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Bison Safari – Oct 2021 (Wolf Seen!)

Bison Safari – Oct 2021 (Wolf seen!)

Tour Leader: Tomasz Jezierczuk (Tom)
Participants: Eva & Andreas (DE), Henry (DE), Lisbeth (NL), Alice, Fionn, Oisin (UK)

Text & Photos by Tomasz Jezierczuk

Day 1, Friday 8th October, sunny 12° C

We picked up six of our guests by 12.30, three from the Warsaw’s hotels and three from the airport and very soon we were on our way to the Białowieża Forest. About an hour drive from Warsaw we stopped for a delicious Polish lunch at our favourite restaurant and continued the drive. We have spotted two Great White Egrets, few Lapwings’ flocks mixed with Starlings, several Roe Deer and few Common Buzzards from our minibus windows, and just before getting to our destination we stopped at a hide with the view overlooking vast meadows on the northern edge of the Białowieża Forest. We have spotted Roe Deer and a Fox but Bison got us no joy on today’s evening. Just before it got totally dark we took our last stretch of road and after 15 minutes drive we have arrived and checked-in at our wooden local family-run guesthouse.

After substantial dinner we have spend some time over a map discussing the plans for the next days, as state of emergency was imposed at the Poland’s border with Belarus back in September amidst migrant surge.

I had to wait a bit longer for our last guest, Henry, who was supposed to meet us at dinner time at the guesthouse. He has stuck in Warsaw’s traffic and arrived only before 10 pm, ate his dinner and went straight to bed to get some rest before an early morning Bison Safari.

Meadows of Białowieża Forest
Meadows of Białowieża Forest

Day 2, Saturday 9th Oct – Białowieża Forest
Temp. -6° C, thick frost and delicate low mist in the early morning, 12° C during the sunny day.

We met for a quick freshly brewed coffee when it was still dark and were out searching for Bison still before sunrise and breakfast. We started with some meadows at the village edge where I  was confident to find some Bison. Within a few minutes drive we spotted our first Bison! A small herd of 5 cows with one calf, we took off the bus and enjoyed the view for some good time. 

After few minutes Bison ventured forth the Forest and slowly got out of our view, while we decided to continue forward. Very soon after we have spotted another herd of Bison! This time a herd of seven bulls that allowed us to come a bit closer and we enjoyed very good views for a long time. We left them in peace happy with great views and continued further our Bison Safari.  

Suddenly a big herd of 26 Bison emerged just in front of us! We were too close! We decided to drive backward for a 50 metres, took off the bus and slowly approach the wood corner behind we have seen that herd. Bison were still there! Autumn colours, rising sun, delicate mist, and frosted backs of Bison gave us unforgettable views. 

We have watched this herd for a good half an hour. Fantastic morning, and we were still before breakfast!

After a hearty meal back at our  guesthouse we went for a walk in the central part of the forest. We saw few birds like the Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush, Hawfich and Siskin there, but most of all – a stunning centuries old oaks and tremendous diversity of different forest habitats of the Białowieża Forest. We have talked about dead wood and its crucial role for natural forest ecosystem, the Spruce Bark Beetle outbreak and differences between such event in the natural forest and spruce wood plantation and also about the controversial logging that took place at the beginning of the beetle outbreak. 

After the walk we had our lunch of sandwiches and freshly brewed coffee and tea at a nice picnic site at the edge of the Białowieża National Park, just by the small river of Łutownia. We got back to our guesthouse via the police checkpoint (we were slowly getting used to it), and took a short siesta.  

We went out again in the early afternoon and drove some small local roads, where we hoped for some Bison herds out at the forest edge and in the meadows. We saw Roe Deer, 3 Red Deer hinds and a Fox. When the time was right, we have found 3 Bison bulls relaxing on the meadow and came back happy to our guesthouse for dinner. While dining, just before the desert was served, we have check the river Narewka next to our guesthouse for Beavers, however with no joy. Quite a productive day!

Bison in the Białowieża Forest
Bison in the Białowieża Forest

Day 3, Sunday 10th Oct – Białowieża Forest
Temp. -4° C, thick frost and delicate low mist in the early morning, 12° C during the sunny day. 

