Mark Finn and local guides
May 25th-June 7th
This was the second Birdwatching Breaks birding tour to Siberia with a few changes having been made to the 2012 itinerary. Spring in Siberia was quite late being around 2 weeks later than most normal years, and this had an impact on migrants. However this did result in some interesting sightings including late records of Tundra Bean Geese and Smew and an early Falcated Duck at Irkutsk. Birds of prey fared well with over twenty species being observed including large numbers of Amur Falcons south of Ulan-Ude, White-tailed Eagles and eleven Cinereous Vultures sitting together on the steppe. A male Japanese Sparrowhawk was a surprise find south of Irkutsk. Wader passage highlights included Grey-tailed Tattlers, Eastern Black-tailed Godwit, Red-necked Stint and Swinhoe’s Snipe. Higher numbers of Brown Shrikes were also seen whilst Mongolian Lark numbers appeared to be similar to last year. In the forests warblers were well represented with Thick-billed, Arctic, Pallas’s, Yellow-browed, Dusky and Radde’s. All the regular flycatchers were noted whilst Siberian Rubythroat, Red-flanked Bluetail, White-throated Rock Thrush and Eye-browed Thrushes were seen in mature forest habitats. It was a good year for buntings with Godlewski’s, Pine, Chestnut-eared, Yellow-browed and Pallas’s Reed all being seen well.
May 24th/25th: London, Moscow, Ulan-Ude, Klochnevo Road, Ulan-Ude grasslands.
Weather: Mainly sunny with the odd shower on a northeast wind 20C.
Our various flights left London for Moscow where we met up for the flight east to Ulan-Ude the capital of the Buryat Republic. We arrived on time and met up with Igor and Alexei our guide and driver for the duration. The journey into the city featured a few birds notably Daurian Jackdaw, Oriental Crow and several Pacific Swifts over the city centre. We met up for breakfast and decided to meet at 1030 for an excursion along the road towards Klochnevo. Ulan-Ude was busy in the centre but once we left the city suburbs we entered into a vast habitat of birch and coniferous forest dotted with fast-flowing forest streams. The first birding stop was made by walking up a foresters track by a large billboard. Like so many Siberian breeding birds they are often heard and sometimes trickier to see. Tree Pipit showed well in a bare birch whilst there were local races of Coal Tit and Song Thrush and Taiga Flycatchers sang from hidden perches within the forest. We did eventually have views of migrant Willow Warblers of the yakutensis race, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Eurasian Siskin and at least two beautiful male Daurian Redstarts. In the area we also heard Red-flanked Bluetail, Common and Oriental Cuckoos and Eurasian Nuthatch. On the return walk Yellow-browed Warblers showed well singing from the canopy and both Grey and Baikal Wagtails were together by the stream. Back in the bus again to travel a short distance northwards. The forest here had three Common Swifts over the forest and a calling Mugimaki Flycatcher. We consumed a late lunch before heading back to Ulan-Ude and a visit to an area of grassland and river. Although disturbed by fisherman we located Common Sandpiper, Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Kite and Eurasian Magpie. The time difference was starting to kick in so we called it a day just before 1700 hours.
May 26th: Ulan-Ude, Orongoy, Abramovskoyel, Sulfat, Gusinoozersk.
Weather: Warm and sunny with a strengthening northerly wind, 22C.
