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EuropePageAustria30Azores31Belarus32Belgium33-34Bulgaria35-39Canary Islands40Corsica41Crete42-43Croatia14 & 44-45Cyprus46-47England15-19Estonia48-51Finland20, 52-53 & 101France14-15, 54-69 & 90Germany70Gibraltar71Greece14 & 72-74Hungary14 & 75-79Iceland80-83Ireland17Italy14 & 84-91Lesbos15 & 92-93Madeira94-96Mallorca15 & 97Menorca98Norway99-104Poland105-108Portugal109-110Romania111-113Samos114Sardinia115-116Scotland15, 17-19 & 117-118 Sicily119-120Spain15, 71 & 121-140Spitsbergen274Sweden20 & 141-147Switzerland148-149Turkey150-151Wales1829

In terms of diversity, Neusiedler SeeNational Park in Austria is one ofEurope's least known wildlife hotspots.Forget the alpine meadows and mountainsof the Alps that you would normallyassociate with Austria! On this holiday wewill be focusing exclusively on thecountry's warm and flat lowland regions,more akin to the steppes to the east, andthe reason we can expect to see such arange of plants, birds, insects and animalsis that we will be exploring a region thatlies at a crossroads of landscapes,habitats and cultures. During our weekhere we will enjoy all these highlights, butparticularly the latter, for sampling the local food and wine will be amongst this holiday's pleasures! Neusiedler See National Park, in fact,spans the Austro-Hungarian border andwas the first bi-national park to be createdin Europe, the majority of it lying withinAustria but the southern part being inHungary. To reach it we have simply totake a short flight to Vienna then a bus rideto the very comfortable hotel in Illmitzwhich will be our base for the week,situated right amongst the sights andsounds of nature. The numerous GreatEgrets are just one indicator of a richdiversity which also includes breedingBlack-necked Grebes, and both Little andSpotted Crakes. For our initial exploration of the region, wewill rise early and travel by horse-drawncarriage to enjoy some amazing viewsacross the reedbeds from the upperplatform of an ex-Cold War watchtower.Here we will have breakfast whilst watchingnumerous herons, egrets and Spoonbillssetting out to feed. Later in the day we willlook for migrant waders at one ofSeewinkel's soda lakes and explore theadjacent woodland and fringing reedbeds,home to Golden Oriole, Bluethroat, Hoopoe,Barred Warbler and numerous Nightingales.We will spend the morning of our third dayfocusing on the largest of Seewinkel's lakes,Lange Lacke, where the plants and birdsare more representative of the coast.Amongst a wide range of species we will belooking out for breeding MediterraneanGulls and Avocets, whilst the swathes ofwild flowers all around us include thepurple-flowered Austrian Sage andcontrasting yellow bedstraws that carpet the'hutweide' or shepherds' pastureland. Afterlunch, we will head off to the extensive plainnear the Hungarian border where we will goin search of displaying Great Bustards. Formany these will be the undoubted avianhighlight of our holiday, but we also hope tosee Short-eared Owl, Montagu's Harrier anda variety of other raptors.The insect-life, too, is very rich, andthroughout this holiday we will look for boththe dragonflies and butterflies attracted tothe region's profusion of meadow flowers -the beautiful Southern Festoon butterflyperhaps being amongst the highlights.Interesting beetles, praying mantis, flies andspiders will also turn up on our walks,particularly on our day-trip toZitzmannsdorfer Wiesen, another area ofremnant steppe and a breeding site forBlack-tailed Godwits, Curlews and manyother species. We will have lunch at a fishrestaurant to taste the local specialitiesbefore driving to a hilltop nature reserveknown for its wealth of butterflies andflowers. Later we will offer an optionalevening walk to enable us to enjoy the sightof waterbirds as they fly in to roost as wellas to look for Fire-bellied Toads. On another day you will have the optioneither of travelling by minibus to the RiverDanube and beyond, or of using bicyclesprovided by the hotel to explore the manymiles of cycle routes that provide access tothe region. Should you choose the latter,you may wish to take the ferry to the otherside of Lake Neusiedl and ride on to thebeautiful little village of Rust, with its oldcentral square and colourful housesadorned with rooftop-nesting White Storks. We will spend our penultimate day, a longbut exciting one, in Hungary. Rising early,we'll travel to the Hansag, the remains of awild marshland and wetland forest whichthe Hungarians are currently restoring. Thisis a very atmospheric place, offering a greatfeeling of isolation. In addition to aninteresting variety of birds, the grassy plainsare home to colonies of Souslik, anendearing little ground-squirrel that is thefavoured prey of the Hansag's manyraptors!Finally, we will visit the local Geiselsteller tomeet a wine farmer who will explain how thearea's distinctive soil and climaticconditions affect both the quality of the wineand the wildlife that the region supports. Inthe afternoon we will enjoy a final few hoursin search of the region's abundant birdlife.We must not forget to look down as well asup, however, for the flowers here are aspectacle in May, with a good display ofwetland orchids and clusters of SiberianBlue Iris amongst the highlights. A finalevening meal in Illmitz, enjoying a PusztaNacht or Mulacsag (a traditional local dinnerwith gypsy music), will provide a fitting endto a holiday rich in both cultural and wildlifehighlights.Austria's Steppes & WetlandsAn exciting and comprehensive 8-day exploration of the rich natural and culturaldiversity offered by a premier national park at the heart of Europe, Neusiedler See.Thursday 2nd May - Thursday 9th May Cost: £1,295Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Vienna; transferIllmitz.Day 2/7Natural history andcultural excursionsthroughout NeusiedlerSee National Park fromIllmitz. Day 8Drive Vienna; flyLondon.AccommodationA comfortable hotel; all rooms withprivate facilities. FoodAll included in the price.GradingGrade A/B. Short day walks onmostly flat ground, plus oneoptional cycle ride. FocusBirds, plants, mammals, butterflies,dragonflies and local Austro-Hungarian culture.LeaderDave Smallshire.Single room supplement£140.ExtensionsNights in Vienna, or other options,available on request.Web quick search:AUT0130Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryHUNGARYCROATIASLOVENIACZECH REPUBLICAUSTRIANEUSIEDLERSEEVIENNAILLMITZThe HansagAustrian Sage Black-necked Grebe