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Like the coast of Latvia to the north this area is exceptional for migrants and a huge range of species overfly the area in spring and autumn. The Kuronian or Kursiu Lagoon is a huge and shallow brackish lagoon separated from the Baltic by the narrow, 100km long Kuronian Spit (Kursiu Peninsula).
The lagoon attracts a good selection of waterbirds and regularly holds more than 20,000 ducks, geese and swans. The tip of the sandy and pine-clad peninsula has been home to Ventes Ragas, an ornithological station, for many years. One of the very best areas is the delta of the Nemunas River which enters the lagoon just south of Silute on the western shore. This is an important site for breeding wetland birds. Surrounding the lagoon are woodlands, farmland, wet meadows and fishponds.
Breeding birds of the area include Osprey and White-tailed Eagle and the delta area has Great Bittern and Little Bittern, Corn Crake, Spotted Crake and Little Crake, and Great Snipe breeds in the surrounding wet meadows. Little Gull breeds and there were formerly large Black-headed Gull colonies. Other breeders include Little Tern, Black Tern, Eurasian River Warbler and Aquatic Warbler.
The peninsula attracts large numbers of migrants with raptors, storks and passerines occurring in good numbers and variety. Among the most numerous raptors are European Honey Buzzard, Common Buzzard, Rough-legged Buzzard and Eurasian Sparrowhawk. There are also impressive numbers of Common Woodpigeon and a wide variety of passerines moving through in spring. Barred Warbler and Tengmalm's Owl are fairly regular and rarities such as Azure Tit and Siberian Accentor have been recorded.
Offshore divers and seaduck, seabirds and waders pass the spit in good numbers during passage periods. The lagoon is particularly important for Smew and Goosander and Velvet Scoter and Long-tailed Duck winter off the seaward side of the peninsula. The Nemunas Delta is important for passage and wintering swans and geese.
Birds you can see here include:
Red-throated Diver, Black-throated Diver, Great Crested Grebe, Great Cormorant, Grey Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Mute Swan, Whooper Swan, Bewick's Swan, Tundra Bean Goose, Taiga Bean Goose, Greater White-fronted Goose, Canada Goose, Barnacle Goose, Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Common Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Greater Scaup, Common Eider, Long-tailed Duck, Common Scoter, Velvet Scoter, Common Goldeneye, Smew, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, European Honey Buzzard, Black Kite, White-tailed Eagle, Western Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Rough-legged Buzzard, Osprey, Common Kestrel, Merlin, Northern Hobby, Peregrine Falcon, Spotted Crake, Little Crake, Corn Crake, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Eurasian Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Northern Lapwing, Red Knot, Sanderling, Temminck's Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Great Snipe, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Red-necked Phalarope, Arctic Skua, Little Gull, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Little Tern, Black Tern, Razorbill, Stock Dove, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, European Turtle Dove, Common Cuckoo, Tengmalm's Owl, Common Kingfisher, Black Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wood Lark, Eurasian Skylark, Barn Swallow, Northern House Martin, Tawny Pipit, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Grey-headed Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Common Wren, Dunnock, Bluethroat, Eurasian Robin, Whinchat, Northern Wheatear, Eurasian Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Sedge Warbler, Common Reed Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Crested Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Red-backed Shrike, Great Grey Shrike, Hooded Crow, Common Starling, Chaffinch, Brambling, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Eurasian Siskin, Northern Redpoll, Common Crossbill, Common Bullfinch, Lapland Bunting, Snow Bunting, Reed Bunting
Mid-March to early May is generally the best time for birding this area.
History and Use
Areas of Interest
Access and Facilities
There are numerous, if rather basic, hotels in local towns and villages.
Content and images originally posted by Steve