In the morning a message came by Rariliin (Birdline) that in the Aardla polder in Tartumaal a ferruginous duck or white-eyed pochard (Aythya nyroca)was in place but the identification was not altogether definite. I went to check things just in case anyway but despite a thorough search the bird was not found any more. The polder was rather empty of birds generally but the morning trip was not quite useless all the same, because I managed to see a red-footed falcon (Falco vespertinus)This creature was the 253rd bird species in my 2012 year list. During the day the Bird rarities committee received information that in Valgamaa a woodchat shrike (Lanius senator)had been seen a couple of days ago. Since I had planned to go to the Valguta polder at the south-eastern shore of Lake Võrtsjärv in the evening, we made a slightly longer detour and checked the surroundings of the finding place of the woodchat shrike to start with just in case. Of course we did not find the looked-for creature. The rarity shrikes are difficult to twitch in general, because they seldom stay stationary but it was worth a try.
Typical great egret searcher look (21.05.2012 Valguta polder)
In the evening we looked around in the Valguta polder for some hours. There were relatively many birds in the area but no one particularly exciting caught our interest. For a while we then watched the great egrets (Egretta alba) ; up to 30 were seen this spring. They particularly like being in the coppice between the polder and the lake. Already earlier it had looked as if they were about to nest there. After a long argument the most junior of the company (Rarileidja 2011 / Birdfinder 2011) donned fisherman’s rubber boots and was sent out into the thick coppice to clamber in the deep water. After half an hour of crashings a triumphant cry was heard from the coppice – the first great egret nest was found. Because the water was too deep in the thick coppice, movement extremely difficult and darkness starting to fall we did not undertake any great search this time. It seemed that we might have to do with a somewhat larger colony where even more than ten pairs might nest. When the water recedes a little in summer and there are already chicks in the nests the number of nesting pairs may be determined more precisely. We have here the second confirmed nesting place of great egrets in Estonia. Near Ilmatsalu in Tartumaa great egrets have already nested for some years. The honour of confirming the new nesting site should by rights belong halfway to me too because 1) the borrowed boots were mine 2) I pointed out the direction from the road embankment (with a supercilious face of course - which the searcher luckily did not see) and 3) „motivational“ shouts were bawled into the coppice. In answer to the last-mentioned all kinds of bellows could mainly be heard, but there was some benefit from them because when the searcher at last appeared in sight again he looked quite happy (escaped drowning after all). Whether it all happened exactly as described is not really important. The important thing is that nesting of great egrets in the area now has been confirmed.