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Primeval Forest & Marshes Tour, August 2018

Primeval Forest & Marshes Tour, August 2018

Tour Leader: Bartosz Smyk
Participants: Lorraine, Karen, Susan & Sébastien (US), Martine & Pierre (BE), Ana & Ian (UK), Sonja (DE), Jessica & Nathan (AU)

Text by Bartosz Smyk & Mariola Przyborowska
Photos by Bartosz Smyk

In the second half of August the group of 10 from UK, Australia, US and Belgium spent 8 days exploring the best sites in the Białowieża Forest and Biebrza Marshes, two precious national parks of NE Poland.
Exceptionally dry and hot summer weather continued through our entire stay. And while Polish summer is abundant with rich, insanely green vegetation and the air is filled with scents of herbs and buzz of insects, August already brings a hint of autumn. There are first mushrooms emerging in the forest, heather starts blooming and White Storks gather at the meadows in large groups, getting ready for an autumn migration. 

The historical wooden gate of the Strictly Protected Area of the Bialowieza NP

An undeniable highlight was a visit to the Strictly Protected Area of the Bialowieza NP with our local guide, Joanna, who shared with us her passion and wealth of information on this ancient forest and its stunning biodiversity. 

The decaying trees support new plant growth by returning rich nutrients to the ecosystem

Although it wasn’t the easiest time for large mammals (during hot summer days they seek refuge in a shady woods and periods of their activity are dawn and dusks), we saw Bison, Red Deer and Red Fox and we heard a pack of wolves howling late in the evening. An amazing thrilling sound of the wild primeval woods!

A distant Bison grazing at the meadow

The impressive list of birds we saw in Bialowieża includes Lesser Spotted Eagle, White-tailed Eagles, Marsh Harriers, Grey Great Shrike, Nuthatches, Treecreepers and a rareTree-toed Woodpecker (there were actually many many more!). Our daily observations of local avifauna were completed with nocturnal calls of Pygmy Owl and Tawny Owl.

Three-toed Woodpecker in the Bialowieza Forest

The Biebrza Marshes National Park protects an extensive area of marshes, fens, reedbeds, wet meadows and forests that stretch along meandering Biebrza River. These vast and amazingly peaceful landscapes are a very important refuge for large mammals like Elks, Red and Roe Deer, Wolves and Lynx, as well as countless marshland birds. During our daily walks we could take a closer look at diverse habitats of forested and open marshes with very interesting species of plants such as Marsh Labrador Tea and Round-leaved Sundew together with blanket of Sphagnum mosses.   

Out in the field... literally 😉

Despite hot weather we observed few interesting mammal and bird species including 3 Elks, Black Woodpecker, Montagu’s Harrier, Little Egret, and quite surprisingly for late summer, male Aquatic Warbler. Very nice sightings were several flocks of Common Cranes. Although the highlight of our 3-day stay at the Biebrza Marshes was the evening boat trip for Beavers, a fantastic experience on a flat bottom boat with a friendly crew, who knew exactly where to search for these fascinating rodents.

One of Beavers spotted during the evening boat trip

The 8-day Primeval Forest & Marshes tour not only gave us the opportunity of close contact with amazing nature of NE Poland and exciting encounters with its wildlife, it was also great fun and a truly nice time spent with fantastic, incredibly interesting people!  

Few more photos from our tour are presented below:

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