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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Trystan's 2022 World List (2 Viewers)

13th February

Baltic trip underway. Main target is Steller's eider, also targeting owls and hazel grouse as well as some general site seeing. The first day was just mooching around Riga, keeping half an eye out for Goshawk but nothing spectacular on this first day.

Riga

---. (01.) Herring gull
140. (02.) Hooded crow
---. (03.) Great tit
---. (04.) House sparrow
---. (05.) Blue tit
---. (06.) Common gull
---. (07.) Feral pigeon
---. (08.) Mallard
---. (09.) Goosander
---. (10.) Tree sparrow
141. (11.) Treecreeper
---. (12.) Great black backed gull
 
14th February

Driving day, with a ferry crossing and finishing on Saaremaa.

En route (Latvia)

---. (13.) Jay
---. (14.) Buzzard
---. (15.) Cormorant

Will be returning via Latvia, so the paltry list for this country may still increase but no plans currently to do any birding here so maybe it wont.

En route (Estonia)

Before setting off I found out that as a vaccinated traveller, I was no longer required to fill in a passenger locator form but was still surprised to have no border checks in place. Maybe I dare hope we are returning to normality.

---. (01.) Hooded crow
---. (02.) Great tit
---. (03.) Jay
---. (04.) Buzzard
---. (05.) Herring gull
---. (06.) Magpie

Virtsu (Waiting for ferry)

---. (07.) Goosander
---. (08.) Great black backed gull
---. (09.) Feral pigeon
142. (10.) Raven

Crossing

---. (11.) Long tailed duck
---. (12.) Common gull

Muhu

---. (13.) Goldeneye
---. (14.) Great grey shrike

Kudema bay

---. (15.) Mute swan - 50+ in the south of the bay
---. (16.) Mallard - 20+ in the south of the bay
---. (17.) Coot - 3 by the jetty in the north west of the bay
---. (18.) Scaup - 1 female with the coots
---. (19.) Cormorant - 1 on the jetty with gulls
---. (20.) Eider - 1 male just off the jetty
143. (21.) Red breasted merganser - viewed from the jetty, 1 male, distant among long tailed ducks
144. (22.) STELLER'S EIDER - viewed from the jetty. A great start, taking all the pressure off tomorrow. There were about 15 here, though a little distant to call the views good, even through the scope, with quite choppy sea, it was tough to count them, but I reckon 6-7 females and slightly more males.

Tagaranna

---. (23.) Greenfinch - 10+ flock in tree by the carpark
---. (24.) Blackbird - 1
145. (25.) Velvet scoter - Group of 4 and 3, males and females slightly separated and closer in than the common scoters
---. (26.) Common scoter - 20+ mostly females, mixed with a raft of long tailed ducks
 
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15th February

Had an extra night on Saaremaa in case of not getting the Eiders yesterday, so focussed on the woodlands and owls, with Pygmy being the most likely.
A Tawny owl called early morning outside the guest house, but by the time I was dressed and ready to look, it was silent.

Silence was the theme of the day really. It's really too early in the year to expect more than a handful of species to be around but I did connect with a few things up to about midday, when it rained for an hour or so.

Selgase

---. (27.) Marsh tit
---. (28.) Jackdaw

Viidumae NP

146. (29.) Black woodpecker
---. (30.) Great spotted woodpecker
147. (31.) Crossbill
---. (32.) Willow tit
---. (33.) Goldcrest

Selgase

---. (34.) Long-tailed tit
---. (35.) Blue tit
---. (36.) Siskin

Closest I came to an owl this evening was finding a tree which creaked like one in the rather blustery conditions.
 
16th February

Caught the early ferry with 5 mins to spare, heading to Tallinn today with stops planned in to continue searching for targets.

Marimetsa

148. (37.) Nutcracker
---. (38.) Treecreeper

As with many places I've visited so far, somewhere that looks like it will be amazing in spring, but quite barren at present, shrouded in snow.

That was it for the day, with sleet coming in and hampering the afternoon's birding.

Looks like it will continue throughout the trip now, further diminishing my already slim chances and not what was forecast when I looked prior to setting off.
 
17th February

Tallinn

---. (39.) House sparrow
---. (40.) Tree sparrow

Similar to Riga, coming to feeders in a park. The rain sounded very bad over night but held off first thing. After a couple of hours in Tallinn, I headed south towards Soomaa NP. I drove their in relentless rain but was blessed with a couple of hours upon arrival where it stayed dry. A goshawk flew infront of the car as I got close to the national park.

I tried my luck on a couple of trails which seemed the right kind of habitat for Hazel grouse (or Capercaillie) and although I added a few more species, I couldn't get the trip targets.

Soomaa

149. (41.) Goshawk
---. (42.) Nuthatch
150. (43.) Lesser spotted woodpecker

Rain set in from about 14.30 and hasn't stopped. I abandoned the idea of staying until dark and instead drove slowly through the reserve. I booked a room near Nigula so I can try there in the morning before heading towards Lithuania. In the dusk, a game bird came over the road and was lost. I had my mind on Hazel grouse and Caper and couldn't fathom at all this bird which was too big for the former and too small for the latter, then it dawned on me that Black grouse are present here too!

