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Wonder wondering the Wonders of Nature on the shore of the Mare Karelia and elsewhere

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Old Thursday 10th January 2019, 16:42   #1
Warixenjalka
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Wonder wondering the Wonders of Nature on the shore of the Mare Karelia and elsewhere

I decide to keep some kind of "Birding diary" at this year. Well... I try anyway.

Firstly I have to think what Title I give this. "Another great day at South-East Finland". Hmm... I have a feeling that I have seen something similar somewhere...
What about "Targets for this year"? No - That sounds too familiar also...
"Almost globalish big year while working normally" Nah - Must seen that too somewhere...
"My birding day(s)"? Boooring...

OK, I stop bored you to death now, because obviously you already know what the Title is. (And wondering, "How on earth he ended up that title?")

I'm not gonna write here every day - even this is "a diary" - I update this if I have been birding or seen nice birds or some other interesting wildlife - and I have a time, and right feeling, etc...

After saying that, I really hope that this will not be the last post for this Thread.
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Old Friday 11th January 2019, 07:36   #2
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No, don't let this be the last post. I visited Finland in the 60s, loved it and would like to return, so keep posting and inspire me to come back to the wonderful land of forests and lakes.
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Old Friday 11th January 2019, 17:05   #3
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Even this diary is about 2019, I have to start from last year.

In our local Birding Club has long been the tradition to arrange in the Winter garden race and count how many of different species one yard can be seen during winter months (in December to February) - Of course playfully. Currently is the fourth time that I'm the main organizer of ”competition”. I collect once a week all observations and put them on excel-table. On 27th December I was reading competitors e-mails and updating the table, when one observation hit me like a lightning: Siberian Tit! What a h...?!? I had never seen that species and in our province (Kymenlaakso) it is very rarely seen. And now it was regular visitor in that competitors garden. Garden what was only 30 km from my home.

Last fall Siberian Tits had extensive migration to the South, but in South-Eastern Finland they had managed to avoid the sharp eyes of birdwatchers. This was first in our area. I immediately wrote to the participant and asked if it would be possible for to come and see the Tit and would he let me inform sighting forward. He promised to discuss this with his family. In addition, he told me that the bird had been feeding regularly on several times of day since December 21st.

At the next day this wonderful guy send a message to our clubs e-mail list: You are all welcome to watch Siberian Tit at Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th December between 10 am and 15 pm. Yippee!!!

Me, one friend of mine and three other birders were on that site just 10 am at Saturday morning. The star guest didn’t wait long for showing himself, it was on garden right away. Sometimes it went on a seed feeder, but it was most fond of fat. At times it was lost among the trees, but soon returned to our joy. At its closest point, it was just a few meters from my stand. What an delightful sight it was, so exotic looking when compered to other Tits, with his warm brown back and rusty flanks. By the way – there were also tenths of Great, Blue, Coal, Willow and Crested Tits – absolutely amazing site. I had never before seen six species of Tits in a same place.

Viewing was organized very well and the son of the family sold viewers coffee, tea, pastries and bird boxes from his “kiosk”. We were there about an hour and on that time there was a dozen viewers. I heard later that there had been birdwatchers by evenly throughout the weekend. Before leaving, I asked is there an opportunity to come to see the bird at the next year, for example on New Year's Day. 1st day of a year tics are important, as you might know. That jolly good fellow promised to inform the continuation…
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Old Tuesday 15th January 2019, 17:07   #4
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At Monday 31st I got info that Siberian Tit is twichable at January 1st and also next weekend. I decided to go there at New Years Day. But firstly on that day, I went my traditional New Years Day’s Eco-trip. Last year I did it by bike, because the roads were then dry(ish), snowless and the temperature was plus side (Celsius scale). But at this year, though the temperature was on plus side, there was quite enough snow and also at first, wet snow blasting from sky full. In the afternoon it turned into rain.

In spite of the bad weather, I walked the loop I had planned, almost 10 km. When I finally - after 3,5 hours - got home I was soaking wet and I had 12 year ticks under my vest (8 less than a year earlier) and two mammals – Red Squirrel and American Mink. Far and away the best bird was Tawny Owl. I hadn’t seen this species for years – I’ve only heard it annually. Actually, Tawny wasn’t on my planned route. I heard strange noise, first I thought it was some 2-stroke motorcycle or the like, but when I went little bit closer I realise that the terrible racket caused by Jays. Then I know that there must be some predator, I leave the path and went to find a place where the noise was heard. Then I saw between the trees about 100 meters away, the Jays jump nervously on spruce branches. Because of the weather, my binoculars had gone to misty and I barely separated the dark figure on the tree branch. I couldn’t tell was it Tawny or was it Ural Owl. I take a dozen of crappy photos from it and I leave it to continue its day dreams. At home I check the photos and make sure that it was an Tawny indeed.

