28. toukokuuta 2014

Weekend in Pori, SW Finland. 23.5-25.5.2014

Finally i have some time to write this post and tell you about my last weekend in Pori.
After night shift and not so long sleep, my buss left from Helsinki to Pori at 2 pm. Long and boring (4 hours) drive was real pain in the ass but i made it. When i arrived my friend Petteri and hes wife Matleena picked me up. First we went to have coffee with Petteris parents and after that we started to do some birding.
Clock was about 7.30 pm when i looked our alarm system and i noticed that Lesser Grey Shrike was found in Kirrinsanta, which was actually our first target. Nice start! After 15 minutes driving we arrived there and soon i found the Shrike sitting on a little Birch.
Bird was quite mobile and it changed place very often. I managed to take some distant shots of the birds but it was quite hard to photo.

Lesser Grey Shrike.

In flight.

In the tree where it was found.

Trough my telescope.

We were not the only ones who wanted to see the bird, but i guess everybody saw it that evening. We met Juha Sjöholm in the area and he joined us for the rest of the trip but more that later.
Kirrinsanta is nice place with low vegetation so we walked around the fields there but nothing better than lost of Yellow Wagtail with Lesser-G Shrike.

Female Yellow Wagtail.

From Kirrinsanta we went to Levo to check if the Greenish Warbler would show up, and it really did. If i´m honest, we did not saw the bird but it was very close, calling actively. Also one Wood Warbler and Hawfinch in the area. Because there was still daylight left we drove trought Riitasarka to the famous Yyterin Lietteet to check some waders and other birds. We had one Baltic Dunlin, three normal Dunlins, one Little Stint, one Broad-billed Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit and some birds which are little harder to see. Five Water Rails and one Spotted Crake were calling around the bird tower.
We had our last light in Enäjärvi but nothing much there. Only two displaying Wood Cocks around.
That moment we decide to drive all night and check all good song bird places in the area and sleep later.
First stop in Halssi where we had Tawny Owl. Next Launainen where we heard very odd sound which turned out to be European Beavers sound! Also Common Grasshopper Warbler were singing with Common Cuckoo.

Tawny Owl. Notice rainbow eyes, so i put some pink ink.

After these places our route was Kyläsaari-Airfield-Pinomäki-Pietniemi-Preiviiki-Kaarluoto-Kerinjärvi-Kirrinsanta-Lampaluoto.

Here is some numbers.

Blyth´s Reed Warbler 18
Grasshopper Warbler 3
Great Bittern 1 in Kirrinsanta
Great-reed Warbler in Kirrinsanta
Marsh Warbler 3
Corncrake 2
Common Cuckoo 3

At four a clock next morning we drove Juha back home and we met Pasi Alanko and with hes boat we went to Haminakari which is nice little island. Sadly after 20 minutes sailing we had to notice that there was not too much visibility.. At least we managed to see one Red-necked Grebe, some Black and Velvet Scoters, little flock of Greater Scaups, and two dark morph Arctic Skuas.

Pasi and Petteri.

Dark morph Arctic Skua.

Soon we left to the nearest island called Iso-Enskari and we walked around it. Lots of Spotted Flycatchers, Goldcrests and later Petteri found singing Siberian Chiffchaff! Bird was very hard to see but it sang very actively. Finally i managed to take very bad photos of it and Petteri took some recordings of its song.
Siberian Chicffchaff is normally autumn rarity in Finland, so it was big surprise to find it now! There is not many spring records, but anyway, it is just a subspecies at the moment..

There it was! 

Petteri made real alfa-male posing after founding this great bird.

Archipelago birding in Iso-Enskari.

Clock was already about seven of eight so we sailed back and after we landed back to mainland Pori, we checked Sahakoski if there would be anything nice. Brambling male was best sighting.


Finally we went to Petteris house and it took maybe 30 seconds to fall asleep.
We had nice seven hour sleep and because Matleena went to watch hockey with her friends, me and Petteri were at home with their awesome daughter Mimosa. Just before nine pm and after lots of different games with Mimosa, we left again to check Enäjärvi and Teemuluoto if some chlidonias tern would show or even something better. Not this time. In Enäjärvi we had one Ichterine Warbler singing and in Teemuluoto we saw almost 150 Little Gulls, two Marsh Harriers and some singing Ichterine and Reed Warblers.

Beautiful view in Teemuluoto.

Also in Teemuluoto.

After Teemuluoto we went to Toukari to listen some singing birds again. We had huge numbers of nice birds in short time. We met also Veikko Aalo there.

River Warbler 3
Grasshopper Warbler 7
Blyth´s Reed Warbler 5
Marsh Warbler 1
Corncrake 7
Thrush Nightingale 14.

River Warbler trough my binoculars.

For a change we drove back to the house and we wanted to be out again in first light.
Plans changed after we noticed huge thunder storm at 4 am when we should woke up. So it was well deserved longer sleep.
At 9 am we went out and we checked some fields before we had quite long raptor watch in Teemuluoto.
In five hours we had some raptors and very nice flock of three Black Terns! Here is some numbers.

