Poland’s geography varies greatly across the country. The north and west of the country are part of the Northern European plain and are generally low-lying areas with large river valleys and marshes. A vast area of lakes in the northeast of the country leads into immense forests which cover the area around the border with Belarus, including the world famous Białowieża National Park. The south of the country is mostly mountainous with the Tatra Mountains (part of the Carpathian range) being the highest point. These mountains run along Poland’s border with Slovakia and are considered some of the most beautiful mountains in Europe. The summit of Rysy at 8,199 feet (2,499 meters) is Poland’s highest point. The climate of Poland is mostly temperate with warm to hot summers in lowland areas and very cold winters across the country.
Poland is one of the best countries for birding in Europe and it is one of our favorite destinations. Following International Ornithological Congress (IOC) taxonomy (v10.2 in December 2020) the bird list of Poland stands at 471 species, with 28 of these being globally threatened. Some of the most important species for foreign birdwatchers include Great Snipe and Aquatic Warbler – Poland is the best place in the world to see these rare birds, and Wallcreeper, a sought-after monotypic family, also breeds in the high mountains. Furthermore, Poland is one of the best countries to see the majority of European Woodpeckers. Poland has 175 Important Bird Areas (IBAs), sites identified by BirdLife International as having high value to birds. Our birdwatching holiday in Poland will take in some of these fantastic, bird rich areas, including Białowieża (Bialowieza) Forest, Biebrza River Valley, Siemianwóka Reservoir, Roztocze, and the Tatra Mountains (Tatrzański National Park).
Our Poland tour features far too many species to list here so please check the detailed itinerary for more information about the fantastic birds we hope to come across. However, highlights of this trip are summarized below. The excellent habitats of the Biebrza marshes and surrounding area hold Ferruginous Duck, European Turtle Dove, Corn Crake, Little Crake, Common Crane, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint, Great Snipe, Whiskered Tern, White-winged Tern, Black Stork, White Stork, and Little Bittern. Breeding passerines are also well represented here, and we will look for Eurasian Penduline Tit, Great Reed Warbler, Aquatic Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Icterine Warbler, River Warbler, Savi’s Warbler, Barred Warbler, Bluethroat, Citrine Wagtail, Common Rosefinch, and Ortolan Bunting. These marshes are also home to Eurasian Beaver, Moose (Elk), and Wild Boar.
In the forests and surrounding grasslands of western Poland we will search for Hazel Grouse, ten of Europe’s eleven woodpecker species, including Black Woodpecker, Syrian Woodpecker, Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker, and White-backed Woodpecker, as well as other interesting species such as Red-backed Shrike, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Spotted Nutcracker, Thrush Nightingale, Red-breasted Flycatcher, and Collared Flycatcher. With luck, we may also have sightings of European Bison, Grey Wolf, Eurasian Lynx, and Wild Boar.
Birds of prey in the above forest and open habitats include Short-toed Snake Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle, Northern Goshawk, Montagu’s Harrier, White-tailed Eagle (Poland’s national bird), Red-footed Falcon, and Eurasian Hobby. We will also search suitable habitat for owl species such as Ural Owl, Eurasian Pygmy Owl, and Short-eared Owl.
Finally, in the Carpathian Mountains we will hope to come across a totally different suite of birds including Wallcreeper, European Honey Buzzard, Golden Eagle, Common Firecrest, Ring Ouzel, White-throated Dipper, Alpine Accentor, Water Pipit, Hawfinch, and many more species. These mountains are also home to some of Europe’s iconic mammals and herptiles (reptiles and amphibians). While nothing is guaranteed, with luck, we may come across European Bison, Grey Wolf, (European) Brown Bear, Eurasian Lynx, European Wild Cat, Northern Chamois, Speckled Ground Squirrel, Fire Salamander, and Aesculapian Ratsnake (Europe’s largest snake).
Birding in Poland offers simply sensational variety and the opportunity for a real wildlife-focused tour. The presence of specialist Eastern European birds adds to the array of species on offer and it is certainly tough to choose your favorite Polish bird. Combine the above with the chance of some of Europe’s most iconic mammals and herptiles and you have a trip with sensational value making for an unforgettable experience. Poland’s fantastic hospitality, scenery, food, and culture just adds to an already amazing experience in Eastern Europe.