27. huhtikuuta 2014

Isosaari fortress 26.4.2014

We have this annual recreation day at work (my first time but it sounds like annual) and this time my colleague arranged visit to Isosaari which is one of the most famous Finnish defence forces islands near Helsinki. Our taxi boat started little after 9am from Katajannokka and it took about 30 minutes to reach the island.

Eiders where everywhere.

Soon after we left from Katajannokka, we passed Suomenlinna.

Lost of sea ducks along our drive including Long-tailed Ducks, Eiders, some Mallards and one Black Guillemot.
First bird in the island i saw was Hobby, chased by Fieldfares. We dropped our bags and stuff in to old officer´s club and with our "tour leader" and one colleague who has worked there we started our walk around the island.
Nice looking place with lost of coniferous woods and rocky beaches.
When we came to islands South-East part i noticed different looking Eider in Common Eider flock and there it was. Long waited lifer King Eider!
I had only my 50mm lens with me so no pics this time. Also one migrating Black-throated Diver in same place. Other nice birds in the island was two Arctic Terns, eight Black Guillemots, Razor Bill, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Marsh Harrier and Black Woodpecker.
Here is some photos from the island.

Welcome sign. 

Old shooting range.

Island had also their own school in the past.

Kuivasaari is closest island.

Small lagoon.

We flushed female Eider and it had already five eggs.

Our Group sitting on big coastal gun.

Great views from maritime surveillance station. 

Great day continued in sauna and with some grilled sausage. Weather was almost unbelievable! Sun was shining all day and we had only small wing most of the day. Only when we left there was little western  blow which made our return trip little colder

It was little chilly. 

I must thank our guide whose name i can´t remember and especially Juha who arranged this trip. It was really worth every penny.
Also thank to Finnish Defence Forces for allowing us to visit the island. (Who knows, maybe they are reading my blog very passionately)


15. huhtikuuta 2014

Back in business 15.4.2014

After Israel i have spent most of my time at work.. This week is little different because i´m off all the week days (except next night). This morning Jari Linjala picked me up from my place and we drove to Vanjärvi which is in Vihti, quite near Helsinki. Morning was cloudy when we arrived but there was decent numbers of Ducks and Swans. I quickly checked the place with telescope and i found small flock of Bean Geese with one Greater White-fronted Goose. Always nice to see these birds.
We continued to the main place but i must say, it was little disappointment. Nice surprise was dispalying Male Black Grouse quite far away.

Also one Greater White-fronted Goose in this Bean Goose flock.

Whooper Swan.

Black Grouse male. 

After Vanjärvi we decided to check if the Great Egrets were still present in Lohja. During our drive we noticed Hazel Grouse walking across the street. Quick stop and out of the car. Grouse showed very nicely and there was real change to get once in a life time pics, but i screwed up that moment totally.. My settings were totally wrong and i was too slow.. Still mad at myself. Also Black Woodpecker drumming in the area.

It was so close!! 

Anyway, we continued to Pusulanjärvi where two Great Egrets have been some time now.
When we arrived some guy told us that birds just moved other side of the lake so little drive and we arrived to the right place.
Great Egret is uncommon mostly spring but also autumn visitor in Finland. Always nice to see these.

One Egret in tree. 

Here´s both birds.
Always nice to take photo when taking photo. Can you say it like that?

There was also lost of Swans in the area with some Tufted Ducks and Teals. Nice place and maybe worth to visit again some day.
Next stop was little closer to home. Villa Eflvik is part of the Laajalahti which is awesome birding place in Espoo. We left our car to the parking lot and walked around the area. There is lots of old forest with lost of Woodpeckers. This time only Lesser-spotted Woodpecker around. It´s great feeling to listen Treecreepers, Coal Tits, Goldcrests, Robins, Song Thrushes and other birds singing.
From the bird tower we had nice flock of eight Smews, Redshank, Meadow Pipit, Common Ringed Plover, Common Tern, Greylag Geese, Shovelers and many others.

Coal Tit.

Distant flock of Smews.

Great place and lots of birds. After this, Jari dropped me back to home.
Thanks for the company Jari, this was great fun. I clearly need more mornings like this.
Hear you soon.


