BELOWEZHSKAYA PUSHCHA, BELARUS

A huge bull bison in a secluded meadow in Belowezhskaya Pushcha

BELOWEZHSKAYA PUSHCHA, THE BELORUSSIAN PART OF A VAST ANCIENT FOREST SHARED WITH POLAND lived up to expectations, the highlight being the encounters with a total of 29 bison. The first meeting was with a large herd of 22 females and calves late in the evening, after sunset and needed a 51200 ISO rating and live view to capture anything other than an out-of-focus blur. The next evening we had a much more exciting encounter with a group of six bulls, one of them really massive, followed by a lone bull. All were quite wary and shy and slowly retreated back into the forest rather than confront us. I have admired bison since I was a child when I owned a book that showed a bison charging a small family car. Honey Buzzards soared overhead, woods were full of woodpeckers and hawfinches and the surrounding meadows held newly returned Red-backed Shrikes and sweet-singing Marsh Warblers. Wonderful!

Red-backed Shrike, male - delightful to see so many of these in the Belorussian countryside!