This is a trip report of seven hours which we spent in Heinä-Suvanto, a bird paradise in Viitasaari, northern part of Mid-Finland. We arrived in the bird tower about at 2 o'clock in the night, after supervising a party in Viitasaari, and left the tower at 8.20 a.m. In the tower we saw 52 species, and besides, we saw the rest six species on the path to the tower. Total sum of species was 58.
Heinä-Suvanto is a swamp area, having many interested biotopes such as flood forest of birch. The place has a unique fauna, connecting southern and arctic species. Therefore for example both Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) and Willow Ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus) are known to exist there. Also such arctic species as Great Northern Owl (Strix nebulosa), Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus), Red- throated Diver (Gavia stellata) and Rustic Bunting (Emberiza rustica) are breeding there; and the southern avifauna is represented by e.g. Pochard (Aythya ferina), Garganey (Anas querquedula), Marsh Warbler (Acrocephalus palustris) and Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus), and many others. Many eastern specialities are available breeding there in summer, as the place is also situated on the border of the provinces of Mid-Finland and Savonia. Such species like Little Bunting (Emberiza pusilla), Blyth's Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus dumetorum), Locustella species etc. should be possible. The area is too little known, so, regarding that there is a very good observation tower built last year, and good paths to the tower, it's a very recommendable place for birding.
Then to the current conditions of our trip. The spring has been almost one month late this year, and therefore it was still like early April there. A small part of the lake was still frozen, and we were freezing in degrees below zero in the middle of the night.
So, with our insufficient clothing (as we were coming from the party) it was a real masochism session -- but worth it! The geese and majority of the swans had already passed the place some weeks ago, and the insectivore passerines were still very few because of the late spring. The weather was not good, but luckily it was not raining (or snowing?).
The place was like from dream in the night. The trees coming lifelessly, still without any leaves, from the flooded water. Some dust in air. The Whooper Swans making some noise sometimes, Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix) bubbling somewhere, and one single owl, supposedly Ural Owl (Strix uralensis) still wooing, although it was May already. Long parts of the path were under flooded water, so rubber boots are extremely recommended (I didn't have, so the word masochism was reality in the tower). If you are there in any other time than June, July or August (or normal May), coffee in thermos is also quite recommendable.
As we still were in the country of midnight sun, it wasn't very dark in the night. At least 49 swans were well visible, and so were many ducks. Voices were like in Okewenokee; millions of frogs (of all three species available in Finland), a Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago), Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos), some passerines starting singing, among them Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) and Redwing (Turdus iliacus), and noisiest of all: the Red-necked Grebes (Podiceps griseigena).
Then, after the light coming brighter, we could see all the ducks and other birds in the waters. They were numerous; especially Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) and Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula), and also whistling Wigeons (Anas penelope). Well, the rest of the species were seen by the morning slowly waking with the Cranes (Grus grus) who gave a trumpet fanfare to each other.
All the others were seen from the tower, but Spruce Siskin (Carduelis spinus), Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita), Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris), Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca), Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) and Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) were not seen until on the path when we returned. The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) was not seen this time, although it's breeding on the other side of the lake.
Questions about Heinä-Suvanto can be sent to me, privately, to my e-mail address -- email@example.com -- but as I can't read my messages in this summer, I'd recommend contacting Mr. Harri Hoegmander, Chairman of BirdLife's Mid-Finland branch. His address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is the total list of the species seen; the number is number of individuals -- L is "a lot, more than 50", XL is "awfully lot".
Scientific name FINNISH NAME English name No. Gavia arctica KUIKKA Black-throated Diver 5 Gavia stellata KAAKKURI Red-throated Diver 3 Podiceps cristatus SILKKIUIKKU Great Crested Grebe 1 Podiceps griseigena HÄRKÄLINTU Red-necked Grebe 6 Cygnus cygnus LAULUJOUTSEN Whooper Swan 49 Anser fabalis METSÄHANHI Bean Goose 2 Anas penelope HAAPANA Eurasian Wigeon L Anas crecca TAVI Eurasian Teal 14 Anas querquedula HEINÄTAVI Garganey 2 Anas platyrhynchos SINISORSA Mallard 3 Anas acuta JOUHISORSA Northern Pintail 3 Anas clypeata LAPASORSA Northern Shoveller 12 Aythya ferina PUNASOTKA Common Pochard 4 Aythya fuligula TUKKASOTKA Tufted Duck XL Bucephala clangula TELKKÄ Common Goldeneye XL Mergellus albellus UIVELO Smew 4 Mergus serrator TUKKAKOSKELO Red-breasted Merganser 3 Mergus merganser ISOKOSKELO Goosander 4 Tetrao tetrix TEERI Black Grouse ? (several) Grus grus KURKI Common Crane 3 Scolopax rusticola LEHTOKURPPA Eurasian Woodcock 1 Lymnocryptes minimus JÄNKÄKURPPA Jacksnipe 1 Gallinago gallinago TAIVAANVUOHI Common Snipe 1 Numenius arquata ISOKUOVI Western Curlew 1 Actitis hypoleucos RANTASIPI Common Sandpiper 2 Tringa glareola LIRO Wood Sandpiper L Tringa nebularia VALKOVIKLO Common Greenshank 1 Philomachus pugnax SUOKUKKO Ruff and Reeve 12 Larus argentatus HARMAALOKKI Herring Gull 1 Larus canus KALALOKKI Mew Gull 2 Larus ridibundus NAURULOKKI Black-headed Gull 10 Larus minutus PIKKULOKKI Little Gull L Sterna hirundo KALATIIRA Common Tern 1 Strix uralensis VIIRUPÖLLÖ Ural Owl 1 supposed Dryocopus martius PALOKÄRKI Great Black Woodpecker 1 Dendrocopos minor PIKKUTIKKA Little Spotted Woodpecker 1 Hirundo rustica HAARAPÄÄSKY Barn Swallow 2 Anthus trivialis METSÄKIRVINEN Tree Pipit 1 Anthus pratensis NIITTYKIRVINEN Meadow Pipit 1 Motacilla alba VÄSTÄRÄKKI White Wagtail L Turdus pilaris RÄKÄTTIRASTAS Fieldfare Thrush 1 Turdus philomelos LAULURASTAS Song Thrush 2 Turdus iliacus PUNAKYLKIRASTAS Redwing Thrush 4 Erithacus rubecula PUNARINTA European Robin 2 Ficedula hypoleuca KIRJOSIEPPO Pied Flycatcher 2 Phylloscopus trochilus PAJULINTU Willow Warbler 5 Phylloscopus collybita TILTALTTI Northern Chiffchaff 1 Regulus regulus HIPPIÄINEN Goldcrest 2 Parus major TALITIAINEN Great Tit 3 Parus montanus HÖMÖTIAINEN Willow Tit 2 Certhia familiaris PUUKIIPIJÄ Northern Treecreeper 1 Carduelis spinus VIHERVARPUNEN Spruce Siskin 3 Pyrrhula pyrrhula PUNATULKKU Northern Bullfinch 1 Fringilla coelebs PEIPPO Chaffinch 6 Fringilla montifringilla JÄRRIPEIPPO Brambling 1 Emberiza citrinella KELTASIRKKU Yellowhammer 1 Emberiza schoeniclus PAJUSIRKKU Reed Bunting 1 Corvus corone cornix VARIS Hooded Crow 1
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