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Tara wildlifewatching

Another opportunity emerging in Serbia is the chance to look for Brown Bear and other charismatic mammals including Wolf, Chamois, and Beech and Pine Martens. The primary place for these is Tara National Park, a middle-altitude forest in the Dinaric Alps which ranges in elevation between 1,000-1,500 m. 

It lies on Serbia’s western border with BosniaHerzegovina, 125 miles south-west of Belgrade. The perfect base to explore the area is the town of Bajina Bašta, the location for the park’s main headquarters.

This well-managed commercial forest has a superb range of hill and montane forest habitats. These hold southerly populations of hard-to-see middle European classics, including Ural and Tengmalm’s Owls, as well as other specialities including Three-toed and White-backed Woodpeckers and Collared Flycatcher. Black and Grey-headed Woodpeckers are common, and breeding Pygmy Owls have just been discovered.

Bear encounter

The indisputable superstar at Tara, though, is the population of Brown Bears. They are so successful there that they are supplying an exportable surplus to other parts of the country. There are about 50 individuals and the park staff­ have a well-developed study programme, including several feeding stations where the bears are regular visitors. We saw four individuals over three days and scored 100 per cent success during our three vigils. The moment that first huge adult bear materialized out of the evening forest for its corn-cob snack is the most exciting mammal encounter I’ve ever enjoyed in Europe.

If there is a downside to Serbia in many of the landscapes, and typically in the forests of Tara, it is that there is rather low bird diversity, especially compared with sites at a similar latitude elsewhere in southern Europe. Nowhere is this more so than at the last Serbian locality that I strongly recommend.

For more details about bearwatching contact Tara NP.

An excerpt from the article “Serbian stars” in the magazine Birdwatch UK written by Mark Cocker.

Toward nature, JP National park Tara