27 April, 2008

Golden Plovers, Bitterns, White Stork and more

Nice Sunday, many new species for 2008 and one rarity in the evening. The morning started with Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor) in our backyard, it was one of the four birds we saw today. The main trip of the day began at 06:30, when my old birding friend Rainer Häggblom picked me up. At first we headed to lake Kortejärvi in Urjala, where we saw for example the first two Golden Plovers (Pluvialis apricaria), four Common Terns (Sterna hirundo), one Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis) and a pair of Northern Shovelers (Anas clypeata) - all new species for me this year. In addition to those, small highlights were a visual observation of flying Eurasian Bittern (Botaurus stellaris) and a "singing" Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus).

From Kortejärvi we headed to fields of Kylmäkoski, Akaa, Kalvola and Valkeakoski. We checked many square kilometers of fields, but unfortunately all floods had dried. Of course there were Common Cranes, Whooper Swans, Eurasian Lapwings and Eurasian Curlews every here there, but no Geese anymore nor any other waders - except in almost last spot there was a nice flock of 50 Golden Plovers (Pluvialis apricaria) in Kuurila fields in Kalvola.

From fields we went to woods; Jutikkalanharju ridge in Valkeakoski was a good birding hot spot once again; in a short time we found for example two Long-tailed Tits (Aegithalos caudatus), one male Grey-headed Woodpecker (Picus canus), singing Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopys collybita), one Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor) etc.

Jutikkalanharju ridge ends as a short cape in lake Saarioisjärvi and there is one of the oldest bird observation towers of Pirkanmaa county. It's still very popular place, though the lake itself is not as good as it was earlier. Today there was nothing special, just the some normal waterfowls and Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) - one of the 5-6 Marsh Harriers we saw today.

From Saarioisjärvi we drove to lake Ahtialanjärvi, the famous bird lake in Lempäälä. I was almost sure that there we would see finally some waders - but no - the water was in so high level that all the migrating waders had left the lake... damn... Well, at least there was much more birds to see than there was in lake Saarioisjärvi; 4 Northern Shovelers, about 30 Eurasian Wigeons, 8 Common Terns and many more. Two Common Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) , a male and female, were nice to see after the cavalcade of Western Marsh Harriers. Lonely Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) gave the first real sign of forthcoming summer.

At this time it was already noon, time to turn car back to Valkeakoski. But before that one more stop, at lake Mäyhäjärvi - which is full of midges during spring, and certain birds love them. This is not yet the best time for midges, but still there was already about 300 Black-headed Gulls and some 30 Little Gulls (Larus minutus), firsts for this year, enjoying of the easy food. Mäyhäjärvi is also a good place to see Black-throated Divers (Gavia arctica) - this time we saw two of them.

Later in the evening I drove to Hämeenlinna with my younger son Roni, who goes to swimming school there. While approaching Hämeenlinna, an SMS from Lintutiedotus (the Finnish Twitchers Association's rare bird alert system) told that there was a White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) very close to us. Roni had never seen a White Stork so I promised him that we will try to see the bird after swimming school. And there it was, not in the same place where it had been found but close to it, feeding in the field. We saw the Stork very well and Roni was happy - and so was I. Nice end for the weekend.

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