Birding & more in Western Poland & Eastern Germany 5-17 July 2009

trip report by John van der Woude

see also species list

Map of Brandenburg (Germany) and Western Poland. Visited areas (1 and 5 in Germany, 2, 3 and 4 in Poland):
1. Spreewald between Lübben and Lübbenau
2. foothills of Krkonose/Riesengebirge mountain range at border Poland-Czechia
3. lake area of Milicz (Barycz valley regional park)
4. lower Warta river area
5. Havelländisches Luch
This map section is taken from Google Maps which is recommended for a better view and for zooming in. All place names mentioned below can be found there.

In Polish bookshops, excellent and detailed topographic/touristic maps are for sale, also in small towns.
Roads in Poland have improved since our last visits (although the first part of the E36 highway is still bad and deserved a detour). Also, there are more supermarkets now which make shopping for food etc. much easier. Despite all the new EU developments, much of the old bird-rich scenery of Western Poland is still present.

1. Spreewald

Eastern part of Spreewald biosphere reserve 70 km SE of Berlin. For Great Reed Warbler, small reed patches like this are sufficient. Also several Marsh Warblers, Golden Oriole, Middle Spotted Woodpecker. We did this area from Pension Brodack in Alt Zauche ( c. 10 km E of Lübben, on (good!) bikes of the pension as much of the area is not accessible by car.

Nature development in the Spreewald biosphere reserve. Seen from a hide at c. 3-4 km SW of Alt Zauche. Savi's Warbler, Bearded Tit, Waterrail, Marsh Harrier. To the right interesting wet meadows, which occupy many hectares, with Crane, Great Grey Shrike, Grasshopper Warbler, Whinchat, etc. To the left, behind the marsh, another large watch tower. From this tower, we heard Black Grouse in the moist open woodland area visible at the background left.

River Spree entering tall forest consisting of, amongst others, alder and oak. Banded Demoiselle (Weidebeekjuffer) abundant here. Spotted Flycatcher, but not much else at this time of day and year. A promising trail follows the river through this large forest block. The trail starts at a large old (state?) hotel called Eiche at 7 km E of Lübbenau.

2. Foothills of Krkonose mountains

Camping Pod Bukami at 800 m altitude in the foothills of SW Poland, at Kaczorow/Plonina, c. 15 km E of Jelenia Gora, and situated between three regional parks. Corncrake and River Warbler in the meadow down left.

At the Pod Bukami campsite, we chose a spot at the margin of course, and had Grey-headed Woodpecker and Red-backed Shrike near the tent.

A walk on the Riesengebirge/Krkonose mountain ridge, with very low trees mostly. Surely there must be Black Grouse here. This ridge trail is easily reached by chair lift from the western end of Karpacz. 

The mountain ridge trail leads through this watery area (when keeping West above the chair lift). Many Meadow Pipit here, and several small groups of Redpoll in the bushes.

In the central part of Rudawski regional nature park, situated in the foothills. Good for many species, and we added Black Woodpecker to the list. Red-backed Shrike was everywhere.

Castle ruin behind the campsite. Poland has many such traces of its checkered history. There must be owls here!

Ksiazanski regional nature park near Swiebodzice, in the outer foothill region. Good forest E of Cieszow hamlet, with Wood Warbler, Grey Wagtail.

Remains of barracks at concentration camp Gross Rosen at Rogoznica. An impressive memorial site where birding becomes irrelevant.

Peace Church at Jawor. A World Heritage monument.

Red-backed Shrike (male), the most common specialty of the trip. July probably is a good month for this species because of the feeding activities of whole families.

Red-backed Shrike female.

Northern margin of Chelmy regional nature park which is East of Jawor. Our only Ortolan Bunting of the trip was here, at a few km SW of Sichow. Also Whinchat, and Serin in the villages.

At the southern margin of Chelmy regional nature park. Here (S of Muchow), in a time span of about 10 minutes, we counted 47 Mistle Thrushes flying to their (presumed) night roost in the forest. Most probably, they had flocked here in order to feed before going to the night roost. Also Turtle Dove here, which we rarely saw or heard on this trip.

3. Milicz lake area (part of Barycz valley regional park)

One of the many lakes (fish ponds) in the Milicz area. Black-necked and Red-necked Grebe, Great Reed Warbler. Golden Oriole was abundant in the oak woodlands between the lakes. In Milicz, we stayed four nights in the excellent Libero hotel (, with good restaurant. The nice rynek (central square) of Milicz has a cash machine in the middle, and a good bookshop for maps.

