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Trip to Gdansk

Discussion in 'Poland' started by LaughingDove, 20 Mar 2016.

  1. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    In just under one week I will be visiting Gdansk for the first time.
    I will be travelling there from Warsaw by car and spending four nights there so I will have three full days.

    I have created this thread mainly to ask for advice on zoos. I definitely plan to visit the Gdańsk Oliwa Zoo, and the Aquarium in Gdynia also looks quite interesting. Has anyone been?
    I would also be interested if anyone knows how long each place needs to see thoroughly, is the Gdansk Zoo a full day zoo?
    Zootierliste also lists somewhere called Gdansk (Zoological Garden of Polish Fauna) but I can't find anything about that online so I'd be interested if anyone has any information.

    I also plan to do some birding in the area but I think I have all the information that I need about that in the book 'Birding in Poland'.

    I may be able to post short things about my trip in this thread and upload some pictures, however I won't be doing the full long posts with embedded pictures that I have done previously, due to the fact that I will have my GCSE exams in May which I need to revise for (British zoochatters will know what those are).
     
  2. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    Gdansk and Oliwa are the same zoo. There is also zooforum.pl, a forum of Polish zoo lovers and workers, and you can get more information there. Enjoy your visit!
     
  3. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the information.
    Interesting that Zootierliste lists 'Gdansk (Zoological Garden of Polish Fauna)' and 'Gdansk-Oliwa (Miejski Ogrod Zoologiczny Wybrzeza Gdansk)' with separate dots on the map if they are the same place.
     
  4. Arek

    Arek Well-Known Member

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    It is a mistake on Zootierliste. Zoological Garden of Polish Fauna is (or rather was) in Bydgoszcz, also in northern Poland. It was typical Heimettiergarten in german style but in recent years they began to exhibit exotic species and last year they changed its name to Zoological Gardens.
    Backing to Gdańsk: Oliwa is a district located far away from city center. The zoo is huge, even bigger than New Zoo in Poznań but has much less species than Poznań. So I think Gdańsk is a full day zoo (or maybe half day zoo during early spring).
     
  5. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the information :)
    I'll probably give the zoo a full day I think.
     
  6. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    I'm currently in Gdansk and will probably be visiting the zoo tomorrow.
    Closing time seems ridiculously early though at 15:00 according to their website!
     
  7. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    I will be heading back to Warsaw early tomorrow morning, so I thought I would post here with what I actually ended up doing.

    First Day:
    Gdansk Zoo in the morning, then birding in Ptasi Raj Nature Reserve in the evening.

    Second Day:
    Birding in Beka Nature Reserve, then a visit to Hel Spit including some birding and a visit to the town of Hel also with a visit to the small 'Fokarium' (Foka is seal in Polish)

    Third Day:
    Visit to the Gdynia Aquarium in the morning then lunch in the city centre of Gdansk and birding in the Mewia Lacha Nature Reserve in the evening.
     
  8. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

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    This all sounds rather exciting, zoo and birding. Can we have some more details please Laughingdove?
     
  9. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    Yep, it was a really fun trip, and I can give some more details.
    Unfortunately I don't have time to go into as much detail as I have done with eg. my Kenya trip thread from February. I also have/will be uploading some pictures of the wildlife, the zoo, and the aquarium, and I will write a bit about what I did and saw in each place some time tomorrow or in the next few days. :)
     
  10. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    I stayed in Gdansk for four nights, and due to driving there and back from Warsaw taking the day before the first night and after the last night, we had three full days. Here is a more detailed outline of what I did each day.


    First Day - Gdansk Zoo and Ptasi Raj Nature Reserve

    On the first day, I started with the Zoo in the morning as that was something I definitely wanted to do. I was slightly worried about getting the whole zoo done in one day due to the fact that it is still on the winter closing time until the end of the month and closes at three, however I did manage to get it done, though I was there until a couple of minutes after closing time and didn't have much time to go back and look at anything again.

    Although the zoo grounds are huge, I think about 100 ha are just unused forest which is really nice and gives the zoo a very nice setting surrounded by forest and lots of wild birds including quite a large number of ravens flying around and calling. Generally I thought the zoo was very good. For the most part, the standard of enclosures was very high apart from the small enclosures for tigers and bears (separate enclosures), the small elephant enclosure with a single African and a single Asian elephant, and some of the enclosures in the Bird and Reptile Pavilion (a single building) were small and bare. Mostly there were lots of large open paddocks, and the zoo reminded me of Whipsnade Zoo in the UK in many ways.

    There weren't really many particularly unusual species, and for the most part there were just common species; however a few more unusual species included Feline Genets, and Mealy Amazons, and quite a few species that aren't rare in Europe as a whole but aren't held anywhere else in Poland such as Guira Cuckoos. There were also large numbers of domestic species such as Cattle, Llamas, Alpacas, Camels, and Yaks and some of these had enclosures significantly larger than the Elephant enclosure! I think Gdansk Zoo generally has a lot of underused potential with a huge area, and room for improvement although it is a very nice zoo and I did enjoy my visit, it could be even better.

