Birdwatching tour in Lithuania, Autumn migration
Birding along the Baltic Sea, inland lakes, fishponds, marshes and forests
September – October, 8 days
Birds: 100 – 120 species
Lithuania, situated in northeast Europe, is a compact low-lying country with extensive forests, lakes, fishponds and a relatively short coastline adjoining the Baltic Sea. Our main interest is the Baltic Sea and Kurshiu Lagoon with their varied birdlife of wildfowl and large concentrations of Common Cranes. The migration along the coast is impressive, with flocks of geese, swans, ducks and passerines. In addition to this, we have a chance of locating some of Europe’s rarer woodpeckers and other forest birds.
Day 1: Arriving to Vilnius, the historic and lively capital of Lithuania, for an overnight stay.
Day 2: This morning we travel to the fishpond complex around Baltoji Voke. Reedbeds, farmland and forest surround the ponds, attracting a wide range of birds. We should find White-tailed Eagles hunting migrant ducks and Western Marsh Harriers quartering the reeds. A speciality of the ponds is flocks of Great Egrets along with migrant Great Black-backed, Yellow-legged and Common Gulls. In the afternoon we visit Shiauliai for European Golden Plovers. As dusk approaches at Sulinaki Bog, we can observe our first flocks of Common Cranes coming to roost. Two-nights in Shiauliai.
Day 3: Shiauliai is situated in the centre of extensive marshes where White-fronted, Bean and Greylag Geese occur on migration. Black Grouse occur in the same area whilst Common Kingfishers use the channels. Forest birds are both varied and interesting with Great, Middle-spotted and White-backed Woodpeckers and Marsh, Willow and Crested Tits. Rarer birds include Black, Grey-headed, Three-toed and Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers. With luck, we may find Hazel Grouse and Eurasian Nutcracker.
Day 4: Return visit to Sulinkiai Bog to check for migrants. After breakfast, we head towards western Lithuania and Nemuno Delta Regional Park. On the way, we stop at Zemaitija to look for waterfowl, Common and Rough-legged Buzzards and parties of corvids including Common Ravens. Transfer to Ventes Ragas for a four-night stay.
Days 5-7: We have three full days exploring the delightful Lithuanian birding areas of Vente, headland around Ventes Ragas and, importantly, the Kuronian Spit. The latter area is a narrow finger of land dominated by high sand dunes dotted with pines. The water inland is brackish, whilst the Baltic Sea borders the northern side. In the lagoon and offshore we should locate Red-necked and Black-necked Grebes, Whooper and Bewick’s Swans, a range of ducks comprising Garganey, Northern Pintail, Greater Scaup, Common Goldeneye, Smew, Red-breasted Merganser and Goosander, The sea may have returning Black-throated Diver, Velvet and Common Scoters. Around the lagoons, areas of mud attract waders including Little Ringed, Ringed and Grey Plovers, Little Stint, Ruff, Eurasian Woodcock, Black-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Common Greenshank, Green and Wood Sandpipers. The headland and spit attract migrant raptors with regular sightings of Hen and Montagu’s Harriers, Osprey and Peregrine Falcon. Ventas Ragas is arguably the best area for migrants in bushes, trees and scrub. Of note are huge flocks of Woodpigeons, often in thousands. Our main interest lies in the migrant passerines. Common and visible species include Woodlark, Black and Common Redstarts, Fieldfare, Redwing, Sedge, Great Reed and Eurasian Reed Warblers, Coal Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch, Eurasian Nutcracker, Hooded Crow, Northern Shrike, Eurasian Siskin, Common Redpoll, Common Crossbill, Eurasian Bullfinch, Hawfinch and Yellowhammer.
Day 8: Travel back through the hinterland of Lithuania following the Nemunas river system. On our way back to Vilnius, a return visit is planned to fishponds at Islauzas and Baltoji Voke. Arriving back to Vilnius where the tour concludes. Departure from Vilnius.