Sunday, 22 May 2016

Biebrza Marshes, Poland 2: the wild river with marsh terns

The southern basin of the Biebrza valley has the best examples of natural floodplain and associated wildlife.  Here the river merges seamlessly with reedbeds, willow carr and fen.  Oxbow lakes and shallow floods provide habitats for three marsh terns - Black, White-winged and Whiskered.
Black Tern
All were present in smallish numbers.  Currently the wetlands are not a wet as they often are.  A couple of dry years in north east Poland has meant the extent of flooded wetland this spring is less than average.  In really wet years, hundreds of terns nest here.
Whiskered Tern
White-winged Tern
Whiskered Tern
Black Tern
Biebrza Valley, southern basin
Nonetheless, it was easy to get good views of the terns as they hunted for insects along the river and across the adjacent swamps.  Sitting quietly tucked into the riverbank was a great way to watch them as they swept back and forth and I managed to master focusing the camera sufficiently to capture a few images.
Other birds in this habitat included Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Black Stork, Great Egret and White-tailed Eagle.
Being a Saturday, there were probably as many local people fishing as there were visiting birders.  The fishermen waded out into the marshes quite fearlessly, and no doubt got the best views of the marsh terns. Sadly, just after I arrived, a fisherman walked straight through the area where Ruff were gathered.  So I missed a likely good view of lekking Ruff.
Quite a few people fishing, -looked like a wonderful place for it!

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