Bialowieza, second morning


Bialowieza, 18 May, in the morning.

Again, great reed warblers singing near the palace park entrance.

Fieldfares.

In the palace garden, goldfinch and thrush nightingale.

Garden warbler on a fence.

Walking back to the village, a white stork flying.

A common tern.

A willow tit on the parking lot.

A serin singing from the top of a coniferous tree.

This is a video of a little spotted woodpecker; a bird which we did not see in Bialowieza though it lives there. However, we saw so many other bird and other species!

Bialowieza, outside the primeval forest


Bialowieza, 17 May.

This morning, we discovered the Bialowieza primeval forest.

In the afternoon, we discovered the beauty of the Bialowieza region outside the strict reserve.

In the village, map lichen growing on stones.

Fieldfares near the palace park entrance.

Near a river bridge just outside the park, sedge warblers, and chiffchaff sounds.

A common sandpiper, standing on a small log in the river.

We go back to the palace park entry gate. A spotted flycatcher sitting on it.

This video is about a spotted flycatcher nest in the Netherlands; juveniles fledging.

A black redstart sitting on a village roof.

A female red-backed shrike on a shrub.

A common snipe sitting on top of an electricity pole.

As the forest trail crosses a brook, Lymnaeidae snails.

Black alder trees.

Wild boars have left tracks of their meal.

Later, leftovers of conifer cones eaten by one or more squirrels.

Thelypteris palustris ferns near a brook.

We arrive at a small zoo, with mammal species of Bialowieza.

A sign says that about 70% of wolves’ prey in Bialowieza nature reserve consists of red deer; 15% roe deer; 10% wild boar; and only a few % European bison and elk, both probably difficult for wolves to hunt. In the pristine forest, a different predator, the tawny owl, of course eats completely different prey.

Wolf numbers in Bialowieza reserve are supposed to be about twenty; lynx numbers 35-50.

Great tit and red-breasted flycatcher sounds.

On top of the fence of the European bison enclosure, a female pied flycatcher.

There is also an enclosure for horses, where it is tried to breed back the extinct tarpan.

December 2010: An attempt to boost Poland’s falling Eurasian lynx population is now underway. HUNTING BAN: But still Poland’s lynx population is declining: here.

Butterflies and blue tits


Today, to the cemetery.

A red admiral butterfly, sitting on a coniferous tree.

This video says about itself:

The Blue Tits are ready to leave the nest! Shortly after this clip was filmed the first of the chicks left the nest closely followed by it’s brothers and sisters. Filmed using a colour nest box camera kit from http://www.gardenature.co.uk

In a hole in a deciduous tree, a blue tit nest with babies calling and adults bringing food.

A speckled wood butterfly.

Blue tits nesting in ‘acoustic art’ – Go and listen to the chicks in the Cotswolds: here.

Bialowieza forest


This is a video about European bison in Poland. Recently, for the first time, two European bison calves were born in a Dutch nature reserve.

17 May 2009.

Like yesterday, early this morning we went to Bialowieza national park.

Still in the village, a great tit, a starling, and a greenfinch in a coniferous tree.

And a thrush nightingale singing.

In the palace park, the song of a wood warbler.

Also, cuckoo sounds.

We left the palace park through a path crossing a clearing.

A blackbird. Corncrake sound. The first one of many Burgundy snails. A yellowhammer singing.

This is a video of a Polish great spotted woodpecker hammering away on a steel pole.

Just before the strict reserve entrance gate, a great spotted woodpecker, hammering away on an English oak.

Water avens flowering.

The entrance of the strict reserve is a wooden gate, built in the 1920s by a southern Polish architect in the style of his native region, not Bialowieza. It is said to have been the inspiration for the entrance gate to the Jurassic Park in the film of that name.

The core of Bialowieza, the strict reserve, is primeval forest, unique now for the northern European lowlands.

The highest tree in Bialowieza is a Norway spruce, 54 meters high.

Important tree species in the forest are English oak, small-leaved lime, and common hornbeam. Also elms, Norway maple, and ash. Hawfinches here like to eat ash fruits.

Among the many plants of the undergrowth: woodruff, and Solomon’s seal.

This morning, we do not see the big mammals which Bialowieza is famous for, like European bison, elk, wolf, and lynx (see also here). However, we do see a red squirrel, eating a Norway spruce cone.

