Lena Lebedeva-Hooft (lenaswan) wrote,
Lena Lebedeva-Hooft

65. Дарвинский заповедник / Darwinskiy nature reserve (part1)

Дорогие друзья,

По просьбе мужа пишу всё-таки на английском, - с некоторыми угрызениями совести, хотя и понимаю - среди друзей много читающих. Прошу простить тех, кто не-англо-говорящий, ну да там есть и фото...

All the story of this travel started actually on April 28th, when we had our first larger quarrel with Jan Jaap (JJ) who just learnt after my working day of Saturday that on Monday, legally day off in Russia, I have to be in the office again as some appointments were then a must. Rescue solution came with arrival of Misha Romanov (he helps technically with www.altai-sayan.ru) and later with the phone call to V.M.Galushin – finally his utmost advise was: “Forget about Plushan’ and try and call Andrei Kuznetsov in Darwinskiy reserve – Ospreys must have definitely be of interest there). And well! Phoned – we are welcome. Scanned for car to be rented – found and agreed. Called in emergency to my bosses for three days off 2-3-4 May… All done.
And finally on the evening of 30th we were with a reasonably OK Kia-Spectra (1350 RUR per day plus RUR 3000 extra as we declared final destination in Vologda region). Shopping, packing, scanning for maps and road info, another phone call to the reserve… Ready-to-go!

01 May 2007

Confess it was my stupid thinking that leaving on May 1st we will avoid all the police on the roads. What a mistake! Dozens and hundreds of them everywhere, all in special-day-yellow-and-posh uniform, all certainly overly watching for strange cars and drivers. Moscow number plates saved though…

As explained by Andrei the road from Moscow via Sergiev Posad via Kalyazin then Uglich, then Nekouz, Breitovo and finally villages of Nikolo-Vysokoye and towards Protiv’ye (village where we left the car) took us sevel hours – with one extra spent in Uglich for sightseeing.

A lot about this town (part of the “Golden Ring Route” can be found both in Russian and in English at http://www.uglich.ru/, so I will only mention that this is a little town on the upper Volga, it is elder than Moscow (founded in 937), and is famous because of Tsarevich Dmitry murder in 1591 (read more http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dmitry_Ivanovich). Formerly was rather prosperous, but now seems tiny and poor, but still clean and proud. Although there are good local factories (watches, linen, glass, something else), local people seem to earn now – besides state and social earnings – mainly from tourism – souvenirs and stitching. Within one hour we just managed to visit Tsarevich Dmitry church, and small  museum in the palace.

This is part of the wall-paintings (in restoration), and some Russian samovars which impressed Jan Jaap and if not the prices he would have certainly bought one.

Actually it was in Uglich that we saw the last larger petrol station on the way, thus it was wise to fill up. Very noticeable on the road was that lots of smaller churches in villages are currently in restoration, often only the crosses and onions first, but this is still a good symptom. However there are still lots of signs of abandonment, especially in the smaller off-road and remote villages. Such as this.

Yes, what also impressed on the road – was related to a warning from Andrei about “mud in Dyudikovo village”. You cross the bridge and there it is, go around on the right side. THAT WAS REALLY “PLANTED” place for all strangers to get stuck! And there were two 4x4 cars (UAZ) and even a tractor all staying there and kind-of-waiting for clients! Would imagine that if we were stuck we would have been most welcome with payment for help – and as we were told later that was the real case why the muddy place was kept as it was. Everybody has to earn!


Finally at around 18-30 we were in Protiv’ye village, reloaded all luggage into the motor-boat, left the car at the house of the local man (warden of the reserve), and headed across the Mologa river towards the reserve settlement, Borok.


Darwinsky reserve on the web: http://www.darvinskiy.ru/ - no English, but great photo galleries.

Andrei Kuznetsov is the Director of the reserve, and we know each other well from the old times when I was in ornithology and in Russian Bird Conservation Union. Raptors are Andrei’s passion, and it is birds of prey and nature that keeps him hard-working, also as administrator and manager. He was often telling that there are more Ospreys and White-tailed Eagles breeding in the reserve? – and finally we have a chance to see it ourselves!

Aha, this is Andrei at work (effort to get to the place to get science data, not administrative)!

Arrived, unpacked – in the guest house kindly provided from the reserve, had shashlyks with Andrei and his wife Irina, and then banya (great!) with even an attempt to swin in the Mologa river. The latter, with +6 C only, was still rather cold, even after heat in the banya.


02 May 2007

In the morning while still in bed heard raindrops, but later realized that it was melting snow. After the nice sunshine of the 1st May that was how the village surroundings looked in the morning of 2nd May!

