Participants: Josephine (UK), Eduardo (BR), Bliss & Jonathan (US), Sam (BE), Colin (UK), Daniel (CO), Krysia, Maria, Zosia (UK), Vojko (SI), Helen, Tom (UK).
Wild Poland Team: Mariola, Ewa, Michał, Łukasz
Speakers: Prof. Rafał Kowalczyk, Mammal Research Institute; Prof. Bogdan Jaroszewicz, Białowieża Geobotanical Station, Faculty of Biology, University of Warsaw.
Text by Łukasz Mazurek
Photos by Wild Poland Team
It has been an unusual winter for we had no snow and the temperatures were above zero (Centigrade). It didn’t stop a bunch of jolly nature lovers from coming here and joining our Winter Festival. We had over 13 participants from 6 different countries, 3 local guides leading the trips, two drivers and of course the irreplaceable Mariola running our festival office.
We have run over 20 trips in 6 days and have seen some of the best preserved patches of the forest. Bison were plentiful and we saw them deep in the forest as well as out in the meadows every day. Recent Wolf activity was recorded at a vast majority of walks. In fact, our camera traps have recorded a pack of Wolves a few times this week and once even a Lynx showed up in the middle of the night.
We were really close to a pack of Wolves several times and together with the magnificent forest surrounding us and all the evidence of Bison, Beaver, Elk etc. it made a truly wild and unique atmosphere.
Traditionally we hosted two prominent speakers – Prof. R. Kowalczyk told us about the history of Bison and recent research carried out in the Mammal Research Institute. Prof. B. Jaroszewicz explained the very details of Białowieża Forest naturalness.
The other evenings were spent around the fireplace, summing up our sightings and planning the tips for next days.
Everyone had a chance to visit the core area of the UNESCO site, the Strict Protection Area of the Białowieża National Park with one of the best guides, Dr. Ewa Zin from Forestry Research Institute. As usual, we have run a 2-day trip to the famous Biebrza Marshes where numerous Elk (Moose) and plenty of other wildlife were seen. We have also run an ethnography trip via a few old wooden villages, orthodox churches, talking to locals, visiting old houses etc.
Polish folk music, sausage and vodka were also there in good quantities for those who wanted 😉 And here are a few of the favourite moments mentioned by some of the participants:
- seeing a family of Beavers at work
- seeing several Elk (Moose) close
- seeing wild Bison close
- watching a Pygmy Owl in daylight
- walk in the forest at night, in darkness
- tracking Wolves and seeing their fresh evidence
- seeing a Pine Marten
- experience of silence and being surrounded by a natural forest with huge trees
- walking through the primeval forest off trails
Please enjoy a few photographs from this festival below: