21 September, 2009

Mystery bird - perhaps a Cockatiel

I went birding yesterday evening with Roni and our first stop was the small pumping station in the dell of Vanhakylä fields. There is quite often some interesting passerines in the fields around the pumping station, and our intention was to search for Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus), which would have been a lifer for Roni.

But sometimes the plans change... Around the pump is a tiny birch wood and when we approached it, we heard a loud "kreee - kreee - kreee" from tree tops. Sound was really pretty loud, we heard it well about from the distance of 100 meters. I thought first that there's some shrike in some tree top, but could not see anything. Soon we noticed that the bird is hiding inside tree tops. And suddenly it flew few meters, inside another tree top. About size of a thrush, very odd flight style, fast wingbeats, like Fieldfares (Turdus pilaris) in their territories during spring. Not sure, but the bird had possibly a long tail. The situation was just too fast to make good observations, only few seconds, and sun was right behind the bird... It continued the loud "kreee" calls, but suddenly changed it to jingling sound, something that I had never heard. I was really puzzled... We tried to get even closer, but then the bird went totally silent - and disappeared like a fart into Sahara...

So, what was it? Behaviour was very similar compared to Monk Parakeets (Myiopsitta monachus) that I saw in Barcelona, Spain, last year. But Monk Parakeets were bigger and even louder than this bird. After some phone calls, several e-mails and hours of listening parrot sounds from the net, I'm quite sure that the bird was a Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus), but I can not be 100% sure. Perhaps soon when the weather gets colder, it's behind someone's door or window, trying to get in, like it's relative last week in Lempäälä.

Photo by Jim Bendon from Karratha, Australia, in Wikimedia Commons

From Vanhakylä we continued to Ahtialanjärvi lake, a birding hotspot in Lempäälä. Hundreds of waterfowl; Eurasian Wigeons (Anas penelope), Mallards (A. platyrhynchos), Eurasian Teals (A. crecca), Northern Pintails (A. acuta), Tufted Ducks (Aythya fuligula) and many more. But the more interesting ones for us were the shore birds: 13  Dunlins (Calidris alpina) and 8 Ringed Plovers (Charadrius hiaticula). According to Tatu Itkonen, who checked the lake by boat, there was totally about 950 waterfowls, 1 Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus), 1 Lapland Longspur (Calcarius lapponicus) and more, but those we missed. Anyway, this evening was very interesting...

17 September, 2009

Arctic Geese Skip Migration as Planet Warms

From Discovery News, by Michael Reilly:

"In the Fall of 2007, tens of thousands of small arctic geese called Pacific brant (Branta bernicla nigricans) decided not to go south for the winter.
For these long-haul migratory birds, it was a dramatic choice -- they usually spend the cold months munching their favorite eel grass in the waters off Mexico's Baja peninsula. But changes in Earth's climate have so affected them that the barren windswept lagoons of western Alaska are looking more and more appealing.
The trend is likely to continue, according to a new study, affecting not only brant but a host of migratory birds around the globe."

Read the whole article from Discovery News.

I just hope that the spectacular arctic geese migration, known as "Arktika" here in Finland, will not disappear...

16 September, 2009

Tromping around for passerines

This evening I was birding with Petro. We tromped around for passerines in the fields of Sääksmäki and Ritvala in Valkeakoski. Heavy rain showers disturbed us, but still we managed to find something.

This time the best area was definately Kalsorinvainio - Uitto - Pirjonnurmi from where we found about 30 Meadow Pipits (Anthus pratensis), 3 Skylarks (Alauda arvensis), 5 Reed Buntings (Emberiza schoeniclus), 1 Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus), 1 Great grey shrike (Lanius excubitor) and 1 female Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus), which was coursing around the fields.

So, nothing really special but still I was pleased, it was good to get out after hard day at work.

14 September, 2009

First wave of Common Cranes

Yesterday I wrote about the milestones of autumn migration and mentioned that mass migration of Common Cranes (Grus grus) is one of those. Well, today the the first wave flew south, totally about 6500 birds. Here in Pirkanmaa county approximately 5800 cranes were seen.

Personally I missed most of this fun, but anyway, I saw a beautiful flock of 180 cranes at 18:38 right over our house.

So, there is still a lot of cranes to come. Perhaps already during next days. I just hope that I will not miss the main migration day when it's possible to see over 10 000 cranes. But I'm afraid it will happen once again in the middle of working day...

Fiji Petrel photographed for the first time at sea

Fiji Petrel (Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi), a species that once "went missing" for 154 years, has been photographed for the first time, flying at sea, near the island of Gau in the Pacific Ocean. Read the full story from Gunnar Engblom's Blog.

Photo copyright Hadoram Shirihai

13 September, 2009

Sunday evening birds

Busy weekend at home, not much time to get out until late in Sunday evening. Roni came with me and we headed to Valmarinniemi, a nearby cape of Mallasvesi - a big lake close to our home. There we saw some Gulls, Red-breasted Mergansers (Mergus serrator), Great Crested Grebes (Podiceps cristatus), Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) and a lonely Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus). Those were the only stationary waterfowls we saw. Not much migration either, just a a flock of 30 Eurasian Wigeons (Anas penelope) heading southwest. Nevertheless, it was a short and refreshing trip after time consuming jobs at home.

Some backyard observations from Sunday morning: In addition to first Bramblings (see my post below) there was also a Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata) and 2 House Martins (Delichon urbica), possibly the last ones during this year - or then not, who knows...

