August 2010 Eastern Poland

This group placement involved two train journeys across Europe, an experience in itself, and week-long stays in two hotels, one in the Mazowian area south of Warszawa where we worked on two important fens, Torfy Oronskie and Bagno Calowanie (‘The Kissing Swamp’); the other at Kukle in eastern Poland very close to the Lithuanian border, where the beautiful landscape of rolling forested hills, lakes and small farms closely resembles Scandinavia. Near Kukle, we worked on Sarnetkie fen, a very rich habitat especially important for the rare Fen Orchid, Liparis loeselli. We worked with several of the Polish volunteers and employees of CMok and had a very enjoyable ‘cultural’ day in Warszawa which included a boat trip on the river with the foundation Ja Wisla (‘My Wisła’).

A boat trip on the river

The weather was extremely hot and humid and the work was hard, challenging at times, but we (and our hosts) were very pleased with our achievements at the end. The farmers who own the second fen are now preparing to join the agri-environment scheme with the help of our partners the wetland conservation NGO, CMok, which is very good progress.

Highlights of the visit must include the Cranes, the Marsh harriers and, one morning, a huge flock of migrating White Storks, perhaps 400 spiralling high into the sky above the fen before they flew off southwards; the evening barbecues; the unbelievably fierce storm that lasted only 20 minutes and tore its way through the hotel grounds and through the forests nearby, wreaking havoc as it went; the ride through the forest in the horse carriage with the owner, Joszef, as a reward for our work tidying up his hotel grounds after the storm; those idyllic evening sessions in the sauna with the refreshing river beside it; the friendly village store in Giby where you could buy almost anything to eat or drink, and the excursion into Lithuania along dirt roads to a village where time seemed to have stood still. Not to mention the elks and the beavers and all the fritillary and copper butterfly species we saw on the fen.

A stork


Jelle Cauwenberghs Kirstie Hazelwood
Lucie Cowles Nicola Morris
Sally Thomas Luke Banse
Chris Coombes Jim Cunningham
Poland Plant List