24. heinäkuuta 2020

Red-crested Pochard 22.7.2020

Day before yesterday I was working when I got message of Red-crested Pochard at Vanhankaupunginlahti, near our home. I was not really worried, cause I have seen two or three before, but I thought that if it stays I will visit the site after my shift. OK, I can't lie that I didn't think about the bird during the day and soon I realized that it is new species for me in Helsinki! Also it is first record for Viikki/vanhankaupunginlahti area.

My colleague Antti came and I started to cycle rapidly to the place and took me 29 minutes to cycle a bit over 10km. I have single speed mountain bike, so that´s why I was a bit slow..

At the place I met Matias Castren and his wife Virpi and together we went to the the bird from lower platform. Bird was quite far away, but easy to find with telescope. I think it was Jouni Rytkonen who let me watch the bird from his scope, so thanks a lot! I scoped few record shots l, but images were very poor quality. Anyway I got very good Helsinki species and year tick of course. Here is few pictures of the bird. Also small flock of Dunlins around and those were also new species for in Helsinki this year. Great ending for nice day. Later we went to have some sushi with my family.

Great weather, but light was from the back and bird was too far away..

Poor document photos of the Pochard. 

Red bill was easy to see! 

More birding later.


20. heinäkuuta 2020

Slow birding and Lesser grey shrike 20.7.2020

After my last vacation week my birding has been very slow, basically zero. Summer is a bit boring here and migration is still waiting its best. Some shorebird migration of course, but there is no too many good places for those in Helsinki area.
Here is few pictures during the last ten days and most of them are not birds at all. I had nice evening in Valkosaari where my good friend Otto Yliperttula, alias Yotto gave us amazing performance. I also visited Suomenlinna with my friends and there I had only common species, including Common Redstart and huge flock of Swallows, Martins and Swifts hunting together.

juvenile Common Gallinule. I found three chicks and two adults from small pond near our house. Photo taken with my phone Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. 

Midnight in Helsinki from Valkosaari.


On 19th we had very nice time with my mother and together we went to pick up blueberries from the near woods just less than a mile from our doorstep. Kids had great fun to just eat straight from the bushes and we picked about two litres for pie. Later we wen to buy a new coach, because Julius destroyed the old one...

Here is Domestic Sparrow and Willow Warbler from that trip.

Willow Warbler is very common bird in Finland.

Domestic Sparrow.

Today after work we had some plans to go shopping ans stuff when I got an alarm of Lesser grey shrike from Viikki area! Reijo Viherlehto noticed the bird at home from his pictures and soon it was relocated from the same spot. We took our time at the stores and after all that we went to see the bird. It was very far a way, but with telescope there was no problems to see and ID the bird.

Me and Julius watching the shrike. Maybe Julius had to wait another, cause he looks in the wrong direction...

So far, but so beautiful bird. 

Also Red-backed Shrike in the same tree. It mopped the larger cousin and tried to drive it away.

Finally Lesser grey shrike was the only bird in the tree. 

What a great surprise this bird was and nice start for the week. New job is just around the corner and so is autumn migration, so I can´t wait. Hopefully more birding coming in the near future, but this week is going to be busy.


11. heinäkuuta 2020

Last week of vacation 8.7-10.7.2020

My last week of summer vacation has been busy with birds and family time. Wednesday I visited Hakala bird tower in Vanhankaupunginlahti, but in two hours I had very few good birds. Long staying reat White Egret is always nice to see, but that was basically all. Only few Waders around and maybe five Green Sandpipers, lone Ruff and many Common Sandpipers are worth to mention. Migrating Pallid Harrier was seen in Espoo and coming towards East, but I didn´t see it from the tower, so it must have turned to another direction.
From Viikki fields I counted 21 Greylag Goose, 18 Barnacle Goose and some Yellow Wagtails, edge Warblers and small flock of Starlings.

Great White Egret.

I think this species is going to be regular breeder in Finland in few years. 

Phone scoped Yellow Wagtail.

Thursday I went to see if I can relocate Firecrest family from Helsinki. This is only second known breeding in Finland after this same year from Pori. Hannu Palojärvi found the brood and there was seven juveniles and both adults around that time. In Pori there was at least found juveniles, if I remember right.
Anyway I went to the place and in fifteen minutes I quickly saw one adult bird, so the birds were still around. It is very hard to locate small birds from high trees, but finally I had some luck and two juveniles came little bit lower and I saw adult carrying some food for them.

Juvenile Firecret.

And another. 

Next hour I spend following the birds and watching how male bird gave food for four juveniles. It was super hard to photograph, cause most of the times birds were quite high up and when they came lower, all branches and stuff harassing my camera focus. Anyway here is few pics.

Adult Firecrest.

Same bird. 


Same bird. 

Shame that my camera had troubles to find the birds from the trees, and this was first time when I felt that maybe it is better to return DSRL camera.

Yesterday on 10th I met my uncle Jände at Kallvik, Vuosaari and we had nice walk there despite the lack of birds. We had some Common Eiders, Red-breasted Mergansers etc common stuff. We laso met our old friend Petri Pietiläinen there and he had two Sandwich Terns about an hour before we arrived! Nice Record.

Cape Kallvik.

Female Common Eider. 


later we visited the Firecrest place, but not much luck this time. We had few calls in half an hour. This juvenile Eurasian Jay was fun to watch.

