Trip report: Poland (May 2015) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Scott Watson.

Springtime in Eastern Europe is a magical place, with new foliage, wildflowers galore, breeding resident birds, and new arrivals from Africa. Poland in particular is beautiful this time of year, especially where we visited on this tour; the extensive Biebrza Marshes, and some of the last remaining old-growth forest left in Europe, the primeval forests of Bialowieski National Park, on the border with Belarus. Our tour this year was highly successfully, recording 168 species of birds along with 11 species of mammals. This includes all 10 possible Woodpecker species, many of which we found at their nest holes, using the best local knowledge possible. Local knowledge also got us on track with a nesting Boreal (Tengmalm’s) Owl, while a bit of effort yielded the tricky Eurasian Pygmy-Owl and the trickier Hazel Grouse. We also found 11 species of raptors on this tour, and we even timed it to the day that the technicolored European Bee-eaters arrived back to their breeding grounds. A magical evening was spent watching the display of the rare Great Snipe in the setting sun, with Common Snipe “winnowing” all around and the sounds of breeding Common Redshank and Black-tailed Godwits.. Mammals were also front and center on this tour, and we did quite well finding 3 of the critically endangered European Bison, as well as multiple Moose, Red Fox, Eurasion Boar, and an unexpected encounter with a Northern White-breasted Hedgehog. Combine this with great accommodations, friendly people, and delicious Polish food, and you have the makings of a great European tour.

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