As I said the first few days lashed rain and the wind felt cold. But on Wednesday the sun shone, the wind dropped and the temperature warmed up to around 18oC. I paid a return visit to the Lielupe area and it was like a different place. In the space of a couple of hours I had two male Red-backed Shrikes and one female, a stunningly fine looking male Barred Warbler, three singing Icterine Warblers, a Marsh Warbler, several Common Rosefinches, a briefly reel from a Savi's Warbler and a Thrush Nightingale. I didn't have much luck photographing the Barred Warbler, which was one I really wanted to snap, but one of the male Red-backed Shrikes was a little less shy.
|Male Red-backed Shrike, Leilupe, Dzintari, Jurmala, Latvia|
Anyway, all of that put a spring in my step and with me due to depart on Thursday morning for three days at the famous Kolka Cape, I was beginning to think I had timed my arrival there just right.
So, Thursday morning off I set, going via Kemeru rather than up the coast road P131. The idea of this being to try and stop off at some nice meadow spots for Corncrake and forest areas for Woodpeckers. This route brought me along some fairly rough dirt-tracks where dust and sharp stones were aplenty. But I took it easy and enjoyed regular stops along the way to look at White Storks, Common Cranes and Whinchats in the fields on either side.
|Whinchat on oilseed rape|
|Whinchat - common bird in the summer in Latvia but still little crackers!!|
|The offending article|
|My car at Roja in the best garage in the world!|
To try and salvage something from the week I decided to try and get some shots of the singing Barred Warbler at Lielupe. Previously I've only seen females or juveniles - never seen a male and they are stunning birds. Remarkably melodic and easy to confuse the song with Garden Warbler. The male was singing in the open thankfully and with a little patience I managed some shots.
|Male Barred Warbler, Lielupe, Dzintari, Latvia|
Meanwhile back at the house, an Icterine Warbler sang for one day from deep cover at the back of the garden. The male Redstart had an open battle with a male Pied Flycatcher for who got the new nest box that the neighbours had put up. I wanted a couple of shots of the female Redstart who interestingly showed some male plumage characteristics, i.e. off-white band across the forehead (not quite the snowy-white one the males have), some dark feathers to the face and grey / blue crown and mantle.
|Female Common Redstart with some male plumage features|
|And her partner|
|Female Redstart - photographed in 2012 - same bird? Who knows??|