15 April, 2008

Evening birding near Helsinki

I make business trips to Helsinki area very often, but usually I drive back to home after working day. This time was an exception, as I participated in two day conference - and there was no dinner in the agenda, so I had lot's of free time during evening. Helsinki area is a great place for birders, there are a lot of excellent birding hot spots around the city. As my conference hotel was in western side, I decided to go birding to Suomenoja, Laajalahti and Lauttasaari, all good birding places close to each other.

Juha, watching for Common Porchards (Aythya ferina) at Suomenoja.

But not alone. I went birding with my very old friend Juha Kiviniemi. He lives nowadays in Helsinki and we have had no chance to go birding together for decades - it was really nice to meet him, this trip brought lots of good memories in to my mind.

We started from Laajalahti bay, where we chose the observation tower of Maarinlahti. I was there last time years ago and the landscape had changed a lot and to better direction. Hectares of reed had been ripped off to offer especially for waders a better biotope. Well, there was not many waders yet, just few Eurasian Oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus), Redshanks (Tringa totatus) and Northern Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus), but many other birds seems to love this kind kind of muddy areas areas too; there was for example about 80 White Wagtails (Motacilla alba), 140 Common Teals and many others. Small surpise for me was the Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus), earliest one I've ever observed in spring. In the bay there was a lot of waterfowl; Smews (Mergus albellus); Northern Pintails (Anas acuta), Tufted Ducks (Aythya fuligula), Whooper and Mute Swans (Cygnus cygnus & C. olor), Geese, Grebes etc. etc. In addition to local birds, one Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) and couple of Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea) flew by.

Drake Common Porchard in Suomenoja

Maarinlahti tower was quite crowded, so we moved soon to the next place - Suomenoja sewage pond. It's not very nice place, but you can see there certain birds easily that are quite difficult to find from other places. Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) is such - we saw 4 of them. We saw also one male Gadwall (Anas strepera) and 2 Slavonian Grebes (Podiceps auritus) which are both not so rare, but few in number, always nice to see. Black-Headed Gulls (Larus ridibundus) rule this place, my very rough estimate is that there was about 2000 of them. Other birds we saw there were for example 24 Common Porchards (Aythya ferina) and 6 Tufted Ducks (Aythya fuligula).

Two Moorhens and Black-headed Gulls at Suomenoja.

Our last target was the southern tip of Lauttasaari island. We went there to see some sea birds, like Long-tailed Ducks, Common Eiders or Common Scoters - but all we saw this time were about 30 Common Eiders (Somateria mollissima) - well, the first for me this year anyway, we don't see the too often in Pirkanmaa county. Two Eurasian Oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus) were also feeding in nearby islet.

Oystercatchers, Gulls, and Mute Swans....

Sun was already setting down, so it was time drop Juha at his home and me to drive back to hotel. Not bad evening for inland birder, several new species for this year. And of course the best thing was to meet my old friend Juha.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this. It pointed me towards Laajalahti and I had the greatest day. Highlights for me: about 10 Temminck's stints, many wood sandpipers, ruffs, two kaspian terns, a hobby and an osprey to top it all off. I love Finland!