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FINLAND

FINLAND;

Area: 338,309km2

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN FINLAND;

  • 1. PALLAS- OUNASTUNTURI NATIONAL PARK(FINLAND);
  • Establishment: 1958. This is Finland’s largest National Park and is in a country at the edge of the great taiga, close to Arctic haunts. It comprises mountains, forests, tundra like heaths, lakes, and fens and has the characteristically melancholic atmosphere of the wild lapp expanse of the Great North.
  • Geographical location: North western Finnish Lapland, above the Arctic circle.
  • Size: 50,000ha
  • Climate: Harsh
  • Accessibility: Road connections, bus traffic.

GEOLOGY AND TOPOGRAPHY:

Rocks are of granite and gneiss. Moraine, sand, and peat are dominant soils with tarns, bogs, and gullies scattered over the area.

  • Altitude: 300-820meters

FLORA: The virgin forests consist of spruce, pine, and birch. Spruce here reaches its northern limit.

MAMMALS: Reindeer, ermine, and voles are the chief mammals seen.

BIRDS: The birds of the area are bountiful; wood sandpiper, jack snipe, dotterel, yellow wagtail, waxwing, ring ouzel, blue throat, Siberian tit, Lapland bunting, rough-legged buzzard, long- tailed skua, willow grouse, ptarmigan:  many others of the high boreal zone.

  • 2. OULANKA NATIONAL PARK ( FINLAND );
  • Establishment: 1956. This is a protected area, just south of the Arctic Circle, of rivers, canyons, precipitous cliff walls, and forests. It is totally protected and contains the biological research station of the University of Oulu.
  • Geographical location: Salla and Kuusamo districts, eastern Finland, close to Rssian border.
  • Size: 10,700ha
  • Climate: Continental; summers rather mild but short, winters cold with deep snow.
  • Accessibility: By road; trails for tourists.

GEOLOGY: Diver sifled bedrock; quartzite, metabasite, dolomites, mostly covered by glacial moraine.

TOPOGRAPHY: The oulunka River (Oulanka joki) and its tributaries have numerous rapids and quietly flowing stretches passing through sandy banks, deep ravines, moist meadows, and shores of coniferous and mixed forests. The Oulanka River empties into the White Sea.

FLORA: Forests consist of spruce, pine, and birch. In the coniferous forest zone, the flora has a glacial relic some rare alpine elements (Dry as octopetala, Salix reticulata).

MAMMALS: Reindeer is common. Bear and Moose can be found roaming in the forests.

BIRDS: Black grouse, capercaillie, hawk owl, Teng malm’s owl, black woodpecker, brambling, pine grosbeak, waxwing, Siberian tit, willow warbler, song thrush, and golden eagle. Wood sandpipers are found everywhere in the fens, but common sandpipers prefer the lake shores. Reed buntings sing in the willows. Cranes and the whooper swan nest in the fens.

  • 3. LEMMENJOKI NATIONAL PARK ( FINLAND );
  • Establishment: 1956. This is Finland’s second largest National Park- an untouched wilderness area of lower fields, vast forests, peatlands (aapa fens), and rivers. This National Park is centred around the course of the River lemmenjoki (Joki means “river”).
  • Geographical location: Inari district, northern Finnish Lapland, above the Arctic circle.
  • Size: 133,500ha
  • Climate: chiefly continental, summers mild but short, winters cold and long; lakes covered by ice 7-8 months.
  • Accessibility: Last stretch by motor boat; no roads;

GEOLOGY: Finland’s bedrock, chiefly granite and gneiss, is old, belonging to the pre-cambrian formation, but ice Age glaciations give the area a geologically younger relief of moraine and glacial river deposits of sand, gravel, boulders.

TOPOGRAPHY: Streams from the fields cascade down deep ravines and canyons to form waterfalls (the Ravadasjoki is particularly beautiful) and feed the River Lemmenjoki, which cuts through a narrow mt. gorge to broaden out, in lower country, into a group of lakes. There are a variety of habitats; field heaths, birch woods, sandy stretches and lake shores with pine forests, willow scrubs, and wet sedge meadows, shores covered with spruce, bogs and marshes with willows. Highest field peaks rise to 533-573 in above sea level.

MAMMALS: The most common are the various species of voles, but Mammals are not easy to observe in this terrain. Reindeer herded by lapps are common. There is some chance of observing moose or encountering carnivores like wolverine, brown bear, and wolf.

BIRDS: The bird life of this area represents species of the alpine heath and coniferous forests; hawk owl, redpoll, crossbills, wax wing, pine grosbeak, Siberian jay, meadow pipit, snow bunting, brambling, bluethroat, whimbrel, willow grouse and ptarmigan. On the fens these species may be encountered; wood sandpiper, greens shank, spotted redshank, broad- billed sandpiper and others.

GREAT BRITAIN

 GREAT BRITAIN;

Area: 244,943 km2. The largest National Parks in Great Britain is the Lake District National Park.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN GREAT BRITAIN;

  • 1. ST. KILDA NATIONAL NATURE RESERVE(GREAT BRITAIN);
  • Establishment: 1957. These remote islands are unique in European scenery and natural history projecting like mountain tops out of the ocean.
  • Geographical location; 72 km west of the outer Hebrides.
  • Size: 852 ha
  • Climate: Typical for the North Atlantic characterized by storms and mist.
  • Accessibility: By boat across stormy waters.

GEOLOGY: The ice sheets of the ice Age stopped short of St. Kilda, where only a small local glacier occurred. Thus St. Kilda escaped burial under successive glaciations.

The seven (7) islands and stacks consist of gabbro and allied rocks.

TOPOGRAPHY: The sheer cliff face of cona chair on Hirta rises out of the ocean over a quarter of a mile high. The massive island of soay (373m high) is almost impossible to land on. The island of Boreray (over 365m) has satellite stacks; stack an Armin ( 19 ) m; highest in Britain) and stack lee (165m).

FLORA: In relation to its environment, the vegetation of the larger islands  is surprisingly rich- dominated by purple bell heather, common heather, fescue, bilberry, and cowberry. Dwarf willow, also found in arctic regions, grows on the high cliffs. An even more surprising sight is the spotted orchid.

Some other species are primrose, honey suckle, roseroot, sea campion, and broad buckler fern.

MAMMALS: A mouse and sheep have made St. Kilda famous. The endemic St. Kilda- long- tailed field mouse still flourishes; another endemic mouse, the St. Kilda house mouse, died out after human beings evacuated Hirta in 1930. The famous wild sheep of St. Kilda, the soay sheep, derive from domestic stock but their origin is obscure. They certainly existed on St. Kilda when the Vikings arrived there and were probably brought there over a thousand years ago. Formerly confined to soay and Dun, they occur today only on Hirta ( released there in 1930).

