Everything starts when I got a comment in my blog from a birder from UK. We quickly arrange a one day trip after about a week. I met Philip at the meeting point and after short stop at Nemunas and Neris river junction, we headed to our first target site Novaraistis pit-bog. The bog and the lake near it attracting a lot of birds especially during migration and common cranes which were target species are gathering in big flocks to roost in end of the summer. We arrived just in time, a big flocks were already taking off to the feeding grounds, but still a 300-400 Common cranes were clearly visible from the observation tower. In the lake not much, but still good start of our trip. We soon had more then 20 species and after taking the best of this place and got cold from the wind, we go down to the car and head to the forest near by. We had to drive very slowly as in front of the car 1st summer European robin was declining to get off of our way… In the forest we made short but very productive walk collecting almost all possible Tits and other small passerines. Woodpecker were very active and we saw few Great Spotted Woodpeckers and on a way out of the forest we had good view of Black Woodpecker as well.
I was trying to call few time to ask for access permit for the Išlaužas Fish-ponds, but after I finally spoke with the owner he rudely answer that they don’t have interest to let birders in their territory any more. So after disappointing call we head to the petrol station to refill and we got hot coffee to recharge after early start. Next stop is the Neris river were almost all local species of gull were roosting before heading to the rubbish dump, we got also a family of Common Terns, many Goosanders and the good news from my colleague that there are two more fish-ponds not so near, but at least are open to access at all. So we finished with the gulls and coffee and headed to first fish-ponds complex. It was not difficult to find them and even on first stop we made we had a very exciting observation of two Black-necked grebes in winter plumage. Many ducks, Great white egrets and White-tailed eagle. But the most numerous were little grebes and Marsh Harriers. After successful time spent around the Šilavotas settlement we head to the next fish-ponds which were 20 km away. Bebruliškės Fish-ponds are very small and attract many fishermen, so nothing spectacular here. I check the satnav and as it was only 49km from here we headed to the Oldest Lithuanian Strict Nature Reserve – Žuvintas lake. On the way we had about 30 km gravel roads, as we took the short cut, but soon we didn’t regret as we had perfect view of hunting Montagu’s Harrier male. Finally reached some tarmac roads and just before the final destination a Turtle Dove was perched on the wires just next to the road one more tick in our day list. And here it is – Žuvintas lake… We took the path to the observation tower. Here my guest share his lunch with me, as I didn’t expected that we will go so far I didn’t took any food with me. Thanks Philip At the lake was windy, so big flock of Greylag geese and Cormorants were roosting at the island on the other side of the lake. With telescope we managed to find some more ducks and waders that we missed on the other sites. Pin-tail ducks, Ruffs and Dunlins were amongst the good observations here. The willows were crowded with Penduline tits and few warblers. We went back to the car, we stopped for one more closer look of the Island, but just before that a Tree pipit flushed from the grass was one more species in the list. Linnet in the bush next to the visitor centre and here we go again. Another or maybe the same Montagu’s Harrier over the main road and showers here and there, we anyway cross the north part of Išlaužas where we got Yellow wagtail, more Whinchats and a single Northern Wheatear as we stopped to check the flock of Lapwings next to the road to Kaunas. It was one more place to visit before we finished the wonderful trip, Nemunas river, nothing special unfortunately and it start raining, so we headed back to the starting point, and I had to leave my guest and drove back home. Overall list contain 93 species of birds and 460 km trip.
“I have been a birdwatcher for 25 years and I have visited Lithuania on more than 10 occasions in search of birds (my wife is Lithuanian). On my latest trip to Kaunas I decided to look for a local guide and came across Boris Belchev on the internet. We organised to meet up for a day of bird watching in late August and Boris picked me up at 6am. I’m not sure what I expected from the day but it certainly wasn’t 80+ species and 5 new birds for my life list – FANTASTIC!I consider myself to be a relatively experienced birdwatcher and I have searched for birds in many European countries but I found myself learning so much more about birds while in Boris’ company and his local knowledge was exceptional.I would highly recommend that any birder visiting Lithuania should contact Boris and arrange a day (or more) of expert guidance – you won’t regret it. And on top of everything, he is a really nice guy!”