Migrating Wigeons in Mallasvesi

3rd milestone of autumn migration - Bramblings arrived

This morning  there was two Bramblings (Fringilla montifringilla) in our backyard. Clear sign of autumn and the 3rd milestone during autumn migration here, at least when followed from our backyard.

Autumn migration starts here already in the last days of May / first days of June, when female Eurasian Curlews (Numernius arquata) leave their husbands and kids to move south. Their lonely calls can easily be heard even inside our home when they fly fast high in the sky over our suburb.

Second milestone is the migration of Black-headed Gulls (Choirocephalus ridibundus) in July, they leave in big flocks and suddenly most of them are gone, although some birds stay here untill late autumn. And now came the Bramblings. It's a rare breeding bird here in South Finland, but very common species further north, so it's easy to notice when they start their migration to south.

Next milestones that I wait, are the Common Redpolls (Carduelis flammea), Bohemian Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus) and especially the massive flocks of Common Cranes (Grus grus). Migration of Geese is definately one milestone in east, but here in west we don't see them much during "normal" years. After that there is still couple of milestones before winter;  first the big flocks of Goosanders (Mergus merganser) and finally just before lakes get frozen, the Whooper Swans (Gygnus cygnus) will leave. After that, it's a winter.

12 September, 2009

Court confirms that spring hunting in Malta is in breach of EU law

Great news from south! The European Court of Justice two days ago delivered its judgment in a case concerning the spring hunting of birds in Malta. The judgment clarifies that spring hunting may only be permitted under certain strict conditions strictly proportionate with the aim of conserving bird species. The Commission had taken Malta to court for failing to provide adequate protection for birds, and had also applied for special interim measures to ensure that spring hunting did not continue while the case was being considered.

Read more from europa.eu. and see also press release of Birdlife Malta !

09 September, 2009

"The New Shorebirds" project launched

Interesting news from Gyorgy Szimuly

He has launched with his colleagues a new project:
"The New Shorebirds"

The book should be ready for publishing on 20th of August 2020.

I'm really looking forward to this book, although it will take a long time untill I get it in my hands.

More information will be found later from Gyorgy's blog.

07 September, 2009

Conan goes birding !

Late Night with Conan O'Brien - Late Night Favorites: Birdwatching - Video - NBC.com

Now this is a classic, a must to see for every birder!

Pallid Harrier photos

Here's some photos of the other Pallid Harrier that has been in Kylmäkoski during last days. Thanks to photographer Jani Vastamäki for allowing me to publish these photos! Klick the photos to see bigger version.


06 September, 2009

Not just one, but two Pallid Harriers!

Roni, scoping the Pallid Harriers
Today I did a new raptor trip with Roni. We started from fields of Metsä-Paavola and Käyrälä, saw there 3 Hen Harriers (Circus cyaneus), Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus), 2 Eurasian Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) and Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus). Not a bad start, but did not find the one we were looking for. Yes, we tried to re-find the Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) we saw yesterday, to get even better look at it and get perhaps also some photos. The Pallid Harrier was here yesterday evening, but not now, perhaps it was again few kilometers north from here.

So we headed to fields of Kurisjärvi. At first the place looked empty, but soon we saw first Kestrels, in fact 7 of them and then a harrier... yes, there it was again, the juvenile Pallid Harrier. But it was still too far for getting good quality photos, shame. It flew around the fields and landed. We lost it for about 10 minutes, but suddenly it popped up again, with another harrier following it. I thought first that the other one is Hen Harrier, but when I took another look at it, I noticed immediately that we had not only one, but two juvenile Pallid Harriers! Cool! And it was in fact Roni, who first realised that those hawks looked exactly the same. Not bad from 10 years old birder!

In addition to Pallid Harriers and Kestrels, the fields of Kurisjärvi offered us also a Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) and Marsh Harrier. Not to mention all other smaller birds...

05 September, 2009

Pallid Harrier

Yesterday evening I received a call from my birding friend Ville Työppönen. He had found a Pallid Harrier from Kylmäkoski! So close - but so wrong time, as I had to do some bat research same evening in Pirkkala. So I had no chance to go twitching. This morning was also fully booked, because I had promised to take my older son to wall climbing course in Tampere. Oh well, my bad luck again...

Or so I thought. But Lady Luck was on my side this time. At 11 a.m. I received a rare bird alert; the hawk was still there! It took still several hours before I was able to push the pedal and drive to Kylmäkoski. My son younger Roni was with me, he was very excited to see this bird as well.

When we arrived to large fields of Kurisjärvi, we found out immediately that there's lot's of birds of prey in the area. First one was old male Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus), then Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus). Suddenly I noticed that there's was a bigger hawk gliding near the Kestrel, It was far, but it looked very promising, definately a Harrier, but was it Hen Harrier or Pallid... could not say it's 100% sure yet, but the bird looked so interesting that we started to follow it. We jumped back in the car and drove about 1 kilometer. And there it was, pretty close to us, in good light, a juvenile Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)!

Lifer! Yes! For both me and Roni. It took "only" 27 years to see this bird...

Later we saw also Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo), another Hen Harrier, Marsh Harriers (Circus aeruginosus) and more Kestrels. In addition to those, nice flock of about 40 Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla flava) and some 200 Eurasian Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Kurisjärvi - Käyrälä fields are just now really worth visiting!

International Vulture Awareness Day 2009

International Vulture Awareness Day 2009