Thursday, 11 September 2008

Austria, part II

August 25th: Hundsheimerberg.

We continued in our surprisingly low-carbon efforts by cycling down from Bad Deutsch Altenburg to the Hundsheimerberg, where we intended to explore some more calcareous grassland for the morning. A pleasantly early start ensured that the temperature wasn't too high as we trolled up the hill, yet was high enough to be quietening the bird activity by the time we arrived. We wandered up to the meadow just beyond the village and managed to spend the entire four hours just in this area. A wide variety of flowers were still in evidence, again encouraging a nice selection of butterflies, with at least 13 species including a nice Wood White (Leptidea sinapsis) and Little Blue (Cupido minimus), a smattering of Great Banded Grayling and a host of Silver-washed and Queen-of-Spain Fritillaries (see previous post for scientific names).

Wood White Leptidea sinapsis

Silver-washed Fritillary Argynnis paphia
As-yet unidentified flower - answers on a postcard, please!

Birds were fossicking around the scrub, with plenty of Blackcap and Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia atricapilla and curruca), Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus trochilus and collybita), and single juvenile Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio) and adult male Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus). We were also treated to a quartet of Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) and a troupe of about 30 Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) overhead; the latter particularly satisfying!

We returned to BDA to borrow Regina's car and head to Marchegg for an afternoon's walk around the forest. This turned out to be far more rewarding than I'd hoped...


We followed the short 'Biberweg' (Beaver trail - shown in pink on map above) around through the forest and back along the flood embankment, as shown in the map above. The WWF reserve here is a superb patch of solid old floodplain forest ('Au' in German) with perhaps nine of the ten European woodpecker species present in season. It's one of my favourite sites for finding a number of species, including Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius), Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus) and Collared Flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis).

Good old-forest oxbow with significant amounts of dead wood, both standing and fallen.

We heard the former and saw the latter, so that could be viewed as a result, but orioles remained elusive - in part the time of year is to blame! We managed to notice a wide variety of other species, including a couple of European Beaver (Castor fiber) on a quiet ox-bow lake. Either they're increasing or these were particularly hungry; I've not seen them before at this time of day. Other species of note included Western Scarlet (Crocothemis erythraea), Western Willow Spreadwing (Lestes or Chalcolestes viridis) and Small Red-eye (Erythromma viridulum), Lesser Purple Emperor (Apatura ilia), Map (Araschnia levana), Large Copper (Lycaena dispar) and European Pond Terrapin (Emys orbicularis) - the latter presumably one from the recent reintroduction attempt.

Western Willow Spreadwing Lestes (Chalcolestes) viridis

We spent the 26th in Vienna in search of touristy things, Lippizzaner horses and an elusive friend of mine, who indeed failed to appear! Aside from the ever-present Red Squirrels (Scuirus vulgaris) and a Collared Flycatcher in the gardens of Schoenbrunn, we didn't see a great deal of wildlife. The tourist stuff was fine for a while, but palled after about 4 hours - enough city crap for a while. Back to civilisation!

Further info will follow...!

1 comment:

Mark said...

Good to see you back mate.....had a big fright at the ness last night, which turned out to be a case of my imagination running wild! I'm off on a boat for a fortnight in the north sea....I'll be in touch when I get back.Peace, brother.