Most people thinking about Austria have immediately snow, mountains and hiking in mind. A very different, but extremely interesting picture, is offered for the birder in Burgenland, in the area around the lake Neusiedl. The question is, however, is a bird paradise at the same time also a photographer´s paradise? The landscape in the easternmost tip of Austria is a typical Puszta landscape with numerous, small, flat salt lakes, the so-called “Lacken”, and a big water body but only one meter deep the Lake Neusiedl (German: Neusiedler See) or Fertő. With an area of about 320 km², which is almost half covered with high reeds, it is considered to be the largest steppe lake in Europe and has a decisive influence on the climate in this area. This is very mild in this region. Temperatures in excess of 30 ° C may already prevail in May. Fortunately there is almost always a gentle breeze. Otherwise when the breeze fails, the heat becomes unbearable.
Almost all year round is tourist season. We visited Lake Neusiedler in spring and summer, as well as in autumn, and found that the months April to mid July were the most interesting for animal photography. In early summer, the meadows around Neusiedler See are transformed into a colorful flower carpet. The autumn season from mid-September to mid-November are also particularly interesting as well.
The landscape with small, salty ponds, moistening meadows, dry lawns and the reed belt provides an impressive variety of animals and plants. It is of paramount importance for bird migration and as a nesting and resting place across Europe. Around 280 species of birds have already been observed here. The wider landscape around the lake is of great importance especially for waders of meadows such as Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa), Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata) and Common Redshank (Tringa totanus). Obviously is the occurrence of Herons and Egrets (Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), Gray Heron (Ardea cinerea), Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea), Great Egret (Ardea alba) and Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)). The Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) and also the Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) as well as the Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) is often seen and occasionally Great Bittern (Botaurus stellaris) can be seen flying of the reeds. All these birds we could observe or photograph in the past at Lake Neusiedl . A large part of the so-called Seewinkellschaftschaft is protected by nature and belongs to the national park Neusiedler See – Seewinkel, which was founded in 1994 with the Hungarian neighbors. The core zone of the national park, which is about 4,000 hectares in size, with its breeding colonies, is not used by humans, nor can it be entered. The much larger preservation zone is only accessible on designated routes for cyclists and pedestrians. Compliance with this requirement is monitored by National Park staff.
Since we often travel long distances, we prefer the car as a means of transport. It also offers an excellent hide, and is indispensable for our photographic activity in this area. Since the animal world is accustomed to motor vehicles due to the intensive agriculture, most animals can hardly be impressed by the gentle approach of a car and sometimes allow distances of a few meters. However, many roads are blocked for cars and are only permitted for cyclists.
Since animals’ fear of bicycles is much greater, photographers should avoid the daytime when most tourists are on the road. In the early morning hours, when the light for photography is better anyway, it is calmer, and then most of my shots succeed. For nature photographers, the numerous cyclists are a problem, more and more roads are blocked for cars but not for cyclists.
Good knowledge of the area is an advantage that cannot be underestimated in bird observation at Lake Neusiedl. This is why many recordings are made outside the numerous tourist hot spots of the national park. In the surroundings of Neusiedl, Winden, Jois or Purbach on the west bank in the north of the lake, in places that are not praised as bird paradises, we find everything we need for successful animal photography: peace, seclusion and of course suitable motifs. However, the many meadows and water surfaces of the Seewinkel, for example the Zitzmannsdorfer Wiesen (meadows) and further to the south Illmitz Hoelle, also offer good opportunities. Here the migratory birds find suitable food and resting places in spring and late summer. The Unterer Stinkersee keeps its water the longest time in summer, so that there are still a few birds in transit even in the middle of summer. On the meadows of the Seewinkel, rare plants grow, including orchids
The region is of special ornithological interest in autumn. On the salty pans and in the lake area numerous geese gather. Early in the morning, they leave their sleeping places and return at dusk
A good starting point for nature lovers is Apetlon in the Seewinkel, located in the lake and steppes landscape in the eastern part of the national park. In addition to nature, the area can also score with the friendly people, the climate, the calm peace and, last but not least, the first-class wine that is grown here. In the steppe landscape of the Seewinkel there are many, small, flat salt lakes, the “Lacken”, which are described in brochures and travel guides as the home of the waders. In summary, it can be said that in the middle of the Pannonian lowlands at the border of Austria and Hungary there is actually a paradise for birds and birdwatchers. But also nature photographers get their money’s worth.
In order to meet the growing demand for top images of the rare species of the Palearctic, Bird-lens.com has specifically undertaken trips to distant places like the coastal mountains of Western Norway or not so distant places like Lake Neusiedl. All this to make excellent photos of the birds of the West Palearctic. The yield of pictures of rare West Palearctic birds is very good. The beautiful picture of the blog is just a first impression of what you will find behind “Picture Shop” very soon. Just let bird-lens.com know if you need the image of a bird, before new pictures are online.