After change my clothes and quick snack, I collect few co-birders and drove to SibTit site – just before darkening sky. Weather was still miserable. First bird on site was Chaffinch (year tick), and then 5 species of Tits (3 year ticks more) but the Star kept us waiting. After 15 or 20 minutes it came and what an miserable sight it was – in its all wet feathers. I didn’t get nearly as good photos as couple of days before, but I was very happy. And so were my friends too – After all it was a lifer for both of them.

A pretty good start for the year anyway…
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Old Tuesday 22nd January 2019, 16:46   #5
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At Sunday January 6th the plan was to go looking for some nice birds from Kouvolas area with couple of my birding friends from Kouvola. But first, I was promised to show the other friend the Siberian Tit on Hamina (other one had already seen it, so we collected her later onboard). On the way of our meeting point, I saw at least 15 Ravens on the roadside! I think I haven’t seen so big flock ever before.
As droving to ST site we saw Great Grey Shrike on roadside birch, two male Pheasant and flock of Goldfinches and Greenfinches – year ticks all except Green’s.

When we arrived to ST site we saw big nets around the feeders, and many Tits and Tree Creepers hanging on those. There was a ringer at work. Owner of the house told as that the Siberian Tit got ring on his (or hers) leg 15 minutes after the nets was laid. Also, he told that birds didn’t mind about the net - they keep coming on feeders like they haven’t never been caught and ringed. Also they quickly learned to avoid nets. Soon ST came to under our eyes and my pal got lifer for it. Afterwards I heard that on that garden the ringer guy put the ring over 80 birds leg, mostly Great and Blue Tits. Amazing garden surely.

Our next target was Marsh Tit, who had visiting our Birding Clubs feeders in Kouvola for several weeks. (We have also an other “official” feeding site in Kotka, but that’s another story topic.) On our way there we picked up the another friend. We were on that site about half an hour, lot of Bullfinches, Great and Blue Tits but MT didn’t appear. You can’t always win – not even every time…

The days are short in these latitudes at this time of the year, so we had to keep going. Our next targets were on countryside on the other side of Kouvola. When driving in middle of agricultural fields we kept our eyes open in the hope of seeing big Carduelis flocks, owls and almost everything living creatures. At least my friends observed fields, I had to observate the narrow and slippery roads. Suddenly I heard shout on my right side: “Stop the car! There was some interesting looking lumps on the field.” And sure there was, about 100 or 120 m from the road could be seen a dozen of dark figures in the middle of the snow. At times, we separated graceful heads popped up from some of those lumps – Grey Partridges! Lifer for me! But not for others. Nice birds anyway and not so common sight. We admired them for a while with a telescope and binoculars, and I took some bad picture of them.
As we continued our journey, the next new species for this year was Yellowhammer and soon after that BOOM! More Grey Partridges. And these were much closer on the road. Now I got decent photos (decent on my scale…).
Next target species was so easy that it was almost ashamed, lonely Shore Lark who has been on same field since December 2nd. And there it was, exactly where it was supposed to - only little bit too far to get good photos. But nice year tick anyway. And also lifer for lady member of our team.

To be continued...
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Old Tuesday 22nd January 2019, 16:52   #6
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At this point we still had day “light” left about an hour, and at 4 pm we had to be at the board meeting of our local association (=”Bird Life Kymi”). That means we didn’t had time to go site where had been big carduelis flocks and some nice predators, like Merlins and Hawk Owl. Instead we drove to Susikoski (Wolf rapid) which is usually free of ice all year round. When we got the car parked, we walked on a bridge that crossed the river.
Immediately we saw two Otters on the edge of the ice! I was absolutely amazed - Otter was lifer to me. Quickly the other Otter disappear somewhere, but the other one stayed on our sight swimming and shouting with shrill whistles. We thought that this one must be a mother and the hiding one was a puppy from last summer. I really enjoy for watching my first Otter. Also we saw our main reason to came this place – White-throated Dipper – and one male Mallard (not the reason to be there). Just before we left we heard the other (puppy) Otter whistling in response, but it didn't showed himself.

