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lithuania

White Stork Ciconia ciconia ©Sue Tranter

Lithuania is rich with diverse landscapes, unique works of nature and a variety of habitats - a lot of marshes, meadows, old and wet forests, lakes and fishponds all of which are suitable for birdwatching. Lithuania's amber coast - Curonian Spit with rolling sand dunes - make an indelible impression on many visitors. Also there are a lot of marshes and wet forest with old trees, suitable for rare species of woodpeckers.

Until recently, Lithuania was unknown territory to most Europeans. Before the 1990s, most ornithologists and conservationists certainly knew very little about it. They have only just begun to realize that Lithuania is wonderfully rich in bird fauna, including internationally significant populations of many species. Extensive areas of important wildlife habitats of outstanding importance in a European context are scattered throughout the country.

About 30% of Lithuania is forested, with over half of the forests containing middle-aged to old, mature timber. There are large tracts of wet forest, one of Europe's scarcest habitats. With pine, birch and spruce being the dominant species, these mixed and coniferous forests hold a wonderful variety of birds. Well over 500 pairs of Black Storks nest in them and similar numbers of Lesser-Spotted Eagles. Black Grouse, Hazel hens, Black and Three-toed Woodpeckers are common in the appropriate habitat. The White-backed Woodpecker, which is declining over much of its European range, is still quite numerous. Northern forests are famous for their owls and those in Lithuania are no exception. Ural, Tengmalm's and Pygmy Owls all breed.

A big part of Lithuania is farmed, but generally not in the intensive, highly mechanized way that is familiar to most of Western Europe. This means, for example that a third of the agricultural landscape consists of meadows and pastures; prime habitat for several thousand pairs of Corncrakes. White Storks are also a familiar sight in the countryside. They survive in areas of traditional farming, especially where these are close to wetlands. A recent estimate puts their population at 12,000 nesting pairs (some even breed in small colonies).

Two very rare European birds breed in the open sedge fens, these are the Aquatic Warbler (250-300 pairs) and the Great Snipe (200-300 pairs). Open fens and bogs are also home to the spectacular Crane, whose wild trumpeting calls are a prominent feature of this landscape. Lithuania has several hundred breeding pairs, and in autumn migrating flocks up to 3,000 cranes are regularly observed in some places. Plenty of old and wet forests create suitable conditions for rare species of woodpeckers (Three-toed, White-backed, Middle Spotted, Grey-headed and others, 9 species altogether). Birds such as Bitterns (800-1,000 pairs); Marsh Harries (2,500-3,500 pairs); and Black Terns (2,000-4,000) are abundant in more open marshland. Ospreys fish many lakes (30-40). White-tailed Eagle is increasing at 40-50 breeding pairs and up to 12 seen at one moment in winter.

Thirteen globally threatened bird species are found in Lithuania, five of them breed - Ferruginous Duck, White-tailed Eagle, Corncrake, Great Snipe and Aquatic Warbler. Regular flocks of Steller's Eider over winter in the Baltic Sea.

The White Stork truly deserves its place as Lithuanian's national bird. Whilst it has been declining rapidly in Western Europe during this century, the 5th European White Stork survey revealed that approximately 13,000 pairs bred in Lithuania. This is the highest known density of the species in the world.

The best periods for observations are:

Early spring (March, April) which is good for Steller's Eider, Long-tailed Duck and other seabirds, as well as for owls, woodpeckers and grouse.

The Breeding season (May, June) which has the highest number (150-200) of species - at the end of May all the songbirds arrive.

In autumn (September, October) and spring (March, April) migration brings huge concentrations of geese, swans, ducks, cranes and other waterfowl, waders and passerines. Especially strong autumn migration is on the seacoast of Lithuania which forms a bottle-neck.

Top Sites

Nemunas River Delta area

Satellite View

(it is also protected area as Nemunas delta regional park) - is known as Lithuanian bird paradise, where large number of water and marsh birds breed and hundreds of thousands of migrating birds stop en route. More than 300 species have been observed here, and nearly 200 species breed.

Curonian Spit

Satellite View

The Lithuanian seacoast area and Curonian spit - is a bottle-neck where the migration of wildfowl along the Baltic is impressive with huge flocks of migrant geese, swans, ducks and passerines.

Baltoji Voke

Satellite View

Baltoji Voke is the special birdwatching area very close to the capital of Lithuania - Vilnius. It is just 30km to the south, or 30 minutes by car from Vilnius airport. This place contains big complexes of good habitats concentrated in one place. Best of all are Baltoji Voke fishponds, there ecological farming goes together with some bird protection and birdwatching activities (in 2002 Lithuanian ornithological Society started here a special project for the development of birdwatching).

