Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Bialowieza, Poland 6th -10th May

We arrived at the U Michala campsite on the outskirts of Bialowieza late afternoon on Saturday, the temperature was a very pleasant 26°C and we enjoyed our evening meal in the open air to the sound of Wrynecks calling.
Dinner at U Michala Campsite

That night it started raining and, on and off, it continued most of the following day. The mid day temperature fell to around 11°C but although in remained overcast the next couple of days were mainly dry. Today Tuesday 9th May it has turned cold with an early morning temperature of 3°C and a bitter wind with frequent snow showers but with blue skies between. It appears that the weather in Poland is as variable as the UK!
Bialowieza is famous, amongst other things for the number of species of woodpecker in its woodlands and on our first day I managed White-backed in addition to the much commoner Great Spotted Woodpecker. 
White-backed Woodpecker
Over the next couple of days I added several Middle Spotted and Black Woodpeckers but despite extensive searches couldn't find Three-toed. Hopefully I'll find this northern species elsewhere on the trip.
Middle Spotted Woodpecker

The Palace Park in the centre of the village is one of the premier birding spots. This building in the park is one of the oldest buildings in the area, constructed in 1845. 
The old lodge, Palace Park
During my first visit to the park I had found a very obliging Collared Flycatcher at a nest site. I thought the female might already be incubating but the following day I saw both birds carrying nesting material in to the hole. 
Collared Flycatcher - male

Collared Flycatcher - female
Another Flycatcher which breeds no further West in Europe than Poland is the Red-breasted Flycatcher and I managed a single male singing from high in the tree canopy.
Red-breasted Flycatcher - male

A single Common Rosefinch was giving its simple whistle from on of the islands on the lake but this is the only bird I encountered during our stay so I must be slightly ahead of their arrival date. Another bird which attracts birders to Eastern Poland is the Thrush Nightingale which replaces the Nightingale of Central and Southern Europe here. I only came across half a dozen different birds so the main contingent must also still be on their way. Like the Nightingale the Thrush Nightingale is not easy to photograph singing its powerful song from deep within a bush but after several attempts I finally found a more cooperative bird. 

Thrush Nightingale
Birds of prey have been few and far between but on our first day a Lesser Spotted Eagle flew overhead carrying an item of prey, presumably to a nearby nest although we never saw the bird again.
Lesser Spotted Eagle -showing the upper wing

Visiting Eastern and Northern Europe one of the birds I was hoping to see was the Long-tailed Tit, here the species has an all white head making it look quite different from the subspecies we see at home. I have only seen one once before, at Easington in 2005 so was pleased to find a couple of birds today that allowed me to capture some photos.
Northern Long-tailed Tit

Apart from a glimpse of Roe Deer in the forest the only mammal we have seen is the Red Squirrel, and this individual posed well whilst eating a Larch cone.
Red Squirrel

In spite of all the birds and other wildlife, the most famous wild inhabitant of the area around Bialowieza is the European Bison. Extinct in the wild in 1919 when the last wild animal was poached the animal was reintroduced in 1952 from zoo stock and the wild population now numbers over 1000 animals in eastern Poland and neighbouring Belarus. We saw captive animals when we visited the Bison enclosure whilst looking for Red-breasted Flycatcher but so far I haven't managed to see the wild animals but will have another look early tomorrow morning before we move north to Biebrza.
Captive European Bison

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant stuff. You should be thinking about a paperback version when you get back.