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Bird Photos and Nature Photos
by Antti Below


Two weeks family trip to Lågskär Bird Station.

TURKEY 3.-10.5.2008
One weeks intensive photographing tour in southern Turkey. I got photos of 100 birds species, many of them new to me.

LÅGSKÄR, ÅLAND 25.4.-6.5.2005

I spent almost two weeks on Lågskär Bird Station, an island 20 km south from Åland main island. Weathers were excellent, only one day was a bit rainy (although it was the best bird day, 114 species, lacking only one species of all time one day record).

The trip was successfull, I got pictures of 75 species. Below there are some shots.

Common Eider (Somateria mollissima) was most photographed species. This species is exceptionally tame on Lågskär compared to mainland and especially females were easy to approach. Many times I passed them by one or two meters. It was interesting to watch the lekking behaviour of this species and especially how males were chasing the last unbreeding females. There were sometimes even more than 30 males around one female and yes, they made their best to attract the female.

Lågskär has been famous in Finland of its Steller's Eiders (Polysticta stelleri). Earlier, there were tens of Steller's Eiders in winter and spring around the island, but then the population decreased and there were even years when this species was not observed at all. This year the best day count for the species was almost 40 individuals.

Long-tailed Ducks (Clangula hyemalis) arrived numerously in the beginning of May. One day the surface of the sea was calm and light was good offering an excellent opportunity to photograph nice views.

Greylag Goose (Anser anser) is a common breeding bird on the island. The species is timid and therefore in some parts of the island walking is prohibited.  Photographing of flying individuals is quite easy, but on the ground they are almost impossible to approach.

Red-breasted Merganser is common at this time. I got lots of pictures of this species with large variation of situations. Below the male is searching the female, has found her, takes action and results will be seen later this summer.

The birds of prey are not very numerous on the island. Sometimes individuals stop their migration in the evening and leave the island already in the dawn. From left to right:: Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) arriving to island, Short-eared Owl (Asio flammea), Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) and Hen Harrier (Circus cyanus).

Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) is a rare breeding bird in Finland. This spring it was fairly numerous in Southern Finland. We observed daily 1-4 individuals. On right also a male Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus).

Potographing thrushes in flight was on of my projects, but something was left for coming years. From left: Red-winged Thrush (Turdus iliacus), Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) and Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus).

Lågskär is known mostly in Finland of its rarities. Although we had the best winds (SW-S) for that, we were not so lucky.  The rarest bird was Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos), which spent three day on island. The bird was very timid and I had to spent a lot of time to get some photos about it.  Next picture on the right side is Thrush Nightingale to compare these species. Other nice species were Hoopoe (Upupa epops) and early (28th of April) Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva).

The life is hard for migrating birds in archipelago. It is cold, windy, lack of food, birds can be exhausted and birds of prey are chasing. Many tragical events were observed during two weeks. It was interesting to observe a Grey Seal (Halichoeron grypus) hunting male Eiders (Somateria mollissima). It attacked many individuals during the day like a shark from below. It ate only entrails and left the rest for gulls.
Common Gulls (Larus canus) were suprisingly (to me) intensive predators. They were seen often attacking migrating and exhausted passerines. Below Common Gulls are chasing Robin (Erithacus rubecula).


Below Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) has caught Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla). 

One windy evening two Chiffchaffs (Phylloscopus collybita) were trying to find a warmest place by the house and tried to warm up each others to survive over the night. The result was seen next morning (below right).

Finally, some variable pictures:

Skylark (Alauda arvensis), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Grey Heron attacked by Parasitic Skua (Stercorarius parasiticus), Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) catching an insect, Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus), Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix) and sunrise, Wood Lark (Lullula arborea), Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba), Ringed Snake (Natrix natrix), Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus), Ringed Ouzel (Turdus torquatus) and aerobatics of Black Guillemots (Cepphus grylle).

Copyright Antti Below 2006