• Whooper Swan

Lithuania 2020

Autumn Migration Tour

  • Duration

    7 October 2020 to 14 October 2020

  • Location

    Lithuania

  • Led by

    David Lindo with Lithuanian hearthrob Marius Karlonas

  • For assistance with booking flights

    please contact Sacha Barbato at Travel Counsellors
    +44 (0)1603 360 099
    sacha.barbato@travelcounsellors.com

  • Please contact us if you have any other queries

    Email: tours@theurbanbirderworld.com
    Phone: +44 (0) 330 4000 440 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)

  • Price

    £1,350 per person plus flights
    (Same price as last year!)

  • Single supplement

    £65

  • Deposit

    £240 per person

  • Group size

    up to 16 participants

  • Remaining balance due

    60 days before travel start date

Free loan of Leica Ultravid binoculars is available for the duration of the tour – subject to availability.

Please ask for details.

About Lithuania

Lithuania is a land of outstanding natural beauty. Traditionally, its countryside has been considered as just agricultural by many from outside its borders. In reality, Lithuania possesses a varied landscape with a low human population. There are vast woodland areas together with diverse bog complexes, natural river valleys and numerous lake systems. Indeed, it is a land that more typically represents a European forest region with a predomination of boreal woodland.

You will come across flooded meadows holding flocks of geese, ducks and waders. There are silent sandy coastlines, flooded meadows, countless lakes surrounded by natural wildflower meadows, divergent types of old forest stands, large bogs and swamps. The country also has an excellent transport infrastructure and is a thoroughly safe environment in which to inhabit. All of which combines to make Lithuania a very favourable destination in Europe for both wildlife and wildlife watchers.

Due to being located on the Eastern Baltic flyway Lithuania is blessed with a large array of migratory birds passing through during spring and autumn migration seasons. Also, because of the presence of so many bodies of standing water, it is a highly prized stopover point for a multitude of waterbird species.
The close proximity of the Baltic Sea – which remains unfrozen in winter – means that numerous congregations of seabirds occur including the threatened Velvet Scoter and Long-tailed Duck amongst others. With a well organized and motivated nature conservation programme there is effective protection for its rich wildlife diversity.

Tour overview

During this tour you will have the unique possibility to observe one of nature’s most amazing phenomenons; the annual autumnal bird migration. The Baltic Flyway is among the most important bird migration routes in the world. Each autumn millions of birds pass through the Baltic states from their breeding grounds in Scandinavia and Northen Russia to wintering places in Western Europe or Africa. Lithuania is located at the narrowest point of this flyway, thus, creating a ‘bottleneck’ effect for millions of birds.

The Tour starts in Western Lithuania, at Ventė Cape – a location where you will find one of the largest ringing stations in the world. It was established back in 1929 and can witness up to 800,000 birds over the cape each day during the peak of migration.

Our next destination – Curonian Spit National Park. This narrow spit of sandy dunes, located between the Curonian Lagoon and the Baltic Sea, is a hotspot for migratory birds (mainly passerines and raptors), with up to 3 million migrants crossing on peak days. To offer some relief after the spectacle of Western Lithuania’s bird migration we will travel south to Dzukija National Park – an area possessing the largest areas of woodlands and raised-bogs in the whole country and populated with small ancient villages representing the cultural heritage of the region. Two nights in the heart of the Dainava woodland, Marcinkonys village and visits to its surrounding countryside will allow you to feel the purity of Lithuania’s nature.

