26 October, 2009

Not bad weekend, although I had no time for birding

Last weekend was very busy, so I had no time for real birding. Still I was lucky to see some nice birds. On Saturday, when I came back from Tampere with my boys, we noticed a small bird sitting on power wire in Mahlianmaa area. It was a Eurasian Pygmy Owl (Glaudicium passerinum), very qute once again - but unfortunately I had left my camera home.

On Sunday I did some shopping in Kuljun Kartano, a big department store north from Valkeakoski. This time only Roni was with me. He's just 10 years old, but very sharp eyed. When we drove back to home, Roni spotted between tree tops a big flock quite far. I pushed the pedal and we managed to reach the flock. About 300 Greater White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons), perhaps some Brent geese also. And soon after that Eurasian Nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocatactes) flew over the road just in front of our car. Very nice, and both species were lifers for Roni!

In Valkeakoski there is now several flocks of Bohemian Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus). They arrived about  a week ago, almost at the same time when the huge flocks of Fieldfares (Turdus pilaris) departed.

By the way, White-fronted Geese were for me the 6th milestone of autumn migration this year. Still waiting for the Redpolls and the big flocks of Goosanders (Mergus merganser) and finally just before lakes get frozen, the big flocks of Whooper Swans (Gygnus cygnus).

 White-fronted Geese, in Estonia, 2008

24 October, 2009

Rare footage on Golden Eagles hunting reindeer calves

Golden eagles have been filmed hunting and attempting to kill reindeer calves. One eagle was filmed swooping down and grabbing a calf, while another pulled out of an attack at the last minute.

A BBC natural history film crew gathered the extraordinary footage along a reindeer migration route in northern Finland.

BBC claims that "it finally proves this eagle species does occasionally hunt reindeer". Well, at least here in Finland it's well known fact and scientists have prooved that reindeers form 7% of the diet of Golden Eagle.

Anyway - a very interesting footage. The footage is available at BBC Earth News.

08 October, 2009

5th milestone of autumn migration - Bohemian Waxwing arrived

Yesterday it happened, the first Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) flew over our backyard. But still no Common Redpolls (Carduelis flammea), which is a small surprise to me. I wonder where they are? Lonely European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) is still around, let's see if it's going to spend winter here - otherwise it should migrate soon to south. Too tired to write more this time...

07 October, 2009

The new European bird guide still postponed

UPDATE: Revised edition was published in 2015, check the differences between editions.


News from BIRDWG01 via Finnish "Lintuverkko" mailing list: The long-waited guide that was supposed to be published in November, is still postponed. Below is the whole message from Killian Mullarney, one of the authors (I'm publishing it here as well as I doubt that publishers are reading this blog).

Hello Angus,

Since I doubt that the publishers are seeing this, and I'm not aware that either of my co-authors subscribe to ID-Frontiers I thought I'd issue a brief response to your query. First things first - in spite of considerable effort having being made by all involved, this title will not be out in November. Quite why the publishers of certain editions have been announcing its imminent appearance for over two years is difficult to understand but I guess it has more to do with keeping prospective publishers of co-editions interested, than with provoking and frustrating the many birders who are keen to have it as soon as possible. Those of us involved in the work have known for at least the past twelve months that there was no chance of it being out before autumn 2009; alas, everything has not come together quite as planned so publication has been delayed by around 6 months. So far as I am aware, just about everything is ready now, printing will commence very soon and publication is
 currently scheduled for March 2010.

The number of pages has increased by about 10% in the revised edition. Twenty-four new spreads have been used both to alleviate some of the more crowded plates in the first edition, and treat around 40 additional species, the majority of which  are the result of taxonomic changes. Treatment of wildfowl, shearwaters, grebes, birds of prey, cranes, large gulls, pigeons, doves, owls, pipits, chats, thrushes, warblers, flycatchers, shrikes and North American passerines have all been extensively revised, with the addition of numerous new and improved images while, where necessary, distribution maps have been updated. To be honest, there is hardly a spread in the whole book that could not have been significantly improved in some way or other, but we have had to concentrate on the areas where we felt revision was most needed.

So, in response to your last question "should owners of the first edition plan on an upgrade?" my answer would be a definite 'YES", but then I would say that, wouldn't I?!

Kind regards,

Killian Mullarney


05 October, 2009

Söderfjärden, paradise of Common Cranes

The meteorite impact crater of Söderfjärden is about 530 million years old. It is located about 10 km south of the center of Vaasa, and half of it is within the city of Vaasa, the other half in the municipality of Korsholm. Diameter of Soderfjärden is 5-6 kilometres and depth of 370 meters. The crater is filled with soil, so only the outer rim is visible. The whole crater is agricultral area, mostly wheat, barley and oat fields, but also pea - just for the Cranes.

The Common Cranes (Grus grus) rest in Söderfjärden every autumn, maximum number of 8559 Cranes was counted this year, on 24th of September. The best time to see lots of Cranes there seems to be between 10th of September and 14th of October, but naturally the best dates are weather dependent and vary every year.

During every evening, the Cranes make their evening flight. They move about 10-20 kilometers west, to overnight in the small islands of Bergö. It is a spectacular phenomenon, a must to see for every Finnish birder at least once during their birding career. I have been to Söderfjärden, but never in the autumn... But next autumn I will be there, with my whole family.

And who knows, perhaps next spring we will welcome the Cranes back to Nordic Countries in Hornborgasjön, in Sweden...

Both photos copyright Ami Jaskari - thanks to her!

01 October, 2009

Weather gets cold

While I'm writing this, Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) is calling in our backyard! Nice surprise, it's a long time since there has been any owls close to our home.

But back to what I was originally writing: During last weekend I saw still some insect-eating passerines, like European Robin (Erithacus rubecula), White Wagtails (Motacilla alba), Dunnocks (Prunella modularis) and Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita), but after the weather turned cold, they all disappeared. Well, that's how it goes, but still I miss the summer...

I haven't had much time for birding lately, works at office and home have took so much time. Last real birding trip I had was on Friday the 25th of September, few hours before sunset. Not bad trip at all, I saw birds like Rough-legged Buzzard (Buteo lagopus), Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus), Whooper Swans (Cygnus cygnus), Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius) and a big flock (ca. 200) White Wagtails (Motacilla alba), Long-tailed Tits (Aegithalos caudatus) plus many others.

On Monday the 28th Common Cranes (Grus grus) left Finland. During whole day I received messages of thousands and thousands Cranes migrating south in Western Finland. Unfortunately I missed the whole migration... last flock I personally saw, was 6 birds in Pirkkala on Saturday.

And at the same time started the migration of Geese in Eastern Finland. Now there is tens of thousands Geese resting and feeding in the fields of East Finland, biggest amounts in Tohmajärvi where is right now about 60 000 birds, all of them Barnacle Geese (Branta leucopsis). Also one or two Red-breasted Goose (Branta ruficollis) has been observed. I just hope that the Geese will take the western route when they leave....

Whooper Swans in the fields of Tarttila, Valkeakoski last Friday evening