A really great day today
I'll start where I left off last night, before our bat walk.
We headed off into the dark, across the bridge and then turning right towards Olchowiec. As we reached the stream that crosses the road, we were treated to the sound of a singing mole cricket on the side of the road/stream. The bat detectors didn't pick it up but we could hear it pretty well without them. We then continued along the road to the ford and the footbridge across the river and the bat detectors identified various species, including: northern bat, particoloured bat, barbastelle, common pipistrelle, brown long-eared bat, Daubenton's bat & noctule.
Today was sunny and warm
We headed down to where we'd been listening to bats last night and were soon distracted by painted lady butterflies and silver-y moths on viper's bugloss flowers. There were yellowhammers and stonechats, as well as the ubiquitous fieldfares. On the other side of the bridge we had a long-horn beetle with blue-striped antennae, a plume moth, lots of chafers and a really cool spider with a blue egg sac, like a juniper berry but with a white ring around it.
Further along the road towards Olchowiec we found two squished sand lizards and a pile of eggs - strange as both lizards appeared to be male. There were what we think are probably small pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies, plus some larger fritillaries, more painted ladies, small tortoiseshells, a burnet moth caterpillar and lots of interesting flowers. A whinchat on a wire had us guessing for a couple of minutes and there were some buzzards and eagles as we went further along the road. White wagtails, more yellowhammers, stonechats and cuckoos followed, before we veered off the road down to a beaver pond which was swarming with broad-bodied chaser dragonflies and damselflies, including a white-legged damselfly which was a first for most of us.
We then followed the edge of the field to where I'd seen a lesser spotted woodpecker excavating a nest hole a few years ago with some previous guests, but we didn't see one this time. Now it was time to wander into the uncut part of the meadow which was teeming with wildflowers and butterflies and we photographed more fritillaries and other species. Then we had a cut area to cross before the next expanse of uncut meadow, but before we entered Carl spotted a large female sand lizard basking on the edge of the cut area. We found several more, including two males as we explored the meadow further, as well as copper butterflies (small and large?), lots of moths and beetles and some whitethroats.
As we headed up to the road, we heard the calls of golden orioles and then we followed the road into Olchowiec, where we had a dead mole in the ford, lots of yellowhammers, black redstarts, fieldfares, mistle thrushes and a rose chafer in the churchyard. The church here is beautiful, faced with wooden shingles and with a leaded roof. Last year when we visited we found hornets nesting in the wall.
After eating our sandwiches while perched on the wall, we headed back down to the ford and the road back to Polany. The walk back was quicker, but it was now pretty hot. On the way we saw more buzzards or eagles (too far away to identify with certainty), heard green woodpeckers and golden orioles, saw two whinchats, more white wagtails, stonechats, whitethroats and a fox cub. Further down the road, there was a fox in the field above us and a roe deer in the field below the road. Red-backed shrikes hunted the scrubby areas and we photographed more butterflies and other minibeasts.
Eventually, we returned to the Old School, to find dinner being prepared for us. We'd been out around seven hours, for around a six mile walk, and were very grateful to be tucking into another delicious meal prepared by Agnieszka and Stasia. After dinner, Angela went out to try to see beavers, but had no luck. Then Mark went out to try his luck and managed to see one of the beavers, briefly. There's some landscaping being done along the river, so this has probably made the beavers more wary.
We then set up the wireless connection between my thermal imager and my guests' mobile phones so they could see what I could see through the viewfinder. Retracing our steps, we went back along the road to Olchowiec and watched deer and a fox in the dark, while listening to a corncrake and mole crickets. It's now stupid o'clock while I'm writing this to you and everyone else has gone to bed. Here are a few photographs from today:
Tomorrow we'll be exploring this amazing place again, assuming I wake up in the morning.
I'll email you again tomorrow evening!