Biebrza, first full day


Poland, 20 May.

In the morning in Wosnawies, where we arrived yesterday, a hoopoe is calling.

Also: golden oriole; chiffchaff.

Tawny owl call. Fieldfare.

Greater celandine flowering.

Willow warbler. Thrush nightingale.

Skylark.

Sounds of yellowhammer and cuckoo.

Swift. Whitethroat.

Grasshopper warbler sound.

A red squirrel on a coniferous tree.

The bus takes us into the reserve.

Two ravens.

A kestrel.

In the park’s rehabilation center for injured animals, wild boars; and a female moose with a two day old calf. And a buzzard in a cage.

A red-breasted flycatcher in the telescope.

Then, a male cuckoo sits in a treetop. We see it calling, while most people usually just hear it.

In the sandy soil of parabole dunes in this part of the reserve, the antlion lives.

A brimstone butterfly.

Mouse-ear hawkweed flowering.

Common juniper shrubs.

An orange tip butterfly.

A tree pipit singing in a tree.

This is a video of a tree pipit near Hilversum, the Netherlands.

A flying hoopoe.

A woodlark.

This is a video of a woodlark made in The Netherlands, Strabrechtse heide.

Then, we see a moose. Not a captive one, like in the rehabilitation center, but a wild one, eating, through the telescope.

Our second stop is in a forest growing on old peat ground.

Someone in our group sees a wood warbler and a wryneck.

Lily of the valley flowering.

Gipsywort.

Later, a walk on a sandy road.

A skylark takes a sand bath on it.

A great grey shrike.

A dead young grass snake, killed on the road.

A meadow pipit sitting on a birch tree.

A male marsh harrier flies past.

Like the skylark before, a yellowhammer takes a sand bath on the road.

Eastern Poland is famous for a bird which about reaches its western limit here: the barred barbler. Sometimes, we hear it from dense bushes. But it is about as secretive as the little crake of Bialystok. I just managed to see its tail, and movements indicating that it was cleaning its feathers. Others had more luck.

Barred warbler

Another traffic victim, this time a sand lizard.

A speckled wood butterfly. The first one which I see in Poland; more common more to the west.

Again, tree frog sounds as the evening approaches.

To Biebrza, Poland


Poland, 19 May.

After the Bialystok fish ponds, we arrive in Woznawies village, on the edge of the big Biebrza national park.

The Biebrza marshes have escaped from a plan to damage them by having a highway through them.

In Wosnawies, house martin and barn swallow nests. Black redstart.

Swifts flying around.

Tree frog sounds.

Polish Society for the Protection of Birds (OTOP) has opened an office in Cracow and started a 4-year monitoring and conservation program of the most precious birds in the Polish part of the Carpathian Mountains. The project will help us learn about location and ways of protection of Golden Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, White-backed Woodpecker, Three-toed Woodpecker and alpine species like Alpine Accentor and Wallcreeper, in Poland breeding only in the Carpathians: here.

Bialystok fish pond birds, Poland


Poland, 19 May.

After Siemianowska lake, we go to Bialystok.

Just outside the city, there are fish ponds.

This artificial habitat is surprisingly rich, including in birds.

Closest to the city is a big black-headed gull colony. One female nesting in the colony has been ringed in Britain.

Also, white-winged black terns and whiskered terns are flying around.

Then, we hear the sound of a very rare and very elusive bird: a little crake. As usually, it hides in the reedbeds. Nevertheless, some of us see a glimpse. A photograph manages to “catch” only part of the bird’s small body.

This video says about itself:

Little Crake at Apaj, Kiskunsagi National Park, Hungary.

A sparrowhawk and a marsh harrier fly past.

The sound of many fire-bellied toads (see also here).

Two Caspian terns flying across the ponds.

Two black-necked grebes; see also here, and here.

A kestrel.

The sound of a bittern.

A penduline tit nest.

A red-necked grebe (see also here).

This video says about itself:

Two birds [red-necked grebes] displaying courtship rituals and mating at Dalkarlskärret, Uppsala, Sweden.

A Caspian gull.

NATO kills another Afghan civilian


From The Frontier Post in Pakistan:

Monday, May 25, 2009

KABUL (Agencies): NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has reportedly admitted that a civilian was killed in its air strike on Wednesday in eastern Afghanistan. In a statement released on Sunday, ISAF said that they targeted the man in Paktia province, mistaking him for setting up improvised explosive devices. It was found in an investigation that he was not a militant, ISAF said. Afghan National Army soldiers took the victim to a hospital in Kabul, where he died later, the statement added. ISAF has assured not to cause civilian deaths in future.