And one more:

For all the reserve staff, including Andrei, 2nd May was a working day, so we could only go together by boat during his lunch-time to the nearest bay.

There apart from hundreds of ducks (Wigeon, Mallard, Teals, some few Shovelers), Whooper Swans and gulls – amazing Moose, that was standing still in the water on the coast and escaped only when we were really close up.

The reserve was established upon advice of a scientific commission which explored in late 1930s the area where the Mologa and Sheksna rivers were joining the Volga, and where in 1935-1941 and to 1947 a big water reservoir was formed after a big dam was installed around the city of Rybinsk. Filling of the water reservoir required relocation of some 130 thousand of rural people, - including 408 collective farms (kolkhozes), 46 rural small hospitals, 258 smaller enterprises. Besides, 3645 square km of forests had to be logged, and 150 kilometers of railways, roads, and five bridges had to be re-constructed. In total 600 villages, three ancient Orthodox monasteries and entire old Russian town of Mologa disappeared under the waters. Logging and dam construction was largely done by VOLGOLAG prisoners, and in current press among all the GULAG prison camps VOLGOLAG was called “one of the most horrible islands”. It existed from December 1935 to April 1953. In 1936 it had 19.420 prisoners, in 1941 just before the war – reached its maximum of 85.509 prisoners…. While writing this I found the lists of some of the names on the Yaroslavl Memorial pages, found some data on how reservoir was made and by whom, but realize after few scans of Russian Internet that most of its terrible history is still unknown and has to be explored…. Thousands of graves of these prisoners are covered by waters of the reservoir: it is officially recognized that only in 1942 over 16 thousand prisoners died and were buried in camps of the VOLGOLAG. Facts on VOLGOLAG in Russian: http://www.memo.ru/history/NKVD/GULAG/r3/r3-62.htm

One of the monasteries that disappeared under the waters was Leushinsky Monastery (Nunnery), that was in early 1900s the largest in Russia with over 700 nuns there. Abbess Taisiya, who founded the nunnery, was the spiritual daughter of famous archpriest St. John of Kronstadt; - her photo is in the museum of the nature reserve and also at one of the remote reserve warden stations. Good thing of the reserve is that they keep very close links with the church, also with Leushino monastery section in St-Petersburg.

The reserve, as caretaker of all the memories and souls of those who stay under the waters of Rybinsk water reservoir got the saint blessing of the Orthodox Church.

Well, coming now back to nature…

In the afternoon went to the forest along one of the dry roads – and this was also fantastic! Within few hundred meters from houses – tracks of wild Boars, Moose, all the chorus of birds (Regwing, Chaffinch, Robins, Song Thrush, Chiff-chaffs, Pied Flycatchers, Great and Willow Tits…) 


Oh, yes, certainly. Snakes are awake and showing off / warming themselves up – but please don’t ask why I did not take away a twig as the snake is not poisonous ;-)

That was the day. In the evening visited the small museum of the nature reserve, then Andrei explained to us the way to Osprey nests and to the bog and around, gave us a satellite image of the area to make it easier to find around where we are, and then agreed that we are on our own while he goes to the second office of the nature reserve in the town of Cherepovets, Vologda region.

03 May 2007

Today, putting on the rubber boots kindly provided by Andrei (stupid me, I should have remembered that Darwinsky reserve needs us in rubber boots!), we started for a 6-km walk across the bog towards Osprey nests. Tell you, walking through the bog in rubber boots which are 2 sizes larger than needed is an incredible effort! We made it!

And here is Jan Jaap (as if just for scaling ;-))

Andrei said that we can climb the tower in front of one of the nests, and that nest is likely uninhabited – and in fact it was! Ospreys were incubating and after Jan Jaap climbed down and disappeared in the bog one of the birds immediately landed on the nest (while I was in the hide) and sat on the nest. Fantastic!

Below - two photos and then the photo of  "how it was made"!

!!! see bird landing on the nest - while we were finally both out (but still close enough to take pictures).

Well, for May 4th, 2007, Andrei took his day off and we went by boat to remote places in the inner part of the reserve (lakes) - in search for geese cxoncentrations, nesting Whooper Swans, checking all known and GPS-ed nests of White-tailed Sea Eagles...

This is still to come, meanwhile - another picture of what you will see in Part 2.

To be continued...

Tags: Дом(а) * House & family, Животные * Animals, Моря и вода вообще * Seas and water, Поездки * Travel, Полезное для ООПТ * Useful for PAs, Природа вообще * Nature General, Птицы * Birds, Россия * Russia, Фото мои * Photos My Own, Хорошее душевное * Good for soul
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