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Hanko – Hot Spot for birdwatchers

Planning on watching birds in Hanko? Here you can get the best tips for a perfect visit by the well known ornithologist Dick Forsman.

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 here earlier than anywhere else in Finland. Birdwatching can still be rewarding in early Winter, even beyond the New Year in January.

In early spring, in March and early April, one can see lots of migratory birds, when the rest of Finland is still in hibernation. The best places 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 normally along the shallow shores.

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

October turning into November sees the migration of swans. When inland lakes freeze, swans leave for the coast. The shallow bays in Hanko are famous for their roosting Whooper Swans. The Swedish name “Svanvik”, swan bay, is the name of one of the most classic sites Mild autumns allow swans to stay well into the New Year in Hanko.

The best weather for birding is not necessarily the same as the “nice” weather you normally prefer for your outdoor activities! A change in the weather is often better for birding than a beautiful sunny day – and some wind is always better than windless and calm conditions.

Dick Forsman, ornithologist

Ornithologist Dick Forsman