10 January, 2016

Birding in -25° C, looking for woodpeckers

New year, time to start the year list from zero, once again. And that's a good reason to go for a walk in taiga forests, or actually, in last remaining pieces of them. We have lot's of forests here, but majority of them are so called "tree fields" i.e. commercial forests or clear cuttings which are far from original taiga forests.

Heikkilämetsä nature reserve, notice the fallen trees which makes it difficult to walk outside trails

On 8th of January, I thought it was a last freezing day for a while... Temperature was about -25° C i.e. -4° F. I walked to Heikkilänmetsä nature reserve, it's on old taiga forest, only couple of kilometers from my home. I was looking for woodpeckers, weather was perfect for this, no wind at all. Only noise came from cars that drove by at the distance of some 500 meters. Oh, and cold weather caused snaps, cracks and bangs in trees all the time. I was walking slowly in the forest, stopping every 20 meters and listened. Soon I heard repeating snaps - a woodpecker. But... in old taiga forest it's not easy to walk outside trails, as there are so many fallen trees. It took about 10 minutes to walk about 100 metres... And then I saw the male Three-toed Woodpecker, gorgeous male with yellow crown. And right after that another woodpecker in same spruce; White-backed Woodpecker, female! Cool, two new species to my year list! Also Eurasian Treecreeper in the same tree. Not a bad walk... even though the forest was so dark that I could not get good photos, as you can see below...

Three-toed Woodpecker in Heikkilänmetsä
Female White-backed Woodpecker in Heikkilänmetsä

The freezing weather continued whole weekend... Tomorrow the temperature will raise but so will the wind and the result of windchill will make the weather about as cold as it's now, -20° C aka -4° F.

Today I made a short walk to another small remaining piece of taiga forests, the Kaskelankorpi. My plan was to find Hazelhen aka Hazel Grouse to my year list. But soon when I was inside the forest, I heard a soft "kick - kick" and knocking. Definitely not a Great Spotted Woodpecker but something better... And soon I found it, White-backed Woodpecker female! Cool!

White-backed Woodpecker, female in Kaskelankorpi

I continued my walk and soon I found the Hazelhen, a gorgeous male, but it was too fast, could not get a photo of it. Shame. After I walked some 150 - 200 meters, I heard intense knocking and saw another woodpecker - what the heck, White-backed Woodpecker again! I really wonder how many White-backed Woodpeckers we have here in Finland now?? During last autumn we had a big influx of White-backed Woodpeckers from Russia, most of these birds must be from there as the Finnish population is only about 150 pairs.

Great Spotted Woodpecker in my backyard

While walking back to home, I found a Fieldfare, which is rather scarce here this winter due to lack of berries. Great Spotted Woodpecker was in our backyard, like it's every day, and so were the Bullfinches. One of the Bullfinches surprised me positively, the male was enjoying the rays of sun and started singing, this was the first sign of the spring 2016!

The first sign of the spring 2016, male Bullfinch was singing in maple tree


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