Raamatu

---. (44.) Black grouse
 
Sorry to hear about the weather. How easy was it all to arrange? On a good day there are quite a few targets there I'd like to see in the next few years but I've never planned anything like this
 
Sorry to hear about the weather. How easy was it all to arrange? On a good day there are quite a few targets there I'd like to see in the next few years but I've never planned anything like this
Very easy, I'm making it up as I go along. I sorted flights, car rental and first nights accommodation and figured out the logistics of getting to the Steller's Eider spot.
Shortly after this, I booked a couple of nights on the island, figuring it would give me two days for the main target if needed.

After that, I've just been deciding my route and booking accommodation to best fit where I need to be. The next most important thing after the Steller's eider was to make sure I got to all three countries. It looked like I'd need to do passenger locator forms each time I went over a border, then I read Estonia stopped needing them, and given there were no border checks between Estonia and Latvia either direction, I didn't do one for Latvia. I'm in Lithuania now and I haven't done one for here either. There are no border checks.

Weather was better this morning but it didn't help. I'm resigned to enjoying the trip for what it is, even without any more key birds. I think a month later would have been better. Target birds more vocal, less ice/snow/slush on the ground and potentially a few more species around too, but these were the dates which fit around my work and they suited the Steller's eider.
 
18th February

Despite really nice weather in the morning, no Hazel grouse, or indeed any new additions at Nigula. I tried the western end where I saw on one website that the largest concentration of them tend to be. Deep snow on the trails made walking tough and noisy though. I decided to backtrack to the boardwalk route and work my way out to another wooded patch good for White backed woodpeckers and Hazel grouse, but this route was cut off as about half way out, the boardwalk was broken and the ice had risen above it a good half foot. I might have made it in wellies, and I even toyed with walking away from the boardwalk onto thicker ice to get round but decided it wasn't worth the risk, however badly I want to see this species!

So, driving to Lithuania via Latvia and a couple of additions to the Latvia list from the car.

---. (16.) Mute swan
---. (17.) Great spotted woodpecker

Then into Lithuania, staying at Birzai, with nearby forests to try, which were maybe even more desolate, though quite a lot further along the thawing process, than the other places I've been.

Birzai

---. (01.) Hooded crow
---. (02.) Goosander
---. (03.) Buzzard
---. (04.) Raven

By owling time, it was of course, raining again.
 
Thanks for the info. Looks like it’s not that difficult. Will seem daunting the first time I try to organise a trip but the Baltic looks easier than a lot of places
 
Thanks for the info. Looks like it’s not that difficult. Will seem daunting the first time I try to organise a trip but the Baltic looks easier than a lot of places
Another plus is the infrastructure here. I thought I'd lost my wallet this morning, though I found it in the evening, I tried using my phone app to buy petrol, never tried this in the UK, but no issue in making it work in Lithuania.
Using the automatic check out at the supermarket, there's an option to switch to English, its really very impressive.
 
19th February

Since asking for info here on bird forum, about target species, I was given the potential location of an overwintering Hawk owl in Lithuania by Jos Stratford.
Further more, he was just back in from his trip to South Africa and we arranged to meet up at the site and look for it.

As with previous days, weather remained an issue with snow overnight making the roads tricky and a blustery wind all day. Added to this, I was running late in the morning due to misplacing my wallet and blocking all my cards so not the best start.

This soon changed when I got to the site. Jos was already looking and we began to check possible perches. Jos had heard Cranes calling before my arrival so we headed in that direction first, finding two in the field with a bit of displaying and honking before a fox spooked them.

Apparently, the cranes were a little early and as we made a circuit of the buildings and fields an unseasonal snipe flew in too. Worth checking out we moved to approximately where it landed and it rose up and moved further away. I thought it had a short bill, Jos agreed, so we followed it again and sure enough a Jack snipe. (A Lithuania tick for Jos)

Moving on, round another set of buildings, I was scanning some distant trees, when Jos beckoned that he had found the owl, and there it was in a tree in the garden of one of the houses. Steller's eider may have been the number one target for the trip, but I think this beauty just stole bird of the trip from it. After enjoying some scope filling views, I followed Jos by car on to some woodlands to try for Hazel grouse (yet again) and some woodpeckers.

Here, luck ran out and we had a similar story to my other wooded treks, though did turn up a few Lithuania ticks and Crested tit for the trip early on. The strong wind was probably a big factor in the lack of birding activity here but all in all a fantastic day out and a massive thanks to Jos for his information and his time!

Pasiliai

---. (05.) Jay
151. (06.) Common crane
152. (07.) Jack snipe
153. (08.) HAWK OWL
---. (09.) Greenfinch

Taujenai-Uzulenai

---. (10.) Marsh tit
154. (11.) Crested tit
---. (12.) Goldcrest

Birzai

---. (13.) Mute swan
---. (14.) Mallard

The evening, after retrieving my wallet was designated once again for owls in the nearby forest, and the weather looked more promising than any evening since Saaremaa, however, this was short lived as the rain once again came in fits and starts, and after dark turned to snow as I retreated back to the apartment with nothing to show for it.
 
