Two White-throated Dipper’s day :-)

We haven’t got any exciting observations for a while, so we decided to travel around with Povilas Bagdonas. He show me one of the best spots for White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) it is a small river called Švekšnalė. We drove there yesterday, it took as few minutes as the Dipper was just behind the old water mill building. It flew downstream, so we decided to come back another day.


Today was even more exciting day as the bird was much more relaxed with our presence and let us take some photos too. We were also better prepared, no comments about the weather forecast, but anyway we had fantastic day. On a way back we saw Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor), few Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo) and one Rough-legged Buzzard (Buteo lagopus) too. We were heading back home, when Povilas spotted something from the bridge, we were just talking maybe we should check the river too… And there it goes, a second White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) in Šilutė at Šyša river. What a fantastic day – two rivers, two dippers.

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Mid-winter waterbirds count 2015

I moved to the new area, so this year I was planning join a new team for MwWbC, but instead I had to organize the count this year here, as the local leader was working this weekend.

Saturday 17th JAN 2015
First morning we start early, as the road was already flooded, we must cross the gap on special trailer pulled by tractor. Great fun, but it takes some time. We go straight to Uostadvaris observation tower to start the count, but the problem was there was nothing to count and the weather was miserable rain, fog and visibility under 300m. We were luck to see 3 White tailed eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) on the ice on the Curonian lagoon and the call of small flock of Bearded Reedlings from the reedbeds beneath. We wait here until became a little bit brighter, but as the rain was increasing we decide to move forward to other locations. On the way down from the observation tower my team mate Povilas Bagdonas spotted a pair of Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) which were the only waterbirds seen this morning. We check Atmata river and Uostadvaris lighthouse area, but it was completely empty. Skirvytes river also didn’t give any results either, just few gulls flew over and White-tailed eagles calling in the fog. We check the Bevardis river too, but instead birds we found a border patrol which stopped us for passport control as Rusne Island is in border area with Russia. After quick stop and answering the question were are you “rolling” they give back documents and we continue back to the town. Short stop by flooded meadows where some gulls were seen, we took the next trailer back to the mainland. The rain was still for a while, but visibility still less than 300m we visit Šilutė wastewater treatment plant, but the only birds we found there were two immature Mute Swans in the flooded meadow near by. In Šilutė at Šyša river we checked several places, few Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) near the bridge to Rusnė, and hyperactive Middle Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius) and the first for this year Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) breeding call. At Šilutė yacht port was empty and we head to the last spot near Šilutė Hospital, where 118 Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) were found around the river shore line. So after this we finish the first day with more or less disappointing result, because of the bad weather.

made by Boris Belchev (Google Tracks)

made by Boris Belchev (Google Tracks)

Sunday 18th JAN 2015

Second morning we planned to start from 8 a.m., but as it was too dark we stop for a coffee and donut, put some fuel and with the sunrise we were ready to start our 15 km hike. We left the car at the new bus station on the parking-lot and start our journey with a Sparrowhawk and few Blackbirds on the way to the Baltic sea. We walk along the river so there were many Mallards and even two leucistic. We can hear the sea from a distance, so we were ready for the worst, but it was nice shiny day starting with first spot on our way and first birds to be counted.

We chose to count for 15-20 min every 1000 m. So we have many Long-tailed Ducks (Clangula hyemalis), Velvet (Melanitta fusca) and Common Scoters (Melanitta nigra), Great Crested Grebes (Podiceps cristatus), Red-(Gavia stellata) and Black-throated Loons (Gavia arctica), Common Goldeneyes (Bucephala clangula), few Goosanders (Mergus merganser), 2 Mallards and one Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) over the rough sea. We chose safe guard points or just climb on the sand dunes to be able to count the birds behind the waves. We found one drown Red-throated Loon at the shore and took it so we can bring it later to the Tadas Ivanauskas Zoology Museum in Kaunas to be used for their needs.

