The Tricity Landscape Park is a managed forest in northern Poland. It’s great for hiking or cycling, and wildlife spotting as well. There are numerous trails and if you like to get off the path to freely explore the hills, that’s easy as well – you’re very unlikely to come across brambles or other overgrown areas that would stop you. Small conifer plantations take away from the beauty of the place, but it’s still possible to roam for many hours without having to pass them by.
The largest animals you are likely to come across are roe deer, red deer and wild boar. Wild boar can be dangerous if you surprise them, or come across a sow with her young, but they’re not going to get out of their way to attack you.
Even if you stay on the paths and go for a casual hike on a sunny summer day, you may spot sand lizards without much trouble, red squirrels, wood mice and a good variety of birds. It takes more patience and skill to see mustelids such as weasels or pine martens.
In late summer and autumn the forest draws local mushroom pickers. Some sell the mushrooms at street stalls, others forage for their own needs. It is not a popular hobby or source of supplementary income, and that is probably for the best. The population of towns and cities surrounding the forest is only growing, so if every family were to pick wild mushrooms, there would soon be nothing left (just think of Epping Forest in England…). Nonetheless, occasional foraging for food is undeniably pleasant and exciting. Pictured below is a Suillus bovinus mushroom next to some blackberries and rosehips. Raspberries and blackberries from the forest are smaller than those sold in shops, but they compensate for their small size with intense flavour. If you do pick forest fruit, please don’t take it all – leave some on the shrubs for other animals.
Inedible mushrooms, or those that are not widely known to be edible, generally fare better in the Tricity Landscape Park, although regrettably some people deliberately destroy poisonous species such as the death cap or fly agaric. Below is a coral mushroom from the genus ramaria -I’m not sure which species it is. It’s apparently edible, but to the average Polish person it looks very suspicious, and so these marvellous fungi thrive, not bothered by humans.
The most frequently seen large insect of the park is Anoplotrupes stercorosus and other similar earth-boring dung beetles, which tend to emerge in very large numbers.
While many Carabus beetles are colourful, the common one in this forest, Carabus glabratus, is plain black, but draws attention due to its large size and quick movement.
Graphosoma lineatum, a strikingly coloured shield bug began to appear in Poland only a few decades ago. It’s been expanding its range northwards fairly quickly. The orange and black stripes make me think of biohazard signs. They serve to warn potential predators that this bug can produce a foul secretion in defence.
Although seen at a different time of the year, in late spring, I thought I’d add the picture of a chickweed wintergreen to this post, to keep last year’s non-blurry Polish forest photos together. This charming small flower is easy to miss. Its Polish name (siódmaczek) refers to the seven petals, but sometimes flowers with more petals can also be seen.