Birding & mosquitoes

Finnish word of the day: vene = boat

I have waited for this moment since I arrived in Denmark, it seems, almost a year ago, but here we are: I’m spending the summer in Helsinki. While I am looking for a job, I have plenty of time to go out and see things… yes, mostly birds of course 😉

After the concert of Black Sabbath, I spent a few days at Jaana’s mökki (what, you don’t remember what a mökki is? Hop, take a look!), where I saw a family of Black-throated divers (Gavia arctica) every day.

Valajärvi

Valajärvi

Among other adventures, I tooks saunas, dived into the lake and stuck the boat on a rock, in the middle of the lake. I wasn’t too eager to go into the water to push it, but I had a flash of genius: Nikke, Jaana’s son, was seated at the bow (and frightened, truth be told), so I made him go to the stern to shift the balance of the boat. This engineering prowess freed our vessel, and I could row back home.

Legen... wait for it... dary, LEGENDARY!

Legen… wait for it… dary, LEGENDARY!

After these restful days, real business started. My first step was to visit the surroundings of a small bay near my apartment, Pikku Huopalahti. I went in the middle of the day (I’m afraid I slept quite late that day), so the light was far from ideal, but I had good sightings. In the forest, young Blackbirds (Turdus merula), Blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) and Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs) foraged, sometimes helped by the adults.

Common blackbird (Turdus merula)

Common blackbird (Turdus merula)

Common blackbird

Common blackbird

European blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)

European blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)

In the reedbed, a Sedge warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) challenged my identification skills for some time. Luckily, it seemed to like a very special spot, so I just had to stand there to see it come back. This species has since proved to be common sight in the wetlands of Helsinki, but it had eluded me in Denmark. Finally, a very Finnish thing happened: two Eurasian oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus) were feeding in the grass along the path, and nothing seemed to bother them: joggers, walkers, kids… they wouldn’t allow anything to hamper their quest for food. Except dogs, maybe, which they would watch carefully… I met with elation my Finnish birds, much less shy than those I saw in Denmark.

Eurasian oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

Eurasian oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

Common gull (Larus canus, young)

Common gull (Larus canus, young)

The next two evenings, I visited Laajalahti. I imagine very few of you remember this place, because it was the subject of my very first article here, more than a year ago! This is a nature reserve located next to Otaniemi, where dwells my former university, Aalto. It’s an extremely rich area, with two bird towers linked by a duckboard path. Among other delicacies, there are always a few Caspian terns (Hydroprogne caspia) resting on the islets of the bay, and I heard Spotted crakes (Porzana porzana) in the reeds. A birder I met told me that they had bred there, and that they were with chicks at that moment. Along the path, I saw Reed buntings (Emberiza schoeniclus) and a compliant Sedge warbler that stood in the open in the sunset light. Absolutely gorgeous.

Sedge warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)

Sedge warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)

Common reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Common reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)

On the other side of the bay, I was greeted by the calls of several wader species, including Wood sandpiper (Tringa glareolus), Common greenshank (Tringa nebularia) and the rare (for me) Spotted redshank (Tringa erythropus).

Laajalahti from Villa Elfvik

Laajalahti from Villa Elfvik

In my first days in Helsinki, I also went to Viikki, another major wetland area of the capital, this time located to the east of the city center. This was a morning trip, I set my alarm clock to 4.30 in order to be on stage at 6. The diversity among passerines (song birds) was astonishing: tits, warblers (7 species), thrushes, nightingales, finches (5 species), the show was total.

Willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)

Willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)

Willow warbler

Willow warbler

July is a month where a lot of young small birds venture into the world, and I saw many of them that day. I saw the Common rosefinch (Carpodacus erythrinus) for the first time since last year in Laajalahti. I don’t know about the diversity in mosquito species, though, but I’m sure the quantity was colossal, and I regretted not taking my repellant with me. With more experience, I now know that the only visible effect of this thing is that, instead of attacking your legs and arms (sorry, instead of attacking ONLY your legs and arms), they also attack your face and hands, but still…

Common whitethroat (Sylvia communis)

Common whitethroat (Sylvia communis)

Willow warbler

Willow warbler

Arabia

Arabia

The last adventure I want to talk about today took place in Laajalahti again, but in the morning this time. Wake-up call at 4, a bit of biking and I was ready. The south of the bay was rather quiet, and so was my trip to Villa Elfvik. Along the duckboards, there were many flycatchers, spotted (Muscicapa striata) and pied (Ficedula hypoleuca), hunting insects for the chicks that stayed hidden in the bushes. On my way back, I tried to lie low to get a few shots of those, with limited success.

European pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca)

European pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca)

European pied flycatcher

European pied flycatcher

I was so tired that I had to take a nap in that place (guess who enjoyed that? The mosquitoes of course!), but I don’t mind suffering that, because I may have missed the minks if I hadn’t. I was watching a family of Long-tailed tits (Aegithalos caudatus) feeding in the trees, when I noticed something moving towards me on the path. I turned, and I saw three black otters running on the wood planks! These were American minks (Neovison vison), an adult with two kids I think. They stopped three or fours meters away, and jumped to the side, in the vegetation. Instead of following their mom, though, the younglings kept playing there, moving up the duckboard and down again, chasing each other like human kids. It was adorable.

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus)

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus)

Long-tailed tit

Long-tailed tit

American mink (Neovison vison)

American mink (Neovison vison)

I know that, as an invasive species, American minks have a terrible impact on nature, especially on the native Europen mink (Mustela lutreola), but I couldn’t be not amazed ^^

Stay tuned for the next adventures!

laajalahti-2

Bird inventory

TURMER CYACAEHAEOSTLARCANACRSCHEMBSCHPHYTROSYLCOMFICHYP AEGCAU

Advertisements

20 thoughts on “Birding & mosquitoes

  1. Great post…the photos and how you embrace nature and the wildlife is amazing – and such a great contrast to a Black Sabbath concert 🙂 Those minks sure do look beautiful, great capture!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! You have many different species there, and the pictures of the Eurasian oystercatcher is so beautiful. Lots of weird words that I can’t prononced, but your pictures are not bad at all Samuel. Hope those mosquitos didn’t drink too much blood out of you. : ) How is my english?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bonsoir Samuel,
    Tes photos sont de plus en plus belles, vraiment ! J’ignore si tu prends des cours ou suis des tutos sur internet ou tu te sens peut-être tout simplement plus en confiance et le résultat est réellement sympa. De si jolis oiseaux, je demeure étonnée devant votre facilité apparente à les trouver et les photographier toi et Jérôme ! Comment faites-vous ? 😉
    Merci et au plaisir du prochain beau reportage photos 🙂
    Cat

    Liked by 1 person

    • Salut Cat, merci beaucoup pour ces compliments, ça me touche 🙂
      Je ne prends pas de cours, par contre effectivement je lis énormément: le site “Digital Photography School” sort plusieurs articles par jour (parfois réchauffés, mais c’est pas forcément un mal), sur tous les sujets, et en français, je recommande “Apprendre la photo”, la pub est carrément intrusive mais les articles sont fabuleux.
      Quant aux oiseaux, je pense que c’est surtout l’expérience, les années passées à les observer… il faut de la patience, de la discrétion, visiter les bons endroits (ça c’est pas dur en Finlande), et un peu de chance. Cerise sur le gâteau, notamment pour les photos: se lever tôt; c’est à l’aube que les piafs sont le plus actif, et puis pour la lumière évidemment c’est mieux (valable aussi le soir, dans une certaine mesure).
      Cela dit, je trouve que la photo d’oiseau, c’est excessivement dur ^^
      Je devrais écrire au article à ces sujets…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Merci Samuel pour ces conseils. Les amateurs éclairés sont souvent très pédagogues… avec un souffle passionné dont ne disposent pas nécessairement les pros. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Kimberlee! I believe you have a different species of oystercatcher, but they all look and behave the same, sticking their large red beak into the ground to catch some hidden mollusks… I remember BC was a great place for birds, so I’m not surprised birdwatching comes naturally; it does too here in Helsinki 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • You are quite right and I’ve just looked it up in my trusty bird book! The ones that we see are Black Oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani), apparently it is rare to see them here in Vancouver, so I’m feeling pretty lucky – they can be found from Alaska to Southern California. Thank you for this, I now know more about the species of oystercatchers that sometimes make their way to our shores!

      Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome, I’m always happy when people learn from my articles or the comments 😀
      I don’t remember whether I saw oystercatchers in Vancouver, it was a long time ago. I should dig into my old notebooks, but i don’t have them here, unfortunately :/

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m lucky to be living on the 9th floor so near to the park, I feel like I live in an aerie, just the other day I saw two ravens teaching their youngster the ways of the sky! Until next time, cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much. It’s true that oystercatchers are beautiful birds, with their suit on and their long red beak 🙂 It’s always a pleasure to see them walk around.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Dancing shadows walk the Earth | Eiwawar

  5. Super article comme d’hab’, ça donne envie d’aller sur le terrain 😉 Le phragmite et la grisette sont vraiment sympa, le gobemouche noir également mais bon je vais pas tous les faire non plus. Pour les visons d’Amérique, effectivement, on a du mal à ne pas craquer quand on voit ces bouilles et pourtant 😦 Merci Samuel !
    Amitiés
    Seb

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: And there was autumn | Eiwawar

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s