27. joulukuuta 2020

December birding. 27.12.2020

 I´m late, but anyway Merry Christmas and happy holidays! 

Lately my birding has been close to zero. Weather during the December has been totally awful and not many days with out rain or fog or something which makes you stay at home rather than walk around empty fields. Also working all the hours of daylight does not help you at all! 

On 19th I made two hour visit to Kivinokka, which is a small cape other side of the vanhankaupunginlahti. Takes about 10 minutes to drive there from my home. When I arrived I noticed that it is raining a little and fog everywhere. Still I walked around the area for some time and checked the open water areas. Even some ice left after maybe three days of temperatures below zero earlier. Large flock, maybe 70 Mergansers around and later I found two Smews, lone White-tailed Eagle, four Great-spotted Woodpeckers, flock of Bullfinches and other common birds. I was hoping something like Glaugous Gull or even rarer, but no luck again this time. 

Here couple of poor images from that day.

Flock of Canada Geese in the fog.



Gulls on the ice.

Distant White-tailed Eagle.

On 25th I woke up with my kids pretty early. Both wanted to play with all new toys Santa brought them. It was still a bit dark when I noticed juvenile Sparrow Hawk sitting on our backyard. It tried to catch Domestic Sparrows from the bush and jumped, dived and tried everything there. I took my camera, but I had to put super high ISO to get anything. Here is some action and less action photos of the bird. It was great to see how it tried basically everything before Crows started to attack it and it took off. 

Sparrow Hawk on the ground.

Sparrow hawk on the truck.

Sparrow Hawk in the bush.

Sparrow Hawk on the bush.

Maybe some kind of review of the year later, but it seems that I don´t have time for any proper birding this year anymore. 

I wish all the people happy new year and stay safe. 


10. joulukuuta 2020

Hat trick with kids. 6.12.2020

Last Sunday (6th) we had our independence day here in Finland. After breakfast I took my kids and we drove to Sastamala, pretty near Tampere to see Oriental Turtle Dove which was found two days ago. There was only one other guy searching the bird when we arrived, but soon more and more people arrived. It was nice to see Petteri, Mimosa and Matti Mäkelä from Pori there. People started to walk around and very soon few guys waived us that they spotted the bird in the field. I drove closer and went to take a look. Check. Then I took our stroller and Julius and very important stroller tick in the bag! Julius watched with my binoculars and I tried to take photos of the bird. Distance was some hundred meters and weather was very Grey and small rain, so I was lucky to get something. Bird was subspecies "meena" which is much more common here than "orientalis". 

From the distance like this photos are totally crap like this..

Oriental Turtle Dove.

Bird was walking in the back end of this field.

After fifteen minutes we continued towards Pori and very possible Cackling Goose! About an hour drive and we arrived Maaviiki. Large flock of Whooper Swans and small flock of Geese around. It took me some time to relocate the small Canada Goose from the flock, but finally I saw it. Vilma came to the stroller and another in the bag! Also lone Taiga Bean Goose in the flock. Distance was again hundreds of meters so photo is again like this..

Bird was in the flock which is the white stripe in the middle of the picture.. So very far away.

Cackling Goose in the middle watching right, I think! 

Better photos in Tarsiger.com. If this appears to be real Cackling Goose it is second record for Finland after bird in Lappeenranta back in 2014. So, we are talking about very rare bird!

Soon we left and I took kids to McDonald's to have some food and after that we still had time to twitch Caspian Gull from Konepajan ranta. Place was along the Kokemäki river and there was very large flock of large Gulls. I was fortunate to find the right individual from that flock before some reason all gulls took off and lost it. Almost all of the daylight I had left I used to find the bird. After the gulls came back to the roofs it started to be dark already, so we packed our stuff, I gave tablets to the kids and we had long drive back home ahead of us. 

Konepajan ranta, Kokemäki River. Bird was standing on the roof of the buildings other side of the river.. 

Back in Helsinki around 6 pm. Originally we had plans to go and have some good times outside with kids at Pori, but the weather was so poor that even Vilma said that she stays rather inside the car than outside in the darkness.. Thank god both behaved nicely the whole day and we had great time in the car asking questions and listening Christmas songs. 

