27th April – 1st May 2014

This trip to eastern Poland was organised by Wilf Banfield in a vainglorious attempt to see Citrine Wagtail, a bird that had eluded him on several occasions beforehand, so we set out on this trip knowing that we had no chance of seeing this beautiful bird!

This trip was taken in the spirit of a relaxing long weekend's birding in the company of friends and, although birding was the objective, this was never going to be a 'tick fest'. We did, however, manage to notch up a decent tally of 113 species including  Three-toed Woodpecker, another bird that had previously eluded Wilf and this time let the side down by showing well!

Our guide, as always in Poland, was Marek Borkowski and on this trip were

Wilf Banfield

Jonathan Barnard

John Hollyer

Tom Howard-Jones

 

Day 1 - Warsaw to Szeikov

This was a day spent largely on the road, with a few birding stops, as we crossed half of Poland from Warsaw to Szeikov in the east.

Driving through the outskirts of Warsaw we clocked up our first few birds of the trip, including four species of crow; Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook and Hooded Crow.

As we headed towards the Rajgrod Hotel in Szeikov, our base for the first two of the four nights of this trip, we began our birding. On the road from Warsaw to Rutki we added White Stork, Grey Heron, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard and Hobby.

Turning off the main road we headed towards Rus, where we would stop for lunch, we passed through Bronowo and Nikova en route. We stopped at a wetland on the way, overlooking the huge marshes and added Garganey, Great White Egret, Montagu's Harrier, White-tailed Sea Eagle, three species of Sandpiper, Black and White-winged Black Terns as well as Cuckoo and Hoopoe. Hobbies hunted dragonflies overhead and a Peregrine hunted Ruff. A single Wheatear showed well and  Sand Martin and Fieldfare passed overhead.

Overlooking the river from the restaurant terrace at Rus we added Curlew, Barn Swallow and House Martin. From Rus we made our way to the hotel seeing another Monty's and adding House Sparrow to the trip list.

 

Day 2 - Birding Bierbza

A 4.45 a.m. start found us over looking the lake outside our hotel where Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebe and Bittern all showed.

Before 5.20 we had arrived at Marek's house at Kuligi from where we heard Cranes calling in the distance over the marshes. In the land surrounding the house we saw Bluethroat, Wood Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Whinchat, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting and Hawfinch.

Marek's wife, Hanya brought us coffee and some lovely home-made fruit biscuits.

We left shortly after 7.00, arriving at Tajenko by half past. We searched in vain for Citrine Wagtail but did see Snipe, White Stork, Chiffchaff, Whinchat, several Yellow Wagtails (which we tried to string into Citrines for Wilf!) and we heard Thrush Nightingale though we didn't spend long trying to locate it as we had had wonderful views of a singing male right outside Marek's house on our trip here last year.

By 9.15 we were back at the hotel for a late breakfast while the other guests were just getting up. A White-tailed Eagle flew over the lake and Wood Warblers sang in the forest.

We arrived at the Mschichy Wildlife Area by 10.30. This is an area of small lakes, reedbeds, grazing marsh and scrub. The lakes here held a lot of wildfowl including Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, Gadwall, Wigeon, Shoveler, Pintail and Tufted Duck. Bittern boomed from the reed beds as Grey Heron and Great White Egret hunted stealthily.

The distinctive 'whiplash' call of Spotted Crakes came out of the reeds but none showed. Whiskered and White-winged Terns hawked over the marshes and Greenshank and Black-tailed Godwit added to the wader list.

We spent the afternoon birding and relaxing at Marek's house where Hanya served us a wonderful lunch of cold meats, cheeses, Polish sausages and salads in their garden. Following lunch, on our way back to the hotel we stopped briefly at Brzostovo, overlooking the marshes but apart from Lapwing and Ruff nothing much else showed.

 

Day 3 - Birding Bierbza again

We had a 4.50 start this morning and watched Great Spotted Woodpecker, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Hawfinch in the hotel grounds before heading off again to Mischichy, arriving at about 6.15. We saw several Cranes flying overhead and White Storks in the marshes where Bittern called again and we also heard Cuckoo, Hoopoe and Skylark. Willow Warblers sang from the tops of the bushes.

We headed to Marek's house where Hanya put on a superb outdoor breakfast. We then took a walk round the extensive woods and marshes that make up Marek's 'garden'. We spent most of the day in this idyllic setting enjoying our time at Marek's lovely timber house in the forest.

