Birding trip around the Baltic May-June 2014
John van der Woude  www.jvanderw.nl
See also photo section (mostly showing the scenery of the birding sites)
An old dream came true when in 2014 from mid May until the end of June, Nollie and I drove all around the Baltic Sea. Via Germany, Poland, the Baltic states and Finland we drove up to the Barentz Sea in north Norway, and then back through western Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany.
We drove 12.600 km in total. The weather was mostly good, in the beginning even hot, and sometimes we had snow in the North. We saw the Baltic Sea itself only when crossing over from Estonia to Finland, as we preferred to keep to the far inland sites all the way from Poland to the top of Finland. We brought a small tent but used it at only one site. We mostly had hotels, pensions and several campsite cottages via booking.com.
Below the general map are detailed maps of our birding sites in NE Poland and the Baltic states. For the remainder of the trip there is much birding info elsewhere, like for Kuusamo and Varanger. Not only trip reports (like my own from 2003) but also the little Gosney guides and the Crossbill Guide books.
For NE Poland we used the Crossbill guide (mainly for Bialowieza and Narew) and the detailed birding site guide for Biebrza NP produced by Lukasz Mazurek (wildpoland.com; also available as pdf download). For the Baltic states we used Gorman's site guide Birding in Eastern Europe, and the Estonia booklet by Gosney.
The photo section is for the whole trip. It is here that some specific birds are mentioned (hardly at the site info below).
A simple species list for the whole trip is below, at the bottom of this page.
 
1. Havelland, riverine wetlands.

2. Bialowieza forest and clearings.

3. Narew NP & Biebrza NP.

4. Zuvintas lake & Punia forest

5. Kretuonas lake & Labanoras forest.

6. Lubans lake area.

7. Tartu area.

8. SE Finland two sites

9. night drive in forest.

10. Kuusamo area.

11. Urho Kekkonen NP.

12. towards Utsjoki.

13. Varanger fjord.

14. Varanger peninsula.

15. Nordkinn peninsula.

16. Stabbursdalen NP.

17. south of Alta.

18. Pallas-Yllästunturi NP

19. Muddus NP.

20. Vindelfjällen.

21. Sånfjället NP.

22. Köping - visited friend

23. Tåkern lake.

24. Store Mosse NP.

25. N Germany site.
 

Bialowieza village and the forest. In NE Poland, at the border of Belarus.
1. Approach road from the west. Good forest on many places along this road, with e.g. Red-breasted Flycatcher.
2. Information office for the national park. Here you make your appointment for the paid guided visit to the NP the next day or so. This is also the spot where that visit will start with a walk to the entrance of the closed forest at 7.
3. Main street with some shops and a bank.
4. Our hotel Bialowieska, with restaurant and a good location for an evening walk to 5.
5. Good birding here at the Narewka river, with open forest.
6. Sand road in forest, for a walk along the border of the NP.
7. Entrance of the NP, only guided (see 2).
8. Along this quiet road, good views over the river valley to the forest.
9. Just north of here a small road crosses a wet forest (straight north).
 

Narew NP in NE Poland, west of Bialystok and southeast of Biebrza NP. Here the part at the village Wawieno.
1. Approach road into Wawieno.
2. Our pension at Wawieno. See http://www.biebrza-narew.pl/biebrza_kontakt.php
3. Bird tower.
4. Start of boardwalk across the anastomosing river Narew, mostly through reed beds.
5. Some bushes along the boardwalk in the marsh. Rosefinch very prominent.
 