After breakfast we loaded up and left Ulan-Ude to travel in an easterly direction to the town of Gusinoozersk which used to have a thriving mining industry but now is rather run down and tired. A short distance beyond the city suburbs we stopped to observe our first Demoiselle Cranes of the tour. Our main birding this morning was a large, shallow and reed-lined lake near the village of Orongoy. The open waters held a wide range of ducks including; Eurasian Wigeon, Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Gadwall, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Garganey, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Smew and the declining and rather localised Asiatic White-winged Scoter. The stands of reeds attracted several pairs of the attractive Eastern Marsh Harrier and singing Eastern Reed Buntings. A walk in the sandy grasslands added Eurasian Skylark and Asian Short-toed Larks, Oriental Rook, Oriental Crow and Daurian Jackdaws. In the immediate area surrounding the lake Northern Lapwing, the eastern race of Eurasian Curlew, Mongolian and Black-headed Gulls and Grey Herons feeding in the greener parts of the extensive reedbeds. We decided to visit the roadside edge of the lake where on arrival we stumbled across a flock of Citrine Wagtails. Careful scanning of the lake revealed several pairs of Great Crested Grebes, Common and White-winged Terns and Black-eared Kites. Paddyfield Warblers were singing from the reeds although we could not locate them. Further down the road we encountered the first Amur Falcons and Eurasian Hobby of the tour as they perched on dead trees or flew fast after flying insects. Next was a roadside lake which often holds interesting species. By the lake thorn scrub and telegraph wires attracted Eurasian Hoopoe, Rustic and Pine Buntings and a male Isabelline Shrike. Lunch today was at another wetland habitat close to Sulfat. The local race of Barn Swallow was flying over the lush meadows. A short walk proved to be productive as Lesser Whitethroat, Brown Shrike and the scarce Yellow-breasted Bunting were seen. The day ended at Gusinoozersk by the power station where we watched displaying Richard’s Pipits and a pair of Isabelline Shrikes in a garden.
May 27th: Gusinoozersk, Selenduma, Beloozersk.
Weather: Overcast and cloudy with a cool northeast wind 10C.
Today we headed westwards into the vast steppe area surrounding the village of Beloozersk. Strong winds made birding tricky in the exposed steppe habitats which feature little cover. Just outside Gusinoozersk we came across the first Hill Pigeons of the tour. In the first section of steppe, the road winds its way through a rather rocky area with grass where we saw the beautiful Mongolian Lark and abundant Isabelline Wheatears. Isolated stands of trees with nesting Eurasian Magpies were attracting Amur Falcons looking for potential nest sites plus migrant Eurasian Hobby. In the more open areas Demoiselle Cranes had started to arrive in good numbers along with Eurasian Hoopoes. The lake at Selenduma was next on the agenda and this provided the group with some great birding. The open waters attracted the commoner ducks and overhead feeding Common and White-winged Terns, Barn Swallow and hundreds of Pacific and Common Swifts. In the distance we could see wading birds so we went a further kilometre to get closer. This proved to be a good move as the group recorded Eastern Bar-tailed Godwit, Little Stint, Little Ringed Plover and a group of Pacific Golden Plovers. On the muddy edges Barn Swallows were resting on the ground with Sand Martins and a few Pale Martins. The road to Beloozersk runs through steppe habitats with very few trees. Luck was with us when we found at least eleven Cinereous Vultures sitting only 100m from the road with a Black-eared Kite and a Steppe Eagle and an immature Golden Eagle flying away from us. We watched this extraordinary spectacle for almost forty minutes before continuing our journey with an Upland Buzzard by the roadside. On entering Beloozersk a rather run down and depopulating place littered with rusting machinery from the old Soviet days we headed to the first lake. In the salt-brush we found Horned and Eurasian Skylarks. On the shoreline Little and Red-necked Stints, Pied Avocet and Common Shelduck. Lunch was taken at an elevated point where several Slavonian Grebes were seen in the middle of the lake. A short visit to the second larger lake produced the commoner ducks plus Garganey, Gadwall and a lone Whooper Swan. The weather started to close in so we started to go back towards Selenduma. This again produced a few different species with Tundra Bean Goose, Lesser Kestrel and Asiatic Scoters in the area. The finale today was a sub-adult Eastern Imperial Eagle near the main road leading south to Mongolia.
May 28th: Gusinoozersk, Tokhoy, Sredniy Ubukun, Abramovskoyel, Orongoy, Ulan-Ude.
Weather: Cool to start with followed by sunny spells on a northwest wind 18C.
