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Wildlife Watching, Tracking & Photography in Southern Poland
Photographs & videos from Summer 2019 trip
Call Martin with your questions, or just for a chat, on 0333 9000 927
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Some of our photographs and videos taken during our two weeks in Poland
(click on images and videos to enlarge)
All images and videos taken by either Martin, Marc or Carl. Copyright 2019
Sunday 16th June

In one afternoon we saw some amazing wildlife

After an early start this morning at 0130, we were away from the Cottage at just after 0230 and soon picking up our first guest, who was flying with us from Manchester. We met our other two guests at the airport and were soon on the plane and heading out of the UK towards Rzeszow, where we jumped aboard the minibus for the long drive to our base in the little village of Polany.

After lunch we took a gentle walk across the road and up the track, spotting yellowhammer and various flowers straight away. There were numerous small butterflies and moths flitting about but it was very hot (30+) so they didn't hang about. There were blues, heaths, skippers and ringlets and we continued to the top of the hill and the flower-rich meadows. There were campanulas, pinks, ox-eye daisies, lesser butterfly orchids and much more and then we started to see the birds.

There was a pair of storks from the village, circling on the thermals, there was a raven and a couple of buzzards, then we spotted a lesser spotted eagle carrying a reptile, then a rare black stork and finally a red-backed shrike in a small conifer. Initially we thought the eagle was a golden eagle, but closer analysis of the very distant photographs showed it was actually the smaller lesser spotted eagle.

For a brief walk in the heat of the day, just a few hundred metres from where we're staying, this gave my guests a great introduction to the amazing wildlife to be found here. They're now out watching beavers and we're all pretty knackered, so it'll be a relatively early night for us all, then tomorrow more adventures exploring this amazing place. I'll email you again tomorrow evening!

Warm Regards,

Martin.

Lesser spotted eagle
Black stork
Skipper, but which species?
Monday 17th June

A wet start to the day

The morning started as the evening had ended, with rain. We had an enjoyable breakfast and then long discussions about various things while we waited for the rain to stop. A phone call from Jacek, our host, with an offer of a trip to the shop in Krempna gave us something to do while the weather brightened up and we were soon back at the Old School with vital supplies of beer and vodka.

The rain had stopped, so Angela, Mark and I made our way down to the beaver pool below the garden to set up a couple of trail cameras and the bat recorder, while Carl stayed in the garden to watch birds. The beavers are obviously very active and I set one camera on a very clear run to catch the beavers coming out of the water towards the camera and the other camera was set on the edge of the water to catch the beavers on the bank. The bat recorder was set with the microphone pointing towards the main beaver pool.

Then, we grabbed our packed lunches and all set off up the valley towards Huta Polanska, one of the villages that was cleared by the Russians, while the weather brightened and birds and insects called all around us. There were fieldfares, yellowhammers, black redstarts, crickets and lots more besides. We spotted some white wagtails on the river and a tiny spider carrying its white egg-sac while walking over the water surface. There were several new species of flower, a few new beetles, some mayflies, a squashed salamander and toad and at the church we saw what was probably a goshawk as well as an eagle, possibly golden.

There were two other eagles further down the valley, a pair of buzzards and a black stork flew over. We saw a couple of fritillary butterflies mating and various small butterflies and moths.

High points on the way back were a fox being mobbed by a magpie, a red-backed shrike, more black redstarts, a lesser spotted eagle flying across the road just in front of us and then, finally, within 100m of the Old School, something I never expected to see in the wild:

After a delicious dinner, my guests have gone outside, two to watch beavers and one has gone across the road and up the track to the meadow to see what he can see.

Later, we'll go out with the bat detectors and see which bats we can find and hopefully we'll also see the fireflies.

Tomorrow we might go along the valley to Olchowiec, a walk that could be done in 30 minutes but often takes us 4+ hours because there's so much stuff to see!

Considering the wet start to the day and the much lower temperatures than yesterday, I think we did pretty well today. I'm sure we'll be able to get much more tomorrow.

I'll email you again tomorrow evening!

Warm Regards,

Martin.

