Another remarkable encounter with an Eurasian Lynx

Great Bieszczady!

Assisted by my comrade and good fellow Mark Kaptein, I guide on an annual basis freelance for Naturetrek’s tour ‘In search of the Eurasian Lynx’ in Poland. One trip in particular in spring this year (2024)  could only be praised with superlatives. Perhaps even the most successful ever in terms of turning the title of this tour into reality. Overall, after incredible sightings of brown bears and wolves, we finally concluded with a long-term sighting of a lynx up close! A pure dream scenario! This after an earlier lynx that did not cooperate at all three times in a row the days previous to the night we realized this remarkable encounter! With the sighting of this lynx, it is now six of the seven tours in a row in which we have been successful in achieving the tour title. Proud!

Finding gold on the 12th of April 2024

At the classic, active beaver pond near the accommodation we suddenly, completely unexpectedly, see an Eurasian Lynx. The animal is crouched down and resting at the base of a tree trunk that has been gnawed down by beavers! Even though the animal is quite close, it is not startled by our stationary and turning vehicle. Nor from the beam of light. The motionless posture of the lynx and its camouflage ensure that the animal completely blends in with its environment. Both guides are quite nervous about the fact that some tour participants just can’t spot the lynx! But after five minutes everyone finally has the dream species of the trip in view. Moments later, both guides decide to leave the vehicle. This way no one will be looking through glass and it makes photography easier. And the lynx? He lies there and remains relaxed. Only when imitating its call, does it look up every now and then. For the rest of the time, he remains undisturbed and even dozes, completely uninterested in the activity of a very satisfied team of spectators.

This is truly a moment to cherish!

Jan is delirious with joy. This even after his first lynx almost 25 years ago! What a fantastically beautiful animal this is! Adrenaline, intense happiness and so much joy! We all experience it! During the entire period that we have the animal in view, it occasionally licks the fur on its feet clean and washes itself behind the ears. Both guides know that the animal is going to become active when they notice yawning behavior. Moments later, the lynx stands up, curls and stretches before calmly positioning itself hunched a little higher up in the bushes on the slope.

More than satisfied, we then went to the accommodation. After this ultimate observation, everyone except Christian prefers to get a slightly more normal amount of sleep. After all, the past few nights have always been long! However, Jan and Mark, accompanied by Christian, return to where we left the lynx. Upon arrival, the lynx is now sitting focused on the bank of the beaver pond. He looks in the water at the potential prey that the foraging beavers are for him. Absolutely wonderful to see the lynx at work in hunting mode! A beaver whacks its tail twice; the cat is noticed! The border guards also do that to us. Suddenly they are parked behind us. But they don’t prepare to check on us. They pass, turn, pass again and then position their vehicle perpendicular to the main road.

The cat turns, realizing she has been seen, sniffs and then wanders around near the beaver pool. This is before she starts eating some of the grass growing on the adjacent slope. A consequence of this behavior is that she vomits afterwards. Just like domestic cats that spend a lot of time outdoors, lynxes sometimes eat difficult-to-digest parts of prey animals, such as the feathers of birds and the small bones of rodents and ungulates. Cats eat grass to get rid of these difficult-to-digest prey remains. This ensures that they spit out the hard-to-digest food remains.

When the lynx moves through the vegetation on the slope adjacent to the terrace (a series of beaver pools further downstream), it is Jan who puts the vehicle in reverse and drives parallel to the lynx. Mark observes and films the data through his thermal camera. Once the lynx reaches the adjacent meadow (where we previously saw bison, roe deer, red deer and hares), the headlights of the 4×4 border guard vehicle suddenly turn on. It makes the lynx, coming our way near the front beaver pool, stop abruptly. But he doesn’t run away. He sits down and calmly surveys the situation.

Afterwards he continues to stroll through the meadow; still running parallel to the track. A patch of bushes in the middle of the meadow is inspected by the lynx and provided with a scent mark. First the lynx rubs the bushes with its cheeks before spraying them with urine. It reminds guide Jan of the many encounters with scent marking Iberian lynx in Spain.

There too you see this typical posture when marking objects in their territory, with the short tail standing upright and the rear end being pointed as high as possible in the air. Then the lynx, reaching an adjacent forest, goes into hunting mode. He walks faster and is suddenly super alert. Near the adjacent forest he shifts into stealth mode. He then disappears over a slope and out of view. We try to locate him again by taking a side road. First by vehicle and then on foot. But that does not work.

More than satisfied, we then returned to the accommodation. What an observation! Getting to see a eurasian lynx is certainly an achievement. On top of that, fully observing natural behavior like this is a privilege par excellence! Both guides and Christian feel happy, proud and privileged! In addition to the large carnivore score, the weather conditions were very pleasant, the group consisted only of such friendly travel participants and there was a continuous, positive vibe and excellent group dynamics between the travellers. Likewise the appreciation and belief in both guides. It made the trip very intense and harmonious! Dave and Neat’s words perhaps summarize the trip best: thank you for this absolutely fantastic trip!