Return to Odessa and London

Thursday, May 17, 2012: We started the day with a boat trip around the Dniepr marshes, as we did on the 10th. However, this time I could tell that many of the birds calling from the marsh were Great Reed-Warblers. Some were not, and a vaguely yellowthroatish call turned out to be Bearded Reedling. We got looks at these both coming and going. Our attention turned to a another call, Savi's Warbler. Paul played the tape, and one was soon in view.

We continued our boat ride, hoping for a Little Grebe or perhaps a Reed Warbler. At some point I saw a Little Bittern fly briefly over the marsh before dropping into the reeds. The size and distinctive wing patches left no doubt about its identity. Further on, a Eurasian Hobby flew by. We then came through a little cut with a couple of Common Moorhens to the left (now split from our own similar Common Gallinule). Eventually, it was time to return to the hotel for breakfast.

After breakfast, we hit the road. We dropped Tracey and her daughter off in Kherson, then headed for Odessa. Various birds were visible from the road. The most interesting was a White-tailed Eagle that the other John spotted. Although I got a look at the bird going away, I could not positively identify it except as an eagle, and it does not go on the list.

We stopped at Tyligul Liman again. The birds present had changed a bit, a sign of ongoing migration. There were several Little Gulls around, which was new. We had a short lunch including caviar and Ukranian champagne before continuing to the airport. I noticed that our driver Ruslan had apple juice in his glass.

We got to the airport in plenty of time to catch our flight to London. Paul and Natasha were also keeping tabs on the incoming flight for their next group. They sent someone to collect them while staying with us until we went through security.

There was a lengthy layover at Vienna, but no delay coming in to Heathrow. I caught the Heathrow Express into Paddington Station. I just missed one train, and it was a 15 minute wait for the next, then 15 minutes to Paddington. Since it was dark, I couldn't see much on the way. Since I had luggage with me, I took a cab to the hotel, although I could also have taken a short tube ride or walked.

I saw or heard 50 species today, 5 of them new for the trip, including 3 lifers. That brings my trip total to 180, including 108 lifers. This completes the Ukranian portion of the trip. All except two of the birds I saw earlier around Heathrow turned up in the Ukraine, so my final Ukrainian total is 178 species.

Hilton London Metropole, London, England