LATE SPRING TOUR
Birdwatching tour in Lithuania, late Spring - early Summer
Breeding birds season
Birding along the Baltic Sea, inland lakes, fishponds, marshes and forests
June – mid July, 10 days
Birds: 110 – 140 species
Day 01: Arrival and accomodation in Vilnius.
Day 02: Traveling to the Curonian Spit. Birdwatching tour from the bus crossing whole Lithuania. Arrival to Nida. Afternoon excursion: walking trip to the strictly protected sandy dunes and looking of birds arround. Birdwatching tour along the Curonian Spit: watching spot at the seacoast (seabirds) and coast of the lagoon; visit of the breeding habitats of Tawny Pipit, Woodlark. Accomodation in Nida settlement.
Day 03: Leaving hotel and travelling to the Nemunas delta region. Birdwatching tour along the Curonian Spit: visit of the breeding habitats of Tawny Pipit, Woodlark; the largest colony of the Cormorant (>2000 nests) on the way to the continental part of Lithuania. Later afternoon arrival to Vente – small settlement on the coast of the lagoon in the Nemunas delta region: the most valuable and diverse wetland not only in Lithuania but in whole Eastern Baltic region. This is a complex of the huge flooded meadows with patches of the fens, raised-bogs surrounded with wet decidous and mixed fores. The shalow water and small sandy islands are characteristic for the Curonian Lagoon – the largest coastal lagoon arround the Baltic. The Nemunas delta SPA (Natura 2000 and Ramsar site) been designated as important staging area for 24 waterfowl and shore birds with staging of >70.000 White-fronted Goose & 4000 Whooper Swans in spring, >50000 Tufted Duck & >35000 Pochard in autum while 70-80 White-tailed Eagle arround whole year. The site is also classified as bottle-neck area for birds of prey, cranes and passerine birds. And finally, Nemunas delta SPA is important for the protection of the 24 breeding birds with 4 globally threated species among them (White-tailed Eagle, Corncrake, Great Snipe, Aquatic Warbler) all of them having the most numerous populations of Lithuania there (9, 435, 60 & 60 pairs respectively). Besides, the most numerous populations of Marsh Harier (80 breeding pairs), Spotted crake (>170 breeding pairs), Dunlin (10 breeding pairs), Black & Whiskered Terns (500 & 15 breeding pairs), Little Gull (30 breeding pairs), Great Owl (>3 breeding pairs) as well as the only breeding population of the Avoset (5-10 pairs) breed there. Evening excursion to the breeding sites of the globally threatened bird species – Corncrake, Great Snipe, and Aquatic Warbler.
Day 04: Visit of the Kintai fishponds area – stopover site of all swan species, 5 goose, 15 duck, more than 20 wader and 10 gulls and tern species during the spring migration. Birdwatching at two-three watching points at the fish-ponds. Afternoon excursion will be to the Ventes Ragas ringing station operating since 1929. Two big Helholland type and several smaller, so called „zigzag“, traps are contructed for ringing of mainly migratory passerine. Meeting with workers of the Station. Then an excursion to the Aukstumale raised-bog, famous because of the first detail investigations of raised bog in Europe and first monograph on this topic from the 30-ties of the last century.
Day 05: Visit of the wet meadows and polders: breeding site of the Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Dunlin, Redshank, Common Snipe, Citrine Wagtail and other passerine birds. Also, good possibility to watch different waterfowl species and late migratory waders as well as hunting birds of prey. Late evening also possible to organise excursion to the breeding areas of Great Snipe and Aquatic Warbler if weather conditions will be unfavourable in previous evening.
Day 06: Travelling to the Central Lithuanian forests area. On the way we will visit oxbow lakes: breeding sites of the Black, White-winged & Whiskered Terns and Little Gull as well as different waterfowl species in the upper part of the Nemunas lower reacher. Then, we will go to the Central Lithuania. There are several forest areas designated as SPAs for the protection of rare Woodpeckers species (Grey-headed, White-backed, Middle Spotted) with some dozens of the breeding pairs in each as well as Black Storks and Lesser Spotted Eagle with several breeding pairs in each. Besides, some segments of Nemunas River, which cross central part of the country, are designated for the protection of the breeding Common and Little Terns popultion of which are among the most abundant in the country. Afternoon excursion to the Nemunas River and fish pond area to look at the waterfowls and to listen Bittern. Another option, depending on weather conditions and results of late evening excursions in Nemunas delta, is to have earlier dinner and then to have late evening excursion to Ezerelis wetland (mostly wet meadows) complex to listen Bittern, rails, late evening passerines. Accomodation in Birstonas.