What an great day it was - one lifer-Bird for every one of us (funny that everyone get lifer for different bird) and one lifer-Mammal for me.
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Old Sunday 27th January 2019, 17:09   #7
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At next Sunday, Jan. 13th, two of us (from last weekend’s trip) tried to fix what we missed last weekend. In the week the Marsh Tit was seen a couple of times in the neighbourhood near feeding site. As we drove there, we checked one ice free stream in case that there would be some nice surprises. We found just two Dippers, so can’t say that they were surprise (nice anyway).
Weather was freezing when we walked crisscross the streets of neighbourhood where Marsh Tit was seen last time. There were other seekers too, but no one was lucky and after an hour we decide to give up.

Our next targets were near Kouvolas centre, Collared Dove and Nutcracker. We also used an hour to find them, but no luck. The day seemed to come long and boring…
Just after we left that area, my friend noticed something else: smallish flock of Waxwings and after I drove near them couple of Fieldfares too, both year ticks for us. It cheered us a little.
This was to be expected - Next target species returned us on the ground again. We didn’t find the Hawk Owl, what had been near Kouvola just a day earlier. (My friend found it later at next week.)

OK – My co-driver knew one other place where he has seen Hawk Owl at December, and there should be couple of other niceties also, like large Carduelis flocks. So we drove to the western border of the Kouvola. Again, it was my buddy who saw “the other Niceties” first: there was a small raptor on a tree at the edge of the field – Merlin sat there! I just got my car stopped when he shouted “Kestrel”! I saw it flying, but so briefly that I couldn’t take a tick from that. But Merlin is always a good tick (and I think I see more Kestrels later in this year). Also I manage to take couple of (very crappy) pictures of that Merlin – And later from one other Merlin. I parked the car off from road and we carried on by walk. Soon we saw hundreds of Carduelis at the forest edge: most of them were Common Redpolls. But there was some Arctic Redpolls and Goldfinches maybe dozen and even couple of Linnets (ticks keep coming). There should been also one or two Twites, but we didn’t saw them. About an hour we watched the flock (actually there was two separate flocks) when it flies between forest edge and fields and back. Looking for Twite (or two) of about 400 birds, were like looking for needle of haystack. Some point young Merlin (the other one) tried to catch lunch for himself, but without luck. But after few disappointments our feelings were very lucky. (Even we didn't find that Hawk Owl.)
When we walked back to the car we found that we were approached by a dense fog. We were thought that we should have couple of more hours enough light to watch birds, but when we drove around fields and forest one more hour in thick fog, we decide to give up for the day.

No lifers from that day, but six year ticks and my first photos from Merlin made me happy. Still - has to be said that Linnets and Kestrels do not usually winter in Finland, so very good observations in that mind too.
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Old Sunday 27th January 2019, 17:19   #8
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Love shot no 4 - it captures well the finch flock!
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Old Saturday 2nd February 2019, 16:20   #9
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Thank you Dragnil. I like that photo also.

Since 13th January, I havn’t done any real birding trips. Every now and then, however, I have made a walk in the surroundings and few times I've twitch few nice birds by car.

At 16th Jan. I leave from work a little earlier and walked home by “landscape route”. I hoped that I could find some new eco-ticks and maybe even year-ticks. In Langinkoski (our local rapids) I saw dozens of Goosanders and Mallards, but also one pair of Goldeneyes (year-tick) and one Dipper (eco-tick).

Friday at that week I walked home from work through that “official” feeding site that I had previously advertised (on post #5). Maybe it would be good to say something about that site at this point: Very late at last year we in the board of “Bird Life Kymi” decided to set up two official feedings, one to North (Kouvola) and one to South, here on coast (Kotka). I promised to take care of the southern feeding, but at first – I had to build the feeder, large enough to take 25 kg of sunflower seeds in it.
It was already a mid-December when I was ready and we (I and two other birders) drag that feeder on woods. The timing was little too late to start feeding, cos many birds had left from woods to more urban areas – or even further South behind the sea, but we do it anyway. In addition to the seeds we put there one fat bar. Later, I have taken to the site lard, oats and peanuts. At the first, I visit on site every other day to see how it start to work. Nowadays I visit there twice a week. Sometimes I see (from footprints) that there had been some other birdwatchers too, but I cannot say it is popular place. After month and half, in the feeder is still at least 15 kg sunflower seeds left. It seems that I don’t have to refill it during this winter.
OK – The birds what use this feeding site daily are gang of Great and Blue Tits, about 5 – 10 Bullfinches and couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Sometimes nearby trees had been Treecreeper. Also, I have seen lots of footprints of some small Rodents, maybe a Common Vole or/and Yellow-necked Mouse. At the first weeks, couple of times near feeder I saw one – one time pair of – White-backed Woodpeckers, but sadly they haven't been seen this year. Also, when we drag that feeder on woods, we saw one Black Woody near the site. I’ve seen from feeding site Hooded Crows, Jackdaws, Magpies and Ravens, but they have not been visited on the feeders.

