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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Poland - May 2024 (2 Viewers)

Great story. I genuinely felt intrigued after every chapter, waiting for the questions to get answered, like "will he make it to Kuligi bridge?" (he did); will he do the right thing and go back to Dluga Luka in the evening?" (he did!); "will he go through Dolistowo bridge to Jaglowo?" (he did not, but went to Wizna, which is also great choice).
Now, fingers crossed for Bialowieza. Did he find Three-Toed nad White-Backed Woodpeckers? We're about to know.

Thanks again for the interest and nice comments. I'll try not to keep you waiting too long for the second phase of the trip.
 
Looking forward to the next part Pete! I've only done Bialowieza and found it quite tough but ultimately rewarding though Hazel Grouse was nigh on impossible except a split second flight view and some of the woodies were only seen with a guide.
 
Thursday 16th May:

An early start this morning for a return to Dluga Luka at a different time of day and the chorus on opening the car door at the parking area was even more intense than previously. A slow wander up the boardwalk produced a Great Grey Shrike flying out over the marsh from a lone birch but the singers in the low vegetation were all Sedge Warbler again, with the exception of a Grasshopper Warbler reeling away - the only glimpse I got of it was some movement within a small clump of vegetation. At the end, I met up with the Brit again who also had not had any luck with the target bird. I spent some time at the end just taking in the atmosphere and other birds, again including Whinchat, close Snipe and Marsh Harrier. There were also a couple of Ringtail Harriers, that are beyond my ID skills, but a stunning male Montagu's Harrier turned up and performed for a while. Eventually I gave up and slowly walked back to the car.

With a tip on another of my other targets from the other chap, I headed to the North Basin, seeing the usual roadside birds en route, and stopped off at Kuligi Bridge. As soon as I was out of the car and looking at the information board a Lesser Spotted Eagle flew from behind and only about twice tree canopy height overhead and lazily circled out over the flood plain - thanks to my informant. I wandered back down the road and part way along Dobra Droga checking out the songsters, which included Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff plus a much quieter and more melodic version of the numerous Thrush Nightingale that I took to be a Common Nightingale, and Merlin agreed. Back at the car, coming from the nearest bush was another different song and after some effort I had brief views of a Barred Warbler - including the yellow eye. I sat eating in the pic-nic area for a while adding Reed Bunting, a single Whiskered Tern low along the river and a fly-over Black Kite, plus Lapwings and a Red-backed Shrike.

I moved just down the road and parked in Grzedy, the nice young ranger at the information office checked my permit and confirmed the parking was free. I walked the main track south east and then took the blue trail but the short spur path to the tower was closed so along the boardwalk to the main track and back north. The mixed woodland and a couple of small glades added Wood Pigeon, Cuckoo, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Robin, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Wren, Great Tit, Jay, Wood Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, a pair of Bullfinch, Yellowhammer and best of all a singing Red-breasted Flycatcher - a very nice lifer but no red breast; do females also sing on territory or do young males migrate and start singing on the breeding grounds before moulting out of first-winter plumage?

After a fair walk I drove back to the Osowiec Twierdza area, collecting some supplies along the way, and parked up by Fort Zarzeczny. A Great Grey Shrike flew over and perched in a large poplar as I set off down the boardwalk. The usual suspects were singing in the scrub plus Great Reed Warbler and from the platforms and viewpoints I had Mallard, Greylag Goose, Great Egret, Grey Heron, White Stork, Black-headed Gull and Black Tern. Crossing the road and railway I spent some time in the tower seeing many of the same species plus White Wagtail and the usual Swifts, Swallows and Martins overhead.

Just a short trip back to my accommodation and as I pulled up to the gate into the property a fine male Black Redstart flew down off the gatepost into the adjacent paddock. Later, I sat outside the patio door in the fading light eating and keeping an eye out for the Redstart again and a Black Stork flew over.

Had I been there, I’d have been extremely pleased with that haul Peter, absolutely 1st class!
 
Looking forward to the next part Pete! I've only done Bialowieza and found it quite tough but ultimately rewarding though Hazel Grouse was nigh on impossible except a split second flight view and some of the woodies were only seen with a guide.

