Golden eagle, Siberian tit, bullfinch in Finland

Willow tit and Siberian tit, 13 March 2015

Still 13 March in north-eastern Finland, in the hide. Like we saw earlier there, a willow tit. However, in front of it, another bird lands. Also a willow tit? Yes.

But a bit later: No. A related species, slightly more light brown on its head and a bit bigger: a Siberian tit, also called grey-headed chickadee.

Willow tit and Siberian tit looking at it, 13 March 2015

Siberian tit, 13 March 2015

For people from central or southern Europe, from temperate North America and from all other continents, a bird for which they have to go especially to the far north of Europe and Asia to see it.

Siberian tit on tree, 13 March 2015

A raven flies past. So does a golden eagle, like earlier in the day. Will it land?

Usually, golden eagles land near the hide day after day in winter. Usually one eagle, sometimes two eagles, the local male and female. They have failed to land only on two days this winter. Late in the afternoon, we would find out that 13 March was the third day that winter. A few miles away, a moose had died. That attracted eagles and other carrion eaters more than the dead fox, squirrel and hare near the hide.

Red squirrel, 13 March 2015

13:10: a red squirrel near the hide.

Nuthatch again, 13 March 2015

Again, a nuthatch.

Great spotted woodpecker female again, 13 March 2015

Also again, a great spotted woodpecker.

Bullfinch male, 13 March 2015

And at last, at least the male half of the bullfinch couple comes closer.

Bullfinch male again, 13 March 2015

Crested tit, 13 March 2015

So does a crested tit.

Crested tit again, 13 March 2015

Eagles, Siberian jays, nuthatches, woodpeckers, tits

This is an Ural owl video. The Ural owl was one of the bird species which we hoped to see when we went to Finland. We did not see an Ural owl, but we did see many other birds.

After we arrived in Kuusamo on 12 March, 13 March 2015 was our first full day in north-east Finland.

Today to a hide where one can usually see golden eagles.

This video from the USA says about itself:

A female Golden Eagle flies from her rocky perch as an early season snowfall blankets Wyoming’s sagebrush steppe.

We arrived at the hide, close to Oulanka National Park.

We did not immediately see any eagles. Also other relatively big birds, like ravens, were not present.

Siberian jay, 13 March 2015

Siberian jays, like the one on this photo, were the biggest birds.

Nuthatch, 13 March 2015

Another, smaller, bird was an Eurasian nuthatch. The subspecies of northern and eastern Europe, with white underparts and orange-reddish stripes on its lower belly.


Great spotted woodpecker male, 13 March 2015

Great spotted woodpeckers came as well, both a male and a female.

Great spotted woodpecker female, 13 March 2015

And there were tits. No blue tits here; they live only in towns in north-eastern Finland, where it is warmer than in forests. And even in towns they are rather recent newcomers (because of global warming?)

Great tit, 13 March 2015

There were great tits. A bit further to the north we would not have seen them.

Willow tit in the snow, 13 March 2015

And there were willow tits. They nest in all of Finland, even the extreme north.

In the distance, a male and a female bullfinch sit in the snow. Will they come closer?

At 10:45, a golden eagle flies past. Will it land? Attracted by the roadkill animal carcasses lying in the snow here; of a red fox, a red squirrel, and a mountain hare?

Stay tuned!

Pine grosbeaks and Siberian jays in northern Finland

This video is called Northern Hawk-Owl (Surnia ulula).

After 11 March 2015, today 12 March.

We went by bus from Oulu to Kuusamo in north-east Finland.

Sometimes, people see a northern hawk owl along that road; or a reindeer; but we did not. Only pictures of reindeer on traffic warning signs.

We had left Oulu to the sound of house sparrows.

A hooded crow flies past. Magpies on the roadside.

10:20: a raven flying.

As we get further to the east, some trees still have snow on their branches. In Oulu, near the sea, that snow had fallen off already.

We arrive in Kuusamo. A walk around the town center shows mountain hare tracks in the snow.

A mealy redpoll feeding on catkins in an alder tree; similarly to its smaller lesser redpoll relatives on birch catkins more to the south.

Pine grosbeak male, 12 March 2015

Then, we see a male and a female pine grosbeak.

Pine grosbeak female, 12 March 2015

The scientific name for pine grosbeak is Pinicola enucleator. Translated: inhabitant of coniferous trees taking cores out of pine cones. Sometimes, pine grosbeaks do feed on coniferous trees. But here, they ate Swedish service tree berries. Old, shriveled Swedish service tree berries: some birds don’t like them, but pine grosbeaks don’t mind.

Hooded crow, 12 March 2015

A bit further along the road, a hooded crow on a birch tree.

Then, we depart to Ruka village, some thirty kilometer away.

Not so far away from the village, a Bohemian waxwing in a small tree.

Siberian jay, 12 March 2015

And Siberian jays in bigger, coniferous trees.