We had an interesting observation, but the photos didn’t come out good enough to say is it really  the rarity we saw, so I was a bit disappointed, but it is always difficult to prove rare bird observation even in good weather like that day we had it was just to far away from the shore. Anyway it was great fun and despite the pain in my knees I would say I am ready for more hiking, just maybe without my tripod… :-)

 

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Rain, sun, dust shower and hail…and the joy of being a birder :-)

I wake up earlier this morning as I was so excited to be back at the best place in Lithuania… The Dumpiai landfill. Yes I know, I’m nuts about birds and especially Gulls. SO I jumped in the car and after 40-45 minutes I was sitting in the car waiting for good old Vytautas Eigirdas which was planning to ring some gulls. A Common Buzzard attacked by the corvids landed on the hill side of the landfill. I spent last 4-5 years observing gulls, but never been before in the “heart of the Lithuanian Gull Mecca” – Dumpiai landfill, the place where in the winter of 2008 for first time in WP was found Slaty-backed Gull (Larus schistisagus). Unfortunately today neither winter, neither the rare gull were seen…
As he arrive with his 4×4 car we hop in and drove to the peak of the landfill. He prepare some traps ready to catch alive and safely some gulls, and meanwhile I set up my photo gear and start scanning the mash of few thousand gulls. Maybe 7-8 thousands of them were present during the day here. Soon I already had 10 unique plastic rings, but I was planning to keep position and don’t get messy…but after a while I change my mind and I join Vytautas at the pile of waste. Soon I lost the number of rings I got…

The ringer was having fun too, he almost lost his eye, but just his quick reaction let him pass with a scar on the face as a gull he caught was too close to his face. Time was running fast I was doubting shall I stay more and I was keep asking him how long he will be. Soon I spotted a White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) sitting on the top of a pile of rubbish and another one, I point my camera to take photo of this stork when I saw something familiar, two color bill, dark eye and lack of color on the primaries, I took a good look and said to Vytautas, to check the storks and the Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus) even closer to us. We took few shots and soon the bird flew away and we didn’t see it till the end of the day. This observation took off my “breaks” and soon I forgot the plan to give up and go home. The number of rings was growing, but as I was not writing them down, I left the trill to explode back home in front of my desk.

We found few interesting gulls like those Caspian (Larus cachinnans) and Yellow-legged Herring gulls (Larus argentatus type omissus), and this 2cy LBBG/HG individual, which was looking very suspicious. I was so happy that I was packed and equipped properly as soon it’s started to rain and on top of this a rubbish truck spill out a cloud of stinky dust, that did cover me and my photo-gear from legs to head and even think is some of this dust in my eyes…or I just need to be sleeping in 3:22 a.m.

Anyway, I clean it somehow and continued to look for my lobby – ringed gulls. A Great Gray Shrike flew over. So it suddenly become very dark I was even experimenting with long exposure and low ISO, I was finding 6LAX over and over again. So I was ready to go finally. I stop for short chat with very friendly worker, when hail tiny in size make Vytautas also pack quickly. So this was the end of this amazing day. He gave a lift to my car at the gates and cookies to refill my empty stomach.And after entering all the data, all the keywords and choosing the best shots I am proud to present you my latest treasure here…

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Spring morning in mid January 2015 WHAT???


Today I had beautiful morning, I try to not spent the sunny mornings in front of the PC, so I grab my binoculars and backpack and escape from home for few hours, I was thinking about few hours in the forest at first. But as it was not looking to stay sunny for long time and as I saw the Rupkalviai flooded meadows were much more occupied then previous day I turn to the opposite direction and spent few minutes here and there observing the birds and their behavior. Some time is more worth doing this instead of chasing rarities which are usually miles away. We sometimes forgetting that there is much more happening around us. It was great fun watching the gulls feeding around me by dropping head first in the water of melted areas near the shore, or the pair of Hooded Crows (Corvus cornix) wading by the shore line and “pranking” on each other…

