Education, an Excursion, and More Birds

In the Macedonian education system, there is no support for children with special needs. Often these children are ignored in the classroom, as the teachers have no information on how to help them, or even what their experience is. They are passed from grade to grade, and often graduate, unable to read or write.

In April, my director requested a workshop from Peace Corps on working with children with special needs, and made attendance a requirement for all the teachers. We are fortunate here in Macedonia to have someone, Sara, who has been working for six years with these children in Bulgaria and Macedonia. She speaks Macedonian, and, since most teachers here know some Macedonian, this worked well.IMG_4144.jpg

 The first part of the workshop involved tasks to do in which the person had some kind of setback:IMG_4158.jpgIMG_4161.jpgIMG_4118.jpg

After this, Sara described several of the common difficulties that children with special needs have, and what the teachers might do to help these students. The teachers recognized their students in her descriptions, and they want Sara to return and work with them in their classrooms. We are hoping to arrange that.


I spent Orthodox Easter in Ohrid, as there are very few Macedonians here in Dibër to celebrate with. It was a lovely trip with good food, a comfortable Airbnb, cats, rock walls with flowers blooming on them, a boat ride, hiking, knitting, and visiting just a couple of the 365 churches there.IMG_4195.jpgIMG_4251.jpgIMG_4330.jpgIMG_4317.jpgIMG_4293.jpgIMG_4220.jpgIMG_4336.jpgThis was in my room when I arrived:IMG_4198.jpgBy the time I left, my Macedonian language was beginning to come back.


Today, I headed back to Dibër Lake to do some birdwatching. First, I learned that what I had called a grouse last time is, in fact, a crested lark.bird1.jpg

I returned to the wall where I had seen Barn Swallows and Hoopoes, and discovered a new bird entirely that is sharing the nests there as well.IMG_3942.jpg

I first heard its communal murmuring. Then I saw these beautiful, colorful birds that were in a large group: Bee-Eaters! I’d never seen a Bee-Eater before, but I had studied a book on birds of Australia, and these looked related to the Bee-Eaters there. Apparently, they nest colonially, and remain in groups all the time.

 Pair_of_Merops_apiaster_feeding.jpg         79px-European_bee_eater.jpg

Here is a picture I took of them on a wire that’s hard to see because of the fog.


These birds get cranky at times. Several times, I saw one peck another bird and take over its position on the line. These birds were mesmerizing, with their comforting sound and their brilliant colors. Later, I learned that they eat bees, wasps, and hornets. A true friend!

As I wandered along, I saw a pair of Common House Martins perched on a wire,


some Eurasian Blackbirds in the grass,


and my old friend, the Hoopoe, which I watched for a long time as it visited many of the holes in the wall. It also used its sharp beak to dig into the ground for insects.


As I walked further toward more brush, I heard what I knew was a Wren. But I never saw it. Likely, it looked like this:


Leaving the area, I could hear the Thrush Nightingales I wrote about in my last post, such an energizing and upbeat sound!

As I listened, I could hear so many bird sounds that I didn’t know, so I recorded some of them, but I can’t share them here, as this blog doesn’t have that capability.

I stopped at Hotel Leon on my way home to have coffee. IMG_4363.jpgAs I sat there, I saw yet another new bird. I still don’t know what it was, but it was a lot like this one:


This is a European Goldfinch, but the one I saw had no red on its face. Someday, perhaps I’ll know its name.

(All the good pictures of birds are Wiki pics.)


3 thoughts on “Education, an Excursion, and More Birds

  1. What a lovely existence you’ve happened upon! Macedonia looks so beautiful and ancient that I’m sure it must attract many tourists. Peace Corps is such a dichotomous experience for challenging one to address the social and educational needs hidden behind such captivating scenery and rich history. I’m glad you have your birds, too!

  2. Oh Kath, I’m so glad you’re there with all the beautiful sights and sounds. It is the wonderful experience of being in a new country and having eyes that re-open with the wonders of new sights and sounds! I so wish I could walk along the flowered walls, seeing the beautiful birds, flowers, houses and people!

  3. Hi Kathleen, I read that the juvenile goldfinches have no red on their faces. Could this explain your mystery bird? I can’t believe you see hoopoes; I love them! It’s wonderful to be connected to Macedonia through you! Thank you for expanding my world. Elaine

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