24 May, 2016

Twitching the Paddyfield Warbler

Paddyfield Warbler in Leveäkari, Pori
Photo by Petteri Hytönen

I've been birding so long that I don't get new lifers too often, usually just once or twice per year here in Finland. Now I got a chance, when Paddyfield Warbler settled down in Pori, Friday the 20th of May, thanks to Petteri Mäkelä who found it!

Still, it wasn't too easy to get there. I don't have a car at the moment, so I'm dependent on other birders on what comes to traveling to remote locations. In addition to that, most of the twitchers had already got this species previously and were not too keen to see it again. Fortunately the bird stayed there and finally on the evening of 23rd of May, Harri Slag picked me up and we were heading to Pori!

Harri Slag at Leveäkari

It was about a 160 km drive from Valkeakoski to Pori, we were listening good old blues and having a nice chat. Not much to see along the road, just those ordinary species, like Blackbirds, Woodcocks etc. Not until we arrived to Pori, the birds got a bit better, first we saw a male Merlin and soon a flock of about 10 Rooks, both new to us this year. Rooks are nowadays rare in Valkeakoski region and Merlin has been always small in numbers there.

Leveäkari, on the right is the reed bed where the Paddyfield Warbler was singing

The sun was almost settled down when we arrived to Leveäkari. Small group of other twitchers just left, "the bird is there and singing", they told. So no hurry. Lonely Whimbrel was calling somewhere on the shore, as did the Spotted Redshanks. Lot's of waterfowl, gulls and terns, evening was warm, this was a perfect evening.

When we finally arrived to the hotspot, the Paddyfield Warbler started singing immediately! Lifer for both of us! A long-waited species for me that I had kept "in bank". It was a marvelous singer, listen the excellent recording of Harry J. Lehto.

Lifer! Learned from the Swedes ;)
Photo by Harri Slag

I managed also to see the bird briefly, nice! We did naturally also identify lot's of other birds around the Leveäkari and the bay of Preiviikinlahti. There were for example Greylag Geese, Barnacle Geese, Red-throated and Black-throated Loons, two Arctic Terns, Long-tailed Ducks, lot's of Goldeneyes, Common Eiders, and many more.

Nice observation was also two Roe Deers, who were heading out to the sea, but returned back to shore after short swimming, when they realized that it was a "mission impossible" :)

Roe Deers heading to the sea

After listening the Paddyfield Warbler about half an hour and watching all the birds around us we left the Leveäkari and headed back to home, listening the good old blues again, and enjoying the "lifer coffee" at the  ABC station.

And finally at home, about 02:00, a small sacrifice to our beloved Sendari!

But what next, what will be my next lifer? Only Sendari knows... I have still several species "in bank", and many of these species arrive to Finland more or less regularly. Still, due to geography of this country, twitching them can be very challenging, as you can see from the list below. It shows all observations of species that would be lifers for me, which have been found this year in Finland:

30.4.2016 Pine Bunting, male in Fäliskär, Maalahti 
          (could not twitch, bird was in outer archipelago)

10.5.2016. Paddyfield Warbler in Jurmo, Korppoo
          (could not twitch, bird was in outer archipelago, ringed and released)

20.5.2016 White-throated Needletail in Haapasalmi
          (could not twitch, a migrating bird)

20.5.2016 Trumpeter Finch in Myrans, Siuntio 
          (could not twitch, delayed information)

20.5.2016 Paddyfield Warbler in Pori 
          >  LIFER 23.5.2016 

21.5.2016 Black-headed Bunting, female in Utö, Korppoo 
          (could not twitch, bird was in outer archipelago)

23.5.2016 Black-headed Bunting, male in Västra Norrskär, Mustasaari 
          (could not twitch, bird was in outer archipelago)

The rarity season continues and I'm hopeful to get another lifer soon.
Sendari, I'll sacrifice you more!


  1. Oh well, today, a mega rare Eastern Olivaceous Warbler in Jurmo, Finland, again at outer archipelago, first 214 km driving by car, then couple of hours by boat or ferry... not totally impossible but compared to Paddyfield Warbler twitching, extremely difficult - especially as I have a busy day at work now, no chance to get to the harbor in time... :/

  2. Hi, interesting to hear of your sighting. We ringed a very worn and so pale Paddyfield W in south Scotland at the weekend!

    1. Bird in south Scotland was a first for the area was there at the ringing my site
      Just returned from haparanda Sanskar and was very surprised when I picked a paddyfield from the nets there the second for the station and my second for the year really happy as before this year never seen this species before and not that far from Finland

    2. Nice to hear that Alan and congrats for catching the paddyfield!