Birder's diary - 27.- 28.05

Birder Margus Ots,
 Translation: Liis
After the overlong and exciting birding day I slept long, didn’t get on my feet until about 9 o’clock. From the twitchers I learned that last night the Pikla little bittern   (Ixobrychus minutus)  had not shown up, it had only called a few times. This morning the bird had been gone altogether. With the Estbirding  board we decided that since the species identification was definitely confirmed, the bird obviously called spontaneously (not in answer to decoy calls), and might even try to nest in Pikla, we would only have one more major twitching occasion, this night at 23:00. After that all kinds of decoy actions would be prohibited in the area, we don’t want to interfere too much with  the bird. I decided to go back to Pikla in the evening myself, it would be interesting to see how large a group of twitchers would arrive.

In the day I roamed around rather widely in Pärnumaa. I did not see any particularly remarkable birds, simply got acquainted with little known locations for myself. In the evening I had reached as far as to Ikla near the Latvian border, where I unexpectedly found a singing  tawny pipit (Anthus campestris). I have already searched for this species in several previous habitats but this year I had not met it yet. It seems that the tawny pipit has become quite rare here, from all Estonia only 3 observations have been reported and even 2 of those are migration observations.

Waiting for the little bittern (Pikla 27.05.2012)
In the evening I went early to the Pikla ponds where we and the twitchers who had already arrived shared impressions of the little bittern to start with. All were excited, and badly wanted to see this real rarity or at least hear it calling. Sadly, as things turned out the bird was not willing to give any sign of itself. Some glimpses of movement could be seen and even a few croaks sounded very similar to the little bittern’s voice but we decided that the sounds heard today after all rather belonged to frogs and the movements seen could be illusions (or some other bird). Sad-faced, we had to leave. The decoy prohibition in the area is in effect as before. What happens if someone gets caught with decoying all the same? An Estbirding member gets thrown out of the club. Twitchers who do not belong to Estbirding  will not be allowed to any Estbirding-related events. A ban on participation in the bird rally  Estonian Open can for instance be a quite painful penalty for a serious birder. But loss of trust and the resulting consequences are really the worst that can happen to a birder.
Since I have to attend to work matters in the beginning of next week I set off  slowly in the Tartu direction in the night. To have some stops on the road was on the agenda, maybe I would find quails on a corn field or hayfield. Not very far from Pikla between forests are the  Leina and Lepaküla fields, in earlier years some quail has always been in place . So I made the first listening stop there. I didn’t have to wait long for results, altogether I found 4  quails  (Coturnix coturnix) in the area. Their “tut-tutting” (a three-syllable “vut vut-vut”, ) can be heard quite far off in calm weather. The quail is the 260th bird species in my 2012 list.

I reached Tartu only in the morning. On the road I made a stop too at the northern end of Lake Võrtsjärv at Jõesuu, where a few days ago a  Terek sandpiper   (Xenus cinereus) apparently was seen. Now the bird was not to be seen any longer, obviously it had only landed for a moment here. This year the Terek sandpiper has been seen 3 times already in Estonia, I have even gone twitching for it on Muhu island but I am still without this species.




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