|Birding Hotspots in Austria|
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The following is my first installment in "Birding Hotspots in Austria". More to come.
There is an 8 km (13 mi.) trail going around the entire lake. A small sectionabout 200 m (560 ft.)of it is asphalt. About 1 km (0.6 mi.) is a footpath. The rest is a gravel road, on which only bicycles, horse-back riders, horse-drawn carriages and park officials in motor vehicles are allowed to drive. There are very many cyclers and also some large horse-drawn carriages, usually with about 20 noisy passengers in them. In the spring you are likely to meet hundreds of birdwatchers with spotting scopes, and in the fall you will probably hear the gunshots of hunters. All this disturbance doesn't seem to bother the birdlife much as they usually ignore the goings-on around them. This is because most people obey the many signs asking you to keep on the trail.
Coming from Apetlonabout 2.4 km (1.4 mi.) awaythere is a parking lot with snack bar on the right side of the road. As you enter the trail you will meet a park ranger or two in a small building, who will require you to pay a small fee for the usage of the trail. Here you can also buy some souvenirs such as literature and slides, but also local products like honey. There are several observation towers all around the lake. About 200 m (560 ft.) off the asphalt section of the trail, there is an educational center run by the WWF called the Seewinkelhof, which is well worth a visit. There are several displays, which are especially appealing to children, and of course several items for sale.
The lake itself varies in size considerably from year to year, depending on how much precipitation there has been. Sometimes the water comes right up to the trail at many places and sometimes it is 100-200 m away at its nearest point. Due to this fact, you can visit the area every year and see a different composition of species, which can lead to pleasant surprises.
Part of the trail goes by the Wörtenlacke, a smaller lake which in some years dries up altogether, but otherwise also harbors very many interesting species.
In the spring you can see the young of several species of shorebirds and ducks, while in the fall you can experience several species of goose, mostly Greylag and Bean Goose, flying over from their feeding grounds and landing on the lake for the evening.
The vineyards, fields, hedgerows and natural meadow along other parts of the trail help increase the variety of species.
A herd of cattle is kept to keep bushes and trees from taking over.
Other than birds you might be lucky enough to see the European Souslik (Citellus citellus), a kind of ground squirrel in the westernmost part of its range.
Some of the more interesting birds (not a complete checklist):
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