Thursday 30 May 2013

Birding in Krakow

This is the first of a few short write ups from a short and very enjoyable, relaxing trip to Poland. Unlike most birders, I didn't venture to the northeast, and stayed distinctly in the south-central area in the region of Małopolskie. First up was the picturesque city of Krakow, the number one destination for tourists in Poland. It didn't disappoint (and wasn't that packed either), but with just one full day, it was a little hectic and only a bit of leisurely birding done between the tourist attractions.

The first thing that strikes you compared to London is the different composition of species - first and foremost, Fieldfares. Displaying, whirring their wings as well as feeding young, this species was present on pretty much every area of parkland. Cracking birds, severely underrated: -
Surrounding the old city is an area of parkland called 'Planty', and though busy during the day it's still possible to see Icterine Warblers and Serins here, as well as the more numerous Blackcaps.
Black Redstarts were also around central Krakow too, even in the Wawel Castle grounds and feeding young in a small church just off the main square.
While I tried my best to endure one of Krakow's museums, after an hour the tedium got too much, and so leaving Karen to it I walked to some nearby riverside bushes where I was happy to find both Marsh and Great Reed Warblers singing. This area was on the south side of the River Wisla; head south on Starowislna and over the bridge and then immediately left (east) and along the river path a couple of hundred metres to an area of bushes and reeds near a turning circle where the asphalt road stops. Nothing ground breaking, but a real bonus within this urban environment.
Meanwhile, Jackdaws are a common sight in the city, and seem to be rather mixed in their appearance - too dull for 'eastern race' soemerringii and lacking the obvious neck collar (though remarkable how this varies in changeable light), but still more contrasting that British birds with a greyish hue to the mantle in many birds - presumably these birds are of the race turrium according to this and this.

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