This May, Alice is excited to be leading a new tour for Greenwings Wildlife Holidays to Poland’s two most precious national parks, the Białowieża Forest and Biebrza Marshes. She will be working alongside expert local guides who will share their deep knowledge and love of these special places with you throughout the holiday, and you will get to experience traditional eastern Polish landscapes, architecture and cuisine.
Białowieża Forest is the last remaining primeval forest in lowland Europe. It covers an area of over 1500 km2 in the tranquil corner of Poland and Belarus. It is home to several rare species of birds, hundreds of insects and thousands of mushrooms. Most importantly, it became the world’s last refuge for European Bison – the largest land mammal on the continent. Centuries old Oak, Elm, Lime and several other species of trees grow here together, in a tremendous variety of habitats. Due to this diversity, age and largely natural structure the forest has been recognised by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site.
There are over 500 wild European Bison living in the wild in the Białowieża Forest and one morning we will go out early for a safari in search of these impressive animals. we will have a short drive in our minibus to scan the forest edge or go for a walk or even visit a few different sites in a more safari style.
We will also walk for a few hours through the strictly protected part of the Białowieża National Park, the Biosphere Reserve and the core area of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our trail takes you back in time a few thousand years, when most of Europe was covered with a similar habitat. The dense, natural mixed-deciduous forest of huge, centuries-old trees that host thousands of other species, many of which are on the verge of extinction: insects, lichens and hundreds of colourful fungi growing on dead wood.
This area is also home to several species of rare woodpeckers like Black, White-backed and Three-toed and they are often seen here. We might also be lucky to see Pygmy Owl. Large mammals, however, hide very well in the dense vegetation and are rarely seen on this walk, as we mustn’t get off the marked path.This we are sure will be a highlight of the tour as it’s like being transported into a BBC wildlife documentary. An unforgettable experience!
Biebrza Marshes are one of Europe’s last natural lowland river valleys. They cover an area of over 1000 km2 of wetlands, peat bogs and bog forests in the far north-east of Poland. Saved from drainage by the non-intensive local farming, these fragile habitats became home for hundreds of rare species of birds, insects and plants that are now difficult to see anywhere else in Europe. This area also holds a large population of Elk (Moose), European Beavers and a few packs of Wolves.
The Biebrza Marshes are home to a population of over 1000 European Elks (Moose), hundreds of Beavers, rich birdlife, wild flowers and 600 square kilometres of stunning unspoiled landscapes. In the Biebrza Marshes, we will also watch some of the world’s rarest birds such as the Aquatic Warbler.
Late May to June is a good time for late birds like Thrush Nightingale, Corncrake, Red-backed Shrike, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Barred & River Warblers, Rosefinch. We should also see an explosion of wildflowers, butterflies, dragonflies and other invertebrates.
Biebrza Marshes are also well known for invertebrate diversity. In terms of dragonflies, all 5 European whiteface species (leucorrhynia) can be seen here as well as some spectacular butterflies such as Clouded Apollo, Scarce Fritillary, Scarce and Large Heath and Large Chequered Skipper.