BIRDS: The outstanding feature of St. Kilda is the ancient and huge cluster of sea birds colonies. The islands have probably been one of the Atlantic’s greatest sea bird colonies for thousands of years, even during the ice Age. Fulmars (about 20,000 pairs breed on Hirta alone)  have their largest colonies in Britain here. But even more gannets breed  on Boreray and the stacks. (A  1959 census showed 45,000 pairs- about  37 percent of the world’s total). Puffins in 1971 hardly exceeded 250,000 pairs through 1960 had up to 3 million pairs. The 1959 count gave 13,850 pairs of guille mots, 7,660 of kittiwakes; razorbills relatively rare. An interesting trio of sea birds breed at St. Kilda; The manx shearwater, leach’s petrel, and the storm petrel. Other nesting sea birds: the great black- backed gull, lesser black –backed gull, herring gull, common gull, great skua, and shag. An endemic subspecies is the St. Kilda wren that lives mostly in the ruins of the ancient village on Hirta. A very long established flock of starlings is another feature of St. Kilda. The twite also belongs to St. Kilda’s breeding birds.

  • 2. SCOLT HEAD NATIONAL NATURE RESERVE(GREAT BRITAIN);
  • Establishment: 1954-1955. It is an area of unspoiled sand banks, beaches, salt marshes, and dunes, is of great ecological interests.

Its main features are botanical and ornithological, and it also shows various stages of coastal evolution.

  • Geographical location: Scolt Head island, in the North sea off the north coast of Norfolk.
  • Size; 738ha
  • Climate: Temperate, moist, and rather mild (though severe winters may occur).

GEOLOGY: The Island consists of shingle (gravel) ridges- originally built by wave action in combination with storms and tidal currents.

Enclosing marshes, the ridges rest on sand flats and are partially covered by dunes formed of wind- blown sand.

TOPOGRAPHY: Between the dunes and the mainland lie extensive salt marshes, completely submerged at high tide. Scolt Head Island is continually changing in shape and size with the land surface increasing.

FLORA: Scolt island is renowned for the successive colonizations of different plant communities. Taking these up in a sea- to- land progression, the following vegetation may be observed: In the shallow sea and salt marshes grow eelgrass and the green sea weed Enteromorpha. Marsh vegetation changes in relation to the tide. When an area is covered every day by the tide, eelgrass thrives, together with glass- wort, sea aster, and sea blite. At higher levels grow sea pink, sea lavender, sea arrow grass, and silver goosefoot.

Locally sea rush forms a distinct bell, and where-  salt marshes are being built up into firmer ground, grasses like creeping fescue and sea poa grass appear. Cord grass has recently invaded and taken over the marshlands, which it rapidly converts into grassy meadows, exterminating other plants.

Up on the dunes the commonest plant is the marram grass; other species include sea sandwort, sand couch grass, Lyme grass, and yellow stone crop. The shingle ridges of pebbles, swept by salt spray, are locally colonized on the landward side by ground sel, florin and sea campion.

MAMMALS: Before 1955 the rabbit was an inhabitant of scolt Head until myxomatosis wiped it out.

BIRDS; A most impressive list of birds has been recorded at scolt island. Its westward point shelters the main colonies of sea birds; sandwich terns (324 pairs in 1958) and common terns (same years exceeding 2,000 pairs). Other species breeding regularly are little terns, arctic terns, oyster catchers, redshank, ringed plover, and shelduck in July and August arctic skuas can be seen chasing the terns.

The island is also important as feeding and wintering grounds for migratory birds.

Brent geese make use of the salt marshes. Other migrants spend the winter in the reserve; shore larks and snow buntings, and many species of waders.

  • 3. CAIRNGORMS NATIONAL NATURE RESERVE(GREAT BRITAIN);
  • Establishment: 1954, extended 1966. The largest and most spectacular nature reserve in Great Britain, it is also the largest tract of mountainous land over 900 in that country.

It was created to conserve the wooded slopes, the montane habitats, and their wildlife, including the fostering of a herd of reintroduced reindeer. North of the reserve is Loch Garten Bird Sanctuary, where the first pair of ospreys to reestablish themselves in Britain after a lapse of many years now breeds.

  • Geographical location: Between Aviemore, Strathspey, and Bracmar, in the Grampian Mts, upper Deeside.
  • Size: 25,931 ha;
  • Accessibility: Restricted in certain areas August- October.

GEOLOGY: The region is formed of granite. Its summit plateau is deeply intersected by denudation and by the extensive impact of the ice Age glaciations, which left many examples of drift, corries, u- shaped valleys, and moraines.

TOPOGRAPHY: Wide summit plateaus, mountain slopes, and deep valleys are chief components of the cairngorms, which at several points rise above the 1,200-meter contour.

Highest point; Ben Macdui, 1,310m, lowest; speyside, about 260 meters. Many bogs, Lachans and Lochs, small rivers, waterfalls, and precipices give variety to this bleak and craggy montane landscape.

CLIMATE: An Atlantic climate, warmed by the Gulf stream, has neutralized the effect of scotland’s northern location and altitude. But the cairngorms climate is nearer to that of the Arctic than anywhere in Great Britain. Snow stays on hills until early August.

FLORA: Partly alpine- arctic, the flora of the reserve amounts to morethan 200 species.

The extensive open pine forest of  Rothie- murchus interspersed  with tall junipers is one of the largest and most impressive relics of the ancient Caledonian forest- that is, pure scots pine, which once- covered much of the Highlands but was gradually destroyed over a thousand years (800 A.D end of 1700’s). The pines grow up too about 600m, then birch and juniper scrub to 700m, and willow to 730 meters. Moors and heaths cover other large areas. Cross- leaved heather grows up to about 700m, while common heather dominates up to 850 meters. On relatively flat granite tops are stretches of alpine grassland. Limits of altitude for some other plants: grass of Parnassus, about 600m, daisy, 760m,  narrow- leaved marsh dandelion, 900m, and meadow butter cup, 1,160m. Very local arctic- alpine plants include rose root, whortle- leaved willow, alpine meadow rue, and the moss campion silene acaulis.

MAMMALS: Roe deer, badger, otter, fox, wildcat, red squirrel, and mountain hare. Red deer have both summer and wintering areas.

On the northern slopes lives a herd of about 30 reindeer introduced from Swedish Lapland, species formerly native to Scotland but exterminated about 800 years ago.

BIRDS: The cairngorms Reserve has several rare species that exist at the southern or western periphery of their distribution or were once found more commonly throughout Scotland. Such birds are the Scottish crested tit, the Scottish crossbill, snow bunting (which breeds only among boulders and screes at or above 900m), and the golden eagle. Some examples of birds of the pine forest: redpoll, siskin, caper caillie, and great spotted woodpecker; birds of the low moorlands: golden plover, dunlin, curlew, green shank, red grouse and black grouse: birds of prey: kestrel, merlin, sparrow hawk and buzzard.

NETHERLANDS

NETHERLANDS;

Area: 41,080 square kilometres (Land);

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN NETHERLANDS;

  • 1. HET NAARDERMEER(NETHERLANDS);
  • Establishment: 1906. One of the most important ornithological reserves of Europe, covering an area of marshes surrounding a lake with a surprisingly rich representation of southern bird species despite its northern location. It is a pearl of a wetland in a country composed chiefly of cultivated lands and polders. Saved from exploitation by a nature conservation society in 1906, This reserve, the oldest in the Netherlands, successively launched the movement to conserve and to protect nature in Holland.
  • Geographical location: About 15 km SE of Amsterdam, on both sides of Amsterdam – Hilver sum railway.
  • Size: 751 ha.
  • Climate: Moist Atlantic type: rainy summers, Mild winters.

