Over the last two weeks Helsinki has transformed from brown to green, with almost all of the trees leafing out – what a difference it makes, especially after a long winter! The short walk from the bus to my office is such pleasure now, because there’s always something new to see or hear in the little strip of forest I traverse.
Spring migration is in full swing at the moment, with many birds arriving in southern Finland for the summer or just having a quick break here before continuing north. I headed off to Viikki to spot some of these birds recently and was pleasantly surprised by all the species I saw in my two hours there. Chaffinches and Willow Warblers were in abundance, and I could identify a few Thrush Nightingales (many thanks to Miska for pointing out their amazing calls). Other highlights included a Willow Tit and a male Reed Bunting is perfect plumage. Spotted and Pied Flycatchers, along with a possible Lesser Whitethroat, brought my tally to about 29 species… not too bad considering that without a telescope I couldn’t identify most of the waders and geese.
Update: I returned a week later to Viikki, this time heading down to Lammassaari (I was last there in winter with Brigitte). The woodlands I walked through were already a bit quieter, and I didn’t hear a simple Willow Warbler this time. But I did see my first Common Rosefinch (hiding himself in a flowering Bird Cherry tree), which was a real treat. Heading across the boardwalk to Lammassaari I managed to pick out the call of the European Marsh Warbler, and spotted European Swifts (or Common Swift as it is called here), Barn Swallows (nice to see them in fresh breeding plumage) and House Martins feasting on swarms of midges. A European Marsh Harrier, a female Goosander (= Common Merganser) and a very bold Pied Flycatcher were other highlights.
Over the course of a week the vegetation had changed considerably (the reeds are growing quickly… and the mosquitoes are out too), so it will be interesting to see how things change over the next few weeks.