After checking few other places I drove to the place, where last time I found the White-tailed Eagles, but all I found was a Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) finishing his daily meal (a rodent). I check a road by river Atmata till village of Šyša, but unfortunately it is really just mid January. I saw a two Ravens (Corvus corax), Magpie (Pica pica) and Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor) on the way back and also 11 Yellowhammers (Emberiza citrinella) on the wires just out of Šilutė. Quick decision was made to check the other side of Šyša river and it was looking completely empty and I was turning around when five Greylag Geese (Anser anser) flew over me, another not so exciting day but it will be much more interesting in couple of months from now.

Thank you for being with me again and tomorrow will be “Gulls at the LANDFILL” day, so much more exciting story is coming up, so stay tuned with Alcedo Wildlife Blog tomorrow evening…Good night

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Sea watching 2015

After 90 min I managed to get to Palanga as after yesterday’s storm roads this morning were in terrible conditions. I got to the pier about 10 a.m. so it took me 2 hours to start birding. I was very happy to see at least some birds. Red-throated Divers (Gavia stellata) and later Black-throated Diver (Gavia arctica) were diving in the rough sea. A male Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca) and 15 Long-tailed Ducks (Clangula hyemalis) warm me up… Soon I spotted a Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)  in winter plumage. Few more Velvet Scoters (Melanitta fusca), both divers and ducks were seen until 11 a.m. But it was time for take the chance to visit the other location.  Melnragė near gates of Klaipėda sea port is known as a great spot for sea birds in winter. Let’s hope it is today.

It would be totally disappointing, but in such warm winter it is not so surprisingly slow on wintering sea ducks. I manage to spot few birds like Black-throated Diver, Great Cormorant, Long-tailed Duck and many gulls (Larus marinus, L.argentatus, L. cachinnans, L.canus and Chr. ridibundus). The most exciting species, show up in last moment as weather become terrible, I decided to went back to the car.  And then the “saver of the day” an adult Little Gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus) :-D That’s all folks. …For today.

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Birding in Lithuania 2015

I wouldn’t be able to go birdwatching today as it was -9°C and my “car” gave up starting today. But thanks to good neighbor I am back in the business. … I enjoy the sunrise over Rupkalviai and headed towards Zalgiris forest.

Sausgalviai flooded meadows

Sausgalviai flooded meadows next to Zalgiris forest covered in ice.

Rupkalviai flooded meadows

Rupkalviai flooded meadows looking at the sunrise.

Not much action: few Eurasian Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris), Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) and Great Tit (Parus major). Two Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus) cross the road on my way out of the forest. Bullfinches (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) and Common Redpolls (Acanthis flammea) flying over in small flock.
Next spot was Rupkalviai flooded meadows where I found family of 6 Whooper Swans (Cygnus cygnus). A lonely Herring gull (Larus argentatus argenteus) flew over. Everything was frozen. Two Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) flew towards Šilutė.
Few Fieldfares (Turdus pilaris) near the bridge to Rusnė island grab my attention. Also some gulls in the background. A gorgeous adult White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) resting on a tree next to Atmata river.
A flock of 15 Common Gulls or Mew Gulls (Larus canus) in the fields at Rusnė Island and I headed to Pakalnė settlement. At the village a Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) landed near the reeds. This winter the ornithologist society is collecting data about wintering Grey Herons.

Short stop for landscape photos at Uostadvaris observation tower. Just 12 Whooper Swans (Cygnus cygnus) far in the Curonian lagoon.

Rusnė Island, Lithuania

Rusnė Island view towards Pakalnė village.

Rusnė Island, Lithuania

Rusnė Island view towards Ventė cape.

Rusnė Island, Lithuania

Rusnė Island view towards south and Curonian lagoon.

Rusnė Island, Lithuania

Rusnė Island view to Curonian lagoon and Curonian spit in the background.

Rusnė Island, Lithuania

Rusnė Island view towards Uostadvaris Lighthouse.