Magurski Park Narodowy
Angela, Carl & Mark
Fox
'Jackal' fox
Mayfly
Mayfly, in June!
Lesser spotted eagle
Lesser spotted eagle
Wieliczka Salt Mine, Krakow
Tiny spider on the river
Magpie and fox
Magpie mobbing the fox
Bumblebee
Bumblebee on knapweed
Beetle
A new beetle!
Tuesday 18th June

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!

Warm Regards,

Martin.

Spider with egg sac
Moth
Moth
Beaver pool
Beaver pool
Sand lizard eggs
Sand lizard eggs
Painted lady
Painted Lady
Copper
Purple-edged Copper?
Fritillary
Fritillary
Black hairstreak
Black hairstreak
Cricket
Cricket
Small pearl-bordered fritillary
Small pearl-bordered fritillary
Sand lizard
Sand lizard
Fritillary
Fritillary
Beetle
Beetle
Flower
?
Sand lizard
Sand lizard
Exploring
Exploring
Burnet moth caterpillar
Burnet moth caterpillar
Spider
Spider
Moth
Moth
Dragonfly
Broad-bodied chaser
Long-horn beetle
The Golden-bloomed Longhorn..... [Agapanthia villosoviridescens].... aka Aggrothingy villomebobs.
Wednesday 19th June

Another really great day today, though it rained this afternoon

After breakfast we decided to take a leisurely walk up the valley and then turn left at the bus stop, towards Baranie. It's always a leisurely walk here, simply because there's so much wildlife to distract us, and today was no exception. As soon as we'd started we were being distracted by butterflies flitting around the roadside verges and adjacent meadows, with fritillaries of various kinds, painted ladies, coppers, skippers, tortoiseshells and even a peacock. Further up the road (about 25m) there was a larger butterfly flying around someone's house, so we were trying to get a good view of it to see what species it was. Eventually it landed on the side of the house and I managed to get a photograph of it from the road, but we're still unsure what it is.

I thought it might be a purple emperor, but it turned out to be a poplar admiral.

There was a screaming from behind us and a sparrowhawk appeared, being mobbed by two other birds which I didn't see clearly as I was focused on the hawk, but which may have been golden orioles. At the bus stop, an eagle appeared in the sky and soon descended into a tree above the field where they were cutting the hay, finally coming down to the ground at the edge of the field.

We continued up the side valley towards Baranie, passing the wood ants' nest and the pond where we had plume moth and whitethroats. We stopped briefly at a cut hay field where Angela spotted some lizards and I found some wild strawberries, a small grasshopper and a pretty caterpillar. There was another of Caitlin's 'humbugs' as well, but she wasn't with us today as she was helping up at Salamandra with the swimming pool.

Continuing up the track beyond the forest gate we saw lots more butterflies but the rain started to fall, so after a while we headed back down and had the bonus of a sand lizard flushed from the road verge onto the road, where it froze, uncertain of which way to run but confident in its camouflage but not realising it didn't work on Tarmac. Below are a few more photographs from today.

Tomorrow we'll be exploring this amazing place again, but everyone's in from their nocturnal excursions, so now we're sampling Polish vodkas!

I'll email you again tomorrow evening!

Warm Regards,

Martin.

Poplar admiral
Poplar admiral
Gomphus dragonfly
Gomphus dragonfly
Lesser spotted eagle
Lesser spotted eagle
Fritillary
Fritillary
Sand lizard
Sand lizard
Plume Moth
Plume moth
White wagtail
White wagtail
Sand lizard
Sand lizard
Grasshopper
Grasshopper
Burnet moth
Burnet moth
Caterpillar
Caterpillar
Large copper
Large copper
Humbug
"Humbug'
Ringlet
Ringlet
Butterfly
?
Thursday 20th June

Today could rank as the best ever single day here in our secret corner of Poland

With thunderstorms forecast, we headed off to Nieznajowa so I could show my guests a beaver-created wetland next to the Wisloka river. This photo is just a part of the wetland:

Beaver pools
Part of the beaver wetland, showing canals and coppiced willow

The water level is at least a metre above the level of the river and the beavers have made a long dam along the river bank, holding the water back to flood the willow woodland and provide them with easy access to coppice the trees and transport the cut stems along the canals. Further along, we wandered off the main track so I could show Angela, Carl and Mark some of the signs beavers leave, including slides and chewed trees. While we were there, they saw a kingfisher, which I missed. Leaving the woodland, we explored the adjacent meadow and photographed various fritillaries, skippers and other butterflies and moths, as well as a lizard.

