Thursday, 8 April 2010

Poland - April 2010

My latest trip to Lubien Kujawski for the Easter weekend 2010 gave some good opportunities for birdwatching. I left Stansted at lunchtime on Good Friday on a reasonable Spring day. There were no clouds over the North Sea and only scattered clouds over Holland, Germany and the Czech Republic. Good views were had of Prague as we flew over, but shortly afterwards as we headed North the scattered clouds were replaced by a bank of solid cloud. This cloud persisted all the way to Łódź. The plane got quite low before the ground could be seen. Heavy rain stayed with us all the way to Lubien. Obviously no chance to see any birds en-route, with one notable exception - Shortly after we turned off the main A1 trunk road at Lubien towards Narty, a Great White Egret was feeding along the edge of a field. A great start.

Saturday 3rd April - The forest around Narty
We left the house around 7.00am and headed down the track towards the forest. House Sparrows and Collared Doves were in the garden and Skylarks were singing from the fields on both sides. As we got close to the forest a probable Corn Bunting flew past. A few Woodpigeons were also seen.

In the first forest area (mainly conifers) Chaffinches could be heard and a Chiffchaff was singing. The loud call of a Nuthatch was also heard. Actually visible sightings however were rare. Coming out of the forest we came to a newly replanted area. Here a large mound of sand with a large entry hole had the unmistakable scent of foxes. A cock Pheasant called out from the edge of the clearing.

Out onto the main track a Woodlark was heard. At this point Joanna returned home and I continued on my own. I looked for Black Woodpeckers in the area where I had seen one last year but no luck this time. This area of a small belt of mature conifers surrounding a newly planted area (conifers and birch) was rather overgrown underfoot with brambles. A Robin was seen and a few Yellowhammers.

Yellowhammer in birch tree

From here I went to investigate the small lake just passed the dump. The dump is a real mess with rubbish spreading out beyond the designated area, partly due to wind blowing the rubbish around and also because the entrance is now blocked off with large slabs of concrete, so rubbish has just been left in the entrance.

The lake had a pair of Mute Swans a couple of Mallards and 3 male and 1 female Pochards. There was no sign of any sand martins in the sandy quarry area around here. A Song Thrush was singing in the bushes.

Magpies and Rooks were seen before I headed off back down the track back past the dump again. In the bushes by an old abandoned house were a Greenfinch and a pair of Long-Tailed Tits (the European sub-species with white heads). Blue Tits were here too and Starlings were another species for my list.

This is the spot where a Woodlark was heard earlier and now I was able to see one sitting on some telegraph wires. As I looked back towards the forest a large corvid flew over. Even before I had a chance to confirm that this was a Raven it did the raven specialty of flying upside down for a couple of seconds before flipping back over again. Why do they do that?! Just for fun, I guess.

Walking down the track passed a couple of farmhouses didn't produce any new birds, in fact hardly any birds at all. When I got to the larger forest area I looked in the trees around the grassy strip which runs right along the woodland edge, but there was nothing to be seen. From here I managed to get a view across the fields to where I knew there is usually a White Storks' nest and fortunately both birds were standing on the nest. Seeing the storks is always a highlight of a trip to Poland.

Beyond the forest some Roe Deer were in a field.

Roe Deer

Here 2 Buzzards were seen displaying over the trees, Blackbirds and Jays were seen here too. At the far end of my walk a farmer was drilling crops in a large field. In a small corner of this field along with a couple of Yellowhammers were at least 15 White Wagtails.


White Wagtail - showing the much lighter back than our Pied Wagtail

In almost exactly the same spot as I saw 4 Common Cranes fly over last year, I was treated to 3 flying over this time. Unlike last year they did not land in the field, so the view was unfortunately only brief.

There were also a pair of linnet here and surprisingly a male Marsh Harrier flew over.

Moving onto to some woods by a stream there were a number of Redwings, a Great-Spotted Woodpecker and a Coal Tit was heard calling from within the conifers. As I headed back across the grassy meadow a Swallow flew by. 2 Meadow Pipits flew up from the long grass.

Back through the forest and onto the sandy track and a Treecreeper was seen climbing up a tree alongside the track. The final bird seen today was a Dunnock.

A number of Hares were also seen at various times during the day.

Saturday 3rd April - An evening visit to Włocławek‎
On the journey to Włocławek‎ we saw a Hooded Crow in Lubien Kujawski and Coots and Great Crested Grebes on the lake at Lubien. At Włocławek‎ we crossed the Wisła river. On the river was a female Goosander and several Black-Headed and Herring Gulls were flying around. There was also a Cormorant and Grey Heron.

Sunday 4th April - Woodland at Kretków
My first visit to this wood about 1.5km from the house. The walk to the wood down dusty farm tracks passed a number of small farmhouses. Birds seen included Skylarks, Chaffinches, Collared Doves, Woodpigeons, White Wagtails, House Sparrows and Rooks.

The wood turned out to be a wonderful area of mainly deciduous trees, primarily oak, beech and birch with a just a few conifers.

