Last update: 17.05.2019

‘Towers fights 2014’ in Dviete floodplain

A bird watching competition 'Towers fights', organised by the Latvian Ornithological Society, took place on May 17 -18 this year. During the competition teams of experienced bird watchers tried to observe as many bird species as they can during 24 hours, spent in towers. Such competition is organised in Latvia annually already 11 years. Nature Conservation Agency established a new bird watching tower in Dviete floodplain nature park last summer, thus both towers of Dviete floodplain were included in the bird watching competition 'Towers fights' this year.

The tower in Putnu sala at the southern coast of Skuķu lake was allotted to the team ‘’ (Uģis Piterāns, Ritvars Rekmanis, Ieva Grīnerte and Kristaps Vilks) the second consecutive year. The mean result of previous years, which the team had to exceed, was the highest from all towers included in the competition - 89 bird species.

Listening of bird voices was interfered by strong wind; unusually low water level for the season in Skuķu lake was unfavorable for observation of waterfowl. Unlike the last year, mosquitoes didn’t bother participants of ‘Towers fights’. The team was positively surprised by diversity of raptors – a group of Hobbies staid in the vicinity of the tower practically whole day, and a female of Red-footed Falcon was noticed among them; Lesser Spotted Eagles, White-tailed Eagles, a Honey-buzzard, Common Buzzards, a Common Kestrel, a Sparrowhawk, Montagu's and Marsh harriers were also observed. When evening approached, wind slowed down a little, and it was possible to hear various nocturnal birds – Spotted Crake, Water rail, Corncrake, Grasshopper Warbler, Tawny Owl and even Bluethroat, actively singing during twilight in reed beds relatively near the tower. The Bluethroat is a new species in the total list of bird species, observed during ‘Towers fights’ in Latvia. During 24 hours the team of Putnu sala tower observed 90 bird species, overcoming the mean result of the tower by a species and thus taking 7th place within 9 teams.

The new-built tower at the northern coast of Skuķu lake was raffled by the team ‘Skaidrie okulāri’ (Valdis Ādamsons, Māris Jaunzemis, Sandris Rabkevičs and Jānis Jansons). Rules of the ‘Towers fights’ foresees, that teams in towers, included in the competition for the first time, must exceed the mean result of all towers during all the years of competition; this year the reference number was 74 bird species.

The strong north-northeastern wind troubled listening to birds also in the new tower; bird voices were not audible from farthest wood. Advantage of the tower, if compare with the tower at Putnu sala, is its location near areas of open water in Skuķu lake. Open water allowed observing of almost all dabbling ducks as well as Great Crested Grabes and Coots. A Blyth's Reed-Warbler was singing at the tower. The following raptors were observed: Lesser Spotted Eagle, Common Buzzard, Marsh Harrier and falcons, circling over the tower at Putnu sala as small black dots; a Hobby was identified among them. At the evening, when wind slowed down, participants heard Cranes, Great Bittern and several Spotted Crakes. The team succeeded to find nesting Tree Sparrows in a semi-hollow of a pine, growing at the tower, and to observe Great White Egrets at the end of the competition. Still the most interesting observation was the Little Tern. During the competition the tower was visited by 47 participants of the excursion, organised by Daugavpils University, including students from Lithuania and Portugal. With 80 bird species, observed in total, the team ranked in the 3rd place.

More information about ‘Towers fights’, including the map of towers locations and the total list of observed bird species is available here.

Ilze Priedniece, after materials of Uģis Piterāns and Jānis Jansons