Birding in the Era of Coronavirus, an East European View PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jos   


Labanoras birding





Fully expecting a lockdown and severe restrictions of movement, and thus birding, I have decided to document the evolution of the Coronavirus outbreak from the perspective of a single birder living in Lithuania, eastern Europe.






2020 had started in pretty stylish manner, an excellent trip to New Zealand continuing into New Year and a short trip to Israel in mid-February. However, clouds were already developing - even as I passed through Shanghai on route back from New Zealand on 11 January, media reports were growing by the day of a new Coronaviras spreading rapidly in Wuhan, a city I had never even heard of. Fast forward to the Israel trip, talk was of an impending pandemic, Israeli border officials were none too impressed with the Chinese entry stamps in my passport. Still, at that stage, it did seem a localized disease, hitting Asia badly, but leaving Europe largely unscathed.





Well, we all know that changed in fairly short space! Late to the party, Lithuania recorded it's first case on 28 February, a lady returning from Italy. Relative calm in the country, no measures or restrictions were put in place, bar increased surveillance at airports. Meanwhile, in a winter that never really happened in Lithuania, the first signs of springs were emerging, Cranes were back early, yodelling cries echoing across the meadows, skeins of White-fronted and Bean Geese started their annual spring fly-over, Skylarks appeared and filled the skies with welcome song.



On 10 March, two more cases, also returnees from Italy, a State of Emergency was declared. The government started to stir, another two cases on the 12th kicked them into action and then there was no stopping them! As cases rose by two or three a day, then six or seven each day, schools were closed for at least five weeks and announcements that further measures would follow. Pretty much an open secret that the government would order a shutdown as soon as any internal transmissions were reported.


STAGE ONE - RISE OF THE VIRUS IN LITHUANIA. The early stages of the infection in Lithuania, first restrictions on day-to-day life, time for difficult decisions. Inevitably, it seemed, Lithuania was following the path of other nations in Europe, perhaps three weeks behind, but heading for bad times nevertheless. As cases appeared, at least there was a silver lining to the month of March - it is the beginning of the spring migration season, birds arrive back in the country in numbers, early season butterflies take to the wing. 

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 19 March 2020 )
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