February 20th

Last day. As I was staying in Birzai and hadn't really seen it in the daylight, I had a look round in the morning, getting a selection of species onto the trip list/Lithuania list from around the parks and lake area.

Birzai

---. (15.) Jackdaw
---. (16.) Great tit
---. (17.) House sparrow
---. (18.) Rook
---. (19.) Goldeneye
---. (20.) Tree sparrow
---. (21.) Starling
---. (22.) Nuthatch
---. (23.) Hawfinch - Wasn't really on the radar but one was sat high up in a tree near the lake
---. (24.) Blue tit
---. (25.) Feral pigeon

Back into the forest for a 6+ hour final effort for Hazel grouse before having to head back to the airport.

Birzu girios

---. (26.) Great spotted woodpecker
155. (27.) Ural owl - really had given up on getting any more owls, this one flushed from a low position while I was walking through the forest. I saw approximately where it landed and headed towards it, but it moved again, this time I was prepared and got a reasonable but fleeting view before it landed annoyingly, and no doubt deliberately just out of line of site. I took a few steps to one side but it was off again, this time lost in the trees.
---. (28.) Common crossbill

Unfortunately, that was it. If the Hazel grouse were present where I was looking, they were easily evading me and has probably surpassed Rock partridge as the bird I've spent most time failing to find on holiday.

Grand total of 53 species for the trip with the main target and one other hoped for lifer. Knew that the other target species may prove too tough but some other nice birds seen as well as some general tourist stuff and three more new countries so going home happy.
 
... Hawk Owl in Lithuania ....

Moving on, round another set of buildings, I was scanning some distant trees, when Jos beckoned that he had found the owl, and there it was in a tree in the garden of one of the houses. Steller's eider may have been the number one target for the trip, but I think this beauty just stole bird of the trip from it.

Was good to meet you. Here is your owl (y)
 

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27th February

After disappearing half an hour before my arrival earlier this year, I noted that the Long-billed dowitcher has been reported increasingly back in the same location recently, with Snow goose not too far from there, the plan for the day was set.

Fluke hall

156. (140.) Long-billed dowitcher - not the best conditions, very back lit and strong breeze in my face but at least I saw it this time.

Marshside

157. (141.) Avocet
158. (142.) Snow goose - but very distant
159. (143.) Ruff
160. (144.) Hen harrier - male, hoped for this, and pleased to watch it cruise past.

Report of White-fronted geese up the road at Banks marsh, so I made an attempt, though the area is huge, with 1000s of geese to go through, I never found them but was rewarded with Merlin, second helping of Hen harrier and much closer views of the Snow goose.
 
6th March

With a car full, an attempt to see 5 species of scoter in a day with a supporting cast of King eider and Ring-billed gull.

Musselburgh

Off to a great start here.

---. (145.) Velvet scoter
161. (146.) White-winged scoter
162. (147.) King eider
163. (148.) Surf scoter

Edinburgh

164. (149.) Ring-billed gull

Then the wheels came off the wagon!

The black scoter had been reported in the morning but not seen since and despite a thorough search of the area, no sign of it, and only 5 common scoters.

Cocklawburn beach

---. (150.) Red-breasted merganser

Tried for White-billed diver also reported at Bamburgh earlier in the day and also drew a blank here.

Salvaged one more year tick with a bit of light left, then struggled to get home due to road closures!

East Chevington

165. (151.) White-fronted goose
 
Quite a day there. Would have been three lifers for me. I guess youve seen the WWS before?
Yeah, no lifers available for me but one of the group got 4. Had we connected with the black scoter and white billed diver, it would have been 6.
 
13th March

A lap of the midlands today, some great birds throughout, though the year ticks fell short of the mark with the Derbyshire Tundra bean geese apparently gone and no reports of the Glaucous gulls which had been around Shawell all week.

Sherwood forest, Notts

---. (152.) Lesser spotted woodpecker

Budby, Notts

166. (153.) Woodlark
167. (154.) Chiffchaff

3 species of woodpecker in 30 mins was nice and everything very showy, I finished this bit of the itinerary faster than anticipated so I put in an hour at Welbeck looking for Goshawks but I've never had any luck the handful of times I've tried here. Buzzards and a Red kite were all I could muster.

Ingleby, Derbyshire

Despite the lack of bean geese, the White-fronted geese had remained and I had a bit of a walk round the area. Although access to the nearby sailing lake was restricted, there were several viewing points.

168. (155.) Egyptian goose
169. (156.) Cetti's warbler

With no reports of the Glaucous gulls in Leicestershire, I toyed with the idea of heading past Birmingham instead but in the end, decided against it, cutting my losses and heading back via Carsington.

Carsington water

170. (157.) Red-necked grebe

Also of note here, Great northern diver and Willow tit
 
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