Slovakian Adventure Day 2: Bear tracking in the Low Tatras

Our second full day in Slovakia began early with a 7am breakfast followed by a 250km drive to our next destination, Liptovský Hrádok, on the edge of the Low Tatras National Park.

The Low Tatras are Slovakia’s second oldest National Park, established in 1978. Like Poloniny, which we had visited yesterday, the hills here had trees growing right to their summits – unheard of in Scotland. However the forest structure was a lot more open, with patches of scrub and large clearings. There was a greater variety of tree species – a mixture of conifer and deciduous.

Forest within Low Tatras National Park

 

We were met by Robin Rigg from the Slovakian Wildlife Society – a small NGO (non-governmental organisation) which is actively involved in mammal research and public education and engagement. Robin is an expert on large mammal ecology, with a particular interest in brown bears, wolves and lynx. He took us on a guided walk through the forest in search of tracks and signs of mammal activity.

Along the way we had some fascinating discussions about large mammal ecology and behaviour, species reintroduction and managing human conflict.

Robin (in the green shirt) in discussion with the group)

 

Although we didn’t actually see any mammals we were fortunate to see quite a number of signs of various mammal activity.

We found footprints of fox, red and roe deer, pine marten, red squirrel, wolf and brown bear!

Brown bear footprint – note the large toe marks, wide spacing and pad size

 

We also came across a badger latrine…

Badger latrine

 

A wild boar’s scratching post and spa (watering hole)…

Boar scratching post

 

Boar spa

 

And admittedly not the work of a mammal but pointed out to us nonetheless, a tree that a Three-toed woodpecker had been feeding on…

Note the rings of small holes all around the trunk

 

After a great day in the field we retired to our new base for the remainder of the week, a wooden chalet style hotel in Kežmarok. Tomorrow we venture into the High Tatras.

Jonathan

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Preface

Our second full day in Slovakia began early with a 7am breakfast followed by a 250km drive to our next destination, Liptovský Hrádok, on the edge of the Low Tatras …

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