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Ideas for trips during the Easter weekend: which came first – the chicken or the egg?

2017-04-19

Where do the bats migrate? Which lake in Lithuania is the cradle for swans? How can one distinguish the voices of owls? How will birds contribute to the commemoration of the centenary of Lithuania?.. Lithuania is appreciated by a number of enthusiasts of ornitological tourism from foreign countries due to the unique bird migration paths intersecting the country and the variety of the species of birds spending the winters here. It seems that Lithuanians know less what are the places of the country where the birds that return from warm climate countries like nesting. Spring is the high season for hatching. Hence the Department of Tourism offers discovering these special places of Lithuania this spring, when the life of birds is active and a new cycle of live nature starts. 

1. There are more birds here than people. In the delta of the Nemunas it is the high season of migration. It is worthwhile to come here to admire not only the flooded meadows. Recently over 30,000 of various species of geese alone have been estimated in the regional park of the delta of the Nemunas, which is much more than there are residents in the nearby Šilutė (18,000)! In addition to this, there are flocks of ducks, pewits and other birds…

The delta of the Nemunas is marked not only as the place where the migrating birds rest and feed themselves but also as an important place for breeding most rare species of birds. Out of 169 species of birds there are some species which hatch only here, for example, the northern pintails, avocets. There are the most abundant colonies of Mediterranean Gulls, white-winged terns and great crested grebes, white storks hatch here. In the regional park of the delta of the Nemunas eggs are laid by crakes and aquatic warblers. These two species are included into the list of birds that are becoming extinct on the global level, hence the tourists of Western European countries are interested in observing them, especially the tourists from Great Britain. By the way, various species of bats and butterflies are also migrating here.

It is interesting that at the Bay of Kniaupas, at the edge of Mingė Village, a tower for observing the landscape and birds has been built – it is one of the largest in Lithuania. 50 people can observe the birds in it at the same time.

The information for persons willing to observe the birds will be provided by the specialists of the directorates of protected territories, the employees of the centre for visitors of the Directorate of the Regional Park of the Delta of the Nemunas. At their initiative, events for welcoming birds are held, visitors are provided with binoculars, monocles, guides for getting acquainted with birds.

2. Not balanced for those that like sleeping late. In the eastern part of the small peninsular of the coastline of the Curonian Lagoon – the Ventės Ragas (the Horn of Ventė) – at the ornitological station which was established back in 1929 at the initiative of professor Tadas Ivanauskas, there are the greatest and oldest catchers of birds in the world. According to ornitologists, this place is unique in all seasons. During the transition period rare species of birds can be met here, and during the high migration season this place is one of the most important Baltic Flyways in the world, since a great share of birds hatching in Western Siberia and Scandinavia fly via the Curonian Lagoon. Sometimes 100-200 thousand birds fly here during one day.

Those that are willing to observe the birds in Ventės ragas or even ring them have to get up before the dawn, that is around 5 a.m.! The bird catchers built here are considered to be the greatest and some of the oldest in the world. One should contact the employees of the ornithological station before visiting the station of Ventės ragas that has been lately renovated.

By the way, as the centenary of the reestablishment of the state of Lithuania, the birds will contribute to the celebration of it. Millions of birds, when migrating from Lithuania to the countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, are becoming real ambassadors of the country with “a Lithuanian passport” on their legs – a ring with the address of the museum of the zoo of Kaunas T. Ivanauskas. It has been planed to put GPS transmitters to part of ringed birds and to observe their flyways and thereby to make the name of Lithuania worldwide known.

3. The Curonian Lagoon – the highway for migrating birds. Millions of birds fly via it each year. Yet they can be observed individually too. By driving on the bicycle lane or marching on the paths of the coastline in the section between Nida and Pervalka, one can visit six towers for observing the birds which are situated in the picturesque horns of the lagoon (those of Bulvikis, Ožkai, Pervalka, Žirgai) and bays (Bulvikis, Karvaičiai). Educational stands are equipped in the towers, with the help of which one can recognize the birds hatching and migrating in the Curonian Lagoon. Different species of birds are described in each tower. It is suggested to observe the migrating birds also from the Parnidžio dune in Nida.

By the way, April is the high season when cormorants and herons hatch, therefore it is a good idea to visit their colonies in Juodkrantė.

