Saturday, 13 May 2017

Biebrza Marshes, Poland 10th to 12th May

On our final morning I did another early check for Bison but again without success, I drove up to the rather remote forest glades of Kosy Most and saw two female Elk cross the road but they were gone in a few strides of their long legs. At Kosy Most I had at least three singing male Barred Warblers which are new for the trip and the first I have seen in their barred breeding plumage.
Barred Warbler

I also got some nice views of Wryneck which, although present around the campsite, I hadn't managed to photograph. Their insistent pee-pee-pee call is a feature of the parks and gardens in this area.
Singing Wryneck
Driving north from Bialowieza we headed for Siemienowka Reservoir. 
Siemienowka Reservoir - in the distance! With a foreboding sky
It looks to be a similar size to my local Carsington Water and like there many of the birds, which included White-winged Black and Whiskered Terns were very distant. As we started to explore the pools at the NE corner three White-tailed Eagles circled, sparring with each other. What an amazing site to see these huge eagles reasonably close.
White-tailed Eagles - immature with colour rings
There were Great Reed Warblers singing in the reeds and giving excellent views and we also recorded our first Red-backed Shrike of the trip, a lovely female.
Great Reed Warbler
Red-backed Shrike -female
No sight our sound of Citrine Wagtails which breed in this area but we left happy with the eagles.
We continued north to the campsite close to the Biebrza National Park offices at Osowiec. We were the only campers at the site which is right by the river and within easy walking distance of pools at Osowiec-Twierdza. I should comment at this point that Pam and I speak no Polish and can just about manage please and thank you but the pronunciation of most of the place names was well beyond us.
On the camp site we had Thrush Nightingales and a calling Lesser Spotted Woodpecker which was nice to see. I also found a Hawfinch next to where we were camped but the female was sitting and the male only seemed to make occasional visits so I missed this photo opportunity. Over the pools we had two Hobby hawking for dragonflies in the evening and there were dozens of Wood Sandpiper feeding on floating vegetation alongside the more familiar Common Sandpiper.
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
The following morning I walked round the Osowiec pools and added the first Bluethroat of the trip, a strikingly coloured male.
Osowiec marshes

The reeds also held singing Savi's Warbler and Penduline Tit whilst high overhead groups of White-winged Black and Whiskered Terns flew up river calling with several parties of Ruff.
Bluethroat - male
Later that morning we headed off for the Czar's Road which tracks the eastern edge of southern basin of Biebrza Marshes. We had only travelled a short distance when a bird of prey flew up from the roadside and landed in the trees close by us. Lesser Spotted Eagle, my closest views of this superb bird which stayed in the trees for 5 minutes thankfully allowing me time to get my camera and capture some images.
Lesser Spotted Eagle - adult I think
I got a little confused with the tracks and we ended up walking the 4km Honczarowska Dyke, which wasn't wasted as we saw what is perhaps the most famous bird of the marshes the sadly declining Aquatic Warbler. The views were distant but I was pleased to see it in one of its last areas with a decent population. There are signs all round the park detailing the work that is being done to conserve this species.
A little later we visited the Dluga Luka boardwalk which gives better access to the reedy grassland which the favour but all we could see were their close relative the Sedge Warbler. 
Dluga Luka boardwalk - it was all hands on deck looking for Aquatic Warbler
We returned early the following morning and saw another bird but in the rather windy conditions it was impossible to see singing birds. Whilst we waited a male Montagu's Harrier crossed the marsh.
Further south on the Czar's Road we stopped at the pools bordering the minor road to Zajki which had hundreds of White-winged Black Terns feeding over them. Periodically the whole flock would rise in the area calling loudly before returning to feed again.
White-winged Black Terns - arguing
We set off north again after a brief visit to the Wizna marshes, hoping for lekking Ruff but all the Ruff, which numbered many hundreds were feeding out on the flooded river. I did get nice photos of a male Yellow Wagtail which looked like Ashy-headed with a pale supercilium so not entirely sure what race it was but quite a striking bird. Driving up the western edge of the southern basin we stopped at Mscichy and saw more Sedge Warblers and several Black-tailed Godwits.
Yellow Wagtail 
We left Mscichy on Friday afternoon and continued north in to Lithuania which is a new country for both of us.

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