|Beach at Jurmala, Latvia, June 2012|
Jurmala is a beach resort which in Soviet times was a favoured destination for many high ranking Communist party officals including Nikita Khruschev and Leonid Brezhnev. The neighbourhood consists of plenty of old style houses with mature gardens and plenty of native forest, mainly spruce but with an under-story of oak, beech and birch. So perfect for many woodland species.
|Local woods about 50 meters from the house - great for woodland species|
About 500 meters from the house was a small nature reserve along the banks of the Lielupe river. Mainly a place for walking and fishing but plenty of good birds to be seen and heard there too.
|Nature reserve at Lielupe river|
Birding is not big in Latvia, hunting and fishing are the main outdoor pursuits. I never met anyone else birding while I was there and clearly drew some odd looks from locals as I strolled around with bins and camera. As I said there were a lot of mature gardens in the neighbourhood and one of the nicest and juiciest looking was that of the Russian embassy, however I thought better about pointing a big camoflage covered lens into that garden!! In any case Polina's mum's back garden had more than enough gems to occupy me.
|Some shots of the back garden|
Saturday 2nd June
Arrived at 6am to Riga airport. The weather was cold and wet! While waiting to be picked up I spied a distant falcon being mobbed by several Hoodies which turned out to the the one and only Kestrel I have ever seen in Latvia.
I grabbed some sleep after the flight and that evening ventured out to the local woods but the weather was still cold and wet, the woods were very quiet but at least there was a female Common Redstart in the garden. Hopefully there was a male around somewhere!
Sunday 3rd June
The weather had picked up a bit. The garden across the road had a singing Common Whitethroat which stayed around for 3 days and also a female Whinchat briefly. Not bad garden birds!
|Common Whitethroat - sang for 3 days before moving on.|
|I burn the meat while P listens to the Icky singing|
Back into the city centre again. Plenty of Common Swifts and quite a few Tree Sparrows in the local parks.
|Tree Sparrow - plentiful|
|Great Reed Warbler - Lielupe river, Latvia, June 2012|
Singing Great Reed Warbler movie clip
Tuesday 5th June
We took a very brief drive to the Kemeri National Park about 44 kilometers from Riga. At a spot we'd been to last year we had singing Icterine Warbler (which showed briefly but otherwise they seem to sing from deep cover).
|Icterine Warbler, Kemeri National Park, Latvia, June 2012|
|Marsh Warbler, Kemeri National Park, Latvia, June 2012|
There were plenty of Common Whitethroat around here too, interestingly in July 2011 I saw none and quite a few Lesser 'throats. This time in early June it was the opposite way around, I saw no Lesser 'throats at all!
|Common Whitethroat, Kemeri Nationa Park, Latvia, June 2012|
|Bike rental, Jurmala, Latvia, June 2012|
More in part 2................