8. huhtikuuta 2014

Last day, long drive and lots of good memories. 7.4.2014

Came home this morning. We had nice last day in Mitzpe Ramon, Sde Boker and Urim.
Quite early start with Erkki Valsta and we drove to Mitzpe Ramon Fieldschool. Our target species was Lanner Falcon but it did not want us to see it. Anyway we enjoyed maybe best raptor and especially Eagle migration of whole trip. 
First migratoin was little slow with some Buzzards and Black Kites but after sun riced little more we notice flocks of Eagles coming very near us. We had about 500 Buzzards, 50 Black Kites, 20 Lesser-spotted Eagles, 25 Steppe Eagles, Egyptian Vulture, four Short-toed Eagles and two Kestrels. 
Here´s some pics.
Mitzpe Ramon raptor-watch place.

Short-toed Eagle.

Black Kite.

Steppe Eagle.

And another one.

Also some nice local birds around. Northern Raven, Eastern-mourning Wheatear, Desert Larks and White-crowned Wheatear.

Desert Lark.

Northern Raven. I think...

After 3 hour raptor-watch we moved to have some coffee and then we drove to Yeruham Lake to check if Purple Swamphen would be still there. It did not.. Lots of Mallards, Coots, Tristham´s Starlings and Common Mynas around. Erkki also heard some Easter-olivaceous Warblers singing. 
After the lake Erkki left back to Eilat and we were thinking that what a heck we are going to do before we have to go Tel-Aviv. The answer was famous winter birding place called Urim. I had only one day experience there and Jände has been there maybe few times but we found the place. 
Lots of White Storks, Pallid Harrier, Buzzards, Chukars, Great-grey Shike and lots of other birds. 

Pallid Harrier, 2cy bird.

Nice view in Urim.

Same place.

We spend there 1,5 hours and it was great fun. That was our last place before we drove to Tel-Aviv. 
There were not many hours of daylight left so it was nice ending for our trip. 
Later we returned our car and waited our flight in the terminal. 

What a amazing and memorable trip we had. Special thank to Yoav Perlman, Jonathan Meyrav, Dan Alon for making this wonderful Champions of the Flyway even possible. 
Also thanks to Roni Väisänen, Matt Slaymaker, Teresa Montrás Janer, Jim Lawrence, Dale Forbes, Martin Fowlie, Stu Butchart, Roger Riddington, Adam Hutt, Paul French, Ken Billington, Gert Ottens, Martijn Verdoes, Marc Guyt, Noam Weiss, Tim Appleton, David Lindo, Stephen Moss, Jessie Barry, Marshall Iliff, Chris Wood, Colin Shields, Patricia Shields, Stephen Shields, Stu Elsom, Dominic Mitchell, Ian Lycett, Mike Alibone, Morten Bentzon Hansen, Bill Thompson III, Michael O´Brien, George Armistead, Ben Lizdas, Johannes Jansen, Brecht Verhelst, Alexander Rukhaia, Pim Wolf, Dick Newell, Rob Jolliffe, Tim Jones, Yael Lehnardt, Bas Kok, Liri Koplevitch, Yuval Dax,Itai Shanni rest of the IBRC-team, all Finnish birders and all Israeli teams in Champions of the Flyway race. 

Champions of the Flyway Racers, photo by Yuval Dax

Special thanks to Jände, Esko and Erkki Valsta who raced with me. Can´t wait till next time, which is possibly in August. Locals told us that it is insane to go Eilat that time. Some Finnish madness and it is possible.


6. huhtikuuta 2014

Slow last day in Eilat. 6.4.2014

So, last full day in Eilat today. I was whole morning in IRBC ringing station with my great buddies Roni, Bas, Yael, Liri and Swedish guys. Had great time but not much birds. One Common Nightingale was best bird from the nets i think. I hoped to see Saw-scaled Viper again, but maybe good, not this time.
Lots of Swallows around the station and some Bee-eaters too.

Common Nightingale. 
Barn Swallows.

Flock of Night Herons in morning light.

Later Roni had to return their rental car and i went to same way with him to meet Jände. After we dropped Roni back to the station we checked km19 Pool and km20 pools. Nothing really interesting there. It was hottest day so far and birds were hiding somewhere. Maybe two Collared Pratincoles, Egyptian Gooses are worth to mention.
Later we took well deserved siesta and we went to North beach later to have some sea-watch.
Yesterdays possible White-cheeked Tern has turned almost definite one. Bird certainly looks good foor White-cheeked and as you can see from next picture, it looks more like a Chlidonias tern thatn Sterna tern.

