Readers’ wildlife photographs

Today we’re having a special version of the RWPs—vacation shots of Leon and his staff, Elzbieta Wierzbicka and Andrzej Marciniak. (The humans took the photos.) All three are vacationing in a little-known region of Europe called Lemkivshchyna, which includes the region where Poland abuts Slovakia. A map is below, with areas identified by the dialects spoken by of their inhabitants.


Nominally, Leon and his staff went there to do the final paperwork on the wooden house they bought, which will  be dismantled, transported to near Dobrzyn, and then re-erected. But they’re also taking a hiking vacation before school starts again (Elzbieta and Andrzej are teachers). Elzbieta posted some lovely photos of the area on her Facebook page, which I reproduce with permission.

It’s a lovely area, and probably one that few tourists frequent. We’ll see the hilly landscape, the beautiful old wooden structures, the pervasive signs of Catholicism, and, of course, Leon hiking! I’ve put sections of the Wikipedia entry on the area in between the pictures; those sections are indented. Enjoy!

Lemkovina (Polish: Łemkowszczyzna; Rusyn: Лемковина/Lemkovina; Ukrainian: ЛемківщинаLemkivshina) is a region in Europe that is traditionally inhabited by the Lemko people. While the Lemko are a distinct ethnic group, they consider themselves to be part of the broader Rusyn and/or Ukrainian communities. Lemkovina mostly stretches along the border between Poland and Slovakia covering some western territories of Ukraine.

The region forms an ethnographic peninsula 140 km (87 mi) long and 25–50 km (16–31 mi) wide from the Ukrainian border within Polish and Slovak territory. The Lemko region occupies the lowest part of the Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains—most of the Low Beskids, the western part of the Middle Beskyd, and the eastern fringe of the Western Beskyd. It includes the higher elevations of the Carpathians of modern-day Poland, extending to around the Poprad River to the west (see: Ruś Szlachtowska), and extending to the east as far as the region around Sanok, where it meets the Boyko region. The corresponding latitudes of the adjacent highlands of present-day Slovakia are also included by some in the description of Lemko-land.



Previously a frontier area under the nominal control of Great Moravia, Lemkivshchyna became part of Poland in medieval Piast times. It was made part of the Austrian province of Galicia due to the First Partition of Poland in 1772.[1]Parts were briefly independent under the Lemko-Rusyn Republic, and later annexed to Poland.



After the deportation of Lemkos from the northern part of this area in 1946, only the southern section, southwest of the Carpathian Mountains, known as the Prešov region in Slovakia, has remained inhabited by Lemkos.


Leon (and Andrzej) on the trail!










The landscape is typical of medium-height-mountain terrain, with ridges reaching 1,000 m (3,300 ft) and sometimes 1,300 m (4,300 ft). Only small parts of southern Low Beskids and the northern San river region have a low-mountain landscape. A series of mountain passes along the Torysa River and Poprad River—Tylych Pass (688 m (2,257 ft)), Dukla Pass (502 m (1,647 ft)), and Łupków Pass (657 m (2,156 ft))—facilitate communications between Galician and Transcarpathian Lemkos.


Leon on the trail, leading Elzbieta:




That is not Polish language!


A lovely old wooden church:


And our hero, resting his paws. Sometimes he’s carried in the backpack, which has a mesh Cat Compartment:



  1. Posted August 24, 2016 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Looks really beautiful. I miss green like that.

    • Dominic
      Posted August 24, 2016 at 8:08 am | Permalink

      I’d move there tomorrow! Why would anyone ever leave? Oh, probably no jobs… the usual reason for rural depopulation.

  2. Debbie Coplan
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Thank you for these pictures. It is very exciting to see as my grandfather was from Lviv which is right in this general area.

  3. Hempenstein
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Lovely countryside, maybe reminiscent of NY between Binghamton and Albany?

    And have we seen a pic of the house they’re deconstructing? I remember one here not long ago but don’t remember it in re. deconstruction.

  4. darrelle
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Love the pictures. They remind me of my time living in Germany. Very similar environment. We spent a great deal of time exploring through the wooded hills. Some fascinating, often very old, things to be found on a regular basis.

    And the food is great too! Down in the valley below the town I lived in was a lone building in the middle of the woods that housed pumps that pumped water up to the town above. An elderly couple lived there as well. The man maintained the pumps and the wife operated a Gasthaus out of one part of the building. I don’t think I ever knew their actual names. I just knew them as Oma and Opa. It was a regular gathering place for the towns-people (a very small town). Some afternoons half the town would hike down the hill and through the woods to the Gasthaus to party all evening outside under the trees with lights hanging among the branches.

    Sometimes I would stop by the Gasthaus by myself after exploring through the woods for hours. Oma always took good care of me. Fresh Braunschweiger with mustard, onions and pickles on fresh baked schwarzbrot. Or she would go out into the woods and find these mushrooms that grew on the sides of fallen trees and looked like pancakes. She would cook them just like a pan seared steak, in butter. I didn’t even like mushrooms, but those were delicious. She would never take any money when I offered it, so I would hide some under the plate.

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Very nice looking area. Also would guess they get plenty of rain as it looks very green everywhere.

  6. Posted August 24, 2016 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    I must be reading this blog too much. Last night I had a dream that I was walking through a botanical garden and came across a tiny bird that could fold its wings and legs until it could effectively mimic a spider. I wanted to take a pic for Jerry’s Reader’s Wildlife Pics, but my cellphone camera would not work and I was frustrated that neither Jerry nor anyone else would believe me!

  7. gscott
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    Nice to see these pictures – I lived in Prešov in 2008, and spent lots of time riding my bicycle around the countryside. I even rode to Tilicz (PL) one time – that must have been the Tylych Pass referred to above.

    The thing made out of sticks with the non-Polish writing is a ‘patriarchal cross’ of the style popular in Slovakia (with a 3rd slanted bar at the bottom). I’m guessing it’s dedicated to Saint John since the bottom writing says ‘S. G(?). Ivan’. The S is Sveti (Saint), but I don’t know what the G is.

    • gscott
      Posted August 24, 2016 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

      Oh, yeah, the letters at the top of the cross are the Cyrillic equivalent of the Latin ‘INRI’: I, N, Ts, I, where Ts stand for Tsar.
      So it means ‘Here is Jesus, Tsar of the Jews’.

  8. Mike
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Reminds me of Ireland with all the Shrines and Crosses you come across, but its a beautiful place.

  9. Posted August 25, 2016 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Forgive my usual cultural question, but do the Lemkos have any special foods of note? 🙂

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