Bialowieza

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Wildlife Tour Poland 2015 – Trip Report

What a great week we had on our Wildlife Tour Poland during May. Wow, how time flies and I only writing up my report now! For me, the highlight was unquestionably on the double. First, we had Marsh Harriers passing food while flying above a little rushy marshland. Then, a few days later, we were treated to the extraordinary sight of 7 White Tailed Eagles fishing on a relatively small lake and in full sight of local farmers just going about their business, in wonderful harmony with these magnificent birds of prey. Farmers of Ireland, take note!

Wildlife Tour Poland

Lake holding White Tailed Eagles

And it was so fascinating to meet two border guards on the Polish-Belarussian border and listen to them recount their story of the time they decided to patrol along the border on foot for a while, only to return to find their trusted German Shepherd surrounded by three wolves! That same day, we had come across wolf tracks ourselves. Fantastic!

After six days of enthralling wildlife watching, we had accumulated a grand total of 103 bird species (either seen or heard), plus 8 mammals, including Bison, Elk, Stone Marten and Beaver. We came upon fresh Wolf tracks. Simply a great week spent in awe of the wildlife that thrives in this far eastern corner of Poland. I could list all the bird species, but that would almost spoil it. Let’s just mention a few – Golden Oriole, Bittern, Crane, Corncrake (excellent viewing), White & Black Stork, Pygmy Owl, Woodpeckers x 4, Warblers x 10, Ortolan Bunting, Penduline Tit (plus its amazing nest), Hoopoe, Thrush Nightingale, etc, etc.

Wildlife Tour Poland 2015

Pygmy Owl through the viewing scope

Accommodation was lovely as always and the food is really good too. Great company and a few beverages thrown in makes for a week to remember. And getting up really early one morning to go looking for the grazing Bison is a special moment also. Not to mention an evening boat trip in search of Beavers!

If you would like to join our 2017 renewal of this really enjoyable week spent in two separate Polish National Parks, do get in touch on 086-8318748 or by email to info [at] tourismpurewalking.com. If you’re into your wildlife and some nice strolls in broad river valleys and stupendous primeval forests, then this trip is most definitely for you.

Wildlife Tour Poland 2015 Reviewed on “Mooney Goes Wild”

Listen back to what Éanna and Richard from “Mooney Goes Wild” on RTÉ Radio 1 had to say about this year’s trip.

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Poland Wildlife Tour, May 2017

I’m delighted to announce my Poland wildlife tour for May 2017 to the truly magnificent National Parks of Biebrza and Bialowieza, in eastern Poland.

Dates : May 7 – 14, 2017.
Price : Euro 900 pps (excluding flights)
Interested ? Email info[at]tourismpurewalking.com or call 086-8318748

These two wonderful National Parks boast magnificent wildlife, much of which we will see, while some of which, like Wolf and Lynx, is just too elusive. Wildlife observation here is a truly magical delight, in a part of Europe that remains deeply rural and beautiful.

Our itinerary is as follows :

Day 1 : Fly Dublin to Warsaw and transfer to Biebrza National Park.

Poland wildlife tour - Elk

Elk in Biebrza National Park

Days 2, 3, 4, 5 : Wildlife spotting in Biebrza NP. The Park is home to Elk, Red Deer, Beaver, Wolf, Lynx and birds, such as Lesser Spotted Eagle, Crane, Black and White Stork, Hen, Marsh and Montagu’s Harrier, various Woodpeckers, Golden Oriole, Penduline Tit, Ortolan Bunting and so much more. Biebrza (‘beaver’ in Polish) NP is based around the river basin of the same name and is a spectacular area of river marsh and wetland woodlands. Beautiful forest tracks are perfect for exploring the woodland and marsh areas.

Transfer to Bialowieza NP.

Day 6, 7 : Wildlife spotting in Bialowieza NP, home to Bison, Deer, Wolf, Lynx, various species of Woodpecker and many other fabulous birds, including Pygmy Owl. Bialowieza NP is based around the primeval forest of the same name – one of the very last tracts of such beautiful and serene forest in central and eastern Europe. An iconic location for lovers of nature and Europe’s exceptional biodiversity, memories of your visit to Bialowieza will never leave you.

Day 8 : Return to Ireland.

Poland wildlife tour

Biebrza NP, Poland

We stay in shared rooms in lovely traditional Polish ‘pensions’ (sort of B&Bs). Meals, transport within Poland and full guiding with our wonderful local expert are all included. The flights are not included and should not be booked until the group is confirmed. Instead, please indicate your interest in travelling by emailing me on info@tourismpurewalking.com.

The cost of this great Poland walking trip, based on per person sharing, is Euro 900. This does not include your flight.

I cannot recommend this trip highly enough. Our local guide is so good, he’s written the guide book to the nature and biodiversity of Biebrza National Park. We are accompanied throughout both by our princiapl guide and additional guides as required.

Poland wildlife tour Biebrza

Wildlife spotting in Poland

Walking is easy, on forest tracks, with no hills of any note. This is a wildlife spotting trip rather than a walking trip. It is a very lovely and relaxing trip into the vast nature of Poland, mostly in glorious native woodlands. This is a trip where walking is stop-start and not a lot of km are covered on foot, as we pause to observe so much fascinating wildlife all around.

