Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Estonia May 2013 - Day 5

After leaving Valguta, we head towards Elva and the local forests for woodpeckers. As we stood listening a Honey Buzzard soared effortlessly over our heads, showing the characteristic underwing pattern and shape. Then a Hedgehog scurried across the track, disappearing into the dark undergrowth.

Moving on to another part of the forest we spotted at a clearing. The air was filled with the constant song of a Yellowhammer and a Cuckoo. Then in a flash, the call came as a female Black Woodpecker flew between the trees until it perched for a moment in the clearing for the group to see.  Then as quickly as she appeared, she was gone again deep into the forest. Further down the path, a Red-breasted Flycatcher was calling and soon appeared high up in a tree alongside the path.

We stopped in a few villages as we toured the area and the majority of trees had nesting Fieldfare in them, so green spaces were busy with adults collecting food for hungry babies. Occasionally Redwing could be heard singing from the tops of the trees.

A stop at Valguta village pond for a well-earned ice cream had at least three pairs Common Gulls all looking very smart and very much together.

We headed back to Vehendi Motel for an early evening meal as we were heading out in the evening to hopefully see Great Snipe lekking. We arrived at the edge of a marsh with the sun slow setting and a flock of 16 Black Tern flying around over the water.

Great Snipe was one of the birds I had hoped to see whilst in Estonia and would be a lifer for me. I scanned the grass with my telescope slowly, until suddenly a brown bird leapt up into my view and disappeared. What a surprise and it took a few seconds to sink what had just happened until I got confirmation from our leader Roger. The search continued, back and forth as the sounds of 'knitting needles' grew louder and move intense. The light continued to fade, then behind us two Hobbys give an aerial display as a Red Fox marched across the field on a night time patrol.

The time ticked on to 9:45 pm with the sounds becoming louder and more fanatic. Then as I scanned, the birds appeared, leaping into the air showing flashes of white from the outer tail feathers. I counted at least four individuals and at one stage all were facing each other standing up vertical with their chests puffed up clicking their bills before leaping skywards. An amazing sight and quite bizarre, so turn up the volume and watch the video clip below. Hopefully, you will hear the 'knitting needles' and see some birds - don't blink!


At the end of Day 5 we had spotted 147 bird species.

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