Photos with this report (click to enlarge)
Long Tailed duck
Long Tailed duck
I flew out from London Stansted airport to Szczecin in West Pomerania, Poland on April 3rd 2006. The flight was with Ryan air, costing GBP23.54 return. Flight time was 2 hours and gin and tonics were enjoyed on board. I arrived at Szczecin airport at 15.15 hrs and immediately bagged 3 buzzards over the airport along with carrion crow. On the bus to Szczecin city centre I had black headed gull, and house sparrow.
I had arranged to meet up with a local Szczecin birder, Zbyszek Kajzer and had his friend's phone number so as to contact him and make arrangements to meet and stay at his flat. However, I had been given the wrong phone number and when I rang, got through to a non English speaking Polish lady. Best laid plans! So, I booked into the Hotel Ibis (2**) with a plan to email Zbyszek later. I went for a wander, seeing wood pigeon, jackdaw, rook, great tit, blue tit and mallard around the city. After more efforts to ring Zybszek I went for a superb meal for very little money. Upon my return the receptionist at the hotel informed me that both Zybszek and Sebastian Gunetzel were waiting in the bar for me. They had spent 3 hours looking for me at every hotel. Due to an early start the following morning I checked out of the hotel and we drove to Zybszek's flat. During several beers we discussed plans for the following morning.
Travelling by foot, bus and mini bus we arrived in Swinoujscie after an hour and half's travelling. En route we had, great spotted woodpecker, magpie, starling, red kite and chaffinch. We took the car ferry across the River Swina harbour. Here, we added goosander, coot, mallard, cormorant (1000's) buzzard, white wagtail, herring gull and common gull. The walk to the West beach of this Polish holiday resort was 15 minutes. Weather was 6C and sky was clear. Good birding weather. A robin was spotted as we walked to the Baltic coast. On arrival the sea was absolutely full of grebes and duck. In less than an hour we had long tailed duck (100's) slavonian grebe (1 in summer plumage)goosander (100's) common scoter, velver scoter, great crested grebe, red breasted merganser, scaup and hooded crow. We walked towards the German border before retracing our steps and gained access to the west breakwater. We had mute swan, linnet, wren, goldeneye, dunnock, great spotted woodpecker and many cormorant as we walked. One particular confiding pair of long-tailed duck were photographed from 2 meteres on the breakwater. We then set off back to the town centre for a 20 minute bus ride to Karisborka Kepa. This is a large bird reserve a few miles inland with extensive redbeds and scrapes. An observation tower afforded good views over the terrain and, after wading through bogs we added, reed bunting (100's), redshank, lapwing, greylag geese, shelduck, common crane, white-tailed eagle, starling, skylark, shoveler, pintail, pochard, wigeon, tufted duck goosander, smew, dunlin, teal, black kite, bearded reedling, black tailed godwit, red kite, buzzard, pied wagtail, grey heron and great grey shrike. A jenot (eastern racoon) was observed and photgraphed. I had never heard of these before. The size of a fox with long tawny fur. It was rooting around in the reedbed. As we walked back to the bus stop the temperature dropped markedly and within minutes hale was falling.
Upon returning to Swinoujscie centre we gained permission to walk through the docks, passports were shown, and onto the long east breakwater. More cormorants and goosander were seen and Zybrszek informed me of the fact that during their hard winter temperatures were down to -20C, the sea froze and cormorant figures totalled 10,000 with 30,000 goosanders. Rain and hail continued as we observed many more sea duck along with new birds, sparrowhawk, rock pipit, wheatear, adult white tailed eagle, great black backed gull, siskin and black redstart. We arrived back for the bus in time for a well deserved beer, getting back to Szczecin at 6.15pm. Soup and beer at Sebastian's followed by a trip to 2 bars for beer and chilli vodka rounded off the day at 2am.
Wednesday meant a start for Police. Tram and bus took 45 minutes to arrive at the largest chemical works in Poland. The stench was unpleasant but the birds in reed beds, open water and warmed outflow water from the works were superb. Within 4 hours of walking we had observed willow warbler, tufted duck, wigeon, continental long tailed tit, black necked grebe in summer plumage, chiffchaff, more white tailed eagles, moorhen, raven, little grebe, little gull, northern goshawk, white fronted goose, bean goose, blackbird, song thrush, black redstart, kestrel, yellow wagtail and brambling. However, during lunch of bread and polish sausage a superb caspian tern winged its way over. This was followed later by 2 roosting. My first for this species.
As we wandered further, past steaming overflow ponds we listed 28 shelduck, reed bunting (100's) pheasant, bearded reedling, common gull, smew, marsh harrier and many gadwall along with previously mentioned duck species.
A bus trip brought us back to Szczecin and a meal out with beer and wine. Later a wander to a local petrol station replenished the beer collection before hitting the sack.
Thursday, my last day and a plane at 22.10hrs meant a full day's birding. Sebastian was driving us to Dzwonowo ponds, about an hour from the city centre. White stork, buzzard, common crane and yellowhammer were spotted from the car. Dzwonowo Ponds are man made fish ponds, with some being drained and therefore superb for waders. Others held huge number of duck. We added red necked grebe in summer plumage, garganey, red crested pochard, a hybrid tufted duck pochard cross. This led to failed attempts to digiscope as this was a lifer for Zybszek and Sebastian. Snipe, jack snipe, green sandpiper, penduline tit, little ringed plover, meadow pipit were added to the list. A flyby kingfisher brought up the 100 species mark. Black woodpecker were heard drumming and 2 fly over black storks were seen before travelling 30km to Miedwie Lake.
One field near the huge lake realised: 8 rough legged buzzards, 2 hen harrier, 300 golden plover, 3000 bean and white fronted geese, 4 barnacle geese and 1 pink footed goose. The latter being an uncommon bird for Pomerania.
Bramblings were superb in the trees as were corn buntings, red kite overhead and more common buzzard. Wild boar and deer were also registered. So: back to the airport and a return to Stansted.
Absolutely wonderful 3 days and huge thanks to Zybszek for putting me up at his flat and Sebatian for driving etc. I am very lucky and grateful to have met 2 such generous people. Further information of all birding in this area is to be found at the superb www.clanga.com
great crested grebe, red necked grebe, slavonian grebe, little grebe, black necked grebe, cormorant, grey heron, white stork, black stork, mute swan, whopper swan, greylag goose, bean goose, pink footed goose, white fronted goose, barnacle goose, shelduck, mallard, gadwall, wigeon, teal, garganey, pintail, shoveler, red crested pochard,tufted duck, scaup, pochard, common scoter, velevet scoter, goldeneye, long tailed duck, goosander, red breasted merganser, smew, white tailed eagle, red kite, black kite, sparrowhawk, northern goshawk, buzzard, rough legged buzzard, marsh harrier, hen harrier, kestrel, pheasant, common crane, moorhen, coot, little ringed plover, golden plover, lapwing, dunlin, redshank, green sandpiper, black tailed godwit, jack snipe, snipe, black headed gull, little gull, herring gull, great black backed gull, common gull, caspian tern, wood pigeon, collared dove, kingfisher, black woodpecker (heard) great spotted woodpecker, skylark, swallow, meadow pipit, rock pipit, white wagtail, pied wagtail, yellow wagtail, great grey shrike, dunnock, willow warbler, chiffchaff, wheatear, black redstart, robin, blackbird, redwing, song thrush, long tailed tit, blue tit, great tit, penduline tit, marsh tit, wren, yellowhammer, reed bunting, corn bunting, chaffinch, brambling, goldfinch, siskin, linnet, house sparrow, starling, jay, magpie, raven, hooded crow, carrion crow, jackdaw.