Sunday, 12 May 2013

Kolka, Latvia - the amazing migration watchpoint

Lying on the Latvian coast with the Baltic Sea to the west and the Gulf of Riga to the east, Cape Kolka looks well placed for receiving migrants destined for Scandinavia further north. Perhaps 90 miles north west of Latvia's capital Riga, it has to be one of Europe's hidden gems when it comes to watching diurnal migration.

I was there last Friday and stayed for two days. On Friday morning we sat on chairs in a field and simply looked up. After two minutes we were witnessing the beginnings of an incredible passage of raptors, cranes and storks. 

Within three hours we clocked up nearly 300 Common Buzzards, c10 Honey Buzzard, c6 Rough-legged Buzzard, c6 Marsh Harrier, 1 Black Kite, 1 Red Kite, 1 Hobby, 1 Red-footed Falcon, 1 Kestrel, 1 Goshawk, at least 15 Sparrowhawks, c200 White Stork, c400 Common Crane and around 25 Waxwings. In addition we had hundreds of Chaffinches, Tree Pipits and Yellow Wagtails to add to the mix. Our full day totals were much higher. There were birds passing over all the time. In between all this we searched the trees and bushes for migrants. Some of the bushes were jumping with warblers, flycatchers and shrikes. But more about those tomorrow.

The following day was quieter, but we still recorded good species including a Pallid Harrier. This place should firmly be on the birding map!
 Common Crane
 White Stork
 Male Marsh Harrier
 Red Kite
 Rough-legged Buzzard
 Honey Buzzard
 Another male Marsh Harrier
Common Buzzard

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