Ornithological station

Envrionmental protection of Sobieszewo Island

Ornithological Station Museum and Institute of Zoology of Polish Academy of Sciences in Górki Wschodnie is a part of the Sobieszewo Island’s landscape since 1957, when he Institute of Zoology of Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) in Warsaw decided to move the Migrating Birds Research Station to the seaside. The place they choose was not random – the Island is located on the European bird migrations trail and is a popular wintering spot for many of them. What is more, there are two nature reserves: Ptasi Raj and Mewia Łacha, and the area is part of the NATURE 2000 project, with the special rights of the protected landscape status.

The common nature protection program for the Island

The natural values of Sobieszewo Island are most certainly its assets, and that is why it should be appreciated and protected with special care. It is the reason why all environmental actions and efforts undertaken by the local organizations, institutions and others, are of such a paramount importance. One of them is “Protect the Nature on Sobieszewo Island” project, running since 2010. It has been initiated by LOTOS SA with other institutions participating: Ornithological Station PAN, KULING Water Birds Research Group, Friends of Sobieszewo Island Association, Biology Sation of the University of Gdańsk and GAK “Wyspa Skarbów” Culture Institute. Thanks to the LOTOS SA financial support, a variety of actions has been made possible.

Ornithological Station in action

Ornithological Station, being a research agency, according to its statute, conducts ornithological research, including the questions of environment, migrations, placement, numbers and clutching of the birds – with the special care for the protection of the birds’ biodiversity. The Station is a part of the state environment monitoring program, provides environmental consulting and scientific education. On the premises there is also Bird Ringing Center, representing Poland in EURING (European Union organization for bird ringing schemes). The Center conducts trainings for the ringing personnel and gathers information on ringed birds in Poland and the ones who come from abroad.

Scientific education for all ages

As the part of the ‘’Protect nature on Sobieszewo Island’’ program, Ornithological Station is in charge of scientific education. It organizes lectures on ornithology, with the use of its spacious premises, large collection of exhibits and the professional knowledge of the lecturers. The lectures are deisgned mainly for the school audiences. The Station also takes part in other events of the program, such as family picnics, the Island Half marathon, or other regional events like Baltic Science Festival, International Migrating Birds Day and others. The Station is open to all kinds of educational initiatives.

Alicja Bielska

Stacja Ornitologiczna MiIZ PAN

[email protected], www.stornit.gda.pl

English translation by Magdalena Szubstarska


Green areas, beach, birds and even seals

The Vistula, one of the largest European rivers empties into Gdańsk Bay on the East. That is where “Mewia Łacha” nature reserve has been created in 1991. Its main aim is protection of the unique nesting and resting area for migrating and wintering birds. But they are not the only visitors – grey seals come there regularly, sometimes even rare species such as harbor seals and ringed seals can be spotted. “Mewia Łacha” is an extraordinary place of human and nature peaceful coexistence.


The clutching season (between April and July) is the busiest time of the year in the reserve, making it one of the most interesting places in the country, ornithology-wise. The presence of the only sandwich tern colony in Poland also contributes to that. Sandwich tern is one of the most rare clutching bird in Poland, and its preservation requires special protective actions.

It is, however, not the only tern species present in the reserve. We can also spot common terns and little terns. These species are strongly attached to the sandy islands, beaches and rivers. Apart from them, there are also nests of common ringed plovers, and even some Kentish plovers. Both plovers’ and terns’ nests are fairly simple – they look like pits in the sand. The eggs are dappled, making it very difficult to spot them on the ground.

Watch your steps and keep your dog on the leash

Those less acquainted with the birds run the risk of accidentally trampling the eggs or scaring the birds from the nests. Dogs are also dangerous on the reserve for the very same reasons. Their good sense of smell can lead them straight to the not-yet-flying hatchlings.

THE MIGRATING BIRDS – also during fall and winter.

The nesting birds are not the only reason for visiting the reserve, as the migrating birds are no less interesting and spectacular. As the name suggests (“mewa” means “seagull”), it is perfect place for the seagulls, but they are not the only ones who find shelter and food on the reserve. During the spring and fall migrations it becomes resting and feeding place for thousands of birds – seagulls, terns, plovers and ducks. Because Sobieszewo Island is the place where sweet and salty waters of Vistula and the Baltic Sea meet, there is an abundance of invertebrates which makes the area a perfect stop for the migrating birds.


Fall is the time of gathering for the birds wintering at the Polish seaside. The river mouth is quiet and shelters herds of thousands from the hardships of winter. Among these birds are: long-tailed duck, common goldeneye, velvet scoter, greater scaup and tufted duck. We can also spot and observe other birds such as smew, horned grebe and white tailed eagle (the one you can see on Polish and Serbian coats of arms).

Thousands of birds gathered on this relatively small area is bound to be a show of colors, shapes and sounds, on the ground, water and sky above our heads.

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