Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The day of sensiations!

Aivo reached yesterday evening to the island, so we had 3 pairs of birders eyes on the island. The total number of migrating birds today has been less than 500 individuals, but Kihnu has showed today again some quality birding. Here are just some best observations made today on the island:
  • SENSATION nr. 1!
Pink-footed Goose/ lühinokk-hani Anser brachyrhynchus - 1 migrating. First for the Kihnu island! This species is seen mostly in spring time when bigger Geese flocks are encountered on migration, but species is rather uncommon in autumn time. This is presumably latest autumn record ever for the country.
  • SENSATION nr. 2!
Black Brant/ kirde-mustlagle Branta bernicla nigricans 1 adult presented near the southern spit. 5th record of this Brent Goose subspecies for Estonia and first for the Pärnu county. This subspecies of Brent Goose breeds in Canada and Alaska, but also in Eastern Siberia. This individual was accomponied by adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose and four 1cy birds so presumably they have bred together in a mixed pair. 
  • SENSATION nr. 3!
Whinchat/ kadakatäks Saxicola rubertra - 1 ind. at nearby village. It is common breeding bird in Estonia, but to see one in late October is another sensiation - this is latest autumn record ever (beating so far known latest autumn recrod with nearly 3 weeks!). 

  • SENSIATION nr. 4!
Still many Pine Grosbeaks/ männileevike Pinicola enucleator moving by. Today 1 ind. feeding at the northwestern part of the island and 3 birds flying around at the southern part. Minimum 13 different individuals are encountered by now on Kihnu island during the autumn season.

  • SENSIATION nr. 5!
White Stork preferred boarder guard radar instead of our radar system. Photo by Margus Ellermaa.

Late White Stork/ valge-toonekurg Ciconia cicionia still presented. One bird was flying around at the southern spit but due to strong southeastern wind returned back to ther north. It has been the same individual, seen on Sunday - bird has several feathers missing from the wing. 

Now, we have deserved a good evening sauna and cold beer. After two weeks our bird survey period is over, so all twitchers can when sleep and work in a peace again :).


Black Brant (second from the right) with Dark-bellied Brent Geese. Note the larger white neck patch and prominent white flanks. Photo by Margus Ellermaa
Another Pine Grosbeak. Photo by Aivo Kkein.

It`s good to do some shopping meanwhile. This shopping trip produced Estonian latest autumn record of the Whinchat. Photo by Margus Ellermaa.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Counting Pine Grosbeaks!

As I mentioned yesterday, now every single day there will be fewer and fewer birds. Today has been again small migration in first hour but after that very quiet. Few hundred Chaffinches/metsvint Fringilla coelebs has been the dominating migrant of the day. 
But in quiet days, often some species may have the best movement. And today this species has been Pine Grosbeak/ männileevike Pinicola enucleator! Early morning we saw with Margus a flock of 3 individuals heading to the west and later on another group of 2 Pine Grosbeaks flew to the same direction. Lets see if those 5 individuals will be our best day here on the island. Bird survey here will last until 15th of November - so there will be still chanches to get higher counts for this uncommon migrant. 
Tommorrow will be a bit stormy day, but hopefully on Wednesday we manage to do ship trip to count seabirds on offshore shoals. 


Waxwings trying to land on a rowan tree in a strong front wind.  Photo by Tarvo Valker

Pine Grosbeaks heading to the sea. Photo by Tarvo Valker

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Suprises continue

Coal Tit/ musttihane Parus ater. What a smart looking bird. Photo by Tarvo Valker.

Two White-backed Woodpeckes has been encountered today at Kihnu island. Finally we managed to get  photo of this unusual bird at Kihnu island. Photo by Margus Ellermaa. 
Migration in general has been quiet today - seems that most of the late migrants has escaped from the snow and coming winter. Now every next day will be fewer and fewer birds. But still several interesting sightnings has occured during the day:
  • Jack Snipe/ mudanepp Lymnocryptes minimus - 1 ind. flushed up from the beach. First record of the autumn season
  • Short-eared Owl/ sooräts Asio flammeus - 1ind. migrating on the sea. 1st record for the autumn season. 
  • White Stork/ valge-toonekurg Ciconia ciconia - 1 very late individual migrating. First for the autumn season!
  • Pine Gosbeaks/ männileevike Pinicola enucleator - at least 2 individuals presented nearby field station most of the day (presumably same ones as yesterday). But birds are still not photographable. 
  • Ringed Plover/ liivatüll Charadrius hiaticula - 1 late ind. shortly landed at the beach and when continued migration
  • White-backed Woodpecker/ valgeselg-kirjurähn Dendrocopos leucotos - 1 migrating SW and 2nd individual late on shortly feeding at our garden. 3rd and 4th sightning of the autumn season for the White-backed Woodpecker. Also 5 Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers/ väike-kirjurähn Dendrocopos minor has been recorded today. Both species having exceptional invasion this autumn season.
  • Black Redstart/ must-lepalind Phoenicurus ochruros - 1 migrating, 2 locals in the field station garden, 1 ind. in the middle of the island. 


