Trip Report: Seven Hours in Heinä-Suvanto (Finland). May 17, 1997

Author's name withheld upon request.

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 -- -- 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:

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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This page served by Urs Geiser;; July 22, 1997