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About the book
In North-east Poland you’ll find a concentration of National Parks and nature reserves which, combined, is the show piece of the nature of the temperate European zone. This guidebook covers the Bialowieza National Park (famous for being the last near-primeval forest of the European lowland), the Biebrza and Narew National Parks (two of the last European natural rivers) and the forest of Augustow and Wigry National Park (the most beautiful part of the Mazurian lakeland).
- Landscape history
- Flora and Fauna
- Where to watch birds
- Finding orchids and other wildflowers
- 20 detailed routes with observation tips and 5 extra sites
About the region
The most intact primeval lowland forest in Europe lies a short distance from the most unspoilt large river of the continent. A multitude of other reserves hold splendid woodlands, fen mires, lakes and bogs within a beautiful small-scale rural landscape. The landscape, the very rich birdlife, the Elks, Bison, Wolves and other mammals, and the many untouched habitats which form a benchmark for nature conservation throughout the continent, are all reasons to visit this superb part of Europe.
Bialowieza National Park
The famous Bialowieza National Park, on the border with Belarus, constitutes the last large swathe of old-growth forest in Europe. It is home to large mammals like Wolf, Lynx and Elk, but is most famous for being the last place where the impressive European Bison occurred. It was here that the last wild animals were caught to enter a breeding programme within the forest, and it was here that the first were released into the wild. Bialowieza is the place to see the dense, wild forests that once covered large parts of the continent. It is also the place to see many rare forest birds, such as Three-toed and White-backed Woodpeckers, Pygmy Owl, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Black Stork and Collared and Red-breasted Flycatchers, to name but a few.
Biebrza and Narew National Parks
The large Biebrza and small Narew National Parks protect two of Poland’s and indeed Europe’s most natural rivers. Both have huge, undammed floodplains with large swathes of marshes, mires, dry dune complexes, alder carr forests, oxbows and reed beds. Both parks lie close together and are Poland’s prime birdwatching hotspot. Spotted Eagle, Aquatic Warbler and Great Snipe are perhaps the biggest draw, but there are many more birds. Lesser Spotted and White-tailed Eagles, Black Stork, Crane, Black Grouse, Ruff, White-winged Tern, and Citrine Wagtail are some attractions, many of which occur in large numbers. The parks also support large numbers of rare butterflies and dragonflies. The fact that this rich flora and fauna occur in a habitat that, although its scale and natural state are exceptional, is similar to that found elsewhere in Poland, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, the UK and northern France, makes the Biebrza and Narew just as much a benchmark of European nature as Bialowieza.
Wigry National Park and Augustow forest
Bordering the Biebrza national park to the north lies the huge Augustow forest, Poland’s largest forest complex. The largest part is commercial forest, but throughout the complex, there are many reserves with oldgrowth stands in a similar state as that of Bialowieza. The great attraction of this region, though, is that it is geologically and climatically tied to northern Europe. Distinctly hilly, with many lakes, connected by beautiful small rivers, and bordered by mires and bogs, the Augustow region (with Wigry National Park on its outskirts) has its toes in the Baltic and Scandinavian nature realm. The flora and fauna also have a distinct boreal touch.
The Crossbill Guide to North-east Poland (2013) introduces you to this fascinating region and provides you with routes to discover the area on your own. It is the sequel to the Crossbill Guides to the Biebrza and Bialowieza, but it is completely rewritten and updated, with many new routes and background information. It also includes the Narew National Park, Augustow, Wigry and Suwalki – regions that were not covered in the previous guidebooks.