The weekend started early with this cracking 2CY female Goshawk perched up outside the house as I arrived home Friday evening. It was the usual tip off scenario, as both Hooded Crows and Fieldfares were going ballistic as I hopped off the bus.
Goshawk -2CY Female
The light was beautiful, casting a low gold on the trees, so I grabbed the scope from inside and took a few snaps. This is a common occurrence, especially at this time of year as young birds take up residence in the area for the coming winter.
During the summer, the resident breeding adults seem to see off any interloping immatures, and I mostly see the male patrolling the sky on a daily basis. The winter months often involves a build up of fresh juvs, second calendar years and adults, averaging a regular 6-8 individuals and the odd passer by.
We had been planning for some time on a day trip down to Hanko this Saturday and it was looking like sublime weather.
During the week an Asian Desert Warbler had been found in a private party of the reserve. It was unlikely we would see this given the location and it's prolonged stay, but we were due to be in the area so it was worth a shot.
As we walked down towards the obs we picked up a cracking male White Backed Woodpecker hammering away in the trees. This is by far my favorite European Woodpecker and he gave superb, prolonged scope views. Stunning.
There's excellent Woodpecker migration going on at the moment, so here's hoping it's a good Woodpecker winter ahead.
Plenty of Northern Treecreepers were on the move also, often providing close views. Wonderfully clean little things.
We arrived shortly after this at the boulders where birders were trying to scope the Desert Warbler from about 2-300 meters away. It was not being seen (and wasn't seen again), and scoping a small warbler at high mag wasn't how I wanted to tick a lifer anyway, so we gave it no time here and carried on down to the point.
It was amazing to see birders actually obeying the rules/reserve requests though. No one trying to sneak on to the plot of land the bird was in. Compare this to the recent Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler in Britain. There really is a different mindset here. And that's a good thing.
A Black Woodpecker and what looked like the same male White Backed Woodpecker were hanging in the nets at the tip when we arrived, so we took the opportunity for some snacks at the picnic site and waited for the ringers to do their rounds.
The Black Woodpecker managed to extract himself and called victoriously from a nearby tree, attracting several other Black Woodpeckers who also managed to avoid the nets.
The male White Backed was a stunner though.
White Backed Woodpecker - Male
On the way back through the woods we came across a very obliging pair of Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, our fourth Woodpecker species of the day.
Sunday there was lots to take care of, principal among which was changing to the winter tyres on the car. Under finnish law, cars must have studded tyres during the winter months, and with some sleet/snow forecast for the coming week it was time to get the hands dirty.
In the afternoon I did make some time to try for a nearby Shore Lark at pitkasuo. I had never been to this site before, which is a large quarry facility, with a tall, artificial hill composed of quarry waste material. Some 60-100 meters up in the air, it becomes your typical Shor Lark habitat, windy, exposed and barren.
Myself and another birder had no joy with the Lark, but it's a good time of year for them so I should manage one sooner or later.
Plenty of pipits and some frosty looking redpolls on site, and a Grey headed Woodpecker made it a five Woodpecker species weekend.
This roosting Tawny Owl nearby was nice though, and any day you see an owl is a good day.