TOPOGRAPHY; The Naardermeer is one of the Netherland’s few freshwater lakes of natural origin. Drained in 1623-1629, the area was desiccated but shortly afterward was restored for military reasons. Drained again in 1883 -1884, two years later its waters reconquered the area.

In 1905 there were new exploiting schemes underway, but public reaction saved the area from further exploitation.

FLORA: Habitats of aquatic, marshy, and riverine vegetation form expanses of open water, swamps, and woodlands with species of orchids, mosses, and fungi.

BIRDS: Its bird colonies have made Naardermeer famous. Spoonbills (350 pairs) and purple herons (150 pairs) occur here at one of their northern most sites in Europe. Their isolated occurrence here may be related to an earlier long association with this part of Europe when Holland was rich in wild marshes.

Among breeding aquatic birds, cormorants are the most numerous and in winter are joined by thousands of ducks and coots. The bittern, black tern, and Marsh harrier should be mentioned. The rare bearded tit occurs here.

 

  • 2. TEXEL ISLAND NATURE RESERVE( NETHERLANDS );

Texel (Pronounced Tessel), southern most of the Friesian islands , is a land of beaches and dunes with interesting communities of plants and animals.

There are three nature reserves on the island:

  • 1. De muy or Binnen- en Buiten Muy en slufter (800 hectares in north western part)
  • 2. De Geul en wester duinen (1,681 hectares in the south western part).
  • 3. Schorren achter de polder Eendracht of Texel (3,000 hectares in the north eastern part of the island).
  • Geographical location: Just north of Den Helder
  • Size: 5,481 ha (Total for the three reserves)
  • Climate: Rainy summers, mild winters.
  • Accessibility: By train or car from Amsterdam to Den Helder; then by ferry to Texel

GEOLOGY: Texel is part of a girdle of islands dividing the waden see from the North Sea that probably once formed the coastland of continent. During the post – glacial period the level of the sea rose and repeatedly invaded the land. Sea and winds are still shaping the landscape.

FLORA: Moving inland from the beach, dunes with Marram grass are first encountered, then Calluna heaths, then grassy bushland with sea buckthorn, brambles, elder, and creeping willow; then small reedy lakes surrounded by dunes, planted pine woods, and plains grazed by sheep; then groves of deciduous trees, chiefly alder and maple.

MAMMALS AND BIRDS: Dune lakes: these are most interesting of all the great variety of environments because  they are the haunt of spoonbills, which nest in elder bushes, and of herons, mallards, and teal. Montagu’s harriers and Marsh harriers also breed in the vicinity.

Beaches: Animal life on the beaches includes the presence of the common (harbor) seal, which sometimes creeps up onto the sand reefs. This seal is greatly in need of protection, and the Dutch have thoughtfully provided a reserve between Texel and Vlieland (20,000 ha) for it. Birdlife of the beaches includes three European species of sandpipers- ringed plover, and Kentish plover.

Other  characteristic birds: gray heron, sandwich tern, common tern, black- headed gull, herring gull, shelduck, eider, kestrel, avocet, oystercatcher, lapwing, curlew, black- tailed godwit, redshank, stock dove (breeding in sand holes), turtle dove, and short- eared owl.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: Include natter jack and moor frog.

  • 3. DE HOGE VELUWE NATIONAL PARK(NETHERLANDS);
  • Establishment: 1935. A partly fenced area of woodlands, heaths, and dunes; a few lakes. Owned and administered by a foundation, which also owns the famous Kroller Muller Museum at Otterlo (van Gogh’s paintings) situated in the park.
  • Geographical location: Between Apeldoorn and Arnhem, province of Gelderland, 80 km from Amsterdam, 110 km from the Hague.
  • Size; 4,490 ha.
  • Climate: Moist Atlantic type; rainy summers, mild winters.

GEOLOGY AND TOPOGRAPHY:

  • Sand deposits and drifts characterize this flat and low- lying area. Some lakes and Marshes.

FLORA: A mosaic of woodlands, mainly pine and beech, with heather, and grassy steppelike areas.

MAMMALS: Roe deer, Red deer, mouflon (introduced in 1921), wild boar, foxes, badgers, and martens. This is the only park in the Netherlands that has a population of wild boar.

BIRDS: The hobby is perhaps the most remarkable of the breeding birds. The osprey and the white- tailed (sea) eagle appear as winter visitors.

  • 4. VELUWE RANDMEREN EN HET ZWARTEMEER(NETHERLANDS);
  • Establishment: Established after worldwar II.
  • Geographical location: Near the town of Kampen, SE and E of the Ijsselmeer.
  • Size: Zwarte meer; 1,500 ha. Veluwe Randmeren: 5000 ha.
  • Climate: Moist Atlantic type; rainy summers, mild winters.

GEOLOGY AND TOPOGRAPHY:

  • The reserves were once coastlands of the former zuyder zee, and as such they are very shallow with the exception of certain manmade channels. Zwarte meer has an open passage to the Ijsselmeer.

FLORA: Veluwe Randmeren shows various degrees of colonization by vegetation, but in Zwarte meer the process of vegetal expansion is different because the many currents prevent the water from becoming stagnant.

BIRDS: In autumn, winter, and spring, hundreds of thousands of waterfowl visit the areas, passing through on migration, or spending several months during mild winters. Ducks, particularly, congregate in tens of thousands; mallards dominate but there are also numerous pintails , teal, wigeons, garganeys, shovelers, tufted ducks, pochards, scaups, and golden eyes.

Also occurring in thousands; mute swans, Be wick’s swans, pink footed geese, white fronted geese, greylags, and coots. Other wintering or resting birds include herons, bitterns, terns, gulls, and waders.

SWITZELAND

 SWITZERLAND;

Area; 41,447 km2

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN SWITZERLAND;

  • 1. THE SWISS NATIONAL PARK(SWITZERLAND);
  • Establishment: 1914. Switzerland’s only national park represents alpine nature with its high mountains, valleys, and forest clad slopes. The prime purpose of the part is to protect nature.
  • Geographical location: In the Engadin, Grisons Canton, eastern Switzerland, partly along Italian border.
  • Size: 16,887 ha.
  • Accessibility: By road and by rail; many excursions on well- marked footpaths (which visitors are not allowed to leave).
  • Nearest Towns: Davos, St. Moritz, chur
  • Nearest villages: Zernes, susch, scuol.

GEOLOGY: The overlying rocks are composed of calcareous Triassic formations, most often dolomitic limestone. In the northwest part is an important section of granite, gneiss, and crystalline schists.

TOPOGRAPHY; The reserve is dominated by the dolomitic eastern Alps with deep valleys and rugged mountains, ranging from about 1,580m to 3,174m (height of piz pisoc). Several glaciers hang below some of the summits. Lakes and rivers intersect slopes and valley bottoms.

CLIMATE: Despite heavy snowfall and much rainfall in spring and summer, the climate is very dry, partly because the dolomitic rocks absorb water rapidly. This arid part of Switzerland forms an enclave of the  continental type of climate.

