23 June, 2016

Birding in nightless night, enjoying endless light

Orange moon rising in the fields of Linnanen
Photo by Roni Haukkovaara
Days in high latitudes are now long and you can go birding whenever you want, there's always enough light. Listening night singers between late May and early July is a traditional way of of birding in Finland. Personally I enjoy these nightless night birding trips a lot. Listening excellent singers during calm and warm nights is something that every birder and nature enthusiasts must experience at least once in a lifetime.

Last night I guided with Risto Vilpas a group of 11 birders around the countryside of Valkeakoski and Akaa, we stopped here and there, watched birds and listened to  the singers. We drove first to the fields of Linnanen, where a flock of 24 female Eurasian Curlews was resting and took off when we arrived.

Female Eurasian Curlews
Photo by Roni Haukkovaara

Here we heard also the first night singers; a Marsh Warbler, Thrush Nightingale and Grasshopper Warbler. Of those the March Warbler is an expert in mimicry with furious tempo, changing the subject all the time. Thrush Nightingale is extremely loud with over 70 dB song that can be heard over long distances, while the Grasshopper Warbler has a peculiar, continuous insect-like whirring reel.

So, this was a good start and our group was already satisfied, especially the Nightingale was a bird that they had wished.

Next we moved to Tarttila, where a Blyth's Reed Warbler was singing right next to the roadside, loud and clear. It's an other great mimic, reminds the Marsh Warbler, but it's louder and the tempo of the song is slower.

Listening and watching the Blyth's Reed Warbler
From Tarttila we drove to Päivölä and walked to the shore of lake Saarioisjärvi. Lot's of Sedge Warblers in reed beds and lonely female Water Rail calling continuously somewhere close. More Blyth's Reed Warblers in nearby fields, also a Northern Bat hunting insects in Päivölä hill.

The dusk is short and we decided to visit still one spot, the Alkkulanlammi old sewage ponds in Viiala. There we heard three more night singers; two River Warblers, Savi's Warbler and European Reed Warbler. The song of the River Warbler is like a powerful sewing-machine, while the song of Savi's is much like the Grasshopper Warbler's but differs in higher frequency and lower pitch. European Reed Warbler song instead reminds a bit of Sedge's but is "chatty" and slow-paced.

Back at home about at 02:00, long, 23 hour day behind. Off to bed and lot's of coffee next morning. Have to go still at least couple of times more to night birding trips during this summer, especially if south eastern winds bring more birds to Finland.

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