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.

Bohemian waxwings, other birds of northern Finland


Bohemian waxwings in trees, 11 March 2015

After our arrival in Oulu, Finland, on 10 March, and earlier on 11 March 2015 the black grouse, it was time for Bohemian waxwings; like the two birds on this photo.

At about 11am, they were at a parking lot in Oulu, surrounded by trees.

A great tit called.

The Bohemian waxwings were there for their favourite food: rowan berries. Not the West European rowan species, but Swedish service trees, with bigger berries.

Bohemian waxwings on ground, 11 March 2015

Sometimes, the waxwings flew down from the trees to the ground to eat berries.

Bohemian waxwings in trees again, 11 March 2015

Sometimes, they flew back to the trees.

Bohemian waxwings and berries on the ground, 11 March 2015

And back to the ground again.

Bohemian waxwings and berries still on the ground, 11 March 2015

Bohemian waxwings seem to quarrel less about food than some other species. Sometimes, one bird has one end of a twig with berries in its bill, and another bird the other end, which may lead to some minor tug-of-war.

A hooded crow flies past, and sits down in a tree.

Elsewhere in Oulu there are Swedish service trees as well, attracting Bohemian waxwings and mealy redpolls.

A rook is not far away.

Black grouse mating season in Finland, photos


Black grouse on coniferous tree, 11 March 2015

After our arrival in Oulu, northern Finland, on 10 March 2015, on 11 March we saw this beautiful male black grouse, sitting on a coniferous tree.

After walking through deep snow not so far from Oulu, we had arrived at a hide.

There, it turned out that the black grouse mating season had started. The male on the tree (sometimes on a side branch like on the photo, mainly on the top, sometimes flying to a different tree) kept calling. He would like to see females coming. However, in this part of Finland, they start arriving at the leks in April.

Another bird sound: a hooded crow.

Every now and then, ‘our’ male grouse fed on the coniferous tree. This species eats various kinds of food.

Then, the calling did attract another black grouse. Not a female: another male.

Black grouse fighting, Finland, 11 March 2015

They went down to the snowy ground to fight. Soon, one of the two birds flew away.

After some time, we could still hear the lone black grouse, but did not see it any more.

As we left: a great spotted woodpecker.