Biebrza NP, southern part. The best birding area of Poland. NE of Bialystok.
1. Approach road from Narew NP and Bialystok.
2. Start of small but asfalted road all the way through the NP up to Goniadz. I believe that officially you need a general NP permit/ticket to use this road as it is inside the park, but you can get this permit/ticket only in Goniadz and we had to go to our pension at 3, so we just drove the road and I think nobody would object. Actually, the next day we still birded a lot along this road before we finally reached Goniadz and bought the permits/tickets.
3. Our pension at Dobarz, of the same owner as the pension in Wawieno/Narew NP (see link there).
4. Start of the boardwalk west through the grassy fields and reed beds, for the Aquatic Warbler (best at the end, but also halfway).
5. Interesting, long track going west through half wooded marsh.
6. The hamlet Barwik, where the track west to the bird tower and the (former?) Great Snipe lek starts. We had none, and we understood from the staff at Goniadz that the birds may not lek here anymore, as there have reportedly been photographers getting too close to the birds. Still a nice late evening walk from the pension at Dobarz.
7. The NP office W of Goniadz. Permits, info, maps etc.
8. Platform on N side of Goniadz for viewing north across river. In Goniadz we also had Greenish Warbler in the tree-lined central plaza.
9. Old fort with marsh opposite. Check for Penduline Tits in the trees along the marsh trail.
10. Old sand road/dike going from Mscichy eastward to the river Biebrza.
Following the road south of 10 along Pluty etc. to Wizna, there are several fine elevated views over the Biebrza river valley east. Also, around Wizna you may get some new birds. See the Wild Poland site guide mentioned in the Introduction above.
 

Zuvintas lake in southern Lithuania, NW of Alytus.
1. Approach road from Simnas, some good roadside birding.
2. Info centre and short boardwalk west through reedbeds and along lake to hide.
 

Punia forest just N of Alytus, southern Lithuania. Enclosed in wide river bend.
1. Appraoch road through nice old farming villages.
2. Entrance of the forest (in weekend only on foot).
Drive on slowly on the forest road, stopping/walking at promising sites, up to 3, then 4 and on a somewhat lower forest road back to 2. No bridge over the river anywhere on this image.
 

Labanoras forest and Kretuonas lake at Moletai in NE Lithuania.
1. The A14 from Vilnius.
2. Very nice and quiet camping Mindunai at lake border. Also rooms avalilable. Wifi in central building. Nice staff.
3. Labanoras village. From here several roads deeper into the forest. All worth sveveral stops.
4. Lake Kretuonas with marsh land, see below.
 

Wetland at the eastern border of Lake Kretuonas, east of the Labanoras forest.
1. Approach road from south into the village Reskutenai.
2. Turn left (west) here on dirt road.
3. From the bend in the road here walk towards lake border through open bush field, for view across the lake and for bush birds.
4. Very birdy wetland with marsh terns etc.
5. From c. here a good view into the wetland.
6. A bird tower near a research station.
7. New and tall tower for viewing the whole surrounding, see photo section.
 

One of our favorites of the whole trip, the Lubans lake area in eastern Latvia (Letland).
We stayed in a very nice hotel in Madona (upper left on the map) called Viesu maja Janis, with a good family restaurant nearby (ask the staff). From here road P84 towards the Lubans lake goes through good forest, towards the road of point 1 on next map.
 

Lubans lake and Nagli fish ponds.
1. Road from Madona, orientate on map of the wider area above.
2. Good views from dike over Lubans lake and marshy lake border.
3. Another good view from here, and check the local birds at the mouth of the small canal.
4. Bird tower for viewing the former fish ponds east.
5. Cross the canal here and drive through some interesting fields south to Nagli.
6. From here in the Nagli hamlet, take the dirt road along the small canal/river through the fish pond area towards Lubans lake.
7. Make a walk over several small dikes between the old fish ponds.
8. Carefully check the river side vegetation (Blyth's Reed Warbler).
9. Follow the small dike road SW. Several good viewpoints. Check trees etc.
10. Leave the lake border here, interesting fields ahead. At reserve border halfway 10 and 11, we drove the dike north along the wet forest for a few km. Possibly you can drive all the way to 2, but we went back and turned to 11.
11. Here the dirt road ends. Follow the asfalted roads to Madona.
 

Tartu area in SE Estonia. Please also use a much larger version of this map. The city of Tartu (good restaurants) is in the lower righthand corner.
1. Our hotel in Ilmatsalu (Hotel Ilmatsalu, on booking.com). Excellent location for visiting the birding sites nearby and further west. 
2. Start (at a P) of trail through old fish ponds.
3. The Great Snipe lek in the meadows along the Emajogi river.
4. The famous Hollywood Hill for watching raptors north and west above the vast forests.
5. Start of road west to Alam Pedja NP.
6. Good forest along this straight raod.
7. P for walk across open bog north.
8. End of road with nice view of Emajöi river bend (White-backed Woodpecker right here).
 

