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2007 Diary
2007, a year of birding highs. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jos   

Great Grey OwlBy any account, 2007 was an excellent year! With trips to Uganda, Morocco, the Western Sahara and the United States, plus more local forays into Belarus and Poland, it was a grand year for birding adventures. Whether standing looking at Azure Tits in a toilet in the Pripyet Valley, or Great Grey Owls in the deep dark forests nearby, or Shoebills in the Mbamba Swamps or even migrants galore amongst the high-rises of New York, my foreign ventures were marked by their amazing luck and success.

On a local scale too, the year was memorable - not least for the Rollers on my  Labanoras land, the Bee-eater that flew over and the arrival of a super White-backed Woodpecker at the feeders, the cream to a haven now boasting seven woodpecker White Storkspecies! Elsewhere, in a quieter year than most, Baltoji Voke continued to provide the goodies - both Whiskered Terns and Mediterranean Gulls breeding for the first time, a whole bunch of passage Broad-billed Sandpipers and, rolling in as a first for the country, a Bonaparte's Gull in October.

However, for all the memories of the year, the event that stood out above all others was the dramatic saga of the stork battles in my garden - the conflict that left two chicks dead and me stunned. Ultimately successful, the story finally ended on a high with the fight and migration of the two remaining chicks ...weeks of care finally paying off!


Full stories and pictures, click on any of the months to enter the birding year...

Fulvous Babbler



January. Home and Away, pure quality. 

February. A mega bevy of peckers!

March. Baltic Spring, butterflies and ice.

April. Lithuania, Belarus and Poland, good days in all.

May. Lithuania, migrants and nestboxes!

June. Stunning days, Belarus and Lithuania both!

July. Fledglings, butterflies and odonata.Short-billed Dowitcher

August. On the move, storks and waders.

September. Autumn dawning.

October. Mega-birding, rallies and rares.

November. Waxwing Roadshow!

December. Back to the Tropics, Ugandan Express.






Last Updated ( Wednesday, 18 June 2008 )
December 2007. Back to the Tropics, Ugandan Express! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jos   

GorillaDecember was always going to be excellent, or rather it was going to be mind-blowing! Within days of the month beginning, I was to flee the cold northern climes of Lithuania and then bask in equatorial sunshine of Uganda, soaking up the joys of fantastic birding and experiences with gorillas, chimpanzees, leopards and more. Before that though, there were a few loose ends to tie up - 75 kg of peanuts to purchase to fill the feeders to last a full month and more, plus 25 kg of sunflowers to cheer up my feathered friends during my absence. And on top of that, in those last few days In Lithuania, there was the cold cocktail of weather to endure - snow, sleet, torrential icy rain, you name it, it was doing it! On the bird front, the month really kicked off much as November had left off - Waxwings! Barely a few hours into the new month and a flock of ten had appeared in the Labanoras garden, and there they stayed, hogging overhead wires for much of the day, flitting down to pluck odd berries as they fancied, darting over to scoff apples if they preferred.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 02 March 2008 )
November 2007. Waxwing Roadshow! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jos   

WaxwingNovember is the one month of the year in Lithuania that it would be better to hibernate through - the weather borders on diabolical, the country lives in a perpetual grey and the birding slumps into a pit of nothingness. Summer birds have gone, the winter specials few and far between ...roll on the snows and the real winter!

Appropriately enough, really summing up the birding, the month begins with the 'Day of the Dead', a day when, by rights, all good Lithuanians visit the graves of ancestors and those dearly departed. For the resident Brit abroad, however, there are no such obligations, for me it just means a couple of extra days of holiday and the chance to hope for some spark to get month going. So it was, the first three days of November were spent in my Labanoras garden - sleet, sideways rain, wind, more wind and then some snow! And just a little bit of sun too! But there were birds ...I had barely arrived before my first treat was before me, a flock of about 15 Waxwings, almost certainly the same ones as had been present the week before, tucking into apples in my front garden. It was then into the house to get the woodburner going and Tree Sparrowturn the house into something rather snug. The Waxwings didn't linger, but a Black Woodpecker flew over the next day to provide some compensation. After many hours peering through the windows, the wind dropped enough to allow me to do some ringing - added another 25 birds to the season's totals, almost all being Great Tits and Tree Sparrows. A flock of about 45 Goldfinches, feeding on thistle heads left specially, also spent a while in the garden, as did Bullfinches and the regular Middle Spotted Woodpecker, but the star of the weekend was a female Grey-headed Woodpecker - a few weeks after the male returned to the forest feeders, here was the first back in the garden too. Twice she came in, twice very near the feeders, but both times more interested in damaging my pear tree than enjoying the free food hand-outs!

Then the weather turned really disgusting - wet snow and cold northerly winds. Packed up the bird ringing, before either a bird or I risked freezing to death, then headed back for Vilnius! And there, confined to the city for a day as my car gave me grief, yet more Waxwings ...a flock of about 20 flying over!!!

Last Updated ( Monday, 03 December 2007 )
October 2007. Mega-birding, rallies and rares. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jos   

Middle Spotted Woodpecker

As the country emptied of birds and the lands fell silent, October saw a change in strategy - trampsing the local patch began to play second fiddle to the feeding stations - time to start building them up, increasing the numbers of feeders at each site and to start a ringing program at Labanoras to investigate winter movements. Rewards included Hawfinches, Middle Spotted Woodpeckers and the return of Grey-headed Woodpeckers.  However, for sheer wow factor,it was the third weekend of the month that towered above everything - first, a Bonaparte's Gull (a new species for the country) and then a mad dash around the coastal districts in the annual Lithuanian Bird Rally, a race that saw me grabbing second place, a single species behind the winners.


Last Updated ( Monday, 29 October 2007 )
September 2007. Autumn dawning. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jos   

Red-necked Phalarope


After a fantastic few days in America, where warblers and waders were much in abundance, it was back to Lithuania and back to reality! Autumn was creeping in, birds were leaving. Though the land was now largely devoid of birds, there were still plenty of good birds to see at Baltoji Voke and other locations. Amongst the highlights of the first part of the month, one Red-necked Phalarope, two lingering Black Storks, a flock of over 200 Great White Egrets and a Corncrake sat out in the open. On top of this, at a traditional roost site, there was the fantastic spectacle of over 3500 Common Cranes dropping in to sleep, a visual and musical treat.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 10 January 2008 )
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