Biebrza Marshes - April 2011

Landscapes & people 

The Biebrza river marshes, in northeastern Poland near the Belarus border, cover around 250 square kilometers. They hold many rare species, including elk and beaver (we didn't see beavers, but there was a lot of evidence of their presence), and a multitude of wetland birds, including ruff, white and black storks, spotted eagles, white tailed eagles, eagle owl, cranes, raven, snipe, wryneck, bluethroat. There are of course many more, but these are some we actually saw - and in some cases photographed.

The panorama above shows the marshes around the Biebrza river, covered in marigolds, taken from the place where we had put our hides to photograph ruff and other species. The marigolds did not bloom yet on the day we arrived, but they sprung into full bloom over the next few days. The ruff were getting into the fighting mood, and we did see some first skirmishes, but it was clear that the best was yet to come.
Behind the position where this picture was taken was a small unpaved road, where Penduline Tit nested, and across that road we spotted a White-tailed Eagle in a tree. This is really first rate birding and photo country, but at the time there did not seem to be many birders/photographers around, apart from a crew from German TV, shooting a documentary that - they said - would air around Xmas 2011 on "Das Erste" (no guarantees here).

As the marshes are part of a larger national park, many parts are closed to the public, and some areas are simply too flooded to cross, but our guide Marek knew all the right places. Some require waders, and we needed a bit of luck not to get stuck or fall over with our cameras in the bog, but we figured that if Elk could cross without being sucked into the depths, we could too. At one point we even saw a fox cross wetland, up to his belly in the water.

We crossed the marshes under Marek's guidance, he knew the birds, set up hides for us and made our week enjoyable and memorable. We stayed in the area at a very small, but very friendly, bed, breakfast & dinner place.

While many birds in the area are seasonal, we were impressed by the multitudes, and although some were relatively shy we have been fairly successfull from the hides and - in one instance - with an elk that didn't seem to mind some attention.

All in all we had a very good time at Biebrza and we do expect to be back.


Godwit & Greenshank
Penduline Tit
Miscellaneous Birds
White Stork