Gosney's Räpina Polder at the border of the huge lake separating Estonia from Russia, in SE Estonia.
1. Leave main road from Räpina here, see coordinates on map.
2. We parked the car here as the track to 3 was too muddy and bumpy when we were there.
3. Start of good birding track to 4. Wet meadows and bushes.
4. Turn left here, but a good birding point in itself. Take your time.
5. The bird tower for viewing down on the wet meadows and across the big lake towards Russia.
 

Järvselja forest reserve 20 km NNW of Räpina.
1. Find this fork N of the village Järvselja. The fork is at 58.271959, 27.314151.
2. Around here is the start of a boardwalk from a small info. Park here.
3. End of boardwalk through excellent wet forest.
4. We walked from 3 along 4 back to the car at 2, along impressive tall trees.
 
Species list

This list was gradually built up during our six weeks around the Baltic. I have not annotated the list with locations. It would be a table of 25 columns, and mostly we did not record locations for a species after we had seen it as a new species for the trip (trip tick). In the photo section however, several birds are mentioned for specific sites.

        
        
    Red-throated Diver            Roodkeelduiker
    Black-throated Diver          Parelduiker
    Little Grebe                  Dodaars
    Great Crested Grebe           Fuut
    Red-necked Grebe              Roodhalsfuut
    Slavonian Grebe               Kuifduiker
    Gannet                        Jan van Gent
    Cormorant                     Aalscholver
    Shag                          Kuifaalscholver
    Bittern                       Roerdomp
    Great White Egret             Grote Zilverreiger
    Grey Heron                    Blauwe Reiger
    Black Stork                   Zwarte Ooievaar
    White Stork                   Ooievaar
    Mute Swan                     Knobbelzwaan
    Whooper Swan                  Wilde Zwaan
    Taiga Bean Goose              Taigarietgans
    Barnacle Goose                Brandgans
    Brent Goose                   Rotgans
    Shelduck                      Bergeend
    Wigeon                        Smient
    Gadwall                       Krakeend
    Teal                          Wintertaling
    Mallard                       Wilde Eend
    Pintail                       Pijlstaart
    Garganey                      Zomertaling
    Shoveler                      Slobeend
    Pochard                       Tafeleend
    Tufted Duck                   Kuifeend
    Eider                         Eider
    King Eider                    Koningseider
    Steller's Eider               Stellers Eider
    Long-tailed Duck              IJseend
    Common Scoter                 Zwarte Zee-eend
    Velvet Scoter                 Grote Zee-eend
    Goldeneye                     Brilduiker
    Smew                          Nonnetje
    Red-breasted Merganser        Middelste Zaagbek
    Goosander                     Grote Zaagbek
    Harlequin Duck                Harlekijneend
    Honey-buzzard                 Wespendief
    Black Kite                    Zwarte Wouw
    Red Kite                      Rode Wouw
    White-tailed Eagle            Zeearend
    Marsh Harrier                 Bruine Kiekendief
    Hen Harrier                   Blauwe Kiekendief
    Montagu's Harrier             Grauwe Kiekendief
    Goshawk                       Havik
    Sparrowhawk                   Sperwer
    Buzzard                       Buizerd
    Rough-legged Buzzard          Ruigpootbuizerd
    Lesser Spotted Eagle          Schreeuwarend
    Osprey                        Visarend
    Kestrel                       Torenvalk
    Merlin                        Smelleken
    Hobby                         Boomvalk
    Hazel Grouse                  Hazelhoen
    Willow/Red Grouse             Moerassneeuwhoen
    Ptarmigan                     Alpensneeuwhoen
    Black Grouse                  Korhoen
    Capercaillie                  Auerhoen
    Partridge                     Patrijs
    Pheasant                      Fazant
    Water Rail                    Waterral
    Spotted Crake                 Porseleinhoen
    Corn Crake                    Kwartelkoning
