Kolka   Cape   ( Kolkasrags    in   Latvian,   Domesnaes    in   Swedish,   Domesnaes    Kap    in German)   can   rightly   be   regarded   as   a   spring   equivalent   to   Falsterbo.   During a   good   migration   day   in   April/May,   hundreds   of   thousands   of   birds   may   pass in   a   few   hours   –   ducks,   divers,   raptors,   cranes,   waders,   gulls,   terns,   skuas, pigeons   and   passerines.   Often,   one   does   not   know   in   which   direction   to   look, because   there   are   birds   passing   everywhere;   overhead,   over   the   water   and along   the   shore.   As   this   part   of   Latvia   was   a   restricted   area,   also   for Latvians,   during   the   years   of   occupation,   this   hot-spot   is   still   poorly   known among bird-watchers.
The   area   between   Riga   and   Kolka   offers   such   famous   birding   sites   as   the two   national   parks   Kemeri   and   Slitere,   the   three   lakes   Babite,   Kanieris   and Engure,   as   well   as   several   coastal   sites   for   staging   ducks,   divers,   waders, gulls,    terns    and    passerines.    A    detour    to    Jelgava    and    a    visit    to    Svetes floodplain is always rewarding at this time of the year.
No   less   than   19   duck   species   are   regularly   seen   migrating   at   Kolka   Cape,   and maybe   Steller’s   Eider   should   be   included   as   the   20 th    and   King   Eider   as   the 21 st .   Long-tailed   Duck   and   Common   Scoter   are   the   most   numerous   ones,   with up   to   50,000   and   10,000   birds   per   hour,   respectively.   Red-throated   and Black-throated   Divers   pass   already   in   late   April,   but   in   larger   numbers   in May.   Gulls   and   terns   are   irregular   in   their   occurrence,   but   several   species, for   instance   the   Little   Gull,   are   seen   in   hundreds.   Cranes   pass   every   day, Black   and   White   Stork   only   occasionally.   Several   raptor   species   have   been recorded,   such   as   Greater   Spotted   Eagle,   Lesser   Spotted   Eagle,   White- tailed   Eagle,   Osprey,   Black   Kite,   Rough-legged   Buzzard,   Red-footed   Falcon Hobby,   Merlin   and   Siberian   Goshawk,   but   usually   in   low   numbers.   Among migrating    passerines    Chaffinch    and    Siskin    are    the    two    most    numerous species,   sometimes   the   flocks   pass   as   on   a   string   of   pearls,   often   with   the Waxwing    as    a    good    third.    Brambling,    Goldfinch,    Linnet,    Twite,    Redpoll, Hawfinch,   Bullfinch,   all   three   crossbill   species,   Mistle   Thrush,   Song   Thrush, Ring   Ouzel   and   Grey-headed   Wagtail   are   other   species   that   regularly   pass overhead,   sometimes   landing   in   the   pines   before   flying   out   over   the   water. Occasionally,   Serin,   Red-rumped   Swallow,   Red-throated   Pipit   and   Citrine Wagtail   pass   overhead.   Other   species,   such   as   Great   Spotted   Woodpecker, Three-toed    Woodpecker,    Coal    Tit    and    Golden    Oriole,    made    migration attempts,   resting   in   the   trees   next   to   the   shore.   Besides   all   the   migrants, there   are   always   large   numbers   of   staging   birds   at   the   Cape,   both   in   the water, on the shore and in the pine forest.
