A few years ago, our in-house mammal specialist, Jan Kelchtermans, launched a new project in eastern Poland. In 2015, everything was checked and tested extensively. A real mammal observation hut for Wisent, Brown Bear, Wolf and European Lynx. The results were promising and as of 2016 it is now possible to rent the hut! During the coming months we will report on our experiences and observations of this spring. Convince yourself and come face to face with Wisents, Brown Bear, Wolf and European Lynx. Below is a report of a pair of nature explorers and photographers.
Pictures: Ernesto Zvar en Marjan Gerits
As promised, here the report of our experience in the hut we rented for the observation of large carnivores. First of all, ‘Thanks, Jan, for being so easily accessible all the time.’ Since we are only beginning wildlife photographers, the hut was a great opportunity for us to experience whether we could sit still for long enough in one room. Especially since it is located in such a huge and vast nature area. We were pleasantly surprised that we pulled it off reasonably well.
DAY 1 11/05 INTRODUCTION
We arrived on site Wednesday 11 May at about 6pm. We saw a Buzzard, Raven, two Roe deer, a Fox in front of the hut and five Red deer in the distant meadow to the right. Also, two Woodcocks flying overhead and a singing Golden Oriole. Thursday 12 May we stayed in the hut until about 8 am. Again Buzzard, three Deer and multiple Ravens.
Day 2 12/05 FIRST WISENTS!
In the afternoon we were back in the hut around 5pm. First we saw the same Buzzard, but around 7:30pm suddenly four Wisents made their appearance. They stayed there until it was completely dark. Like grazing and ruminating cows in the meadow, but without the barbed wire. And right in front of us! Breathtaking! At night we heard the howling of a pack of Wolves. Considering the volume, it must have been very close to the hut.
Day 3 13/05 FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH ...
We stayed in the hut until about 8am on Friday 13 May. A couple of Red-backed shrikes made an appearance close by. We returned to the hut at 4pm. There was really no movement until sunset ... Was it a sign of better things to come?
Day 4 14/05 JACKPOT, FACE TO FACE WITH WOLVES
Saturday 14 May! A day never to be forgotten. Around 4 am we suddenly saw a glimpse of a Wolf. He came to briefly inspect the bait and quickly walked away again. About an hour later the same (?) Wolf came back, stayed a little longer and took a large piece of the bait with him into the bushes. We saw him devouring it behind a shrub. There was even a second Wolf looking at the scene! A bit later a Wolf came from the right along the pine forest and it disappeared into the woods to the left. At about 6am, straight in front of us, a Brown Bear emerged from the spruce forest. The animal walked to the right and disappeared back into the forest with a sugar beet. Some time later, just like the Wolves, he returned (near the mineral lick), and took another sugar beet, and disappeared. Around 8:15am we wanted to start packing up when suddenly a Wolf stood in the middle of the plain. Too crazy for words! Because it started raining really hard we only left around 10am. This way we avoided disturbing any animals upon our departure.
Looking back, we are absolutely delighted and pleasantly surprised by what we were seeing, so-close-by! Once again, I thank you for allowing us to rent the hut in such an easy manner. We received a warm reception from your contacts when we handed over the keys to them. We very much enjoyed the coffee and cakes when we showed them our photos!
Also thanks for the information you gave us about walking in the area. This provided a brief sighting of a Brown bear; in the distance on a grassy plain amid the woods. The same for six Wisents. We also saw very briefly a pack of three playing and frolicking Wolves near the boardwalk in the Polish-Ukrainian border. Furthermore, we saw two Ural Owls, two Otters, courting Lesser spotted Eagles, Black Stork, Adder, Grass Snake, Pine Marten, Fire Salamander, Yellow-bellied Toad, Grey-headed Woodpecker, White-backed Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, Lesser, Middle and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nutcrackers, Red Crossbills, Camberwell Beauties and Scarce Swallowtail.
After this beautiful trip we have already decided to return to this area. Renting the hut is a real added value!
Ernesto and Marjan