Another successful trip to Poland. We landed in Warsaw in brilliant sunshine. A short trip to a local park produced Icterine and Wood Warblers amongst the commoner species, with Fieldfares everywhere. Our local leader Przemysław (pronounced Shemek) informed us that it was the coldest and wettest spring in memory! A monsoon on the way to Przemysł confirmed his story! However the weather did not dampen our spirits, stop us birding or keep the birds away. So much water meant that those birds that rely on such conditions thrived. Every village had a White Storks' nest and the sound of frogs croaking became the normal background. I am sure the sense of awe of walking through a colony of more than 5000 nesting White-winged Terns will long live in the memories of those privileged to see such a spectacle and I must not forget the Black and Whiskered Terns.
Amongst other highlights were eight species of woodpecker. Who could forget the three Black Woodpecker chicks hanging out the hole? Also the Lesser-spotted Woodpecker foraging at the side of the road on an early morning walk. Three species of eagle (Spotted and Lesser-spotted Eagles and Short-toed Snake-eagle) displaying over the woods, and being surrounded by Corn Crakes! Seeing these of course is a different matter but we were successful.
The scenery in Poland is fascinating, from the rolling Carpathian Hills to the flat flood plains and of course the Bialowieza Forest. This primeval forest is home to the European Bison and we were lucky enough to see seven of these giants of the woods. In the old forest the commonest bird is Collared Flycatcher and amongst the woodpeckers are European Three-toed and White-backed, all seen well.
The Great Snipe lek was interesting to see how everyone covered up well, not for the birds but the mosquitoes!
The water levels were very high this year so waders with little dry land were in small numbers but we made up for it with other species. Red-backed Shrikes were seen every day and Red-breasted Flycatchers in breeding plumage, the unspotted Bluethroat magna race that somehow seemed so much brighter and spectacular red-plumaged Common Rosefinches all showed well. A male Eurasian Penduline Tit investigated us at close quarters and an Aquatic Warbler delighted us by sitting up for almost two minutes in the open.
Przemysław worked hard for us and a new phrase has entered all our vocabularies, "Program is program", used whenever a predicted species was seen! Thanks to him, Grzegorz our driver for his excellent English and sense of humour and last but not least to all the participants who all contributed to finding the birds, provided great entertainment and made leading this trip so enjoyable.