OK – Back on to that Friday: When I arrive to the site, I immediately noticed that around was lots of Crows, Magpies and Ravens, but they were not at the feeding. There is a railroad next to the feeding, and I thought that some animal had left under the train and the Corvids were there for that reason. In deep snow I climbed up to the rails and found dead fox… or actually it was just a furry lump. Bad for a fox, good for a Corvids. When I came back for feeding I fall on that deep snow and my binoculars became all snowy. Fortunately, the camera was saved from snow wash. Anyway, from that day I got eco-tick from Raven. Fox is still missing my Mammo-Year-list…
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Old Sunday 3rd February 2019, 15:29   #10
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Continuation of yesterday's story:
Earlier in the week I had heard that a block away from our house is garden where female Blackcap had been feeding. A few Blackcaps try to survive in Finnish winter annually, but they are rare. I had never seen a Blackcap in winter time.
At Saturday I was kind of busy and I haven’t time to go and try the Blackcap, but Sunday morning I walked to that gardens gate. The host of the house was just doing snow work, so I asked if it would be possible that I can do some birdwatching on their gardens. They were very kind and after they have done snow works we chat a little bit about birds but soon they left me alone to do my watching peacefully. There was plenty of Great and Blue Tits, couple of Tree Sparrows and six Feral Pigeons, but no sign from Blackcap. I was standing in the gate for half an hour and I was just about to leave, when I saw some grey bird visited briefly on feeder and stayed on one nearby bush. There it was, just enough to see that I could make sure of the species. [On photo it is just behind that Blue Tit]

At the next day, Monday 21st January I got message that there is tame Tengmalm’s Owl in the Tervaleppalehto (Park near Kotka’s center), which is well known and very popular bird feeding site. I was on work by walk and it’s about 5 km walk on there. It could be a first time I could actually see that small Owl - Earlier, I had just heard it. I was tempted to go, but at work was busy day so I decided that I go there in the evening. During the day came more messages: “Owl is REALLY TAME and hardly moves, but it eats mice that it have been caught.” Weird… if it managed to catch the mice, then it must be okay…
Before my Monday evening Spanish class, I went to watch would the Owl be still on it’s place. At 5.30 pm it was totally dark and firstly I didn’t find the Owl anywhere. And of course I had left torch in home. Then I remembered I have a torch on my phone… a sort of torch anyway. I tried to find it from trees without result. There was old ruins at the place and I looked at if it sitting on the rocks, no… Then I noticed there was dead mouse front of ruins and there it was the Owl too, sitting on crevice of the ruins, only about twenty cm from the ground. Wohoo! I found it. But sure it looks like it’s already dead. But it wasn’t, it moves head little, but I saw clearly It wasn’t totally OK. I took couple of pictures and moved on.
Later I heard that Owl was alive on Tuesday, but on Wednesday morning somebody find it by dead. The owl was delivered to a ringer, from which it will eventually go for further investigation. Hopefully then we'll know why it was dead.
Almost forget: There was that Bloody Full Moon on Monday morning. One crappy photo from that too.
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Last lifer: Grey Partridge #423, WP ticks: 314, Finnish ticks: 256 (Pied Avocet), Eco ticks: 195 (Rock Pipit) , Yard tics (alltime): 101 (Stock Dove), Photo ticks: 381 (Tengmalm's Owl)
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Old Sunday 10th February 2019, 16:06   #11
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I haven't talk about my targets for this year yet. But here they come:

Last year I got 207 year ticks (from Finland), so this year target is at least 210 (from Finland). I try to put the target up little by little.
At the moment I got 46 spp versus 2018's 51 spp. So that not looking good...

Eco-tick record is also from last year, 152. For this year, I put a little bit tougher target for myself and try to get 160 species.
At the moment 25 spp vs 37 spp. Goddammit... I hope the winter ends quickly, that I can start cycling.

My yard-tick record (from last year) is 72. This years target is 75. For all of these three, this is the most dependent on luck. Two others are easier to affect at hard work.
Current situation: 14 vs 25.

One target is to add 10 lifers from Finland. Last year I get the same result.

I have plan couple trips for this year. Next month I go to Pori (Bird-Life Finland's Spring meeting) where I might have a time to go birding on one morning. At a summer we do Family-trip to Norway and I hope we have a couple of hours to visit in Liminganlahti (wetland near Oulu - never been before). And when getting back, we might drive through Kuusamo... Probably there will be other (shorter) trips too.

