Thursday 24 July 2014

Nina my hero!

I'd like to say a few words about my dear Mother-in-Law Nina Kasapova. Last March she was diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer on top of already having Parkinson's disease. The initial prognosis was not good but she now receiving treatment at the Norwich and Norfolk University Hospital. My deepest gratitude and thanks to the doctors and all the staff on the Mulbarton ward. I never want to hear a bad word about the NHS after this!
Nina is an amazing woman. Her resilience and fighting spirit after months of serious illness is just inspiring. I feel lucky to know her and privileged to be along side her and Polina during this time. After a tough day at work, I go up to see her at the NNUH and when I talk to her, my own little problems seem so insignificant and stupid. It really puts things into perspective.
If you want to have an idea of just how much a fighter she is, here a photo of Nina in her hospital bed giving cancer the middle finger!

Nina tells cancer what it can do!

Nina, if you're reading're my hero! Keep fighting and with love from all the dragons we will get through this.Then we can enjoy some tasty mussels at the Belgian Monk!

To those who read my blog and to all my fellow birders, please wish us well!

Monday 14 July 2014

Lucky number thirteen

I haven't been out birding for months, for a variety of reasons. After the spring and an intensive week in Ohio, I was all birded out and I have enjoyed the break. Spectacled Warblers, Short-toed Eagles, Stilt Sandpipers and maybe even the Breydon Water Great Knot have all been less pressing than some other personal things that are going on right now.
However, if I go back to early last April in Latvia, I did have a nice local find. I kept it quiet at the time because of the possibility that the bird may attempt to breed in the area.
I was birding the Lieplupe river area near Dzintari, Jurmula (see Late winter in Latvia), it was early April but by UK standards it felt like early January. I came across a single male Stonechat singing from the reeds along the edge of one of the fishing ponds up there. Normally I only see Whinchats in Latvia so this was immediately a Latvian tick. Then I remembered a local birder telling me the species is rare here. So it turned out to be only the 13th national record of the species in Latvia.
It was a little distant for decent photos and because it was showing signs of being territorial, I left it alone. I contacted a local birder and let him know about the record, its on the Latvian Birding website now. I never got shots of the rump and underwing coverts but I don't think it looks anything other than rubicola.
Apparently it stayed a few days only before clearing off. A month later in early May I was back in the same area and there was no sign of it.

European Stonechat, Leiplupe River, Dzintari, Jurmala, Latvia, April 2014