Thanks Nick. You are right, forest birding is challenging but being a forester I just like being in amongst the trees. I didn't see Hazel Grouse and the woodpeckers were definitely hard work!
 
Saturday 18th May:

I decided to leave the car in peace this morning so set off earlyish on foot, seeing a White Stork in the garden and a singing Redstart in a large oak just by the gate before I'd even started down the road through the village. Seeing the common species along the road I got to the car park in front of Palacowy Park and the birding began in earnest with Greenfinch being the first new trip bird of the day. After a detour to the museum entrance to confirm that a permit was not required to walk the designated trails in the National Park I set off on a slow wander in a roughly clockwise direction around the nice wooded parkland. Many familiar woodland birds were present with the highlights being: a confiding Hawfinch on a low branch; a Mistle Thrush poking in the leaf litter aside a shady track; Spotted and Collared Flycatcher singing and hunting from the canopy and the latter nesting in a hole in a dead snag; Coal Tits in addition to Great and Blue; Great and Middle Spotted Woodpecker, including noisy nestlings in a cavity being fed by a pair of the latter; Jay flying between copses; and a couple of Nuthatch on the trunks of mature trees. All this with Cuckoo calling and Chaffinch, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff in song. Back at the southern end near the lakes I had a Raven over 'cronking', Wood Pigeon, Swift and the usual hirundines, a White Wagtail on the path and near the river I heard a Common Rosefinch in a tree by the bridge. Before I could get a good view it flew along the stream so I followed it and got great views of a fine singing red male - I had only seen non-breeding males before. Just then a Sparrowhawk flew over. A great little park that I spent a good time slowly exploring, including a visit to the newish tower just to the east. I also picked up a map showing the hiking trails in the National Park from the Tourist Information office in the car park and enquired about the cost of a guide for the Strict Reserve in case I felt the need.

In the afternoon I wandered back to the accommodation and picked up the car to head east of the village. Stopping first at the bridge and observation tower I soon added loud Great Reed Warbler and Thrush Nightingale for the day. Parking at Carska corner I took the path through the wet woods to the bridge at Wysokie Bagno. A nice walk through the alders but there were loads of mozzies and the birds heard and seen were those seen this morning, with the notable exception of a couple of singing Golden Oriole which were at last seen as well as heard. After backtracking I wandered around the glade and along the road past the restaurant and back plus another visit to the bridge hoping for my remaining target woodpecker - but no luck. So I drove back north to a parking area on the outskirts of the town and walked the forest track first east and then north from a junction. This conifer and mixed woodland was a bit quiet but just after I had decided to turn back as the evening was getting on I had good views of a Black Woodpecker. Time to return to the new base.

Photo:

Not a bad garden bird!
 

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Seeing the White Stork probing the ground, immediately took me back to Hungary, when I’d just stepped off the train and was met by “the same”…probing the ground by the track.
I was taken aback by it’s relative indifference to
moi, as I reached for my cam.👍
 
Seeing the White Stork probing the ground, immediately took me back to Hungary, when I’d just stepped off the train and was met by “the same”…probing the ground by the track.
I was taken aback by it’s relative indifference to
moi, as I reached for my cam.👍

I only have a smartphone camera and when I got into position for a photo this one calmly turned and slowly walked just far enough to stop me taking a picture and have to reposition time after time. I'm sure it was deliberate ;)
 
Sunday 19th May:

Early start this morning in the hope of some woodpecker action. I headed out of Bialowieza on the Pogorzelce road and missed my intended car park so stopped on seeing the tower overlooking the meadow. There were House Martin around the tower, a distant White Stork, the song of Common Whitethroat, a lone White Wagtail, a Cuckoo calling and Thrush Nightingale singing but not much else. So I returned to my intended location, parked and set off along the Zebra Zubra trail. Fascinating wet woodland but just the usual species seen or heard: Chaffinch, Great & Blue Tit, Wren, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackbird, Blackcap, Song Thrush and Robin - best bird was another Black Woodpecker, which I also heard drumming loudly. The birds on the return walk were similar. Continuing back up the road I stopped at Budy Bridge and scanned the dead trees and walked the roads for some time - no woodpeckers at all but both Nuthatch and Eurasian Treecreeper.

