This was one of the most exciting mornings in the Białowieża Forest I have ever had.. and one of the best Bison Patrol trips, too 🙂
Yes, we went in search of Bison, third morning in a row after two previous unsuccessful trips. As you can imagine half the group already lost their hope and stayed in the hotel that morning.
Just after sunrise we arrived at our destination – my favourite crossroads of forest tracks in the centre of the Białowieża Forest where we have had some of the best sightings of large mammals, including Bison, Wolf and Lynx (sites 35 and 41 in our Białowieża Site Guide ») in previous years. It is a place where you can see a long way in 4 directions and it is just enough to wait for animals to cross the track.
After some time I left the group there and went sideways in search of Bison herd at the two nearby glades. Having found none, I retraced my steps to join the group and then heard this shivering voice on the walkie-talkie: “Lukasz, over.. you’ve got to get back, you wouldn’t believe it!” This had to be something more than a Bison, I thought immediately. By the time I reached them, the animal was already gone but they showed me the photographs of a beautiful wolf, just 300m away. Wow, this was something I would regret for a long time…
My reaction was immediate – wolves rarely go on their own so we should just wait in silence for other members of the pack to show up. And we didn’t have to wait long. After some 5-10 minutes we saw a distant shape, about 1.5 km away! A lynx! – someone shouted. Indeed it looked like a lynx at the beginning but few minutes later it was close enough to be recognised as another wolf. It was slowly approaching us.
As not everyone from the group would resist lying down on the ground we decided to stay on foot but cuddle up and form a large unrecognisable shape. It worked. For nearly half an hour we had this wolf slowly approaching us as close as ca. 200m! At some point a herd of wild boar crossed its way – you should have seen the wolf’s face!
Soon after that it came so close that it must have smelled us, then stood alert for a while and slowly disappeared in the forest. But it wasn’t the end of our excitement at all! Moments after the wolf had disappeared in the forest a pine marten run across the track. We still had our cameras pointed and ready to shoot in case the wolf appeared again and the marten just ran into the frame.
We only managed to check a few photographs on the cameras’ screens as probably the same wolf appeared on another track to the right of us and again it gave us some 5 minutes of great views and eventually it trod off.
After all this we couldn’t leave the place for another hour. It was so magical that we just stood there grinning.
Did we see Bison on this trip in the end? No, but none of us really missed them after that morning 🙂
On the next day another group of birders went to the same spot hoping for.. probably anything 🙂 and they saw 6 Bison 🙂 but no wolves or anything else.