I had three new stroller ticks in one day, three new winter month ticks (Dec-Feb) and one lifer if rarities committee some day accepts this Cackling Goose as a genuine vagrant. Features looks really good and I really think that it is a good bird. 

More birding hopefully next weekend. Days are so short now that no change to go out after work. I also started to do quite a lot of gym lately, so that takes major part of my "free" time four days a week.


29. marraskuuta 2020

Owls again 28.11.2020

 Yesterday I had little time to go to Vuosaari and twitch Northern Hawk Owl from there. Las two visits were unsuccessful, so I had to see the bird this time. Tyron informed me that the bird is still there and I was only seven minutes away. Lots of photographers around when I arrived and bird was easy to see. It was nice to see Tyron and Ella at the site too. I spend half an hour there and got some decent record shots of the bird. 

First it was behind the branches, but soon it moved to a better place.

Northern Hawk Owl.

That mean stare! 

Easy place near the road and photographers can watch it from the path. 

Great bird and shame that I did not see any hunting this time. Some people have seen that the bird is very effective hunter. 

When I drove back home I stopped at Kivikko ruderate and I checked the small area. Zero birds and I left in 15 minutes...

Kivikko hotspot.

Later I was at home when our local Whastapp-group told that there is Eagle Owl and Tengmalm´s Owl in Viikki! Sanni was leaving to work so it was with the kids kind of twitching again! 

We packed our stuff and soon we were walking to the place where the bird was seen. Quite many searchers and I heard that nobody from that group had seen the Tengmalm´s Owl. We walked around small area when I heard somebody saying "there". I went closer with kids and there it really was, a Eurasian Eagle Owl. It was hiding and all we saw was its belly! I think it was a miracle that someone even found it from that small spot it was showing... Here is my nature photograph of the year of it.

Mighty Eagle Owl! 

It was inside of that tallest tree in the middle. About 8 meters above the ground.

Kids were having good time and they played with sticks, especially Julius. Later we had nice time in one playground nearby. Good day and good birds. 

I was hoping that I could do some birding also today, but it has been raining most of the day either sleet or water, so not much motivation to go out. Vilma went out with her friend. Maybe more birding next week. 


25. marraskuuta 2020

Glaucous Gull 23.11.2020

 On Sunday we were having great time in activity park with my family and my mother when I saw a message of local Glaucous Gull from Kivenlahti, Espoo. It was too late for me to go, but I was optimistic that it could stay. Next morning (23rd) I took my camera with me when I left to work and soon after sunrise Johannes Silvonen informed that the bird is still there. I had busy day but finally at 2 pm I arrived to Kivenlahti, Espoo. I saw a birder and I stopped him to ask if the Gull is still there. He told me to look a small platform about 500m from the doc and there it was. Very far, but anyway there it was! I got some poor record shots and after 15 minutes I left. 

For some reason Glaucous Gull, maybe the climate change at the arctic region, has been very hard to find from here in recent years. I just read that at the 80s and 90s there has been flock of many birds quite regularly. 

Here is picture of the distant bird.

Way too far...


15. marraskuuta 2020

New week, mostly Owls. 15.11.2020

 From the weekdays not much to tell, except on Wednesday somebody found Great-grey Owl from Suutarila! I was no at the office because of annual self defense course so I missed it. Next day there was only one late update of the bird and it was already dark when I noticed that. 

On Saturday 14th I had couple of hours time and I was hoping that I could relocate the Great-grey Owl from the same spot. I drove to the site and started to look around. Area was huge, real needle in a haystack kind of situation. 

This does not really give the true picture of the forest, but finding a Owl from place like this is really lucky.

Anyway I continued and at some point I noticed a guy photographing something. I went to ask if there is something interesting and he just pointed an big Owl in a the tree near by. Ural Owl was sitting on a branch and looked us! Wowzers! I have had many problems this year to connect with this species and finally it was there. I saw one in Kaisaniemi earlier, but no camera, no binoculars or anything. This time I was better prepared. 

That stare!

Ural Owl.

It also tried to sleep, but every time it heard something and checked the surroundings.

