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A vast area of marshland created by the meanderings of the Biebrza River this area is becoming increasingly popular with travelling birders keen to see its wealth of breeding birds.
One of the great attractions of Biebrza is the easily observed Great Snipe lek, the most accessible to the majority of western European birders. The other major draw is the good population of the declining Aquatic Warbler and there is also a great variety of raptors to be seen.
As well as the river itself there are numerous channels, backwaters and oxbows, with flooded pastures, hay meadows and sedge fens. Much of the drier land is scrub-covered and there are also patches of wet birch forest, pine bog forest and alder woodland.
Breeding birds or at least those present in summer include Great Bittern and Little Bittern, Black Stork and White Stork and Common Crane, waterfowl include Garganey and Ferruginous Duck and as well as Great Snipe there are Jack Snipe, Marsh Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit and Ruff.
More than a dozen species of raptor can be seen during the breeding season with Golden Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, White-tailed Eagle and Short-toed Eagle among them.
Various terns including White-winged Tern and Little Gull breed, rails and crakes, Black Grouse and numerous reedbed, scrub and woodland passerines typical of eastern Europe, including Eurasian River Warbler, Aquatic Warbler and various other warblers. More than 260 species have been recorded, nearly 180 of these breeding in the national park and the adjoining marshes.
Birds you can see here include:
Little Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Great Bittern, Little Bittern, Black Stork, White Stork, Whooper Swan, Mallard, Garganey, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Tufted Duck, European Honey Buzzard, Black Kite, Red Kite, White-tailed Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Western Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Northern Goshawk, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle, Golden Eagle, Booted Eagle, Osprey, Northern Hobby, Black Grouse, Water Rail, Spotted Crake, Little Crake, Corn Crake, Common Crane, Dunlin, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Jack Snipe, Common Snipe, Great Snipe, Eurasian Woodcock, Little Gull, Black-headed Gull, Common Tern, Whiskered Tern, White-winged Tern, Black Tern, Eurasian Eagle Owl, Short-eared Owl, Tengmalm's Owl, European Nightjar, European Roller, Eurasian Hoopoe, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, White-backed Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Wood Lark, Sand Martin, Tawny Pipit, Thrush Nightingale, Bluethroat, European Stonechat, Redwing, Eurasian River Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Aquatic Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Barred Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Greenish Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Bearded Tit, Crested Tit, Penduline Tit, Great Grey Shrike, Spotted Nutcracker, Common Rosefinch, Ortolan Bunting
History and Use
Areas of Interest
The town of Goniadz makes an excellent base for exploring the marshes and close to the best-known Great Snipe lek at Budy. The lek is reached from the Goniadz-Gugny road just north of the village of Dobarz where a sandy track leads west from the road. Follow the track through the forest and out onto open marshland where there is an observation platform erected to allow good views of the birds without causing undue disturbance. The lek is best visited towards dusk. Further along the track is an observation tower overlooking the marshes which is good for eagles and storks and there is a similar tower reached on a track from the southern side of the village of Budy and another near the village of Osowiec, west of Goniadz.
Access and Facilities
The area can be visited independently on public transport or by hire -car but it is undoubtedly easier to go on one of the organised birding trips that several companies now offer to this area. The Biebrza Marshes cover a vast area, roughly between Lomza and Augustow in northeastern Poland. Most birders visit the area in summer to coincide with the display of the Great Snipe but visits during passage periods are also likely to produce many interesting birds, especially waterfowl, waders and raptors.
Content and images originally posted by Steve
valdi99's review Biebrza valley is widely known as the largest marshes in Europe. Most of the Biebrza River basin (59 223ha) has been given under the strict protection. The Biebrza National Park established on northern and middle basins is the largest National Park in Poland.
The slowly meandering Biebrza river is one of the very few European rivers, which throughout the passage of time has kept all of its natural quality. It is a really unspoilt wildlife sanctuary and a paradise for both, ornithologists and birds. It has sedge marshes stretching as far as your eye can see giving a stunning views, birch-thickets and alders, acres of reedbeds, wet meadows and peatbogs.
Early spring gives excellent opportunities to watch migratory birds during Biebrzas flooding season. Every spring (mostly March/Appril or May) the river floods and most of the area seems to be a shallow lake with geese of a thousand flocks, whooper, mute and Bevicks swans, cranes, widgeons, pintails and many waders and waterfowls can be easily observed while stopping over here. The most well known target rarities of the area are Aquatic Warbler (about 2000 pairs) and Great Snipe (about 450 lekking males). Biebrza is also considered to be one of the best places in Europe for raptors that can be anywhere seen here. Especially eagles: White-tailed, Golden and Greater Spotted Eagle but Booted and Short-toed as well.
The length of the Park is about 100km but public transportation is very bad in whole Biebrzas valley so it is really hard to move through the valley without a car. Public buses are rare even in the areas of high visitor interest. The more so, car access for birders in the Park is mostly limited to few local roads. There are some hiking trails (usually very muddy, so remember to wear rubber shoes and use repellent against mosquitos), bicycle or kayak trials but expect to walk quite a few kilometers to visit the best spots. Prior to entering the Park, tickets must be bought and groups can enter the Park only guided by licensed guide.
More details at http://www.BirdGuide.pl
- Biggest accessible marshes in Europe - a gem for birders
- Very poor public transport, if any...