Day 07: Leaving Birstonas and comming to the Punia forest – one of the oldest and most diverse in Lithuania. The site is famous because of strictly protected virgin forest stands. Watching of Black Stork, birds of prey, rare woodpeckers and passerine birds guiding by the local guides. In the afternoon, leaving Central Lithuania and travelling to the Labanoras Regional Park SPA (East Lithuania), the second largest woodland of the country. The corniferous forest with many bogs of different size (mostly raised bogs) predominates there. The site is famous because of numerous lakes and clean rivers. The SPA been designated for the protection of the Black-throated Loon, Osprey (15-17 breeding pairs), Honey Buzzard (>8 breeding pairs), Capercaillie (>30 breeding pairs), Crane (>20 breeding pairs), Telgman’s Owl (>20 breeding pairs), Nightjar (>40 breeding pairs), Roller (6 breeding pairs), Black Woodpecker (>30 breeding pairs), Woodlark (100-200 breeding pairs). Rather numerous population of the Lesser Spotted Eagle, Black & Hezel Grouses, Pygmy Owl, Grey-headed & Three-toed Woodpeckers, Red-breasted Flycatcher also breed there. However, we will stay in neighbouring protected area – Aukstaitija National Park, close to the virgin strictly protected forest Azvinciu giria. This area is also important for similar rare forest birds – especially owl and woodpeckers. So, we will cross Labanoras Regional Park with possible short stops and will go to the accomodation place. Late evening excursions will be possible to look for the Owls and Nightjar. Accomodation at the Miskiniskes farmstead.
Day 08: Whole day excursion to the Labanoras Regional park. Watching of Black-throated Loon, Osprey, Black Kite, grouses, rare woodpeckers and passerine birds in the Taiga type forest with small local human population and numerous lakes. Afternoon excursion probably will cover part of the Aukstaitija National park to visit one of the last breeding site of Roller. Late evening excursions are also possible to look for the Telgman’s Owl and Nightjar. Accomodation at the Miskiniskes farmstead.
Day 09: Leaving Miskiniskes and comming to the Labanoras RP for one more excursion to watch forest birds and their habitats. The itinerary will depend on the results/success of the previous day. Then leaving Labanoras and comming to the Rūdininkai woodland with neighbouring Baltoji Voke fishponds and peatland area. The site is close to the Vilnius. Corniferous forest with sandy dunes, clean rivulets with flooded forest arround and the bogs of different size are characteristic for the site. The site is important for the protection of the Honey Buzzard (>10 breeding pairs), Black Grouse (>40 males), Capercaillie (>20 males), Crane (>10 pairs), Telgman’s Owl (>10 pairs), Nightjar (>40 pairs), Grey-headed & Three-toed Woodpeckers (>8 pairs of both species), Woodlark (about 20 pairs), Tawny Pipit (10 pairs). Rather numerous population of the Lesser Spotted Eagle, Hezel Grouse, Corncrake, Black and White-backed Woodpeckers, Red-breasted Flycatcher as well as single pairs of some rare species (Black Stork, White-tailed Eagle, Osprey, Eagle Owl) also breed in the woodland. Watching of birds of prey, grouses, rare woodpeckers and passerine birds in the wet forest without any local human population within woodland. The itinerary and visited habitats will depends on the results of the previous days. We will try something like to fill species gaps and to get a view on the large forest area with open sandy plain. Early evening excursion will cover Baltoji Voke area – a complex of the fish-pond, very shalow Lake Papis and exploited peatland. The fishponds are breeding site of the Whooper Swan, Bittern, different duck species, rails, Common Tern and many passerine birds with Citrine Wagtail among them. Large colony of Black-headed Gull is located in The Lake Papis. The peatland is important because of breeding rails and many passerine species with Bluetroat among them. Leaving Baltoji Voke and comming to Vilnius. Summary of the trip and closing dinner. Accomodation in Vilnius.
Day 10: Short morning excursion for birdwatching to the surrounding of Vilnius with local guide or excursion to the Old Town. Departure from Vilnius.