For tired passers-by, Geopark’s tranquil forests, flood meadows and extensive marshes are safe rest areas.
When spring comes, tens of thousands of migratory birds can be seen in the Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas Geopark area. Some of them have returned to nesting in their birthplaces, while others just stop to rest and feed. For tired passers-by, Geopark’s tranquil forests, flood meadows and extensive marshes are safe rest areas.
Participation in the World Migratory Bird Day on May 14, 2022 was considered important also in Lauhanvuori-Hämeenkangas Geopark. Bird watchers were encouraged to hike and take notes on the bird species observed. Observations were made from a wide range of different habitats: the Mustansaarenkeidas, which belongs to the Haapakeidas mire reserve, and the surrounding forest in Isojoki, the flood meadows and forests of the Viinikanjoki River in Parkano, and the shores and fields of the lakes in North Parkano.
On the World Migratory Bird Day, 62 different bird species were seen at selected sites. Of these, 51 were actual migratory birds. After a shorter or longer flight, they had ended up in the Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas Geopark area either to stay or to continue their journey after a break. Some migratory species, such as the whooper swan, had arrived in their nesting area very early. The lakes were still frozen at that time and there were few melted places. The last returnees, insectivores, had only arrived in the previous days. Their migration is still in progress, and the rest of the species are expected to return in the coming weeks while the weather is still warming.
The longest migration was made by lightly flying Common terns wintering off the coast of southern Africa. Large Cranes, whose wintering areas are in the Blue Nile regions, in turn, skillfully use rising air currents to sail through the air toward their northern nesting sites. They are also early arrivals.
The small-sized insectivores seen in 11 different species achieve amazing performance. These species overwinter in different parts of Africa. For example, Pied Flycatcher, a general species for us, arrives from north of the rainforests of West Africa in May. Reminiscent of each other, but with completely different songs, the Willow Warbler and the Chiffchaff overwinter in the eastern and southern parts of Africa, as do the Sedge Warbler of the beaches.
Many of the skilled flyers, the waders, Wood Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper and Ruff, which were seen during the expeditions, also winter on the African continent. Especially seeing a flock of 35 Ruffs, which are now classified as very endangered, helped to believe in a better future for them, so that the requirements of migratory bird habitats are also known and the need for protection is taken into account.
A total of 22 of the 51 migratory bird species observed are wintering in Africa. They will therefore have to cross the Mediterranean and most of them the Sahara desert on their migration in the spring and again in the autumn. At the same time, they cross the borders of many countries and also stop by in their traditional breaks in different countries.
Hopefully, resting and eating places along the way in different states and habitats at both extremes of arduous migration journeys will continue to be appropriate for them. This will be achieved through transnational cooperation, raising awareness of migratory birds, their migratory routes and the importance of places to eat and rest.
Text: Eira-Maija Savonen
Photos: Terttu Hermansson