Rusnė Island, Lithuania

Nemunas Priešakinės Delta Reserve, part of Nemuno Delta Regional Park.

Rusnė Island, Lithuania

Rusnė Island at Uostadvaris observation Tower

 

On the way back a Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor) flew off its perch.  From the bridge I spotted two White-tailed Eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) on the ice. One more fly over.  The Herring gulls (Larus argentatus argenteus) finished eagle’s meal together with Hooded crows (Corvus cornix). I did observed scavenger’s attitude by one Common Raven (Corvus corax) chasing a Hooded crow (Corvus cornix) and the crow was forced to drop the rodent and with one move the raven caught it in the air.

And as I was getting hungry I drove home for lunch…

White-tailed Eagle (Haliaetus albicilla)

White-tailed Eagle pair resting on the ice near Atmata river, Lithuania.

White-tailed Eagle (Haliaetus albicilla)

White-tailed Eagle pair display over the prey in breeding territory.

 

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One day birding trip in Central Lithuania with Philip S.

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.

Philip Spendley (Canterbury – UK):
“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!”
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Successful one day trip with Reinier & Daiva

Day 1 – 12th August 2013: THE ROUTE TO THE DELTA

After 5 p.m. refuel at the gas station I hit the road towards Nemunas Delta regional park. As always the highway in summer high season is split of reconstruction works, so the road to Taurage. 70km/h followed by 50 km/h and traffic lights finally found my self at  the road to Silute.  Some concern which way to be chosen, pick the road A199. Soon my attention was grabbed by the Turtle dove on the dry oak next to the road, fortunately a car was approaching so couldn’t stop. Few kilometers before Silute two Montague’s Harriers hunting with a gliding low over the grassland.  Pick up some hitchhikers on my way and in 30 minutes drive, finally reach Stankiškių village and stopped for a short count of mixed flock of gulls, mainly Common gull and Black-headed gulls.

