28. kesäkuuta 2019

Red-headed Bunting, 25.6.2019

When we were still in Crete an unexpected rarity alarm came to my phone. Red-headed Bunting was reported from Salo, only 120km from Helsinki, where I live. It was only real mega rarity during my time in Greece, but somehow this was special. Days passed and the bird was always found again from that same small area where it was found.
On 25th on flight landed at 2am and after taxi ride back home I took my car, picked my uncle Jände and together we started at 4am from Helsinki to Salo. 
In 90 minutes arrived to the site and there was already some people looking for the Bunting. Some familiar faces like Olavi Kemppainen and Pekka Komi were there. We got info that bird was singing just minutes before we came, so thank god it was still there. 
Like a minute later I also heard the song and soon we found the bird sitting on a small branch just above the ground. 
I got some pictures and short video from that situation. Shame that later the bird did not show that well anymore, so after 30 minutes we decided to leave. 
Here is few pictures of this amazingly beautiful and rare bird. I can only imagine how the finder felt when he watched this bird. Bright yellow and reddish brown color combination.. Wow. Also singing Marsh Warbler, many Sedge Warblers and loads of Pheasants around. 

Male Pheasant. 

Singing Red-headed Bunting. 

More Singing. 

What a beauty. Those colors area really impressive. 


First lifer for the year if Finnish rarities committee accepts this as a genuine vagrant. It is clear that there is almost zero cage birds in Europe and those day are over when people carried thousands of Red-headed Buntings from the East. Also this species is so close to Black-headed Bunting and that species is always category-A stuff in Finland.
My opinion, very likely real A-cat rarity which can overshoot the migration and that way end up here by accident. Anyway, third record for Finland! Both birds back in the days are Cat-D.


Rest of the Crete. 16.6-24.6.2019

Rest of the days I mostly suffered severe leg pain and did not really concentrate on birds. I had nice numbers of raptors from our patio and few short walks around was god for me. Last week we were alone with my mother so less helping hands with the kids etc.

On 17th we visited a botanical gardens of the Crete and it was one beautiful place full of butterflies and some birds too. Loads of singing Blackcaps, few Buzzard and blackbirds. Not anything really interesting, but the concert was impressive.

A lifer, Southern Comma, Polygonia Egea.

Two-tailed Pasha, Charaxes Jasius. 

Old-world Swallowtail, Papilio Machaon.

Papilio Machaon 

On 18th I was watching some buzzard from our house and suddenly noticed a bigger raptor with them. I ran to my telescope and shit, the bird was Bonelli´s Eagle! I ran again, this time to crab my camera, and I managed to get some very poor pictures where you might see a Bonelli´s Eagle. Anyway, it was very nice bird and quite rare in Europe, so I was glad.
Many nights we heard European Nighjahr and Eurasian Scops Owl song together!

Distant Common Buzzard. 

Distant Bonelli´s Eagle on the right. 

On 22nd we made and family visit to Agia Lake and I had Common Nightingale, Some Mallard looking ducks, Common pochard and some beautiful dragonflies.

Southern Comma, Polygonia Egea again. 

Turtles babies at the lake. 

Second calendar year Larus Michaelis. 

Violet Dropwing, Trithemis Annulata.

Also some random photos here.

Balcan Green Lizzard at our patio. 

Turkish Gecko on our house wall. 

Dysgonia Algira.

Mantodea Sp. Presumed male, cause the size. 

Sardinian Warbler was one of the most common birds in Crete. Here is male. 

During the last week we also noticed a great sight from the space. Normally this time of the year in Finland you really can´t see any stars cause the sun doe not really set there. In Crete we noticed a bright star which revealed as a Planet Jupiter! I was really interested about the Plane and when I looked it with my telescope I noticed four smaller dots.

Io, Europa, Ganymedes and Kallisto, the four biggest moons of Jupiter. 

Our moon was full and beautiful. 

So, we left Crete behind at 24th and with many memories I really can recommend the place for birdwatchers and other tourists. I had about 50 species without doing anything hardcore but Samaria, so in a week I guess you can reach to a nice number of species.
Stalos Hills and our villa from Panos Stalos suites was very good. Own pool with kids were super nice.
Thanks to my sister, brother and mother for company and Special thanks to my family Sanni, Vilma and Julius for this vacation.
Our flight was little bit delayed so we arrived to our home at 3am with taxi and I had to twitch again without any sleep. More of that later.


26. kesäkuuta 2019

Samaria Gorge 15.6.2019

On 15th me and my brother took the extreme hike in the Crete and that was longest gorge in Europe, the Samaria.
We paid a trip which included the buss drive to the starting point, hike, ferry from Agia Rouméli to Sougia and buss ride back to Stalós where the buss picked up in the first place.