    Moorhen                       Waterhoen
    Coot                          Meerkoet
    Crane                         Kraanvogel
    Oystercatcher                 Scholekster
    Avocet                        Kluut
    Ringed Plover                 Bontbekplevier
    Dotterel                      Morinelplevier
    Golden Plover                 Goudplevier
    Lapwing                       Kievit
    Little Stint                  Kleine Strandloper
    Temminck's Stint              Temmincks Strandloper
    Dunlin                        Bonte Strandloper
    Ruff                          Kemphaan
    Jack Snipe                    Bokje
    Snipe                         Watersnip
    Great Snipe                   Poelsnip
    Woodcock                      Houtsnip
    Black-tailed Godwit           Grutto
    Bar-tailed Godwit             Rosse Grutto
    Whimbrel                      Regenwulp
    Curlew                        Wulp
    Spotted Redshank              Zwarte Ruiter
    Redshank                      Tureluur
    Marsh Sandpiper               Poelruiter
    Greenshank                    Groenpootruiter
    Green Sandpiper               Witgat
    Wood Sandpiper                Bosruiter
    Common Sandpiper              Oeverloper
    Turnstone                     Steenloper
    Red-necked Phalarope          Grauwe Franjepoot
    Arctic Skua                   Kleine Jager
    Long-tailed Skua              Kleinste Jager
    Great Skua                    Grote Jager
    Little Gull                   Dwergmeeuw
    Black-headed Gull             Kokmeeuw
    Common Gull                   Stormmeeuw
    Lesser Black-backed Gull      Kleine Mantelmeeuw
    Herring Gull                  Zilvermeeuw
    Glaucous Gull                 Grote Burgemeester
    Great Black-backed Gull       Grote Mantelmeeuw
    Kittiwake                     Drieteenmeeuw
    Common Tern                   Visdief
    Arctic Tern                   Noordse Stern
    Little Tern                   Dwergstern
    Whiskered Tern                Witwangstern
    Black Tern                    Zwarte Stern
    White-winged Black Tern       Witvleugelstern
    Guillemot                     Zeekoet
    Razorbill                     Alk
    Black Guillemot               Zwarte Zeekoet
    Puffin                        Papegaaiduiker
    Stock dove                    Holenduif
    Wood Pigeon                   Houtduif
    Collared Dove                 Turkse tortel
    Turtle Dove                   Zomertortel
    Cuckoo                        Koekoek
    Eagle Owl                     Oehoe
    Hawk Owl                      Sperweruil
    Pygmy Owl                     Dwerguil
    Tawny Owl                     Bosuil
    Ural Owl                      Oeraluil
    Long-eared Owl                Ransuil
    Nightjar                      Nachtzwaluw
    Swift                         Gierzwaluw
    Hoopoe                        Hop
    Wryneck                       Draaihals
    Grey-headed Woodpecker        Grijskopspecht
    Green Woodpecker              Groene Specht
    Black Woodpecker              Zwarte Specht
    Great Spotted Woodpecker      Grote Bonte Specht
    Middle Spotted Woodpecker     Middelste Bonte Specht
    White-backed Woodpecker       Witrugspecht
    Lesser Spotted Woodpecker     Kleine Bonte Specht
    Three-toed Woodpecker         Drieteenspecht
    Crested Lark                  Kuifleeuwerik
    Wood Lark                     Boomleeuwerik
    Sky Lark                      Veldleeuwerik
    Shore Lark                    Strandleeuwerik
    Sand Martin                   Oeverzwaluw
    Barn Swallow                  Boerenzwaluw
    House Martin                  Huiszwaluw
    Tree Pipit                    Boompieper
    Meadow Pipit                  Graspieper
    Red-throated Pipit            Roodkeelpieper
    Yellow Wagtail                Gele Kwikstaart
    Citrine Wagtail               Citroenkwikstaart
    Grey Wagtail                  Grote Gele Kwikstaart
    White Wagtail                 Witte Kwikstaart
    Waxwing                       Pestvogel
    Dipper                        Waterspreeuw
    Wren                          Winterkoning