The first birding spot today was opposite the hotel in a rather run down park and abandoned football stadium. Overnight winds had produced a small arrival of birds. A walk around the park produced up to 15 Yellow-browed Warblers, Willow Warbler, Asian Brown, Mugimaki and Taiga Flycatchers, Great Tit and on the old football pitch Hill Pigeons. We left Gusinoozersk with its crumbling buildings and abandoned factories for the small village of Tokhoy and its adjacent lake. Parked up near the petrol complex and scanned the lake recording the common ducks, Mongolian and Common Gulls and Common Tern. The walls surrounding the petrol complex attracted Eurasian Hoopoe, Northern and Isabelline Wheatears and a Meadow Bunting. Mid-morning saw us arrive at the old road near Sredniy Ubukun a fine birding spot with a mixture of black poplar, scrub, grassland and rocky slopes. The next few hours produced some exceptional birding as we walked along the relatively traffic free road. In the first section we quickly located Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Common Whitethroat, Common and Long-tailed Rosefinches, Tree Pipit and at least two showy Siberian Rubythroats. Further along the road older trees and scrub attracted Pallas’s Warblers, Pine, Black-faced and the scarce Chestnut-eared Bunting, up to twelve Brown Shrikes and a singing Marsh Tit. Lunch was taken by a track leading to the river where we found nesting Common Sandpipers, Richard’s Pipit and a fly-by Eurasian Sparrowhawk. A migrant Upland Buzzard was also seen. A short stop at Abramovskoyel produced nothing of note so we headed to Orongoy Lake and the village of the same name. The lake again surprised us with close views of an immature White-tailed Eagle preening on the edge of a reedbed (it eventually flew off causing havoc with the wildfowl). On the lake itself a subtle change of birds from a few days ago with three pairs of Black-necked Grebes and a general decrease in duck numbers. Over the lake we witnessed the visible migration of Amur Falcons and White-winged Terns with both species numbering hundreds. I chose to visit the village on the far side of the lake. This proved to be productive for over forty Citrine Wagtails feeding on a recently planted potato patch with a few Eastern Yellow Wagtails. Before heading to Ulan-Ude we heard a Paddyfield Warbler singing from the reeds but it failed to appear.
May 29th: Ulan-Ude, Buyarskiy, Vydrino.
Weather: Sunny with a light westerly wind 17C.
This morning we left Ulan-Ude and travelled north towards Lake Baikal. The usual birds were in and around the city with an increase in the numbers of Pacific Swifts. Our first birding stop was to the north of Ulan-Ude in an area of meadows dotted with trees and bushes next to the Selenga River. We walked along a track where several Siberian Rubythroats were singing from exposed branches. Also present were Black-faced Bunting, Yellowhammer, Common and Long-tailed Rosefinches, Yellow-browed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and Eurasian Siskins. Down by the river we could hear the distinctive drumming of a White-backed Woodpecker. On returning to the bus several Sand Martins and a single Oriental Turtle Dove were added to the day list. A few kilometres along the road another stop was made for an Oriental Honey Buzzard which was being mobbed by two Oriental Crows. The journey towards Lake Baikal was fairly uneventful apart from the huge freight trains using the Trans Siberian Railway system. Lunch was taken at the village of Buyarskiy overlooking Lake Baikal which still had a large area of ice from the last winter season. On Lake Baikal we located Asiatic White-winged Scoter, Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, Mongolian and Common Gulls. In the village we recorded a party of Azure-winged Magpies, Barn Swallow, Tree Pipit, Baikal Wagtail and Brown Shrikes. A couple of stops in woodland near Vydrino was good for Two-barred Greenish, Pallas’s and Yellow-browed Warblers, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Eurasian Nuthatch and Willow Tit. Arrived at our hotel situated deep in the forest an area rich in birdlife.
May 30th: Vydrino, Utulik.
Weather: Rather cloudy and overcast with afternoon showers 13C.
