White Stork by Steve Fletcher.
A bull European Bison photographed in Bialowieza Forest in September 2015 by Lee Dingain.
The birds listed here are usually present during the northern spring. Great Snipe, Aquatic Warbler, White-tailed and Lesser Spotted Eagles, Common Crane, White and Black Storks, and White-winged (Black) Tern, as well as Black-necked (Eared) and Red-necked Grebes, Great Egret, (Great) Bittern, Whooper Swan, Montagu’s Harrier, (Northern) Goshawk, Corn Crake, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit and several other passage migrant shorebirds, Black and Whiskered Terns, (Eurasian) Hoopoe, (European) Bee-eater, (Eurasian) Wryneck, Black, Green, Grey-headed, Great Spotted, Lesser Spotted, Middle Spotted, (Eurasian) Three-toed and White-backed Woodpeckers, Citrine Wagtail, Thrush Nightingale, (White-spotted) Bluethroat, Fieldfare, Barred, Great Reed, Icterine, Marsh, River and Savi’s Warblers, Collared and Red-breasted Flycatchers, Crested, Long-tailed & Penduline Tits, (Eurasian) Golden Oriole, Great Grey and Red-backed Shrikes, Common Rosefinch, Hawfinch and Ortolan Bunting. Also a chance of Black and Hazel Grouse, Great Spotted Eagle, Osprey, Jack Snipe, (Eurasian) Eagle, Ural, Tengmalm’s (Boreal) and (Eurasian) Pygmy Owls, European Roller, Syrian Woodpecker and (Eurasian) Nutcracker.
Red Deer and Red Squirrel. Also a chance of European Bison (reintroduced), Elk (Moose), Wild Boar and (Eurasian) Beaver, and an outside chance of Wolf (especially during the northern winter when a lack of vegetation cover, shortage of food supply and the possibility to follow tracks in snow all combine to make January especially a good time to look for Wolf and Eurasian Lynx, with a chance of Racoon Dog, Beaver, Polecat, and Beech and Pine Martens).
There are nearly 80 species of butterfly at the Biebrza Marshes alone including Map, with those elsewhere including Camberwell Beauty. There is also a good selection of dragonflies including Yellow-legged Clubtail and Red-eyed Damselfly.
Some of the trees in Bialowieza are hundreds of years old and the tallest oaks have trunks which rise for over 30 m (100ft) before they branch, with some trees in excess of 50 m (164 ft) high. Altogether in Bialowieza there are over a thousand higher plant species and about 1500 species of fungi, including many which are rare elsewhere in Europe.
The best time for the greatest variety of birds is usually the second half of May when most of the summer visitors have arrived but Hazel Grouse, owls and some woodpeckers may have already raised their young by this time so they are easier to find in early April. May is also usually the peak time for plants.
The best time to look for Bison is from late winter to early June, especially April, when they usually form large herds, the broadleaf trees are mostly still bare, maximizing visibility, and there is usually at least some snow on the ground, helping to reveal their tracks to the local guides who may then find it easier to locate them.
Lack of vegetation cover, shortage of food supply and the possibility to follow tracks in snow all combine to make January especially a good time to look for Eurasian Lynx and Wolf, as well as Elk and Wild Boar, with a chance of Racoon Dog, Beaver, Polecat, and Beech and Pine Martens. Daytime temperatures at this time of year can be around freezing and cold winds may add to the chill factor so it is best to be prepared for such conditions when out tracking.
Collins Bird Guide by L Svensson et al. Collins, 2010 (Second Edition).
Birds of Europe by L Jonsson. Helm, 1999.
North-east Poland: Biebrza, Bialowieza and Wigry by D Hilbers and Bouke Ten Cate. Crossbill Guides Foundation, 2013.
Biebrza Site Guide by L Mazurek. Wild Poland, 2009.
Mammals of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East by S Aulagnier et al. Helm, 2009.
Mammals of Britain and Europe by D McDonald and P Barrett. Collins, 2005.
Collins Butterfly Guide by T Tolman and R Lewington. Collins, 2009.
Butterflies of Britain and Europe: A Photographic Guide by H Aarnio et al. A & C Black Publishers, 2009.
Collins Bird Guide.
Where to watch birds in Europe & Russia by N Wheatley. Helm, 2000.
Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Europe? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.
Many trip reports, some for Poland, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Poland. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Poland' below.
The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.
There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.
While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and they are popular with people with partners with different interests. Individuals, partners and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more for a custom tour than an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.
Tour companies who run organized tours to Poland include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.