5-DAY BIRDWATCHING TOUR
Azure Tit, Great Snipe, Great Grey Owl, Pygmy owl, White-backed Woodpecker, Aquatic Warbler
available from 1st May to 10th June each year
DAY 1: Transfer from Minsk airport to Turaŭ
From Minsk we drive directly to Turaŭ, an ancient town located on the edge of the Prypiać river flood plain. The area is a meссa for birdwatchers.
Black-tailed Godwits (A. Kant)
DAY 2: Turaŭ Meadow Reserve, Middle Prypiać Reserve and surroundings
Managed by APB-BirdLife Belarus, the famous Turaŭ Meadow Reserve and vicinity is currently one of the most important stopover sites for half a million Ruff, and a stronghold for hundreds of breeding Black-tailed Godwits. The unique mosaic of numerous oxbows, channels and flooded meadows of the Prypiać River at Turaŭ provides crucial support to many breeding and migrant waders including Great Snipe, Terek and Marsh Sandpipers, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher and many other species. On temporary islands Black, White-winged Black and Whiskered Terns often establish colonies. In willow bushes and reedbeds the songs of Bluethroat, Savi’s Warbler and Scarlet Rosefinch can be heard daily. At night the silence is broken by a chorus of Corncrakes and Little Crakes.
The local star, Azure Tit, will certainly be our highlight for the day. Belarus is the westernmost destination where we have a chance to see this gorgeous bird in its breeding habitat, among the riparian willow forests of the Prypiać river.
Great Snipe (KOO)
Terek Sandpiper (Sirotkin)
DAY 3: Floodplain forests of the Prypiać River, Bielaje Fishfarm and surroundings
Today we visit different types of forests and marshes along the Prypiać River valley. The broad-leaved woodlands with open shrubs and overgrown fens host one of the largest populations of Greater Spotted Eagles in Europe. Occasionally soaring eagles can be seen above nearby pastures. Middle Spotted Woodpeckers, Wrynecks and Collared Flycatchers forage beneath the crowns of 30-metre tall oaks. Black and Grey-headed Woodpeckers are associated with old deciduous forests while dead trees are the habitat for White-backed and Three-toed Woodpeckers. Red-breasted Flycatcher is a hornbeam forest dweller in this area too.
Our next destination is Bielaje Fishfarm, which is surrounded by forest and frequently visited by Black Storks, White-tailed and Lesser Spotted Eagles. It is the only place in Belarus, and one of the few sites in continental Europe, where Smews breed. Great Bitterns can occasionally be heard booming from the reedbeds. Barred, Savi’s and River Warblers are present in relatively large numbers while careful searching along the canals at dusk can offer a glimpse of Night Herons.
Collared Flycatcher (S. Levy)
White-backed Woodpecker (V. Vishnevskiy)
DAY 4: Vyhanaščanskaje Reserve, Sporaŭskaje Fen
Vyhanaščanskaje Reserve, a wood and mire complex, is about a three hour drive from Turau. This destination offers the densest population of Great Grey Owls in Belarus; in good years up to 20 pairs nest here. Unlike the birds in Scandinavia, which are nomadic and may migrate south in winter, Belarusian owls stay year around in the same area. Hazel Hens are typical birds of the local old forests and are often seen as they cross roads.
Great Grey Owl (M. Varabiej)
Our next destination is Sporaŭski Reserve where our primary target species will be Aquatic Warbler. Belarus safeguards around 50% of the world population of this threatened species and at Sporava Fen, every small bush seems to host a singing bird. They share their habitat with Citrine Wagtails, while sometimes at dusk a Short-eared Owl patrols the valley of the Jasieĺda River.
Aquatic Warbler (S. Zujonak)
DAY 5: Transfer to Minsk airport
Sporaŭski Reserve (V. Malyščyc)
Prypiać River (I. Byšnieŭ)
Number of birds possible: 130-160 species
Other possible species: Mute Swan, Whooper Swan, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Gadwall, Pintail, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Garganey, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Black Grouse, Grey Partridge, Quail, Black-necked Grebe, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Little Bittern, Great Egret, Grey Heron, White Stork, Short-toed Eagle, Black Kite, Marsh Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Common Buzzard, Honey Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Goshawk, Kestrel, Hobby, Water Rail, Spotted Crake, Moorhen, Coot, Crane, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Redshank, Curlew, Woodcock, Snipe, Ruff, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Caspian Gull, Little Tern, Common Tern, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Turtle Dove, Cuckoo, Long-eared Owl, Tawny Owl, Nightjar, Swift, Hoopoe, Kingfisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Syrian Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Skylark, Crested Lark, Woodlark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Tree Pipit, White Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Thrush Nightingale, Redstart, Black Redstart, Wheatear, Whinchat, Song Thrush, Fieldfare, Blackbird, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Reed Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Willow Warbler, Wood Warbler, Chiffchaff, Greenish Warbler, Goldcrest, Wren, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Crested Tit, Marsh Tit, Willow Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Bearded Reedling, Penduline Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Great Grey Shrike, Red-backed Shrike, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Hooded Crow, Raven, Starling, Golden Oriole, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Siskin, Serin, Hawfinch, Reed Bunting
Possible mammals: Roe Deer, Elk, Beaver
Every tour includes:
- itinerary and programme adapted to your wishes
- an English-speaking guide from your arrival to your departure
- local guides and topic experts
- entrance fees to parks and reserves
- inland transportation in a modern vehicle
- accommodation (comfortable en-suite double/twin rooms)
- three main meals (unless you prefer otherwise)
- return flights to/from Minsk*
*Direct flights between London and Minsk are operated by the national airline “Belavia” on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
- Citizens of 80 states (EU, USA, etc.) can stay in Belarus visa-free for up to 30 days if they come and leave via Minsk National Airport
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