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Primeval Forest & Marshes, Mar 2017

Tour Leader: Andrzej Petryna (Andy)
Participants: David & Kate (UK), Merryn & Stephanie (AU), John & Michelle (ES), Leif & Ann (SE)

Text by Andrzej Petryna & Mariola Przyborowska
Photos by Andrzej Petryna

Saturday morning was gray and rainy. We collected everyone from their hotels, apartments and the Central Station, and left Warsaw heading east. After short break and lunch at the roadside restaurant we turned from the main road into much nicer local roads. While driving through the quiet countryside, we spotted our first birds and mammals. Białowieża welcomed us with drizzling cold rain, so our warm and cosy hotel was an excellent place to stay for the rest of the evening.

The weather forecast wasn’t too promising for the next couple of days, but even despite low temperatures and dropping snowflakes we could observe clear signs of approaching spring – intensive migration of birds, some activity of amphibians (Moor and Common Frogs, Common Toads) and first blossoms of Common Hepatica and other spring flowers shyly emerging in the forest.

Common toads at springtime, Białowieża Forest, photo by Andrzej Petryna

During our four-day stay in Białowieża we saw a total number of 29 Bisons  – most of them feeding peacefully at the meadows, attracted to the freshly grown grass. They were easy to watch and they willingly posed for photos ;-)

Small group of european bison, Białowieża Forest, photo by Andrzej Petryna
Young bull feeding at the meadow near Białowieża Forest, photo by Andrzej Petryna

Undeniable highligt of our stay was visiting the Strict Reserve of the National Park, as well as coming across the remnants of a Wolf kill (a skull and spine of a Red Deer) and several Wolf tracks.

Moreover, we saw large number of Cranes and Gees and also mixed flocks of Skylarks, Thrushes, Chaffinches, Siskins and Waxwings. The activity of Woodpeckers was very high and we were succesful to see the Black, White-backed, Lesser, Middle Spotted, Great Spotted, Three-toed and Grey-headed Woodpeckers. On one of the evenings we had also a great sighting of a Pygmy Owl.

Early spring at Biebrzański National Park, photo by Andrzej Petryna

After four days we transferred from Białowieża to Biebrza Marshes and checked into a cosy wooden guesthouse perched at the edge of the Biebrzański National Park. We continued our wildlife watching patrols spotting mostly Elks (26 Elks in just three days!) and more traces and tracks of Wolves.

Here is a nice pic from our elk watching:

Elk (Moose), Biebrza Marshes, photo by Andrzej Petryna

High water levels on Biebrza River formed extensive floodings along the river valley and the marshlands were superb area for birdwatching. We observed big flocks of ducks (mostly Wigeon, but also Goldeneye, Goosander, Smew, Garganey, Teal, Pochard and other), and a lot of Geese at the surrounding fields (Grey Lag, White-fronted and Bean Geese). Also waders were present at the edges of water, with some flocks of Ruffs in breeding plumage.

Sunset at the Biebrza Marshes by Andrzej Petryna

The great attraction was the evening boat cruise that gave us possibility of seeing beavers grooming at the bank of the river. They were really close!

And here is one of them – to busy to be bothered ;-)

Beaver grooming at the bank of the river, Biebrza Marshes, photo by Andrzej Petryna

We finished our tour back in Warsaw with traditional Polish lunch and a short walk around the Old Town, which added some nice cultural touch to our wildlife watching adventures.

Please enjoy few more photos from this tour taken by our guide:

First Blossoms Of Common Hepatica In Białowieża Forest, Photo By Andrzej Petryna
Early Spring At Biebrza Marshes, Photo By Andrzej Petryna
Elk, Biebrza Marshes, Photo By Andrzej Petryna
Beaver Grooming At The Bank Of The River, Biebrza Marshes, Photo By Andrzej Petryna
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