The local ornithological society has put feeders here. They attract great tits.

Willow tit, 12 March 2015

And this willow tit.

Otter and pygmy owl in Finland

Otter, 11 March 2015

After the ringing of the waxwings, we were still in Oulu, northern Finland, on 11 March 2015. We went to the harbour: much ice, but not totally frozen. Then, in the distance, we saw an otter between the ice floes.

A Finnish naturalist said this was the first otter he had seen since two years ago.

Every now and then, the otter dived, and then re-appeared.

Otter in Oulu, 11 March 2015

Gradually, it came closer.

Just before dusk, at 17:30 we had gone to a road with coniferous and birch trees on both sides.

Eurasian pygmy owl, 11 March 2015

Then, we saw this Eurasian pygmy owl. It flew from tree to tree, preferring tops.

Stay tuned, as 11 March was our first full day, not our last day, in Finland!

Garganey, pintail, and other birds

Wigeons, on 21 March 2015

21 March 2015. Though it was officially the first day of spring, it was cold and windy. The male and female wigeons in nature reserve De Wilck, depicted in this photo, apparently thought the weather was still too winterish for migration back to eastern and northern Europe.

Before arriving at De Wilck that morning, we had first gone to Zaans Rietveld reserve.

This is a Zaans Rietveld video.

Zaans Rietveld biodiversity: here.

Black-tailed godwits flying about and calling. Grey lag geese. Wigeons here as well.

A chiffchaff sings. The first time I hear that sound this year.

Two oystercatchers.

Scores of barnacle geese grazing. A northern lapwing.

Lesser celandine starts flowering.

A hare.

A dunnock sings.

A great egret flies and lands.

A reed bunting signs.

A grey heron flying.

A curlew flies over a meadow. On the meadow: herring gulls, mute swans and two shelducks.

A chaffinch sings.

A dead mole, lying in the grass.

A singing greenfinch.

In a shallow lakelet: avocets. Black-headed gulls. Teal. And, resting on a bank, a rare teal relative: a male garganey.

Then, we continued to De Wilck. Hundreds of wigeons. Also, a male pintail.

Finally, to the Amaliahut hide.

White storks, 21 March 2015

Near the hide, two white storks´ heads popping up from their nest.

Tufted duck female, 21 March 2015

On a small island, visible from the hide, a moorhen. And a female tufted duck.

Tufted duck male and female, 21 March 2015

Then, she took to the water with her mate.

Tufted duck male, 21 March 2015

Gadwall couple, 21 March 2015

A bit further, a gadwall couple swimming.

Oystercatchers, 21 March 2015

On the island, this oystercatcher couple.

Waxwings in Finland, revisited and ringed

This video from the USA is called Bohemian Waxwings Eating Apples in Maine.

Still 11 March 2015. After the squirrel and the willow tit, still near Oulu in northern Finland.

Back to the parking lot, where we had seen the Bohemian waxwings in the morning.

Bohemian waxwings, one eating two berries, 11 March 2015

They were still feeding on Swedish service tree berries. The second bird from the left on this photo on two berries at once.

Bohemian waxwing and berry, 11 March 2015

Bohemian waxwing ringed, 11 March 2015

Some of the waxwings had been lured by berries to get trapped inside cages. Local ornithologists did that, to be able to ring the birds for studying waxwings’ lives. A ringer came, to provide each individual with a ring around its leg, to weigh it, to measure it, and then to release it.

Many of the birds caught in the cages had already been ringed here earlier. But the ringing has also provided evidence of waxwing migration from Finland to Britain.

Bohemian waxwings ringed, adult and juvenile, 11 March 2015

One could see the difference between adult birds and juvenile birds: an adult (on the left of this photo) has bigger red wing feather tips than a young bird (on the right).

Bohemian waxwing, 11 March 2015

After the last ringed Bohemian waxwing had been freed, we left; to look for more wildlife elsewhere around Oulu.

Red squirrel and willow tit in northern Finland

Red squirrel, 11 March 2015

Still 11 March 2015. After the waxwings and other birds, we saw this red squirrel.

The squirrel was under one of two feeders close to a road near Oulu, northern Finland. It still had its greyish winter coat, not yet its more reddish summer fur.

The feeders attracted many birds as well. Like a yellowhammer. And a siskin.

Willow tit, 11 March 2015

And this willow tit.

Also great tits and blue tits.

This place reminded me of the artificial water holes for birds which I saw in the Gambia on 4 February 2012.

In both cases, on both sides of a footpath close to a road, at a forest’s edge, facilities for birds hung from trees.

Both places attracted, besides birds, squirrels: red ones in Finland; sun squirrels and striped ground squirrels in Gambia.

Also more differences, of course. No snow in Gambia, plenty of it in Finland. And dry season water in Gambia, winter food in Finland.