During the course of the day we saw Lesser Spotted Eagle, Marsh Harrier, White-tailed Sea Eagle and Rough-legged Buzzard. In the woods we saw Lesser Spotted and Black Woodpeckers, heard Golden Oriole calling in the treetops and Great Reed Warbler calling in the marshes.

Black Redstart and Winchat also appeared during the course of the day and Hawfinches fed regularly at the bird tables.

Dragging ourselves reluctantly away we headed to the woods and fishponds at Wojdy, arriving at 17.25. We found Garganey, 8 Goosander and watched a Black Stork fly in and drop down out of sight. Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper and Temminck's Stint were among the waders. In the wooded fringes around the fishponds we saw Wryneck, Penduline Tit and our first Goldfinches of the trip.

 

Day 4 - Bierbza to Białyostok

We had a lie-in this morning as we would check out and head today to Białyostok for the next two nights of our visit, staying at the hotel in the National Park. As we left the Rajgrod Hotel several Cranes flew over the lake, trumpeting loudly.

En route to our first scheduled stop of the day at Białyostok town fishponds we pulled over near Laskowiec where we had spotted some Whooper Swans on the water.

At Białyostok we had a long walk in the pleasant sunshine around this area of large fishponds where a pair of Red-necked Grebes provided the highlight. We spent about three hours in this promosing looking area but did not find much else of note.

At 17.35 we pulled up at Szym where we saw 6 Whooper Swans, Grey Partridge, 4 Great White Egrets, Wood Sandpiper, drumming Snipe and we heard Bittern again.

Shortly after 19.15 in the village of Juszkowy God we found a Wryneck in one of the small garden orchards. We finished our birding for the day listening to Thrush Nightingale at Siemieniakovscyzna.

 

Day 5 - Białyostok

We made pre- and pst-breakfast walks, at 5.00a.m. and 10a.m., around the woods and parkland surrounding the hotel. Here we found Middle and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Three-toed Woodpecker, Black and Grey-headed Woodpeckers as well as Crested Tit, Spotted, Red-breasted and Collared Flycatchers and Black Redstart before we set off on the long drive back to Wasaw for our flight home.

En route we added Ortolan Bunting and Linnet to the trip list, which is given below.

 

