Sunday 20 March 2016

Estonia & Latvia 7th to 12th March Part One.

Estonia & Latvia  Part One , first 3 days 

DAY ONE  7th March 2016

Middle Spotted Woodpecker  at Marupe Latvia.

After an uneventful flight from Stanstead to Riga in Latvia the first port of call was Marupe which was approx 10 mins from the airport , there was plenty of birds calling , mainly Great Tit , Siskin and Lesser Redpoll.

Other birds of note where Northern Nuthatch , Hawfinch & Goshawk and my first new bird of the trip :   2 Middle Spotted Woodpeckers !!!

One of two Middle Spotted Woodpeckers.

Then it was a long drive to Estonia in the hope of seeing one of the main target birds of the trip , on route the main birds seen were Great White Egret , Whooper Swan & Goosander .

I added my second new bird of the trip as a Black Woodpecker flew across the road , not great views but no doubting what it was. In the harbour waiting for the ferry across to Saaremaa Island there were plenty of Long Tailed Ducks , Goosanders and a distant White Tailed Eagle.

DAY TWO  8th March 2016

Steller's Eider .

One of the main target birds of the trip was seeing Steller's Eider and 240+ were seen really well through the scope , most of the time they were sleeping but every so often a few would wake up and swim through the tight flock and did a bit of wing flapping , really pleased to see these as they were lifer number 3 !!!

Steller's Eider flock.

There were great numbers and variety of duck species here , 400+ Velvet Scoters , 1000's of Long Tailed Ducks , Scaup , Smew , Goosander & Red Breasted Mergansers , there was also another distant White Tailed Eagle.

Long Tailed Ducks.

Other birds seen were 30+ Snow Buntings , 2 Great Grey Shrikes & 28 Waxwings.

1 of 28 Waxwings.

DAY THREE  9th March 2016

Black Grouse.

Back in Latvia and today we started of really well with the sighting of  4 Black Grouse which were picked out by Darrel, whilst looking at these Karlis picked out 2 Grey Headed Woodpeckers which were my 4th lifer of the trip, wow !!!

The next destination was Ezernieki Forest in the hope of seeing more Woodpeckers & Owls , it wasn't long before a Pygmy Owl was heard but finding it would take some doing , however after an intense search Karlis picked it out high in the canopy , i knew they were a small Owl but i didn't quite expect it to be so small , cracking looking bird and in the end i got some great views of yet another new bird .

Pygmy Owl  

Being watched .

Another fly over Black Woodpecker and Capercallie heard nearby , Willow & Crested Tits all around this delightful forest made for a great experience.

We decided to move on to another part of the this huge forest to try for Hazel Grouse which are numerous but very hard to see , how ever it wasn't long before we heard one calling before it flew up to the top of a pine tree and then flew back down again out of sight , very brief views but a new bird all the same.

A bit further along the forest tracks we heard a distant Nutcracker , thankfully the Nutcracker flew in quite close and great views were obtained and i was adding my 4th new bird of the day and 7th lifer of the trip.


Calling Nutcracker.

After dinner that evening we went to the Madona forest area for an Owling session , overall we heard 6 Ural Owls , 1 Tengmalms Owl , 1 Tawny Owl & 2 Pygmy Owls , although we never saw any it was a great experience to at least hear them .

I did see 2 new mammals though , a superb Beaver showed really well plus an Elk put in an appearance , lots of Roe Deer were also seen .

Roe Deer.