In the far north-east of Poland, extending over the border into Belarus, is the vast Bialowieza Forest, containing some of the largest surviving fragments of the primeval forest of the north European Plain. In this varied forest landscape, with its mysterious vastness, undulating from riverine swamps to drier plateaux, you become immersed in some of the most resonant avian soundscapes of European woodland.
The area is low-lying and fairly flat, crossed by several slow-flowing rivers. Along some sections of these rivers there are quite wide corridors of more open habitat, with marshes, pools, sedge meadows and reed-beds, all interspersed with patches of shrubbery. These intergrading riverine habitats have an interesting mix of forest and wetland birds and remain lush with song for much of the day and into the night. The dampness and warmth in spring give rise to frequent overnight mists and heavy dews: mosquitoes thrive here, providing an abundant source of food for the insectivorous birds, but a challenge for any human visitor wanting to sit still for longer periods.
This album features a selection of scenes that have stuck with me: in the 10 years that have elapsed since my visits there, I keep returning to these recordings and still find them enthralling. Tracks 1 to 4, then 9 and 10, are all taken around the same clearing on the Narewka river just beyond the outskirts of Bialowieza village; tracks 5 to 8 are from further out along the riversides. The scenes take us through the course of a morning; then the final track is the evening chorus, roughly back where we began. All the tracks except the last (evening) are segued together, reflecting the continuity of locations, times and community.
This is a 3 minute audio sample from the 82 minute nature sound album; "Bialowieza II - Riverine Scenes", by Geoff Sample, available for download from www.listeningearth.com/LE/product.php?id=133