A ranger and the great outdoors

Travelling through the Lake Neusiedl – Seewinkel National Park with a ranger

In this short but exciting story, biologist, ecologist and national park ranger Barbara Kofler explains the experiences and special features that await visitors to Lake Neusiedl – Seewinkel National Park. Directly accessible from the Lake Neusiedl Cycle Trail, you can discover nature to the full at Austria’s steppe national park.

The northwest wind blows softly across the reeds, while the sun slips its way up the endless steppe. Darkness and shadow begin their retreat from the fiery red of the celestial body. A new day begins in Lake Neusiedl – Seewinkel National Park.  Animals and plants are awakening and we humans are already out and about to experience this special moment. “Early morning” is the title of one of the many excursions offered by the national park in the early hours. Today I’m with a group of inquisitive people. The countless encounters and observations in the national park offer the chance to learn from nature together.

White donkeys, Hungarian steppe cattle and Przewalski horses have a habitat unique in Austria. We discover plants specially adapted to salty soils, which are otherwise only found on sea coasts or salt steppes. We recognize niches of an ecosystem that are used by many different animals in many different ways. Together with my group, I want to explain the role that humans play in this structure, when we can perceive and interpret signs of the past and also of our time as we pass the salt flats and willows. “Look! A white stork looking for food”, I call. Without such an extensively used meadow full of insects, amphibians, reptiles and mammals, he would probably no longer return to his nest in Illmitz or Apetlon. It’s a good thing the national park’s here.

Author: Barbara Kofler