Monday, 2 March 2015

To Hel and Back

Monday 23rd Feb found me heading towards Gdansk and then, via train and bus, to Jastarnia for a 50 mile walk along the Hel peninsula. My plans went awry to begin with as I didn't arrive at Wladyslawowo with enough time to start the walk, so I carried on to Jastarnia by train.
After a large meal and a couple of Polish beers, I returned to my super accommodation before an early start the following morning. I planned to walk the road to Hel and back to begin with, some 20 miles via footpaths, beach and cycle tracks. Most of the way was through conifer forests, so crested tit, siskins, crossbills, great spotted woodpeckers were all noted. However, the highlights were on Gdansk Bay where 100's of goldeneye, goosanders, red breasted mergansers, mute swans, mallards and huge numbers of long tailed duck. All in superb plumage.
2 male long tailed ducks

3 drake and 1 duck red breatsted mergansers

diving long tailed duck


Bewick swans

The last mile to Hel

Jastarnia harbour and long tailed duck

Great spotted woodpecker
A couple of pints in Hel and then a walk back along the Baltic side of the peninsula. The weather remained overcast for most of the day, but not too cold, just above freezing. That evening, another good meal and another early night.
I awoke before first light and headed off to check the harbour. The sun was rising brightly and it looked like being a much better day, light wise. I then set off for Chalupy and back, the middle part of the walk. Again, same habitats, with added interest in a few open areas holding large numbers of skylarks. Overhead, there was a regular passage of both tundra and taiga bean geese along with a common buzzard and plenty of siskins and crossbills. A nuthatch made the list but no hoped for crested tits showing well for a photo. The sun was bright for most of the day, so better photography but not so many birds. Out on the Baltic, more long tailed duck, herring and black headed gulls, common and velvet scoter along with an occasional great crested and black necked grebe.
sunrise over Jastarnia

mute swan movement

common buzzard

herring gull

early morning black headed and common gull

3 bean geese migrating north east

flyby greylag goose

Distant velvet scoter

grey herons

crossbill
I eventually returned via Kusnica to my room. I had time to pop around to the local woodland and reed beds I had birded successfully last April. All very quiet but ticked chiffchaff, willow tit, fieldfare and more bean geese over. Another evening visit to the same restaurant as it was the only one open! Being a holiday destination, all bars and pizzerias etc were boarded up, so off to the shop for a few bottles of beer and back to my room.
WW2 gun implacement. Plenty of military history left in the woods

chiffchaff

acorn eating jay

hooded crow

pair of goosanders

white wagtail
The final morning dawned and I planned a train trip to the end of the peninsula for 2 reasons: 1. to walk to Chalupy and back to complete the 50 mile return journey and also to get into the docks and see if I could find the black scoter. Typically, the coldest and foggiest day but after 20 minutes of scoping the sea from the port breakwater, a scoter with no white and a bright yellow bill, more so than the reasonably regular velvets. My first black scoter. I shot off endless photos, through the fog but none were of any value. This poor shot of a velvet, half the distance away gives an indication of how poor they were.
Not a lot of use, but at least you can make out what it is, just!
 Disappointingly, I deleted the lot otherwise I would have been tempted to save them for no apparent reason as not one gave enough for a positive i.d. Peeved, I set off for the final walk. I arrived back at Wladyslawowo ready for a coffee and the train back to pick up my rucksack. I had not, apart from the rare black scoter, added any new birds, so headed off once more in search of black woodpecker and crested tit. No joy, so off to Gdansk for my flight home at 16.20hrs. I arrived at a very foggy airport at 7, checked in and the flight was eventually cancelled at midnight. 6 hours queueing to get rebooked, on a flight from Wroclaw, some 310 miles south on the Sunday.
I did eventually make it but travelling took so long, no more birding was possible, apart from a few hours in parks around Wroclaw.
A super trip and, although the weather conspired against my photography, a list of 54 species is certainly not bad for this area in February. I now intend to return in autumn for the migrant passage, maybe early September. Lovely part of the world.
raven

whooper in fog

black headed gull

female long tailed duck

flyby ltd in misty conditions.
From the breakwater at Wladyslawowo, I managed this pleasing shot of diving long tailed ducks.

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This is me

This is me
At the end of another Norfolk Coastal footpath walk. 47 miles, 3 days 99 species of bird

Caley Wood view

Caley Wood view
sunshine through the canopy 29.05.08

A walk along the Warta Valley, Poznan, Poland. Feb 2007

A walk along the Warta Valley, Poznan, Poland. Feb 2007
Best birds on this walk: black and middle spotted woodpecker and short toed treecreeper

About Me

My photo
A primary school teacher for 30 years, I retired from teaching in July 2009 to set up my own science enhancement and communication company. The Primary Works offers science clubs, workshops and staged science shows nationwide. I have always been interested in bird watching since my early years. Apparently my first tick was after inquiring about a chaffinch and then receiving the Observer book of birds. By the age of 9 I had moved on to Tory Peterson's collins guide and was now involved on YOC birding holidays to Northumbria, Essex coast, Slimbridge and Yorkshire. My twitching rule is that I will willingly travel 1km for each gram the bird weighs. However, I have had many rarities just by being in the right place. I have travelled widely throughout Europe and also visited Australia and Sri Lanka. Further European destinations are planned and a bigger trip to The Crimea was planned for 2014 but now not possible. so 2014: Sri Lanka in January, Poland in April, Madeira in June and The Camargue in July. So far 2015 has been Sri Lanka in Jan, Poland in Feb, Sri Lanka in April and The Camargue coming up in 1st week of September.

