Trip Report: Karsiborska Kepa N.R. (NW Poland), July 15-18 1997

P. William and Susan A. Smith, Florida, USA;

Inasmuch as we had a few extra days to spend in central Europe in mid-July, 1997, we decided to visit the Karsiborska Kepa Nature Reserve in the Swiny Estuary in far NW Poland, near the Baltic Sea and the German border. It is the first reserve of OTOP, the Polish Society for the Protection of Birds, established in 1995 to protect a major breeding ground of the Aquatic Warbler as well as other wetland species. It is also a good area for White-tailed Eagle, another species we wanted to see.

We wrote to OTOP for information in early 1997, but before receiving a response, we learned via the Travigator of the Polish Bird Service run by Maciej Zimowski, who arranges hotel bookings and guide services. Maciej assured us he could book us into a decent nearby hotel in Miedzyzdroje and arrange a suitable guide from Szczecin. Miedzyzdroje is the nearest readily accessible town with a full range of services, ca. 15 km from the reserve; Swinoujscie, although nearer the reserve, is situated on an island accessible only by ferry, and hence inconvenient. Miedzyzdroje is a small but bustling seaside resort with one major tourist hotel, the Amber Baltic, readily bookable by any travel agent. Maciej booked us into the less grand but somewhat cheaper and perfectly acceptable Hotel Slavia. In fact, there are many places to stay in Miedzyzdroje, and it should not be a problem to secure accommodations upon arrival before the height of the holiday season begins in late June.

We left Berlin in the late afternoon on 15 July in a Budget (Sixt) hire car. Most companies in Western Europe won't allow their cars to be taken into Poland or other eastern European countries, but Sixt would for certain models. We reached Miedzyzdroje (ca. 250 km) in about 3+ hrs. Only one person associated with the Hotel Slavia spoke English, but fortunately he was present when we arrived. The next morning, our guide, Witold Wronski, arrived by train about 8:15 am. He was an interesting fellow, a part-time field ornithologist, who spoke good English and knew the local birdlife very well. We went directly to Karsiborska Kepa, reached by driving west towards the main ferry to central Swinoujscie, then turning south at a small sign to Karsibor just east of the ferry queue. Karsibor is an elongated village across a 1-lane bridge; a sign for the nature reserve is at a road fork about 4 km from the main turnoff. At the fork, bear left for 200 m, and then turn left at another small sign down a track to a small carpark across a short bridge. Witold took us down a footpath towards the southern end of the reserve, then through the reeds to an open area of sedge, where he quickly located a still-singing pair of Aquatic Warblers. We also had many Reed, Sedge, and Marsh Warblers in the area.

We spent all morning at the reserve, then started seeking eagles along the shore of Karsibor island, and then back towards Miedzyzdroje and southward along the east side of the estuary to a hilltop vantage point behind the church in the village of Lubin. Although we didn't find any eagles, we saw a nice variety of local birds, and I learned many good places to look. Our main meal was at the pub across from the Hotel. The next day, on our own, we returned to the Lubin vantage point in the early morning and soon spotted an adult White-tailed Eagle perched atop a distant power pylon. We quickly drove as close as we could near the village of Wicko, and watched the eagle at leisure both perched and later flying off. Then we did more birding and hiking in Wolinski National Park, which abuts Miedzyzdroje. We ate our main meal in the nice Astoria Restaurant next to the hotel. Because of deteriorating weather, we left early the next day to return to Berlin. We were slightly ahead of the R. Oder flood reaching the rivermouth area, and we don't know the consequences.

We enjoyed our little sojourn in Poland and found Miedzyzdroje a pleasant and friendly place to visit. Very little English is spoken, more German, but in fact not many non-Poles seem to visit here. There were some financial irregularities in our dealings with the Polish Bird Service, which I will disclose privately, but otherwise we had no problems and much good luck with the birds and Witold Wronski as a local expert. A complete trip list for the 2+ day visit follows:

        Grebe, Great Crested      Podiceps cristatus
        Cormorant, Great          Phalacrocorax carbo
        Heron, Gray               Ardea cinerea
        Swan, Mute                Cygnus olor
        Goose, Graylag            Anser anser
        Teal, Green-winged        Anas crecca
        Mallard                   Anas platyrhynchos
        Garganey                  Anas querquedula
        Gadwall                   Anas strepera
        Pochard, Common           Aythya ferina
        Duck, Tufted              Aythya fuligula
        Kite, Red                 Milvus milvus
        Eagle, White-tailed       Haliaeetus albicilla
        Harrier, Hen              Circus cyaneus
        Harrier, Montagu's        Circus pygargus
        Harrier, Marsh            Circus aeruginosus
        Goshawk, Northern         Accipiter gentilis
        Kestrel, Common           Falco tinnunculus
        Coot, Common              Fulica atra
        Lapwing, Northern         Vanellus vanellus
        Greenshank, Common        Tringa nebularia
        Sandpiper, Green          Tringa ochropus
        Snipe, Common             Gallinago gallinago
        Gull, Black-headed        Larus ridibundus
        Gull, Mew                 Larus canus
        Gull, Herring             Larus argentatus
        Gull, Great Black-backed  Larus marinus
        Dove, Rock                Columba livia
        Pigeon, Wood              Columba palumbus
        Dove, Collared            Streptopelia decaocto
        Swift, Common             Apus apus
        Woodpecker, Great Spotted Dendrocopos major
        Skylark, Eurasian         Alauda arvensis
        Martin, Sand              Riparia riparia
        Swallow, Barn             Hirundo rustica
        Martin, House             Delichon urbica
        Jay, Eurasian             Garrulus glandarius
        Magpie, Black-billed      Pica pica
        Crow, Hooded              Corvus cornix
        Tit, Crested              Parus cristatus
        Tit, Great                Parus major
        Nuthatch, Wood            Sitta europaea
        Wren, Winter              Troglodytes troglodytes
        Warbler, Aquatic          Acrocephalus paludicola
        Warbler, Sedge            Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
        Warbler, Reed             Acrocephalus scirpaceus
        Warbler, Marsh            Acrocephalus palustris
        Warbler, Willow           Phylloscopus trochilus
        Chiffchaff, Common        Phylloscopus collybita
        Whitethroat, Greater      Sylvia communis
        Flycatcher, Spotted       Muscicapa striata
        Robin, European           Erithacus rubecula
        Redstart, Black           Phoenicurus ochruros
        Blackbird, Eurasian       Turdus merula
        Thrush, Song              Turdus philomelos
        Thrush, Mistle            Turdus viscivorus
        Tit, Bearded              Panurus biarmicus
        Wagtail, Yellow           Motacilla flava
        Wagtail, White            Motacilla alba
        Pipit, Tawny              Anthus campestris
        Shrike, Red-backed        Lanius collurio
        Starling, Common          Sturnus vulgaris
        Yellowhammer              Emberiza citrinella
        Bunting, Reed             Emberiza schoeniclus
        Chaffinch                 Fringilla coelebs
        Rosefinch, Common         Carpodacus erythrinus
        Linnet, Eurasian          Carduelis cannabina
        Greenfinch, European      Carduelis chloris
        Sparrow, House            Passer domesticus

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This page served by Urs Geiser;; August 27, 1997