Tuesday, December 20, 2016

International bird races

Every year, in mid-August, an international bird racing event called the Estonian Open takes place in Estonia. The race starts at 3.a.m. and continues for 14 hours in this nonstop birdwatching marathon. The winning team usually spots over 150 bird species, which is really a remarkable result for late summer.

This year's bird race took place at Hiiumaa – our second biggest island. Hiiumaa Island is 990 sq. km. and its located nearly 25 km off the coast, making it a great place for birding and especially seawatching! Hiiumaa Island has plenty of forest for species like Nutcracker, Black Grouse, Black Woodpecker, Pygmy and Eagle Owl.

Nutcracker / Photo: Arne Ader (source: www.looduskalender.ee)

Hiiumaa island is well known hotspot for the rare vagrants. Last time the bird race was held at Hiiumaa Island, in 2003, it brought a great new addition to Estonia's bird list – Cory´s Shearwater. This year 14 teams from Estonia, Finland and Latvia took part of the bird race including three ENT tour leaders.

An Estonian team (Tarvo Valker, Hannes Pehlak, Mati Kose,
Renno Nellis & Leho Luigujõe/taking the photo/ ) at the
Estonian Open bird race in Hiiumaa island. The results
for 122 species and 2.-3. place among 14 teams.

An Estonian team managed to win for the first time (and also the Lithuanian bird race at „Curonian Lagoon” in October!).  The winning team had 3 Estonian and 1 Latvian member and found 112 bird species and is the same team that has won the Latvian bird race several times. Altogether 26 teams with 120 birders took part of this event.

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