In the meantime I was looking around in Saaremaa for three days because it was of course necessary to check places for the bird race Estonian Open
. This year the Estonian Open takes place on August 18th in Saaremaa and although the deadline for registrations is August 10th
, a record number of participants have registered already - 17 teams with altogether 72 team members. The largest number of teams – 10 - comes from Finland, Estonia is represented by 6 teams and 1 comes from Latvia. The winners from all previous races (this year is the 18th Estonian Open) are in place and repeating the victory from the two previous years will be extremely difficult. Even getting among the top three would be a great success.
Bird race Estonian Open 2011 winners - RC & Pets – at work (Photo: Uku Paal)
So we drove around in Saaremaa checking where it would be worthwhile to get into the forest, where to stay and watch the migration or where to scope for waders. I am rather reticent about observations during the last few days, but not so much in order not to reveal the best places for competitors as because during three days in Saaremaa I didn’t see anyone particularly exciting. Since the best bird spots of Saaremaa have been found anyway over time I visited some less-frequented places, maybe a pleasant surprise would suddenly turn out somewhere. But it did not. As one result of the race preparation it is at least clear where it is not worth going. The question will surely come, why did I do the preparations so early, it would be wiser to check the areas just before the race? But according to the rules participants are not allowed to visit the competition area for one week before the race, and thus the last chance to do some reconnaissance was August 10th.
Summing up the Estonian Open 2011 bird race in the Türi Veskisilla motel (Photo: Uku Paal)
The competition takes place on August 18th, at 3:00-17:00 and there is not time to visit particularly many places. In the days remaining to the race all possible plans must be considered and a selection made among the areas to visit in order to collect the greatest possible number of species. After the race we will see who made the best decisions and who had the most luck in finding the birds.