The table below shows my annual "development" in years 2008 to 2018.
Blue is year-ticks, orange eco-ticks and gray yard-ticks.
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Last lifer: Grey Partridge #423, WP ticks: 314, Finnish ticks: 256 (Pied Avocet), Eco ticks: 195 (Rock Pipit) , Yard tics (alltime): 101 (Stock Dove), Photo ticks: 381 (Tengmalm's Owl)
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Old Tuesday 19th February 2019, 17:04   #12
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I am really enjoying this! You are very organised! I assume eco-ticks are when you don't use the car?
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Old Sunday 3rd March 2019, 17:13   #13
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Originally Posted by 3Italianbirders View Post
I am really enjoying this! You are very organised! I assume eco-ticks are when you don't use the car?
You can collect eco-ticks only when you use your own "muscle-power". Even electric bikes are not allowed and nether public transportation.

I had been very lucky with woodpeckers in this year. I got almost all of them (Finnish species) already on my yearlist. Tree-toed and Wryneck are missing woodies. Wryneck I nail for sure at Spring, but Tree-toed can be trickier. I have planned to do some trips just after them (hopefully I get some other "old-forest-species" in same trip).
Here's some Woodies I manage to take photo in February. (No photo from Black and Gray-headed - I must confess that I have only heard GHW)

PS. Those footprints I think belong to Capercaillie, unfortunately I didn't see the bird...

PPS. Coming soon: Utö...
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Old Wednesday 6th March 2019, 17:17   #14
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Utö (or Uto – if you don’t see those two dots above o)

Uto is one of those mythical places where you can see (almost) anything. At least point of view of Finnish birder. The most southern village of whole Finland is in Island of Uto. There are about thirty permanent residents, school, small grocery store, pilot station and lighthouse which also serves as a church. There is also a hotel and lots of apartments and cottages rented by private people. Those are needed especially in Springs and Autumns when the island is full of birders.

I visited in Uto last week and it was my first time on the island – and love for first sight…
Couple of weeks ago my friend (who has visited Uto several times) asked on our local WhatsUp-group is there anyone who like to join him to the trip for Uto. Me and one other birder (also first timer) were keen to leave.
I had to do a bit of overtime at work that I could keep three days of free, but what a birdwatcher wouldn’t do to get to watching birds?

Early in the Wednesday morning we drove 350 km to west and jumped to Uto Ferry. Already before jumping in the ferry I got three year ticks from car window: Herring Gull, Common Buzzard and Mute Swan, and also couple of Mammal year ticks from Roe Deer and White-tailed Deer – along with the more common stuff.
We were barely loose from the harbour when other year tick appeared in sight: White-tailed Eagle – and we saw them dozens in the next few days – and soon after Eagle, three Black Guillemots flew against us. Then my friend saw small head popping in the waves – Grey Seal! – a year tick. Next year tick was on Noto’s (Nut Island) harbour: Tufted Duck. And after almost 5 hours ferry trip just in Uto’s harbour: Great Cormorant, year tick too.

Our landlady waited for us in the harbour, gave us the trolleys for luggage, and led us to apartment that was about 624 meters away. As we walked, I was wondering about the lack of snow - or, in fact, there was no snow at all. Also the sea was totally free of ice. Uto-Tics started coming right away: Cormorant, Mallard, Mute Swan, Herring Gull, Greenfinch, Blackbird, Great and Blue Tits I nailed before I entered the door of our residence.
After settling down, we went to the cliffs behind the lighthouse and try to protect ourselves from the cold wind as well as we could. That afternoon we saw couple of Red-breasted Mergansers (year tick), Common Eiders (yt), Long-tailed Ducks (yt), about 50 Goldeneyes, about 100 Mallards, 30 Mute Swans, 6 W-t Eagles, 1 Sparrow Hawk, Great Black-backed, Herring and Common Gulls.
To warming up we headed for an exploration to the eastern part of the island where is nice meadow. Our “Team leader” said that he had seen there Asio owls several times and also there is most probably at least one Water Rail. But we weren’t lucky. Later in evening we saw one Jackdaw and couple of Ravens.

