29. elokuuta 2019

Raptor watch at the Vuosaari hill. 29.8.2019

Like it was planned I went to check Vuosaari Hill if some raptors would have any movement today. I picked up Tyron from his home and we arrived to the hill at 12.30.
Few people just left and when we reached the watching point there was only Matti Koljonen with us. No worries and we started to scan the sky.
Pretty quickly we noticed that this is not the day when we count the record migration. Only some local Hobbies and local Osprey flying around. Maybe one or two migrating Sparrow Hawks, but that was all.
One of few Sparrow Hawks we saw from the hill. 

It was about ten past one when Matti noticed a harrier flying towards us from East. Bird was definitely either Montagu´s or Pallid Harrier. Slender wings and overall shape, style of flying and all pointed towards smaller harriers. I got only some record shots, cause some reason my camera does not like to focus on flying birds... My first thought was that bird is Pallid Harrier, but my experience limits mostly on juveniles and males, and this was female of some age. These can be tricky so I just took photos and when it passed our point I sent an alarm message to our system.
We checked the photos and I was pretty sure that the bird was still Pallid.

Adult female Pallid Harrier.

Adult female Pallid Harrier. 

These Harriers are always nice to see and especially finding your own bird made this so great. Later I add some photos to Vuosaari Hill Facebook group and thanks to Kimmo Heiskanen he agreed with me about the ID.

So we continued our watch and because there is a huge influx of Red-footed Falcons in Finland and other countries near by, it was on my waiting list.
Sky was still empty. Few White-tailed Eagles, Honey Buzzard and Common Buzzard, that was all until the time was four to two when I noticed a small, very pale falcon kind of thing flying towards us from West. It dropped very low, so I had to watch it with forest backgrounds. When it came little closer I was sure that I am watching juvenile Red-footed Falcon. I have seen few of these but this bird really looked like it self, if you can say it that way. I told the Matti and Tyron where the bird was and it was actually little complicated to talk with two language and try to tell what it was doing and where it was going. All went well and we all saw the bird nicely.

Bird in view. 

Juvenile Red-footed Falcon.

Juvenile Red-footed Falcon. 

In few minutes the bird disappeared and we left, cause I had to go and pick Vilma from daycare.
I dropped Tyron and we both were happy. Red-footed Falcon was lifer for him and I was just very pleased that I saw it.
I hope this influx will bring more and more birds to Finland and maybe one or two could stay nicely on one place, so I could get some decent picture of it. Well, who know.
This weekend Sanni goes to Krakóv so I have the kids by my self.  That means no birding if something really rare does not pop up.


28. elokuuta 2019

Viikki with Julius. 26.8.2019

On 26th I took Julius and we went to see if there is some good birds around Viikki area. I checked the Tiira database and noticed Red Knot record from that same morning. That was our target bird.
We slowly walked from my house to Viikki fields and there was big flocks of Yellow Wagtails, Barnacle Geese, Ringing Plovers and other field birds. I had also one juvenile Red-backed Shrike and two Whinchats. Sparrow Hawks had clearly some movement and I counted six from the first place and later about 15 from the Purolahti tower.

This bird looked juvenile Mediterranean Gull for like nano second, but then I realized that it is just a Common Gull. 

Rather odd looking Yellow Wagtail. Some Feldegg genes maybe? 

Painted Lady. Vanessa Cardui. 

Flock of Barnacle Geese. 

Julius was finally sleeping just before I got the stroller to Purolahti and I had time to look around by my self. I checked the meadow and shore and found only some Wood Sandpiper first, but finally after 15 minutes I got the Knot! It was quite far away, but with telescope I easily saw the features of first winter bird. I always forgot how big they are! Also some Great Egrets fishing at the bay and I had three birds from there. Honey Buzzard, Common Buzzard, Kestrel and Merlin were all nice to see and Merlin was actually a year tick for me. Julius slept about an hour and we continued to Hakala but nothing interesting there. I walked around the forest area and we were back to fields in no time.

Red Knot, not really red, but great bird anyway. 

One of three Great Egrets. 

Julius and Cows. 

Julius just before we saw the Eagle. 


Gold Finch. 

I was already leaving when I got the alarm message of Lesser-spotted Eagle flying our direction. I thought it for few seconds and I walked back to one intersection, put my telescope on and we started to wait.
I took Julius from the stroller cause I knew that it will take some time to fly from Espoo to Viikki. We played around and one elderly woman stopped with her binos and asked if we have seen something interesting. I told her about the Eagle and she started to wait with us.
We were talking something and I noticed a another alarm of the bird and someone had the bird just above us at same time!!
I took Julius to stroller and started to scan the sky and finally after minute or two I found the eagle quite close but very high. I told others that where it is and watched the bird with telescope to make sure that it is a right bird. It was. Clearly pale individual and looked fine for Lesser-spotted. Then it made some movement, I lost it and never saw it again!
I tried to find it but nothing. Lone Buzzard, but nothing else.

I saw some other guys looking it too so I walked to ask them if they saw where it went. They told me that just came and update message that bird took some more heights and went towards East.
We talked about he bird and everybody were happy. I got a stroller tick and damn finally I was at the right spot.

Later evening people posted some pictures of the bird and shit, it looked little different. Too pale and all the features pointed towards "Fulvescens" type Greater-spotted Eagle! This light form of the eagle is not too common and not sure how many records there is from Helsinki area. Here is a link to Pertti Rasp´s photo of the bird.

Also Dick Forsman confirmed the ID of the bird and said that it is possibly 3cy bird.

After the final id of the bird I was thinking this more and I´m sure that when the bird was ID`d earlier by some one else my own thinking was poor and I trusted a bit too much for it. Also very short time I saw the bird did not help me with this at all. Great feeling to learn something and I bet I will be more critical or at least more careful with these after this bird.

But anyway, who cares. This was just my own thinking and nobody it really interested about that.

Great day and shame that I had already that Greater-spotted Eagle on my stroller list.
Tomorrow on 29th I will go to Vuosaari hill with Tyron, so let´s hope some rare raptors and other good stuff!


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.