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
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
the photos below were taken in 2013
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 ......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!
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