Last Friday I picked up my uncle Jände and together started our drive to Pori and after that to Säppi island bird observatory. From Helsinki it is about three hour drive and because we had some time to waste we visited our friend Juha in Kaanaa before we arrived to the small marina where the boat was waiting us.
At the marina we met Janne, Hanna and Pirkka Aalto, Teo Ylätalo and Arto Aaltonen. Weather was totally horrible, windy and rainy, so you can imagine how wet was the ride to the island.. we all were wet after that and some of the stuff we had in boat was completely wet.
When we arrived to the island our main target was Asian desert Warbler, which was found couple of days earlier. Jani Vastamäki kindly showed the bird for us and it was a real surprise that it was very tame and came very close to the people. Also showy Bean Goose was near by and it also caught our attention. Soon the people who was in the island before us left and we carried our stuff to the station. Because we arrived around half past four, there was only time to check places near by before the dark came. New lifer in Finland was amazing start to our trip and I thing the Desert Warbler was new species for almost all of us!
|Asian desert Warbler twitching.|
|Beautiful evening in the island.|
|Asian desert Warbler.|
|The bird was moving on a ground like mouse.|
|Even with the branch I like the background and the bird in this photo.|
|Warbler caught some kind of caterpillar.|
|Sunset was beautiful. |
|At some point after dark Teo came with this! |
Saturday we were full of hope and eagerness to see something very rare. We started from the shore where we had some sea watch. Every morning there is mandatory sea watch for two hours. In that time we picked up some nice species like two Common Guillemots, four Purple Sandpipers, 60 Razorbills, about ten Black-throated Divers, some Red-throated Divers, two Red-necked Grebes, and lots of common stuff. Especially Rock Sandpipers and Guillemots were nice species for Helsinki city boy and here those are very rare. We also checked the Asian desert Warbler because some twitchers were waiting the info and the bird was still there!
|Säppi lighthouse in morning light.|
Janne, Hanna and the company put some nets and Hanna was ringing during the sea watch. Quite soon we all were there and from that point we started to walk around the island and checking all the bushes and meadows for some rarities.
Walking was slow, but some good birds were found. Juvenile Peregrine Falcon was flying over the island and just before that we had Merlin flying above us. Not too many birds, but mostly Meadow Pipits, Wrens, Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests, Treecreepers and other common stuff. At some point I checked my phone and there was a picture of Siberian Accentor from Hanna, who caught it from the net!! We were opposite side of the island and we had to start long walk back to the area where the nets are. Took us about 20 minutes to get there, but shit it was worth it! What a beauty it was. Here you can see. Bird was first calendar year male and almost only bird from that round. At this point we realized that we have to show the bird for the twitchers, because there was some in the island twitching the desert warbler! I send an alarm and told that the bird will be at the station in 15 minutes and Hanna will release it there. About 15 people in the island saw it and later it was seen in the field by some.
|Distant Merlin flying away.|
|One Highland Cattle from the bigger herd.|
|Juvenile Peregrine Falcon.|
|Small flock of Redpolls. |
|Janne and the bird.|
|One of my all time favorites. What a bird! |
We continued walking around the island, this time we took another direction. At some point near cape Prakala Janne found some interesting small bird which was saying "tsak" or "check" and I also heard it once. Really sounded like Dusky Warbler, but bird this rare you must see and we did not see the bird. Great-grey Shrike came close, so that was maybe the reason the bird disappeared. Very few birds in windy side of the island. Only one Sky Lark, some Meadow Pipits, Grey Heron, Tits, Chiffchaffs and stuff. Hanna and Pirkka saw flying Pipit which they identified Olive-backed Pipit, but in Finland you really have to see those birds properly, so later we tried that without any luck. What a shame.
|Walking in Hanhisto area. |
|Checking every bush in cape Kraveli|
Soon the dark came and I went to put the sauna on. There is possibly one of the best saunas in the word in Säppi island and we enjoyed it very much. Can´t really complain about the day when you see Asian desert Warbler, Siberian Accentor, two Guillemots, four Purple Sandpipers and Peregrine Falcon in same day!!
Sunday started with some rain and after little waiting we were at the net site. We spend most of the remaining time there, because me and Jände had to leave the island just after midday..
Nets were full of birds, but nothing really interesting this time. Huge numbers of Goldcrests, many Wrens and other common birds. At least the weather was nice.
|Station and lighthouse.|
|And another one. |
|Smallest bird in Europe.|
|Ringing team Hanna and Pirkka.|
|Redpoll in my hand.|
At 1.30 pm our boat left towards main land and our next target was Dusky Warbler in Pori, which was found by my friend Petteri Mäkelä earlier that day. We picked Juha Sjöholm from Kaanaa and together we went to twitch. Soon after we arrived we foudn a group of people and just after we arrived the bird showed very quickly and called few times! Nice! Later it was calling again few times, but we never saw it again. This species is pretty famous of this kind of behavior. It was nice to see Matti Rekilä and his family there too and Juha Kylänpää with his bicycle too. He is making the new Finnish record of eco-ticks in one year. Good luck with that Juha! Here is few pictures from the site.
|Dusky Warbler was calling from somewhere there! No change to get any photos..|
|Common Chiffchaff in same place.|
Later we started our drive back home and we arrived around seven a clock back to Helsinki.
What a trip. Desert Warbler was lifer and the Siberian Accentor was only 12th record in Finland outside of the record breaking influx year 2016 when there was 66 birds in Finland and many more in Europe. Desert warbler was 13th record for Finland, so both very rare birds!
Thanks for the company Jände, Janne, Hanna, Pirkka, Teo and Arto. Without you this trip would have been much less fun. And good luck others for your period in the island. Let there be lots of rare birds!