Honey Buzzard 6
White-tailed Eagle 2
Marsh Harrier 12
Common Buzzard 2
Sparrow hawk 1
Osprey 2
Hobby 5
Little Stint 2
Temmink´s Stint 4
Broad-billed Sandpiper 15
Whimbler 1
Little Gull 40
Black Tern 3

White-tailed Eagle


So nice numbers of birds around and of course the Black Terns were very nice sighting.
This was our last birding place before we went back to city and later evening we went out to hope that Finland would beat Russia in hockey. Well.. Everybody who watched that game knows what happened. Anyway we had great time and next morning i had to leave back to Helsinki with the buss.

I must thank Petteri, Matleena and Mimosa for superb company and great hospitality. We had great fun. Also thanks to Pasi Alanko, Matti Mäkelä, Juha Sjöholm and all the others who i met. Can´t wait to come back some day.

Lots of text and photos this time. Next week my summer holiday will start and more stories coming.


22. toukokuuta 2014

Finally rest of our Estonian trip. 20.5.2014

So we were in Pärnu and our target species was Booted Eagle. Little late woke up and after morning rituals and breakfast we drove to the place were bird was last seen. Old wisdom says "When you twitch, look the place where bird was last seen" and that we did. Area was huge and there was lots of good looking area where this kind of bird could easily hunt or do something else. In three hours what we spend there we did not saw the Eagle but lots of other kind of good stuff. White-backed Woodpecker was nice with five Golden Orioles. Wood Lark and Stock Dove were singing and Red-backed Shrikes had their own territories around.

Starling is beautiful bird. 

Common Crane couple.

Wood Lark.
Little difficult light but male Marsh Harrier showed nicely. 

Finally we decided to quit and we went to Kabli Bird Observatory to have some sea/raptor watch. Not much birds around but Hoopoe, Whooper Swan flock with lone Tundra Swan migrating or just moving, Great-white Egret went South and so on.

Great-white Egret.

After Kabli we dove to Audru and like week a go there was lots of birds. Four Marsh Sandpipers, three Black Terns, one White-winged Tern, two Greater White-fronted Geese and lots of Ducks.
Later we started our drive to Tallinn and back home. Along the ride there was very few birds.

Marsh Sandpiper, Audru. 

Thanks Jände and Timo again. Very nice trip with you guys. Tomorrow i will go to Pori and trying to find some rarities with Petteri during the weekend.


19. toukokuuta 2014

Still waiting that one. 19.5.2014

Another morning with high hopes. We dropped Timo at the watching point and with Jände we checked all the fields near by. Without any great success we came back after two hours to pick up Timo who saw male Pallid Harrier while we were gone! Our best were few singing Blyth´s Reed Warblers..

Singing Yellowhammer.

Eurasian Curlew.

Beautiful Baltic Sea view in Toila.
Soon we continued our patient raptor watch and heat was rising like in Israel. After few hours we had some Honey Buzzard migration, lone Turtle Dove and few Golden Orioles.
All 24 Honey Buzzards went East. In some point i took photo of House Martin.

House Martin.

I guess we had enough empty sky and finally we packed our bags and left from the "raptor zone". Our next project is Booted Eagle which Margus Ellermaa saw today here in Pärnumaa county. So we drove across the country with some stops around the fields and other nice places.
Place called Moldova gave us Black Kite and few other raptors. In Ontika we saw our first Hobby of the trip and maybe the best bird today we saw at Kunda when 2cy Tundra Peregrine Falcon gave us decent views.
It was funny situation because first i noticed the falcon and it was so huge that i said something like "what is that? Maybe Harrier or something?" And then we make VERY quick stop. fortunately we got nice pics of the bird.

Tundra Peregine. 

And another picture.

Maybe worst picture of Black Kite ever. 

After the Peregrine suddenly all the birds disappeared and rain came so we had lots of time to drive here in Pärnu. Now sitting on our hotels terrace having some good white vine.
Let´s hope we are going to find that Booted Eagle tomorrow! Also Booted Warblers around so maybe one of those also tomorrow.


18. toukokuuta 2014

Day of high hopes. 18.5.2014

Today we woke up many rarities in our minds. Weather forecast was so good that there have to be some thing great!
We started from Vask-Narva to have some migration watch but there was not any wind and i guess that stopped the whole migration. Many good local birds around of course including about 35 Black Terns, lost of Little Gulls, Black-tailed Godwit, two Golden Orioles etc. We had great few hours there before we went back to have some rest before great raptor watch!

Black-tailed Godwit.

Little Gull with two Black Terns. 

Second calender year Little Gull.

Adult Little Gull.

It is nice to see how much this kind of water birds can be seen in Estonia. These species are sometimes quite hard to find in Finland, especially Black Tern.
After we had our nap, we continued to Laagna to have our magnificent raptor watch.
Like many times, you have maybe little bit too much expectations and soon you are facing frustration.
Okay i must say that we did not have any frustrations in our group, but it is quite hard to keep your mind in focus when you have maybe one buzzard every 25 minutes, and soon you noticed that you are always watching the same local bird :) Anyway we had nice time, laughing and making some plans to play pranks to our friends. After four hours we had lunch and then we continued about an hour and there is some numbers.

