Friday, 31 May 2013

Nutcracker showing well

Heading south from Krakow on Monday, the plan was simple - drive into the Carpathians, staying in the lovely town of Zakopane. A nice ski resort turned hiking centre during the spring/summer months. After dumping our stuff at the hotel and despite the relatively inclement weather, we were set for Morskie Oko.

This 'top choice' in the Lonely Planet for the Zakopane area was an easy sell to Karen - a 9km descent up and down a pine clad mountain, with a mountain lake view at the top. Thing is, it's also the best spot in Poland to watch Nutcrackers at close range: -

Nutcrackers at Morskie Oko, Poland 27th May 2013
There were up to four of these inquisitive beasts on show at a time, literally coming to within a few centimetres and feasting on the leftovers of tourists' food. I'd only ever seen the species on one occasion previously - in the Italian Alps a few years ago - so seeing them at such close range was a new, quality experience. These birds are of the relatively sedentary thick-billed race caryocatactes - would be nice if another one of the slender-billed irruptive race macrorhynchos made it to Britain sooner rather than later. Nutcracker is the most regular species I've not seen in Britain and Ireland... managed to miss the Kent bird in 1998 by a rather fine margin after pegging it down from Spurn with Tom Lowe.
Morskie Oko and its Nutcrackers

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