Afterwards drove to the house of my friend V.Jusys to bring him the book from Bulgaria, that he got by contributing his photographs to the project and of course a small present from my parents in law  – bag of garden tomatoes.  We did chat for a while on a cup of tea and candies, but it was time to go to sleep. I drove to the museum, where V.Eigirdas, the new ringer was taking photos of Hedgehog. He and his girlfriend live on the top floor of the museum. We ate an apple cake and watched some of my photos. It was getting late so we decided it’s time to sleep.
Day 2 – 13th August 2013:
As the plan was to meet Reinier and Daiva in Šilute at 7:30, the alarm clock was set for 6 a.m., but the clear air makes you relax and enjoy the sleep, but also makes you woke up earlier. At first weather looks terrible. Strong wind and clouds rushing south-east towards the shore if the Curonian lagoon. We did drink a coffee which is not typical for me.
Doesn’t matter the wind and light rain, the weather was surprisingly warm. We spent some time observing the gulls on the pier. Nothing readable from the metal rings. So it was time to meet Reinier and Daiva in Šilute at the meeting point. They send me a short text that will be late. Soon got a call from Reinier. They drove by me andd stop on the other side pf Sysa river. So soon we left my car and the birding began. We didn’t waste any time and drove to the Red kite area. We hadn’t time to stop when the Red kite was flying towards us. Soon Daiva spotted a Turtle dove between the Wood Pigeons on the wires. A flock of Lapwings and Common Starlings was flushed by the tractor in the fields and two Golden plovers flew over us. The Red Kite was attacked by the local Common Buzzard. A 1cy Marsh Harrier also crossed overhead. Black Woodpecker, Meadow Pipits and Linnets flew over as well. We enjoy the Red Kite on the ground and continued towards the Ortolan Bunting area. Didn’t expect to find it in late summer there, but the fortune was on our side and just after few minutes we had in the scope a beautiful singing male, joined later by 4 more birds. A trimitating call of the Cranes was filling the atmosphere from the fields.
As it was new species for our guests they were very satisfied with the successful start of the trip. We drove back to the Sausgalviai village area, where in the grasslands we were looking for raptors. Said and done – we were about to park when in front of the car a stunning male Montague’s harrier flew by. A 1st summer Marsh harrier was calling from the nearby trees. Great spotted woodpeckers were “chatting” from both sides. The Montague’s was flying back when suddenly a male Hobby Falcon attacked it. This was more than we could expect, so happy with the observations we drove towards Rusnės island. First we stopped by a field with waders mostly Lapwings, but also female and 1cy Ruff were present too. Meadow Pipits, Skylarks, House and Tree Sparrows were all over the place. We drove to the river with no name – Bevardės river, here a male Reed bunting and Common snipe cheer us up, as the weather was getting from bad to worse. We even took some photos of the snipe. A male Marsh harrier flew over too. Weather was getting worst so we decided to drive to Kintai and had a lunch there. In the meantime got to call mt father in law to ask him to check the forecast for the afternoon. There was a clearing over the sea. But it was still raining while we driving to the Kintai fishponds. Here we sat in one car again and drove to the fishponds which supposed to be emty, but water was too high and at first it was looks like there were very low number of birds. As soon as the rain stopped, birds started to show up. Here we got two Whimberels flying overhead. Also few Common snipes and 50-60 Lapwings flew by. There was reason why – two young White-tailed eagles were soaring above the Fishponds. The rain looks like was about to stop. Soon we drove slowly back to my car, because my guests needs to drove back home. For an instant I recognize very familiar siluet of my favorite bird of prey – that was an Osprey. What a nice bird to end our trip. Here is the most interesting observations we made that day.
date time count species area status
2013-08-13 14:17 1 Pandion haliaetus Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 14:09 1 Tringa totanus Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 14:06 1 Anas querquedula Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 14:05 1 Anas acuta Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 14:04 2 Tringa ochropus Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 14:03 18 Vanellus vanellus Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 14:02 1 Haliaeetus albicilla Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 13:57 7 Cygnus olor Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 13:56 1 Tringa nebularia Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 13:55 1 Emberiza schoeniclus Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 13:54 1 Acrocephalus schoenobaenus Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 13:54 2 Numenius phaeopus Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 11:15 3 Riparia riparia Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 11:14 1 Ardea alba Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 11:09 1 Apus apus Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 10:40 1 Circus aeruginosus Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 10:39 1 Accipiter nisus Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 10:18 2 Philomachus pugnax Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 10:18 2 Acrocephalus schoenobaenus Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 10:03 111 Anser anser Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 09:36 2 Oenanthe oenanthe Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 09:35 1 Cuculus canorus Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 09:35 2 Dendrocopos major Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 09:29 1 Circus aeruginosus Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 09:28 1 Falco subbuteo Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 09:19 1 Circus pygargus Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 08:51 4 Emberiza hortulana Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 08:38 3 Columba oenas Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 08:37 1 Pluvialis squatarola Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 08:34 2 Ardea cinerea Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 08:32 11 Columba palumbus Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 08:20 1 Dryocopus martius Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 08:20 1 Streptopelia turtur Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 08:19 1 Circus aeruginosus Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK
2013-08-13 08:11 1 Milvus milvus Lithuania – Šilutes (xx) OK

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Successful Wildlife Photography Trip

After 10 days in the field with professional photographer from Spain Joan Egert I finally sat in front of my PC. As there are two mid-term test to go photos will be online in November. I just want to share the reference of my friend Mr. Egert that he was so nice to write and send me as soon as possible. Thank you Joan.

Joan Egert after the trip:

“I planned a trip to Lithuania, the main aim was wildlife photography – particularly birds. After some initial research on the internet, I used the fat birder website to look for professional guides in the country. Following previous contacts I agreed with Boris Belchev to undertake a 10 day trip in the centre and south of the Lithuanian republic. Target species were mainly passerine species and of course the white-tailed eagle.