Lesser-spotted Eagle 2 local birds.
White-tailed Eagle 3
Marsh Harrier 6
Hen Harrier 1
Common Buzzard 10
Honey Buzzard 3
Sparrow Hawk 9
Kestrel 3

So not much in five hours... Other nice species were 11 Hawfinches, some White Storks and about 12 thousand local Barnacle Geese.

Some Geese and camera.

Female Linnet with nesting materials.

Male Marsh Harrier. 

After all this we checked some fields near by but nothing really special there.. Yesterdays Terek Sandpiper was also gone.
Nice day and i got maybe my best pics of Little Gulls ever. Forecast is looking red hot so maybe tomorrow is the day what we all have waited for a long time.


17. toukokuuta 2014

Eastern Estonia again 17.5.2014

So, im back here in Eastern Estonia. We drove around the Ida-Virumaa county hoping to have some good rarities. Also new city for me when we visited in Narva-jõesuu, which is "famous" spa-city near Russian border. Along driving we saw about thousand Black-headed Gulls in one field!
Black-headed Gulls.

 Raptors were gone but Barnacle Geese still here in big numbers. We counted about 35000 individuals! Later today we were driving along some random road along the coastline and we met Margus Ellermaa and Indrek Tammekänd. Guys told us that they saw Terek Sandpiper only 500m before they met us! Quick chat with the guys and then we left towards the place where they saw the bird.

Terek Sandpiper was in that little pool! 

Distant record shot of the Sandpiper. 

What a way to start this trip! This Terek Sandpiper was my Estonian tick number 280, so it´s getting harder every time, but i have been very lucky recently.
Quite soon we continued and it took only minutes when Jände stopped the car and yelled something about some bird landing in the field very near. We came out of the car and awesome Short-eared Owl jumped in the air! Great bird indeed!

Hi there, it said! 

Later we found nice flock of Barnacle Geese near by and i got some nice flock pictures of those.

Barnacle Geese. 

What a nice day we had.
Tomorrow the weather should be better for raptors. After morning we are going to take some good position and i hope we are going to see some good migration or some real rarities!
Timo just came back to our room and he heard River Warbler outside! I guess i have to go out now.

Almost forgot. This fellow is living in our Hotels backyard. Sleepy cat.

Sleepy cat.


14. toukokuuta 2014

300. 14.5.2014

This was normal day at the office when we noticed alarm of Little Bustard in Kirkkonummi earlier today!
In some point i forgot the whole bird and when i was going home, Jände called me and asked did i get a ride to twitch the bird. I did not so we decided to go together, even though Jände had seen the species in the past. Maybe in Espoo 1983 when it was last time in our home county.
Took only seconds to see the bird first time and there it was, my Finnish tick number 300. Everything was great, very rare bird, my uncle, Roni and Vilppu with me and nice warm evening.
300 is not really big number, but when i started do real birding in Finland it was year 2010 and after that i have seen most of my birds after that. (Last year 257 in Finland) At the moment i still have more birding days in Estonia than Finland.

Long distance shot, but there it was. Little Bustard.


My 300 smile and Vilppu, who had also lifer today! 

Thanks guys for company and congratulations! Next target 400 maybe in 10 years?


12. toukokuuta 2014

Western Estonia birding and back home 11.5.2014

Again quite late morning after having fun yesterday. After breakfast we drove to cape Pösaspea to have some sea watch. Pösaspea is cape after very little "village" called Spithami. In the fields of Spithami we had about 40 Whinchats and lots of Northern Wheatears. Of course we checked all the birds because possibility of some other Stone Chat, but not any today. WE continued our driving to the cape.


Before i even had time to take my telescope out of the car Timo found awesome White-winged Tern flying near the shore. Scarce bird in Western Estonia and always nice to have these.
Because of the late morning migration was not so massive.. Some Red-throated Divers and Black-throated Divers, some flocks of Velvet Scoters, Black Scoters going north. One Rock Pipit around and other common stuff of course. Here is some photos.

Huge flock of Long-tailed Ducks were lying quite near.

Flock of Barnacles going.

White-winged Tern, bird of the day.

Common Ringed Plover.

After some time we went back to the Spithami fields and this time we had male Red-backed Shire, more Whinchats and Common Redstart.

Also this kind of monster around! My first good pic of Roe Deer.

Red-backed Shrike. 

Male Whinchat.
After Spithami we checked Dirhami harbor near by. Ortolan Bunting was best bird there.
Soon we drove back to Linnamäe to get our stuff. Tuula left also and we went to paslepa make some raptor watch. Montagu´s Harriers also there and lots of White-tailed Eagles. Overall it was quite dead and after checking some places we continued our drive towards Tallin and back home.

Male Montagu´s Again.

In Tallin we made some shopping and later our ship left towards Helsinki.
We had awesome trip this time. Of course Egyptian Vulture was THE highlight, but also it was super nice to spend time with Timo and Jände. We had lost of laughing and jokes during our drivings and i wish we can make another trip very soon. Thanks for the company guys.