One can consult the ornitologists and get information at the centres of visitors of the Curonian Lagoon National Park in Nida and Smiltynė.

4. Secret nestplaces. The hatching places of birds, as a rule, are in the special sanctuary of nature. For instance, the greatest population of cranes in Lithuania hatches in the Čepkeliai Marsh, in the national reserve (Varėna region). In total, there are 186 species of birds here. There are large populations of wood-grouses that have remained in Čepkeliai, eagle-owls, grouses, crakes, black storks, saw-whet owls, three-toad woodpeckers and a number of other species.

One can get acquainted with the flora and fauna of the reserve at the exposition of the centre of visitors of Marcinkonys. On the edge of Čepkeliai Marsh, 5 kilometres from Marcinkonys village there is an educational walk equipped in the marsh and the area around it. From 1 April until 1 July it is only allowed to visit the educational walk of the reserve only when accompanies by an employee of Dzūkija National Park and Čepkeliai National Natural Reserve Directorate or a guide. The objective is to ensure as little disturbance of the natural processes of nature as possible therefore visits by people in these territories are restricted.

The Žuvintai Lake is referred to as a cradle of swans of Lithuania. It is the place where mute swans spread from in the lakes of Lithuania. 231 species of birds are observed here; out of them, 153 hatch precisely here. In spring one can hear the uproar of birds that fly here to hatch.

One can observe the birds of the Žuvintai through telescopes and binocles from the surveillance tower of the visitors of the reserve of the Žuvintai biosphere. One can stay here without a separate permit daily from 8 to 20.00. Nearby there is a natural walk of the Žuvintai Lake nearby. One can learn from the exposition of birds of the centre of visitors of the reserve of the Žuvintai biosphere characteristic of the reserve.

The Tyruliai Marsh (Radviliškis region) is one of the greatest in Lithuanian in terms of the area, it is only smaller than Čepkeliai and Žuvintai wetland territories. There are common redshanks, the voices of great bitterns, grey cranes and brown-neck, grebes. April is the best time for counting the territories occupied by great bitterns and water rails.

5. Adventures in a forest by night. To establish oneself in a forest and to create a camp there for a night, to have a sleeping-bag, binoculars, a compass. Sounds quite an adventure? At the beginning of April the Directorate of the Nemunas Loops Regional Park invited to feel the spirit of the awakening nature in Punia Pinewood (Alytus district) and to listen to the hoot of the owls, trumpeting of the cranes and thereby contributing by calculating them by finding out what is the population residing in the pinewood.

The centres of visitors of the Park Directorate are operating in Birštonas and Prienai. Educational programmes, lessons in nature, excursions are held in the school of nature. The rarities of the Punia Pinewood are black storks, sea-eagles, middle spotted, white-backed, Eurasian three-toad woodpeckers.

The Punia Pinewood is considered to be one of the most valuable woods in entire Europe. It is worth visiting the premises of the museum of the forest of Punia forest division. There is an enclosure for animals established at the forest division. The highest pine (42 m) of Lithuania is growing in the area of the Punia Pinewood reserve.

6. Flyways of birds. The ponds of Baltoji Vokė are located in Šalčininkai region, next to the village of Baltoji Vokė, they were established several decades ago. Former quarries of peatland were used for ponds. This territory is one of the most valuable territories for birds in Lithuania. During the flying season up to 6,000 geese and ducks stay in the territory. Some water birds that are rarely seen in the continental part of Lithuania are also observed here, such as red-throated diver, horned grebe, Tundra swan, barnacle goose and scoter. Even 46 species of birds are registered here, which are included into the Red List of Lithuania.

The first cognitive bird observation path with a surveillance tower and information stands are established in the territory of ponds. The surveillance walk is marked with signs and it stretches along the coastlines of ponds, where one can see not only most of the regular species of water birds – various species of ducks, grebes, coots and swans, but also a number of rare, exotic species – a sea-eagle, an osprey, a great white egret, a whooper swan, a black stork, a hoopoe, etc. The visitors of the Flyway of birds will be able to find out about the differences between a stork, an egret and a crane, how a rare whooper swan hatching in the ponds may be distinguished from a more frequent and better known to all the mute swan, why the gulls are often confused with terns and a number of other interesting things.

