Friday, 22 June 2012

Birding in Latvia - Part 2

Wednesday 6th June

P had work to do so I was told to "P.... off" birding for the day! Well, I didn't need to be told twice so off I set.
Starting first at the Lielupe river there were plenty of warblers in song. Marsh, Sedge and Reeds were all singing as well as the Great Reed Warbler. The Icterines continued to sing from cover while a single Willow Warbler sang from the top of a small spruce. Over on the other side of the river I could hear a Cuckoo singing, my first one of the year. I was reminded of the little poem my Dad says about Cuckoos;

The Cuckoo comes in April
He sings a song in May
In the middle of June he whistles a tune
And July he flies away

Not quite Chaucer but I like it very much!

A Common Tern did a few circuits down the river bank and a male Marsh Harrier quartered the reeds briefly.
The weather was picking up and there were plenty of singing Common Rosefinch around also that morning.

Common Rosefinch, Lielupe river, Jurmala, Latvia, June 2012
Singing Common Rosefinch movie clip

I stopped to try and get some shots of a Marsh Warbler and noticed a Penduline Tit building its hanging nest above my head.
Next stop was to a local park about 3 kilometers away. Last year I birded here a few times and the highlight was a very nice Wryneck which I found there one evening. No sign of it this time but here's some shots from back then in any case.

Wryneck, Jurmala, Latvia, July 2011
Strolling around the woods on the edge of the park I noticed a Pied Flycatcher flitting around in the oaks.

Pied Flycatcher, Jurmala, Latvia, June 2012

I spent a little while watching him as he sang. After a short while he got interested in the sound of the camera shutter and came over to check me out.

Canon or Nikon mate???

He also decided then to show me how well he could sing, although like me he was getting distracted by mosquito bites and stopped once or twice for a good scratch.

Singing Pied Flycatcher, Jurmala, Latvia, June 2012

I suspect he is a first summer male Pied Fly. My reasons for thinking this are two-fold. Firstly, the black parts of his plumage were still somewhat brownish. Secondly, his song was still slightly under-developed. Another male Pied Fly was singing nearby with much blacker looking plumage and a far sweeter and more 'crystallised' sounding song (to my ear).

On the way home I stopped at the local woods. The Wood Warblers had finally arrived and I could hear 2 males in song. Moving towards one of them my eye was caught by a small bird moving around in the bracken. I got onto it and couldn't identify it straight away. Female Pied Fly maybe, but not quite. It flicked its tail revealing a Wheatear like pattern........female Red-breasted Flycatcher. I was trying for a shot when a darn Robin obstructed my line.........hang on, that's no Robin, male Red-breasted Flycatcher!! I have seen RB Flys on Mizen Head, Cape Clear, Knockadoon Head and Bulgaria. But they have all been 1st winter birds, never seen a male. I got one shot and realised that they were busy going in and out of a tree stump with food so I left them to it.

Male Red-breasted Flycatcher - Jurmala, Latvia, June 2012
A pair of Pied Flys also had a nest in a tree hole about 10 meters away. They were still busy feeding young up to the last day I was in Latvia so hopefully by now they're fledged.

I arrived back at the house around 3pm and spent the remaining few hours of good light trying to get a nice shot of the male Common Redstart which had appeared along with his female companion earlier in the week. I set up in the back garden, however it turned out to be far harder than I thought to get a shot of one of these. This male was very, very wary of me and I never got the pic I hoped for despite many hours trying. I guess I should have used a hide. The female was a little bit less shy and sat up on wall opposite for one brief moment.

Female Common Redstart, Jurmala, Latvia, June 2012

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