FLORA: Vegetation is influenced by the dryness of the climate ; though there are some endemic forms, the flora is rather poor in species and the woods grow slowly. Lower slopes are densely clothed in conifers, pine dominating, but at higher levels it becomes associated with larch and stone pine. Timberline is between 2,000-2300 m- which is un usually high for the Alps- while the alpine zone with meadows may go up to somewhat above 2,800m. The snow limit is at about 3,000m. The subalpine- zone is chiefly dominated by rhododendrons.

MAMMALS: Present fauna has been deprived  of all its larger predators such as bear, Lynx, and wolf. The ibex , which has been exterminated, was introduced in 1920. (In 1969 its populations living in this national park numbered 201 animals).

Other mammals are red deer, chamois, fox, badger, pine marten, stone marten, ermine, weasel, mountain hare, and marmot.

BIRDS: Are found at almost all levels free from snow; alpine swift, alpine chough, nut cracker, citril finch, snow finch, rock pipit, ring ouzel, rock thrush, blue rock thrush, alpine accentor, kestrel, goshawk, golden eagle, eagle owl ,rock patridge, ptarmigan, and many others.

GREECE

GREECE;

Area: 132,454  km2

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN GREECE

  • 1. MOUNT PARNES NATIONAL PARK(GREECE);
  • Establishment: 1953. Some slopes of Mt. Parnes have been partly saved from destruction and partly restored. Protective measures preserved the forests of the local Royal Estate of Tatoi.
  • Geographical location: Near Athens.
  • Size: 3700 ha (nature reserve, 350 ha)

GEOLOGY AND TOPOGRAPHY: The Mts. Of Southern Greece belong to the Dinaric system, a folded, mainly limestone range. Mt. Parnes (1,413m) has rather steep slopes.

CLIMATE: Mediterranean; dry,  hot summers; moist mild winters.

FLORA: Forests on some slopes partially or completely destroyed, then replanted. There seems to be no natural vegetation at lower levels. Where slopes are not bare, there is evergreen macchia to altitudes of 760-912 maters. Pistachio, Pseudoa cacia,  Venetian sumac, myrtle and arbutus can also be found. Where forests do grow, Aleppo pine climbs to about 300 m; There it is joined or replaced by kermes oak and holly oak, stands of horn –beams and introduced elms, horse –chestnut, and cypress.

Higher up (790-975m) are pure deciduous forests of three re introduced oaks: valonia, pubescent, and durmast. Above the oaks, a belt of Greek firs, then black pine.

MAMMALS: Introduced: chamois, roe deer and red deer, plus survivors of earlies destructions: fox, jackal, and brown hare.

OTHERS: Perhaps the most interesting animal is the margined tortoise that lives only here in the mountains of southern Greece.

ITALY

ITALY;

Area: 302,388km2.   National parks of Italy among of them are: Circeo National Park,  Calabria National Park, Abruzzo National Park, Stelvio National Park and Gran Paradiso National Park. Strict nature reserves of Italy, includes Cossogno, Sasso fratino, and Poggio Tre cancelli.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN ITALY;

  • 1. ABRUZZO NATIONAL PARK( ITALY );
  • Establishment: 1921. This park of vast forests is dominated by the high summits of the Apennines, the mountain chain that runs like a huge backbone almost from one end of the country to the other and concentrates most of the pure natural world of Italy. A particularly beautiful section of the park is the Camosciara region in the eastern part.
  • Geographical location; Central Italy, 165km E of Rome.
  • Size: 29,160 ha.
  • Accessibility; By road; also roads and paths within park.

GEOLOGY: The Apennines are an offshoot of the Alps.  Park area chiefly limestone with numerous signs of past glacial action: Moraine deposits and cirques, also caves and other karstic phenomena.

TOPOGRAPHY: The main river course is the sangro valley, with agricultural cultivation. During dry summer period this river is one of the few areas where several animals find drinking water. Landscapes  around this valley, val fondillo, and others are magnificent with high mountains, wooded slopes, steep escarpments, rugged crags, deep ravines,  and gullies. Highest peaks in SE part of park;

Monte petroso (2,247m), La meta (2,200m), and Tartaro (2,181m).

CLIMATE: Cold- temperate. Summers mild, but winters rigid, with snow covering ground more than six months. Rainfalls chiefly in autumn and winter.

FLORA: Prime feature the splendid beech forests, many luxuriant, some 300-500 years old and one primeval, certainly belonging to the most magnificent in Europe. Climbing high up (600-1,650 m), they dominate and are mixed with horn beam, Maples, and others, and also, locally, with black pines and Mountain pines.

Due to park’s position on ridge of Mt. Chain between two seas and also to Karstic formations, flora present characteristic peculiarities and several endemic species. Lady’s slipper orchid, campion (silene armeria), saxifrage, and buttercup (Ranunculus alpestris) flourish.

MAMMALS; Two mammalian species of great interest find refuge in Abruzzo, both with local races: the brown bear (Ursus arctos marsicanus), once almost exterminated but now about 100 in number, and the chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra ornata) with about 300 animals in the reserve. The wolf still lives there.

Other mammals include fox, wildcat, pine marten, stone marten, otter, badger, Roman mole, and dormouse. Red deer, roe deer, and wild boar have been exterminated, but re introduced.

BIRDS: Raven, chough, snow finch, eagle owl, little owl, scops owl, goshawk, golden eagle, buzzard, white- backed woodpecker, gray heron, king fisher, and quail.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: Reptiles go up rather high in the Mts. In this S. European latitude. snakes; Aesculapin, smooth snake, and asp; salamanders; and newts.

2: STELVIO NATIONAL PARK( ITALY );

  • Establishment; 1935. Close to Switzerland, Italy's largest national park protects scenic splendors and forests of the central Alps.
  • Geographical location: Trentino- Alto Adige, in the central Alps, SW of the Brenner pass.
  • Size; 95,361 ha.
  • Climate: mild summers, long winters.
  • Accessibility: By road; many summer visitors.

GEOLOGY AND TOPOGRAPHY: A spectacular zone of limestone mountains with numerous torrents and rivers fed by glaciers and snow fields. Altitude; 650-3,905m, the peak of the Ortles Mts.

FLORA: Diversity of vegetation at various altitudinal levels. Lower zones much influenced by man; cultivated tracts and rather open woods of birch, alder, and spruce. These give way gradually to denser forest of stone pine and larch. Above the timberline (about 2,400m) pine is replaced by shrubs and stunted trees such as willow, rhododendron, and mountain pine.  Summer alpine meadows display color.

MAMMALS: Roe deer, Red deer and Chamois. Brown bear occasionally appear from the last stronghold in the Alps, the Brenta- Adamello area. Other mammals include marmot, mountain hare, badger, and ermine.

BIRDS: Among others are golden eagle, caper caillie, black grouse, ptarmigan, and rock partridge.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: River trout and rainbow trout are the most important fishes.

3:  GRAN PARADISO NATIONAL PARK( ITALY );

  • Establishment: 1922. A genuine alpine region close to France and Switzerland with majestic mountains, imposing peaks belonging to the highest in Europe, and numerous glaciers. The park offers the most spectacular mountain panorama of Europe with splendid views of the chain of nearby Mont Blanc. Flora and Fauna are representatives of tracts not too much influenced by man. It is the most important refuge of the Ibex , once hunted almost to extinction before the area became a royal game reserve. The park is partly contiguous with the Vancoise National Park in France.
  • Geographical location; North west corner of Italy, near Val d’ Aosta.
  • Size: 62,000 ha

GEOLOGY: Mountains in the group consist of a gigantic cupol of gneiss surrounded by a complex formation of limestone and schists. During the Ice Age, glaciers covered these mountains except perhaps for the highest ridges and peaks.