Wow, what a bird. I spend about half an hour there and other guy waited his friend when I left.

I continued my search of that other Owl from different part of the forest. I was walking around the deeper part of the forest when I noticed some kind of alarming from Blackbird and some Blue Tits. I came from behind of a tree and Pygmy Owl took off very near me and disappeared quickly behind the bushes and trees... Great. Always a pleasure to see this species, but I was hoping little bit more than a twinkling. At this point I was pretty sure that I can´t find the Great-grey Owl, so I walked to my car and went back home. 

I went "in" to that area and I found Pygmy Owl.

Today at 15th I had some plans with my friend Tyron in Vuosaari. We were suppose to meet and together watch Hawk Owl and Pygmy Owl in Porslahti. Tyron was there earlier and told me that no sign of either, so I started from Kallvik. I walked around the cape area, but nothing really interesting around. I had maybe eight Great-spotted Woodpeckers, two White-tailed Eagles, some Tufted Ducks, Long-tailed Ducks and other common birds. 

Cape Kallvik. Weather was nice.

Juvenile Mute Swan.

Great-spotted Woodpecker.

Some Goldeneyes.

Later I sent message to Ty that I´m still coming to Porslahti to see if I can relocate the Owl. Tyron joined me and we walked around quite large area without any Owls... It was about 20 meters before my car when young boy, maybe 12 years old told us that he just saw the Pygmy Owl very near by. We went to check and there it was! It was sitting on a branch and watched us straight to the eyes. Thanks to that young man, who ever you were! 

Pygmy Owl.

One of my favorites.. So cool bird which can take prey twice the size of itself! 

I send the info of the Owl to a local whatsapp group and more people came. Like many times, when there is enough noise and disturbance, the bird leaves and this happened here again. Luckily I got these proper pictures before that.

Great end for my weekend and it was nice to catch up with Tyron again. Maybe something coming again next weekend with him. 

New week coming and hopefully more good birds with it! 


9. marraskuuta 2020

Weeks are running 9.11.2020

 Like the topic says, days and weeks are running and we are heading to winter time pretty soon. Last week and this week I have had very few opportunities to do any birding, but two times I have been searching an interesting bird with out any luck and today I twitched very late Yellow Wagtail from Vuosaari during my day at work. Normally I don´t run to see Yellow Wagtail here in Finland, but when there is one in November, there is always a possibility that the bird could be Eastern or some other interesting subspecies! 

Last Saturday I took kids and with my mother we tried to find Ural Owl from Etelä-Haaga. Bird was seen day before, but no luck there. Only there species of Tits, Jay, Bullfinches and other common birds around. Good time anyway for kids to play in the woods. 

Ural Owl place with kid and my mother.

Sunday we had Fathers day and I got alarm of Hume´s Leaf Warbler from Tuomarinkylä, Helsinki. With my family we had nice effort, but no luck here either... Anyway the bird was re-identified as a Yellow-browed Warbler later, so no problemo there! Lots of birders were after the bird when we arrived. 

Goshawk nest in the woods of Tuomarinkylä.

Birds was seen in the top of these trees.. Hard work.

Today I had to work again. My day started from Tuomarinkylä where I had to visit first thing at the morning. It was a good visit. When I turned my car to the place I saw Tengmalm´s Owl sitting on a branch. I tried to go little closer, but it took off and disappeared behind the buildings. I had to continue my work, so no time to search the bird. Later I was driving near the city center and I noticed an alarm of Yellow Wagtail, I decided to go. About an hour later I arrived to the scene and met Pekka Komi there and he kindly led me to the place where the bird was landed. We found the bird and I got some record hots of it before it took off again back to the meadow. Shame that it was "only" Western Yellow Wagtail. Nevertheless I had my first one in November ever! Congrats to the finders. Here is few pictures of the bird. 

Western Yellow Wagtail.

Somehow my camera settings were totally wrong to this situation..

Hiding effectively! 

Hopefully more birding activity in the near future and of course who does not want to see any rare birds? I certainly do! 