Skipper butterfly
Skipper butterfly
Woodland ringlet?
Woodland ringlet?
Chestnut heath
Chestnut heath
Burnet moth
Transparent burnet moth or blood-drop burnet moth?
Latticed heath?
Latticed heath
Four-spotted leaf beetle
Four-spotted leaf beetle
White-legged damselfly
White-legged damselfly
White-legged damselfly?
White-legged damselfly?
Nasty bitey thing
Nasty bitey thing!
Beautiful demoiselle
Beautiful demoiselle
Green nettle weevil?
Green nettle weevil?
Snow-covered Christmas tree spider
Snow-covered Christmas tree spider (yes, really!)
Ladder-marked longhorn beetle
Ladder-marked longhorn
Carl the butterfly whisperer
Carl the butterfly whisperer (though this is a moth)
Lizard
Lizard - sand or common?
Fritillary
Oh no, not another fritillary!
Nasty bitey thing!
This is one Carl wasn't so keen on - it was plunging its mouthparts into his arm!
Deerfly, Chrysops relictus

As we neared the edge of the track, we heard the unmistakable call of a quail and there were golden orioles calling from across the valley. Then we saw a black stork flying up the valley!

Black stork
Black stork
Sawfly Tenthredo sp.
Sawfly Tenthredo sp.
Caterpillar tent
Caterpillar tent

At this point we became aware of golden orioles in the bushes and trees on the far side of the meadow and we decided to stop for lunch. Sitting down in the field we heard a corncrake from the meadow in front of us, so Mark played a corncrake call from his phone.

It was at this point that things went from amazing to unbelievable. The corncrake appeared and flew across from the meadow in front of us to the meadow on the other side of the track behind us, where it disappeared. Then it flew to the far edge of the track opposite where we were standing in the field and showed itself within 5m of where we were standing!

Corncrake
Corncrake
Corncrake

The corncrake then flew back to the meadow, which was now behind us as we'd turned around, and after a while appeared back at the edge of the meadow.

In total, I think we saw the corncrake about six times, plus we got photos and videos of it, so we were very happy bunnies. We'd seen a family group of golden orioles, adult and juvenile red-backed shrikes, great spotted woodpeckers, green woodpeckers and heard a quail calling from behind us. Amazing!

After this we continued on our way towards Nieznajowa and there are a few more images from that walk below.

Corncrake video
Watch the video here!
Fritillary
Oh no, not another fritillary!
Butterfly whisperer
Butterfly whisperer
Cricket whisperer
Cricket whisperer?
The Gang!
Angela, Mark & Carl at Nieznajowa
Lunchtime
Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so!

A few comments made during the day:

Oh, no, not another red-backed shrike!

Oh, no, not another golden oriole!

Oh, no, not another lesser spotted eagle!

Oh, no, not another fritillary!

After all this, which had taken place over four hours and just a mile of track and meadow, I asked Angela how happy she was with the day and she said 95%. Apparently, she just needed a golden eagle to make the day complete, so as we started on the return trip back down the track I scanned the skies and there it was: a large raptor circling above the forest which on closer examination with the binoculars was revealed to be the desired golden eagle. This wasn't the last of the surprises; there was still one more to come...

Golden eagle
Golden eagle
Bee
Bee exploring Angela
More fritillaries!
More fritillaries!

The final surprise was introduced to us by an exclamation from Mark.

Raccoon Dog!

WTF!

He got a great view of it a few hundred metres in front of us, as it crossed the track, and I just caught the back half of it before it disappeared.

An amazing day where we saw pretty much everything we could have wished for and more besides.

Tomorrow we'll be exploring this amazing place again, but now it's probably time for bed. Angela's already retired after our evening sampling Polish beers and vodkas.

