Saturday, May 23, 2015

More About Poland

A good tour guide asks the client what interests they have and then tries to accommodate the request as best as possible. Tomasz figured out that I was interested in seeing birds that inhabit marshes and lakes, so he adjusted our schedule to take me out to the lake. That decision was a good one. We saw 3 different tern species at the lake - Black Tern which we have in the US, Whiskered Tern which has only been reported 3 times in the US (I saw the last one. You can read about it here), and White-winged Tern which I have never seen before. The all put on a show - especially the Whiskered Terns. Here is one carrying a fish to his potential mate.

Whiskered Tern
 The White-winged terns stayed further away from the shoreline. This is the best that I could do.

White-winged Tern
The other special birds at the lake were the eagles. Europe has several eagle species. We saw 3 of them at the lake. There were at least 5 White-tailed Eagles hanging around. This young bird soared over our heads. They are a close cousin to our Bald Eagle.

White-tailed Eagle
Here is an unlikely pair - mixed - Spotted Eagle and Lesser Spotted Eagle soaring together. It is difficult to tell them apart but trust me, there are 2 different species here.

Lesser Spotted and Spotted Eagles
Here is a closer look at Lesser Spotted Eagle. This one is molting wing feathers.

Lesser Spotted Eagle
Eagles are great but the raptor that made my day was the Hobby. This is a little falcon similar to our Kestral. The cool thing about this falcon is that it wasn't alone. There were at least 6 of them hunting dragon flies along the lake shore at once. Pretty cool. Capturing a photo of one proved difficult. This is the best that I could manage.

Hobby
We needed to make our way past these guys to get out to the lake shore. The part of eastern Poland is very pastoral.

MOO
This fox was sloshing through the marshy edge of the lake hoping for some lunch. He/she was totally unaware of us since we were down wind.

Fox
 Other big birds around the lake included this Common Crane - similar to our Sandhill Crane that inhabit places like Florida (Villages).

Common Crane
And the Whooper Swan which is a pretty big swan. There were a pair of them on the lake. I have seen one of these in NJ on a lake in an RV campground. The owner of the campground actually had it flown in from Russia to keep on the lake.

Whooper Swan
When it comes to human reproduction, I'm no expert but I always thought it was strange that a stork would bring the baby considering that we have very few storks in the US and very many people. How does that work? Santa Claus - I totally get that. He has reindeer and a sled and elves but the stork seems to work alone.  My visit to Poland opened my eyes. There are storks everywhere. They nest on telephone poles and rooftops and just about anywhere you can imagine. I can totally see where the Europeans get so many babies. (Still having trouble with the US baby thing).

White Stork
Here is a close up. You can see how that giant bill can carry a full grown baby.

White Stork
All in all, the one day birding trip was a huge success. Tomasz wanted to keep going and possibly find an owl but I gave up at 6 PM so that I could drive 3 hours back to Warsaw, pack and get ready to get to the airport by 6 AM. I needed to get back home. I left Europe with 110 species in total and 35 new species. Pretty damned good for about 1 day of free time.
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