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Spring - a game of two halves - part two - Arktika

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It's fair to say Spring has not gone as planned. The April snows really have kept things at bay, and even the first couple of weeks of  May didn't help matters too much. 
This weekend we hoped to hit Arktika, the mass migration of Geese and other birds that tends to happen at the end of May. 
To facilitate this, and kill two birds with one stone, celebrating a family Birthday, we decided to rent a  mökki in Virolahti, a famous place for arctic migration, close to the Russian border.
In former Soviet Union...Birds watch you..
Things didn't quite go to plan. When we finally got to the rental mökki on Friday evening, we were naturally exhausted. Also, the owners had left the heating on full blast, which, combined with it being the hottest day of the year so far, a whopping 23 degrees, made for a distinctly uncomfortable night's sleep. The poor 'Jedi, a double coated breed, found it particularly hard to settle. 
Rental mökki in Virolahti. 
Getting up at 3a.m for Arkti…

Return of the Jedi

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For the past year, my newest birding companion has been this young lady.

Kuura
Kuura is a 14 month old Samojedi (Samoyed in English) or just 'Jedi for short.
I now rarely drive anywhere birding without her. Consequently I , naturally, have to maintain her list for her. She has trouble penciling the ticks into the book herself.
Birding with a dog brings it's own challenges and rewards, and often I get the feeling she would rather eat the birds we see than watch them.
On other occasions she genuinely seems fascinated by the comings and goings of migration. I'm obviously applying a distinct level of anthropomorphism here. 
My clearest recollections of this were, once when she was only a few months old, on her first visit to the mökki, she seemed genuinely amazed by skeins of migrating geese overhead. It was charming to watch this little creature experience the natural environment of Finland for the first time, and realize that there was a bigger world out there than the roo…

The Flood-gate

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Spring punched the clock overnight.
A shift to a southerly wind meant maarintorni was a new world this morning. It was actually warm! I can't believe it. You could actually FEEL the sun's warmth as opposed to trying to remember what it felt like.
In terms of birds it meant big changes.
A Bluethroat flitting across the reeds, had apparently been singing early in the morning. A Common Whitethroat was my second yeartick of the day, quickly followed by singing sedge warblers, magically having appeared from nowhere. Several Lesser Whitethroat were also singing.
The bay itself was choc-a-block with hundreds of common swift (compared to a few dozen yesterday).
I had a late start today, only arriving around 10.30, but I timed it well as within 20 minutes a ringtail harrier was called to our south. 
It was a tad on the distant side, and migrating rather than hunting. Nonetheless it looked like a good 2nd CY Pallid to me, so I did my best to nab some phone scoped footage/pics. Glad I d…

Still cold

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Mid May and still dealing with snow flurries and low temperatures all week.

A beautiful sunny day today prompted me back out to Maarintorni, but despite the sun, the wind was still biting and migration was still at a minimum.
There had been a bit of build up of birds however, notably Spotted Redshank, of which there were about 40. Call me old fashioned, but Summer spot red is a stunning looking bird. Incredible how a relatively simple plumage can rank up there in visuals.
Similar number of Ruff were on the mud, and what I presume were the same two Temminck's stints from last weekend.
Summer plumage Spotted Redshank. A stunning wader and a hard plumage to beat.
Also on patch were a pair of Red Necked Grebe, a scarce bird on patch. I have only seen one migrant bird here before. Red Necked generally prefer fresh water for breeding, but would be nice if they hang around and make a go of it. 
Crap record pic of good patch scarce Red Necked Grebes
Two migrating Merlin were the best to…

Porvoo Pop in visit

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All hail Schumer day.
What's that? Well it's a day off for me.
Well, a theoretical day off. I was "scheduled" to do a lot of wedding stuff yesterday.
We set off for our wedding venue early doors, which is in Porvoo, the county east of Helsinki, and after finalizing the various details there we managed to get in a little bit of birding.
The venue itself is a nice mix of coastal bay and farmland and had plenty of Yellow wagtails, Goosander, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper and a roving White Tailed Eagle.
A stunning male Grey headed Woodpecker made himself known, whistling away in the grounds, as did a "Peeeeee"ing Black Woodpecker.
On the way back through Porvoo town, we decided to take a look at the local dump. Dumps in Finland often have more than just gull action, and sure enough, straight out of the car I found a cracking Black Kite fighting with a Common Buzzard.
We watched this bird for over half an hour as it floated around over the dump, much to the chagrin…