Sunday, May 11, 2014

We walk into a sanctuary

On May 3rd I walked in Sipoonkorpi National Park, starting from the parking place at Bakunkärr. First I walked to lake Fiskträsk along the new well-marked path (exploring a couple of nice swamps on the way), and from there to southwest along an old and a bit less visible path, which ended at a small parking place at Helgträsk road.

However, the map was somewhat misleading. I thought that I could complete a circular route by walking south along this road, but it ended in a private property. An older man was in the yard, and asked what I was doing. I explained my problem, and we looked at the map, and he said I'm not the first to be mislead by it. He helped me to find a route back to the parking place at Bakunkärr.

I had only walked 75 minutes at this point, so I thought to continue walking, exploring the area west of the parking place. There were some little paths here and there, and some paths were even marked on the map, but they were not really leading in the direction I wanted to explore. I walked up the Sjöberget hill, continued southwest along the ridge, and found a nice wide path west of lake Bakunkärrs träsket.

I walked past the lake towards east along the path, and heard quite a racket at the lake. I went a bit closer, and noticed a male Bucephala clangula making noise and suddenly starting towards the middle of the lake, half flying, half running on the water. Then I head sounds of battle, and realized there are two males hitting each other with wings. I also noticed that there was a female at the end of the lake, diving for food.

I thought - mistakenly, as it turned out - that the male was trying to get an interloper to fly away. The fight lasted some time, the male returning to the female several times, curving his neck and making creaking noises. When he was attacking the other male he made whistling and gacking sounds, and then there were the actual fight sounds of big birds hitting each other.

However, finally the female started flying, the male in close pursuit, gacking, whistling, and the two birds flew away. Only at this point I realized there must be another female near the other shore of the lake, and so this was perhaps a fight of territory between two pairs of birds, not really a fight over a female by two males.

I was too far away to get good photographs of the birds, and didn't want risk disturbing them. The LX5 is not well suited for taking such photographs. But here is a photograph of the attacking male starting his flying strike towards the other male. Did I make the right identification?

The above two photographs were taken at lake Fiskträsk. At this lake there was also a fight going on, two birds flying high above pursuing a third one, as if trying to scare it away. These three birds were probably Bucephala clangula as well, at least the gacking and whistling sounds were the same. Spring is intense for birds.

(Posting title is from the poem Bald Eagle Count by Jack Collom.)

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