To be continued...
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Old Thursday 7th March 2019, 12:39   #15
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At the next morning we wake up before dawn and after good breakfast "ran" to the cliffs. Immediately we noticed that wind has turned to blow from the north and it was freezing. Next 3 hours we stood against Pilot stations southern wall. Beside the local birds Mute Swans, Mallards, Goldeneyes and Gulls (about same numbers than day before), we saw 23 migratory Whooper Swans and 1 local (year tick), 5 Cygnus sp, 1 migr. Greylag Goose (yt), 4 Eiders, 17 L-t Ducks, 2 R-b Mergansers, 25 Goosanders, 56 Cormorants, 8 W-t Eagles, 6 Black Guillemots and 2 Razorbills (yt). Most of us (there was six birders on that cliff at the time) saw one Purple Sandpiper but I missed it (damn! – This could be the only time this year when I had the chance to see it). And there was coming more southern migrating birds: 1 Stock Dove, 1 Skylark (yt), 3 Jackdaws, couple of Hooded Crows and Cherry on top of a cake, on a distant islet lay on three seals.

At 10 o’clock it was coffee time – and time to worm up little bit. From kitchen window we count almost 50 Greenfinches, 50 Great Tits, 30 Blue Tits, 3 Blackbirds and 3 Chaffinches on neighbour feeders. Then it was time to go walk. In the eastern meadow we saw the second Skylark for that day and many other already seen birds. Walk was fun on that beautiful island, even though the cold wind tried to blow us into the sea for time to time. Average wind speed was 18 m/s and in bursts there was even 25 m/s.
The last better observation of the day was a Sprawk who tried to catch birds from feeder.

To be continued...
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Old Thursday 7th March 2019, 13:12   #16
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Looks a great place Wari, you'll have to try it in Autumn!
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Old Saturday 9th March 2019, 12:35   #17
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The morning 1st of March was cold, -5.7 Celsius degrees. One permanently resident birder of the Uto said it was the second coldest morning of this winter by then. Good thing was that the wind was settled down – slightly. -15 degrees on Continent doesn’t feel so cold than -5 degrees on middle of a sea.

Days schedule was same as day before: first to the cliffs with telescopes then little break and visit to the grocery store (someone had drink all the beers) and then island exploration by walk. Also, birdwise the day was pretty much similar. Same swans, same ducks, same eagles, same gulls etc. but still very enjoyable. Highlight of the morning were four Starlings (year tick) from the sea. (Later in Spring Starlings aren’t so highlight anymore…)
On walk we saw again one Stock Dove and one Skylark, who could have been the same individuals as those seen the previous day. We manage to find one of the islands wintering Robins.

Me and the other first timer decide to go exploring old bunkers on islands southern cape. I was hoping to find some wintering bats, but without luck. The sun was shining and temperature had risen to the plus side. In wind cover, weather feels almost like full Spring.

The most southernmost point has a Monument: a cross and a star [Photo]. We were told that the monument was erected in memory of the deceased members of the crew of the ship Draken which was wrecked in storm in 1929. At first, the crew was rescued themselves by a small islet only 200 m away from the southern cape. A tough storm prevented men from entering the island. Nevertheless, two of them tried. The other got across, but the other crushed into the cliffs. The peoples of the island communicated the incident to the shipwrecked with the star and cross. Other crew members had to stay on the rock at the mercy of the storm for two more days before the storm subsided so much that they were rescued. From 11 crew members 5 died. The Drakens shipwreck was start of voluntary sea rescue on Finland.

When we were back to apartment, it was my turn to cook. At the same time I watched outside the feeding birds and noticed new one, Redpoll was joined with Finches, Blackbirds and Tits. Suddenly all birds went to panic – Merlin dived down from sky. It didn’t manage to take dinner and landed at the top of birch a bit away. It sit there couple of minutes and then it was gone.
Just when we were starting our dinner, our team leader got a call: Long-eared Owl was just a couple hundred meters away. I ate really fast, the other “novice” left hers food on a plate and left with me to look at the Owl. It wasn’t there anymore… We try to look everywhere near that place with the finder of the Owl, but no sign. We decide to move little bit further on the edge of the meadow. We look at the trees and bushes but nothing. Then “team leader” called back to us: LeO was there where it was at the first. We ran back there, but it has left again – Another dipped bird… Anyhow, we manage to see about dozen Fieldfares, which was little consolation.
More consolation followed when we found Eagle Owl (year tick) from the adjacent islet. It sat on some kind of antenna. It was almost completely dark and we had to stare at the owl for a long time to be sure that it was indeed an Eagle Owl. We knew that in those islets north side of Uto are living a pair of Eagle Owls, but the previous days were so windy that we were not looking for them too much.

Next morning was our last morning on Uto. After breakfast we had still two hours to time to watch birds. Firstly we checked that Eagle Owl islet and there it sat, top of the highest rocks. Rest of the time we stood on the southside cliffs – now behind lighthouses eastern walls, cos wind has turn to blow from west. We didn’t saw nothing new, although the wind brought couple of new Starlings, Hoodies and one Sprawk on island.

