When I left France, we were barely leaving summer. Nights were getting fresh, but the only hints of orange in the forest came from dead trees, those which didn’t survive the latest heat wave.
I feared I would arrive in Helsinki after the end of the autumn colors, what they call here “ruska”. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case, and the ruska was in full swing! So I took a walk on my first day, going from Munkkivuori to Ilmala, visiting a patch of kitchen gardens, a residential area, a park and a forest. Yes, I did not even leave Helsinki, yet I did all this in one afternoon.
The cloud cover seemed thick, yet some blue patches appeared quickly, and the sun warmed the atmosphere. There were plenty of birds, also, with Great tits (Parus major) and Blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) being the bulk of them, especially at bird feeders.
However, there was a surprise for me: Common redpolls (Acanthis flammea)! That’s not a frequent sight for me, I saw them for the first time in Gilleleje last winter; but here, they are rather common, and easy to see. This said, they are a fast, restless lot, and it’s difficult to get a good picture, especially when they flee your approach 😉 But I have plans to improve that!
In the sun, the colors in the trees were delightful. Unfortunately, most of the leaves have fallen by now…
One of the greatest moments, on that day, was when I saw another Black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius). I was walking in the forest when I heard a loud, high-pitched call. It took me a minute to spot the dark bird that was flying towards me, but when it reached a tree, no doubt was possible, it was a Black woodpecker. I got a picture, but it’s so blurred I can’t share it without shame. That’s a pity because the beast was really close, but the view was obstructed by many small, leafless trees, impairing the already-limited focus abilities of my camera. The bird did not let me adjust my shot, as it flew away, visiting several trunks but only for mere instants. I tried to follow, but without a clear path in the forest, it was easy for it to outrace me. So yeah, you’ll have to wait a little bit before I can show you a proper picture of a Black woodpecker taken by me… in the meantime, what about a Great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)? 😀
A week later, I was in Viikki, maybe the main nature reserve in Helsinki. I was looking for a Siberian accentor (Prunella montanella): there is currently an invasion of this Siberian species in northen Europe, and one was seen two days in a row near the farm. Sadly, I could not find it. What I found, though, were plenty of rowan trees, and plenty of Bullfinches (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) feasting on their berries.
The best vantage points were the two birding towers: there was nothing to see from the top, but they were surrounded by rowan trees, and from the middle floor, the birds were really not far away.
Photography-wise, it was a difficult day to shoot birds: the sky was grey, and the overall atmosphere was rather dark. To ensure a sufficient shutter speed (in order to have my birds sharp, at least when they don’t move), I needed to push up the ISO sensibility. I’m not very comfortable with that, since my camera is not that good at handling high ISO, but the results are still quite OK, albeit noisy 😉
Today, I had a very nice walk in Keskuspuisto (Central park), but that story will have to wait… see you soon!