I'll email you again tomorrow evening!

Warm Regards,

Martin.

Friday 21st June

Today I was mainly herding sheep and walking a bullock!

We split our little group today, with me going off to help move Chris's sheep, Mark going along the road to Olchowiec in anticipation of a fleecy procession, Carl going for a bike ride and Angela and Caitlin going to Maciek's at Huta Polanska for horse riding. There were thunderstorms forecast, but what the heck.

On arrival in Polany, we brought the sheep down off the hill and down along the road with me and little Martyna bringing up the rear, when people started telling me that Jacek wanted me at the front. I assumed he wanted me at the road junction to stop the sheep going the wrong way, to Krempna, so I ran down the edge of the road to meet him. As I got nearer to him, I saw he was holding a rope with a calf attached, while Chris's partner stood next to them with the calf's mother. I was surprised when Jacek handed me the calf and ran back to the sheep behind me.

So, I ended up walking all the way to Wilsznia, 5.7km, with a bullock.

Bullocks
Me and Bartek the Jersey cow, owned by French people, living in Poland
Convoy!
Laurence & Lena, Me & Bartek and 'the sheeps'
The tail end
The arse-end of the procession

Thanks to Mark for taking the photographs above - I carried my camera gear all the way but couldn't use it as my hands were full of bovine fun and games.

We ended up at a meadow surrounded by forest and full of flowers, including lots of greater butterfly orchids, where we were treated to Zubra beer, Jersey cheese from Lena, smoked sausage and belly pork cooked over the fire.

I caught a sand lizard and Mark had the opportunity to handle his first one.

While we were covering the roads with shit, Carl was cycling up to Huta Polanska church and then down the road to Olchowiec, where he met Mark walking back from Wilsznia (I'd grabbed a lift because Mark wanted to enjoy the peace and quiet of a lone walk).

Caitlin and Angela had gone up to Huta Polanska for horse riding, but the horses weren't really ready and were being pestered by lots of biting insects, plus there was thunder, so the ride was called off. Hopefully they'll be going tomorrow evening and I might go with them.

Mark and Angela went out to watch beavers this evening but torrential rain stopped play and they returned pretty smartish.

Here are a few images taken by Mark and Carl today:

Huta Polanska church
Goatsbeard in the species-rich hay meadow at Huta Polanska church, by Carl
Poplar admiral
Poplar admiral - the same as the questionable emperor earlier in the week and correctly identified by my friends Francis (a previous guest) and Sheila. By Mark.
Purple emperor
Purple emperor, by Mark
Marbled rose chafer
Marbled rose chafer, by Carl
Poplar admiral
Poplar admiral feeding on shit, by Mark
Pink
'Lily' the pink, by Carl
Weevil
The lesser of two weevils
Stipe fly
Stipe fly, by Carl

We're now sitting in our 'common room' reading, researching, chatting and drinking tea and beer.

Tomorrow we'll be going to Wysokie, scene of my near death experience a couple of years ago and then horse-riding in the evening, hopefully.

I'll email you again tomorrow evening, if I survive the day!

Warm Regards,

Martin.

Research table
Our 'research table', by Carl
Saturday 22nd June

Today we revisited the site of my near death experience two years ago!

After breakfast we headed to Wysokie, near Krempna, where I nearly died after my encounter with an adder two years ago.

This time Angela was the only one to see an adder, briefly, as it slipped away.

Instead, we had roe and red deer, lots of fritillaries, purple emperors, emperor and four spotted chaser dragonflies, Gomphus dragonflies, blue and red damselflies, yellow-bellied toads, spotted flycatchers, corncrakes, quail, lesser spotted eagles and more.

Later, Caitlin, Angela and I went horse riding and now we're spending our last evening together before Angela, Mark and Carl head back to Manchester early tomorrow morning.

Caitlin and I will be staying on for another week.

Here are a few photographs from today.

