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The Long Spring Goodbye

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It's been a weird Spring.  The longest winter ever is perhaps a better way to describe it. Persistent cold has meant I didn't spend too much time out looking for birds, and a delayed migration meant there were few birds in the move anyway.  So a selection of videos from across the past few weeks to cover some ground.  Slavonian Grebe - Upon return to Finland from Estonia, I made the usual efforts to connect with freshly arrived grebes. They are a hard family to beat when they look this good in summer plumage.  Red-Necked Grebe is the star of the show. An absolutely stunning looking bird.  I've been working hard on building my 5km from home list, but as usual, most of the birds turn up in the garden itself. Little Gulls, when they pass through in May are phenomenal. But this year, sitting on retained ice was special. They have a fantastic call. Little Ringed Plover at Laajalahti - my first birds this year we're also quite late.  Red-Breasted Flycatcher - this 2CY bird tu

Estonia '22

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Our annual spring trip to Estonia was taken a bit earlier this year, (taking advantage of Easter timing). We headed off on Wednesday 13th enjoying the flocks of seaduck and quite a few Black Guillemot as we left Helsinki. Black Guillemot is the only auk here, and one I only took the time to see a couple of years back, so it was interesting to see double figures on this trip. We arrived at our accommodation Wednesday afternoon, and immediately began exploring and scanning the sky from the patio.  Luxury digs Within minutes we had a rarity over our heads in the form of a cracking Red Kite.  Red Kite - these are rare but increasing in Estonia.  Other good birds included Rough-Legged Buzzard, Hen Harrier and our first Lesser-Spotted Eagle of the trip.  Hen Harrier The next morning we set off for Haapsalu, which was absolutely chock-a-block with wildfowl, including hundreds of Smew and Greater Scaup.  Other good birds included several Great White Egrets, numerous Hawfinch, our first Slavoni

A New Normal

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This Patrick's Day marks a two year anniversary. Two years ago I and hundreds of my colleagues fled an oncoming threat. Our email notifications beeped. Leave the building. Get out.  People made for the door. They bundled equipment under their arms. Cars revved up to the main door.  Screens, chairs, everything imaginable was thrown into them. Come back when we call you. The office has not been seen since. That call never came.  Those first couple of weeks were the most surreal. Shelves, empty in supermarkets. Families cloistered at home together, before gradually finding a routine.  For two years now I've lived a life undreamed of. A crusty, bearded hermit, alone by the lake with his dog and a laptop.  And I've loved every minute of it.  What's not to love. Many birders out there took the opportunity to do lists at 2km/5km from home etc.  The nature of birding here in Finland, the ability to focus on Viz-mig meant I never needed to go beyond the garden. Birds came to us.

Kuusamo

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A trip up north to Kuusamo have me the opportunity to see some of the northern specialities I hadn't encountered in years.  The first target was the fantastically beautiful Siberian Jay. We ended up seeing these all over, with remarkably tame birds coming at times to investigate peanuts in the hand. Siberian Jay Siberian Jay is up there as the pinnacle of Finnish birding for me. An iconic species of the north and particularly approachable in winter, where that flash of orange-red against the snow provides a warm fuzzy feeling in sub-zero temperatures. Siberian Jay is a species I have seen on occasion further south than Kuusamo, however next on the check list was the far more difficult to pin down Siberian Tit. I had seen many Sibe Tits on a Lapland visit 8 years ago, in Summer, where they were quite easy to see in the Sodankyla area. This time around, things were a bit trickier.  I scored one on a feeder the first afternoon near our rented cabin, but alas it was a very brief view.