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
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.
|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|
|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|
|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|
|41||Black-tailed Godwit||3||Mschichy Wildlife Area|
|42||Ruff||8||Rutki to Rus|
|43||Temminck's Stint||1||Wojdy - woods and fishponds|
|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|
|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|
|71||Raven||6||Rutki to Rus|
|72||Skylark||5||Rutki to Rus|
|73||Barn Swallow||10||Rutki to Rus|
|75||Crested Tit||1||Bialowieski National Park|
|76||Blue Tit||2||Mschichy Wildlife Area|
|78||Penduline Tit||1||Wojdy - woods and fishponds|
|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|
|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|
|97||Fieldfare||9||Rutki to Rus|
|98||Song Thrush||1||Rajgrod Hotel, Szeikov|
|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|
|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|