8-DAY BIRDWATCHING TOUR

BELARUS

Untouched Wilderness of the Eastern Europe

available from 25th April to 4th June each year

Azure Tit (P. Lyčkoŭski)

Itinerary

DAY 1: Flight to Minsk and transfer to Turaŭ

From Minsk we drive directly to Turaŭ, an ancient town located on the edge of the Prypiać river flood plain.

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. 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.

Evening walk into the Prypiać river floodplain.

Terek Sandpiper (A. Kant)

Ruff (Sirotkin)

DAY 2: Turaŭ Meadow Reserve

Morning excursion. We will take a walk to enjoy the magnificent floodplain meadow in Turaŭ and surroundings. The chorus of waders is stunning here due to probably highest European breeding densities of Northern Lapwing and Redshank while Marsh Sandpiper and Terek Sandpiper are less numerous and demand a thorough search. All other waterbirds thrive here too, with five species of tern to be seen: Black, White-winged Black, Whiskered, Common and Little.

One of the most adorable birds of the trip will be the rare Azure Tit, considered by many to be a jewel in the crown of Belarusian birding. 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.

In the evening, we will have a walk into the marshes to see Great Snipe displaying at their lek and to listen to their strange tingling calls.

Black-tailed Godwit (A.Kant)

Little Tern (A.Kant)

DAY 3: Floodplain forests of the Prypiać River

Today we visit different types of forests and marshes along the Prypiać River valley. Greater Spotted and Lesser Spotted Eagles, Common Crane and Black Stork can be found soaring above the primeval woodlands of oak, alder and birch. Thrush Nightingale, Bluethroat and Scarlet Rosefinch haunt these enchanting places. Middle Spotted Woodpeckers, Wrynecks and Collared Flycatchers forage beneath the crowns of 30-metre tall oaks. Old deciduous forests are home for Black and Grey-headed Woodpeckers while White-backed prefer dead trees as their habitat. Red-breasted Flycatcher is a hornbeam forest dweller in this area too. Barred Warbler might become another highlight of the day if it is back to their breeding habitat by the time of our trip. River Warbler, Syrian Woodpecker, Red-backed Shrike, Common Snipe, Corn Crake, White-tailed Eagle and even the elusive Hazel Grouse are those species we might also meet on our way.

Collared Flycatcher (S.Levy)

 

White-backed Woodpecker (S.Levy)

DAY 4: Bielaje Fishfarm, Vyhanaščanskaje Reserve, Sporaŭskaje Fen

After breakfast we depart from Turaŭ and travel for a short visit to Bielaje Fishfarm. Bielaje Fishfarm 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.

The next place we are going to visit is an extensive forest area of Vyhanaščanskaje Reserve. An impressive intermix of Black Alder trees and open patches of marshes and meadows create favorable conditions for hygrophilous voles including Water Vole. In good vole years up to 20 pairs of Great Grey Owl nest here – it is the largest local population of the species in Belarus. Therefore, we have very high chances to admire the magnificence of this gracious and confident bird. Several pairs of Long-eared Owl nest there in nest boxes as well. Other species we hope to see include White-backed Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Black Grouse, Hazel Grouse, Curlew, Short-toed Eagle and Capercaillie.

Great Grey Owl (G.Mindlin)

Our third and final destination for the day 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 elegant Citrine Wagtails. Bluethroats and Savi’s Warblers are singing on the banks of the Jasieĺda River, while sometimes at dusk a Short-eared Owl patrols the river valley. Neighboring fishponds hold Caspian and Little Gulls. We will also expect Corn, Little and Spotted Crakes arriving and being in full voice. Crested Tit, Little Bittern and Common Snipe are other species we hope to see there.

Aquatic Warbler (I.Ukolov)

Bluethroat (A.Karpenko)

DAY 5: Transfer to Bielaviežškaja Pušča

After morning walk we leave Sporaŭski for our final destination – the World Heritage Site of Bielaviežškaja Pušča.

On the way we stop for a visit to Sieliec fishfarm, an extensive fishfarm holding the title of an Important Bird Area (IBA). This is a place to observe waterbirds including species we hope to see: Black Tern, Bittern, Savi`s Warbler as well as White-Tailed Eagle.

DAY 6: Natural old-growth forests of Bielaviežškaja Pušča

In the morning we will walk into the protected forests of Bielaviežškaja Pušča. The Belarusian part of this ancient forest is much larger and even wilder than the famous Białowieża Forest in Poland.

Bielaviežškaja Pušča is home for breeding Collared and Red-breasted Flycatcher and all ten European Woodpeckers species (including Wryneck, White-backed and Three-toed). Nutcracker is another interesting species possible to be seen there. The enchanting woodlands conceal elusive Pygmy and Tengmalm’s Owls – but there is a good chance that we will hear and perhaps see both species. However, the most glorious inhabitant of this forest is a grand mammal: the awesome European Bison.

Wryneck (P.Aliaksiejeŭ)

European Bison (A.Pekach)

DAY 7: Bielaviežškaja Pušča, Dzikoje Fen and surroundings

We conclude our tour with another day in the old-growth Bielaviežškaja Pušča and surroundings. After the morning stroll through the primeval forest we will visit Dzikoje, one of the biggest fens in Europe — a habitat that barely exists in Western Europe. Preserved in its natural state, it is a breeding ground for Aquatic Warbler, Great Grey Owl and Greater Spotted Eagle. Dzikoje, together with Bielaviežškaja Pušča, are the only places among more than 20 breeding sites in Belarus for Greater Spotted Eagle where numbers are increasing—a sure sign that rewilding efforts are proving successful.

Other species we hope to see include Hazel Grouse, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Savi’s Warbler, Montagu’s Harrier, White-tailed Eagle, Great Bittern, Bluethroat, Scarlet Rosefinch.

Pygmy Owl (G.Mindlin)

Aquatic Warbler, Dzikoje Fen (S.Sidaruk)

DAY 8: Transfer from Bielaviežškaja Pušča to Minsk airport

Transfer to Minsk and the airport. Flight back.

Prypiać River (V.Malyščyc)

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Number of birds to see: 130-180 species

Possible mammals: European Bison, Red Deer, 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)

Not included:

  • return flights to/from Minsk*

*Direct flights between London and Minsk are operated by the national airline “Belavia” on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

Visa:

  • we help with visa arrangements

Travelling with us you make a difference!

All our profits are reinvested in nature conservation in Belarus. Booking through us means you are supporting the work that APB-BirdLife Belarus does to look after the birds and habitats you are going to see!

Ground price*: 

  • depends on the size of the group. Contact us to learn more!