We will, I fear, learn soon how little those NATO assurances about civilians’ lives are worth. Well, at least, we will, IF the big media will not have forgotten this NATO promise of now by then …

From Wired in the USA:

Another coalition airstrike in Afghanistan has gone awry; eight civilians are believed to be dead, the U.S. military announced Wednesday [20 May 2009].

See also here. And here. And here. And here.

Killing of Afghan civilians covered-up by Australian military: here.

Rumsfeld’s renegade unit blamed for Afghan deaths: here.

Provincial authorities in south-western Afghanistan have thrown thousands of books, mainly about Shias or Shia Islam, into a river: here.

Afghanistan’s parliament call for the prosecution of “Criminal Foreign Troops”: here.

400 butterfly, moth, species on Scottish nature reserve


From Wildlife Extra:

400 species of butterflies and moths recorded on Scottish nature reserve

23/05/2009 11:44:30

St Cyrus aflutter with butterflies and moths

May 2009. A newly published checklist enables moth and butterfly enthusiasts in the North east of Scotland to enjoy an amazing 400 different species in one place at St Cyrus National Nature Reserve. The Checklist of the Lepidoptera of St Cyrus NNR brings together records and sightings of some of Scotland’s rarest and most colourful species found in the area going back thirty years. …

Checklist compiler Brian Stewart said “Some of the species recorded are rare, such as the small blue butterfly which feeds on the yellow flowered kidney vetch plant that grows on the Reserve. The list also includes the only known record of the micro moth Lobesia abscisana on the Scottish mainland – discovered by Dr Mark Young and myself during a moth night event held at the Reserve in 2007.” …

St Cyrus NNR is also home to over 65 different species of breeding birds and 244 species of flowering plants. Many of the plants are rare or at their northern limit in the UK, and it’s this great diversity of plant life, coupled with the sheltered aspect of the Reserve that encourages such a rich insect life.

Dark bordered beauty moth & Pine hoverfly to be reintroduced into Scotland: here.

USA: IT HAD SEEMED a lovely idea: to sit beneath graceful palms on a tiny island and feel the presence of the endangered Miami blue butterfly, “one of the rarest living things on Earth,” according to one news report: here.

Attracting butterflies to gardens: here.

Moths in the Netherlands: here.

Singapore moths: here.

Hoverflies in autumn: here.

Siemianowska lake, Poland


Poland, 19 May.

After our last morning in Bialowieza, our bus departs.

Just outside the village, two lesser spotted eagles circling.

Thrush nightingale and yellowhammer sounds.

We arrive at Siemianowska lake.

A brimstone butterfly.

Three tern species nest here: black tern; white-winged black tern; and whiskered tern.

On the lake, mute swans, coots, a tufted duck and a pochard are swimming.

A whitethroat is singing.

A honey buzzard flying.

Great egrets.

Black-headed gulls.

A reed bunting.

Yellowhammer sound.

A gadwall flies past.

A lapwing. A penduline tit.

A citrine wagtail feeding the chicks at its nest.

This is a video of a male citrine wagtail in Italy, where it is a rare vagrant.

The great reed warbler sings.

An orange tip butterfly.

We go to another spot along this reservoir lake.

Great crestede grebes swimming. Linnet sound.

A yellow wagtail: first on the dam where we walk, later on grassland.

Three common terns.

A hooded crow.

A skylark sitting on a pole, singing.

A grey plover.

Bialowieza, last morning


Bialowieza, Poland, 19 May.

Our last morning here.

A little tern flying over a palace park pond.

This is a video of a red-backed shrike couple in the Bargerveen in the Netherlands.

On a shrub on the clearing, a male and a female red-backed shrike sitting together.

A female marsh harrier.

Back in the palace park: tree sparrows. White-collared flycatcher. A common treecreeper (see also here) climbing a tree.

Just outside the park, house martin nests on the post office building.

At the river bridge, a great reed warbler singing.

A beuatiful big butterfly, an old world swallowtail, is sitting on sandy soil. Wings spread out, in order to catch morning sun warmth after the wings have become cold in the night.

This is a video of an old world swallowtail emerging from its pupa.

Amphibians of Bialowieza, Poland


There are 18 amphibian species in Poland.

Of these, 12 species occur in Bialowieza national park. Narew national park has about the same amphibian species.

Sometimes, cars or bicycles kill them on roads.

The species are: great crested newt (see also this video, and this one). Common newt.

Natterjack toad. Common toad. Green toad. European fire-bellied toad. Common spadefoot toad.

Common tree frog. Pool frog. Common frog. Moor frog. Marsh frog.

16 amphibian species in the Netherlands: here.

Giant Fire-Bellied Toad’s Brain Brims With Powerful Germ-Fighters – RedOrbit: here.

Intensive [common] frog farming takes giant leap forward: here.