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Bison Safari In The Białowieża Forest, Aug 2017

Bison Safari in the Białowieża Forest, Aug 2017

Tour Leader: Andrzej Petryna (Andy)
Participants: Lyn (AU), Rebecca & Joseph (US), Chin & Ming-Yueh (TW), Katrena & Garreth (UK)

Text by Andrzej Petryna & Mariola Przyborowska
Photos by Andrzej Petryna

This time we visited the Białowieża Forest on the last weekend of August. The weather was mild and pleasant, although the end of summer was already noticeable as days became shorter, and the mornings and evenings were quite chilly.

It wasn’t easy time for watching Bison, as mating season has started and apparently most of the animals kept to the inner parts of the forest. It added a thrilling challenge to our intensive searches at dawns and dusks, which finally resulted with success – a sight of a lone Bison in the northern part of Białowieża Forest. It wasn’t long before the animal disappeared between the trees thus confirming our suppositions that chances of finding other bulls, as well as wandering herds were a matter of luck these days. Nevertheless, walking the wild trails and seeing the natural habitats of Białowieża Forest was a very enjoyable and engaging experience – we found fresh footprints of Wolf, and had a chance to observe a Lesser Spotted Eagle (very impressive bird!). Moreover, we saw Roe Deer and a handsome Red Fox, briefly checking on our group:  

Red fox in the Białowieża Forest, photo by Andrzej Petryna

Another highlight of our stay was a visit to the Strict Protection Area of the National Park, the most natural part of Białowieża Forest, full of deadwood and centuries-old trees. We enjoyed ca. 6 hours long relaxing walk with our local NP guide, Asia, who gave us a very interesting insight into the ecology of the Primeval Forest. Asia introduced to us the wide range of rare plants, invertebrates, and mushrooms coexisting in this unique environment. A pretty common sight in the Strict Reserve are Red Squirrels, and here is one of them, gracefully holding a cone:

Red squirrel in the Białowieża Forest, photo by Andrzej Petryna

What is more, we had a fantastic bird watching – apart from the numerous species of Passerines, like Willow Tit, Nuthatch, and Hawfinch, we observed a great set of Woodpeckers including Three-toed, White-backed, and Great Spotted Woodpecker (all three feeding on the same trunk of spruce!). Also a Middle Spotted Woodpecker was seen during our walk. Below photo shows a rare Three-toed Woodpecker:

Three-toed woodpecker in the Białowieża Forest, photo by Andrzej Petryna

Before we ended our tour back at Warsaw, we stopped at the Old Town for traditional Polish lunch, and a short walk along the narrow streets of this charming historical quarter. Visiting colorful vibrant city after few days spent out in the wilderness was a very contrasting and pleasant finish of our tour.

Here are few more photos taken in the Strict Protection Area of the National Park:

White-backed Woodpecker In The Białowieża Forest, Photo By Andrzej Petryna
Stinkhorn Mushroom (Phallus Impudicus) In The Białowieża Forest, Photo By Andrzej Petryna
Leatherback Groud Beetle In The Białowieża Forest, Photo By Andrzej Petryna
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