Our walk started at 7.45am and our group was almost the first in the gorge, so not too much traffic there. We had nice pace during the day and only few people passed us during the walk. Samaria is 14km long and then you have to walk to Agia Rouméli for two kilometers, so total is 16km. First we walked downhill almost two kilometers and that was very hard for the thighs.

All the time I scanned the sky, cause my main reason to go there was to see Lammergeir. I knew that people had seen those from the starting point, but there was no change to leave there.
We were already like 3km from the start when I found a adult bird flying quite far a way, but it was really easy to id! I told my brother that there it is and soon bird disappeared behind the mountain. Never saw it again, but there it was, my dream bird in the most amazing place. I felt light and rest of the hike was much easier.

Here is a big set of photos from the gorge.

Simply amazing. 

Near the start there was little groups of people, but it was not a problem. 

Over that mountain I saw the Lammergeir. What a place. 

Road in the woods. 

When you go lower and lower the area turns to a big forest. 

The Road.

This stream followed us all the time and we crossed it like thousand times. 

At this point the gorge started to be little narrower. 

The narrowest point "the hell gate" only 3.5m wide. 

Many Griffon Vultures in the area. Mostly seen like this. 

Craig Martin and the nest. 

Lizzard sp. 

Eurasian Jay.

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Oenanthe Melanoleuca.

From the narrowest point it was only some kilometers more and the gorge ended. Place was full of Painted Lady butterflies, Chaffinches and we also saw few Wrens, Pallid Swifts, Alpine Swifts, Grey Wagtail, Cretan wild Goat at the midway point and few Common Buzzards. At the end I also saw two light colored raptors and I´m sure that one was Lammergeir and other one was possibly too, but the place was so far from the high peaks that it felt weird. Anyway I counted two from there and I was happy.
After the gorge we went to the city to have well deserved food (gyros) and few beers.
Ferry lasted about an hour and then long buss drive from Sougia to Stalós. This was real full day adventure, so thanks to Sanni for taking care of the kids that time. few days after the hike my legs were in severe pain and I barely walked.. Like our guide said, a little souvenir from Samaria.


20. kesäkuuta 2019

13-14.6.2019 Birding around the house.

On 13th and 14th  we spent most of the time around our villa. One evening trip to Chania and that was it. I found two Eleonora´s Falcons flying near the house and every day we have 3 to 10 Common Buzzard flying around the area.
I also did some drone flying and here is some pics with that too.
Evenings some European Nightjahrs and finally first Scops Owl singing near the house.
Scarce Swallowtail butterfly here too. We booked the Samaria Gorge trip to next Saturday and next post is only from there.
Here is some pictures from these two days.

Catocala Eutychea.

Red-rumped Swallow and nest.

Red-rumped Swallow.

Drone photo of surroundings. 


Eleonora´s Falcon.

Menophra Sp. male. 

Painted Lady, Vanessa Cardui. The most common butterfly here. Thousands around the island. 

Laiommata Megera. 

Next post from Samaria.


13. kesäkuuta 2019

First days in Crete island. 10.6-12.6.2019

So, we arrived to Crete day before yesterday and so far it has been mostly family time in our Villa near Stalós village. We have nice Citroen multivagon which carries nine people, so plenty of room for my family and my mother, brother and sister who are with us here.
From our patio I have seen two Eleonora´s Falcons, many Common Buzzards, lone Eurasian Honey Buzzard and other common birds.
Red-rumped Swallows are nesting near by and Sardinian Warblers area singing constantly. We have visited the Agia Marina and Stalós beach and there is some good restaurants.


Some moths, names later.

Common Buzzard and mountains.

Cleopatra in flight.

Still some snow there.

Moth sp. name later.

Moth sp. name later.

Today I visited Agia Lake, which is only freshwater area in the island. Can´t really recommend the place this time of the year and I had only few Little Grebes, some Coots, singing Cetti´s Warblers, lone Eastern Olivaceous Wabler and many buzzards.
After I walked the area round I started to watch the mountains and soon I found a flock of Griffon Vultures circling over the hills far away. Always nice to see these huge raptors. Easy to ID from 10 kilometers!

Agia Lake.

Broad Scarlet.

Cacyreus Marshalli.

Zeuzera Pyrina.

Yellow-legged Gull. 

Our house from 49m. I use DJI Mavic Air for these photos. 

Mountains from 49m
Parahypopta Caestrum.

In few days I will hike the legendary Samaria Gorge route with my brother and I hope we can see all the mountain birds like Alpine Accentor, Lammergeier and Alpine Chouch.

More later.