Saturday, 26 May 2012

Poland 21-26 May 2012

A very enjoyable, small group spring trip to eastern Poland with guide Waldemar Krazowski. Two full days in Bialowieza primeval forest, then two days at the famous Biebrza marshes. Excellent weather, sunny and not too hot, with only one afternoon thunderstorm. The countryside is generally unspoilt, and has good forest cover, with traditional farmland birds plentiful, as they used to be in Western Europe decades ago. The primeval forest at Bialowieza was really excellent, especially early morning, and highlights here included - Pygmy and Tengmalm's Owls at the nest, Woodpeckers including Black, Middle Spotted, and 2 pairs of White-backed Woodpeckers feeding young, Collared and Red-breasted Flycatchers, and raptors including Lesser Spotted Eagle and Honey Buzzard. Village and wetland areas within the National Park were excellent, with Barred, River, Great Reed and Icterine Warblers being seen, Hawfinches were numerous, and the wet meadows held noisy Corncrakes and Thrush Nightingales. One evening we visited a Great Snipe lek where birds were jumping and displaying at dusk. Red-backed Shrikes and Whinchats were numerous, and every village holds White Stork nests. Black Storks were also seen in flight over the forested areas. Biebrza marshes are a vast area to the west of Bialowieza, and held large numbers of Marsh Harriers, White-winged Black, Black and Whiskered Terns, Warblers including the endangered Aquatic, White-tailed Eagles, elegant Montagu's Harriers, Bluethroats, drumming Snipe, calling Spotted Crake, and an amazing array of passage waders including Temminck's Stint, Wood Sandpipers, a Marsh Sandpiper, Greenshank and Ruff (including males with ruffs). On the way back to Warsaw we visited a small Bee-Eater colony, and a breeding site for Roller, now very rare in Poland. Approx 150 species seen, in impressive numbers, with good photographic opportunities - pics to follow.

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