Too soon we have to hurried to the Ferry. At the start of the journey we stood on the deck. Cormorants and Gulls were numerous, couple of White-tailed Eagles escorted us off the island. I saw one Black Guillemot and one male Long-tailed Duck, amongst more common ducks. After about one hour we escaped inside and stayed there the end of the trip, eating well and making notes and resting (and snoring - at least one of us).
On a harbour we jumped to the car and started long drive to home.

During those four days I got 16 year ticks (+ 3 Mammal year ticks) and totally 38 bird species. Great trip and I have to get Uto again. Maybe some time more Spring or Autumn when you have to watch your steps so you don’t step over the birds. So I was told.
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Old Sunday 24th March 2019, 15:19   #18
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From 15th to 17th of March I spend in Pori, Western coast of Finland. While driving there I departed from the route as much as I went to twitch the Little Grebe in Valkeakoski. It was one of my fastest twitches, I saw the Little one just in 5 minutes when arriving to site. Of course, I use there little more time when I watched and photographed the Grebe, but after 15 minutes I was road again.
I picked up a friend from Tampere and hit a road again. It was getting dark as we drove towards Pori. About 20 km before the destination, something big flew front of our car – “Eagle Owl!” – we shouted simultaneously. I stopped car on roadside and we looked at with a telescope for the owl witch was landed on electric pole, just to be sure. It cheered us for the rest of the journey. I have been sitting on my car over five hours at that point (excluding couple of small stops, the Grebe and one hamburger meal).

Next morning, after way too big and delicious breakfast, we headed to the fields south of Pori. If you want to see Rooks in Finland, Pori is The Place. So before hopping in the car, we thought if nothing else, at least we see Rook today. Oh, we were so wrong…
From the Tiira we had considered that in the fields should be at least a Rough-legged Buzzard, Merlin, Bean Geese, Whooper Swans, Lapwings and Skylarks. Fields were looking good – almost snowless (In South-East Finland the snow cover was still thick). What we saw there was about ten Whoopers and 44 Taiga Bean Geese (Year tick). Only “raptors” we saw were couple of Northern Great Grey Shrikes – one even sang nicely.
After (only little disappointing) fields we drove to the sea shore. Just to see that the Preiviikki bay was frozen as far as you can see. However, we did not leave without a new year tick, we heard Parrot Crossbills nearby Pines, but even we try to look very hard, we didn’t manage to see them.
Our next stop was on Teemuluoto, which is a protected leafy forest, with lots of dead Birch. In the tops of the trees, were a couple of hundred Redpolls with few Goldfinches and Yellowhammers. White-backed Woodpecker flew front of us and it was chased by Great Spotted Woody. Soon we saw 3 flyover Northern Lapwings - a year tick. We walked to the shoreline where stands bird watching tower, but we didn’t saw nothing special from there, just a few Gulls. Back to the car we decide to walk a little longer route. We found the White-backed Woody hammering fallen Birch and a huge flock of Great- and Blue Tits and Yellowhammers, also couple of Treecreepers. Weird sounds led us to the side path. The source of the voices was revealed by a Jay couple – what else it would been… Also, this time we found WbW-couple too, and one more Treecreeper. My friend saw Long-tailed Tit but I missed it. There was also couple of GSW’s and one male Lesser Spotted Woody – Absolutely fantastic forest patch.
Next we drove more North-West to Hilskansaari and Reposaari, where sea was free from ice. On the edge of ice were sitting 3 White-tailed Eagles, one Greylag Goose, Gulls (mostly Herring and Common, but also couple of Great Black-backed) and Hooded Crows (still no Rooks). There was swimming Goosanders, Goldeneyes, Mallards and Tufted Ducks. From Reposaari’s breakwater we saw distant Common Eiders and Long-tailed Ducks and one Great Cormorant. Just when we were about to leave back to City of Pori, we noticed seven Grey Herons standing on the edge of ice – year tick. So – at a whole day no sign of a Rooks…

On Saturday evening was a time to celebrate 60 years old Pori’s birding club. I don’t want to torture you by telling how good food and drink was there but it was nice to see familiar faces around Finland for a long time.

On Sunday morning – like morning before – too much delicious breakfast in stomach and then the main thing of whole weekend: BirdLife Finland Representative Council Meeting.
In the afternoon we were ready to start long drive to home. I had asked from local birder last night where the Rooks would be most sure to found and got the notes there. And there they were, last year tick of a trip.
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Old Wednesday 8th May 2019, 16:14   #19
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It's a one and a half months already from my previous post. I could say I have been busy, but mostly I have been just lazy.