Expected birds

  • Arctic Tern
  • Baltic Gull
  • Bearded Tit
  • Bewick’s Swan
  • Black Woodpecker
  • Black-throated
  • Capercaillie
  • Caspian Gull
  • Common Crane
  • Common Scoter
  • Dunlin
  • Great Grey Shrike
  • Greater Scaup
  • Grey Partridge
  • Grey-headed Woodpecker
  • Hawfinch
  • Hazel Grouse
  • Hen Harrier
  • Jack Snipe
  • Little Gull
  • Long-tailed Duck
  • Merlin
  • Nutcracker
  • Parrot Crossbill
  • Peregrine
  • Pygmy Owl
  • Red throated Divers
  • Slavonian Grebe
  • Smew
  • Taiga Bean Geese
  • Tundra Bean Geese
  • Twite
  • Velvet Scoter
  • White-tailed Eagle
  • Whooper Swan
  • Yellow-browed Warbler

Other wildlife

Roe Deer, Red Deer, Elk, Red Squirrel, Pine Martin, Wild Boar and European Beaver. The Elk on the Curonian Spit is always a bonus.

Itinerary

October 7 – Palanga – Ventė Cape

Arrive in Palanga Airport. Birding in Palanga town and seawatch from Palanga bridge. This place is one of the best seawatching migration spots for divers, Common and Velvet Scoters. After Palanga we will transfer to our hotel in Ventė Cape birding all the way.

Dinner at Ventainė hotel restaurant.

Overnight stay in Ventainė hotel.

October 8 – Ventė Cape and Nemunas Delta

Our hotel is almost at the top of the Ventė Cape and near the shore of the Curonian Lagoon, thus we will start our morning birdwatch from the hotel garden and we will walk (1.5 km) towards Ventės Ragas ringing station – one of the biggest ringing stations in the worldand also one of the best autumn migration hotspots in Baltic States. During big days it is possible to count up to 800,000 birds passing through over your head! This is the reason why the daily number of ringed birds here can reach upwards of 7,000 birds. It is also a great site for finding Caspian Gull, Hawfinch, Twite, redpolls amongst other species.

After lunch we will visit Kniaupas Bay and Krokų Lanka Lake both good spots for waterfowl. Kintai fishponds will be our last destination for this day. This area located in Nemunas Delta Regional Park and is great for waders. Hundreds of these birds migrating along the Curonian Lagoon coastline stop at these fishponds to rest before continuing their onward journey to the south and west. Many new and rare species for the country has been discovered here including Terek Sandpiper and Pacific Golden Plover whilst species like Jack Snipe and Marsh Sandpiper are observed here each autumn.

Dinner at Kintai fish restaurant.

Overnight stay in Ventainė hotel.

October 9 – Nemunas delta – Curonian Spit

After a morning migration watch at Ventė Cape we will leave our hotel and drive to Rusnė Island. Here we will check the Skirvytė River, another great place for waders. Before the lunch we will leave Nemunas Delta and will continue our birding by boat through the Nemunas Delta’s amazing chanels and bays. We will travel to Nida (Curonian Spit) by boat, crossing Curonian Lagoon in two hours. The beauty of birding by boat is that you will sometimes get close views of maurading White-tailed Eagle that send the equally close Eurasian Wigeon, Common Pochard, Eurasian Teal, Smew, Goosander and attendant gulls into a frenzy.

After lunch in Nida we will indulge in some urban birding within this beautiful village where we can expect a migrant avian surprise at almost each corner.

Dinner at Seklyčia Restaurant.

Overnight stay in Nerija Hotel.

October 10 – Curonian Spit National Park

The first part of the day will be spent watching migration from Nida and Parnidis Dune. On good days it is possible to count up to 3 million birds passing over this narrow peace of land where both shores – Baltic Sea and Curonian Lagoon – are visible. We will carefully check the mixed migrating flocks of Common Chaffinch, Eurasian Siskin, Common Crossbill that may also contain tits and thrushes for Parrot Crossbills secreted amongst them.

The second half of the day will be spent in Nagliai Nature Reserve. This site is a good spot to possibly see Moose whilst enjoying the unspoiled landscape and migrating birds.

Dinner at Kuršis restaurant in Nida. .

Overnight stay in Nerija Hotel.

