Big pussy on the catwalk

Just having built 2 cameratraps, Karl, Iwan and me were eager to test our new toys in the field. We had been several times in bieszczady, and with the new Europesbig5 hide in this area, we took our chances and paid once more a visit to this remote and wild area in Poland.

The luxury hide is very well constructed and is situated in an excellent place. Sunrises and sunset are astonishing and with some luck, mammals will come! The night before we arrived there where 2 big bears that stayed the whole night to feed on the apples.

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It was exceptionally warm for the time of the year. December should be snowy and -10°C, but due to the lack of snow, it was impossible to track carnivores as I did with my little sister in February 2013.The forest had still plenty of food, so the bison were more difficult to find as well.

Days were short, with the sunset at 15h20 we had a lot of hours to go before the restaurant opened. As usual, we had busy nights and our time was well-spent shining/spotlighting for large carnivores. Our daytime was filled with forest walks, and out of pure misery, we even photographed some tits…

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After my wolf sighting (2014) together with Jan Kelchtermans in the border area between Poland and Ukraine, we tried our luck once more in these completely abandoned valley’s.

It all started with a beautiful and misty morning, and as usual, the first and last hours of the day are valuable mammal time, so scanning time! We had still no clue this valley would give us our holy grail the three of us had been dreaming about for so long…

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After our evening scan, the night fell and together came the time to start heating the 2 huge spotlights and getting mentally prepared for our well practiced “shining” ritual.

Karl was driving, I took the right side for my account, and Iwan was spotlighting left. After seeing nothing as usual, Iwan suddenly asked Karl to slow down. I quickly took my bins to identify the animal behind the 2 reflecting eyes. A fraction of a second after I calmly said: Lynx.

Two more seconds later I realised what I was looking at, and nervously started shouting: LYNX! LYNX! It’s a LYNX boy’s! This caused a huge chaos: Iwan tried to find his binoculars and by doing that, he did not pay attention anymore where he was shining, so Karl and me where shouting because we didn’t see anything anymore without the lights!

Luckily the Lynx behaved like you would expect a Lynx to behave: she didn’t give a shit about who we where, what we where doing and why we had those two big spots pointed at her. So I got out of the car to get my tripod and sneaked closer with the darkness as my cover, while Karl and Iwan took care of the lightning and enjoyed the views.

The Lynx is king of the forest, and a king needs a throne. This female was using an old forest machine for that purpose. As I got up to about 50 meters from her, she got up, walked to the back of the machine and listened to what was happing behind her throne inside the forest. Shortly after she returned and started showing interest in me. She sneaked back towards the front of the machine, keeping here eyes peeled exactly on me. She got of her throne, but then took a 90-degree turn and walked along the forest edge passing right in front of me! Just as the legend of the lynx goes: she disappeared seconds after like a real forest ghost…

 

Pictures below are in order of the story.

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After many years of hard work and sleepless nights, we finally succeeded to see the species! It wasn’t the first one for Iwan and Karl, they twitched one in Sweden. Unfortunately I could not join them back then because this was just before my examination of microbiology. This night made up for my big mistake of priorities back then!

Christmas eve 2015, a night I shall NEVER ever forget!

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