Gomphus dragonfly
Gomphus dragonfly
Four spotted chaser
Four spotted chaser
Dark green fritillary
Dark green fritillary
Mark
Mark
Dark green fritillary
Dark green fritillary
Azure damselfly
Azure damselfly
Dark green fritillaries
Dark green fritillaries
Black and yellow longhorn beetle
Black and yellow longhorn
Badger shit?
Badger shit, presumably?
Painted lady
Painted lady
Tree pipit
Tree pipit
Chestnut heath
Chestnut heath on badger shit
Small toad
Small toad
Heath fritillary?
Heath fritillary
Lesser purple emperor
Lesser purple emperor
Azure damselfly
Azure damselfly
Grasshopper
Grasshopper
Helicopter
Helicopter

I've just about finished my bottle of Porter and am feeling a little pissed.

I think it's 9.5%, which would explain why I'm feeling pissed and I still have a small taste of maple vodka to drink before my liquorice tea (perhaps tea before vodka is a better idea).

I'll email you again tomorrow evening, when it'll be just me and Caitlin.

Warm Regards,

Martin.

Sunday 23rd June

Today was a bit quiet after the departure of our guests (now firm friends)

Angela, Carl and Mark left here with Jacek at 0600 for their trip to the airport and their flight back to Manchester, then I went back to bed for a couple of hours as it's been a very tiring week, in a good way.

Later, I had a relaxing wander around the meadows across the road and up the track, where I flushed a white stork and was surrounded by the sounds of a biodiverse habitat. Yellowhammers sang, quail called and the crickets stridulated with gusto.

I took a few photographs of some of the many insects I encountered, but it was a bit breezy so a little tricky to do. The sky was cloudy today, so combined with the wind it was nicely cooler than previous days, but still warm in the low 20s. I decided to walk to the highest point of the far meadow, where it meets the forest, and see if I could find a way further into the trees. This proved straightforward, as there are lots of deer around to make paths, and I ventured into the woodland.

After a while, I spotted a mixed flock of birds foraging around a thicket, which included treecreepers, marsh/willow tits and a couple of warblers, but behind them I saw something I've wanted to see for a while; ever since one of my trail cameras on the beaver pool captured one coming fora drink. It was a hawfinch; not a brilliant view as it had its back to me and was partially obscured by twigs, but unmistakable nonetheless and my first ever.

Following the deer paths, I eventually dropped out into the meadows again and I followed the forest edge for a while, until I spotted a few ringlets flying around in the sunshine. While I tried to photograph them, I became aware of a strange noise, that I initially thought might becoming from the village down in the valley. Listening carefully, it seemed to be the sound of snoring!

At only a few metres from me, I had to be very careful not to disturb whatever was making the sound, but failed. A sleeping animal is a vulnerable animal and they're forever on their guard. Suddenly, there was a thud as it jumped up and it ran into the meadow and then around to the forest edge further up. It was a roe doe and she looked pretty surprised. I found her bed on some flattened grass where the meadow met the forest.

I continued down the hill, through the meadow and back to the track, then back along the track to the Old School while listening to the calls of the quail and yellowhammers.

It's a bit chaotic here at the moment as Jacek and Agnieszka's eldest, Julia, was 18 yesterday and everybody's running around getting things ready for her party tomorrow. Caitlin and I will be moving up to Salamandra tomorrow and then back on Tuesday when the party's over. This evening, I'm hoping to get out to the beaver pool with my camera and thermal imager to see if I can get some shots of the beavers. Here are a handful of images from the meadows across the road.

Yellowhammer
Yellowhammer
Purple-edged copper?
Purple-edged copper?
Bush cricket
Bush cricket
Mushrooms
Mushrooms
Silver y moth
Silver Y moth
Deer tracks
Deer tracks
Skipper
Skipper
Bumblebee
Bumblebee
Beetle
Beetle
Ringlet
Ringlet on scabious
Ant hill
Ant hill
Polany church
Meadow and Polany church
?
?

Right, I'm off out in search of beavers to photograph/film.

I'll email you again tomorrow evening.

Warm Regards,

Martin.

Monday 24th June

Today was all about Julia's 18th birthday party tonight

There were only three short walks today, so not much to report.

