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Thoughts on The Beast

With The Beast From The East in the rear view mirror, driving past the frozen drifts that scatter the countryside today I reflected on what was an unprecedented few days in my experience. I remember well digging my car out when I lived in Norwich around 5 years ago, before the call came in from work to remain at home. If anything, temperatures were even colder then, but this year the sheer amount of snowfall and strong winds caught almost everyone out. To be genuinely cut off in the village was a unique experience (the road to Rockland the only passable route, and the shelves of the village shop were ransacked with no plan nor recipe in mind) and I am sure we will talk about this for years to come.

The local wildlife made instant changes to behaviour. On the final day of February, a female Reed Bunting appeared amongst the snow in the back garden, and 2 males arrived over the next couple of days. Fieldfare and Mistle Thrush became firsts for the garden, both hanging around until Saturday the 3rd when a gentle thaw began and the garden was empty by mid-morning. A fascinating Thrush v Thrush battle played out in the arena of the lawn, and a Barn Owl and Kestrel showed interest in proceedings, flying through once each between Wednesday and Friday.

I managed to get to Rockland Broad, which turned out to be a great decision as 9 Pochard (7 drakes) were on the broad, a bird that has not graced the year list for over 3 years. Weather can have that affect I guess. Down on frozen Claxton Marshes, I watched a little sad as Green Sandpiper, Golden Plover and Common Snipe drifted aimlessly past me, presumably looking for a piece of open ground or water to feed. No doubt some of these birds would have perished over that week. Very unusual to see these species so close, but desperate times and all that. On the river, I found Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall and Mallard all sheltering from the wind against the river bank. A tiny Wren and a Robin shared the same hollow tree stump, away from the Arctic conditions.

Now things have warmed up (a little) I had the Moth trap out on the night of March 10th. First trap session this year incredibly. One stunning Oak Beauty ushering in Spring at Claxton, along with the timely March Moth (3), Chestnut (2) and Dotted Border (2). A single Oak Nycteoline was in the bathroom.

 Claxton Marshes
 9 Pochard, record flock size for the patch, Rockland Broad
Oak Beauty

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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…