Gugny village and the Station are placed on a meadow with pine forest on dunes on the east side and with a narrow strap of alder forest on the west that separates the meadow from the vast wetland of the lower basin of the Biebrza river. The river is at the distance of about 6 km from Gugny; it flows along the opposite edge of the valley. The valley is even wider downstream of the river and the width of the marsh reaches 13 km there.
The lower basin of Biebrza has the most natural character in the whole river valley, having suffered least from previous drainage trials. A natural zonal pattern of plant communities, resulting from the differences in hydrology, has been preserved here. Areas seasonally flooded by the Biebrza are occupied by reed beds. Moving away from the river, there are large open areas of the fen mires (sedge marshes) dominated by species of tall sedges; farther from the river are sedge tussocks. Alder woods are situated at the edge of the wet river valley. The vast areas of fen mires are diversified by sand dunes, usually overgrown by trees, and locally called “grądziki”.
The diversity of flora in the lower Biebrza basin is tremendous and includes the lady's slipper orchid, the globeflower, boreal elements as the dwarf birch, the downy willow or the Jacob’s ladder. Diversity of plant communities and habitats in Biebrza valley is reflected in species richness of the fauna. Elk (American “moose”), and ruffs lekking during their spring migration, are the symbols and the main tourist attractions of the area. A boardwalk through a fen mire in Ławki Marsh, near the Station, is the best place for watching the aquatic warbler, a small, globally threatened passerine bird. Not much is needed to enjoy the nature in Gugny; it is possible to watch elk, roe deer, foraging cranes and spotted eagles, through large windows of the seminar room in the Station while sipping the morning coffee. Black storks also visit the meadow. You may listen to the distant voice of the eagle by simply sitting in the Station’s porch, and a happy few have heard wolves’ howling.
More about the nature of Biebrza National Park and Biebrza valley may be found in:
- Hilbers, D. Crossbill Guide: Biebrza Marshes, Poland. Crossbill Guides Foundation, KNNV Publishing, 2005.
- Biebrza River Valley. Oficyna Wydawnicza FOREST, 2009.
- Kłosowski G., Kłosowski T. Prawdziwa Polska. Biebrza – sześć pór roku. The Real Poland. The Biebrza Valley – Six Seasons. MULTICO Oficyna Wydawnicza, 2007 [in Polish and English].
- Kupryjanowicz J., Konarzewski M. Nadrzecznymi ścieżkami Podlasia. Along the Riverside Paths of Podlasie. Trans Humana, Białystok, 2008 [Polish and English texts].
- Mazurek Ł. Biebrza Site Guide. Where to watch birds and large mammals of the Biebrza Marshes. Wild Poland Site Guides.
- Werpachowski C. Lista gatunków roślin naczyniowych Biebrzańskiego Parku Narodowego i Kotliny Biebrzańskiej. List of vascular plants of the Biebrza National Park and the Biebrza Valley. Biebrzański Park Narodowy, Osowiec-Twierdza, 2003 [in Polish, English and German].
Biebrza National Park – link
Lady’s slipper orchids (photo by Emilia Brzosko)