Saturday, 27 April 2013

Trip to Lublin

They couldn’t have planned this better, flights by Ryanair departing from Liverpool to Dublin and Lublin at the same time. Could have been a problem but luckily I was awake.

Lublin Airport in Poland only opened a few months ago and its terminal is a smallish space age building with plenty of signage in English. The train station is attached to the airport, a great idea I thought until the train started, when it was as comfortable as a Russian train taking prisoners to the Gulag camps.

I took a taxi to my brand new hotel about 7 kms from Lublin. I woke early to singing black redstarts, and had an early breakfast served by the Polish girl who was also the Receptionist, who had served the evening meal. I was beginning to wonder whether she had cooked the food too. I started off my bird watching in the nice suburb of Lublin called Slawin, where there are plenty of new houses being built and new roads. I immediately saw the black redstarts, along with great tits, blue tits, chaffinch, greenfinch, tree sparrows and starlings. I saw the high fences of the Botanical Gardens and in the trees were chiffchaff, Blackcaps, wood warblers and to my delight two spotted flycatchers. After 9 am, when it opened I went into the Gardens, and found out later, through the gardener’s entrance, the sign was in Polish naturally. The gardens have over 600 species of plants throughout the world, but all signage was in Polish and Latin so I was none the wiser, so I just enjoyed them. 
Over 600 species of plants
Here I saw great spotted woodpecker, two Syrian woodpeckers, green woodpecker, nuthatch, short toed treecreeper, lesser whitethroat (which are common in Poland), fieldfare, goldcrest,  coal tits and the star of the show, a pair of pied flycatchers. Swallows were flying high. The Botanical gardens are lovely gardens spoilt a little by being close to a busy main road that was noisy to say the least. In the afternoon I went into the open air museum of the Lublin Village Muzeum Wsi Lubelskiej. I had an interesting conversation with the attendant in the souvenir shop. Her limit of English amounted to Thank you and Hello. I did manage to buy a map and (what I thought was) a fridge magnet. The buildings were from the earlier part of the 20th century but managed to get myself frogmarched out of two them, that were not in the tourist route. An easy mistake to make I thought.  There were plenty of art students painting the log cabins and scenery, but I carried on quickly not wanting to be part of arty Arabella’s dissertation. There were lots of fieldfare in the fields, starlings were mimicking them and singing warblers in the trees. I managed to see a few serin.
Next day I went to Debowka Forest, a bit further out and saw lots of woodland birds and a large bird of prey flew over, and checked later and confident it was a honey buzzard. Later a flock of birds flew high over the treetops and thought they were waxwing and later confirmed when they were fluttering about in the high branches. There were about 50 of them and I had great views. As well as the warblers I had seen the day before there were willow warblers  singing. I also saw two hawfinches and a lovely bright yellow looking crossbill feeding in pine trees  on the road leading to the Forest. It took a while to catch a glimpse. I knew they were there because they were calling.
Debowka forest
 I had a day off, sightseeing, on Thursday but saw rooks and jackdaws on the grass verges and lesser whitethroats in the bushes and on Friday before my evening flight, I went to Gorki Czechowskie and some open country land alongside. There was little in the forest and it seemed to be made out for off road bikers, not the place to attract birds, the open land was more interesting. I started off and immediately saw a common redstart showing really well. I came across my sixth warbler in Poland, whitethroat, lots of them. There were some buzzards flying over and saw more warblers; blackcaps, willows, chiffchaffs. There were many magpies and they don’t appear to be as bold as those in the UK. I had my telescope with me and was delighted to see about ten whinchats, all singing on their perches in the long grass. Also saw a female stonechat chasing off its male cousin. On the way back with some serious sunburn on my arms I flushed a grey partridge.
I discovered the entrance to the Botanical gardens and then realised you had to pay to get in. i deprived the University of 12 Zloty from my earlier visits , and I did notice I got a funny look from the attendant when leaving the day before when on a brief visit, or it could just have been my sunburnt arms standing out. (I will plead not guilty and cite Noel Coward). No new birds but I did try to seek out what shelter I could in the strong hot sun. I had a long look at the male syrian woodpecker drumming.

I ordered a taxi and the driver didn’t speak a word of English. I had to get multitasking Muriel to help me out, and hoped the translation didn’t take me to the wrong airport. After driving through heavy traffic I arrived well in time and managed to convince the Polish Customs I was on a bird watching holiday and not a spy when they discovered a telescope and binoculars in my hand luggage.



Laura said...

You are brave travelling independantly Rob. Lots of good birds,Ged would have been impressed.
Sounds like the hotels short of staff....wonder why...

Keefy said...

Thanks for your polish travelogue Rob
Excellent.Also thanks for the Siskin

Peaty Girl said...

Great posting as ever, Rob. Thanks for sharing this with us. You've given us a real taste of what you've seen. My only regret is that there is far too little mention of soil!!