My next destination was the car park for the European Bison Show Reserve for the start of another trail. I am not a fan of zoos - in fact I dislike them with a passion. But I was a bit taken in by reading of the large wild enclosure with a small fee-roaming herd and this looked to be the case, at least in terms of habitat, when I parked near-by. So, against my better judgement, I paid the reasonable charge and went in, thinking that this may be my only chance of seeing a Bison. I'm sure they do a good job and can see the case for the injured and rehabilitating animals but the enclosures were not as large and 'natural' as I would have hoped and I ended up doing the circuit and leaving feeling sad for the sad-looking animals inside. Perhaps I should have stuck to my principals. Anyway, I set off on the yellow trail through more nice, but this time drier, natural woodland and added a few additional birds for the day: Wood Pigeon, Mistle Thrush, Spotted, Red-breasted, Collared and Pied Flycatcher, Coal Tit and Hawfinch. Again the return on the same path was similar.

Back at the car I went west along the Hajnowka road for a short distance and stopped to walk down the first forest ride on the south side, this time through plantation conifer forest, listening for woodpeckers. I did hear another loud drumming Black Woodpecker but no target species. The more open forest did add Jay and Yellowhammer and Swift overhead for the day list. Back to the car and toward Bialoweiza before turning south and parking at the Miejsce Mocy car park, heading south along the forest track down to and along the cross-track at the first junction, again in the quest for woodpeckers but without luck - apart from some distant drumming they again eluded me. Time to return for the evening.

Photos:

1. Random Bialowieza forest meadow view;
2. Bird's-Nest Orchid found alongside forest ride.
 

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I didn't see Hazel Grouse and the woodpeckers were definitely hard work!
Hazel Grouse are always a bit hit and miss, woodpeckers are umpteen times easier in winter (eg have had up to seven species on/around my feeders, six more usual)...but your mix of other species shows the riches of summer.

The truly wild Bison are also far easier in winter when they come into the open fields.
 
Hazel Grouse are always a bit hit and miss, woodpeckers are umpteen times easier in winter (eg have had up to seven species on/around my feeders, six more usual)...but your mix of other species shows the riches of summer.

The truly wild Bison are also far easier in winter when they come into the open fields.

Yes, Jos, I feel I was very fortunate to get good views of both male and female Hazel Grouse on separate occasions in Finland so they were not a real target for this trip - other than it would have been great to see one!

I agree about the season for woodpeckers, the timing of this trip was governed by work and Aquatic Warbler.

As for Bison...
 
Anybody ever found bison on the open fields outside Białowieża forest, especially towards south-west?

Foresters claim that there are now 100 - 200 bison which live on the outskirts of the forest proper, and seeing anything in the open landscape is always easier. But I do not know of anybody who actually seen them there. So it may be a good place or a complete flop...
 
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Anybody ever found bison on the open fields outside Białowieża forest, especially towards south-west?

Foresters claim that there are now 100 - 200 bison which live on the outskirts of the forest proper, and seeing anything in the open landscape is always easier. But I do not know of anybody who actually seen them there. So it may be a good place or a complete flop...
Yes, me 🙂
 
Monday 20th May:

This was my final full day so the plan had been a very early start to continue the woodpecker quest. I woke about first light and looked out of the window to see a low lying mist / fog with just the tree tops poking though. Thinking this did not make for the best birding conditions I went back to sleep but only briefly and looked out around sunrise to see the mist almost cleared. So I set off to the Pogorzelce tower, noting the puddles that indicated overnight rain - it had been dry, warm and sunny so far. Little activity and no new species. I continued on to Budy Bridge where a group of three birders had also just arrived and proceeded to play a tape of a woodpecker drumming. After a couple of distant responses a White-backed Woodpecker flew in and hung on the stem of a close by alder - a nice start and after the others had gone I also had Great and Middle Spotted in the same area but no sign of the elusive target. After some time wandering up and down the road I decided to take a break from forest birding.

