Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Estonia May 2018 Part 7. Moving on again.

On our last morning at Pikla we decided to get up early and checkout a forest track that was marked on our electronic tablet which I'd now been able to update using the Pikla wifi.
Setting off at the crack of dawn we headed via some back roads to the village of Soometsa but search though we did we couldn't find the place we were meant to park and start walking. We tried a couple but they didn't seem likely spots and one of them soon had us in retreat at the sight of some guard dogs barking and heading our way!
We decided that we'd beat a hasty retreat and abandon the idea. Disappointing as we'd wasted an early start for nothing. Still a tasty breakfast awaited us and after we bade goodbye to our hosts at Pikla we had a check of the reedbeds there.
The owners of Pikla are a nice friendly couple,  I'd be seeing our hostess again at dinner time as she was cooking at Kosmonautika again, but before we left she gave us the news that dinner wouldn't be available the following night as the kitchen was closed, as it would be for breakfast the day after too. Not particularly happy with the situation, we'd learnt to live without proper meals by now and shrugged off the news, our acceptance that it was our fate!
Checking out the reed beds I heard a rather unusual sound, well to me anyway. I knew it was something different but wasn't sure what. A warbler for sure, I could see it as it edged up a reed stem.
Savi's Warbler Locustella luscinioides
Mike's first guess was a Grasshopper Warbler and I was delighted if it was as it would be a first, however, when we later checked the book it turned out it was a Savi's Warbler which was even better as it was a first for both of us! The sound they make is not that dissimilar to Grasshopper Warbler , just at a lower volume.
I also had a brief view of a Bearded Tit (or Bearded Reedling as they have been officially re-named I believe) and there were Great reed Warblers around too judging by the noise they were making. The reed beds certainly had potential that we hadn't fully exploited so we decided on a plan that would bring us back at the crack of dawn when we passed on our way north to our final stop over place.In reality we'd have loved to have stayed at Pikla for the duration but they were fully booked.
Off on our travels again, we headed south and we went straight to our rooms in Kosmonautika to ditch our luggage and then went to seek a spot for the pop up hide so we could return to it later in the evening. Unfortunately the plan had to be abandoned as there wasn't any suitable places to put it up, the ground far too wet and boggy. Reluctantly we had to put it back in the boot of the car where it waited like a Jack in the Box to explode outwards and escape whenever we opened the boot. Those pop ups are very fast to self erect but they are not easy to keep down!
Anyway, Gosney guide in hand we went looking for his sites. The first one he'd said was excellent for Citrine Wagtail and Greenish Warbler, we found neither but we did find Icterine which was also mentioned. Poor views but at least another addition for my Big (Photo) Year.
Icterine Warbler   Hippolais icterina
With mostly poor photo opportunities I was rather relieved that I had set out to achieve a specific target for my B.Y., at least it gave a kind of purpose for these awful shots!
We moved on to  a second site Gosney mentioned but couldn't find it at first. He'd found this one courtesy of another guide book written by someone called Gorman, who in it had said it was an excellent spot for Citrine Wagtails which could be found around the birdwatching tower there.
Birdwatching tower? There wasn't one! Again we discovered it had been demolished since Gosney visited in 2010.
In the car parking area  though we found a very co-operative Whinchat,
Whinchat   Saxicola rubetra
We took far more shots than necessary, feasting on a rare opportunity for a decent photo!
Better still we spotted the Citrine Wagtails flying about but by now it was getting pretty warm again so we decided to retreat for lunch with a vow to return later.
In the afternoon we headed up to another Gosney recommendation, Nigula Bog.
It was some distance to drive so we didn't have that long to spend there as we'd been told dinner would be served at 18.30pm. In fact it was 19.00 before the assembled group of German birders turned up for dinner but we got a better reception when we joined them than we had had from our fellow Brits three days earlier. Breakfast we were told would be at 0800 as arranged for the group. We told our hostess that we might not turn up for that as we intended going back to Nigula Bog. We had a specific target in mind, one we'd discovered earlier....White-backed Woodpecker!
A first for us both we'd spotted a nest hole and it was occupied. The light was all wrong in the evening so we'd return first thing the following day. With other options in the same area we'd just have to forego our breakfast, it wasn't viable to come back especially that early. We'd been able to arrange a late breakfast at Pikla to accommodate our early morning plans but here we had to go with the majority.
It was then that reality dawned! As a pair we weren't worth the effort of cooking just for two, our host couldn't be bothered driving from Pikla to do so herself and financially it probably wasn't viable to pay some one else to do so either. 

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