On the 10th - 12th of April Baltic Environmental Forum’s initiative group Gamtoje.org has organised an annual bird counting festival “Vidur girių” (in the midst of the woods) in Marcinkonys village to encourage people to get closer to nature. During the festival everyone could take part in different activities and learn something new about ancient traditions of Dzūkija region and the wildlife in Čepkeliai Strict Nature Reserve, as well as to hear the voices of Common Cranes – a very rare bird in Lithuania.
Festival started with a little fair where local farmers and craftsmen exhibited their goods and demonstrated their skills. Festival’s visitors could buy homemade bread, sweets, honey and had an opportunity to try traditional soup made from mushrooms and cabbage which was cooked on fire. Craftsmen taught people how to make candles from beeswax, make shoes from tree bask and carve wooden sculptures. Organizers of the event also didn't forget about the youngest participants of the festival. Children played with Easter eggs, learned traditional handicrafts, then changed to fancy dresses and went on a forest hike where they were taught how to recognise the footprints of wild animals and get around in the woods. But the most interesting part of the event began the next morning. Before the dawn when the cranes return to the nests and make their territorial calls people were recording in which part of forest their calls were heard. After several hours of such "sound hunting" all participants gathered back at the office to make the conclusions about the state of crane population at Čepkeliai.
This event was a good opportunity to see nature, to discover new information about its inhabitants, to learn more about local traditions and crafts. So, we would definitively recommend you to visit this festival next year!