TOPOGRAPHY: Few regions in Europe have such an agglomeration of huge massifs reaching elevations above 3,000 meters. The highest peak is Gran paradiso (4,061m); the lowest valley point is 850 meters.

Valsavaranche, not in park but surrounded by it, is one of the most fantastic valleys of the area; Mt. Slopes on each side include Gran paradiso and Grivola (3,969m). The area has many glaciers, glacial lakes, rivers, cascades- typical of alpine country.

CLIMATE: Very dry and cold. At 1,500m altitude, snow covers ground six months of year, and for 11 months at 3,500 meters. Snow limit, 3,000- 3600 meters. Temperature decreases 10 c for every 170m of increasing altitude. Above 3500 m, annual mean temperature corresponds with countries at 700N latitude (Greenland, Alaska).

FLORA: Pure alpine; all the chief characteristics of dwarf and creeping forms. Conifers dominate completely; pine, silver fir, and spruce go up to 1,800-2000m; stone pine to 2,300m, and larch to about 2,400 meters. Dwarf  juniper and rhododendrons at high elevations. A wide spectrum of colorful wild flowers decorates the alpine meadows and other habitats; bell flower, yellow gentian, snow gentian, spring gentian, vernal anemone, Anemone hepatica, campions, stone crop, and hawk weed (Hieracium arantiacum and H. villosum).

MAMMALS: The glory of Gran paradise is the Ibex (in 1968 there were about 3,700 animals in the reserve). They live in the alpine zone (2,000-3000m) but in winter may go down to mower elevations.

Chamois, the other alpine ungulates, are numerous in the National Park. Other mammals include red deer and roe deer (both reintroduced), alpine marmot, mountain hare, brown hare, ermine, polecat, stone marten, pine marten, otter, badger, and fox.

BIRDS: The most prominent are eagle owl and golden eagle. Others are ptarmigan, rock partridge, raven, nutcracker, alpine chough, ring ouzel, dipper, snow finch, alpine swift, buzzard, and pygmy owl.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: The asp and viviparous lizard occur at surprisingly high elevations.

FRANCE

 FRANCE;

AREA: 553,587 km2. Among major National Parks in France, includes port –cros, La Vanoise, Cevennes, and the Pyrenees occidentales) and several reserves.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN FRANCE:

  • 1. PARK NATIONAL DE PORT-CROS( FRANCE );
  • Establishment: 1963. Port- cros stands out as having retained its typical flora and fauna to a remarkable degree through the climax vegetation, consisting of holm oaks that once covered almost the whole island, at present exists in only a few areas. Forests and macchia (chaparral) vegetation prevail.
  • Geographical location: One of the llesd’Hyeres in the Mediterranian.
  • Size: 1,685 ha with paths, plus 600 m of sea around the reserve.
  • Accessibility: By boat from Lavandou and Toulon: Many tourists in summer.

GEOLOGY AND TOPOGRAPHY: The geological structure is of gneiss and schists. In the beginning of the quaternary age the island, a mountain of 207m, was detached from the mainland. Except for two bays with beaches, the coast is rocky, with caves along the southwest shores.

CLIMATE: Temperate and mild throughout the year: no excessive heat in summer, no winter frosts. Rainfall sufficient to maintain water table. The nearby island of Bagaud gives good protection from the mistral, which blows from northwest.

FLORA: A forest of Aleppo pines with thick undergrowth of macchia. This chaparral is typical of the Mediterranean with tree heaths, pistachio, myrtle, evergreen holm oak, philaria, olive, Phoenician juniper and many more.

MAMMALS: The wild rabbit and the black rat are the only land mammals. Porpoises and dolphins seen around island; monk-seals rarely; sperm whales off coasts.

BIRDS: In spring and autumn thousands of migratory birds stop here on their way from or to Africa.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: Include the European gecko and the Montpelier snake. The logger head turtle occasionally shows in the deep, clear waters. A distinguished citizen of port-cros is the beautifully painted toad (Discoglassus pictus).

2: RESERVE ORNITHOLOGIQUE DES SEPTILES( FRANCE );

  • Establishment: 1912. A small archipelago of islands, rocks, and reefs off the northern coast of Brittany. Inspite of its name, there are only five (5) islands (the other two are merely small rocks), but all are in habited by seabirds, chiefly puffins. (Largest island; ile aux moines; most interesting, most birds; ile malban).
  • Geographical location: Islands off c'otes du Nord
  • Size: 82 ha
  • Climate: temperate, though winters can be rather harsh.
  • Accessibility: By boat from perros- Guirec (10 km).

GEOLOGY AND TOPOGRAPHY: The bedrock as well as the surface rocks are a pink granite, called perros granite. The relief of these wind –swept islands is accentuated ; bare ridges reach to about 50 meters. Tides here have considerable rice and fall, changing the water level by 9-11 meters.

FLORA: Only on some slopes and in crevasses and fissures is there any soil to allow vegetation. The meager flora consists of grass, scentless magweed, and ferns.

BIRDS; Nesting birds generally arrive in March and April. Most of these birds are puffins. Others species; guillemot, razorbill, cormorant, shag, gannet, storm petrel, herring gull, lesser black- backed gull, kittiwake, common tern, oystercatcher, mallard, eider, rock pipit, wren, linnet, black bird, wheater, raven, cuckoo, turtle dove, kestrel, peregrine. (Rabbits live on at least some of the islands, and the puffins use their holes for breeding).

3: PARC NATIONAL DE LA VANOISE ( FRANCE );

  • Establishment: 1963. One of the highest and wildest parts of the Alps with a great number of peaks above 3,000 meters; surrounded by Mont Blanc in the north, Italy’s Gran paradiso Park in the east, the massif du pelvoux in the south; the Park lies between 1,200 and 3,852 meters above sea level.
  • Geographical location: Between the Arc and the is'ere valleys, savoy.
  • Size: 52,833 ha, plus buffer zone of 143, 637 ha.

GEOLOGY: Breathtaking peaks and sharp jagged ridges composed chiefly of granite. Shaped by glaciations during and after Ice Age.

TOPOGRAPHY; Massifs, valleys, towers, and glaciers, with lakes, forests, and meadows complete a splendid alpine landscape. Highest peak; mont casse.

CLIMATE: In general, summers are mild; winters are long and rather severe.

FLORA: Moist climate of western Alps gives area much more greenery than exists in eastern parts. Deciduous forests consist of beech and oak on lower levels, than beech and spruce, until pure coniferous forests take over.

MAMMALS: Ibex , chamois, wildcat, otter, ermine, fox, alpine marmot, and mountain hare.

BIRDS: Golden eagle, ptarmigan, hazel hen, black grouse, rock partridge, and rock pipit.

