I heard Black Woodpecker calling. I tried to locate the bird but call was going other way and I turned around quite soon. Black Woodpecker is always nice to have, so I was glad.
Quite soon I decided to leave and I went around the bay back to Viikki side. I checked Keinumäki feeder, but not much else than Tits and lone Siskin. After that I went through the fields and there I had pack of 12 Roe Deer and two Goshawks, one old and one first winter bird.
Quite soon after fields I went back home. I only checked a stream near by if any Dipper would show up, but no luck with that.
Here is few photos from the morning.

Coal Tit from Keinumäki.

Whooper Swans from Purolahti.

Roe Deer from Viikki fields.

Male White-backed Woodpecker. Ringed by Tatu Hokkanen. 

Nice birds, but really small numbers others than the most common ones. Four species of Woodpeckers is always nice and can´t really complain what I saw today.
More stuff hopefully soon.

-Tom

9. helmikuuta 2020

Birding with my kids. 8.2.2020

This weekend, like many other weekends I had kids and Sanni was working. I had to figure out some activities and we decided to go to Seurasaara, the place where I used to visit very often few yeas back.
We parked our car before 11 a clock and right away I got few Mergansers, loads of Mallards, lone 3cy Greater Black-backed Gull, few Common Gulls and pair of Goldeneyes near the bridge to the island.
We had also some nuts for Squirrels and bids and Vilma was super excited about giving those to the animals.
We stopped in every feeder and we gave nuts to birds and Squirrels, and we had nice close by looks of many birds like Coal Tit, Jay, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Goshawk and big flock of 30 Siskins.
Also Squirrel was very common and we had at least 15 animals around the island.
From one feeder I found Robin, which is always nice species during the winter months and I was really surprised that I heard few calls from Winter Wren from same place. I saw the bird quickly, but no photos. Always nice to see in February.

We also stopped at the picnic place and I bought us sausages to barbecue. Nice to get some warm food during the long walk. It is almost 4km from bridge to the south tip and back. With stroller and one four year old it is even longer.
Here is few pics from the day.

Terrible photo, but when you have grey day and bird is under the tree, this is what you get.. Robin.

Grill.

Female Merganser.

Great Tit.

Vilma and Julius.

Sometimes you need to rest. Vilma was brave and walked the whole island. 


Nice little walk and I guess I could see more birds without the kids, but it is what it is, right? I got Common Gull, Wren, Robin and Goldeneye to my year list and that really shows how many times I have been out with my binoculars... Depressing.

Moe later, I hope.

Tom 

31. tammikuuta 2020

rest of the January 31.1.2020

Finally time to write here... So, a week a go we went to see my mother in law in Asikkala and I had short periods of time to watch some birds there. We walked around Vääksy where normally I have seen Dippers, but not this time. Loads of Mallards in open water spots, but that was basically it. We visited on playground and around that was small flock of Yellowhammers, lone Brambling, some Greater-spotted Woodpeckers and other common birds. I got Jay and Coal Tit to my year list.

On 26th I had time to go and check Salonsaari, near the Vääksy and there I found good numbers of Goldcrests, Greater-spotted Woodpeckers and very mobile and shy Three-toed Woodpecker. Shame that I saw the bird only in flight.. No raptors of any kind in the area and basically without the forest species the place was empty.

Otherwise I have been at work and from there I have had only the most common species like Domestic Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Greenfinch, Bullfinch etc...

Here is few pictures from last week.

Part of the big flock of Domestic Pigeon in Vääksy center.

Partially leucistic Mallard with others.

Bohemian Waxwings in tree. 


This huge Goshawk was sitting in our yards ladder.

It was already dark and raining when I took this photo. Lots of photoshopping...


February is around the corner and it is normally the wort month for birds, but let´s see. High hopes.

-Tom