Middle Lithuania

In middle Lithuania there are large tracts of wet forest and marches with species such as Black Stork, Lesser-Spotted Eagles, Black Grouse, & Hazel Hens, nearly all (9, except Syrian) species of the European woodpeckers - Black, Grey, Three-toed, White-backed, Middle-spotted Woodpecker and other.

Southern & Eastern Lithuania

In Southern/Eastern Lithuania the pure sandy soils produce a landscape with pine forests and small villages with such species as Capercaillie, European Roller, Hoopoe, Tengmalm's Owl, European Nightjar and others. Large numbers of nice clean lakes are home to such breeding species as Osprey and Black-throated Diver.

Contributor

Egidijus Adomaitis

Lithuanian Ornithological Society

Vilnius

info@birdlife.lt

http://www.birdlife.lt/

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 343

National Bird - White Stork Ciconia ciconia

Checklist

Checklist

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Useful Reading

Birds, CDs etc.

Most parts of Europe are adequately covered in Europe wide fieldguies etc… see the Fatbirder Europe page for useful reading

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Birding Pal

Information

Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…

Trip Reports

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CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2006 [08 August] - John Perry, Per Grenabo & Peter Asher

Report

Following an earlier trip to Lithuania by JP & PG (See Report “The Baltic Coast of Lithuania and Latvia, 9th April – 17th April 2004”) we decided to pay a late summer visit to both originally visited areas and new areas. Highlights included excellent views of Great White Egret, Lesser Spotted Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Marsh, Hen and Montagu’s Harrier, Little Tern, Little Gull, and migrating passerines…

2006 [09 September] - Jose Maria Fernandez

Report

One of the main attractions in Northern hemidelta is Krokulanka lake and surrounding wet meadows, with hundreds of Greylag Geese, Coot, Gadwall, Great Crested Grebe, Mute Swan, Cormorant, Marsh Harrier, Great Egret, Snipe, Common Tern and one migrating female Merlin trying to catch unaware Meadow Pipits…

2010 [06 June] - Fredrik Asplund

Report

…The target species were Aquatic Warbler and Middle-spotted Woodpecker, birds we had never seen before. We also wanted to search for breeding White-winged Terns. We did not have to leave Lithuania disappointed…

2012 [12 December] - Mark Hows

Report

…After filling the feeders we went for a walk through the wood. We were quickly on to a white backed woodpecker, then a black woodpecker and finally some brief views of a three toed woodpecker. We headed back to the cabin to watch the feeders which now had marsh, Willow, Blue and Great tits a nuthatch and then the woodpeckers started to arrive, great spotted the first, followed by black then white backed which the great spotted took exception to…

2012 [05 May] - Howard Williams

Report

…These areas had mixed oak woodland also with dead trees where woodpeckers could be viewed well as there is still a lot of leaves on the trees at the moment. Here we had six species of woodpecker including white backed, middle spotted and grey headed. Large mixed tit flocks were evident throughout the forestry. Late Golden Oriole was also seen briefly as were both adult and juvenile cuckoo - late records. Also of interest at this location was a merlin hunting starling - not a common sight in central Lithuania my guide assured me - he was very excited….

2014 [09 September] - Vincent van der Spek - Lithuania & Kaliningrad

PDF Report

...The Curonian Spit, shared by Lithuania and the Russian enclave Kaliningrad, is a great destination for every one interested in visible migration. Every year millions of migrants pass this 97 km long spit, that is nowhere over 3,6 km wide. In September 2014 my Waternet colleague Luc Geelen and I attendend a Coastal and Marine (EUCC) conference at Klaipėda University, Lithuania....

Places to Stay

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One Hundred Birds House

Website

My father and I were always fascinated by the birds in our woods (we are from Kurtuvenai, Lithuania) so we came up with the idea to host other people from around the world who want an amazing bird watching experience. This homestead-grange is situated in the picturesque Kurtuvėnai regional park. The cottage has a guest house, which has three bedrooms, a kitchen, a dining room and a bathroom with shower. It is a traditional 18th century homestead surrounded by old forests and over 150 species of birds. As You may see in our website, our main bird watching spot is a 10 meter (32.8 feet) high tower, which opens a far extending view over the near by fishing ponds. We can also offer bikes and quad-motorcycles to explore the surrounding regional park and its birds.

Organisations

Lithuanian Ornithological Society [Lietuvos Ornitologø Draugija (LOD)]

Website

Naugarduko St. 47-3, LT-2006 Vilnius.+370 5 2130498 (was+ 370 2 230498); LOD@birdlife.lt

Klaipeda Region Ornithological Society

This Society is an independent organisation thought it is a branch of the Lithuanian Ornithological Society. Its members are the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who are interested in wild birds and their protection in the Klaipeda Region. Society`s emblem is the corncrake.

