This week started off very exciting. I was invited to join my friend Paweł with his field work. I went to work on Monday and collected the equipment I needed to record the Ortolan Buntings: recorder, GPS, parabola microphone, headphones and batteries. I packed the bare minimum, with the most important thing being my binoculars. I went to my Polish lesson, got back, grabbed my stuff and went to meet Paweł. Now, I have to say… He had informed me that I would be sleeping in the car, which was fine. I have seen his car before and it’s a hatchback and so big enough to fit a 5ft 2inch girl like me. However, a few days before our trip he had an unfortunate collision with a roe deer which meant his car was in for repairs, leaving him with a small fiat rental car. This car was not a hatchback… anyway.. more on the sleeping later.
So we drove to Odolanów. First we made a detour to Leszno so Paweł could collect his equipment from his parents home. His mum was so lovely. She insisted we drank some juice and gave us a huge bag of food to take for our trip. How kind! After a couple more hours driving we arrived at our destination. We grabbed a beer from the petrol station and then went and found a good place to park the car. It was very dark so I couldn’t get my bearings but we just parked in a random field in the middle of nowhere. The stars looked amazing, I think I was slightly hypnotised! We stood and drank our beer and listened to quails calling and the barking of a nearby roe deer (quite a scary sound when it sneaks up on you). Time to sleep…. I rolled back the passenger seat as far as possible, got in my sleeping bag and attempted to get some rest. It didn’t really happen…
I was woken up by a tap on the car window at 03:30 the next morning, the birds were up and singing early! I quickly got ready and we headed out to record the beautiful Ortolans. They have a lovely little song. They choose song posts (spots they perch to sing) that are high in trees, usually pine or oak, at the edge of small forest patches in farmland. This makes it relatively easy to find territories of males because you just have to walk along the edge of a forest fragment until you hear the lovely tune. It was a great morning, but it soon got very hot and the birds stopped singing quite early. I headed back to the car and then met Paweł shortly after. We drove to a few other spots to see if the males were still singing. I had already seen and heard so many birds including white storks, a marsh harrier, red backed shrikes, a buzzard, barred warblers, quails, pheasants, yellow hammers, wood warblers, a blackcap, chiffchaffs and of course the lovely ortolan buntings. After a few site checks we went and found somewhere to nap in the shade. We had checked the weather forecast and there was a storm on the way so after checking a couple more sights we parked up and waited it out. It was quite exciting, at one point it was right above us. It lasted about an hour and then it passed over, taking a lot of the humidity with it. We decided to go bird watching after the storm to see if any interesting species had dropped by to take shelter. We went to some huge fish ponds and saw great reed warbler, common tern, penduline tit, gadwall, wigeon and marsh harrier. We also heard rose finch, hoopoe, kingfisher, icterine warbler and marsh warbler. Near one of the fish ponds there is an oak tree that is 400 years old! It was massive and so grand. We went and got some food and beer and then found a new sleeping spot. The mosquitos were out in force and I got bitten several times on the bum! I slept better that night as I was shattered!
Woke up at 03:30 again but this time no bird song. The weather was very windy and drizzly and so it put a delay on everything. Even the skylarks weren’t singing. We waited and waited and still no singing so we moved to another site and managed to record a couple. Paweł made a decision for us to head back to Poznan. The forecast was the same for the next day so it was pointless staying. We got back by 10 which gave me enough time to shower and get ready for a course I am attending on teaching techniques. On my way back home after my class I passed a stall selling fresh strawberries so I decided to treat myself to a punnet. I am so happy it is strawberry season. They are huge and so sweet. I had a polish class that evening and was slightly delirious from the early mornings and the fresh air detox. What a fantastic couple of days though!
Thursday was a day of resting. I also baby sat my Czech friends kid for an hour or so which was sweet. We drew on the pavement with chalks and then watched rocket launches on youtube.
I’ve been really enjoying solo walks this week. I walk to my favourite spot in Poznan, Sołacski park, and then to Rusałka Lake. It’s an 8 kilometre route and it gives me lots of time to enjoy being outside and have a pause. I heard a lovely reed warbler on one of my trips. Chaffinches are so vocal and it’s nice to pick out the individual differences in the songs.
Back in England, the wildlife trust does a 30 days wild event for the month of June. This means that for every day in the month you have to do something that connects you with nature. I did this last year and it was so nice. It allows you to really explore, learn and appreciate everything wild around you. I am excited I am doing this again. So far I have appreciated colours, bird song and the amazing David Attenborough.
Who knows what natural amazingness I will come across next week…