Friday, 8 August 2008

The happy wanderer returns - part 2

We parked the truck up in the very pretty village of Kroscienko, at the entrance to the Pieninski National Park, the first National Park in Europe and second in the world after Yellowstone! This was to be our base for a couple of days. The front step one of the of the houses at the far end of this pic had a Sand Lizard living under it!

The old school in Kroscienko has a rather large storks nest on the chimney. It did have one on the other chimney too but this has had to be removed for stuctural reasons. This nest has been here for well over 40 years.

Walks around Kroscienko included a trip to stunning waterfall filled valley Homole. A short trip 'off piste' lead to this Fritillary butterfly - not sure what species Dark Green I think - any ideas anyone? The warm humid weather made the butterflies very active and FAASST and you didn't really want to go charging in to areas were you couldn't see where you were putting your sandaled feet. A neighbour's dog - a huge black thing called Bruno - had been tagged by a young Adder a few days before we got there and was in quite a bad way. He was still poorly but recovering a week later when I left Poland - so be warned 'watch where you put your feet!'

There were butterflies everywhere including a few White Admirals. The best sighting here was having a Grass Snake in my hand whilst two Golden Eagles soared overhead and in the pool where we found the snake there were several Yellow Bellied Toads, but despite a thorough search we couldn't find any Fire Bellied Toads. We found a young Adder a few yards further on and a Common Lizard.

At a natural spring feeding a narrow rill this female Golden Ringed Dragonfly was ovipositing.

Day two in Kroscienko took us to the other side of town where the hillsides are farmed in the traditional way and the hay meadows are full of wildflowers. There were Crickets everywhere including Great Green Bush Cricket and this Roessel's Bush Cricket.

Kroscienko is famous in Poland for its mineral springs which are reputed to give long life to regular imbibers. However we knew that the damp woodlands leading to the springs were also the habitat of the Fire Salamander. Finding them was proving difficult. We had had some rain recently and the air was humid so we expected them to be out and about. Apparently they sit on the ends of twigs in the evening after rain. We searched high and low for over an hour before turning over a large rock to reveal the brightly coloured prize below. Only a youngster, the adults can reach nine inches in length.

Best creature of the whole trip for me!

Where to next? Don't forget the Rock Pooling event at the Mirror Ball 1.00 - 2.00pm this Sunday (10th Aug). Bring your buckets, nets and wellies.

In the meantime don't forget to let us know what you have seen in your 'outback'.

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