Sunday 9 December 2012

Estonian twitch

Fox Sparrow site, Haapsalu sewage works

Had a great day in Estonia yesterday with Rich, Ernie D and Lee G. Flew to Helsinki on Friday evening and, after a few hours' kip in the car, caught the 07:30 ferry over to Tallinn yesterday morning. We were mightily impressed by how smooth the drive was west to Haapsalu - the roads (and the tyres!) are great.

Arriving at Haapsalu a little after 11:00, it didn't take long for the Fox Sparrow to show on the seeded area just northeast of the sewage works. Viewing was really quite restricted and the light was also low which made obtaining decent photographs a challenge. I was pretty pleased with the handheld digiscoped shots below given high ISO and low shutter speed! A juvenile Goshawk sat in a tree behind the sewage works was a welcome distraction, while several Fieldfares and a couple of Jays were also noted.

Moving round to nearby Vonnu Park at around 14:00, the highlight here consisted of respectable flight views of a Black Woodpecker as it flopped lazily across the lake area. Other bits around the park included several trumpeting Northern Bullfinches, a couple of white-breasted Nuthatches, Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a flock of 30 cracking Mealy Redpolls.

Days are short around the Baltic at this time of year and, with the light quickly fading, our limited birding time was already drawing to an end. We decided to head back to Tallinn, and spent an enjoyable few hours wandering round the old town, taking in the Christmas market, a couple of local ales and a tasty meal of Estonian sausage and mash.

Later in the evening, we took the last ferry of the night back across to Helsinki, sleeping all the way. A few more hours' kip in Helsinki airport proved the final act of the trip prior to an early flight back to London this morning - after landing at Heathrow at 09:15, I was back home for 10:30. Remarkable what you can squeeze in to a weekend!

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