October 11 – Curonian Spit National Park

On this day we will enjoy migration of seabirds, waders, raptors, Common Crane and thousand of passerines at different parts of Curonian Spit – from south to north. We will visit Juodkrantė Ringing Station where, during the height of migration, the ringers are also sometimes mist-netting rare warblers like Yellow-browed and Pallas’. Juodkrantė Dendrological Traip and Kopgalis (the northeast point of the spit) will be our last destinations for the day.

Dinner in hotel Nerija

Overnight stay in Nerija Hotel.

October 12 – Transfer from Curonian Spit National Park to Dzūkija national park

After a morning migration watch we will leave our hotel and will start driving towards Dzūkija National Park to the south of the country. Our first stop will be in Klaipėda (third biggest city in Lithuania) on the coast of the Baltic Sea. The piers and wave-breakers at Melnragė, a district of Klaipėda, is a great place for some urban birding. You can always expect same interesting birds like Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone and Arctic Tern. On the way, we will stop at Raseniai fish ponds where we will have lunch whilst watching waterfowl and geese flocks containing both bean geese species plus Bewick’s and Whooper Swans. In the evening we will return to Dzūkija National Park.

Dinner at Dzūkijos Perlas Hotel.

Overnight stay in Dzūkijos Perlas Hotel.

October 13 – Dzūkija National Park

Dzukija National Park – an area possessing the largest area of woodland and raised-bogs in Lithuania – comes complete with cultural heritage in the shape of small ancient villages. Here we will hook up with a local and very experienced ornithologist who will guide us for the whole day. Together we will visit Čepkeliai Nature Reserve where we will have chances to observe Capercaillie, Hazel Grouse, Black and Grey-headed Woodpeckers. There are a few ancient villages on our way that will also be good venues for urban birding and in the evening we will try for Pygmy Owl that are active here even in autumn!

Traditional Dzūkija‘s region dinner at Marcinkonys National Park Visitor Centre.

Overnight stay in Dzūkijos Perlas Hotel.

October 14 – Dzūkija National Park – Vilnius.

After short morning birdwatch around Merkinė town we will drive to Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius. Here we will have sightseeing excursion with professional city guide. Even during the excursion we will be urban birding!

After lunch in Vilnius old town we will head to the airport and our departures.

Special trip notes

This trip is suitable for all ages and abilities.

A moderate amount of walking is involved with no uphill treks.

The weather can range from being mild to pretty breezy. It can also be wet so bring waterproof attire and walking boots. Walking boots and waterproof trousers may be required when we visit the Čepkeliai Nature Reserve.

Recommended field guide

Collins Bird Guide – Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney & Dan Zetterström

Book now

  • Duration: 7 October 2020 to 14 October 2020
  • Price: £1,350 per person plus flights
  • Single supplement: £65
  • Deposit: £240 per person
  • Group size: up to 16 participants
  • Remaining balance due 60 days before travel start date
  • Flights

    We advise travellers to get to Palanga with Ryanair from Stansted 06.10 arriving 10.25.
    Departure will be from Vilnius in the late afternoon.

  • For assistance with booking flights

    Please contact Sacha Barbato at Travel Counsellors
    +44 (0)1603 360 099
    sacha.barbato@travelcounsellors.com

  • Please contact us if you have any other queries

    Email: tours@theurbanbirderworld.com
    Phone: +44 (0) 330 4000 440 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)

Clear

Price includes

  • Full board accommodation
  • All meals and drinks
  • Transport in a comfortable minibus
  • Entrance fees to reserves and national parks
  • The services of a TUB Guide and an English speaking Lithuanian guide
  • The optional loan of a pair of sexy Leica binoculars for the duration of the tour – subject to availability.

Price does not include

  • Airline tickets and airport taxes
  • Incidental refreshments at cafes and bars
  • All alcoholic beverages
  • Items of a personal nature
  • All alcoholic beverages
  • Personal travel insurance