06 March, 2010

In search of the woodpeckers, parts 2 & 3

During last days the weather has been simpy excellent; -5° C, calm and almost no clouds in the sky. Wonderful winter weather full of promises of forthcoming spring. All the birds are singing, sunshine feels warm in your face. Spring equinox is getting closer every day and the days are getting longer and lighter.

Two days ago we saw another Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius)- it flew over the road when we drove to Tampere. This was so far the third Black Woodpecker for me this year. Yesterday I was birding with my older son Petro. We went to Jutikkalanharju (ridge of Jutikkala), a very beautiful ridge in the southern part of Valkeakoski. I was expecting several woodpeckers from there but all we found was a female Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major). No Grey-headed, Lesser Spotted nor Black Woodpecker, all species that breed in this area. Still we enjoyed the beautiful nature and all the other birds we saw there, like Blue Tits (Cyanistes caeruleus), Willow Tits (Poecile montanus) and Coal Tits (Periparus ater) who visited in the feeding place of local birder Jussi Kallio. Also couple of Common Ravens (Corvus corax) were passing by.

Today I was birding with my younger son Roni. Our target was Heikkilänmetsä nature reserve, nice old forest close to downtown Valkeakoski. Like yesterday and few days ago, the snowshoes were mandatory again - thick layer of snow covers everything. This third trip convinced me that the Great Spotted Woodpeckers are scarce at the moment - and the reason for that is the fact that there is no cones in spruces. When there is lot's of cones, you can easily find 5-10 or even more Great Spotted Woodpeckers from this forest. Today there was none. But still we were lucky - we found Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus)! Very nice, as it's a very secretive species, silent and feeding often high in the spruces. In addition to Three-toed Woodpecker, there was also 5 Eurasian Jays (Garrrulus glandarius), 2 Crested Tits (Lophophanes cristatus), 2 Coal Tits (Periparus ater), 6 Eurasian Bullfinches (Pyrrhula pyrrhula), Eurasian Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris), 2 Eurasian Siskins (Carduelis spinus) and several more common birds.

Tomorrow is the last day of my winter vacation, time for the part 4 of this search which will also be the last part - at least for now. If the nights turn warm, I think I will concentrate on listening the owls...

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