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E Austria in autumn - Trip Report - August 09

John Muddeman
28/12/2009 12:57:46

Another visit to this wildlife-rich region of central Europe, in the SE corner of Austria and close to the vast Lake Neusiedl.

Posted in: Flora, Butterflies and Moths, Birds | Non-Iberian

European Tree Frog © John MuddemanEuropean Tree Frog
Hyla arborea
© John Muddeman
Another excellent autumn visit to this rewarding area of C Europe, based adjacent to the huge, albeit very shallow, Lake Neusiedl and its vast reedbeds.

The full trip report can be seen on the Travelling Naturalist website, but once again, this relaxed trip, shared with our friends from Limosa Wildlife Holidays, was a terrific reminder that a wealth of wildlife can be found in areas not widely renowned for being either particularly wild or indeed exotic!

Saker © John MuddemanSaker Falco cherrug© John MuddemanWhile autumn in E Austria at times is a battle against the bird-hassling wine growers, with their artillery of sky rockets, air bombs, low-flying aircraft and abundant glinting and shiny materials to scare off the enormous flocks of Eurasian Starlings, which can decimate a grower's grape crop in minutes, it is also remarkably productive! The vast Lake Neusiedl, despite its open-water areas being rather bird-free, has vast tracts of adjacent reedbeds and shallow muddy edges, particularly ideal for wildfowl and waders. These are also a refuge from the more open areas around the area's steppic lakes, lying within the large Seewinkel National park, which also contains ancient flower-rich meadows. Combining this with nearby rough agricultural areas, particularly noted for their raptors and Great Bustard populations, plus the rich deciduous woodlands on the low Small Spreadwing © John MuddemanSmall SpreadwingLestes virens© John Muddeman ridges and down in the larger river flood-plains, plus the limestone of the mighty Schneeberg mountain, the "King of the eastern Alps" with its wonderful alpine flora, means a wealth of species can be encountered.

And this autumn was no different, with a superb range of birds including Ferruginous Duck, Black Stork, Great Bittern, Pygmy Cormorant, 14 raptors including Saker, White-tailed and Eastern Imperial Eagles, Great Bustard, 18 species of wader, European Bee-eater, 6 species of woodpecker, Spotted Nutcracker, Alpine Chough and Moustached Warbler of most note! But European Souslik, Alpine Chamois, European Tree-frog, 28 butterflies including Silver-spotted Skipper, Large Copper, Lesser Purple Emperor and Map Butterfly, and 11 species of dragon- and damselflies were a really superb supporting cast, without even considering some of the lovely plants of the area, including several autumn-flowering gentians of particular note!

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