Biebrza, third day


This video, in English, is about nature in Biebrza in Poland.

22 May.

Like yesterday, we are in Goniadz, Poland.

A linnet on a shrub.

Cuckoo and golden oriole sounds.

Fieldfares.

A male and a female Montagu’s harrier, circling around each other, not far away. When a female marsh harrier arrives, they drive it away.

In the reed beds, a blue tit (visible), and a Savi’s warbler (invisible, singing).

The bus takes us to a sedge peat bog.

We hear the aquatic warbler singing. Later, we see this exciting rare species at close distance.

This is a video of a singing aquatic warbler at Nagyivan, Hortobagyi National Park, Hungary.

An aquatic warbler photo is here.

A woodlark in one of the few trees in the bog. A common snipe, flying.

Skylark, singing.

Two moose.

A kestrel.

Then, a female hen harrier. This species stopped nesting in Poland years ago. Here was their last stand. That this bird now is here as late as 22 May, may mean that hen harriers will start nesting again. Recently, this species has declined in the Netherlands.

This video is about hen harriers in Scotland.

We continue, to a few small lakes. There, two hoopoes sit in a tree.

Sounds of corncrake. Corncrakes in the Netherlands: here.

And a skylark, singing.

Black terns, white-winged black terns, and whiskered terns flying over the lakes, diving sometimes.

Some white-winged black terns try to drive away a fox.

Black-tailed godwit and redshank at the next stop.

At the stop after that, a common tern sitting on a log in the middle of the river.

At the next stop, “our” Polish biologist sees a carrion crow, which is rare in Poland.

And someone else sees a golden oriole, singing. Which is also rare: not hearing the singing, but seeing this species, which usually is hidden near leafy tree tops.

This is a golden oriole video.

Our last stop turns out to be the best stop of today. From a watchtower, where barn swallows nest, we have an excellent view over mudflats, meadows, and water.

A black stork flying among many white storks. Great egrets.

Near the bank: wood sandpiper. A greenshank, catching a small fish. Little ringed plover.

A female ruff. Grey lag geese.

Then, both a male and a female citrine wagtail.

This is a citrine wagtail video.

As we arrive back in Goniadz, a lapwing tries to drive away a male Montagu’s harrier.

Greenfinch. Whitethroat.

Common cranes in Britain: here.

[Monday 2 November 2009]: One of the England’s rarest birds of prey, the Hen Harrier, has all but vanished as a breeding species after a disastrous breeding season this year, according to latest figures: here.

Biebrza, second day


Poland, 21 May.

Like yesterday, we are in Wosnawies.

Thrush nightingale and golden oriole sounds.

Hear the thrush nightingale singing on ARKive: here.

Tree sparrows. Hoopoe calling.

A whitethroat.

Two jays.

A red-backed shrike in a coniferous tree.

We go by canoe down the Narew river.

From the reed beds near the river banks, we hear great reed warbler, and reed warbler.

And sedge warbler.

We sometimes see the great reed warbler, as it is so big that it is more difficult for it to hide. And the sedge warbler, as it often flies upwards, singing.

We don’t see the secretive reed warbler, however. Except maybe when we see a nest hanging from reed stems. A little brownish bird flies out. Too quickly to see whether it is a sedge warbler or a reed warbler, or maybe another species yet.

Reed bunting sitting on a reed stem. Yellowhammer on the right hand side bank.

Our canoe passes a mute swan.

A collared dove.

The sounds of the skylark, cuckoo, hoopoe.

And the Savi’s warbler.

As we leave the canoe for dry land, we see a scarlet rosefinch (aka common rosefinch).

From the bus, two roe deer.

A turtle dove.

This is a video of common cranes in France.

A crane in a meadow near the Biebrza river.

Black-tailed godwits. A curlew.

A yellow wagtail on a leafless branch.

Then, a rare bird: a Montagu’s harrier. First, a male. Soon, a female joins it.