7. Observing the birds from the tower of the castle. There is a tower next to the camp site “Medaus slėnis” (The Valley of Honey) (Šilinės village, Jurbarkas district) for observing the birds. The Directorate of Panemunės Regional Park may organize educational events for observing migrating birds at Šilinė and from the tower of Raudonė tower.

Another famous event has become the observation of the migrating cranes in Panemuniai Regional Park Directorate (Raseiniai St. 2, Šilinės village, Jurbarkas region) at the Novaraištis ornitological reserve – that is observation of migrating cranes. It takes places each September. Approximately 2,000 cranes are observed on their way to rest overnight.

8. Guessing the voices of birds. Upon arrival to the “capital” of the national park of Žemaitija Plateliai, one should first of all step by to the visitors’ centre, where one can find all the information on the places to visit, the events and educational activities. In the exposition of the visitors’ centre “Žemaitijos žemės slėpiniai” (“The mysteries of the land of Samogitia”) one can not only learn the words of žemaičių (Samogitian) but also hear the voices of birds.

In the neighbourhood of the centre of visitors is the greatest and cleanest in Žemaitija the Plateliai Lake, which can be bypassed by a bicycle or merely by walking on the educational walk of Šeirė. If you succeed, you can see the flight of the sea-eagle above the lake, since in the neighbourhood there is a habitat of these rare birds. Upon your return do not forget to climb up the surveillance tower at the Siberian marsh and once more look at the beautiful lake of Plateliai from above.

Not only Plateliai Lake but also 25 more lakes in the park bring joy to the fans of observation of birds. There is a bird surveillance tower equipped at the Pakastuva Lake.

9. In the neighbourhood of iron frogs. The neighbours of birds in Meteliai regional park are... turtles! Those living here are especially rare, and those preserved in Europe are European pond turtles, which are referred to by dzūkai as iron frogs, they are the symbol of the park, as well as the brancheless oak tree that grows in the only forest in Lithuania – that of Trakai. The greatest lakes of the park are those of Dusia, Metelys and Obelija – which recover during the period of migration of the birds.

The visitors’ centre of the Meteliai regional park invites to observe the birds of the lake via an optical piece of equipment. An interactive exposition on the building of the glass walls in the verge of the Dusia Lake will surprise many visitors. The activities will be offered both to adults and children. To find what is rare and valuable, one will have to open the drawers, the doors and to look inside the hollow of the tree. One can plan a trip here, to get acquainted with the life of turtles, to book an excursion or lease a bicycle, a canoe, a rowing board.

In addition to the centre of visitors there is pedestrian walk of 3.5 kilometres and two tracks for bicycles. One can travel on their own or accompanied by a specialist of the Directorate. The most popular educational activities are those of “Tarpežerio miškais and pelkėmis” (“On the forests and marshes of the forest”), “Pelkės ekosistema” (“The ecosystem of the marsh”), “Migruojančių paukščių prieglobstis” (“The shelter of the flying birds”).

10. The farm of birds. Tourists that are interested in birds are welcome not only in wild nature but also in farms. One of the objects of the “Milky Way” is an exceptional bird farm in Rietavas. There are over 30 species of hens, 10 pheasants, 3 ducks, 3 species of pigeons, quails, geese, turkeys. The hosts hold educational excursions in the farm, get acquainted with the breeds of the birds, their peculiarities, they prepare products of milk and taste eggs, tell funny stories from the life of birds.

In Cijonai village (Ignalina region) you are welcome at the “Bird village”. Here you can find: hens whose feathers grow in the opposite direction; a cock without feathers on its neck and that is not afraid of any frost; silk-feathered birds the breed of which has been derived 1000 years ago; geese and ducks which can only run since they cannot fly, and the eggs the yolks of which do not contain cholesterol, are laid with green eggshells. In addition to this, there are various species of peacocks, pheasants, a family of ostriches and a number of other impressive poultry, even a bird of Happiness!

The hosts will treat you by a omelette of various eggs of poultry baked in a huge frying pan on the fireplace and a freshly prepared herbal tea. By the way, there is the greatest nest in the world in this farm, containing even 50 persons.

The information has been prepared according to the material of the Tourist Information Centres and State Department of Tourism. More information can be found at Tourism Information Centres and their websites. 



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