Boris warned me beforehand that the weather at this time of year is not reliable, but fortunately we didn’t have consistently rain, it was mainly cloudy and overcast and even 2 or 3 days with a fragile sunshine. The first 5 -6 days were spent at the numerous fish ponds in the south, the expectations for passerine species on migration were somewhat frustrated because that year temperatures were higher than normal, but white tailed eagles were present and could be shot pretty easily. The rest of the trip was spent visiting migration hotspots, two hides and mainly on road checking fields, meadows and forests for any species available.

Despite of the delayed migration, around 9 species could be photographed which were completely new for me besides dozens of already known birds but in different surroundings. Boris Belchev proved to be a keen ornithologist and excellent specialist of the area, a special advantage is that he is an expert and successful wildlife photographer. This point makes him the perfect guide for both bird watchers and photographers, who usually place very different demands from their guides. He was never tired to point out any animal species we encountered on the way, his fluent English and exceptional knowledge of both common and scientific names of all the bird species was particularly helpful for my basic taxonomic knowledge. But not only was he skilled in animal species, but also he commented about many interesting cultural and social curiosities of the country. Boris is actually Bulgarian and his knowledge about the Bulgarian wildlife is as vast as the Lithuanian. He has a warm and friendly way which made the trip and the contact with him a pleasure.”

Joan Egert’s photos can be seen and purchased from the link bellow:
http://www.dreamstime.com/physi28_info

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BirdID field study Day 9 – the END

Last morning, at dinner table last evening we decided to skip the morning walk, so we can havemore time birding at the Bolata. So after quick breakfast we were heading to the first area. It was already hot, so the students were very tired already. First we had a Temminck’s stint and afterwards little stint. The next interesting observation were two Black-eared wheatears – both variation with tight “face mask” and the one with all black “face”. At the water mirror the little bittern was calling. The place looks dissapoitingly empty. Only the Willow warbler, Purple heron and Sparrowhawk save us. Knut managed to lost his glasses. So after unsuccessful searching we drove to Balgarevo settlement to buy some food in case restaurant doesn’t work at cape Kaliakra.
We had great start with 6 Black-treated divers and lots of Bee-eaters. A female Black-headed bunting land just next to me. I was waiting for the last students to walk towards the end of the cape so I was walking last. And this was perfect timing to observe a male Merlin. It had a prey in its claws. I hurry up infront to ask did others saw it. Thirsting did, and Knut barely recognized it, because he lost his glases earlier. It was time for lunch. We ordered meals. I was watching the Shags bathing, when Iordan spot it. 2cy Common eider was diving bellow the cliffs.
That was as expected and in the same time a surprise for us. I went to the Van, as we decided to give a 45 min. break so students had some free time. Bård came back looking for the Eider, but fortunately he didn’t find it. I saw another Red-breasted Flycatcher at the restaurant and one on the wall of the fortress. At 14:30 we left Kaliakra. We did moved to the pseudo step habitat, were our students didn’t waste time and soon we saw both target species – Short-toed Lark and a surprise for me a Stone Curlew. First proper observations for me. Later a immature Red-footed falcon was observed. After this walk the field study group went to the van. They were tired, but still wanted more Birding. We had to explore one more area North of the settlement. A Lesser grey shrike and a Kestrel, Hobby and Peregrine falcons were observed, before the students finally regret “tired”. We drove back to the Hotel. On the way back a Montague’s Harrier was flying along the road infant of the van. After some rest it was time for dinner and daylogg. We had 2 new species for the trip. As two students had to fly on next day we made decision to start really early the trip to Sofia – at 5:30 am. So was good idea to have some rest. And this was the End of first ever Hint BirdID field study Bulgaria 2013. I hope all you join us had a great time with us Boris Belchev and Iordan Hristov. Thanks to all students: Bård, Berit, Anette, Tormod, Stein, Thorstein, Knut, Anders and Eirik. I had great time with you, I hope you too… ;-)

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