The weather was poor this morning as we awoke to a rather damp atmosphere and cool temperatures. Around the hotel Daurian Redstart, Baikal Wagtail, Eurasian Nuthatch and Two-barred Greenish Warblers. After breakfast we started to walk along the road and forest tracks in search of some of Siberia’s most special birds. The forest was alive with the distinctive and far carrying songs of Rufous-tailed Robins a difficult to see bird at the best of times. Within fifty metres of the hotel car park we heard Black Woodpecker and Siberian Blue Robin and observed Great Spotted Woodpecker, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Willow Tit and Hawfinch. The song of a thrush persuaded us to go off track into the forest and eventually Ryn located an Eye-browed Thrush singing from the top of a conifer, a shy species on its breeding grounds. Back on the main track several Bramblings were seen and heard giving their distinctive songs. We also heard a White's Thrush and had good views of Siberian Rubythroat, Eurasian Bullfinch and Asian Brown Flycatchers. Further down the road Igor located a Yellow-browed Bunting singing from a dead tree trunk a scarce and localised bunting of Eastern Asia. After a lot of searching a Rufous-tailed Robin allowed us prolonged views as it sang from the top of a conifer tree. In the same area we located Dark-sided Flycatcher, Lesser Whitethroat, Arctic and Pallas’s Warblers. In an open area above the forest a pair of Eastern Buzzards and several White-throated Needletails feeding lower down due to weather conditions. Walked back towards the hotel with sightings of; Oriental Honey Buzzard, and on the river Common Sandpiper, Goosander and Grey Wagtails. Lunch was taken and on the road at 1430 hours. I decided to stop just beyond the area of our walk earlier in the day. A male Red-flanked Bluetail was seen in the birch trees and then an unexpected event happened. A male Eurasian Nightjar was flushed from the roadside and proceeded to perch on a horizontal branch around ten metres from the road. This allowed us to have fantastic views of this nocturnal species. It was time to go along the main road to Utulik one of the wettest area around Lake Baikal. A short stop before the village in an area of birch and poplar added the commoner warblers and flycatchers plus our first Olive-backed Pipit of the tour.
May 31st: Utulik, Slyudlanka, Kultuk, Arshan.
Weather: Rather mixed with a variable west wind 14C.
The gardens at Utulik had Great Spotted Woodpecker, Azure-winged and Eurasian Magpies, Baikal Wagtail, Great and Coal Tits. We were soon on the main road with a male Eurasian Bullfinch sitting quietly in a roadside bush. Our next birding stop was an area of woodland next to a fast-flowing river close to Lake Baikal. On arrival the river had several Grey Wagtails, Goosander and Common Sandpipers whilst the scrubby areas attracted Siberian Rubythroat, Two-barred Greenish and Dusky Warblers. A walk into the forest revealed the distinctive songs of the shy Siberian Blue Robin and at least two Hawfinches. The next stop was the marsh at Slyudlanka an important railway town within the Irkutsk region. The air here was full of feeding Pacific Swifts, Barn Swallows and House Martins. A bonus was two Yellow-breasted Buntings singing from bushes a welcome sight of this fast declining species. Kultuk is further along the shore of Lake Baikal and in recent years has had a reputation of attracting interesting species. Today was no exception as Grey-tailed Tattlers were by the quay and a party of five Pallas’s Reed Buntings were feeding on grass seeds by the shore. Also present were a single Whimbrel, Little Ringed Plover and in the lake Red-breasted Merganser, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Common, Black-headed and Mongolian Gulls. We joined the road to Arshan which passes through a vista of snow-capped mountains, meadows, rivers and many Buryat villages. A diversion into one of the villages gave us views of a Black Stork, Black-eared Kites, Eastern Buzzard and two dark phase Booted Eagles. A walk into the trees added Common Redstart, Tree Pipit and a Pine Bunting. The journey to Arshan was made where we have two night accommodation in the shadow of the eastern end of the Altai Mountain chain.
June 1st: Arshan.
Weather: Sunny although cool in the mountains 16C.
After breakfast we made the short journey to the roads end and started to walk alongside the river into the pinewoods of Arshan. Daurian and Common Redstarts, Great and Coal Tits, Common Raven and Pacific Swifts were numerous around the market stalls. A White-throated Dipper performed well for us on the river and a Radde’s Warbler showed briefly before disappearing into cover. A song high above us in the trees drew our attention and it was eventually located and identified as a White-throated Rock Thrush a scarce breeding species of this area of Russia. It was displaced by an Oriental Cuckoo on a dead branch in a tree. Walking through the forest we heard Olive-backed Pipit, Yellow-browed and Pallas’s Warblers, Siberian Blue Robin and observed Willow Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch and a pair of Black-eared Kites. Back towards the village the old poplars held a calling Black Woodpecker whilst we had good views of Dark-sided and Asian Brown Flycatchers. Back to the hotel for lunch and out in the afternoon to visit the Tunka Valley. At 1400 hours we left the main road and joined a track towards the valley. Along the way we located breeding Wood Sandpiper, Eurasian Curlew and hunting Eastern and Upland Buzzards. Disaster struck when our bus got bogged down and we had to wait for a tow out of a sticky patch. In some ways this was a blessing as an elevated position nearby allowed us to watch Greater Spotted Eagles, Hen Harrier, Black Stork, Citrine Wagtail, Siberian Stonechat, Richard’s Pipit and Yellow-breasted Buntings at close range. We decided to return towards the main road and reschedule the Tunka Valley for tomorrow morning. A visit to a lake complex next to a farm added Ruddy Shelducks with ducklings a plenty, Northern Lapwings and at least two nesting pairs of Demoiselle Cranes. A pair of Garganey flew past with a drake Northern Shoveler.