Milicz town with some of the lakes East of it. This particular lake complex is called Milicz reserve, but the Barycz valley regional park is much larger than this. Another lake complex is along the main road to the West of Milicz. 
Try anything from Ruda Milicka (in centre of map), and especially the large watch tower at T. Hotel Libero is at L. The rynek is to the North of that. Map section taken from Google Maps.

Great White Egret in another pond.

Every day we saw White-tailed Eagle.

Black Stork in an early emptied pond (we heard that many ponds are emptied in autumn, which attracts waders). To the right one Spotted Redshank (Zwarte Ruiter), one of a group of 120.

Water Rail was heard on places like this.

Another pond that is being emptied already. Promising for August/September (waders)!

The Milicz lake area is part of the Barycz valley regional park. This is the river Barycz, with River Warbler along the banks at some places.

The Milicz area holds four grebe species. Black-necked Grebe (Geoorde Fuut) here.

Red-necked Grebe hiding young on its back.

Red-necked Grebe family.

River Barycz in eastern part of Milicz area. A female Goosander sprinted 'helplessly' out of the bush left when a canoe passed.

Most villages in Barycz valley regional park hold at least one pair of White Stork.

Birdy spots like this still abound in Poland.

View from the bird tower in the eastern part of the Milicz reserve (located with T on the above map). Bearded Tit below, and distant views of flying Little Bittern. Once Ferruginous Duck (just one) between hundreds of Pochards. Kingfisher nesting near the tower. Late evening, a flock of 100 Cranes flew into the reeds on the other side. Impressive flights (long views) of White-tailed Eagle.

Tree frog crossing an old asphalt patch in the evening. Length: just two centimeters from nose to bottom.

River Barycz in the western part of the regional park, at the bridge (no traffic!) of Kedzie, at c. 8 km NW of Zmigrod. Grasshopper Warbler.

Old side branch of Barycz river NE of Lubiel, c. 13 km West of Zmigrod. River Warbler and butterflies.

Yellowhammer in a field near the Barycz river. Probably the most often heard bird species of the entire trip.

Pond with breeding colony of Whiskered Tern in northern part of reserve East of Milicz.

The more visible nests of the Whiskered Tern colony. Visible from a public footpath.

Fresh Comma butterfly (Gehakkelde Aurelia).

In the eastern part of the Barycz regional park is an open meadow area, with Skylark and Lapwing etc. This small bridge across the Barycz river is South of the hamlet called Uciechow (6 km W of Odolanow), in a hardly used dirt road. The bridge is a good viewing platform. Sedge Warbler and Yellow Wagtail near the bridge. Also a Great Grey Shrike nearby.

Yellow Wagtail male and female, seen from the bridge.

Both when flying up.

4. Lower Warta river area (see also other reports of W Poland at

Our favorite spot in the lower Warta area (see also our other reports; this time we stayed only two days in the Warta area). Marshes outside the winter dike East of Kolczyn hamlet (20 km E of Slonsk). Here we had Scarlet Rosefinch and Penduline Tit together.

Marshes in the floodplain of the Warta, along the dike NE of Slonsk.

Meadow being mowed and attracting some 25 Storks. Seen from the bird tower SW of Slonsk, along road 22.

There seemed to be an individual difference in feeding success. This one was very successful.

Red-backed Shrike is numerous here too. Seen from the same tower.

Part of very detailed map of the lower Warta area, found at a historical monument along the road a few km SW of Zabice (see map below). Betonka is the famous birding track NW of Slonsk. Another excellent birding road is the narrow dike road going from Slonsk to the NE, along the pumping station (stacja pomp).

Along the Czernowy canal N of Zabice (which is SW of Slonsk) we had several River Warblers. Above is road 22 from Slonsk to the border with Germany.

The Czernowy canal with its River Warblers (see map above). We failed to find Barred Warbler this time.

The floodplains N of Slonsk were still flooded, even on 15 July. Or maybe flooded again, after heavy rains some time ago.

Flooded area N of Slonsk, with White-tailed Eagle.

5. Havelländisches Luch

Back in Germany, in the Havelländisches Luch area West of Berlin, where Great Bustard still occurs. Five or six seen in the evening from the southern hide of the two hides between Garlitz and Buckow, which are about 18 km N of Brandenburg city.

Lone Great Bustard seen from the northern hide.

Montagu's Harrier flew around the northern hide.

Around the two hides, Whinchat was common.

See also the species list.