Juvenile Jay begging some food from the adults near by. 

Later afternoon I dropped Sanni for some shopping in Espoo and quickly twitched Curlew Sandpiper and Dunlin from Laajalahti before we went to have food.

Next week back to work, but yesterday I also got some good news that I will start new job in our company and my carrier in office starts very soon. I´m so happy about this.
Autumn migration is here soon and in few weeks there is much more to watch around Helsinki.


7. heinäkuuta 2020

Local summer birds. 7.7.2020

Today I had chance on visit Lammassaari tower after I got my very important job interview. We got many rain showers during the morning, but finally after 11 a clock weather looked better and even the sun was shining. I had info about two Curlew Sandpipers at the place, so I had high hopes for those. It was a disappointment, because birds took off way earlier I arrived. I heard Marsh Warbler singing while I walked to the tower. Some guy heard two little bit later.

Wood path towards Lammassaari. At this point the weather was still a bit bad. 

I spent about hour and a half in the tower and during that time I had only few birds worth to mention. Pair of Caspian Terns, eight Greenshanks, four Ruffs, lone Great White Egret and five White-tailed Eagles.
I also met Hannu Palojärvi at the tower, always a pleasure to spend time with you!

Great White Egret in the middle of the picture. 

Two out of three juveniles still sitting on a nest. Soon they all take long trips around the area. 

One new year tick in Helsinki area, but that was all. Autumn migration is going and Waders are moving, so let´s hope I will see something great later this week. We are planning Hanko trip on Friday, but let´s see!


5. heinäkuuta 2020

Pied Bush Chat 5.7.2020

Happy July folks. Time is running and tomorrow I will start last week of my vacation, unfortunately..
Yesterday I got alarm message of real MEGA species from Eurajoki, Western Finland when Kalle Haapala found third Pied Bush Chat for Finland! I told it about Sanni and I mentioned that I am eager to go and twitch the bird next morning. Permission granted and I started to check what I need to pack.

At some point at the evening I noticed Kari Lindblom´s Facebook post that he would like to go there, but no car. I sent Kari a message and we agreed to pick him from Maunula after 3:00 at the morning.
I arrived there at 03:40 and we started our long drive. Distance between the bird and Maunula was about 250km, it was very easy drive cause there was no traffic and company was good.
At Eura we saw Black Grouse from the car and many different mammals during the drive. At least six Red Foxes, one Mountain Hare, several Roe Deer and quite a many European Hares.

When we arrived to the site the situation was not good. Bird was seen about 15 minutes before we came and it was moving in distance and showed only few times. More people came and it was nice to see my friend Pasi Alanko from Pori after long time. He came there with bicycle and distance from home was about 50km. Great job!
We had to wait about 45 minutes when somebody spotted the bird from some vegetation not too far from the place we were standing. Bird was feeding actively and moved slowly towards us. Finally after 15 minutes it was close enough to get any photos and see the feature much better. Here is few phone scoped pictures of the bird.

Long waited Pied Bush Chat. 

Shame that my phone is not ideal for scoping, because of the large camera module. 

Soon the bird was feeding in small piles of rotten sugar beets and dirt with Wagtails and some other common birds.
My opinion is that the bird is second calendar year male. Wing feathers were more brownish than black. 

Bad picture, but you can see the wing bar from here. 

Place where the bird was. 

We watched the bird about an hour and then we decided to start our journey back to Helsinki. At some point I got an idea to visit Karkkila river, cause I knew that there was records of Grey Wagtail from same week. We checked the place, but nothing in hour, so we were back on the road and pretty soon we were in Maunula. I dropped Kari and rove back home.

Grey Wagtail place, but it was empty. 

Thanks for the company Kari, it was a pleasure!

Pied Bush Chat is very very rare bird in Europe. This was only fifth record and surprisingly three of the records are from Finland. First was 2010, second 2017 and now this bird.

Other records in Europe are from Sweden 2018 and Italy 2017. From Israel there is nine records, three records from Kuwait,two from Cyprus and one record from Egypt. So totally 20 records from Western Palearctic area! I missed last two in Finland and especially last one because I saw one bird in Israel back in 2014. Great memories.
Pied Bush Chat was my lifer number 341 in Finland and I´m one step closer to reach 350. Maybe in two years? Who knows.
Next week more birding if the weather is good enough. Fingers crossed.


2. heinäkuuta 2020

Quick trip to Loviisa again. 26.6-27.6.2020

After Hartola we spend only one night at home and again next day I was driving to our summerhouse in Loviisa. This time we had only my family and Oona, cousin of our children.
Mostly we just enjoyed warm weather and kids spend most of the day swimming in the ocean. Midsummer is not ideal for any bird watching here if you are not ringer or something like that, but there is always something to watch. I had two Black Woodpeckers, Hobby, many Little Gulls, Grey Herons, many forest birds etc. Common stuff, but at least something.

Mute Swan family. Very common in this area. 

Four-spotted Chaser, Libellula Quadrimaculata. Also very common there. 

Black-tailed Skimmer, Orthetrum Cansellatum. Older female in this picture. This yeas very common, some years only few around our place. 

For now I think most of the summerhouse trips are behind. I still have my vacation going till 13th, so I just hope that someone will find the real rarity and next week I will check the Viikki area more often, cause my kids are back in daycare and I have time of my own.