Photos: Kaarel Kaisel and Arne Ader
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
) 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
) 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.
Collared turtle dove
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
), 1 golden eagle
), 4 buzzards
), 1 rough-legged buzzard
), 1 goshawk
) and 1 sparrowhawk
) 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
).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
)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
) and teals
) were among the ducks, as well as 1 wigeon
)and 1 water rail
) and 1 reed bunting
) were busy in the reeds. In Kuressaare city we met a collared turtle dove
), 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