White-cheeked on left and Common Tern right.

Also lots of other nice but common stuff around the beach.

Sandwich Tern.

White-eyed Gull.

Roni, Bas, Jände, Esko, Erkki and Harri in the photo. 

So, like i mentioned this was our last day in Eilat. Tomorrow we will start quite early to Mitzpe Ramon to check some Lanner place and hopefully we see one! Later we go Sde Boker and finally at the evening back to Tel Aviv and home.. More of that tomorrow with some photos and lost of thanks to many people.


5. huhtikuuta 2014

Hot day, nice evening 5.4.2014

We started from the mountains again. This time we followed our Danish friends but even with them we did not get decent migration. Few Steppe Eagles, two Levant Sparrowhawks, Booted Eagle etc. Levants are always nice to see. Maybe after two weeks they will come with big numbers.

Raptor watch. Peter with hes red shorts. 

Soon we continued to Ovda. Our target was Temminck´s Larks which i still need to fill my Israeli list!
As you might expect, we did not find those birds.. We had small flock of Crowned Sandgrouses, photography-friendly Common Kestrel and some other stuff.

Common Kestrel female.

After Ovda we checked Neot Smadar sewage. Nice flock of Wagtails with our first Grey Wagtail of the trip. Also lone Collared Pratincole landed to the pools.

Black-headed Wagtail with White Wagtail. Lost of these beauties around.

Soon we were ready there and next place was Wadi Yahel. Place was introduced by our great guides Jonathan and Yoav during guided scouting before Champions of the Flyway.
Lots of birds around but nothing really special today. Female Rueppel´s Warbler, lost of Lesser Whitethroats, Black Caps, Sand Patridges etc.

Black Start in Yahel.

Wadi Yahel. 

Real work try to find all the birds with only three guys in big wadi. Later we continued to Yotvata, we checked all the places including dinner. Not many birds in the fields but we had Siberian Stonechat and other common stuff. In sewage we saw Glossy Ibis, Squacco Heron and lost of waders.

Closeup of Glossy Ibis. Evil looking bird! 

Our last place, like it is every night, North Beach. Almost first bird what we had was interesting Sterna-tern. Looks White-cheeked Tern for me but i´m not an expert. Here is some photos.




Rest of the evening we had enjoyable sea-watch and we saw Pomarine Skua, Arctic Skua and lost of other local birds. Big flock of Sandwich Terns around with one or two Caspian Terns.

Caspian Tern.

The Beach.

Tomorrow we have visit to IBRC ringing station. Can´t wait. Not so many days left, so need to enjoy every moment.


4. huhtikuuta 2014

Decent birding in Eilat area. 4.4.2014

Today we started little later, at 8:00. First stop was Eilat mountains to check if there´s any raptor migration.
Poor day for the raptors and we continued quickly to Yotvata and Qetura.
First we checked Qetura sewage and surprisingly we found Whimbrel there! Also tasty Egyptian Vulture during our drive.

Egyptian Vulture, Subadult. 

Naturally we continued to Yotvata next and there we had two short periods of raptor watch. Nice Montagus Harrier, Booted Eagle, Namaqua Dove, Whinchat, Collared Pratincoles and some Ortolan Buntings.

Collared Pratincole. 

Namaqua Dove

Time was flying again and we continued to km20 pools. Nothing, and i mean nothing interesting there. Only huge flock of Little Stints, Flamingos, some Red-necked Phalaropes etc.

Juvenile Flamingo.
Soon we were in Yotvata sewage and there we had nice flock of different kind of Yellow Wagtails and other normal birds.

Red-throated Pipit.

Squacco Heron.

Next stop was km 19 pools where we had Osprey, lots of different ducks and real pain in the ass, the flies.. These Flies bite really painful.. Flesh eating bastards.


Later we had quick snack in hotel and then nice sea-watch in North Beach. Lots of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Garganeys, Buzzards and one Harrier flying very high.
Tomorrow something else. I will try to agree at least one visit to ringing station before we leave.
Not much text, but i think it is better for you guys :)
Good night.