This is a Dutch video about Montagu’s harriers in Poland.

Then, a much bigger bird of prey: a greater spotted eagle. It has a small radio device attached to it, so its movements can be studied.

A lesser whitethroat sings.

Finally, two white-winged black terns.

We arrive in Goniadz village.

Common rosefinch and wryneck migration: here.

Common rosefinch in the Netherlands: here.

Pale rosefinch photos from Jordan: here.

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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.

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 citrine wagtail.

The great reed warbler sings.

An orange tip butterfly.

We go to another spot along this reservoir lake.

Great crested 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.

Bialowieza in Poland


As the earlier blog entry said, on 16 April we arrived near Bialowieza national park in eastern Poland.

In Bialowieza village, house sparrows and a singing song thrush.

The entrance to the national park is marked by a wooden bridge. On that bridge, two nuthatches (the somewhat paler East European form).

This is a great reed warbler video.

In the reedbeds on the edges of the ponds, many great reed warblers, singing. House martins flying around. From bushes, a thrush nightingale, singing.

This part of the national park is called Palace park. In earlier centuries, here were the buildings from which princes hunted European bison and other animals in Bialowieza forest. In 1731, King Augustus II of Poland erected an obelisk style monument, recording the names of courtiers who had participated in the hunting and the animals which had been killed. The monument is still there today.

That cannot be said of the big palace which the czars of Russia had built here in the late nineteenth century. In the eighteenth-nineteenth centuries, the monarchs of Prussia, Austria, and Russia divided Poland among themselves. Bialowieza became part of the Russian empire. Polish foresters and other inhabitants of Bialowieza participated in nineteenth century anti czarist uprisings. The czar’s government had them deported to Siberia. The empire brought Russian foresters to Bialowieza in order to still have imperial hunts there. Today, about 2,000 people live in Bialowieza village, 3,000 live in the total region. The Polish autocephalous orthodox church is the biggest religious denomination, while in most of Poland it is the Roman Catholic church.

After Poland became independent after the First World War, the Polish government used the former czar’s palace to receive foreign guests on hunting visits, including Hermann Goering of nazi Germany, and Count Ciano, foreign secretary of Mussolini’s Italy. After the 1939 German occupation, Hitler’s army used the palace as military headquarters. When they had to retreat in 1944, they completely destroyed the building. Other, smaller, buildings are still standing.

In a tree near one of those buildings, today a nature education center, a collared flycatcher.

This is a video of a collared flycatcher in Sweden.

A chaffinch singing. Chiffchaff sound.

Pied wagtail. Robin.

On the edge of a sandbox, a greenfinch sits, eating dandelion seeds. Next to it sits a goldfinch.

As we go back to the village, a big white stork nest on a roof. One of many in Poland.

Warsaw rookery


Saturday, 16 May 2009.

Just before the train reaches Weesp, two hares in a meadow.

A bit further, a tufted duck in a pond.

Later, the plane flies across Gooimeer lake and the fields of Flevoland.

The weather is sunny.

Later, over Germany, half of the sky gets cloudy.

Over Poland, the whole sky gets cloudy.

This is a video from a rookery in Kazakhstan.

12:25: outside Warsaw airport, a big rookery in a bush. Hundreds of rooks‘ nests. Recent research claims that rooks are as intelligent as chimpanzees in tool-making; see also here.

Rooks Use Stones to Raise the Water Level to Reach a Floating Worm: here.

Below the trees, wood pigeons and magpies on the ground.

It is cloudy, but it does not rain.

Swifts flying around high-rise buildings.

Legia Warsaw soccer club graffiti on a wall.

Dandelion flowers on lawns.

Jackdaws sitting on the tops of market stalls.

A kestrel.

It starts raining as the bus passes forests.

Barn swallows on wires.

Three white storks in a meadow.

We arrive in Bialowieza village, close to the famous national park of the same name. Stay tuned, as more entries on nature in Poland will appear on this blog.

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