The main objective of the project was to stop the decline and improve the number of great snipe in the Upper Narew Valley Natura 2000 area. This goal was achieved through the implementation of the following objectives:


Objective 1. To stop the loss of selected great snipe habitats by enabling extensive land use by mowing and grazing. The Narew is an anastomosing river, meaning it flows simultaneously in many beds between which islands form. The flood zone is a very complex mosaic of various depth depressions, occupied by oxbow lakes and long-lasting water pools. Therefore, now when manual mowing is no longer practiced, the use of some surfaces with mechanical equipment is very difficult or even impossible. This fact, in turn, causes the disappearance (succession) of successive patches of habitats formerly used by the great snipe and other wetland bird species with similar habitat preferences. The goal was achieved through the construction of fords and the construction (renovation) of access roads to the meadows.

  1. pl
  2. en

Conservation of Great Snipe in the Upper Narew River Valley

Completed aims and activities of the project

© Mateusz Matysiak

Objective 2. Restoration of the appropriate structure of the vegetation and feeding conditions of the great snipe and other wader birds on selected areas through extensive mowing and grazing. Until recently, extensive mowing and grazing was carried out across most of ​​the Upper Narew Valley, which is currently in a very advanced phase of decline. Hence, there is a problem of progressive natural succession. One of the goals of the project was to recreate the open areas of meadows overgrown by shrubs and trees.


Objective 3. Optimisation of the hydrological conditions at great snipe sites. The lowering of the groundwater level, along with the disappearance of the use of meadows and pastures, is one of the main reasons for the decline in the population of wader birds in river valleys, including the great snipe. The implementation of this objectives was possible mainly on strategically purchased land with lek areas and great snipe nesting habitats.


Objective 4. Studies of the habitat and food preferences of the breeding population of the great snipe in the Upper Narew Valley, development of land use methods supporting the availability of food and a thorough assessment of the population size. The diagnosis of the distribution and population size of the great snipe in Poland was not sufficient. This was problematic due to several difficulties:

  • The number of birds staying in lek areas varies during the season, some birds are territorial males, and some are males arriving from neighbouring lekking arenas or young or migratory birds.
  • Birds sometimes create short-term, temporary lekking sites which later disappear.
  • The variability of the sex ratio in the population is unknown, which makes it difficult to estimate the number of breeding pairs at the sites.
  • Great snipes males display in the evening and at night, they have a fairly quiet voice, which is audible from a distance of approx. 300 m, which, due to the small number of males taking part in the lekking, and depending on the weather conditions, makes it difficult to detect in the field.
  • Also, they are difficult to detect during the day - cryptic coloration and a very short escape distance (6.1m ± 3.5).

In the light of the above, it seems that the assessment of the population size may be flawed, and the identification of the breeding sites has been incomplete, as evidenced by the detection of new sites in north-eastern Poland.


Objective 5. Reducing the pressure of tourists at one of the lek, the location of which is more widely known and attracts numerous observers.


Objective 6. Development of the National Action Plan for the protection of the great snipe. The document was developed on the basis of empirical data for the entire national population and contributed to the strategic protection of this species on a national scale with the participation of the Ministry of Environment, Regional Directorates for Environmental Protection, non-governmental organizations, scientific institutions and volunteers.

Foundation Natura International Polska is registered in the National Register of Associations in Poland (KRS): 0000308204. VAT: PL5783045121. REGON: 280381278

Address: Żyzna 18/16, 15-161 Białystok, Poland. Tel: +48 58 7356529. E-mail: