Monday, 16 January 2017

Wildlife newcomer to Jeziorki

Another evening in which I make the most of the frozen ponds so that I can walk home across it from W-wa Dawidy station. A splendid walk; the new snowfall, temperature around zero, no one around, the ice rock solid. I cross from the retention ponds at the north end towards the wilderness section where the reedbeds were unreclaimed to allow the wildlife to live there undisturbed.

Right in the deepest part, where no human foot ever ventures when the ponds are not solidly iced over, I hear a sound, like a large animal among the rushes. Like a swan, beating its wings vigorously - except the swans have long gone. Maybe a dog... - Too big for a dog - then suddenly it emerges from the reedbeds - a wild boar! It may be seven, maybe eight metres away, hurtling across my path into denser vegetation between the pond and ul. Trombity.

Had it rushed at me, it would have been scary, but I could see it was charging at 90 degrees to my direction of travel, so I was not afraid, more fascinated.

I stood there for a second struck by a sense of awe. Wow! Its shape... like the cartoon Tasmanian Devil, its front end big and blunt, tapering to a disproportionately small rear.

Yes, I'd heard tell... A few months ago, returning home late from a TV studio, my taxi driver told me as we approached ul. Karczunkowska that the other night, around 2am, he'd just dropped off a passenger on ul. Sarabandy, and was continuing along that street towards ul. Karczunkowska, when in the glare of his headlights he saw an entire wild boar family - a sow and several young following her - cross the street.

I told the taxi driver that this was the first time I'd heard of a local sighting of wild boar in Jeziorki, that none of my neighbours had seen them - but I believed him, the details were right, and why should he tell porky pies?

Here in Jeziorki, I've seen foxes, hares and hedgehogs - no deer, though last Saturday week I saw three crossing the tracks ahead of me in Czachówek (the north-to-east spur).

Then, like today, I was armed with a Nikon Coolpix; both the Coolpix A and the Coolpix P900 need to be switched on and they both take a while to focus (the P900 also needs to be zoomed out electronically... s-l-o-w-l-y). In both cases, the three dear and the wild boar eluded my lenses. With a digital single lens reflex camera, like my Nikon D3300, I'd just bring the camera up to my eye, direct it at the beast(s), zoom a bit and snap. Much faster response time, which makes all the difference in capturing wildlife.

I looked at the tracks on the fresh snow. Trotters. I then scouted about, Tonto-like, for more boar prints. Quite different from the tracks of hares or foxes; cloven-hooved beasts. I could see only single sets of prints - a solitary individual, probably young. Maybe one of that litter that the taxi driver had seen crossing ul. Sarabandy that spring night, but several months older.

The boar's prints ran this way and that across the ice, into the undergrowth and back out again. I could see the pads of foxes' prints and the closely-spaced paws of hares that had bounded through the snow - nothing unusual, they'd been visible in the snow for over a week - and the jackdaws and crows - the backward-pointing arrows making a wavy trail. But the boar was new. Very interesting. Must watch out for it - armed with a faster camera! Will the boar disappear after the thaw, crossing the track to roam a larger area between Jeziorki and Dawidy Bankowe? Or is this a new addition to our local fauna?

Climate change or happenstance? (przypadek - any better word here?) It's certainly a snowier winter than the past two, but nothing out of the ordinary. Wild boar are proliferating in Poland's suburbs; out of Puszcza Kampinoska, pushing around the outskirts of Warsaw, advancing on Gdynia and Poznań... As long as they are not a threat to humans (they can get aggressive when protecting their young), live and let live, I say.

This time last year:
Communicating the government's case in English

This time three years ago:
Thinking big, American style. Can Poles do it?

This time four years ago:
Inequality in an age of economic slowdown

This time five years ago:
The Palace of Culture: Tear it down?

This time seven years ago:
Conquering Warsaw's highest snow mounds

This time eight years ago:
Flashback on way to Zielona Góra

This time nine years ago:
Ursynów, winter, before sunrise

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