) RESERVE ZOOLOGIQUE ET BOTANIQUE DE LA CAMARGUE ( FRANCE );

  • Establishment; 1928. One of the most important and spectacular nature reserves of Europe, the camargue reserve and its adjoining protective areas have particularly fantastic birdlife throughout the year. The area is a synthesis of natural and manmade lands and wetlands. The reserve is surrounded by a protective zone visited by thousands of visitors each year. Dense network of roads.
  • Geographical location: The delta of the Rhone on the Mediterranean.
  • Size: 9,344 ha.
  • TOPOGRAPHY: A flat country at sea level (max. level 5m), showing an amazing variety of habitats; a labyrinthine land of shallow lagoons, extensive salines, and dry, plains. Across this lowland the arms of the Rhone flow quietly to the sea, constantly depositing new material. The hydrography is complicated, with a mosaic of fresh, brackish, and salt- expanses of water.

CLIMATE: Variable. Days of tropical heat (up to 380c) and periods when the strong winds of the famous mistral blow from the north , often with no warning. Winters are typically mediteranean and mild (except for mistral periods when temperatures regularly drop below freezing ). Little rainfall, occurring chiefly between October and November.

FLORA: The complex ecology provides a wide range of plant associations and succession of habitats, with eight main terrestrial biotopes;

  • 1. Gallery forests along the rivers with many tree species, chiefly white poplar, white willow, alder, and ash; (2) cultivated fields; (3) dry plains, thinly covered with grasses and dwarf plants; (4) steppes with salty soil; covered by saltwort, sea lavender, and grasses; scattered pools and channels usually surrounded by tama risks; (5) low –lying and partly flooded salt steppes with saltwort and its nearest relative, Arthrocne mum glaucum; (6) old stabilized dunes with Phoenician junipers and pistachio; (7) coastal dunes with marram grass and local woods of umbrella pine; (8) the Mediterranean beach.

MAMMALS: Most famous mammals, of course, are the semi-wild cattle and the semi-wild white horses (manades). Purely wild mammals; wild boar, musk shrew, red squirrel, and the beaver found along the arms of the Rhone.

BIRDS: Seven (7) species in France- breed here only; gull- billed tern, slender- billed gull, Mediterranean black- headed gull, penduline tit, moustached warbler, flamingo, and squacco heron. The flamingo is without doubt the glory of the Camargue. Other birds for which the camargue is famous; great spotted cuckoo, purple heron, little egret, night heron, red- crested pochard, gadwall, avocet, stilt, Kentish plover, savis warbler, spectacled warbler, fan- tailed warbler, lesser kestrel, bee- eater, roller, hoopoe. The camargue also has large colonies of gulls, terns, herons, and egrets.

Mingling with the breeding birds is a multitude of passing, resting, and wintering migrants. Some winters bring ducks to gather in the camargue. There is a large number of birds of prey, among others the Egyptian vulture, spotted eagle, Bonelli’s eagle, golden eagle, white tailed (sea) eagle, and peregrine.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: Green lizard, ocellated lizard, wall lizard, Montpellier snake, ladder snake, and grass snake. Marsh frogs and Tree frogs are abundant; the southern mud frog is local. Teeming with fish, the lagoons contain at least 22 species.

SPAIN

 SPAIN

Area: 509,596 km2

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN SPAIN;

1; COTO DON'ANA NATIONAL PARK( SPAIN );

  • Establishment: 1969. The finest wilderness area still remaining in southern Europe and also the area richest in animals. The wealth of birds exceeds that of any place in Europe. Coto Don'ana is in Las marismas (marismas means marshlands), the delta area of the Guadalquivir river.
  • Geographical location: South of Seville, between the Atlantic ocean and Rio Guadalquivir.
  • Size: 7,000 ha.
  • Accessibility: By car from Seville to Almonte, then a track to the Palacio.

GEOLOGY AND HISTORY: Like all deltas, Las marismas is  constantly being changed by action of the river; it spreads a layer of mud over the delta land, which in turn is caked by the summer drought.  The Romans called the delta Lacus lagustinus;

A great barrier (1.5-14 km wide) of sand dunes raised up by the Atlantic winds separates Las Marismas from the sea. Before the dunes blocked them off, a network of rivers once ran straight to sea. Now behind the dunes lie the marshes where great masses of freshwater are dammed up during annual floods but where, on the other hand, the high tides of winter and spring pour in salt water from the sea.

TOPOGRAPHY: Present marshes are about 3 m above sea level; greatest sand ridges of the moving dunes rise to about 40 meters. Dunes are immense, giving impression of a real desert.

CLIMATE: Sub tropical; hot summers and mild winters. Autumn rains of October or November.

Hardly dry before melting snow of mighty sierra morena mts -rushes past Seville and pours into this flat country. Las marismas again becomes vast sheet of water, where hidden arms of the delta can be determined only by surface flow. Summer alone transforms marshes into dryland. For four (4) months or more, it is first a flowery, then a green, heath quite different from the watery region of autumn, winter and spring.

FLORA: Interesting series of habitats; pine woods, slacks, scrub heaths, savannas, marshlands. Dunes close to sea covered with marram grass.

Farther in, a heath like- shrub Corema album is the most successful in binding the moving sand. Halimium halimifolium, which elsewhere in the coto Don'ana reaches a height of one meter, produces a dense pale green sand heath, most beautiful when covered with yellow flowers. Lone groves of umbrella pines form oases in the desert landscape. Shrubs of halimium heath in places are mixed or replaced with a macchia type  of vegetation- bramble and tree heather (up to three meters in height) where stone chat abounds and on spring nights the curious “knocking” call of the red- necked nightjar sounds. Another interesting part of the Coto Don'ana is the savanna like country with wide- crowned cork oaks soaring to 9-15 meters. Black berry bushes and a few olive trees also grow there.

The dry land of the Coto Don'ana meets the marshes of Las Marismas along an expense of about 30 kilometers.The junction of varied habitats means that such birds as azure- winged magpies and flamingos, orphean  warblers, and marbled ducks can all be seen at one time.

Two main zones in the Marshes;

  • 1. Covered with freshwater practically all the year round, marked by bulrush and sedge, (2.) Land that is dry most of the year over grown by glass wort. A few islands (Vetas) only rarely flooded and colonized by sea blight, grass, and thistles, are inhabited primarily by waders, pratincoles, ducks and terns.

MAMMALS: Remarkably rich mammalian fauna inhabits Coto Don'ana and partly also Las Marismas. At least 32 species include four species of bats, fox, pardine lynx, wildcat, badger, polecat, otter, mongoose, genet, 11 species of rodents, hedgehog, two shrews, fallow deer, red deer, and wild boar. Wolf is a very occasional straggler.

BIRDS: Imperial eagles, short- toed  eagles, several species of vultures, black kites, pin- tailed sandgrouse, cranes, black- winged stilts, black- tailed godwits, glossy ibises, short- eared owls, red – throated pipits, blue- throats, robins, Dartford warblers, spotless starlings, and azure- winged magpies ( The latter species is found only in the iberian peninsula and in eastern most Asia). Spring and summer; migrants from Africa pass through or stop to breed, filling up one habitat after another and giving a fantastic array of species. Dunes and dry heaths inhabited by Thekla larks, stone curlews, and red- legged partridges, pine forests by woodlarks, melodious warblers, gold finches, great spotted cuckoos; halimium heath by many warblers; cork oak-savanna by little owls, kestrels, booted eagles, kites, several species of herons, cattle egrets, white storks; freshwater lagoons by crested coots, black- necked grebes, marbled teal; meadows and rush tussocks surrounding the marshes by quail, short- toed larks, fan -tailed warblers and savi’s warblers; marshes and their islands by waders, pratincoles, ducks, and terns.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: Reptiles remarkably abundant with at least 16 species known in the area, an extremely high number for Europe. Six (6)  species of amphibians have been recorded. Fishes in freshwater lagoons include crucian carp and European eel.