I haven’t done anything special at March or April. Mostly I have done my birding locally in Southcoast of Kymenlaakso. March was quite cold which slowed down the migration. After my trip to Pori I had 73 year ticks. At the end of March I had only six more.
So I'm not tired you guys for my boring chat, but I'll put here a few of mine better photos (imho). Also I had to put this video on Youtube, cos it was a first time I manage to record Ravens display. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=959Y...a&index=8&t=0s

Greylag was in Lupinlahti, Hamina – which is wonderful place to watch waterbirds.
We can only see the Snow Buntings during the migration when they stop for a few days on their way to Lapland. These were in Hovinsaari, Kotka, just a stone throw away from home.
Starling were in our garden.
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Old Monday 13th May 2019, 12:31   #20
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April was warm – end of the month warmer than normally. Birches and other trees got they leaves really fast. You could almost say that the leaves grew during one day. And the snow drifts shrank in the eyes…
Finally, I was able to start cycling and got my eco ticks growing. At a beginning of April, I had 41 eco ticks – At the end of the month I was on 97. Same time my year ticks grew to 127.

Actually, I did one small car trip 6th April West to Lohja, where was seen American Teal for several days (I did had other business also on that direction). Of course, that day was first day when visitor from America was disappeared…

My best cycling trip produce only one year tick, but it was real treat: Rock Pipit. Usually you don’t see them on continent, but only at outer archipelago. It was just last summer when I got it for Lifer from small rocky island in Gulf of Finland. Also I got few other good ones for eco ticks: Common Eider and Red-breasted Merganser.
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Old Monday 13th May 2019, 12:37   #21
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Lets make this thread little bit more "interactive"...

Guess what these are?
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Old Monday 13th May 2019, 14:51   #22
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Quote:
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Guess what these are?
Wood Pigeons?
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Old Tuesday 14th May 2019, 16:02   #23
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Yes, they were Wood Pigeons. I've never seen so many birds in one tree before. And there was more Pigeons on a ground.

Few photos from April:

I found this Common Frog in a middle of snowy field and carried it to the edge of the snow, to the flooding meadow. I rarely touch the cycle of nature, but the frog looked so helpless and frozen. It was only a matter of time when some crow would have noticed it in the middle of the snow.

Caspian Tern was my first tern of the year – as usual.

I found this dead Long-eared Owl in local woods – poor thing. It looked harmless on outside, but it felt really light. I took it with me and brought it to a friend who has probably ringed thousands of birds, including owls. He tried the bird's sternum and thought that the cause of the owl's death was probably hungry.

Lupinlahti is fantastic wetland in city of Hamina with good bird observation tower. At the Springtime, I usually go there at least every second weekend. This Common Pochard (or not so common nowadays) and Black-headed Gull I filmed there. And here is short video from Pochard couple. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4to...a&index=7&t=0s
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Old Wednesday 15th May 2019, 17:03   #24
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OK, these are last photos from April:

One day I happened to be on work by a car (I usually go work by bike – if the roads are not covered with snow or ice), and I got message from Ringed Ouzel about 5 km away. I decided to go look at it on lunch time. I haven´t seen Ouzel for years so it would be nice to get it for my year list. Unfortunately, my twitching didn’t work, but to comfort, I saw a couple of Cranes for really close when they were eating in the field just off the road.

In addition to birds, I also like other animals, so I also keep a year list for mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Especially I like snakes, they are so cool and beautiful. Unfortunately, there are only two snakes in Finland, the Adder and the Grass Snake (and in Aland also rare Smooth Snake). This year first snakes I found one rocky forest area, and there were at least 7 Grass Snakes.

Little Ringed Plover and Great Crested Grebes I filmed in Hovinsaari, Kotka, which use to be one of best birding places in whole Finland, but then City of Kotka decided to expand the port. Today Hovinsaari is mostly EMPTY asphalt courts, because the transportation of cars to Russia via Kotka came to a halt. Anyway, the area is still one of the best bird sanctuaries in the neighborhood. And most importantly, my home is just a few kilometers away.

This Curlew was in Kirkkojarvi nature conservation area, in Hamina. It’s an old lake which is quite dry and wooded in these days.
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Last lifer: Grey Partridge #423, WP ticks: 314, Finnish ticks: 256 (Pied Avocet), Eco ticks: 195 (Rock Pipit) , Yard tics (alltime): 101 (Stock Dove), Photo ticks: 381 (Tengmalm's Owl)
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