Yesterday was our 2nd wedding anniversary so we had a bit of a celebration last night. Little bit of a sore head today which was a pity really as the weather was really nice. Around 5pm I mustered up enough energy to check the woods for the Greenish but no sign. A spin into Riga that evening provided a soaring Common Buzzard by the motorway with a roding Woodcock over the forest on the way home (another Latvian tick).
Thursday 14th June
A (or 'the') Greenish Warbler was singing from the top of one of the spruce trees in the garden. Sadly it stayed high up there so no possibility of a photo.
Polina and I headed up to river before lunch where the Great Reed Warbler remained on view still singing away confidently.
A soaring Honey Buzzard treated us to some nice views, another Latvian tick also.
|Adult male Honey Buzzard, Lielupe river, Latvia - June 2012|
On Friday the male Common Redstart appeared in the garden once again. For the last week he had been in absentia so it was good to know he was still around. Last year in July I saw several females and juveniles in the area but only saw a male once. They seem to become very elusive later in the season.
Saturday 16th June
The second last day here sadly. The male and female Common Redstarts both made short appearances on the garden fence but as usual the male evaded my attempts to photograph him.
Over at the local post-office a female Black Redstart scolded one of the local cats which was clearly sunning himself too closely to its nest or young. Back at the garden a family party of Jays made plenty of noise all afternoon.
|Jay, Jurmala, Latvia, June 2012|
|Back garden tick - Greenish Warbler, Jurmala, Latvia - June 2012|
The last day. I really only had time to check the local woods but it'll be a while before I see or hear any Wood Warblers, Pied Flys or Common Redstarts again so I was determined to have one last look.
The Great Spotted Woodpeckers appear to have 3 fledglings and were busy ferrying food back and forth. Time ran out very quickly and I returned sadly back to house to start packing. Just as I came around the corner the male Common Redstart hopped up on the fence in front of me. He was still quite distant and the light was side-on but he gave me a couple of second before dropping down on the other side of the fence and disappearing. I guess his wariness and elusiveness is part of the reason why he survives so good luck to him. In the end this was the best shot I could manage, maybe next year I'll bring a pop-up hide.
|Male Common Redstart|
As we were leaving a Greenish Warbler sang from the neighbours garden.........a farewell song I suppose.
So that gives you a flavour at least of birding in Latvia. This year all our birding was local patch. Last year we hired a guide for 3 days and visited Kemeri National Park not far from Riga and then took 2 days over in the eastern part of the country visiting sites such as Lake Lubans and Nagli Fish Ponds. The highlights then included singing Bluethroats, Marsh Sandpiper, Black Stork, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Roller and Blyth's Reed Warbler to name just a few.
I would highly recommend Latvia as a birding destination. There are regular flights with Ryanair and Air Baltic from Dublin to Riga as well as from many UK airports. The infrastructure is good and if you need a guide you can go the birding Latvia website Latvian Birding and send them an email. Last year we birded with Karlis Millars and I would recommend him, a very competent birder with detailed knowledge of where to find specific birds in Latvia (he's also Latvia's top lister). In fact if you check out that website on a regular basis then you will get a flavour for the sort of birds you can expect to see at any time of the year in Latvia. Although obviously winter is probably not the best time to travel there because the cold can be severe.
Finally here is selection of some of the images I took while there in July of last year - some of them record shots but just to give you an idea of what we saw.
|Marsh Harrier - Latvia July 2011|
|(white-spotted) Bluethroat - Nagli Fish Ponds, Latvia, July 2011|
|Whinchat - fairly common throughout|
|Barred Warbler, Nagli Fish Ponds, Latvia, July 2011|
|Blue-headed Wagtail - Nagli Fish Ponds - July 2011|
|European Roller, Latvia, July 2011|
|Common Cranes, Latvia July 2011|
|Displaying White Stork|
|White-winged Black Tern - Lubans Lake - July 2011|
|Fledgling Common Redstart, Jurmala, Latvia, July 2011|
|Temminck's Stint - Latvia, July 2011|
|White Wagtail, Jumala, Latvia, July 2011|