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

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