A common treecreeper climbing up. Common in Britain and Poland, but not in continental western Europe.

Many fungi. A blackbird singing.

Ramsons flowering.

A red-breasted flycatcher singing.

Beard lichen growing on a Thymelaeaceaen shrub.

Herb Paris flowering.

Then, a middle spotted woodpecker and a three-toed woodpecker, together on the same tree.

A sulphur shelf fungus.

Then, a white-backed woodpecker, low on a big tree. Like the three-toed woodpecker, this species indicates healthy big forest.

Cardamine bulbifera flowers.

A Fomitopsis pinicola fungus on a fallen small-leaved lime tree.

A parasitical plant, toothwort.

As we pass the extrance gate, now exit gate, a yellowhammer singing on a tree.

A whinchat on the field, flying from grass stem to grass stem.

Middle spotted woodpecker in the Netherlands: here.

Bialowieza in Poland


As the earlier blog entry said, on 16 April we arrived near Bialowieza national park in eastern Poland.

In Bialowieza village, house sparrows and a singing song thrush.

The entrance to the national park is marked by a wooden bridge. On that bridge, two nuthatches (the somewhat paler East European form).

This is a great reed warbler video.

In the reedbeds on the edges of the ponds, many great reed warblers, singing. House martins flying around. From bushes, a thrush nightingale, singing.

This part of the national park is called Palace park. In earlier centuries, here were the buildings from which princes hunted European bison and other animals in Bialowieza forest. In 1731, King Augustus II of Poland erected an obelisk style monument, recording the names of courtiers who had participated in the hunting and the animals which had been killed. The monument is still there today.

That cannot be said of the big palace which the czars of Russia had built here in the late nineteenth century. In the eighteenth-nineteenth centuries, the monarchs of Prussia, Austria, and Russia divided Poland among themselves. Bialowieza became part of the Russian empire. Polish foresters and other inhabitants of Bialowieza participated in nineteenth century anti czarist uprisings. The czar’s government had them deported to Siberia. The empire brought Russian foresters to Bialowieza in order to still have imperial hunts there. Today, about 2,000 people live in Bialowieza village, 3,000 live in the total region. The Polish autocephalous orthodox church is the biggest religious denomination, while in most of Poland it is the Roman Catholic church.

After Poland became independent after the First World War, the Polish government used the former czar’s palace to receive foreign guests on hunting visits, including Hermann Goering of nazi Germany, and Count Ciano, foreign secretary of Mussolini’s Italy. After the 1939 German occupation, Hitler’s army used the palace as military headquarters. When they had to retreat in 1944, they completely destroyed the building. Other, smaller, buildings are still standing.

In a tree near one of those buildings, today a nature education center, a collared flycatcher.

This is a video of a collared flycatcher in Sweden.

A chaffinch singing. Chiffchaff sound.

Pied wagtail. Robin.

On the edge of a sandbox, a greenfinch sits, eating dandelion seeds. Next to it sits a goldfinch.

As we go back to the village, a big white stork nest on a roof. One of many in Poland.

Warsaw rookery


Saturday, 16 May 2009.

Just before the train reaches Weesp, two hares in a meadow.

A bit further, a tufted duck in a pond.

Later, the plane flies across Gooimeer lake and the fields of Flevoland.

The weather is sunny.

Later, over Germany, half of the sky gets cloudy.

Over Poland, the whole sky gets cloudy.

This is a video from a rookery in Kazakhstan.

12:25: outside Warsaw airport, a big rookery in a bush. Hundreds of rooks‘ nests. Recent research claims that rooks are as intelligent as chimpanzees in tool-making; see also here.

Rooks Use Stones to Raise the Water Level to Reach a Floating Worm: here.

Below the trees, wood pigeons and magpies on the ground.

It is cloudy, but it does not rain.

Swifts flying around high rise buildings.

Legia Warsaw soccer club grafitti on a wall.

Dandelion flowers on lawns.

Jackdaws sitting on the tops of market stalls.

A kestrel.

It starts raining as the bus passes forests.

Barn swallows on wires.

Three white storks in a meadow.

We arrive in Bialowieza village, close to the famous national park of the same name. Stay tuned, as more entries on nature in Poland will appear on this blog.