  SPECIES SIGHTINGS   FIRST SEEN
1 Greylag Goose  3   Mschichy Wildlife Area
2 Mute Swan 4   Warsaw to Rutki
3 Whooper Swan 2   Nr. Laskowiec
4 Gadwall  1   Mschichy Wildlife Area
5 Wigeon 1   Mschichy Wildlife Area
6 Mallard  12   Rutki to Rus
7 Shoveler 2   Mschichy Wildlife Area
8 Pintail 1   Mschichy Wildlife Area
9 Garganey 2   Rutki to Rus
10 Tufted Duck 2   Mschichy Wildlife Area
11 Goldeneye  4   Rajgrod Hotel, Szeikov
12 Goosander  1   Wojdy - woods and fishponds
13 Pheasant  2   Kuligi - Marek's house & land
14 Grey Partridge  1   Szym
15 Red-necked Grebe  1   Bialyostok - town fishpond
16 Great Crested Grebe  5   Rajgrod Hotel, Szeikov
17 Black Stork 1   Wojdy - woods and fishponds
18 White Stork  11   Warsaw to Rutki
19 Great Cormorant  1   Szym
20 Great Bittern  4 saw 1, heard c.10 Rajgrod Hotel, Szeikov
21 Grey Heron  9   Warsaw to Rutki
22 Great Egret  3   Rutki to Rus
23 Lesser Spotted Eagle 1   Kuligi - Marek's house & land
24 Marsh Harrier  7   Warsaw to Rutki
25 Montagu's Harrier 3   Rutki to Rus
26 White-tailed Sea-eagle 4   Rutki to Rus
27 Rough-legged Buzzard  1   Kuligi - Marek's house & land
28 Common Buzzard  4   Warsaw to Rutki
29 Spotted Crake 1   Mschichy Wildlife Area
30 Moorhen  1   Rutki to Rus
31 Coot  2   Mschichy Wildlife Area
32 Crane 5   Kuligi - Marek's house & land
33 Lapwing 8   Warsaw to Rutki
34 Little Ringed Plover  1   Wojdy - woods and fishponds
35 Common Sandpiper 2   Rutki to Rus
36 Spotted Redshank 2   Mschichy Wildlife Area
37 Greenshank 1   Mschichy Wildlife Area
38 Wood Sandpiper 3   Rutki to Rus
39 Common Redshank  4   Rutki to Rus
40 Curlew  1   Rus
41 Black-tailed Godwit  3   Mschichy Wildlife Area
42 Ruff 8   Rutki to Rus
43 Temminck's Stint 1   Wojdy - woods and fishponds
44 Common Snipe  4   Tajenko
45 Black-headed Gull 8   Rus
46 Black Tern  1   Rutki to Rus
47 White-winged Tern 7   Rutki to Rus
48 Whiskered Tern  1   Mschichy Wildlife Area
49 Common Tern  2   Rutki to Rus
50 Feral Pigeon 6   Warsaw
51 Wood Pigeon  12   Warsaw
52 Collared Dove  2   Nr. Bialyostok
53 Cuckoo  9   Rutki to Rus
54 Hoopoe  4   Rutki to Rus
55 Wryneck  2   Wojdy - woods and fishponds
56 Lesser Spotted Woodpecker  1   Kuligi - Marek's house & land
57 Middle Spotted Woodpecker  1   Bialowieski National Park
58 Great Spotted Woodpecker  7   Rajgrod Hotel, Szeikov
59 Three-toed Woodpecker  1   Bialowieski National Park
60 Black Woodpecker  2   Kuligi - Marek's house & land
61 Grey-headed Woodpecker  1   Bialowieski National Park
62 Kestrel 1   Warsaw to Rutki
63 Hobby  2   Warsaw to Rutki
64 Peregrine Falcon  1   Rutki to Rus
65 Golden Oriole 1 heard Kuligi - Marek's house & land
66 Jay  4   Kuligi - Marek's house & land
67 Magpie  8   Warsaw
68 Jackdaw  5   Warsaw
69 Rook  4   Warsaw
70 Hooded Crow  9   Warsaw
71 Raven  6   Rutki to Rus
72 Skylark  5   Rutki to Rus
73 Barn Swallow  10   Rutki to Rus
74 House Martin  2   Rus
75 Crested Tit  1   Bialowieski National Park
76 Blue Tit  2   Mschichy Wildlife Area
77 Great Tit  12   Rus
78 Penduline Tit 1   Wojdy - woods and fishponds
79 Nuthatch  1   Nr. Laskowiec
80 Willow Warbler  4   Mschichy Wildlife Area
81 Chiffchaff  8   Rutki to Rus
82 Wood Warbler 3   Kuligi - Marek's house & land
83 Sedge Warbler 1   Mschichy Wildlife Area
84 Great Reed Warbler  4   Kuligi - Marek's house & land
85 Savi's Warbler  1   Mschichy Wildlife Area
86 Spotted Flycatcher  1   Bialowieski National Park
87  Robin  1   Bialowieski National Park
88 Thrush Nightingale 3 heard Tajenko
89 Bluethroat  1   Kuligi - Marek's house & land
90 Red-breasted Flycatcher 1   Bialowieski National Park
91 Pied Flycatcher  2   Kuligi - Marek's house & land
92 Collared Flycatcher 1   Bialowieski National Park
93 Black Redstart  2   Kuligi - Marek's house & land
94 Whinchat 3   Kuligi - Marek's house & land
95 Northern Wheatear  1   Rutki to Rus
96 Blackbird  5   Rus
97 Fieldfare 9   Rutki to Rus
98 Song Thrush  1   Rajgrod Hotel, Szeikov
99 Starling  11   Warsaw
100 Yellow Wagtail  5   Rutki to Rus
101 White Wagtail  8   Rutki to Rus
102 Meadow Pipit  1   Mschichy Wildlife Area
103 Yellowhammer  11   Rutki to Rus
104 Ortolan Bunting 1   Bialowieza to Warsaw
105 Reed Bunting  6   Rutki to Rus
106 Chaffinch  10   Rus
107 Greenfinch  3   Rajgrod Hotel, Szeikov
108 Goldfinch  2   Wojdy - woods and fishponds
109 Linnet  1   Bialowieza to Warsaw
110 Hawfinch  3   Kuligi - Marek's house & land
111 House Sparrow  7   Rus to Rajgrod Hotel
112 Tree Sparrow  3   Mschichy Wildlife Area