Thursday, 26 May 2011

The Barycz valley nature park, part III

Part I can be seen here and part II here


The next day was to see us again in Sulmierzyce, a small town in Wielkapolska with this quite nice-looking ethnological museum,

as well as this now RC church with German writing on the entrance.

I daresay that the church dates from the time of the partitions and that German Protestants. *

That day was to see me determined to return to the lake complex, this time by Grabownicka.  I hid in a hide on legs and kept quiet.  I was to see Great Crested Grebe pairs dancing with each other

Across the way I was to continue to see white-tailed eagles.  A saunter on further brought me closer to them, where I could see one trying to land in a tree, a view that confirmed what they were as I could see the yellow feet.

While looking through my binocs I was to see something that looked strange.  I saw some dark figures moving over the top of the water on the other side of the lake.  I thought they were birds, but they turned out to be stags.  I could see their horns, and they were moving through the water.  Due to the distance, I couldn't work out how they were getting through the lake.  They were walking in a line, about 10 of them, and the water was up to their necks.  After the holiday I was to research this on the internet and discovered that some stags can swim.  I do not think, however, that these stags were swimming, as the height of the water changed, so guessed they were carefully walking through the lake.  In any case, it was quite an incredible sight.

Later I was to see birds that proved to be the highlight for me, strangely enough

Common Wigeon


They are both good looking birds.  As they tend to hang about in the water they are also easier to see.  It is hard to put across how cool it is to see such birds, birds which stand out from the average mallard.

By another lake I also saw some birds that mystified me.  They were waders and were, well, wading by the edge of the lake.  They were about redshank height, and with red legs, but they were not spotted, rather they had a clear division between grey wings and white underneath.  I could not make out the colour of the beak, but it was average size for a wader (though longer than that of plovers).  I was stuck for ages as to what they could be.  They were not in any of my bird books (German and Polish).  Eventually through the internet I was to discover that they birds were Spotted Redshanks:

They are not indiginous to Poland, rather they live in the artic and return there following wintering in Africa.  Therefore they pass through Poland and the lakes of the Baryczy area are a good place for them to hang out before going further north.  They probably only stayed there a short time, so I was lucky to be there during that week.

Holidaying in the Barzycy valley nature park

To conclude, the area is an excellent place for holidays or day trips for residents of Wrocław (it takes about an hour to go to Milicz from Wrocław and then one can take a bus to the various villages along the western and eastern roads) due to its raw nature, bird and animal life, good food on offer and (for those who are as obsessed with history as me) a rich history that one can sense.

Should anyone from outside of Poland wish to gain advise on where to go to and how to get there and where to stay, feel free to contact me at

* A look at maps of Poland over the centuries shows that the small area comprising of about 40km squared on the Polish side of the pre-1939 border contained a dominant group of Germans (who were Protestant), which explains the German Protestant graveyard in , with small pockets of Poles.  The Roman Catholic statues and, presumably the RC of Wielkapolska are therefore to be presumed to be indeed created for Polish people.  As it is, this area of land has had all manner of ethnic groups living there, from Celts to Germanic people; followed by the area being under Polish, Bohemian, Austro-Hungarian, Prussian and Polish again rule up until 1939.  I doubt whether bird migration was affected much by these political changes, as birds don't care much about political developments.

Indeed, and this is a slightly mad story while being true, it is known that a Nazi was given the job to watch birds in Birkenau, showing that (a) birds continued to fly over and around the camp despite everything that was happening there, and (b) well, Birkenau is not particularly known as a place which in the 1940's was a place for bird watching.

Though I did see skylarks and lapwings there when I visited there in 2005.

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