Dick Forsman, ornithologist

Hot Spot for birdwatchers

For birdwatchers as well as for professional ornithologists Hanko is the top spot to go. Ideally situated on the coast, still on the mainland, it is easily accessible even from the country’s capital. And because of its strategic funnel-shape Hanko penininsula is one of the most frequented flyways for migratory birds, especially during Fall, when lots of south-west moving birds are concentrating to this narrow strip of land.
Most of Finland’s south coast is rocky and the shoreline is steep but in Hanko the shores are shallow. The small, sheltered inlets and bays attract large flocks of birds during migration. The birding season is long in Hanko, because spring starts earlier here than anywhere else in Finland. Birdwatching can still be rewarding in early winter, even beyond the new year in January.

In the early spring, March and April, one can see lots of migratory birds, when the rest of Finland is still in hibernation. The best spots are the shores close to town, harbours and the fields in Täktom village. In April-May wildfowl and waders arrive. Under favourable conditions many different species roost in the shallow bays.

July turning into August witnesses the waders migrating towards their wintering areas. If it is rainy and cloudy, waders interrupt their migration, and can be seen in greater numbers than normal along the shallow shores.

August, September and October are the “high seasons” in the Hanko birding year. Huge flocks follow the shorelines of the peninsula flying south-west towards the point of Hanko. Every species has its own migration schedule and it is a spectacular show for birdwatchers to enjoy throughout autumn.

The migration of swans happens when October turns to November. When the inland lakes freeze, swans make their way to the coast. The shallow bays in Hanko are famous for their roosting Whooper Swans. “Svanvik”, swan bay, is one of the most popular sites for swans, since the mild autumns there allow for them to stay well into the new year.

The best conditions for birding are variable: shifting weather is often better than sunny, windless days.