Category: Bird watching

Category: Bird watching

Bird watching in Poland


Birding in Poland

Bialowieza Forest and Biebrza Marshes are the most famous birding hotspots in Poland. There are also plenty of other places, excellent habitats and real wildlife santuraries where you can enjoy bird watching in Poland.

There are many keen birders who travel to Poland to pursue their hobby especially during the months of March to June. Many choose to spend a few days in the main cities of Poland prior to heading out to locations such as Bialowieza Forest. There provides an ideal window for dental treatment in one of Poland’s modern dental clinics and the opportunity to save up to 70% off UK Dental prices.

When to go bird watching in Poland

March is simply the best time ever for all woodpeckers. April is good for woodpeckers, owls, migrating ducks, geese, waterfowls and raptors.

May has all of the above (but a bit worse for woodpeckers) plus displaying ruffs and great snipes on the lek! And second half of May brings ‘late comers’ like: warblers (especially aquatic, river and barred), flycatchers (collared and red-breasted included), marshy terns, bee eaters, rollers etc.

June is still very good, but you might miss lekking great snipes and woodpeckers are hardly visible, because of dense foliage at this time.

Popular Birding Locations

Bieszczady Mountains – The area is a bird-watchers paradise and here you will find 9 species of Woodpecker (inc. Syrian, White-backed and Three-toed), Black Stork, Ural and Pygmy Owls, Collared and Red-breasted Flycatcher and both Lesser spotted and Golden Eagles.

Notecka Forest – a large forest where Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Kingfisher, Firecrest, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Black Storks, Crested Lark and Golden Oriole can often be seen.

Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park – 212 bird species have been recorded in this park.

Slowinski National Park – About 255 species of birds, that is ca. 70% of those found in Poland, have been recorded here.

Polish Falconers Association “The Falconers Nest”

“The Falconers Nest” is an association comprising of falconers from the whole of Poland and existing within the structures of the Polish Hunters Association. The official headquarters is located in Warsaw together with the Polish Hunters Association HQ which deals with the financial side of the Club.

Some of the club members have their own breeding pairs of different species of birds (mainly goshawks, sakers, lanners and peregrines). Some of them run a birds of prey rehabilitation centre, and some of them use the birds for pest control on plantations and airfields and run falconry displays.

Polish Falconers also significantly helped to restore wild population of peregrine falcon in Poland

The Sport of Kings

Falconry, once the sport of kings is “the taking of wild quarry in its natural state and habitat by means of a trained raptor”. There are two traditional terms used to describe a person involved in falconry: a falconer flies a falcon; an austringer (German origin) flies a hawk (Accipiter and some buteos and similar) or an eagle (Aquila or similar).

In modern falconry the Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) and the Harris hawk are often used. The words “hawking” and “hawker” have become used so much to mean petty traveling traders, that the terms “falconer” and “falconry” now apply to all use of trained birds of prey to catch game.

In early English falconry literature, the word “falcon” referred to a female falcon only, while the word “hawk” or “hawke” referred to a female hawk only. A male hawk or falcon was referred to as a “tiercel” (sometimes spelled “tercel”) as it was roughly one third less than the female in size. Many contemporary practitioners still use these words in their original meaning. The practice of hunting a trained falconry bird is also called “hawking” or “gamehawking”.

Falconry is currently practiced in many countries around the world. The falconer’s traditional choice of bird is the Northern Goshawk and Peregrine Falcon. In contemporary falconry in both North American and the UK they remain popular, although the Harris Hawk and Red-tailed Hawk are likely more widely used. The Northern Goshawk and the Golden Eagle are more commonly used in Eastern Europe than elsewhere.


Masuria


Eco-tourism

Masuria is an area in northeastern Poland famous today for its many thousands of lakes. Today, the region’s economy relies largely on eco-tourism and agriculture. The lakes offer varieties of water sports such as sailing and holiday activities.

Poland’s Lake District

Masuria and the Masurian Lake District are known in Polish as Kraina Tysiąca Jezior and in German as Land der Tausend Seen, meaning “land of a thousand lakes.” These lakes were ground out of the land by glaciers during the Pleistocene ice age, when ice covered north Eastern Europe. By 10,000 BC this ice started to melt. Great geological changes took place and even in the last 500 years the maps showing the lagoons and peninsulas on the Baltic Sea have greatly altered in appearance.

As in other parts of northern Poland, such as from Pomerania on the Oder River to the Vistula River, this continuous stretch of lakes is popular among tourists.

Size

The Masurian Lake District extends roughly 290 km (180 mi) eastwards from the lower Vistula River to the Poland-Lithuania border and occupies an area of roughly 52,000 km² (20,000 sq mi).

The lakes are well connected by rivers and canals, to form an extensive system of waterways. The whole area has become a prime destination for yachtspeople and canoeists, and is also popular among anglers, hikers, bikers and nature-lovers.

Getting there

The Masurian region can be reached by train, bus, or car from anywhere in Poland or from Lithuania. The nearby international airports are in Warsaw, Gdansk, and Vilnius. The main transport hub in the region is the town of Ełk. There are trains to Masuria from Warsaw, Gdańsk and Vilnius, and buses to there can be found in many Polish cities. A boat service connects some central towns in the region. Biking and boating are popular ways to get around.

Accommodation

Hotels can be found mostly around the Great Masurian Lakes, namely in towns of Giżycko and Mikołajki, as well as in the larger town of Ełk. There are also guesthouses & campsites in villages and countryside areas of Masuria. English is spoken by many educated locals and those who work in tourism professions.