Last night I saw a beaver, twice, then used the thermal camera to film red deer, foxes and bats in the dark, but I don't have the videos off the camera yet, so you'll have to wait for them.

This morning, I took Caitlin down to the beaver pond and showed her what beavers do and how important they are to other wildlife, so hopefully she'll put something together for school.

Here's an image of the main beaver pool, which shows how close it is to the Old School, where we stay, except tonight.

Beaver pool
Beaver pool
Beaver track
We found beaver tracks down by their lower dam, which has been breached by the guy doing some work on the river.
Damselfly
We saw lots of damselflies, both blue and red, and I moved one of my trail cameras to cover the broken beaver dam, so hopefully I'll get footage of the beaver mending it (though probably the noise from the party will keep it away tonight).
Convolvulus
Insect in Convolvulus
This afternoon, I took a walk with Caitlin and we explored the upper section of one of the meadows, where it goes up into the forest and where I've seen the red deer feeding. I didn't take many photos, but here are the ones I have.
Burnet moth
Burnet moth, presumably six-spot burnet
Before lunch, I wandered up to the meadow across the road and took a few photographs of wildlife I encountered along the track.
Rose chafer
Rose chafer on meadowsweet
Ant
It's an ant, but I have no idea which species
Burnet moth
A different species of burnet moth, but which one?
Yellowhammer
Yellowhammer
Yellowhammer
Yellowhammer - now so rare in the UK!
Red-backed shrike
Red-backed shrike
Tuesday 25th June

Back at the Old School after a night at Salamandra

Not much to report today, as Jacek took me, Caitlin, Kornel and Kuba to Rymanow, Krosno and Dukla this morning. The two boys needed shoes and Caitlin and I needed provisions, plus ice cream!

After returning to Salamandra, we borrowed the Freelander to come back to theOld School where Caitlin's been doing a presentation for school on beavers and I've been catching up on emails and such-like.

You can read my new article here:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/recreating-habitats-enough-martin-bailey/

Even here in the Old School, there's no escaping interesting wildlife, whether it's yellowhammers singing outside or this little beauty that I almost managed to catch with my camera.

Hornet that came into our room, briefly. Great sound they make!

It's simply been too hot to want to do anything outside, though Caitlin did have a dip in the pool at Salamandra earlier.

Temperatures of 28 degrees today and likely to be even hotter tomorrow, so without the incentive of guests I'm staying out of the sun, thank you very much. It was hot enough last week, in the low to mid 20s, and I had mild sunburn then, so today would've been foolish - even Caitlin caught the sun and she's more dark-skinned than me. Tomorrow, I may venture out and get some more videos of the landscape and species, though will probably have to avoid the middle of the day.

That's it for today. Caitlin will be making our evening meal soon. I'll email you again tomorrow evening.

Warm Regards,

Martin.

Wednesday 26th June

By 'eck, it were 'ot t'day!

After taking the Freelander to Dukla for Jacek, I had a bite to eat and dealt with some emails before we got a lift up to Salamandra with Jacek.

There, I left Caitlin and continued up the valley to Huta Polanska and the church. On the way, I espied a little carnage on the road, as with so much wildlife around and with the speed a lot of these Poles drive (especially Audi drivers, today), there are bound to be casualties.

Slow worm
An ex-slow-worm, bereft of life, it rests in pieces!
Mole
"There's only one way to get rid of a mole!" - apparently not!
Lesser purple emperor
Lesser purple emperor
By this time, I'd arrived at the church, very hot and extremely sweaty, so I removed my shirt and draped it over the wall to dry, and to see if it would attract any purple emperors.

I then had a look at the face of the walls to see if I could get close to more purple emperors and dark green fritillaries, plus the extremely common commas. They were all very flighty, but something else caught my eye in the wall.
Siberian hamster
Not a Siberian hamster, though hard to tell what it once was
Marmalised red admiral
Marmalised red admiral
Dark green fritillary
Dark green fritillary
Sand lizard
A 2D sand lizard - yes, I know all photographs are 2D!
One of the commonest butterflies today was the comma, though the purple emperor and lesser purple emperor certainly gave them a run for their money.
Comma
Comma
Purple emperor
Purple emperor
Sand lizard
Sand lizard

I found myself distracted by two sand lizards, in the baking sun, with my shirt off, for at least 20 minutes, so you can imagine what the result was, but luckily not too bad and not noticed until Caitlin pointed it out to me later at the Old School, as I went for a cool shower.

