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Mökki Mega

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Another visit to the cabin went down over the weekend.  Really great weather and atmosphere out there at the moment.  Misty mornings, sunny days, cool evenings, and the sound of Black Woodpecker, Grey Headed Woodpecker and Black Throated Divers whilst you drink your morning coffee is blissful. Misty Saturday morning with amazing Black Woodpecker calls
I started out, on a misty Saturday morning, by hitting Lohja dump for a couple of hours. Like most dumps in Finland, this site is winding down activities. It does still attract a reasonable number of gulls, however, and of course seems a good prospect for raptors and passerines. Last autumn, like many dumps in Finland, it held one of the Siberian Accentors of that crazy influx, so always potential here. 
Not much on display Saturday morning though. Reasonable count of juv Herring gulls, which were constantly milling about due to the presence of this male Goshawk.
Even when you're dealing with a relatively "small" male, the…

I Miss Seawatching

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Days like today, I miss seawatching. Everything about the weather reminded me of squally days on Galley or the Bridges of Ross, the temperature and moisture of the air, the scent of it, the feel of the humidity on my skin.
I don't count the Baltic as a sea. It's not particularly salty. It has no tides. It barely has any wave action. That's a lake. A big lake. But a lake nonetheless.
This popped up on my social media reminders today, and I was suddenly hit with memories of sea breezes, crashing waves and the sound of seabirds.
Madeiran Petrel - by Robert Vaughan
On the 18th of July, 2010 I saw this beauty from Galley Head, co. Cork. It's as clear as memory to me now as it was 7 years ago. 
Watching scores of petrels flutter past on an incredible misty morning that everyone else (bar Rónán McLoughlin) had written off as not worth the effort. One birder had even driven to the head, looked out to sea, and decided to go home to bed. Oh the humanity.
Can you imagine how si…

The Heat Is On

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A fairly warm and sunny weekend, which you would think would be no obstacle to birding. Unfortunately, these kind of weather conditions in Finland, in July, are not the best for viewing birds. Most songbirds have given up singing now, and by the time 9a.m rolls around it can be too hazy to deal with.
I decided to chance my arm with a bit of gulling on Saturday morning at Ammassuo dump, half hoping for a juv Caspian gull, which should be starting to turn up any day now... Only kidding, Large gulls suck, I was actually hoping for a raptor of some decency. As this rather tasty looking Steppe Eagle is located down in Turku, I was thinking it, or something equally good could be soaring around.
When I pulled up an adult White Tailed Eagle was instantly obvious over the dump, quickly followed by a displaying male Honey Buzzard. But that was pretty much it on the raptor front. The gull front wasn't worth talking about.
I then moved on to an area of fields near Kauhala. I've had lu…

Finnish Focus on....Three-Toed Woodpecker

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Been planning on a regular feature of profiling species which I particularly like when it comes  to birding here in Finland.
I thought I would start with a real favorite of mine, Three-toed Woodpecker.
Three-toed are not particularly rare, even near the capital, but they are habitat specialists in their choice of breeding location.
On my first visit to Finland, in August 2013, this was one of my most sought after species, and the 10 km hike through a national park, to find pristine, old growth forest, was worth the swarms of mosquitoes to see these stunners.
My first Three-Toed Woodpecker - Seitseminen National Park
These days I don't do that. The 10 km walk doesn't put me off. But I do try to avoid mozzies if I can. And most winters I can rely on one or two Three-toed being on patch, where, more often than not, they can be exceptionally tame. So I simply have to wait and let them come to me.

Immature Three-Toed Woodpecker - Laajalahti
Immature Three-Toed Woodpecker - Laajala…

Old wives tales and critical thinking

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I've been doing a lot of thinking lately... mostly the last 15 years really, about how certain concepts enter the collective consciousness.
Deep. I know.
The finding of a Marsh Warbler in Ireland, seemingly happy to sing from reeds in a reed bed (granted I'm told there's a bush or two nearby) reminded me of a claim many years ago on the Irish Bored Network...no...not a typo, that Marsh Warblers don't sing from reeds.
It was wrong to me then. And it's still wrong to me now. Just the other week I was watching one singing in reeds on my patch with my oul fella in tow.
I've heard a lot of these old wives tales over the years. I'm sure you have too.
Large raptors don't cross water is a famous one for all the wrong reasons (cough cough Booted eagle).
I was once told wild Goosander would never come to bread, after seeing birds do just that, in multiple locations around Europe.
I was once told Great Spotted Woodpecker never drums before March. Really? Even…

Oh My My, My My, July

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July. It's already July. How did that happen?
I dare say, for wader species, they ask themselves the same question.
Saturday morning it was down to Maarintorni, and it had a real start of Autumn feel to it. No juv Caspian terns yet, but plenty of failed breeding waders on the mud, with Ruff and Wood Sandpipers, the latter of which had been absent on patch for several weeks.
Ruff and every kind of Redshank
The same pair of Common Crane have been resident in the bay all summer, but I have yet to see any juveniles creeping round the grass.

There have been up to 6 Great White Egret on patch all Summer, and it really feels like Ireland in the late 90s as the Little Egret population took hold there. 
The "Jallu Gang"
When you see 6 of them just loafing around you have to ask yourself what they're playing at. If you're not breeding somewhere seems like a waste of time.
Low pressure weather had the water levels high, which pushed the Caspian Terns close. Can't ge…

Juhannus

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Juhannus. Mid-summer. It's a big thing in Finland. Long weekend, bonfires, barbecues. 
It's a  weekend we usually spend at our other mökki, north west of Tampere.
And usually the weather is awful. Finnish mid-summer is notoriously wet or cold or both. This weekend the forecast was for wet. 
We set off Thursday evening and arrived to the late night sounds of Corncrake, Curlew and Common Crane, this mökki being in more grassland habitat.
Midnight sun - Crex crex
Meadows the likes of which are a long forgotten memory in potatoland. Full of Corncrakes and Curlew.
I remember old fogies telling me tales of Corncrakes in Ireland in days gone by, and not being able to sleep because of the noise of them. I got by OK, but I do love that night time atmosphere they bring. 
Friday morning the weather seemed OK and I took the chance to nip down to Tampere dump, which has always been good in my experience. It wasn't open, but unlike many other dumps it still has a fair bit of open waste f…