LATVIA

AND

LITHUANIA

 ALBUM

 

Pygmy Owl - singing for our 2017 group in a Lithuanian forest

 

As we watched a Nutcracker, this  Black Woodpecker flew by to a nest hole.

 

Prior to the group arriving, I took a few days to join my friend Gaidis and set up a hide in a remote part of the country where we could enjoy watching Black Grouse and

Great Snipe lekking. This had taken lots of advance planning and some last minute tweaking to ensure no disturbance to the birds and their site.

Our group saw several Black Grouse, Capercaillie and Hazel Grouse during their trip, but the Great Snipe site was not part of their tour.

We see Great Snipe during our Estonia and Belarus Tours.

The tips of this grouse's tail  is frozen as the males roost at the lek site and a hard frost had covered the feathers in ice.

 

A Goshawk took a pigeon as I watched it in Riga.

 

 

This Great Snipe stretched its legs and began singing on tip-toes

 

Bird of the trip, for some of our 2017 group.

Our thanks go to Laura, Karlis and Gaidis, our partners at Baltic Wildlife for their help in making this a super trip.

We shall return in 2018.

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all photos by Phil Palmer

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This video shows Pygmy Owls and Ural Owl taken during our 2016 tour, as well as White-backed Woodpecker and Grey-headed Woodpecker chick in our hotel garden!

There is also a clip of a Red-breasted Goose that we found among Barnacle Geese in 2015.

You can gauge the size of the Pygmy Owl, by looking at the Blackbird, while the first shot of the Ural Owl has some heat-haze as it was a really hot day.....enjoy!

 

Below are photos from the 2016 tour in May

Firecrest

Adder

Firecrest

 

Three-toed Woodpecker

Common Crane

 

Red-breasted Flycatcher- the first of the spring

We have so far found a Pallid Harrier on every trip.

 

A large number of Jays were wanting to cross the sea & would head out to sea only to return.

 

A Monty's flew out to sea harassed by gulls until out of sight.

This Wryneck played hide-and-seek behind a fence, periodically sticking its tongue out!

Rough-legged Buzzards were a feature of the 2016 tour, at times there were 5 together in the air.

 

Capercallie is not an easy bird to get, but we are seeing more these days. They are used to cars and dust-bathe by the road.

storks nest on many roofs

 

Common Cranes nest in boggy areas, so we can come across them while driving through this habitat

Citrine Wagtail has been seen on every trip, this time a female was on the beach with White Wagtails ready to go north

Divers come at us from every angle as they fly out of Riga Bay. The best views are as they come over the forest and over our heads

Bluethroats are always exciting, but hard work to see well.

 

 

Camberwell Beauty

Lesser Spotted Eagle is a common breeder

Nutcracker is always hard to see in spring, but we found several this year

Grey-headed Woodpecker above our picnic site!

one of Latvias many palaces

Ural  Owl is common in Lithuania, this one was nesting at eye level. They always use natural holes as they have not taken to boxes here

 

White-backed Woodpecker

Black Woodpecker

 

not sure who is biggest - Blackbird or Pygmy Owl!!!

Black Woodpecker

 

Bearded Tit

Thousands of bean, Barnacle and Whitefronted Geese pause on migration

 

 

a thousand Ruff jousted in one marsh that we visited

we found the first Temminck's Stints of the spring - these three were in a small flock

Red-breasted Flycatcher

 

 

Middle Spotted Woodpecker

cranes

Black Stork is getting more numerous on our trips. This one soared over a meadow where wolves had been heard the previous night

Pygmy owl

 

 

nite nite!!!!

see you in 2017

 

 

 

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The photos below were taken during our 2015 tour......... We cant wait to go back in 2016.

 

 

Black Woodpecker

 

Bluethroat

 

Bluethroat

 

 

Ural Owl

Grey-headed Woodpecker and Three-toed Woodpecker

 

 

Red Squirrel is common here

 

Thousands of Barnacle, White-fronted and Bean Geese with one Red-breasted Goose (spot it if you can!!!)

 

 

Penduline Tit

 

 

Black Woodpecker & below a Goldeneye nesting in an old Black Woodpecker nest!

 

 

White-backed Woodpeckers

 

 

Hundreds of Tundra Bean Geese were present

 

 

Temminck's Stint

 

this female Capercaillie fanned her tail to fend off an attacking buzzard. We saw 4 Capers and 4 Hazel Grouse on this trip

 

migrating cranes

 

 

Camberwell Beauty

 

a migrating Ring Ouzel was a rare bird here. This one was digging through moss for insects

 

 

 

 

 

Whooper Swan and Common Cranes share the same nesting habitat

 

thousands of Long-tailed Duck and scoters pass Kolka in one day!!!

 

Hawfinch

 

Wryneck

cranes breed in good numbers

 

Grey-headed Woodpecker

 

Lesser Spotted Eagle

 

Corncrake

 

Roller

 

 

Pygmy Owl

 

shuttlecock fern in Lithuania

 

we took lunch in a Lithuanian castle

 

Grey-headed Woodpecker

 

Baltic Seal

 

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2014

the photos below were taken during our 2014 Tour. It was extremely well received  by clients who raved about seeing four species of woodpecker in the garden of our hotel. Pied Flycatchers and Redstarts were in the garden too and wonderful woodland walks allowed quiet moments with Kingfishers, Crested Tits and clutches of baby Goosanders.