I took a few photographs, but also shot some videos of these endearing little creatures, somewhat smaller than many we'd found in the long grass of the meadows last week.

Sand lizard
Sand Lizard
Sand lizard
Sand lizard
Sand lizard video
Watch the video

My shirt, meanwhile, had attracted some attention, though it was very difficult to shoot the butterflies, especially the emperors, as it seemed that as soon as I half-pressed the shutter to engage the auto-focus, they would take off.

Purple emperor
Purple emperor

I now moved away from the church and headed further up the valley towards the forest and the border with Slovakia, though in 28-29 degrees I had no intention of going to the border.

Huta Polanska church
Huta Polanska church
Purple emperors
Purple emperors

I headed up into the forest while listening to tree pipits and song thrushes singing and almost stepped on something my guests saw on the summer trip in 2017, but I didn't.

Carpathian blue slug
The famous blue slug - crap photo as quite dark in the forest

After drinking from the stream using my survival straw (much better than carrying a full water bottle around) and recording some woodland sounds, I headed back down towards the church and thence back to Salamandra.

Sand lizard?
I was distracted by another sand lizard, which I filmed, but then it scooted into this vegetation - can you spot it? I couldn't!
Purple emperor
Purple emperor
Oh, no, not another purple emperor!

It's strange how many of my guests become blase about species such as purple emperor, red-backed shrikes, corncrakes, etc. during our summer trips to Poland - species that are rare or extinct in the UK. It usually only takes a few days for it to happen and I have to try not to allow it to happen to me as well; after all, I've been coming to this amazing place for six years.

Anyway, the return trip included a few nice surprises:

Bush cricket
Female bush cricket - that 'sword' is her ovipositor!
Dragonfly
Dragonfly
Grasshopper
Grasshopper
Otter spreint
Otter spraint
River
The river between Huta Polanska and Polany
Hay cutting
Cutting the hay
Thursday 27th June

Today, I didn't go anywhere, yet

With a lot of hot outside and plenty of emails and website stuff to get done, I stayed in our room today, doing 'stuff'. Apart from a brief wander down to the nearest trail camera to offload the videos, which were pretty interesting, nothing much happened, except for another visit from our small but loud friend, who wandered through the window again.

This time I got a better shot of her, though still not brilliant.

She's a beautiful animal and may be nesting in the roof of the building. Perhaps tomorrow I'll try to find her nest. Don't worry, hornets are pretty docile unless you piss them off.

Hornet
Trail camera video
Watch the video

That's it for today. Tonight we may be up a hill with the thermal camera in hope of seeing wolves, we'll see.

I've put up the dates for next year's early summer trip, from 10th to 17th May, so if you'd like to join us for that, now's the time to book it.

I'm doing another trip in June, and the autumn trip to look for mushrooms in the forest while the red deer rut around us is also available now.

Click here to check out what we've seen in previous years and to book for upcoming trips.

I'll email you again tomorrow evening.

Warm Regards,

Martin.

Friday 28th June

Last night we were sitting on a hill in the dark, watching wildlife

We were there from around 9pm until just after midnight, but unfortunately no wolves showed themselves. There were lots of deer, both roe and red, plus what may have been a fox, but I'm not convinced as the movements weren't 'right'. I need to learn more about raccoon-dogs in case it was one of them, as seen last week at Nieznajowa. It was a great test of the thermal biocular camera, though, and I certainly like the Pulsar Accolade XP50 we've been using on this trip. You can see the videos from it below and you can buy one from my website.

Today, we had a bit of a lie-in after our late night on the hill and then there were lots of emails and stuff to deal with, so we didn't get out today. We did get another visit from the hornet, so I must remember to see if I can find her nest tomorrow. Also, I'll be walking up to Huta Polanska again, for the last time this summer, then it's time to pack for an early start at 5am and our ride to the airport. I'll send you another email tomorrow evening.

