GB No. 4(23)/96
The Kielce Voivodship is a region of heterogenous landscapes. Its southern part consists mainly of fields, the middle one of meadows, and the northern part is thick forests covering the slopes of The Góry Świętokrzyskie mountains. However, they do not form a dense forest complex. The acrages of larger forest complexes in this area are about 15,000 to 20,000 hectares. Although woods covering this area used to be heavily exploited, many forest fragments have preserved their natural character. The type of species characteristic for Puszcza Świętokrzyska resembles the fauna of other forests covering Central Poland.
Among species living there one should mention forest gallinaceans; namely the black and hazel grouse, which are a rarity in Poland.
Only thirty years ago the population of black grouse in this area were estimated at 2,000 to 3,000. However, this number is neither exact nor reliable. Presently it is estimated that only about 300 black grouse inhabit this area. This number was given by the Polish Hunting Society; and from what I know, many regional circles of PHS have never made any inventory of forest gallinaceans, making only rough estimates. One thing is certain: the black grouse in Poland is rapidly dying out, especially in the territory of Puszcza Świętokrzyska. Larger populations can still be met in forests of the regions of Bliżyna, Stąporków and Końskie. A black grouse is a rarity in the Suchedniów forest inspectorate, although one can sometimes hear in spring the love song of a tooting cock close to Zbrojów.
The largest decrease in the number of grouse during the last few years was observed in the territory of The Sieradowice Landscape Park. It was caused by a sudden destruction of their biotope (thoughtless, intensive cutting down of private forests). Those forests which used to be tooting-grounds are now full of tractors transporting cut down trunks and the whir of saws. Birds living there were forced to migrate. Single specimens, mainly hens, can be found in the least expected places. Two years ago I saw a hen feeding at the edge of a small forest clearing surrounded by pine-trees. This spring no tooting-grounds on the said territory were reported, although separate trails and feathers were found occassionally.
The situation with hazel grouse is a bit different. This bird leads a very secret life, and it is very difficult to estimate its population. Hazel grouse are most often met in deep forests of southern and eastern Poland. They live far from human dwellings and prefer mixed forests with birch trees, alders, rowans and spruces.
In certain regions of the Góry Świętokrzyskie mountains, hazel grouse are quite numerous. Recent observations held on the territory of The Sieradowice Landscape Park even indicate a small increase of their numbers. Despite this single positive symptom, the areas on which the species can be found are decreasing.
One should analyse why the Grouse is becoming extinct. The main reason is human thoughtlessness. Black and hazel grouse are especially sensitive to any human interference in their natural environment; drainage, cutting down trees, growing tourism, introducton of conceneric stands of trees, bullets, etc. While a black grouse is a preserved species, a hazel grouse is still on the list of hunted animals. Although it is not frequently hunted for, shooting is also responsible for the existing status quo.
Finally, let me appeal through Zielone Brygady to all "greens" to pay more attention to the protection of these wonderful, wild, dying out birds. Let' s not allow them to become extinct.
ul. Ułanów 46/4,
31-455 Kraków, Poland
reprinted from Zielone Brygady Sept. '96