Reserves

Nemunas Delta Regional Park

Website

Satellite View

The area of the park stretches for more than 29,000 ha. It covers part of the delta of the Nemunas with the Ventë Cape, the island of Rusnë, the islands of Ragininkø and Galzdonø, Krokø Lankos Lake, the Aukstumalës, Rupkalviø and Medzioklës raised bogs. The territory of the regional park also encompasses Berstø, Zalgiriø and Leitgiriø forests. The eastern edge of the park comes close to the city of Silutë, the water territory of the Curonian Lagoon, 8-12km in width, separates it from the Curonian Spit. The southern edge of the park runs along the Rusnë - thus the Nemunas is called down Pagëgiai from the Gilija branch. Still lower, at the island of Rusnë, it splits into two major branches-the Atmata and the Skirvytë.

Regional Parks of Lithuania

Website

A typical entry… If you feel tired and want to relax from everyday worries and strained life you neednt go far away - you are sure to find quiet and delight in one of the most interesting places of Lithuania - the Nemunas Delta Regional Park. It was founded in 1992, striving to preserve the unique landscape of the delta of the Nemunas, its natural ecosystem and the values of cultural heritage.

Zemaitija National Park

Website

Satellite View

12 species of mammals from 49 found in the ZNP are listed in the Lithuanian Red Data Book (LRDB). Even 10 species of bats are found in the Park. There are nearly 183 species of birds, 38 of which are extremely rare and are inscribed in the LRDB…

Aukstaitija National Park

Information

Satellite View

The woods, marshes and meadows of Aukstaitija National Park abound in rare plant species, including a number of plants that are listed in the Red Data Book of Lithuania and are protected as endangered species. The woods of the park are the domain of elk, deer and wild boar. The lakes and rivers, too, are rich in wildlife, from Canadian mink to a variety of birds that can bring quite a few exciting moments to a devoted birdwatcher…

Dzukija National Park

Wiki

Satellite View

Dzukija National Park was designated in 1991 in the region of Varena. Its aim is to protect the landscape, the old villages, historical and cultural monuments, and forests of south-eastern Lithuania. The park's territory is 55 thousand hectares, 85 per cent of which is covered by woods…

Nerija National Park

Website

Satellite View

Covering an area of 18 thousand hectares, the Kursiu Nerija National Park was designated to protect the unique scenic beauty of the Kursiu Nerija, a narrow peninsula separating the Kursiu Marios (Curonian Lagoon) from the Baltic Sea.

Trakai Historic - National Park

Website

Satellite View

The environs of Trakai, with old villages and ancient castle hills, attract not only those interested in history but also numerous lovers of nature. In the Varnikai - Ilgelis and Plomenai nature reserves one can find a number of rare species of birds and plants.

Cepkeliai Reseerve

Information

Cepkeliai is the habitat of a great variety of birds. It has one of the largest populations of Grus grus and Tetrao urogalus in Lithuania. It is also the domain of Circaetus gallicus, Pandion haliaetus, Haliaetus albicilla, Bubo bubo, Picus canus, etc. Of birds characteristic of marshlands, mentioned shuld be made of Crex crex, Pluvialis apricaria, Tringa glareola and Tringa tatanus.

Kursiu Nerija National Park

Website

Satellite View

The Kursiu Nerija National Park stands out among the other parks of Lithuania. Because of ecological concerns, access to the spit is restricted…

Zuvintas Biosphere Reserve

Website

Satellite View

Lake Zuvintas is a typical overgrowing lake. The site contains a rich diversity of bogs, fens and aquatic communities and rich flora of vascular plants - about 600 species…

Kamanos Reserve

Information

Satellite View

The largest mire complex in the northern Lithuania region, including raised bogs, fens, transitional bogs with numerous small lakes, pools, canals and surrounding wet forests. A great diversity of habitats provides excellent conditions for numerous species of rare and threatened plants and animals…

Forums & Mailing Lists

Birds in Russia

Mailing List

To post to list: BirdsinRussia@yahoogroups.com

List contact: BirdsinRussia-owner@yahoogroups.com

To subscribe to list: BirdsinRussia-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Information and discussion list on all aspects of biology, ecology, behaviour, number, distribution, migrations and conservation etc. of all bird species of Eastern Europe and Northern Asia (within the borders of the ex-USSR). Founder Jevgeni Shergalin…

Other Links

Orni - Lithuanian Birders Community

Website

Website for the lithuanian birders community…

Birding Lithuania and Beyond - Jos Stratford

Website

The latest news in birds and birding in Lithuania and the Baltics. Photographs, articles and recent reports…

Photographers & Artists

Bird Pix

Gallery

Gallery of bird images…