    Dunnock                       Heggemus
    Robin                         Roodborst
    Thrush Nightingale            Noordse Nachtegaal
    Nightingale                   Nachtegaal
    Bluethroat                    Blauwborst
    Red-flanked Bluetail          Blauwstaart
    Black Redstart                Zwarte Roodstaart
    Redstart                      Gekraagde Roodstaart
    Whinchat                      Paapje
    Stonechat                     Roodborsttapuit
    Wheatear                      Tapuit
    Ring Ouzel                    Beflijster
    Blackbird                     Merel
    Fieldfare                     Kramsvogel
    Song Thrush                   Zanglijster
    Redwing                       Koperwiek
    Mistle Thrush                 Grote Lijster
    Grasshopper Warbler           Sprinkhaanzanger
    River Warbler                 Krekelzanger
    Savi's Warbler                Snor
    Aquatic Warbler               Waterrietzanger
    Sedge Warbler                 Rietzanger
    Marsh Warbler                 Bosrietzanger
    Reed Warbler                  Kleine Karekiet
    Great Reed Warbler            Grote Karekiet
    Blyth's Reed Warbler          Struikrietzanger
    Icterine Warbler              Spotvogel
    Booted Warbler                Kleine Spotvogel
    Barred Warbler                Sperwergrasmus
    Lesser Whitethroat            Braamsluiper
    Whitethroat                   Grasmus
    Garden Warbler                Tuinfluiter
    Blackcap                      Zwartkop
    Greenish Warbler              Grauwe Fitis
    Arctic Warbler                Noordse Boszanger
    Wood Warbler                  Fluiter
    Chiffchaff                    Tjiftjaf
    Willow Warbler                Fitis
    Goldcrest                     Goudhaan
    Spotted Flycatcher            Grauwe Vliegenvanger
    Red-breasted Flycatcher       Kleine Vliegenvanger
    Collared Flycatcher           Withalsvliegenvanger
    Pied Flycatcher               Bonte Vliegenvanger
    Bearded Tit                   Baardman
    Willow Tit                    Matkop
    Siberian Tit                  Bruinkopmees
    Crested Tit                   Kuifmees
    Coal Tit                      Zwarte Mees
    Blue Tit                      Pimpelmees
    Great Tit                     Koolmees
    Nuthatch                      Boomklever
    Treecreeper                   Taigaboomkruiper
    Short-toed Treecreeper        Boomkruiper
    Penduline Tit                 Buidelmees
    Golden Oriole                 Wielewaal
    Red-backed Shrike             Grauwe Klauwier
    Great Grey Shrike             Klapekster
    Jay                           Gaai
    Siberian Jay                  Taigagaai
    Magpie                        Ekster
    Nutcracker                    Notenkraker
    Jackdaw                       Kauw
    Rook                          Roek
    Carrion Crow                  Zwarte Kraai
    Hooded Crow                   Bonte Kraai
    Raven                         Raaf
    Starling                      Spreeuw
    Rose-coloured Starling        Roze Spreeuw
    House Sparrow                 Huismus
    Tree Sparrow                  Ringmus
    Chaffinch                     Vink
    Brambling                     Keep
    Serin                         Europese Kanarie
    Greenfinch                    Groenling
    Goldfinch                     Putter
    Siskin                        Sijs
    Linnet                        Kneu
    Redpoll                       Barmsijs
    Arctic Redpoll                Witstuitbarmsijs
    Crossbill                     Kruisbek
    Common Rosefinch              Roodmus
    Pine Grosbeak                 Haakbek
    Bullfinch                     Goudvink
    Hawfinch                      Appelvink
    Lapland Bunting               IJsgors
    Snow Bunting                  Sneeuwgors
    Yellowhammer                  Geelgors
    Ortolan Bunting               Ortolaan
    Rustic Bunting                Bosgors
    Little Bunting                Dwerggors
    Reed Bunting                  Rietgors
    Corn Bunting                  Grauwe Gors
       
To the photo section.