Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Eastern Poland - Day 1 (Biezbra Marshes)

Eastern Poland (18th – 20th May 2018) Trip Report - Part 1

#WansteadOnTour - Jonathan Lethbridge, James Heal, Tony Brown, David Lowe, Richard Rae, Bob Vaughan.
Day 1 (18th May) - Biezbra Marshes

A two and a half hour flight from Heathrow into Warsaw, and a three hour drive east to our first destination of Dluga Luka Marsh for our first target bird...Aquatic Warbler. The transfer and journey had gone to plan and we arrived early afternoon and ahead of schedule. As we approach the reserve there is a bird tour coach on the side of the road, and they’re observing a small pond like inlet on the marsh close to the road side. We pull the car over and are astonished to see up to 100 White-winged Black Terns covering the marsh with several birds feeding on the adjacent small pond, on closer inspection there are also a few Whiskered Terns amongst the gathering, and a later we find a single Black Tern.

Biezbra Marshes, Poland
Team Wanstead soaking up some cracking views of performing Marsh Terns
Biezbra Marshes, Poland

Biezbra Marshes, Poland

Biezbra Marshes, Marsh Terns, Poland

Arriving at Dluga Luka and the weather is improving but the strength of the breeze isn’t filling us with much hope of seeing Aquatic Warbler. At the end of the boardwalk we wait and listen, we can hear a couple of Aquatic Warblers singing but the stiff breeze is keeping the birds low down in the reeds. While we wait our first Honey Buzzard of the trip drifts over, this is quickly followed be a Lesser Spotted Eagle (another target bird) circling above us and then a Montagu’s Harrier low over the reed bed. As the breeze drops and the sun breaks through the clouds and after about an hour’s wait we finally get good views of Aquatic Warbler fairly close to the wooden boardwalk with several birds now singing from the tops of the reeds – a great start to the trip, although disaster almost strikes as Jono hits the deck hard after clipping a loose wooden board, landing on his camera and lens - thankfully no serious damage done other than a bent converter, a stiff shoulder and a little embarrassment.

Biezbra Marshes, Aquatic Warbler, Poland
The boardwalk out onto Dluga Luka Marsh - Be careful of those loose boards!
Dluga Luka, Biezbra Marshes, Poland
The prize - a singing Aquatic Warbler

With two of our target birds already ticked on the first afternoon in Eastern Poland, we head off towards our accommodation a further two hour’s drive to Białowieża village. An early start and a long day in the forests of Białowieża await tomorrow, so what better preparation for an early start (3.30am) than a hearty meal of Deer stew washed down with several Polish beers (maybe one too many) and to finish a shot of the local Bison Vodka – I hope that decision doesn’t come back to haunt me tomorrow...

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