Once into the wood the first things we noticed were the large number of wood ants. These two nests were within a few feet of each other:

Wood ants nests
We followed a track around the edge of the wood and saw Robins and Yellowhammers. Chiffchaffs were heard with their distinctive call. Down a small path some Roe Deer appeared in front of us.

Roe Deer

The North-Eastern edge of the wood opened up into a an area of birch and pine trees.

The Western edge of the wood looked out over fields towards the main A1 (E75) road and the railway line

Looking back at the Western edge of the wood.

After a few minutes sitting on the grass enjoying the Easter Sunday sunshine, and watching Buzzards soaring over the wood, we headed back into the wood. At the track along the western edge of the wood were some Long-Tailed Tits. The track led out of the wood onto the minor road from Kretków to the A1. Here we headed back into the wood along a fairly well defined path which petered out after about 100 metres. As the trees (here beech and oak) were well spaced out we continued further into the wood. At this point the highlight of the day was seen as a Black Woodpecker flew between the trees and landed on the top of a dead tree a little way off, close enough to get some decent views through the binoculars.
In the same area Nuthatches were heard calling and at least 2 separate birds were seen. Here there were also Marsh Tits, Great Tits, Blackbirds, Redwings, Jays and in the treetops a Hawfinch.

We had no further sightings of the black woodpecker but a number of Great-Spotted Woodpeckers were seen and heard drumming.

Peacock butterfly

Wood anenome

As we came out of the wood to head home a White Stork was seen gliding past very high up.

Monday 5th April - Back to the Woodland at Kretków
I set out just after sunrise today on my own for another look at the wood.

Sunrise at Narty

Heading towards the wood the first interesting sightings were of Tree Sparrows at the side of the road in a couple of places.

Tree Sparrow

Other birds en-route included Chaffinches, Skylarks, Collared Doves, Woodpigeons, House Sparrows, Robin, Starlings, Great Tits, Magpies, Rooks, a Hooded Crow, Fieldfares, White Wagtails, Dunnocks, Greenfinches and Yellowhammers. As I arrived at the wood a Song Thrush was merrily singing to mark his territory at the edge of the wood. As I stopped to listen I saw some Goldfinches and a male Brambling. Heading into the wood there were Blackbirds, Jays and several singing Chiffchaffs.

I took a diagonally route off the main track through the wood and saw 2 Blackcaps, Blue Tits and a pair of Marsh Tits. There were many Great-Spotted Woodpeckers either drumming of chasing each other through the trees.

Great-Spotted Woodpecker drumming on dead branch of pine tree

The beech and oak trees

As I came to edge of the wood overlooking the fields and railway line a Buzzard was seen feeding on the ground. Here they were also 3 Roe Deer and 2 Common Cranes.

Roe Deer and Common Cranes

Common Cranes

I went back into the wood for another search for black woodpeckers (unsuccessfully however) but as yesterday the Nuthatches were very vocal. A Goshawk was seen flying over the treetops.

I left the wood to walk down the road to the village of Kretków. The last birds seen as I left the wood were Long-Tailed Tits and another drumming Great-Spotted Woodpecker.

Great-Spotted Woodpecker drumming on silver birch tree

A final visit to the woods around Narty

I headed back along the minor roads from Kretków to Narty. Jackdaws, Skylarks, Magpies and House Sparrows were seen on the way as well as a pair of Grey Partridges. I passed the White Storks' nest. One bird was flying off as I approached, the second one flew away as I stood watching. Further down the road 4 Buzzards were seen flying over the woods. I then had a very close view of a male Marsh Harrier. This was probably the same bird that I had seen on the Saturday, he appeared to defending his territory from 2 Buzzards.

A distant shot of a male Marsh Harrier

Walking along the sandy track was this beetle, which I believe is a Devil's Coach Horse.

Devil's Coach Horse beetle

Along the track to the wood there were some Hares.

Brown Hare
Other birds seen in this area were, Woodpigeon, Jays, and a Raven. I went into the woodland by the stream, here there were Chaffinches, Chiffchaffs, Dunnocks and at least 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, one of which was drumming. As I came out the woods 2 Green Sandpipers flew up from a flooded area in the field.

Heading back to the house I also saw a Reed Bunting, Blackbirds, Yellowhammers and a few Hawfinches. The Hawfinch call is surprisingly weak for such a big finch.
At the end of the woodland a Sparrowhawk was seen flying over the treetops a Black-Headed Gull also passed over. As I returned home along the narrow fallow strip between the fields, which has a few small birch trees a Great-Grey Shrike flew out and headed across the field towards the woods, no sooner had I watched the shrike and started to continue to walk home a second Shrike flew out. A great end to the day.

Train journey from Kutno to Łódź

We took the train back to Łódź. 2 White Storks were seen in a front garden on the way to Kutno. From the train a few Buzzards and Roe Deer were seen and over a marshy area just North of Łęczyca there were 2 Marsh Harriers and a Lapwing.

Altogether 64 different bird species seen.

1 comment:

Shelley said...

Such a great array of wildlife! Enjoyed the hares! Thanks for visiting my bird blog. Where are you going birding in Michigan? Let me know if you need any recommendations.
All the best,