1. marraskuuta 2020

Weekend with kids and nice start for November. 1.11.2020

 Today I had day full with kids, we visited Haaga to see my old friends from school times with their kids and we also had nice time in Haltiala, where Vilma had pony ride and I had Arctic Redpoll, so all good there. Later afternoon we picked Sanni from work. We dropped Vilma and Sanni to shopping mall and with Julius I went to twitch a local Hawk Owl from Kyläsaari. 

With the sleeping boy in the stroller I had to walk very muddy road and cross several large pools to see the bird and even got some poor record shots of the bird too! It was already very dark and evening was close when I watched the bird. Afterwards the stroller needed to clean with water... Anyway good day, some good birds, good start for the new month. 

Domestic Sparrow, female.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk.

Northern Hawk Owl. Pretty hard place to get any good pics.

One-eyed Hawk Owl.

More birds hopefully next week!


31. lokakuuta 2020

Last week of October. 31.10.2020

 This week went so quickly. Hectic at work and you days are running like crazy. On 26th I quickly twitched Ural Owl during my day at work and that was the highlight of my week, easily. Today at 31st I tried to twitch the Owl again with my kids, but we were unlucky. Thank god I have it on my stroller list! The place is Botanical garden near the city center and with some other birders we didn´t relocate the owl. Best were female Blackcap, two Spotted Nutcrackers (both looked good for race Macrorhynchos), flock of Waxwings, some Bullfinches and Dunnock. Vilma and Julius had nice time and both wanted to visit there again later. 

It was so dark that getting proper pics were pretty hard..

Spotted Nutcracker.

And again. In this photo the bill looks very thin and long, which points to Siberian-race.


After Kaisaniemi we arrived back home and I got message of Juvenile Kittiwake in Lauttasaari. I was too tired and kids wanted to watch some cartoons before food, so no chance to see that bird. Hopefully there is still one coming for me! Here is also our local female Goshawk. It will kill all the Feral Pigeons during the winter if it stays. 

Northern Goshawk, female.

Maybe some birding tomorrow, I hope!


25. lokakuuta 2020

Twitching in Hanko with my kids. 25.10.2020

 Yesterday Kim Söderling found Black-throated Accentor from Hanko soil dump. I was pretty eager to go and twitch it, because I have seen only one bird before and this Accentor group really interests me. So today when the info came and the bird was still present I started to talk about the twitch with Sanni. It was OK, but Sanni had to go to work, so it was with kids or nothing. I decided to take the kids. 

We arrived to the place around 11 am and about twenty people around the place looking in different directions. We were lucky cause the Accentor was very near and cause I was carrying the stroller! In few minutes I got the bird with stroller and I let Vilma and Julius just play around and me trying to get some photos of the bird. It was really hard for my Sony RX10 to get any sharp pictures in the ruderate kind of vegetation. 

Bloody little bird was hiding all the time.

Here you can see some features ad head.

Same time there was also European Stonechat around and I needed that with the stroller too. The bird was found before people relocated the Accentor today! First I just went to see the bird, but after that I lured Julius to the stroller and took me five seconds and in the bag! 

Male European Stonechat.

And again.

Because Vilma and Julius just wanted to play, I had time to see if I can improve the photos of the Accentor, but it was not my day. All the photos are bird behind the branch or not sharp anything.. 

Great fun.

Julius at the soil dump.

Photographers at the soil dump.

Later we went to Hanko center and had nice lunch in local small restaurant. We also visited two different playgrounds and we had great time. It was already dark when we arrived back to Helsinki. I had flock of Waxwings, flock of Redpolls with one Arctic with them at the park, so not bad at all. Even that I always know the hardness to twitch with my kids, these days are very very fun. Those two are so full of joy and I just love to watch that. 

Kids at the smaller playground.

The Black-throated Accentor was only 13th record in Finland and if the Tarsiger database is updated, only 39th for the Western Palearctic. We are talking about real mega rarity. I have been very fortunate to see both, Siberian- and Black-throated Accentors this fall and I could not be happier! Congrats to the finder Kim and others too. Hopefully more of these mid blowing rarities appears in next coming weeks and it would be nicer if they could show up in Helsinki area! OK, that was too much, Southern-Finland is OK too!