Father's Day Surprise

This weekend, Father's day fell here in Finland. 
With it being my first Father's day, we had planned a family weekend down in Turku and it wasn't looking like there would be much time for birding, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing considering the drizzly weather.
On Saturday I managed a couple of hours around Topinoja dump, but being closed, I was forced to watch from a pathway on the outside.
There was a couple of interesting looking birds, including a 2nd Winter Caspian Gull candidate, and a very late juv Baltic Gull.

Baltic Gull - a tiny and very distinctive individual
There was also your usual "unusual" birds.

This bird had me scratching my head. The head and bill profile was incredible looking.

This too was an interesting individual. Tail pattern was very Caspian looking.
On Sunday, a Lesser Whitefronted Goose was fortuitously found close to Turku and it was time to twitch. This is a species which I really should have made more of an effort for over …

Long Halloween

A four day weekend just after Halloween meant a long weekend out at Mökki.

However the weather for most of this was less than inspiring.

I spent a small amount of time, on both Thursday and Friday, at Lohja dump, but with pretty miserable conditions my only reward was a single male Goshawk, a couple of Arctic Redpolls and some very damp gulls, although, as always in a Finnish Dump, there were interesting looking beasts.

Luckily the season of the Nutcracker is upon us, and I spent a very pleasant hour or so at the nearby feeding station, where my offering of a couple of kilos of peanuts was gratefully devoured by the attending Crested tits, Willow tits and Nutcrackers.

I adore these birds. Watching from the car really allows you to absorb their behavior with each other. 

They are exceptionally complex and intelligent birds, constantly communicating with each other with an amazing array of calls and song.

Their general tactic is to rapidly fill their crop with nuts, before vacating the …

Finnish Focus On...Common Crane

Dinosaurs. They do exist. 
Common Crane is one of those species which epitomizes Finland, both visually and vocally.
On my first visit to Finland, in summer, over 5 years ago, the sound of this species captivated me.
Long summer evenings, spent enjoying good food, sauna and swimming, and listening to these beasts, Kruuurking and echoing over the forests.

Everything about this species is amazing, from their size and presence, to their migratory ability, and I have often enjoyed visiting various staging grounds throughout Europe over the years, encountering massive flocks as the move over they course of the year.
Spring is when we appreciate Cranes most I think. After a long winter, they come as a breath of fresh air, and there is a massive rush when you come across that first one in March, stood in a snowy field wondering what the hell it's doing here.

Baby Cranes are a real treat in mid summer, giant orange fluff balls roaming the Grasslands and Marshes, and looking even more din…

Into The Swing

We arrived back from Ireland late on Friday 12th and stayed over at the inlaws in Espoo.

This worked out surprisingly well, as just as we were about to leave the house to take Kuura for a walk, news came through of either a European or Siberian Stonechat just 15 mins walk up the road. Naturally we tailored our route to intercept.

We arrived to a large assembled crowd and I set up the scope and was delighted to see a crisp looking Siberian type.

There was some debate over the ID on site, with most there favouring European. However, just back from refreshing ourselves with hundreds in west Cork, I was happy the unmarked rump I had seen, combined with that neatly demarcated throat, put it firmly in the Sibe camp.

It was trapped later that evening and confirmed to be a young male Siberian (though will be interesting to see if Stejnegers is in the running).

Dozens of Waxwing were flycatching around the place whilst watching the Stonechat. The perfect reminder that you are back in Finland.