Among   species   found   in   other   parts   of   north-western   Kurzeme   were   Yellow- billed    Diver,    Great    Northern    Diver,    Capercaillie,    Black    Grouse,    Hazel Grouse,   Black   Stork,   King   Eider,   Corn   Crake,   Lesser   Spotted   Eagle,   Red Kite,    Montagu’s    Harrier,    Pallid    Harrier,    Heuglin’s    Gull,    Wryneck,    Middle Spotted    Woodpecker,    Lesser    Spotted    Woodpecker,    Black    Woodpecker, Grey-headed    Woodpecker,    Citrine    Wagtail,    Bluethroat,    Savi’s    Warbler, Great     Reed     Warbler,     Willow     Tit,     White-headed     Long-tailed     Tit, Nutcracker,   Russian   Jackdaw   and   Ortolan   Bunting.   Visits   to   Lake   Engure added   Green   Woodpecker,   Bittern,   Great   Egret,   Little   Crake,   Red-necked Grebe,   Little   Gull,   White-winged   Tern,   Whiskered   Tern,   Black   Tern,   Red- throated   Flycatcher,   Penduline   Tit   and   Bearded   Tit.   At   Svetes   flood-plain we   have   found   flocks   of   more   than   5,000   Russian   White-fronted   Geese, large     flocks     of     Spotted     Redshanks     and     Wood     Sandpipers,     Marsh Sandpipers,    more    than    150    White-winged    Terns,    White-tailed    Eagles, Lesser Spotted Eagles, and so on. A   high   biodiversity   ensures   you   a   surprisingly   long   list   of   bird   species   during a    tour    to    Kolka/Kurzeme    in    late    April/early    May.    And    there    are    good chances   of   finding   a   species   new   to   Latvia.   The   total   number   of   bird   taxa recorded during earlier tours amounts to 287.
Kolka/Kurzeme 30 April – 8 May 2016 The    following    itinerary    is    preliminary,    and    it    might    be    changed    due    to arrival/departure   times,   weather   conditions,   wishes   among   the   participants and last-minute information. 30    April.    Our   first   destination   will   be   Kemeri   National   Park,   the   programme depending     on     arrival     times.     Our     first     accommodation     will     be     in     the neighbourhood of Lake Kanieris. 1   May.    Today’s   main   destination   will   be   the   famous   Lake   Engure,   where   birds have   been   studied   for   more   than   50   years.   The   lake   houses   a   large   number   of breeding   species,   many   of   them   red-listed,   but   it   is   also   used   by   large   numbers of   migrating   birds.   Some   of   the   shores   are   grazed   by   cattle   and   horses,   to provide   good   conditions   for   waders   and   dabbling   ducks.   When   leaving   Engure the   coastal   road   will   be   followed,   with   stops   at   Berzciems   and   Kaltene,   before turning   inland.   En   route   to   our   base   camp   we   will   have   our   evening   meal   in Dundaga.   During   the   last   few   years   the   best   restaurant   in   the   north-we s tern part of the country has been one in Dundaga.
2–5    May.     Most   days   we   start   at   Kolka   Cape,   hoping   for   excellent   views   of Capercaillie,   Black   Grouse   and   Hazel   Grouse   already   before   reaching   Kolka. When   having   observed   enough   migrating   birds   for   the   day,   we   will   use   the   rest of    the    day    to    visit    different    sites    between    Kolka    and    Dundaga    –    coastal polders,   Vidale   quarry,   fields,   meadows,   forests,   ponds,   lakes,   bogs   and   parks   to   observe   staging   and   resident   birds.   The   largest   numbers   of   birds   are   found at Kolka, but the rarer ones are often found at other sites.   6   May.    We   start   the   return   drive   to   Riga.   The   main   birding   stops   this   day   will   be at   the   northern   and   western   parts   of   Lake   Engure.   For   evening   meal   and accommodation we will return to Kemeri National Park. 7   May.    We   start   the   day   by   a   visit   to   the   bird-watching   tower   at   Lake   Kanieris, followed   by   a   forest   walk   in   the   national   park,   hoping   for   some   interesting woodpeckers.    En-route    to    Jelgava    we    will    visit    the    meadows    at    Svetes floodplain, an excellent area for wetland species. 8   May.    Departure   day.   Spare   time   will,   of   course,   be   used   for   birding;   no   lack   of sites. Our   base   camp   will   be   somewhere   in   Slitere   National   Park.   Accommodation   for the   first   and   seventh   night   will   be   in   Kemeri   National   Park,   and   for   the   last night next to Jelgava Palace. The   (airport-to-airport)   price   of    900   EUR    for   a   nine-day   tour   includes   costs   for car,    fuel,    driver/guide,    accommodation    in    twin-bedded    rooms,    breakfast, coffee/tea   break,   picnic   lunch,   evening   meal   (in   local   restaurants),   check-list and after-tour report. The price for single-room accommodation is   950 EUR.