Rdeisky & Polistovsky Zapovedniks


More than half the enormous Polistovo-Lovatskoye Swamp—a virtually impassable wetland ecosystem of bogs, marshes, and sphagnum, largest in northwestern Russia—is protected in adjoining Rdeisky and Polistovsky Zapovedniks, together more than 300 square miles (805 km2) of conserved land.

Populating its undisturbed vastness, designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, is the largest nesting assemblage of long-billed Eurasian curlews (aka whaup) in Europe, with greater golden plovers, black-throated (arctic) loons, ospreys, and white-tailed eagles.

Within the wetland are a multitude of large and small lakes with ridges of coniferous and broadleaf woodland communities. These attract northern hazel hens and capercaillies fanning out tails in courtship dances, shy black storks, and moose, badgers, European mink, and Alpine hares. Among protected plants are superb orchids, including moorland spotted, meadow, greater and lesser butterfly, bird’s nest, fragrant, Baltic marsh, and common twayblade.

Many of these floral and faunal species have all but disappeared elsewhere in the region; but here one still finds golden eagles, great gray shrikes, greater spotted eagles, northern eagle owls, willow ptarmigans.

 The great gray owl’s feathery facial discs detect faint sounds which they direct to bony cups surrounding asymmetrical ear openings to triangulate and precisely locate prey, plunging through two feet (60 cm) of snow to grasp in their talons an unsuspecting rodent. Tall, silent, golden-eyed, they range through boreal forests across Russia, Norway, Canada, and Alaska.

The great gray owl’s feathery facial discs detect faint sounds which they direct to bony cups surrounding asymmetrical ear openings to triangulate and precisely locate prey, plunging through two feet (60 cm) of snow to grasp in their talons an unsuspecting rodent. Tall, silent, golden-eyed, they range through boreal forests across Russia, Norway, Canada, and Alaska.

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