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A trip into Poland - Richards Diary part 13

Tuesday 27th April

We get up early at 6am for a trip to the Polish side of the Oder. A quick cup of coffee and a check for passports and we’re off. Passing through Angermunde, we head south east to the border, which takes us about half an hour. We cross the bridge near Hohenwutzen into Poland. There is no passport control or barriers but there is a large open air market so we stop for a look. It’s 7.30am and the traders are just setting up shop – video and cigarette kiosks, shops selling huge containers of orange squash and one with a vast array of garden statues – storks, Elvis, moles on tractors and heavy metal bikers. We get a bockwurst and a coffee from a Polish lady who doesn’t speak any English. She’s happy with Euros though I think she’d prefer Zlotys. A woodlark calls from the heathy ground beyond the market.

We move off, resisting the temptations of the giant containers of orange squash. We head north east towards the town of Chojna. Cranes call from the surrounding forest and we spot one in a large ploughed field. The villages are noticeably poorer on this side of the Oder with many buildings in urgent need of repair. Ornate roadside crosses and well turned out churches let us we are in Catholic Poland. We stop beside a small lake and are rewarded by four hawfinches moving through the roadside poplars.

In Chojna, Roland and Damon are strangely drawn towards a French supermarche where Roland spots eel in the freezer section. We have no Zlotys and find it difficult to understand Polish so make a quick exit. After an uneventful drive through beech and pine forest we finally arrive back down by the Oder. There’s a crane feeding on a distant water meadow and we disturb a pair of goosander. A pair of sea eagles fly over followed by a pair of woodlark.

view of a polish crane in the field
A Polish crane

A pair of Oder goosanders
A pair of Oder goosanders

view of a typical Polish farmhouse
A typical Polish farmhouse

The brief visit to Poland has been stimulating and has left us wanting to come back again. We return to the mill, where Nick and Toby, the RSPB film crew, arrive at 5pm. They have come over to complete a new RSPB film about European cranes and are keen to film the second phase of egg collecting which starts tomorrow. At 5.30 Nigel texts us – three more eggs are hatching but he’s doing nineteen hour days to keep up. However, as he succinctly puts it, ‘the excitement is winning against exhaustion’. What a pro!

This is the diary of Richard Archer, RSPB Conservation Officer for Somerset. In mid April, Richard spent three weeks as part of the RSPB/WWT/Pensthorpe crane team collecting crane eggs in Eastern Germany. These are his personal reflections on the successful German visit. You can read all of Richards Diary here.

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Richard Archer is RSPB’s Conservation Officer for Somerset, and took his sabbatical in the of Spring 2010 to help with the collection, incubation and transport of the first year’s eggs.