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Winter Bison Safari & Wolf Tracking, Jan 2017

Winter Bison Safari & Wolf Tracking, Jan 2017

Tour Leader: Andrzej Petryna (Andy)
Participants: Matt & Daniel (UK)

Text by Andrzej Petryna & Mariola Przyborowska
Photos by Andrzej Petryna

We met at Warsaw airport around midday. The journey to Białowieża took us about 4 hours and luckily for us the weather conditions were good and stable (temperature around -3°C and a gentle snowfall on the way). We arrived in Białowieża already after sunset and logged into our cosy, family run guesthouse just on time for dinner. Later on we sat down over the map and discussed our plans for coming days – search for European Bison and Wolf Tracking being our main targets.

For the next two days we were exploring different parts of Białowieża Forest. It was very sucessful time as during our walks we have seen more than 50 Bisons, mostly herds of cows with youngs gathering at the snowy meadows (the largerst herd counting 25 animals). The animals gave us a lot of great opportunities for lenghty observations. Below photo shows a part of a larger group:

European bison herd at winter, Białowieża Forest, photo by Andrzej Petryna

During our walks we spotted few Red Deers and Roe Deers, and while following the Wolves trails, we found plenty of Wolf footprints and some fresh droppings containing hair of a Red Deer. There were no wolves in sight, but instead we found many tracks of other mammals imprinted in the snow. We recognized those of a Wild Boar, European Hare, Raccoon Dog, Weasel and Pine Marten, to name but a few.

Another interesting experience was visit in the Strict Protection Area of the National Park, the UNESCO site core area. Accompanied by our local guide, we walked through the last european natural forest admiring century old trees and learning about its uniqueness and biological diversity.

Our group in the strict reserve of the Białowieski National Park, photo by Andrzej Petryna

Below photo shows that even a small piece of deadwood provides habitat for numerous species of lichens:

Lichens, winter tour, Białowieża Forest, photo by Andrzej Petryna

Besides, we noticed pretty high activity of Woodpeckers in the area and heard a drumming of Great Spotted, Black and White-Backed Woodpecker, as well as calling of Middle Spotted Woodpeckers. Some great sighting was a huge flock of ca. 600 wintering Siskins feeding on Alder trees.

Some birds were seen at close, like this adorable Crested Tit:

Crested Tit, Białowieża Forest, photo by Andrzej Petryna

After short but intense time out in the wild, we headed back to Warsaw. We finished our tour with a short walk around the Old Town, to learn about its turbulent history during Second World War.

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