Finnish word of the day: järvi = lake
Last week, I went birdwatching around Hämeenlinna, a town situated approximately one hour of driving north of Helsinki. The bus left the capital at 06.15, arriving at a comfortable 07.30. There, I met Karri, a birder from the region I had met on BirdingPal; even though July is a very quiet period in the region, he offered me to visit a few birding spots, an offer I quickly accepted, as you might guess 😉
Until 3 in the afternoon, we toured the region, watching lakes, rivers and forests in quest for birds. It’s interesting to note that there are many bird towers there, and we used them extensively, especially in the morning. I have made a map that shows our peregrinations, with the car parks and the towers, click here.
Our first objective was Katumajärvi. Located next to the town, it is used for leisure activities and is surrounded by buildings, but one part of the shore has been preserved by a keen landowner, who asked the birdwatching association to build a bird tower. The reedbed we crossed was still wet from the night’s condensation, but the sun was shining. In the trees, a Wood warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix) sang, but we never managed to see it. Karri is very knowledgeable about bird voices, and he spotted Long-tailed tits (Aegithalos caudatus) before we could even see them. I listened to him carefully, trying to remember all this information. On the lake, gulls rested on some rocks, soon to be joined by a lone Whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus).
The Whooper swan is the official bird of Finland, it’s featured on the Finnish one-euro coin. A winter visitor in Denmark (I’ve seen it in Staunings Ø or Vestamager, for instance), it is rather common here, and aggressive: Karri told me that, when the local pair of Whooper swan would fly to the lake, the brave Mute swans (Cygnus olor, national bird of… Denmark!) who had ventured in the area could be seen flying away, fleeing the menace. In recent years, the Whooper swans have increased in numbers. They mostly live on lakes, while the Mute swan favors open waters; baby Mute swans take so long to grow up that they can’t be raised on waters that freeze durably during winter; that is not the case of Whooper swans, which are therefore present in more northern latitude than their more common (globally, not in Finland) cousins.