Birder’s diary

Birder’s diary - 22-23.12

Birder Margus Ots,
Photos: Kaarel Kaisel and Arne Ader
Translation: Liis
 Eagle owl
December 22nd
I finally managed to get out on a bird trip again after a long time. We fled from the severe cold to the warmth of Saaremaa. Watching for the  Steller’s eiders (Polysticta stelleri) at the Tagamõisa peninsula beach and to search for winter rarities at Sõrve säär were on the agenda. As it turned out at the Tagamõisa peninsula the snow was unfortunately so thick on the ground  that we did not even get near all the Steller’s eider spots . With some serious labouring we managed to press on to the Uudepanga bay but by and large nobody in particular was to be seen since there was thick fog at sea. Total bad luck.
But the day was not a total loss: on the road back we set an  eagle owl (Bubo bubo) in flight from the roadside . This creature has become quite rare here and every encounter brings excitement. Surprisingly it was already the fourth eagle owl observation this year for me. The rest of the company got lifers or at least  winter points. During the day in Saaremaa we saw 55 bird species which is a quite nice result for mid-winter.
All the more interesting observations are in the e-Biodiversity database.
Collared turtle dove
December 23rd
In the morning we checked the shrubs and beaches at Sõrve säär. Unfortunately it was quite wintery here too, deep snow, and ice at sea. The surroundings of the Sõrve bird station’s bird feeder were full of finches but no winter rarity caught the eye anywhere. But the abundance of birds of prey was noticeable. At Sõrve säär at least 14 white-tailed eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla), 1 golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), 4 buzzards (Buteo buteo), 1 rough-legged buzzard  (Buteo lagopus), 1 goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) and 1 sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) were busy.
Since the weather was clearer we decided to go to the Uudepanga bay again. Maybe the fog had gone and we would succeed in seeing the Steller’s eider (Polysticta stelleri).To be sure, there was no fog, but no Steller’s eiders either. Had they not arrived yet? In some years they don’t come to the wintering areas until January. I myself have a year point already from January, the others however have to wait for the next trip. All sorts of other  waterfowl were quite nicely present at the Uudepanga bay. 2 Bewick’s swans (Cygnus columbianus)that are quite hot rarities in Estonia in the winter months were among the swans. Most of the company collected new winter points from the Bewick’s swans.
In the afternoon we checked the bird spots of Kuressaare. At the Roomassaare water treatment plant a large bunch of coots  (Fulica atra)  and teals  (Anas crecca) were among the ducks, as well as 1 wigeon (Anas penelope)and 1 water rail (Rallus aquaticus) and 1 reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) were busy in the reeds. In Kuressaare city we met a collared turtle dove (Streptopelia decaocto), another new winter point for most in the group. With these exciting finds the species list got a substantial addition and while we saw 55 species in Saaremaa on the day before, then today we managed to list a total of 64 species. On the weekend before Christmas the Latvian birdwatchers organized a birdwatch challenge on the shortest day of the year. We too sent our species list to the organizers and to our surprise it turned out that our list was the longest. More details about the contest can be read here.




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