Once again we started early with a freshly brewed coffee, as we were out before sunrise. And again after 10 minutes of driving we have spotted a herd of Bison 26 strong. It was yet again nice frosty morning and we have enjoyed the close views for a good half an hour. We have left that herd in peace and continued our drive further to one of my fauvorite meadows. We have found there 4 Bison bulls. Yet it was the beautiful sunrise over the frosty meadows that stole our hearts 🙂  We happily drove back for a warm breakfast.

After the usual hearty breakfast back at our guesthouse we went for another walk in the central part of the forest, through the one of best preserved patches of the ancient woodland. We saw a few birds like the Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush, Bullfinch, Hawfiches and Siskins, and heard two White-backed Woodpeckers. Everyone was impressed by pristine ecosystems of the last large natural forest of the European plain, centuries old oaks, maples, spruces, lindens and hornbeams in tremendous diversity of different forest habitats with the highlight – 2 Three-toed Woodpeckers feeding on the dead broken spruce just metres from us! On the way back Henry found a Wolf poo and taught us some great details about it, as he works on Wolf monitoring back in Germany. 

After the walk we had our lunch of sandwiches and freshly brewed coffee and tea, this time at a different picnic site, which allowed us nice sunbathing 🙂 and got back to our guesthouse for a short siesta.

We went out again in the early afternoon and drove some different small local roads where we hoped for some Elk this time! We saw many Roe Deer. It was getting dark very quickly, yet on the very last possible site just before it got totally dark – an Elk female emerged in front of our minibus! We took off the bus and we got some excellent views with the scope and enjoyed the atmospheric sunset. Yet another very productive day!

Happy with the views and the beautiful fully packed day we drove back to our guesthouse for well deserved dinner and a pint of locally crafted beer.

Dawn in the Białowieża Forest
Dawn in the Białowieża Forest

Day 4, Monday 11th Oct – Białowieża Forest to Warsaw
Temp. -4° C, thick frost and delicate low mist in the early morning, 12° C during the sunny day.

Our Bison Safari slowly come to an end. We decided to take advantage of the last glorious dawn and met for freshly brewed coffee again 🙂 We hit the forest road into the central part of the forest still before the sunrise, hoping for some closer encounters of Bison. Soon we spotted 2 Bison bulls at the forest edge. We have tried to come a bit closer, but those 2 particular individuals were very shy and they slowly sank into the forest dense vegetation. We continued our search and while we were scanning the forest edge with binoculars for Bison we saw a Wolf! When I was giving directions to the group, Wolf slowly entered the forest. On the way back we have visited a place where we have been expecting to see Pygmy Owl and it was there! We have had some good views of this smallest of European Owl. What a morning!  

After the usual hearty breakfast we packed our stuff, bade our farewells to Henry, who extended his stay in the forest for the next 3 nights and hit the road back to Warsaw. We have arrived at Warsaw just after 1 p.m. Had a short walk through the Old City and lunch in one of the Warsaw’s restaurants before saying final goodbyes.

What a tour!

Our guesthouse in the Białowieża Forest
Our guesthouse in the Białowieża Forest
Bison In The Białowieża Forest
Bison In The Białowieża Forest
Watching Bison In The Białowieża Forest
Watching Bison In The Białowieża Forest
Bison In The Białowieża Forest
Bison In The Białowieża Forest
Bison In The Białowieża Forest
Bison In The Białowieża Forest
Bison In The Białowieża Forest
Bison In The Białowieża Forest
Bison In The Białowieża Forest
Bison In The Białowieża Forest
Trametes Versicolor In The Białowieża Forest
Elfin Saddle (Gyromitra Infula) In The Białowieża Forest
Alder Carr In The Białowieża Forest
Bison In The Białowieża Forest
Bison In The Białowieża Forest
Dawn In The Białowieża Forest
Frosty Sunrise In The Białowieża Forest
Frosty Sunrise In The Białowieża Forest
Frosty Sunrise In The Białowieża Forest
Walking In The Białowieża Forest
Białowieża Forest
Bracket Fungi In The Białowieża Forest
Bracket Fungi In The Białowieża Forest
Lunch In The Białowieża Forest
Meadows Of Białowieża Forest
Elk In The Białowieża Forest
Dusk In The Białowieża Forest
Breakfast In Our Guesthouse In The Białowieża Forest
Our Guesthouse In The Białowieża Forest
Guesthouse Backyard In The Białowieża Forest
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