One of my hobbies is birds. Well it's a bit more than a hobby really. Although I'd stop short of calling it an obsession! It all started a couple of years ago when I rediscovered the joys of our feathered friends when we went for a weekend in Bialowieza National park in the north east of Poland. We went there to see the trees essentially - but of course, where there are trees, there have to be birds! The storks in the fields were nothing new of course, but in the visitor's centre there was a display of birds to be found in the area. Sure enough, by the time we left on the Sunday afternoon, we'd seen half a dozen or so birds that we could recognize - the stork of course, along with green woodpeckers, nuthatches, spotted woodpeckers, and my perennial favourite, the humble blackbird.
I'd always been interested in birds as a child. It's something that is common in Britain and fairly easy since there are so many different habitats in such a relatively small area. The coast is never very far away - estuaries, beaches and cliffs all have their own specific attractions and species. Then there are the hills - again very different environments provided by more rolling terrain of the south east, or the more stark rocky outcrops of the North.
Poland also has many attractions for the birdwatcher. It still has some of the wildest and unspoilt terrain west of Russia and her former republics. And it has more than a dozen sizeable National Parks, from Wolin in the north west to Bieszczady in the south east. We've travelled to six or seven different places birdwatching and have never been disappointed. How could you be - you get to lose yourself in nature, as well as seeing some of our rarer feathered friends.
The most impressive species I've seen in Poland is a difficult one to decide. There's nothing to beat the sheer size and majesty of a white-tailed eagle, Europe's largest land based bird. Equally, watching and listening to the approach of a flock of cranes through the morning mists of the Biebrza marshes in early autumn is an experience you'll never forget. That said, I would say that my favourite sight is one of those immense flocks of starlings that you get circling the sky in unison at dusk.
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