Saturday, 23 June 2012

Birding in Latvia - Part 4

Saturday 9th June

Today I decided to try and get a decent shot of the male Common Redstart. I had worked out his circuit and knew that every 2-3 hours he'd pop up on the fence in the back garden. All I needed to do was have the camera and gear set up and ready and just wait. Seems simple right?.........wrong! He appeared twice in about 4 hours. The first time as soon as I moved he vanished. Then 2 hours later he was back, this time he allowed me get my finger onto the shutter button, press the auto-focus and then he vanished!
The female was a little bit more confident but still wary nonetheless. While I waited though I noticed a bird of prey flying towards me from a distance off. Mobbed by crows it looked like a Sparrowhawk. However as it got closer it appeared to dwarf the crows it was with, as it flew right over the garden I could see it was a Northern Goshawk. A fine garden tick!
A pair of Crested Tits also put in a brief appearance but they preferred to remain high up in the pines.
A pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers have a nest in the garden opposite and remained busy feeding noisy youngsters all day. I guess going in and out of a tree hole all day for several weeks doesn't do the plumage much good, this one looks especially tatty!

Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jurmala, Latvia, June 2012

Monday 11th June

Poured rain for most of the day. Driving into Riga I picked up a male Northern Wheatear (Latvian tick) and Yellowhammer by the roadside.
The rain cleared around evening time and I set out to the local  woods to check on the RB Flys. The female was still around the nest but no sign of the male. Several more Spotted and Pied Flys around and Wood Warblers are still in song. I had the female Common Redstart briefly and the GSWs are working hard to feed their young. There was also a couple of Siskins singing, not a song I've heard much before and Hobby passed over chased by some Swifts.

Tuesday 12th June

Back to the woods for a couple of hours. The rain had cleared up and it was a very pleasant day with temperatures of about 24-26 degrees. However the female RB Fly was nowhere to be seen around the nest. I suspect the rain yesterday may have had something to do with that sadly. The Pied Flys are still feeding though as were the GSWs. I wandered around the woods in a bit of a circle without seeing anything other than Chaffinches and Robins. Fed up with the mosquitos I decided to make my way back to the house. Just on the edge of the woods I picked up a small bird singing high up in the one of the beech trees. Not a song I recognised so interesting straight away. The song seemed to be more of a jumble of calls rather than a song and while the song was being delivered from the same spot for about 5 minutes, looking up into the top of the trees against the light it was very hard to locate the bird. However eventually I did and to my surprise the songster was a small Greenish Warbler! I've seen Greenish Warblers on Cape Clear and Mizen Head but never heard one sing. It's not the most melodic of songs but distinctive in its own sense. I have put this short movie clip on Youtube so you can hear the song, the bird is not very easy to see in the movie but gives its song from 0:9 seconds to 0.15 seconds in this short clip.

Song of Greenish Warbler - movie clip

I tried for a shot of the bird but it was so high up in the tree and against the light this effort is the best I could manage.

Greenish Warbler - Jurmala, Latvia, June 2012
Delighted with my little find I headed home for a cold beer and some anti-histamine ointment for my mosquito bites!

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