22 June, 2016

From blind spot to a hotspot, I hope so...

One more to my year list, Red-backed Shrike
I've been birding in Valkeakoski region already for over 40 years. I thought that I know this neighborhood like my own pockets, but obviously there are still some secret pockets... because few days ago I studied aerial photos and satellite pictures of this region and noticed something interesting in the middle of my regular birding area. The interesting spot is about size of 2,5 hectares and in pictures it was clearly an old field, which was not in cultivation use anymore. And about 500 meters south from it there seemed to be another large area which is out of cultivation use too.

So, early this morning, Aatu Rundgrén and I headed to those fields right after sunset, we arrived there at 04:15. At first we walked to the northern field (Koivumäen pakettipelto) which looked like a perfect habitat especially for night singing warblers, like Grasshopper Warbler or Blyth's Reed Warbler - or even Booted Warbler. But this time only couple of Sedge Warblers were singing there in the morning, so we should make another visit during night. Lot's of regular day time singers, like Common Whitethroats, Garden Warblers and others were singing though. So, it is a very promising place!

Yellow Flags in river Oikolanjoki

Next we walked towards south to fields of Munakas. This area looked even better! The fields are almost at the same level as the river Oikolanjoki, and they looked really wet, good for migrating waders! The whole area of Munakas is at the lower level than the surrounding fields, so it will stay more or less wet for ever.

And the birds liked this area! There were for example 20 Northern Lapwings, several Meadow Pipits which is a scarce breeding species in this region, Whinchat, Thrush Nightingale, several Sedge Warblers and many more. But the highlight of this place was the Red-backed Shrike, gorgeous male of the species which population has been declined fast.

We found three pairs of Meadow Pipits

But why these fields have been overlooked? Perhaps it's just the fact that they are in blind spot when birders are looking for birds from nearby country roads. Also many birders, including me, have noticed during years that there are flocks of birds in that area, and raptors seem to like the area too. And as almost everyone has a scope nowadays, it's not so tempting to go stomping around the fields...

But - at least I will stomp around Munakas fields and Koivumäen pakettipelto in future regularly and I'm 100% sure there will be many interesting and some rare birds waiting to be found from those areas too. Perhaps already during this autumn...

Part of the flock of 16 Curlews

After one and half hours of stomping around we jumped in to Aatu's car and drove to Linnanen, from where we found a flock 16 Eurasian Curlews and Marsh Warbler, both nice observations. Also couple of Kestrels, a family of 2 adult and two small Common Cranes and finally a Common Cuckoo flying over the fields.

That's it from the early morning, next trip late tonight as a bird guide for the participants of night singer trip of our local birding society.

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