2) MONTAN'A DE COVADONGA NATIONAL PARK( SPAIN );

  • Establishment: 1918. The mountainous Parque Nacional de la Montan'a de covadonga o de pena santa is part of the western cordillera de los picos- one of Spain's most beautiful areas.
  • Geographical location: Cantabrian Mts of Asturia, NW Spain, between Oviedo and santader.
  • Size: 16,925 ha.
  • Accessibility: By road.

GEOLOGY AND TOPOGRAPHY: The cantabrian Mts like their neighbour the Pyrenees, are a result of extensive folding more than 50 million years ago. They are partly limestone formations in which numerous rivers and torrents have carved down their courses from earlier glaciers and present lakes. Cirques and moraines trace former glaciations. The park contains a great number of ridges and peaks of which the highest is pen'a santa de castilla (2,596m); lowest altitude of the reserve is Rio Dobra at 140 meters.

CLIMATE: Temperate and typically cantabrian (much influenced by nearby Atlantic Ocean with pronounced humidity). Best season; July- Oct. Snow covers the highest parts during most of the year.

FLORA: Lower slopes are dominated by beech forests; some oak, birch, ash, chestnut, hazel, and linden. Alpine meadows rich in flowers.

MAMMALS: The two most famous fauna members are the bear and the chamois. Other mammals are roe deer, wildboar, wolf, fox, wildcat, badger and red squirrel.

BIRDS: Include caper caillie, woodcock, and many passerines.

3) VALLE DE ORDESA  NATIONAL PARK ( SPAIN );

  • Establishment: 1918. One of the most spectacularly wild areas of the Iberian Peninsula. Of all the mountains of Europe, outside the Caucasus, the pyrenees give the greatest impression of wilderness, not only because of their height and majesty, their peaks piercing the clouds, but also because many of their lakes, rivers, waterfalls, alpine heaths, and U-shaped valleys, situated in Roadless country, give the impression of being almost virgin territory. This park is surrounded by large game reserve.
  • Geographical location: Central Pyrenees below monte perdido, 2 km from French border, on a N-S line from Lourdes to Huesca.
  • Size: 2,046 ha.
  • Accessibility: By road; difficult or impossible from November to late March.

GEOLOGY AND TOPOGRAPHY: The Pyrenees were formed during the Tertiary period morethan 50 million years ago and chiefly consist of limestone, but geology of area much influenced by local Quaternary glaciations, with resulting cirques, lakes, and moraines. Numerous rivers, waterfalls, and peaks characterize the area. Highest peak in park area; pena Gallinera (2,460 m).

CLIMATE: Temperate but rather cool temperatures; high rainfall in summer and particularly high in autumn; winters cold and rich in snow (thickness of snow cover exceeds one meter).

FLORA: In valleys and on lower Mt. slopes are mixed forests of English oak, beech, maple and ash; at higher elevations, coniferous forests of silver fir (Abies alba) and pines growing up to about 2,000 meters. Above are junipers and  pines, as well as alpine meadows with rhododendrons and other plants.

MAMMALS:Some of the rarest species of Spain and France are found; chamois, ibex, wild boar, bear, Lynx, wildcat, genet, fox, badger, pine marten, otter, marmot and red squirrel.

BIRDS: A number of the larger species can be observed; lammergeir, griffon vulture, Egyptian vulture, golden eagle, long- eared owl, capercaillie, ptarmigan, and teal. Many birds found in the pyrenees have their southern limit here. Listing some of these in the order they may be seen from lower slopes up to the peaks; willow warbler, bull finch, tree creeper, whinchat, song thrush, capercaillie, wood warbler, woodcock, wall creeper, ring ouzel, alpine chough, partridge, ptarmigan, and snow finch.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: Beautifully colored species of reptiles;grass snake, asp, Aesculapian snake, green whipsnake, jeweled lizard, and green lizard. Only one species of fish,  the river trout, ascends to the streams of this lofty Pyrenees Park.

BELGIUM

BELGIUM

Area: 30,631 km2

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN BELGIUM:

  • 1. HAUTES FAGNES NATURE RESERVE ( BELGIUM );
  • Establishment: 1957. A still rather untouched natural area of silty swamps, peat bogs, heaths, and forests in the center of densely populated Europe. Despite the comparatively low altitudinal range (500-670m), there are many montane features of scientific interest, a fully protected reserve; no human occupation, no cultivation, grazing, or lumbering. The reserve has been accorded the European diploma of the council of Europe.
  • Geographical location: easternmost Belgium, near the towns of Verviers, Eupen, and malmedy in the Ardennes.
  • Size: Over 3,000 ha.
  • Climate: The area often hidden in fogs or covered by snow during the long winters.

GEOLOGY: The area represents the westernmost off set of the present continental remains of the hercynian formation, composed of quartzite’s, limestone, and sand, indicating  marine transgression about 15-20 million years ago. Soil much influenced by the proximity of a retreating ice cap during the last glaciations (That is,  loess, bogs and depressions). Certain bogs date to interglacial periods. Artificial drainage for spruce plantings has upset much the natural hydrography.

FLORA:The peat bogs are dominated sphagnum mosses and by flowering plants like bog rosemary , cotton sedge, and crowberry; Natural forests of beech, oak, and birch are unfortunately being reduced by introduced spruce. Only a few ridges with deciduous trees remain, found in association with flying bent grass and loose strife.

MAMMALS: Surprisingly rich animal life include, red deer, roe deer, wild boar, and perhaps the wildcat;

BIRDS: Among others; crane, kingfisher, red- backed shrike, meadow pipit, grass hopper warbler, goshawk, and honey Buzzard.

ICELAND

ICELAND;

Area: 103,397 km2 - Iceland, a land of fire and ice where volcanoes and glaciers are found almost everywhere.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN ICELAND:

  1. SKAFTAFELL NATIONAL PARK ( ICELAND );
  • A remarkable area, surrounded on three (3) sides by vatnajokull, Europe’s largest glacier, the park forms a kind of living glacial refugium, where vegetation and animals live at the margin of an existing inland ice field.
  • Geographical location: South eastern Iceland.
  • Area: 500,000 ha.
  • Accessibility: difficult; can be reached by plane from Reykjavik; practically in accessible by boat; motor road to park via eastern Iceland.

GEOLOGY: The area consists of Tertiary basalt and Quaternary palagonite, two of iceland’s main rock formations. The soil is chiefly moraine, and the area is, of course, characterized by past and present glaciations.

TOPOGRAPHY: The land is dominated by the glacier skeidararjokull, which feeds the skeidara River, forming a vast delta land, skeidarsandur. This outwash plain, repeatedly flooded by glacier water, allows almost no colonization by plants. Ice- free parts of the area have altitudes of about 100 m near skeidararsandur to about 1,000 m at the northern end beside the glacier.