And don’t worry. There’s an after-spotting beer to be had!

See pictures of this trip in previous years, by visiting here.

Watch a YouTube slideshow of a past group, set to music by Poland’s great composer, Chopin, here.

Poland Wildlife Tour Reviewed on “Mooney Goes Wild” :

Listen back to what Éanna Ní Lamhna and Richard Collins from “Mooney Goes Wild” on RTÉ Radio 1 had to say about this trip.

Poland Wildlife Tour, May 2017

If you would like to join our small group for this delightful Poland wildlife tour during May 2017, please get in touch, via e-mail to info [at] tourismpurewalking.com or phone, on 086-8318748, and reserve your place. Note that travel insurance is a prerequisite for this trip, as my walking guide insurance does not cover overseas trips. Also, accommodation is in shared double or twin rooms, with a supplement due for those who would prefer a single room (where available).

Email me on info[at]tourismpurewalking.com

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Lesser Spotted Eagle – Nice Story from Poland

Lesser Spotted Eagle : Cows to protect rare birds

Twenty five cows are to be handed over to farmers in eastern Poland to graze in the open, thereby creating an ideal habitat for the Lesser Spotted Eagle, Polskie Radio reported on January 5.

Lesser Spotted Eagle

Lesser Spotted Eagle

This is part of a project aimed at protecting this large Eastern European bird of prey, launched in Poland with funding from the EU and the National Nature Protection Fund.

“The farmers are expected to breed the cattle and hand over the young to other farmers in the region. The programme focuses on improving the habitat of the Lesser Spotted Eagle in Bialowieza and Knyszynska Forests,” the radio said.

The project, which is costing some 4.6 million euro, also provides for erecting 300 wooden posts enabling the eagles to look out for prey in the open fields, mowing overgrown deserted fields and creating small water reservoirs.

About 1,900 pairs of the Lesser Spotted Eagle nest in Poland. I’ve been lucky enough to see two and other magnificent wildlife on visits during springtime in recent years.

This story is quite reminiscent of the project underway for the last several years down in the Burren : BurrenLIfe – Farming for Conservation.

While this certainly sounds like a worthwhile project to save such an iconic species as the Lesser Spotted Eagle, I’d have two basic questions :

1. How could 25 cows, 300 wooden posts and “project management” possibly cost € 4.6 m ?

2. Won’t there be other birds and animal species that will lose out, as a result of the mowing of overgrown, deserted fields which might be perfect habitat for them ?

[Original story from The Financial – www.finchannel.com]

Lesser Spotted Eagle

At around 60 cm in length and with a wingspan of ca. 140 – 160 cm, this is a relatively small eagle. Indeed, the beak is also quite small for an eagle and the bird is not that dissimilar to a Buzzard. Eating mainly small mammals, frogs and insects, they like to perch at low level above fields, hence the erection of the wooden posts as part of this project. Absent in western Europe.

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Bialowieza National Park, Poland

Bialowieza National Park is world-renowned, both for its population of European Bison and its famous Strictly Protected Area, where man’s intervention in its pristine nature is virtually nil. Bialowieza is the most celebrated remnant of the vast primeval forest that once covered most of central and eastern Europe. Home to elusive Lynx and Wolf, the Park also boasts Deer, Wild Boar, several species of Woodpecker and Owls and a host of other wonderful birds.

Bialowieza Bison

Bison in Bialowieza National Park, Poland

Bialowieza is situated some four hours’ drive east of Warsaw and the park that lies within Poland (152 km2) is part of a much larger forest that is shared with neighbouring Belarus. While the establishment of the park dates back to 1921, it was reopened after WW II in 1947.

Bialowieza National Park

Bialowieza National Park

The peacefulness of this place is extraordinary and lives long in the memory. On our pre-dawn walk to seek out the iconic Bison, the silence is broken only by cracking sticks underfoot, as we tread lightly along forest pathways in search of this impressive animal. The first time I laid eyes on them was one heck of a moment, one that I will remember forever. Quietly moving through the forest, our walk was disturbed by a family of Wild Boar running past. We then came upon an opening in the woods and there they were, some 7 Bison grazing in the morning mist. A magical experience.

Even back in the village of Bialowieza itself, we wander around taking in the quiet atmosphere and enjoying the lovely homes of these forest people. It’s a beautiful spot.

We are accompanied in Bialowieza by our friendly and superbly knowledgeable member of Poland’s National Parks Service. Indeed, on occasion, we’ve even been demonstrated the Polish method for regenerating their oak forests by a Forest Manager with the Polish Forestry Service.

Bialowieza trees

Beautiful Bialowieza National Park

Visiting Bialowieza makes for a wonderful trip for bird watchers and true lovers of the outdoors. It is a unique place, offering a glimpse of what our own great forests might once have looked like.

Bialowieza National Park

Our visit to Bialowieza National Park is combined with Biebrza National Park, some 160 km north. We spend six days on a Poland Wildlife Tour in springtime, 3 – 4 in Biebrza and 2-3 in Bialowieza.

Visit the Park’s official website.

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