Calling grouse, grubbing boar, cranes dancing on the marshes – Poland is a treasure-chest of fauna. You only need to take a walk to a meadow, lake or forest to find yourself face to face with some of the wilder inhabitants of our country.
Nature-watching is not difficult if you come to Poland – all you need is the right clothes, good footwear (wellingtons or rubber-soled boots) and binoculars. In some of the national parks, you will also need a guide.
The best time to track wild animals is winter and autumn, when you can observe the beautiful mating rituals of both red deer and elk. The most difficult time is in summer. But even in July or August, in the meadows around the Biebrza, you can “stalk” an elk, or in the forest clearings around Hajnowka – a bison. These most powerful of Polish mammals live wild in the Puszcza Bialowieska forest and on a special reserve on the island of Wolin.
Poland is famous for its successful experiments in reintroduction. As well as the bison, some of the other species which have been reintroduced to their natural habitat are the Polish wild horse, the beaver and the lynx. There are now 10 of these predatory cats living in the Puszcza Kampinoska Forest, descendants of Ajax, who came from Poznan’s zoo.
Poland is also a crossroads of the migratory routes of numerous bird species. You can observe rollers on fallow fields, ruff on the stubble, cranes on the wetlands and eagles over the meadows. The national park at the mouth of the Warta river is a paradise for bird-watchers, as are the Biebrza wetlands, lake Oswin in Mazuria and the small lakes of Stawy Milickie in the Barycz Valley.
It can also be interesting to encounter members of lesser species. The Pieniny hills are the territory of the most beautiful Polish butterfly (Parnassius apollo). In the San valley in the Bieszczady mountains, you may come across the dark-olive Aesculapian snake, while in the Puszcza Kampinoska forests, the moor frog can be observed. The male of this species is azure blue, while the female is orange.
There are also places where wild animals can be seen from one’s own window. Wild boar frequently dig in the lawns of Gdansk and its surroundings, while falcon have nested in Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Science.