Day Four 10th March 2016
Grey Headed Woodpecker near the Hotel.
Day four started of with some superb views of two Grey Headed Woodpeckers near the hotel, they stayed mainly high up in the canopy .
Grey Headed Woodpecker .
The plan today was to look for Three toed & White Backed Woodpeckers , Karlis friend Gaidis who is also a top guide in Latvia , had a site for Three Toed & also had a White Backed which had recently been drumming near his home , we met up with Gaidis and checked out a nearby site for White Backed but sadly had no luck with this , the same story for Three toed woodpecker to , however we did have some cracking views of a small flock of Northern Long Tailed Tits & a cracking Lesser Spotted Woodpecker near Gaidis house.
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.
Northern Long Tailed Tit.
After some refreshments and looking at a couple of Brown Long Eared Bats at Gadis house (thank you those cakes were excellent), we headed to a large forest in the Ranka area , 2 more Grey Headed Woodpeckers , 1 Middle Spotted Woodpecker , 2 Crested Tits & 2 Willow Tits were all seen well plus 2 Pygmy Owls were heard .
DAY FIVE 11th March 2016
Today we headed back to the Ranka forest area in pursuit of woodpeckers and we were not disappointed , we tried different areas along the forest tracks when all of a sudden Ray picked out a Three Toed Woodpecker in flight , i only had a rather brief frustrating view and got no details so could not tick it as a lifer.
However a bit later a Black Woodpecker showed a lot better drumming on a tree , we had all sort of separated and i caught up with Darrel & Ray , as we chatted a woodpecker flew in and we all shouted WHITE BACKED WOODPECKER ........ Finally our luck was in with this rare woodpecker , Ray ran off to get the others .
Female White Backed Woodpecker.
Cracking bird to see.
I watched this bird for quite some time before it flew further away and then out of sight , there were also Crested , Willow & Northern Long Tailed Tits in the area and a Nutcracker was calling in the distance.
Crested & Willow Tit.
Once again everyone spread out and i joined Lee, Ray & Darrel on the quest to look for Three Toed Woodpecker , as we had been checking one area for some time we were just about to leave when Darrel picked out a woodpecker fly in .... THREE TOED WOODPECKER .... which was the main bird missing from our woodpecker list , showing really well drumming on top of a dead tree.
Three Toed Woodpecker.
What a Bird.
Really enjoyed seeing this bird , sadly the photos don't do it justice , it eventually flew off over our heads and disappeared in the distance.
We checked out one last area and had superb views of a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.
DAY SIX 12th March 2016
White Tailed Eagle
Today was the last day in Latvia and it was decided to check out Lake Lubana and fish ponds , really superb area , plenty of Whooper Swans and a couple of last years Penduline Tit nests were hanging from trees , a distant White Tailed Eagle put in an appearance and came quiet close , at least two other birds were seen a bit more distantly , a flock of 28 Snow Buntings were picking food of the frozen lake ,
Rough Legged Buzzard.
On the return route two Rough Legged Buzzards & 4 Common Buzzards were seen well , a small flock of Goldfinch were added to the trip list and as we were checking out some Grey Geese Darrel picked out 2 Common Cranes overhead , as we were watching these a small flock of Taiga Bean Geese flew over.
Two Common Cranes.
We checked out a couple more sites adding Black Woodpecker & 3 Great Grey Shrikes, Karlis had one more trick up his sleeve and took us to an Eurasian Eagle Owl roosting site , Ray picked out the owl in the trees but no one else could get onto it , Sue decided to head up the adjacent track and managed to see it from there , we all joined her and saw this massive Eagle Owl , it eventually flew off and its true size could be appreciated .
So that concludes my trip to Estonia & Latvia , 10 new species seen plus 3 new mammals added , really great trip in great company , many thanks to Karlis for his superb guiding , would recommend to anyone .