Thursday, 1 August 2013

Back in the Baltics

I'm in Latvia for a few weeks. Always a good birding location as you can see from some of last year's blog posts Birding in Latvia.
This time its a little bit late in the summer for anything to be singing or showing well, last year I was here in early June and enjoyed great views of singing Wood Warblers, Greenish Warblers, RB Flys, Great Reed Warblers and lots of other stuff.
The Wood Warblers, Pied Flys and Common Redstarts that frequent the back garden and local woods are still here but are lying low and its usually only recently fledged juveniles that are giving any sort of views.
For the last three days Polina and I took a overnight ferry to Stockholm from Riga. I had hoped for a little more action once out in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Latvia but it was pretty quiet. Coming through the many small islands into Stockholm things picked up a bit as I enjoyed close views of the many Baltic Gulls (fuscus race of Lesser-Black Backed Gull), Kittiwakes, a small group of Barnacle Geese and a distant White-tailed Sea Eagle.

'Baltic' Gull - Stockholm to Riga ferry - 31st July 2013

We came back into Riga today and I decided to take a stroll around the small area of meadow which forms a little nature reserve at the Lielupe River near Jurmala. Its only a ten minute walk away but can be a real gem.
This afternoon didn't disappoint. Several Great Reed Warblers were visible briefly darting from one reed bed to another. A Garden Warbler put in a brief show too. Usually I see and hear plenty of Common Rosefinch and Marsh Warblers in this area but they all seemed to have moved on. I had a female Pied Flycatcher in a small orchard hunting insects off a low branch as an Icterine Warbler called from further in. I had done a full circuit of one of the pathways before coming across a family party of Red-backed Shrikes. Two years ago in mid July I also had a family of RB Shrikes but in 2012 none.

Juvenile Red-backed Shrike, Lieplupe River, Jurmala, Latvia - 1st August 2013

Chomping on a tasty bug!
So it was good to see they had returned and bred successfully. I spent a while trying for decent shots without great success but did manage to see a Wryneck briefly while I watched the Shrikes. Here is the epitome of a record shot!

Wryneck -  Lieplupe River, Jurmala, Latvia - 1st August 2013
With both juvenile RB Shrikes and Wrynecks in the one bush - it felt like Central Bog on Cape Clear Island in October!
It looks also that Great White Egrets have bred in this area, I don't recall ever having seen them here. One treated me to a very nice fly-by at one stage.

Great White Egret - Lieplupe River, Jurmala, Latvia - 1st August 2013

Time had run out on me and I needed to make my way back. But it was a hard place to leave. Between there and the house, I had a Lesser Whitethroat, two Black Redstarts, a male Common Redstart and several Spotted Flycatchers.

Spotted Flycatcher - Dzintari, Jurmala, Latvia - 1st August 2013

I'll more than likely head back up to the Lielupe river in the next few days and try for some nicer Shrike shots.
Meanwhile I have a plan to go birding with Karlis Millers next week where we will head as far as Kolka Cape and then down the coast towards Ventspils and Liepaya looking for passage waders and who knows what else!


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  2. Nice post Graham. I hope all is well.

  3. All good Mark. Congrats btw on becoming a European Patent Attorney - sounds v. impressive!