As spookily predicted by tomtompl above, I headed north to the east end of Siemienowka Reservoir starting at the embankment accessed just east of the town of the same name. A lot of scrub has developed on the reservoir edge of the bank so the views are limited but I could just make out distant terns and the scrub was full of singing Sedge, Grasshopper, Great Reed and at least one Reed Warbler. Moving further east I parked on the track near the pumping station and wandered toward the distant woodland. Here in the the taller scrub and trees the singers were Blackcap, Common and Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Wren but the views over the reservoir were even more restricted except by the sluice from where the birds were equally distant. I tried the tower on the edge of the woodland to the west but again the view was mainly blocked by branches and scrub growth.

So I circumnavigated the reservoir to it's west and parked at the end of the track through Cisowka to walk along the track alongside the railway. One of the first birds I saw was, surprisingly, the one and only Linnet I saw on the trip, sitting on the trackside wires. Views over the tracks were limited to just standing at the edge of the rails but on the other side the trees gradually thinned out to allow windows over the reeds to be used. Some pools held Lapwing, Mute Swan, Mallard, Great Egret and Grey Heron. Thrush Nightingale and Reed Warbler were heard. A Cormorant flew over and a Bittern was booming. The main interest was in the birds commuting over the track from one side to the other which were mainly Black-headed Gull and Black Tern but also included lesser numbers of Whiskered, White-winged and Common Tern and two flyover (presumably) Caspian Gulls. As well as some White Wagtail, a Hoopoe was feeding near the track. Swifts, Swallows and Martins hawked overhead. It was getting hot, the cloud was building and I was getting text warnings about thunderstorms so, with the open water looking still a long way away, I returned to the car. I drove the short distance back to another pumping station thinking that it may be too hot to walk out onto the the dried out parts of the reservoir in that area looking for wagtails. As soon as I got out of the car I saw a yellow bird perched on an overhead wire directly above me - a very close and smart male Citrine Wagtail that was soon joined by another! What cracking birds. When they flew I headed for the new tower I had seen from the other side of the reservoir - possibly the most elaborate and best constructed tower I have been in. The views were good and I added Yellowhammer, Cuckoo, Crane, another Hoopoe, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Northern Wheatear and Whinchat. Back at the car one of the Citrine Wagtails was waiting for me.

From the main road I turned off to Bachury to check out the fish ponds: a herd of 50+ Mute Swan dominated the first pond alongside a few Mallard and a small group of Greylag Geese. The next pond had some of these plus a pair of Gadwall, some Tufted Duck, a drake Garganey and a drake Common Pochard plus, again a surprise to me, my first and only Coot.

Time to return to the hunt so I drove back through Narewka and just past Janowo tried to look for the track to the small pond mentioned in Gosney but there was nowhere to park and the track no longer seems to exist. So I continued on to the car park at Kosy Most. I walked the ride through the forest, wandered around the area of the two bridges and out to the platform. A great little spot with the common woodland species seen and/or heard plus Golden Oriole, Spotted and Collared Flycatcher, Red-backed Shrike (singing), Barred Warbler (good views), a couple of Rosefinch (one a non-breeder and one with some red on the head) and Marsh Warbler. Also a White-backed Woodpecker drumming. I could have stayed here longer but the quest had to continue.

I returned to Budy Bridge in hope, adding Nuthatch and Treecreeper for the day and a Hobby flew from the top of one of the dead alders. After wandering and waiting for some time I headed back toward the tower but came to a sudden halt on the eastern edge of Teremiski to admire three bull European Bison grazing peacefully in a meadow next to the road. Quite a sight. The planned visit to the tower added a Snipe perched on the boardwalk railing. The final part of good daylight was spent walking the roads either side of Carska corner to the sound of amphibians and singing Song and Mistle Thrush but not adding any species for the day. A Black Redstart was in the garden when I returned to base.

Photos:

1. New observation tower at Siemienowka;
2. View from the tower;
3. European Bison - Teremiski Meadows;
4. A slightly less impressive individual;
5. Typical Bialowieza forest edge glade view.
 

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