At Cape Kolka, one of the first birds we saw was a fine male Pallid Harrier. Masses of birds headed out to sea over our heads and out to sea on migration: Golden Orioles, Crossbills, Wood Larks, Cranes, thousands of finches and buntings, raptors included Montagu's, Hen and Marsh Harriers, Lesser Spotted Eagles,  even Black-throated Divers came low over the woods past us, then there were skuas and Caspian Terns, and oooer, just loads of stuff. It was just so exciting.

We even went into Lithuania to see Ural Owls and Red-breasted Flycatchers......... We cant wait to go back in 2015.

 

 

Three-toed Woodpeckers were fighting right by our group

 

 

Black-throated Divers just cleared the treetops flying out to sea over our heads

 

Few Blyth's Reed Warblers rarely show this well but migrants at Kolka have few places to hide.

 

Temminck's Stints are the same size as wagtails !

 

masses  of  scoters and Long-tailed Duck swirl around Kolka Bay

Pallid Harrier was the first of four species of harrier to cross the strait on day one at Kolka

 

 

Pied Flycatcher is a garden bird here

we loved being the only birders in the area and greeted our resident cranes by the hotel each day

Crested Tit a common bird of the coastal dunes

 

a trip to Lithuania allows us to enter private woods in search of Ural Owls, this is Dad....

 

and  these were the offspring we found at the top of a broken pine nearby

 

Latvia and Lithuania

 

coastal dunes at Cape Kolka

Grey-headed Woodpecker

 

this Middle Spotted Woodpecker was by our hotel 

Ortolan is a rare bird in the Baltic these days but one-or-two still  breed

Temminck's Stint resting on the Baltic shore

Whooper Swans nest on old beaver lodges

a Latvian castle

locally baked carrot pies at a picnic lunch spot by the sea, with rosefinches calling behind us

 

part of a flock of 12 Common Sandpipers resting on the beach

 

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Below are our  2013 reccee trip pictures

Latvia is a country where there are still good populations of Capercaillie and Corncrake. In 2013, I visited to do some birding and make arrangements for a tour there in 2014. I was made very welcome by the birders there and enjoyed some superb birding. The forests were excellent and a good range of woodpeckers were quickly seen in Kemeri National Park. While Cape Kolka offered the best visible migration I have encountered in spring. So I am looking forward to seeing my new friends there again in 2015......Phil

 

 

 

Common Rosefinches had just started to arrive at Cape Kolka and were singing in apple trees.

 

European Beaver was common and I saw several, including one sat out of the water deep inside a forest.

 

 

Marsh Marigolds were in every flooded forest we visited

 

 

this Pied Flycatcher was in our hotel garden and after Wood Warbler, these were the most numerous bird in the forest

 

the 'spotted' eagles are a nightmare to separate and this should be a Lesser Spotted as Greater Spotted do not breed in Latvia. However, it does seem to have a wing formula similar to Greater Spotted. But there are many hybrids in neighbouring Estonia, so the jury is open here.

 

Temminck's Stints were common in fish ponds and on the coast

 

this Penduline Tit was gathering nest material

there are a number of Rollers breeding near Riga

 

at Cape Kolka, hundreds of wagtails were migrating. This is part of one flock of 700 Grey-headed Wagtails that were resting on rocks in the Baltic Sea

 

a male Citrine Wagtail was with them

 

Blue-headed Wagtail is a common breeder in Latvia

 

Hares were in many fields

 

Whooper Swan nests in the abandoned fish ponds and also near beaver lodges

 

 

the Nordic race of Jackdaw could be found in every village

 

Riga is full of old churches

 

I counted 12 White-tailed Eagles at one fish pond

 

this wild boar really made me jump. I was silently looking for Ural Owl, when I stumbled across it.

 

Common Cranes were really common!

 

told you !

 

 

Garganey were in the ditches at flood lands near Riga

 

Tundra Bean Geese fed with cranes, Barnacles and the odd Pink-footed near Riga

 

at Cape Kolka, a group of migrating cranes joined the thermal of raptors gaining height before crossing the Baltic

 

 

this Lesser Spotted Eagle was feeding on frogs when a crane walked up to it & stabbed at it !

 

 

 

 

a pair of lesser Spotted Eagles - common birds in areas of damp meadows in Latvia

 

 

our guide in Latvia sent this photo of a bird he found this spring

 

he found a Ural Owl tail sticking out of a tree stump - this was an incubating bird. There can be many birds nesting in this forest and we can visit him if he has some obliging individuals.

 

now I would really like to show my next group in 2015 a caper as smart as this!

Phil

 

Please note: The above photographs were taken on previous trips. Itineraries change from time to time and therefore you cannot rely on these photographs as being an exact representation of what can be expected on a future tour. For details of the each tour, you should refer to the brochure write-up.

 

click here for details of our next tour to this destination

 

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