    After visiting the zoo, due to it being only a little after three, I persuaded my parents that a birding trip would be appropriate (they had been doing other things in Gdansk while I was at the zoo).
    I have the book 'Birding in Poland' which was extremely useful for planning birding trips so on its advice I visited the Ptasi Raj Nature Reserve on the coast. A lot of the area was forest and extensive reed beds which should be full of various Warblers and things in the summer; however at this time of year is still the time to look for wintering waterbirds. First I came across the fairly large lake which didn't have anything that was very interesting apart from some Geese, but then I came up to the very large lagoon type thing (see google maps with 'Rezerwat Ptasi Raj' for a layout) which was full of waterbirds, largely sea ducks. There was an observation tower looking over the reed beds and the highlights were dozens of Goldeneyes including lots of Drakes displaying, as well as Common and Red-breasted Mergansers, Long-tailed Ducks, Smews, Shelducks, Scaup, various Geese, various gulls, and some other more common ducks. By the time I had finished at this area it was getting dark so we had to go back and couldn’t go all the way up to the sea, but still some amazing birds. I have uploaded some pictures to the gallery Poland - Wildlife Gallery


    Second Day - Beka Nature Reserve and Hel Spit

    On the second day, we planned to visit the Hel spit, which is quite an interesting place for both birding and in general. On the way though, we stopped for some birding at Beka Nature Reserve which was lots of flooded fields, some arable land, some small areas of forest, and a white sand beach along the coast. Due to going the wrong way at first and not being able to find it, I didn't have a huge amount of time there, however some interesting species seen were White-tailed Sea-eagles, Great White Egrets, Red-throated and Meadow Pipits, Velvet Scoters, Greylag Geese, Greater Black-backed Gulls, and Hen-harriers.

    We then went for lunch, and after that took the highway to Hel to visit the Hel spit. It is a fairly long, large spit that sticks out into the Baltic Sea forming the shallow Bay of Puck on the inland side. It is quite narrow in places and is only a few hundred metres across, but towards the end gets much thicker. There are beaches on both sides, and woodland in the middle and a road goes all the way along it. I liked the spit a lot, it was very interesting, and had quite a few birds including lots of gulls, some sea ducks, shelducks, and a small number of waders including Common Ringed Plovers and subspecies schinzii of Dunlins. I think we were slightly too early for the best of the birds though, as there are supposed to be lots more waders as well as warblers and migrating raptors later into the migrating time. We also visited the town of Hel at the end of the spit which was a rather quaint seaside town, and had a small exhibit of Grey Seals called the Fokarium (Foka is seal in Polish) which was a fairly good exhibit with an entry fee of 5zl (a little under £1) housing – I counted five – seals in a pretty good enclosure with displays around. I will soon be uploading pictures to the gallery.


    Third Day - Gdynia Aquarium and Mewia Lacha Nature Reserve

    The third day was our final day in Gdansk and the plan was to have a late start and just do some birding in the evening; however I persuaded my parents to drive me to Gdynia about half an hour away to visit the Aquarium. The aquarium was located right on the seaside in a large building with the aquarium occupying half of it. I was very impressed with the aquarium overall, it was nicely done up with various displays and signage and some nice tanks. There were also quite a few fairly unusual species and there were possibly more oddities that I didn’t fully appreciate due to not knowing that much about fish. The aquarium was divided over three floors with different sections which were the Baltic Sea Chamber, at the Border of Land and Water (some reptiles, amphibians, and fish such as mangrove species), Education Chamber (a museum type display without live animals), Coral Reef, Aquatic Animals of the World, and Amazonia, and the aquarium wasn’t huge nor very small overall, and I spent an hour and a half there, though I would have spent longer if I wasn’t trying to leave time for birding. The signage was mostly all there (quite good by aquarium signage standards, with none of those ridiculous electronic or touchscreen signs), and most tanks were quite good apart from a few such as a small bare Dwarf Crocodile Enclosure. There were also views over the Baltic Sea from the windows with the aquarium being on the first, second and third floors. I will be uploading some pictures at some point.

    After the aquarium we went back for lunch in the historical Town Centre of Gdansk, and then went for a final birding trip at Mewia Lacha Nature Reserve which is located at the mouth of the Vistula River. It was quite windy and a bit overcast, but it was quite a nice reserve with some forests, and sand bars and spits at the end. There were also some sheltered lagoons right at the mouth of the river, which had a variety of gulls, sea ducks, and a large number of cormorants. A sand islet a few hundred metres off the coast also had a large group of Baltic Grey Seals. It was however extremely windy and cold out at this area, so we couldn’t stay for too long, and as we were walking back to the car before sunset it also started raining.
     
  11. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    I have now done so: Poland - Other Gallery