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WeBs count weekend

With frost on the ground and the first real wintry day of the season, I crunched and waded my way round Church Marsh. There were plenty of Wildfowl overhead, unsettled perhaps by the frozen conditions, but very few on the reserve itself that I could actually count on the WeBs! As always when the temperature dips below freezing, the Teal and Wigeon all congregate on the neighbour's pond which seems immune to the minus temperatures. Only a Coot, 3 Cormorant and GC Grebe were on the river, and a Kingfisher buzzed through. One sighting of note was that of a Yellowhammer near the gun club. I have come across a wintering bird here before, sharing the hedge with a Reed Bunting. Crucially, this was not a species I recorded anywhere on the patch last year (the Postwick singer may have sang his last) so this was good news for the year list. Elsewhere, the Nuthatch has now left the pines and moved into the Churchyard, and I actually got to see him this time. I would think the chances of attracting a female are slim, but with my walk always ending at the church, this is becoming a real highlight of the patch. Marsh Tit and Goldcrest here too.

Moving on to Rockland, and ice had covered much of the broad. Bar a few Mute Swans, nothing much doing out there. The walk back held a Kestrel, and then the birding 6th sense kicked in: I just knew it was worth another look over the broad, standing on the wall bordering the track. Bang slap in the middle of my view finder were 2 male Goldeneye! These stunning Duck are a rare species on the patch, and although I have had them once before at Rockland (pair, male and female) this was just over 3 years ago so a nice surprise indeed.  I know that Carol Rushton had a look for them in the afternoon, but there was no sign. Rockland Broad is never particularly productive for Wildfowl, I expect they got fed up and buggered off.

Back home, Debs and I watched 4 Buzzard soaring out the back yesterday, and after a chilly walk down to the marsh this evening we both exclaimed 'Woodcock!' on the way back as one flew over The Street, heading towards the river. It must have come from the Ducan's Marsh area.

Nothing much planned for next weekend, visiting parents so birding may be limited. In terms of my Historical Sites list, the Lesser Yellowlegs has been showing again from Burgh Castle today, so if it is still around in a couple of weeks time I really should get down there for a look. Having spent a year glued to the patch, a bit of variety will do nicely this year- I need to get my eye in anyway.

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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…