Sunday, 10 August 2014

Baltic Gull

Well. I am just back from holiday, a two week cruise around the Baltic. Plenty of food and culture, Stockholm, St Petersburg, etc. and with the benefit of a days mini Paleartic cruise across the North Sea at the beginning and end of it. I can really recommend sitting out on the balcony, in the sun, with a cold beer just waiting for something like a Storm Petrel to turn up. The trouble is that nothing did turn up. I had seen Petrels before as well as other sea going birds but this time it was just Herring Gulls and Gannets.

Herring Gull


Things improved slightly as we moved north through the Baltic with the Herring Gulls gradually being replace by Baltic Gulls. I had not expected the Baltics to be much different from a Lesser Black-backed but these were a much more elegant looking bird with longer wings and a very dark back.

Baltic Gull

The idea then was to immerse myself in the culture of the places we visited and to enjoy a different type of holiday. The trouble is that I have a camera that just refuses to take holiday snaps and gets very excited when birds or butterflies come near. There were very few opportunities for pictures but there was always the unusual that showed that you were not back in England. Flocks of Barnacle Geese on most of the lakes where I would have expected Canada Geese and Carrion Crow replaced by Hooded Crow.

Barnacle Goose

Hooded Crow

and a Sand Lizard, perhaps not unusual but I cannot remember the last time I saw one in England.

Sand Lizard

The butterfly sightings were equally flat. I chased after a few whites whilst in St Petersburg hoping that I had an Appolo or a Black-veined White but they were all Green-veined.

Green-veined White

I did have one find, a Queen of Spain Fritillary which is a first for me. I did think about putting it in a box and bringing it back to England ... but that would be cheating.

Queen of Spain Fritillary

I left the sun and temperatures of thirty degrees plus in Sweden and Russia and I have come back to rain and gales. I need it all to clear up quickly as I still have that Brown Hairstreak to find. It should be my final butterfly of the year and I will then be able get back to the birding. That is, unless the Queen of Spain puts in a late autumn appearance over here as it did at Chichester a few years ago.

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