Oriolus Publishing House, 2015; hbk, 590pp; 40 colour photographs, 164 maps
ISBN 978-91-978652-1-0 £34.99
Poland is perhaps bigger than most people imagine – it is a third larger than the UK and heavily forested – almost 30% of the land is woodland – while there are about 10,000 waterbodies covering more than a hectare each. And, in a recent survey of travelling British birdwatchers, Poland emerged as the fifth most-visited European country, so it comes as a surprise that until now there has not been a book outlining in detail the many sites that you can visit. Most visiting birders have tended to focus on the prime areas of the Biebrza Marshes and BiaÅ‚owieza Forest. These are the two sites that provide easy access to the target birds that many of us want to see. But this book provides a much wider approach, with 119 sites in total.
A team of 46 people worked to create this book, which is split into 14 chapters (often, but not always, covering the main provinces of Poland). Each of the sites is described in detail, and for some there are GPS references to enable quick identification of access points and major features. Key species are listed within a very readable text – which often runs to over 1,000 words – with subsections by habitat or season. Other animals and interesting plants are also mentioned in a separate section. There is plenty of detail on access possibilities, a description on how to reach the site, and links to useful websites and published articles. Each site is accompanied by at least one map.
A checklist of 449 species gives the status of each, while a further 62 species of uncertain origin are listed separately. An alphabetical species index allows you to search for sites where these can be seen. There is an overall map of the country showing every site within the book, but maps showing the 14 chosen regions in more detail would have been useful.
With flights now operating from the UK to 11 widely spaced Polish airports, there has never been an easier time to explore this exciting country. This book will be a great asset to visiting birders.