Saturday, 27 June 2009

Kayak trip in central Belarus - Assessing Important Bird Areas (IBA) and larking about

At the end of May, we had the good fortune to join a Belarussian group on a 3 day kayak trip along the Gaina and Berezhina rivers, led by Simeon Levy from APB. It was a mixed bunch - some there for bird surveying and some for sunbathing and a wee drink by the campfire. We paddled 105km along the two beautiful, meandering rivers with wide marshy floodplains. Part of it is now an Important Bird Area (IBA) but it really remains unprotected. Anywhere else it would probably get National Park status but Belarus is quite well off for these habitats.

Its a very natural river and in the first few hours we encountered shallow water and lots of trees fallen across the river (hence the face of concern here). Progress was painfully slow and it wasn't long before one kayak capsized after getting caught on a log - not the best start to some people's holiday!

Things were soon on the up and we decided to take a 2-man boat. There's no time for language difficulties when you're hurtling towards a fallen tree at head height.

Next obstacle was a big storm-a-brewin. Some people voiced their desire to go on more cycling holidays at this juncture.

We reached our first camping spot well into the evening but before we knew it there was a fire and water on for tea with strage plants sprouting from the ground bearing soggy shoes.

I didnt know it was possible for mosquitoes to swarm around you even when it is raining... Belarus suprises us again!!!

As soon as the sun came out the clothes were lost and the pink boat (seen here being pulled over yet another obstacle) changed from a pac-a-mac parade to a bikini bonanza!

The white stork - a favorite of Belarussians because it chooses to live close to man.

Olga and Barry. Barry was a very active little man who was extremely eager to be the first out of the boat to pull it over obstacles. Unfortunately he was a little too eager at one obstacle and capsised his boat. We didnt laugh. Well maybe a bit.

This was camping spot on the 2nd night. Nice and peaceful here, but every weekend from May to October Belarussiand come out in force with tents, booze, fishing rods and a big car stereo. Very funny to see. Wherever you are there tends to be a constant beat in the distance. If you're close it rarely sounds any better...

Somewhere not too wet to camp for the night.

Ellie and Olga on our first and sadly unsuccessful aquatic warbler survey.

Our leader Simeon.... a very nice fella (despite being a Chelsea supporter who listens to a lot of Europop).

Peaceful windy rivers interrupted only occasionally. Next one ws the mighty Belarussian army who had decided to build a bridge for a few days!

The Berezhina river was the beginning of the end for Napolean. Two thirds of his army fell trying to cross at this place in November 1812.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know why we have jokes about english sense of humor (It is mean no sense of humor at all) I will star a promote compain of english humor:) It's finny:)