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Friday, June 15, 2007


I arrived in Kraków during the evening of June 6th with travel companion Stuart (previous joint trip to Nimes). We were in time to visit the market square where a live outdoor orchestra was playing Holst’s Planets Suite during the evening as part of Kraków’s 750th anniversary celebrations.
Kraków’s Market Square, which was packed with half a million visitors during the evening

Stuart photographed this male Black Redstart near Kraków

Among the many places of interest we visited in and around the city, a “must see” was the salt mine at Wieliczka.

Down in the salt mine – the figures are carved out of rock salt in one of the mine’s 2000 chambers

From Kraków our next destination was the village of Krościenko situated in the Pienini mountain range - a range of rolling wooded hillsides with some staggering limestone crags and outcrops, largely preserved within the Pieninski National Park.

The rolling countryside of the Pienini range

The village of Krościenko, our home for four days

One of the most popular activities in the national park is to take a raft trip through the Dunajec River gorge where some of the best crags are to been seen. We were hopeful of finding the elusive Wallcreeper, especially as a the national park map indicated its presence here!

Rafting down the Dunajec River

Negotiating the "rapids"

A more active pursuit was trekking up to Trzy Korony, the highest point in the Pienini range, a walk which rewarded us with views of Hazel Grouse.

Trzy Korony – we made it, but not up that face!

The evidence!

Trade Descrip- tion? We did not find this bird indicated on the map, the elusive Wall- creeper!!

Our next objective was to visit to the lofty Tatra Mountain range that lies on the border between Poland and Slovakia.

View of the Tatra Range from the Pieninys

The route took us via Zakopane to Kuznice where we started walking up the track up towards Giewont mountain. Although resources did not permit an assault on the summit, we climbed high enough to obtain some spectacular views of mountain scenery. We then went to Łysa Polana and took a horse-drawn carriage for a 9-km ride into the heart of the range, to the lake of Morskie Oko.
Into the Tatras the easy way!

Morskie Oko - the heart of the Tatras

"Bird of the trip" - we found this Nutcracker here

Our final day in the Pininis was spent on local walks to the Wawoz Homole gorge, and a walk along the bank of the Dunajec River where we crossed the border into Slovakia for a coffee.

Jim and Stuart in Slovakia - another country "ticked off" the list!

We saw 85 species of birds, of which I found the most interesting to be: Black Redstart, Fieldfare, Icterine Warbler*, Hawfinch, Great Reed Warbler, Green Sandpiper, Red-backed Shrike, White Stork, Black Stork, Scarlet Rosefinch, Whinchat, Serin, Collared Flycatcher, Hazel Grouse, Nutcracker*, Ring Ouzel.

There were numerous butterflies in the mountain meadows, including: Brimstone, Green-veined White, Small Copper, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Large White, Orange Tip, Painted Lady, Silver-washed Fritillary, Ringlet, Mountain Ringlet*, Duke of Burgundy, Large Skipper, and various Blues of uncertain identity.

* Lifer


Blogger Penless Thoughts said...

What BEAUTIFUL scenery and adventures you are having!!!!

9:38 pm  
Blogger simon said...

bloody fantastic mate!

2:57 am  
Blogger TCA said...

Great pics, that Nutcracker is a curious looking fella!


9:28 am  
Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

What a wonderful trip... I would have loved to have been there too. Beautiful scenery, and such a range of different places you went. You make me want to devise a trip to Poland!

Now what does "lifer" mean beside the Mountain Ringlet Butterfly? (I have just been learning about our black mountain ringlet... endemic species.)

10:23 am  
Blogger Maalie said...

Thanks everyone!

"Lifer" is a species seen for the first time in one's life. Normally used by "twitchers" for birds, but I don't see why it shouldn't be used for butterflies too!

10:34 am  
Blogger Maalie said...

P.S. For anyone interested, you can see a picture of the Mountain Ringlet here. I was unable to obtain a picture myself, it wouldn't keep still enough!

10:42 am  
Blogger Jeremy Jacobs said...

Sounded like a great trip.

3:50 pm  
Blogger Tina said...

Beautiful pictures Jim. Thank you for sharing.

7:28 pm  
Blogger Tortoiseshell said...

"...Scarlet Rosefinch"

Scarlet Rosefinch???? Come on!!! You're not fooling me with that one.

"Small Tortoiseshell..."

Hope we'll be able to present you with another of these round about the end of November :o)

12:53 am  
Blogger Rachel Joyce said...

might have to go there too - thanks!

9:25 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very beautiful pictures. I like the two birds and had never seen them before this. I don't have the right reference books to find them.

I envy those who can travel and the best I can do is see where you were through your photos.

Abraham Lincoln
Brookville Daily Photo

9:57 am  
Blogger Merisi said...

Negotiating the "rapids"? Getting white knuckles here. ;-)

This looks and reads like a wonderful trip (and a couple more miles, and you could have chalked up one more country! *g*

Have you ever been to the Mazury lake region?

10:48 am  
Blogger c'est moi said...

Looks like a great trip!

12:14 pm  
Anonymous Ellee said...

Maalie, I can't believe you went down those rapids too, what an adventurer you are. How fantastic that you spotted 85 different birds too. I'm afraid the only species with wings I saw in Greece was the mosquito, but I'm sure you would have done much better. I expect you always have your binoculars by your side.

Our hotel recruited the entire tourism class from a college in Poland as waiters and my mother thought that they were so wonderful that she is desperate for my two divorced brothers to marry Polish girls. Did you get to know many of them? I think she is going to suggest they look at websites to find a Polish wife. She says she could rest in peace if they were married to Polish girls. That's my mum, bless her.

8:13 pm  
Blogger Ju's little sister said...

Ah, Oh! Ooooooh!
Aw Maalie, the land, THE LAND!

I am so jealous. How beautiful.

10:07 am  
Blogger Penless Thoughts said...

Thanks for your comment on the one liners I posted. See we do have a little bit of common ground besides classical music and the love of travel :o)

4:52 pm  
Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

I never got asked about mountain ringlets in the exam.(Actually, that lecturer has retired so I was half expecting not to have to answer that one!) But I did get to burble on quite a bit about migration for the godwit, sooty shearwater and banded dotterel. I kind of knew that question would be up as it was a new lecturer and they went to the trouble to put his slides and his lecture on the web for us in the last weeks of the paper. A good cue to make sure you knew it!

7:31 pm  
Blogger Maalie said...

Thanks for comments everyone.

Kiwi, I'm feel sure you will get another A-grade. Your enthusiasm for the subject will see to that!

7:47 pm  
Anonymous Ellee said...

This is certainly a country I would like to visit one day, I will have to check out the local flights, see if I can get one for 10p like you manage.

8:08 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was the statue the one you licked?
Great pictures!


7:03 am  
Blogger Maalie said...

Not exactly Jack, but one very like it!

9:06 am  

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