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Record equalled and some new reading material

I toyed with heading to the coast this morning, but with conditions looking almost too good (and impending house move) I instead visited the patch this morning, allowing me to crack on with some packing and some school stuff over the rest of the day.

I arrived at Church Marsh around 8am as the sun was burning off any mist and dew that still lingered. The bushes looked beautiful, spider webs framed by the sun and the damp. Walking along the river bank, a Wagtail called and I knew this was one to put my bins to. A lovely Grey Wagtail it was, heading east down river. This is only more 3rd record on the patch and of course a year tick, a record-equalling one at that. 120 species now for the year equals last year's total and I am optimistic I can break this tally with some more Autumn birding before we have to move away. I am still missing Hen Harrier, Yellowhammer, Brambling and Lesser Whitethroat from the year list. Even better would be a new bird for the patch, and perhaps with coastal action being limited for me this season I can look to focus on what is available on the doorstep and enjoy this.

Elsewhere on the reserve, the movement of Siskin continues with more birds overhead in 1s and 2s, heading in various directions. The Pines at Wood's End are bound to hold a few this Winter, and I must remember to give this area off-patch a visit. A Snipe got up from Postwick Marsh, and a Kingfisher flew up river. At the lagoon, I was pleased to see a pair of returning Wigeon, my first of the Autumn. Probably because they were new in a still a novelty, I actually thought they looked smart in their eclipse plumage. Teal numbers are steady, and Gadwall and Mallard are always present in varying numbers. Calling Blackcap and Chiffchaff numbers are both down, just one of the latter today. Arriving back home, a Redpoll flew over the house.

Some great Owl action to report on from the last week. Debs and I were walking back from the pub on the 10th and encountered 2 Tawny Owl, 1 in hot pursuit of the other. A further 3 were hooting nearby, and Barn Owl began screeching as we arrived home. I will miss this walk. Even better, on the 20th at Church Marsh 2 Crows exclaimed loudly over the pine wood as darkness arrived, and looking up we could see them harassing a Short-eared Owl! Never regular and never predictable, this Owl is always a joy to see and that night was no different. I originally thought this was a year tick, and indeed at Church Marsh it was, but having seen a single bird at Claxton back in Marsh, this was not the 120 I was looking for. Cue Grey Wagtail.

In other news, I have a nice collection of nature writings and this was added to on my birthday. The photo below shows my latest additions. Particularly looking forward to Meadowland; 'Claxton' by Mark Cocker was the kind of intimate portrait I love and this looks to be from the same stable in that sense.



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Estonia Trip Report, April 2011

Estonia April 12th-19th 2011, Jim Bradley. ice_bear1@hotmail.com
Ice at the ferry crossing


Exploring the ancient forest



Red-breasted Goose at Audru



Pick the bones out of that!


Great-grey Shrike near Spithami.






Introduction.
Estonia is a place of real wilderness, yet easy to explore with the possibility of some cracking birds. Recent literature from both Gerard Gorman and Dave Gosney means that there is now plenty of useful information on birding Estonia, yet this country remains relatively unknown compared to other eastern European states such as Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Steller’s Eider, Owls and Woodpeckers in early Spring, Citrine Wagtail, Great Snipe, Great Spotted Eagle, Black Stork and Greenish Warbler in May and beyond are just some of the birds you may encounter.

We used Estonian Nature Tours http://www.naturetours.ee/ to help plan and guide our trip. We are a young couple, so did not fancy being part of a tour bus scenario, and were keen to do most of the birding ou…