Birding hotspots

Birding hotspots in the Central Baltic area

All around the Baltic sea there are excellent birding spots with interesting species all year round. On capes and islands the spring and autumn migration is often intense with large numbers of bird on route to or from the tundra, mountains or boreal forests. Nesting birds like waders and ducks along with the songbirds of the open landscape along the coast will give highlights to summer birding. During the winter large flocks of northern ducks as long-tailed ducks, smew, Steller's eider and many more can be seen along with large numbers of eagles.

In recent years, herring gulls and cormorants have been nesting on the Lighthouse island, which is rarely visited by people. In exceptional cases, even the nests of razorbills have been spotted on the island.

Cape Kolka, Latvia: Excellent spot to see migratory sea birds!

Cape Kolka is the furthest northern point of the Courland peninsula. This area is a part of the coastline of the Baltic sea, where the Gulf of Riga meets the Irbe Strait. It is a perfect place to observe migratory birds, and it is widely-recognized among the European bird watchers. The location of the cape creates good conditions for watching the migratory birds during the spring migration season, when birds fly from the south-west. In this period, one can observe a “bottleneck” effect at the cape, where the birds flying above land gather before setting off across the Gulf of Riga towards Estonia.

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Eurasian sparrowhawk is considered to be a background species among the migratory birds of prey at Cape Kolka. It migrates all day long, more than 60 sparrowhawks per hour fly over in the first part of the day; under favourable conditions, their number can reach over 400 specimens during the day.

The largest group of sea ducks on the banks of Cape Kolka are long-tailed ducks (Clangula hyemalis), which remain here from the end of September to the end of May.  

Lausviken, Gotland, Sweden: Eagles and thousands of migrating geese

Lausviken is a shallow bay which attracts migrating geese, waders and ducks. The bay is the best spot for bar-tailed godwits during spring migration and attracts tens of thousands of migrating barnacle geese during spring and autumn, with an occasional red-breasted goose among them. Both golden eagle and white-tailed eagle are frequently seen in the area all year round. There are two birding towers with excellent views over the bay.

The shores are grazed by cattle and the large flocks of visiting geese. From the birding tower one may spot hundreds of bar-tailed godwits during spring migration in April.

Bar-tailed godwits resting and barnacle geese lifting when frightened by a passing white-tailed eagle.

Black-throated loons, left in summer plumage, right in winter.

Närsholmen, Gotland, Sweden: Waders, eagles, geese and rare small ones...

Närsholmen is a cape with good views of the migrating birds passing over de sea: ducks, geese and loons. In the pine groove by the parking lot there are often resting passarines – including really rare visitors – during spring and autumn. Närsholmen also has a special flora with orchids and much more.

Eastern vagrants October 2019, short film by Måns Grundsten:

The red and white lighthouse on Närsholmen is very characteristic and just outside the stone wall there are good places to set up spotting scopes and watch the passing migrating flocks over the sea. The grazed area has lots of orchids and other rare plants.   

Broad-billed sandpiper, sometimes spotted at Närsholmen.

Elder-flowered orchid (Dactylorhiza sambucina) is found blooming in May on Närsholmen.

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