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Migratory birds making their return

Even though the snow lies thick in the fields, and temperatures are in the double digits below freezing, the first migratory birds are returning from their southern winter retreats. Four flocks of larks have been sighted at Hanko on the far south coast, and the first whooper swans have arrived.

Kaksi laulujoutsenta lumisella rannalla.
Image: Raine Martikainen

A few individual sightings of larks have also been made in Helsinki and at Raasepori. Rooks and northern lapwings have also been spotted in the Uusimaa region.

However, these represent only the advance guard of spring migration. Jan Södesved of BirdLife Finland points out that the timing of the return varies widely from year to year. Climate change may also be having an impact.

"The first returning birds are appearing a few days earlier, in some cases significantly so. For example, whooper swans have not only increased in numbers, but they are also returning about a month earlier than they did a decade ago. These are things that have been affected by climate change," says Södesved.

Södersved believes that the northward migration of many species will really take off once the present cold snap passes. Migratory birds usually return to the Uusimaa region on a flight path from the south-west, and so are often first sighted in Hanko or at other places along the coast.

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