Those that left the comfort of the mini-bus ended up soaked to the skin. The best lagoon held 32 Caspian Gulls and also three Little Gulls. It was a great shame that it was raining so heavily, as I was afraid to risk my camera and so I missed out on the photographs of Caspian Gulls I so wanted. One of the Caspian Gulls was colour-ringed (yellow HC201). It took a bit of detective work, but in the end, with a bit of help, I've tracked it down to being ringed near Minsk in Belarus during 2013. The gulls shared the lagoons with three Black Storks an Osprey and the only Turnstone of the trip.
We spent the night drying off in a castle would you believe. We had dried off by the morning, so off we set to explore the castle gardens. The highlight was no less than six singing River Warblers and good views of three Penduline Tits.
|Roughing it at the Palace Hotel|
During the afternoon we headed off in to some very extensive forest, but despite are best efforts we failed again to locate a Three-toed Woodpecker.
Once again we moved to a different hotel, this time close to the Polish border, as we were heading back to Warsaw the following day. One last chance to search a Belarusian forest presented itself the next morning, but the best we did was to get very good views of a Middle-spotted Woodpecker.
The next day, just before leaving Belarus, we had a picnic lunch next to a river. The area was great for butterflies and dragonflies. Several Chequered Skippers were seen plus many Downy Emerald and Clubtail Dragonflies.
We crossed the border back into Poland without any issues apart from a good staring at by the border guard.
I had really enjoyed myself in Belarus. We met many friendly people although a lot, particularly the under fifties, didn't really acknowledge us. They gave us what I think is called the 'cold face'. Much of the country is rural and people live in basic wooden houses. The towns are a mixture of modern apartments and old Russian blocks of flats.
|A Typical Belarusian House|
|Screen Grab of a Common Rosefinch (taken from a short video)|
The last birding of the trip was carried out in Poland and the best area was some fishponds where we saw a Little Bittern and a male Little Crake. A pair of Red-necked Grebes competed for our attention but the crake stole the show.
The birding had been excellent, we saw around 170 species and most of them performed really well. Photographic opportunities were less than I hoped, but the tour was specifically for birding rather than photography. It was a full on tour and it may not appeal to those who like a steady pace. However, if you want to see some excellent birds then give a visit to Belarus a thought.
Contact me if you would like more details about the tour.