Flora and Fauna in the Carpathians
National Parks in the Carpathian region are places of legends and legendary sights, some of them listed by UNESCO and unmatched for bird life. Several unique species of our hoofed friends roam the extensive plains the roll up to the mountains in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia.
Thanks to slower urban spread and development in Poland, some species and habitat types which have disappeared in the West still exist here, such as the great European primeval forest – Puszcza Bialowieska (Bialowieza Forest). Living in this forest are elik, red deer, and Poland’s biggest animal, the European bison. Did you know that all European bison have ancestors from Bialowieza? Poland is a migratory bird magnet; you can observe rollers on fallow fields, ruff on the stubble, cranes on the wetlands and eagles over the meadows. It can also be a pleasure to encounter members of the daintier species: the Pieniny mountains are the habitat for the most beautiful Polish butterfly, the Parnassius apollo. You may meet a dark-olive Aesculapian snake or a bright blue (the guy) or orange (the gal) moor frog.
Hungary’s majestic Lake Balaton is home to pike-perch, bream, carp, eel and razor fish, while its reed beds harbour various species of waterfowl, making it an exceptional bird watching site. Up to 20,000 bean geese alight here during their migration, and the lake also holds all species of European heron, the great white egret and large numbers of nesting greylag geese. Elsewhere, the dolomite slopes of the Keszthely Hills feature steppeland and dry scrub forest of Hungarian oak. Keep a look out for the rare leopard’s bane as well as orchids in the volcanic hills of Badacsony, Csobánc and Szent György, Nearby you can view native Hungarian animal breeds at the Salföld Nature Conservation Site .
Even though the forests and mountains of the Czech Republic have been inhabited and cultivated since ancient times, there are still untouched wild places. The wolf, wildcat, lynx, big bustard and grouse all consider the Czech wilderness home. Zoological gardens are also great places to spend an animal interest day when you need some formalized programming to keep wee travelers entertained.
Slovakia has the right environment for approximately 2,400 original species of plants and grasses, mushrooms, mosses and lichens, so leaf watchers, come hither! The hot and dry lowlands have primarily oak forests; be sure to look for the the small-leaf lime tree, the symbol of all Slavs. The mountains are cooler and wetter, resulting in the most common Slovak forest, of beech trees - where oodles of mushroom varieties grow, much to the diner’s delight. Higher up where the soil is less rich, spruce trees thrive, mixed with pine and fir forests. To see an impressive array of critters, visit the the Zoo of Bojnice, with 373 animal species. Children will be enthralled with the monkey and elephant pavilions, the aquarium and the terrarium.
Serbia has no fewer than nine UNESCO-listed wetlands, including the Golija-Studenica Biosphere Reserve, notable not only for its exceptionally well-preserved natural resources but also for its cultural resources. Plant and animal varieties which have disappeared and become extinct in other parts of Europe are still thriving here, living in the green marshlands and dense forests of Serbia. While you’re animal spotting, you can also look for the plentiful abundance of medicinal herbs, mushrooms and forest fruits.
Recognized as the world's third most biologically diverse area - after Australia's Great Coral Reef and Ecuador's Galapagos Archipelago – The Danube Delta in Romania forms the second largest and best preserved of Europe's deltas: 2,200 square miles of rivers, canals, marshes, tree-fringed lakes and reed islands. You know this is heaven for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts in general. Its passages are teaming with the highest concentration of bird colonies in all of Europe. The maze of canals bordered by thatch, willows and oaks entangled in lianas, offers the perfect breeding ground for countless species of birds, some of them from as far away as China and Africa. Millions of Egyptian white pelicans arrive here every spring to raise their young, while equal numbers of Arctic geese come here to escape the harsh winters of Northern Europe.