Dambusters

Spring. When it hits, it hits undeniably.


Saturday morning, walking with Kuura, saw a tidal change to the bird-scape, as overnight Robins, Wrens and Redwing took their territories, and the sound of "tic", "trrrrrrrrrrrrrr" and the wacky song of Redwing rang out all around the neighborhood.


From nowhere, a colony of Black Headed and Common Gulls appeared on the newly exposed Rocky island offshore from the house, and got down to the task of courtship, even though the lake surface remains frozen.



In Ireland, we tend to think of Spring in less obvious terms, waiting on birds we know to be sub-saharan migrants, like Chiffchaff, Willow warbler etc.


Here the evidence of Spring migration packs much more of a wallop, undiluted by staging areas for waders, ducks and insectivorous Passerines. So many birds, familiar to an Irish environment during the Winter, are entirely absent, by necessity, from the Finnish landscape for half the year. And when they hit, they hit hard.


Robins and wrens, in Finland, show markedly different behavior to those in the Irish landscape too, being true, nigh on invisible, forest species here, as opposed to easily seen garden entities.


Despite numerous tics and trrrrrrs along our morning walk, I only saw one of each of these birds, luckily both in the garden.
Movement over the garden was evident too, as flocks of geese and cranes came over at random, with both Tundra Bean goose and Russian Whitefronted Goose being most notable.


Meadow Pipits and White Wagtails also called overhead as they make their return to the north.


Song Thrush - fresh in.

It was the geese that called to me this weekend, however, and I made my way a short distance west to take full advantage of recently arrived and ravenous flocks.



Tundra Bean Goose - I still think in Irish terms, so the annual prospect of flocks...FLOCKS of Bean Geese, with both Tundra and Taiga among them is exciting. 

There's always a lot going on with Bean geese and I try to absorb as much of the variation, present in both species (Tundra and Taiga) as I can. 


Tundra Bean and Russian Whitefronted Geese - The Russian Whitefronted are pretty things too, and for the life of me I cannot fathom why they have not been split yet. 


Russian Whitefronted Goose - There's something very demure and delicate about these birds relative to Greenland versions.


Taiga Bean Goose - It's not always easy, but there is usually an element of "Bingo" when it comes to picking out the odd Taiga, which seems to be in significantly fewer numbers relative to Tundra. 


Tundra Bean Goose - see what I mean? An alert, orange-billed Tundra can make you look twice.


Geese, Geese, Geese....and a few Whooper Swans of course.


Can you pick out the various species in this?


Whooper Swan - The national bird of Finland. It can be easy to pass them over for all the geese descending from on high, but these are truly charming birds. A feel good species in terms of their appearance, their vocals and just their installment in the countryside during the summer months.


"Here's lookin at you, kid."


There were also a couple of Pink Footed Geese in the area Saturday morning too, and these I also managed to see, finding another of my own migrating over Saltfjarden later in the day and finding a 3rd individual at the Inkoo site on Sunday morning.


Pink Footed Goose - The 3rd, new individual. Pinks are quite scarce here, especially relative to all the Beans, so these were attracting a lot of attention. Nice to find some of my own.

Pink Footed Geese - Note the distinctly squarer head compared to Tundra Bean.

Otherwise it was all about the Beans and Russian Whitefronted. 


Tundra Bean Geese


Tundra Bean Goose - classic bill and head structure.


Tundra Bean Geese


Taiga Bean Geese - Long bill, long head, long neck, long body. 

From the geese I made my way back to Degerby, where the fields were teeming with White Wagtails, Meadow Pipits, a couple of Little Ringed Plover and Ringed Plover and a Green Sandpiper.

Cranes, of course, were everywhere.


Common Crane


Back at Saltfjarden, migration was really obvious with birds such as Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Rough Legged Buzzards, Kestrel all on the move.


Rough Legged Buzzard - all the birds I saw over the weekend, over a dozen in total, were males, beautiful, checkered and stripey things. I still can't believe I live somewhere these feature so prominently in Spring and Autumn. This was one of those "old school" rarities you dreamt of finding in Ireland. 

Other notable migrants on the move were Barnacle Geese, Golden Plover, Woodcock, Redshank, Common Snipe, Curlew, Woodlark and Dunnock, with duck such as Tufted Duck and Goosander making appearances on the limited open water sites.

Superb weekend of migration. It's only going to get better.

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