June 2nd: Arshan, Tunka Valley, Kultuk, Irkutsk.
Weather: Sunny and warm with light south winds 24C.
Our last day in Arshan started with a visit to the Tunka Valley an important habitat of isolated stands of trees, lakes and a rather poor sand soil environment dotted with old and decaying birch trees. Familiar birds of Siberia were present with the addition of a calling Eurasian Wryneck which came close to us but did not show. The whole area was affected by fishermen so we decided to return towards the village of Tunka and bird along the road. It was quiet for birds apart from several singing Long-tailed Rosefinches and a Meadow Bunting. We then headed back towards Lake Baikal to visit an area of woodland close to the village of Kultuk. This provided us with good views of a Black Woodpecker, Tree Pipit, Daurian Redstart and overhead Oriental Honey Buzzard, Eastern and Upland Buzzards and numerous Black-eared Kites. A rather disappointing day for birds as many migrants had moved on and few had arrived around the lake and meadows. The road to Irkutsk was busy with traffic our base for the next two days.
June 3rd: Irkutsk.
Weather: Overcast with showers in the morning followed by a sunny day with southeast winds 22C.
Irkutsk is one of the larger cities in Siberia but it does retain several areas which are important to birds within the city limits. In the vicinity of the hotel we observed parties of Pacific Swifts and Baikal Wagtails using the gardens and paths. Our first birding stop was at an intersection of roads and railways which in a way protect the extensive marshes surrounding Irkutsk. A large colony of Black-headed Gulls was present along with Common Terns, Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes, Tufted Duck and Northern Shoveler. Further up the road we stopped to scan another section of lakes with sightings of Northern Lapwing, Common, Wood and Marsh Sandpipers, Garganey, Northern Pintail and a hunting Eurasian Kestrel. A diversion to a village with an elevated position over the extensive marshlands added Common Rosefinch, Yellow-breasted Bunting and a singing Common Snipe. Next on the agenda was a park which Igor knew well with a habitat of old trees, grasses and shrubs. On arrival we located the local race of Common Starling whilst the mature trees held Two-barred Greenish Warblers and a singing Tree Pipit. A short distance away larger trees attracted Great Spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Wryneck and Siberian Chiffchaff the latter being located by Bill high in an old poplar tree. A slow walk around the park added Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Whitethroat and good views of the shy and skulking Radde’s Warbler. On the return to the centre of Irkutsk another stop at an area of marshes with sightings of Little Ringed Plover, Siberian Stonechat and the eastern race of Reed Bunting. Lunch was taken at the hotel at 1300 hours and back out again one hour later. Our main objective was to visit a sector of lakes adjacent to several railway lines. This proved productive as several Garganeys were noted along with Eastern Marsh Harrier, Eastern Buzzard, Eurasian Hobby, Common Greenshank and Bluethroats singing from dead trees within the marsh. The furthest marshes were also good for the commoner ducks including a fine male Falcated Duck. In the bushes surrounding the lake we found a singing Thick-billed Warbler which eventually gave good views.
June 4th: Irkutsk, Ushakovka River, Bolshoy Golousnoe.
Weather: Early rain giving way to a fine sunny day with light southeast winds 19C.