Masuria is famous for its thousands of lakes and nearby forests, offering a wide range of outdoor activities from sailing to kayaking and swimming. The region includes the largest lake in Poland, Śniardwy as well as small lake resort towns of Giżycko, Mikołajki, Ełk, Węgorzewo, Ryn, Pisz, and Iława.

Tourism in Masuria

The most popular tourism centers in Masuria are Mikołajki and Giżycko. Giżycko is located on the shore of Lake Niegocin, and has a historical fortress, and passenger boats to the towns of Węgorzewo, Mikołajki and Ruciane-Nida. The historical town of Mikołajki is also a popular tourism centre with a beautiful historic church and bridges. In addition to lakes, the Masurian region also has many rivers good for fishing and forest areas that offer many trails for trekking and biking.

Fauna & Flora

There is also a nice variety of wildlife, edible berries and mushrooms, and large protected areas, including the Masurian Landscape Park that includes 11 nature reserves such as the Łuknajno Lake that is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, or the Białowieża Forest with a breeding station for European Bisons.

Climate

Masuria has a temperate climate with cold winters and warm summers. The weather here is cooler than in most parts of Poland, and the area also has some snow during the winter. The Masurian lakes are usually frozen from December to the end of April. Springtime can be wet, while summers are generally drier.

The Lakes

With almost ten thousand closed bodies of water covering more than 1 hectare (2.47 acres) each, Poland has one of the highest number of lakes in the world. In Europe, only Finland has a greater density of lakes. The largest lakes, covering more than 100 square kilometres (39 sq mi), are Lake Śniardwy and Lake Mamry in Masuria, and Lake Łebsko and Lake Drawsko in Pomerania.

In addition to the lake districts in the north (in Masuria, Pomerania, Kashubia, Lubuskie, and Greater Poland), there is also a large number of mountain lakes in the Tatras, of which the Morskie Oko is the largest in area. The lake with the greatest depth—of more than 100 metres (328 ft)—is Lake Hańcza in the Wigry Lake District, east of Masuria in Podlaskie Voivodeship.


Bieszczady Mountains


The Wild East

The Bieszczady Mountains are not typically a tourist destination as places such as Krakow, Warsaw and Gdansk are usually the first places tourists go when visiting Poland for the first time and only the seasoned Polish tourist will have ventured into the area fondly known as the, ‘Wild East’.

Bieszczady (sometimes called the Bieszczadzkie Mountains) is the Polish name for a mountain range in the extreme south-east of Poland, extending into Ukraine and Slovakia. It forms the western part of what is known in Polish as the Eastern Beskids (Beskidy Wschodnie), and is more generally part of the Outer East Carpathians. The mountain range is situated between the Łupków Pass (640 m) and the Vyshkovskyi Pass (933 m).

In a narrower but very frequent sense, Bieszczady refers only to the Western Bieszczady or even only to the part of the range lying within Poland.

The highest peak of Bieszczady is Mt. Pikuy (1405 m) in Ukraine. The highest peak of the Polish part is Tarnica (1346 m).

A popular tourist attraction in the area is the Church of the Visitation in Lesko, the oldest Roman Catholic church in Bieszczady, founded by count Piotr Kmita in 1539.

History

This area was mentioned for the first time in 981, when Volodymyr the Great of Kievan Rus took the area over on the way into Poland. In 1018 it returned to Poland, 1031 back to Rus, in 1340 Casimir III of Poland recovered it.

Bieszczady was one of the strategically important Carpathian mountains bitterly contested in battles on the Eastern Front of World War I during the winter of 1914/1915.

In 1991, the UNESCO East Carpathian Biosphere Reserve was created that encapsulates a large part of the area and continues into Slovakia and Ukraine. It comprises the Bieszczady National Park (Poland), Poloniny National Park (Slovakia) + Uzhansky National Nature Park (Ukraine). Animals living in this reserve are, amongst others, black storks, brown bears, wolves and bison.

Why go to the Bieszczady Mountains?

The Bieszczady Mountains are pleasantly devoid of the trappings of mass tourism and offer visitors the opportunity to discover the, ‘Wild East’ without venturing into Ukraine or the Soviet Union.

The scenery in the region is wild and rugged and includes flora such as the Dacian Violet, Carpathian Beech and the Hungarian Violet, all species which cannot be seen further West. The wildlife in the area include bears, lynx, beavers, wolves, European bison and red mountain deer.

The area is a bird-watchers paradise and here you will find 9 species of Woodpecker (inc. Syrian, White-backed and Three-toed), Black Stork, Ural and Pygmy Owls, Collared and Red-breasted Flycatcher and both Lesser spotted and Golden Eagles.

How to get there

Sanok, known as the “Gateway to the Bieszczady”, is the most important town in the region. There are bus links with the majority of the cities in the south and east of Poland, including Krakow, Katowice, Warsaw, Gliwice, Przemysl, Krosno and Mielec.

From Sanok, one can easily visit the smaller towns of either Ustrzyki Gorne or Ustrzyki Dolne – both forming popular jumping-off points for trips into the mountains. The Bieszczady is surrounded by two major road systems, known as Mala and Duza Petla Bieszczadzka. The former runs from Ustrzyki to Lesko, the latter passes the Solinski Reservoir from the south and heads to Lesko.

Together they form the main transport artery for Bieszczady, with regular bus services connecting all the communities of the region. The region’s railway junction in Zagorz lies 6 km from the central Sanok. You can get to Zagorze via Sanok by fast train from Warsaw, Krakow, Lodz or Gliwice.