1cy White Stork has seen his first snow and ready to start its autumn migration. Photo by Tarvo Valker

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Another nice day

1 cy Kittiwake - species number 240 for the Kihnu island. Photo by Margus Ellermaa.
Snow is covering most of the mainland and last migrants escape from the winter. Due to strong wind during the night, I restart the radar system in the early morning. Meanwhile Margus get already first good bird of the day. 1cy Kittiwake/ kaljukajakas Rissa tridactyla fly over the southern spit, less than 10 meter away from Margus. Another new species, already 4th during this week, for the Kihnu island. Now is just about the best time to see this uncommon migrant. 
Late, I hear calls of Pine Grosbeaks/ männileevike Pinicola enucleator again and I manage to find one adult male and one female type bird feeding in the distant. I try to get closer but birds continue soon their journey, so I only manage to get poor record shot. It has been great movement of Pine Grosbeaks in Southern Finland during last week and several individuals has been encountered in Estonia as well. Next weeks should bring them even more here - it could be start of the best invasion of the last decades. 
Migration. It has been the best movement of Barnacle Geese/ valgepõsk-lagle Branta leucopsis of the season  - 900 ind. and we also manage to see last flock of Cranes/ sookurg Grus grus (120 ind.) moving south. Also Stock Doves/ õõnetuvi Columba oenas showed small movement with 20 migrating individuals today and 12 migrating Wood Larks/ nõmmelõoke Lullula arborea has been recorded. And one late Lapland Bunting/ keltsalind Calcarius lapponicus has been encountered again on migration.

Local birds inclduded already two Black Redstarts/ must-lepalind Phoenicurus ochruros nearby field station and several groups of Snow Buntings/ hangelind Plectrophenax nivalis has been flying around at the shore. 


Distant record shot of the uncommon migrant - male Pine Grosbeak. Photo by Tarvo Valker

Bullfinch taking last berries from the rowan tree. Photo by Tarvo Valker

Friday, October 26, 2012

We are dreaming of the white Christmas!

Waiting for the spring. Young male Black Redstart with autumn colours and first snow. Photo by Tarvo Valker
There has been several bigger snowfalls during the day. Real winter and tough survival course for the late migrants. I go out for sitewatching at 8.20 and already before I manage to put up my scope properly I notice raptor flying over the head about 150 meters high up in the sky. Quickly I check the bird with the bins and I am amazed - late Osprey/ kalakotkas Pandion haliaeetus migrating south in heavy snowfall! Most of the Ospreys are already in Africa by now, so this is very late fellow and actually first one we have seen here on the island in October. 
Me and Margus continue sitewatching for several hours, having breaks only during very heavy snowfalls when visibility is dropping to zero. We manage to see several hundred Fieldfares/ hallrästas Turdus pilaris and nearly 1,500 migrating Geese/ hani Anser species. Also 3 Hen Harriers/ välja-loorkull Circus cyaneus are migrating. 
Afternoon we check local birds and take some photos of the autumn colours with the snowcover. And with several late migrants as well. Black Redstart/ must-lepalind Phoenicurus ochruros is still in good shape. Margus and Andrea re-found late Turtle Dove/ turteltuvi Streptopelia turtur nearby field station and 1 Lapland Longspur/ keltsalind Calcarius lapponicus has been seen at the beach. Winter should continue here for several days, so some other late migrants may show up now. 

After the storm - lighthouse still in the same place. Photo by Tarvo Valker. 

Waiting for the Snowy Owls migration... Photo by Tarvo Valker

Lapland Bunting (on the left) with Meadow Pipits. Photo by Margus Ellermaa. 

Late Turtle Dove. Photo by Margus Ellermaa

Thursday, October 25, 2012

First snowfall!

Early morning has been rather quiet again with only some movement of Fieldfares/ hallrästas Turdus pilaris - the biggest migration flock has been 530 indviduals today. Few Razorbills/ alk Alca torda flying on the sea. Local birds nearby field station - 1cy male Black Redstart/ must-lepalind Phoenicurus ochruros (presented for almost two weeks now), 2-3 Chiffchaffs/ väike-lehelind  Phylloscopus collybita, 25 Waxwings / siidisaba Bombicylla garrulus and 1 late Barn Swallow/ suitsupääsuke Hirundo rustica.

In the afternoon first snowfall of the season has started. Winter is coming and big storm as well. According to the weather forecast, tommorrow should be stormy with a wind reaching up to 25 m/s!

The first one with the autumn colors

These berries are just a bit too laaaaarge to swallow!

The birds, snow and colours
Black Redstart with the white snowflake