Irkutsk looked drab and dreary in the morning rain. We headed out of the city in an easterly direction and then south towards Lake Baikal. Our first stop was by the Ushakovka River where we watched at least two pairs of Swinhoe’s Snipe in display flight. In the surrounding shrubbery we could hear the distinctive song of a Lanceolated Warbler but it remained elusive. Further along the road we stopped to walk along a track towards the river. Roadside trees held Common and Oriental Cuckoos, Redwing, Tree Pipit, Brown Shrike and a singing Yellowhammer. As we approached the river tall pines appeared to be a magnet for birds. Rufous-tailed Robin, Oriental Turtle Dove, Song Thrush, both cuckoo species and Azure-winged Magpie were noted. By the river we could hear the beautiful song of a Siberian Blue Robin which remained hidden from view. The journey continued towards Lake Baikal where we turned off to explore an area of pines with a shrubby understory. Disaster struck as Igor sprained his ankle on a stone and needed treatment for what appeared a nasty strain. Returned to where we could pick up a phone signal and called for assistance from Irkutsk which duly arrived in a short time. Whilst we were waiting a pair of Oriental Honey Buzzards flew past being mobbed by Oriental Crows. The bushes by the bus stop attracted Two-barred Greenish Warblers, Common Rosefinch and a Black-faced Bunting singing from a telegraph wire. Our journey to Bolshoy Golousnoe continued with a couple of stops in the adjacent forest. The second of these produced a male Hazel Grouse flushed from his perch on a lone pine plus Baikal and Grey Wagtails and the distinctive calls of an unknown falcon. In a more open area Golden Eagles were noted. Arrived in Bolshoy Golousnoe a remote village on the shores of Lake Baikal where accommodation and services are limited. The guesthouse gardens had Daurian Redstarts and Daurian Jackdaws.
June 5th: Bolshoy Golousnoe.
Weather: Rather cool in the morning followed by sunny spells 8-19C.
Overnight thunderstorms and rain had cleared by breakfast time although the temperature was low for early June. In and around the guesthouse gardens were Barn Swallow, Baikal Wagtail and Northern Wheatear. The first birding stop was by the new church which overlooks Lake Baikal. Very few birds present on the lake apart from a Mongolian Gull. At the end of the road a short walk produced Pallas’s and Two-barred Greenish Warblers, Siberian Chiffchaff, Azure-winged Magpie and a flock of Common Crossbills. The weather was feeling distinctly cool as the harbour was visited and the adjacent steppe habitat. A Peregrine Falcon showed perched on a low log. Other species present included Black Stork, displaying Common Snipe, Little Ringed Plover and Ruddy Shelducks. A short stop at the guesthouse was followed by a walk to the river. The bushes here had Dusky Warbler, Common Rosefinch, Yellow-breasted Bunting and Yellowhammer. On the river we located Goosander, Common Sandpiper and Grey Wagtail. Overhead an adult Great Spotted Eagle was circling looking for prey. After an enjoyable lunch a visit to another steppe area which had large numbers of Isabelline Wheatears, Eurasian Skylarks. At the end of the track a look into Lake Baikal revealed several Asiatic White-winged Scoters, Red-breasted Merganser, Common Goldeneye, Mallard and Common Tern. Returned to the main road and made a diversion down a grass track towards cliffs and pinewoods. This had two unexpected birds for us in the form of a showy Japanese Sparrowhawk and a male Godlewski’s Bunting located by Bill singing from the top of a dead snag. On the cliffs another Peregrine Falcon was seen and a Eurasian Sparrowhawk flew past. The last stop of the day was down another track towards the river where we located Lesser Whitethroats, Great Tit, Common Sandpiper and a displaying Golden Eagle.
June 6th: Bolshoy Golousnoe, Irkutsk.
Final species total: 169.
Weather: Rain and mist followed by sunny spells 5-14C.
Our last day in Siberia started with heavy rain and thunderstorms. We packed up and headed back to Irkutsk stopping a couple of times along the road. The best was a side road leading to a small village where we had excellent views of two Thick-billed Warblers, Lesser Whitethroat, Siberian Chiffchaff, Siberian Rubythroat, Great Spotted Woodpecker and the more numerous leaf warblers. The weather worsened again as the road gained height into the thick forest areas. The conditions made birding almost impossible so we pressed onto Irkutsk to check-in and have our picnic lunch in the hope of improving weather. At 1430 hours we set off again to an area of marshes with weak summer sunshine starting to filter through. Arrived at the marsh where we heard at least two Lanceolated Warblers but with a lot of searching they could not be located. Also present were Corn Crake, Siberian Stonechat, Black Woodpecker and Black-faced Bunting. Returned to the city after a visit to a seasonal grassland and marsh only to find it flooded from the previous night’s rain.