If you fancy joining me on one, or more, of my wildlife watching trips to Poland, the dates can be found on the main booking page. There's the autumn trip to look for mushrooms in the forest while the red deer rut around us, the winter trip where we'll be tracking wolves in the snow, the early summer & mid summer trips for amazing biodiversity like we saw on this trip. Book now.

This is what Mark had to say about his trip last week:

"Just back from a week in Poland with Martin. A fantastic holiday! Super wildlife sightings, great company, beautiful countryside, tasty food and a comfy bed. What more could you ask for? Thoroughly recommended!"

And this from Carl:

"I have had a bit of time to reflect on the week and am still struggling to come to terms with what an amazing place and opportunity I have had. Thank you ever so much for an amazing time and your patience. I can't believe we saw so much in the space of a week."

Our guests were great and we're now all firm friends.

Warm Regards,

Martin & Caitlin.

Saturday 29th June

It's our last night before a 6am departure for the airport at Rzeszow

Today I went up to Huta Polanska again, to see if I could get some more photographs and videos of sand lizards, purple emperors and dragonflies and I wasn't disappointed; I also heard a corncrake, but couldn't entice it nearer, like we did last week.There were also great views of a lesser spotted eagle and a sparrowhawk. The latter was being mobbed by small birds and was right above our heads - by now Caitlin had joined me!

This evening I suddenly remembered that I'd forgotten to film the white storks on their nest in the village, so it was shirt, socks and boots back on and about a mile's walk to the bridge in the village. Luckily, the setting sun was still shining on the nest and I managed to get some reasonable video from the end of the bridge. The only minor issue was that the wooden railing that I was leaning on to minimise camera shake was attached to the wooden bridge, which has loose planks. This meant that every time a vehicle went over the bridge, the vibration came up through my elbows to the camera, giving some very extreme camera shake. Hey ho!

You can see this video below, as well as the last few videos from the trail camera down by the breached lower beaver dam, now retrieved and about to be packed.

Here are a few images from today:

Starling
Singing starling
Scorpion fly
Scorpion fly
Meadow brown
Meadow brown?
Baranie
Road to Baranie
White wagtail
White wagtail
Purple emperor
Purple emperor
Grass snake
Crispy baby grass snake
Beaver
Beaver footprints
Painted lady
Painted lady
Brimstone
Brimstone
?
Dragonfly
Golden-ringed dragonfly
Dragonfly
Broad-bodied chaser
Purple emperor
Purple emperor
Wolf spider
Wolf spider
Flower beetle
Flower beetle
Wasp beetle
Wasp beetle?
Sand lizard
Sand lizard
Sand lizard
Sand lizard
Dragonfly
Gomphus dragonfly
Starling
Crispy starling
Frog
Tiny frog or toad?
Epilogue

Every time we go to Poland in the summer we see new and exciting things and this is what makes it so much fun for me. I especially enjoy sharing these trips with my guests, who often become firm friends and then come again.

One of the most important aspects of these trips is showing my guests a biodiverse landscape, something that even experienced ecologists in the UK have probably never seen. Once you see the diversity of species and sheer numbers of each species in our 'secret corner' of Poland, you'll never look at the UK landscape the same way again.

To put it bluntly, this area of Poland, where wolves, lynx, bear and beaver roam, makes the UK landscapes look like deserts and it's then clear why our wildlife is declining so quickly - we simply don't have the habitats that even once-common species need to survive. This is why species such as yellowhammer are now so rare in the UK, but very common in our 'secret corner' of Poland.

You can see for yourself what red-backed shrikes, corncrakes and storks need to recolonise the UK.

You can see the huge benefits to biodiversity of having beavers in the landscape.

These are things you can't just read about and expect to understand them fully; you have to see them for yourself.

Book your trip now, as I only take up to six people on each trip.

Full-board accommodation with me as your guide. Includes airport transfers but not flights (cheap with Ryanair)
Full-board accommodation with me as your guide. Includes airport transfers but not flights (cheap with Ryanair)
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