Tuesday 6 December 2011

A trip to Ipswich and The Baltics

I never got to Mansands due to work commitments and the desert wheatear finally moved on after a couple of days - never mind.

We headed up to Ipswich by train on the 25th November to spend a few days with Mum and Dad pre-Christmas. It was a beautiful clear sunny day which may have been why I saw over 20 red kites from the train between Westbury and London Paddington, the most I have ever see. Also seen were 9 greenshanks along the River Exe, a stock dove near Newton Abbot and fallow deer in Powderham Park. I kept a look out for partridges, especially from the train between London Liverpool Street and Ipswich but with no luck.

Mum was poorly with an upset stomach so when we got to her house we walked over to the nearby Tesco store to stretch our legs and found a decomposing corpse of a muntjac deer by the side of the A12.

I kept an eye open for partridges over the next couple of days as we travelled around Suffolk but had no luck again. I did see quite a few common gulls though, a gull I don't see that often here in Devon.

Monday 28th November and we headed off to Gatwick Airport for our Air Baltic flight to Riga in Latvia. We were a little apprehensive as Air Baltic are the Easyjet of The Baltic States and Gatwick is not our favourite airport but the airport and the flight were actually ok.

Riga was very nice, cold but with no snow. The Art Noveau architecture was excellent, the highlight of the trip. The Christmas markets were not so great, not a patch on those in Germany but we had a good time sightseeing and exploring. I had an upset stomach one night but David was fine, it didn't stop me doing anything but I did save some money by not eating or drinking much the next day. An interesting sight were lampreys and zander (pike perch) in the fish market part of the central market, the zander were alive in tanks of water and the lampreys were alive and gasping in crates on the benches, I have never seen either before and at least they were fresh if you wanted to eat them.

Art Noveau architecture

Art Noveau architecture

Bird wise I didn't see much as I had expected. A total of 12 species were seen - blue tit, great tit, house sparrow, hooded crow, black headed gull, common gull, herring gull, mallard, feral pigeon and jackdaw. Some of the jackdaws had the pale collars of the so called Nordic Jackdaw race. Also seen was a surprise shelduck which flew across the bridge over the main river as we walked over it, a brief view only as it dropped down to the water on the other side to where we were walking, the traffic prevented me from crossing over to have a better look. Best bird was a goshawk which flew over the tops of the buildings as we wandered around the city, a large, chunky, powerful bird with the typical hawk like flight and only the 3rd goshawk I have seen. They are supposed to be quite shy and wary birds but I know they are quite tame and common in the centre of Berlin although I never saw one when I was there, maybe they are less shy and wary in Riga too.

Hooded Crow - very common around the city and usually quite tame

So not a bad trip so far and on the 1st December we headed back to the airport for our flight to Tallinn in Estonia, again with Air Baltic and again not a bad flight.

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