Grey heron

Grey heron
Over the allotment 28.09.08

Southern Hawker

Southern Hawker
Ridge footpath 27.08.08

Juvenile green woodpecker (17.08.08)

Juvenile green woodpecker (17.08.08)
Note the stripes, denoting a bird fledged this year.

common blue

common blue
Ash Valley G.C. 15.08.08

Indian balsam (impatiens glandulifera)

Indian balsam (impatiens glandulifera)
River Ash

azure damselfly

azure damselfly
River Ash 28.07.08

marbled white

marbled white
Discovered at Westland Green 22.07.08

ruddy darter

ruddy darter
Bush Wood 21.07.08

honeysuckle 19.07.08

honeysuckle 19.07.08
growing in hedgerow in Chapel Lane

cinnabar moth caterpillar

cinnabar moth caterpillar
Photographed on ragwort 19.07.08

Bittersweet

Bittersweet
Study of petals 11.06.08

male yellowhammer

male yellowhammer
08.06.08

common blue butterfly

common blue butterfly
06.06.08

River Ash

River Ash
looking south from the bridge at Hadham Ford

Common poppy (papaver rhoeas)

Common poppy (papaver rhoeas)
in rape field 29.05.08

Caley Wood sunshine

Caley Wood sunshine
29.05.08

Millenium Wood fox

Millenium Wood fox
24.05.08

common comfrey (symphytum officinale)

common comfrey (symphytum officinale)
06.05.08 banks of the River Ash

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge,(Alliara petiolata)

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge,(Alliara petiolata)
flowers, leaves and fruit edible . Good in salad and pesto

April showers

April showers
Double rainbow 30.04.08

Caley Wood bluebells

Caley Wood bluebells
22.04.08

Yellow Archangel

Yellow Archangel
Chapel Lane (20.04.08)

sunlight 16.04.08

sunlight 16.04.08
looking south west from Bush Wood

snowy buds

snowy buds
06.04.08 in Bush Wood

Looking north west

Looking north west
05.04.08 evening shower approaching

Back Garden

Back Garden
Easter Sunday (23.03.08)

Brick Kiln Hill

Brick Kiln Hill
Looking east (23.03.08)

No play today

No play today
The 2nd hole at Ash Valley golf course

Teasel head

Teasel head
Bush Wood (21.03.08)

Reflections

Reflections
daffodils at Bush Wood pond (21.03.08)

Swollen River Ash

Swollen River Ash
The river at the bottom of Winding Hill 16.03.08

Daybreak over the chapel

Daybreak over the chapel
Thursday 13th March

Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus)

Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus)
growing in Bush Wood

January snowdrops

January snowdrops
Banks of River Ash, north of Much Hadham

Good Moon

Good Moon
From garden 24.01.08

Village Green

Village Green
Looking east towards Acremore Street

Looking south before Hadham Ford

Looking south before Hadham Ford
rare January blue sky

Useful sites

The following are some useful websites that may interest readers of this blog.
Firstly, Bishop's Stortford Natural History Society http://bsnhs.webplus.net/

Fellow birder, Gary Whelan's blog. Gives reports from our trips out together plus reports from his trips abroad. http://hairybirders.blogspot.co.uk
http://www.hertsbirdclub.org.uk/ The official herts bird club website. Frequently updated, listing bird sightings around the county. Offers links to many other websites. Both of these sites also offer links to yahoo discussion groups.
http://www.birdforum.net/ An international site. You can enter as a guest but become a member( free) to post comments, bird sightings and just about anything to do with wild birds. Good news updates, classified section for binoculars, cameras etc.
http://www.guidedbirdwatching.com/ A new site set up where you can contact people worldwide who will help you find good birds in their country. UK section being set up presently.
http://www.britainsbirder.co.uk/
Fellow birders blog. Strtford resident, Graeme Smith regulary birds the area south of Stortford as well as around Spellbrook and the River Stort from Spellbrook to Twyford Locks. Some superb bird photography: Graeme uses a digital camera attached to his powerful telescope to get detailled images of the birds he sees. Well worth a browse.
Two local sites that may be of interest can be found at
http://www.thehadhams.com/ www.thepelhams.net/content/section/12/139/

South Easterly walk

South Easterly walk
black, normal, red extended walk

South Westerly route.

South Westerly route.
Black usual, red extended

North Easterly walk

North Easterly walk
black short, walk. Red, extended

North West Patch

North West Patch
black route regular. Red route the extended wander