My birding has grown from a passionate hobby to a passionate full-time career as an ornithologist. The part of my work that I enjoy the most, is to be able to show remarkable sightings of rare, or just desirable birds to fellow birders around the world. During the last 15 years I have guided wildlife and birding tours on four continents, but in my heart, nothing beats South America. Two years ago, I had an unforgettable moment, when we set a new “Big Day” world record in Ecuador with a team of friends and observed 431 species in a single calendar day.
I spent most of my childhood summers in the countryside in southern Finland, where there were plenty of forests, bogs and agricultural areas to explore and, most importantly, birds to observe. My first close encounter with a Common Buzzard, when I was seven, triggered an avalanche that couldn’t be stopped. From that moment on, birds were number one in my priority list, which was not so highly appreciated by my teachers, football coaches or girlfriends. During the years, my birding has grown from a passionate hobby to a passionate full-time career as an ornithologist. Something must have changed, though, because I’m married and have two beautiful daughters. The part of my work that I enjoy the most, is to be able to show remarkable sightings of rare or just desirable birds to fellow birders around the world.
My day job in Finland is working on farmland birds research and carrying out all kinds of field surveys. Monitoring and studying the Finnish Ortolan Bunting population and its migration routes have been one the main themes for recent years. In Finland, we have had two fast declining species of buntings suffering from illegal hunting along flyways and wintering areas. Yellow-breasted is already extirpated and Ortolan bunting’s ongoing decline is not easy to watch.