CLIMATE: The area is warm compared to other parts of Iceland (mid- July to mid- August, a mean temp. of 10.30c)

FLORA: Vegetation varies from desert like delta to luxuriant forests of birch that cover the slopes, with scattered stands of rowans and willows. Undergrowth well developed and rich in species; about 210 flowering plants include grasses like Anthoxanthum odoratum and Agrostis tenuis. Others; angelica, wood cranebill, lady’s bed straw, hare bell, spleen wort (its only locality in Iceland) and saxi frages. Above the birch, willows take over, forming a distinct zone crossed by meadows and bogs with sedges and cotton grass. Higher up an arctic –alpine zone prevails with some few vascular plants, mosses, and lichens.

MAMMALS: The arctic fox is the only mammal living in the skaftafell area, but not far away on the ocean shore are rookeries of ringed, common and gray seals.

BIRDS: The delta outwash plain is frequented by great skuas, arctic skuas, and great- backed gulls. In the birch forest nest redwing, redpoll, and the Iceland wren, the latter being a peculiar subspecies. Brambling and Black bird have been recorded several times.

OTHERS: Many insect species occurring in the area have not been found elsewhere in Iceland. Like the flora, the invertebrate fauna shows a pronounced southern element with boreal affinities.

SWEDEN

SWEDEN

Area; 450,783 SQUARE KILOMETRES; Most of Sweden’s protected areas, are located in Lapland administered by the Swedish forest service.

TOUR DESTINATION IN SWEDEN:

  • 1. MUDDUS NATIONAL PARK ( SWEDEN );
  • Establishment: 1941. A real wilderness with rich flora and fauna typical of the various forest habitats of the northern taiga; the park contains primeval coniferous forest, bogs, mires, swamps, marshes, lakes, and tarns. As an example of an undisturbed eco- system within the coniferous region, Muddus N.P is unique in Eurasia.
  • Geographical location: Swedish Lapland, N of Arctic circle.
  • Size: 49,200 ha
  • Accessibility: By highway from Liggadammen; nearby relatively large villages; jokkmokk, Porjus, and Gallivare.

GEOLOGY: Bedrock consists mainly of granite, but gneiss, pettites, and diolites also occur. Ice sheets of Ice Age contributed moraines, and boulder clay, and various types of bog –covering clay.

TOPOGRAPHY: A mosaic of swamp woodlands and forest- clad ridges with tentacles of peat strip bogs and raised bogs stretching for miles. The whole occupies a gently undulating plateau intersected abruptly by deep canyons carved by past and present rivers. Most spectacular of these is moskoskorso Gorge (90 m deep) and Muddus Fall (42m) of the Muddus River (flows from N to S through entire reserve). Elevation;  150 m at Great Lule River, 661m at Mt. Stuor Stubba. Largest lake; Muddus jaure at 385 m above sea level.

CLIMATE: Continental type. Relatively warm summers (mean temperature July about 140c); cold winters (mean temperature January about – 120c).July  has most rainfall, but June has 340 sunshine hours, more than any other part of Sweden. Snow cover remains from end of October to middle of May.

FLORA: Area characterized by virgin forests of spruce and or pines, primeval swampy woods of spruce and birch , willow and dwarf birch around bogs, marshes, and rivers, and by the aquatic plants in these wetlands. A number of fires swept parts of the forests a few decades ago; burned areas were colonized first by pine and birch, then by aspen, mountain ash and sallow, but sprice will gradually take the lead as it did before the fires.

On dry, sandy soils the pine forms the climax vegetation (some of these pines are about 450 years old). Wooded swamps are dotted with white cotton grass.

MAMMALS: Are mountain hare- bank vole, field vole, red- backed vole, large- toothed red- backed vole, red squired, shrews, moose, roe deer, domestic reindeer, pine marten, ermine, otter, bear, lynx, occasionally wolverine. (The beaver, recently re introduced, certainly contributed in the past to the actual shape of muddus wetlands).

BIRDS: The true avian protagonist of the Muddus is the whooper swan, a very rare species in Scandinavia. A wealth of other interesting taiga birds, of which 115 species have been recorded, include crane, peregrine, kestrel, golden eagle, osprey, hen harrier, rough- legged buzzard, Teng malm’s owl, hawk owl, ural owl, eagle owl, great gray owl, rustic bunting, brambling, pine grosbeak, waxwing , red poll, great gray strike, Siberian jay, golden eye, pintail, teal, common scoter, bean goose, spotted red shark, red- necked phalarope, jack snipe, and broad- billed sand piper.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: Reptiles represented by adder and common lizard; amphibians by common frog, fishes by perch, roach, minnow, burbot, three- spined stickle- back, ten- spined stick  le back, pike, and river trout.

2) PADJELANTA, SAREK, AND STORA SJOFALLET NATIONAL PARKS, SJAUNJA BIRD SANCTUARY AND TJUOLTA VUOBME FOREST RESERVE ( SWEDEN );

- The largest wilderness region of Europe, an area of about 843,000 hectares, comprises five (5) contiguous reserves. Together they represent all existing habitats in Lapland and contain most species of flora and fauna typical of the northern haunts of coniferous sub arctic and arctic regions.

  1. PADJELANTA NATIONAL PARK ( SWEDEN )- granted the European Diploma, is chiefly a high mountain plateau with many lakes and un usually rich flora.
  2. SAREK NATIONAL PARK ( SWEDEN)- also granted the European Diploma, has the largest number of massifs with deep valleys, vast alpine plains, sharp peaks, and large glaciers.
  3. STORA SJOFALLET NATIONAL PARK- means (Great waterfall) represents an area of mountain scenery with a series of lakes and virgin coniferous and birch forests surrounded by high mountains.
  4. SJAUNJA BIRD SANCTUARY ( SWEDEN)- is the largest peat bog and swamp forest area of Europe and contains a number of aquatic bird species and such mammals as wolf, wolverine, bear, and lynx.
  5. TJUOLTAVUOBME RESERVE ( SWEDEN)- preserves the most untouched area of Scandinavia below the timberline (chiefly the birch forest region) and constitutes an area with a good population of bear, lynx, and moose.
  • Geographical location: Sweedish Lapland, N of Artic circle.
  • Areas: Padjelanta (Established 1962); 204,000 ha.

Sarek (Established 1909); 195,000 ha

Stora sjofallet (Established 1909); 150,000 ha

Sjaunja (Established 1937); 290,000 ha

Tjuoltavuobme (Established 1952) 1,500 ha.

  • Accessibility: Parks can be reached by air, by boat, or by road from Gallivare, Porjus and Kvikkjokk.

GEOLOGY: The present mountains, parts of the Scandinavian mountain chain that belongs to the Caledonian system, have been formed of various stages. During folding stage, great nappes of different rocks were pressed or thrust over each other. The bedrock of granite, gneiss, and quartzite’s was overlaid with amphibolites, schists, syenites, and limestones. Quaternary ice sheets partly reshaped mountains, creating moraines, eskers, deltas, alluvial sediment plateaus and terraces.

TOPOGRAPHY: Sarek National Park has one of Sweden’s highest mountains; sarektjakko (2,089 meters), as well as a number of other peaks above 2,000. Padjelanta National Park is  almost entirely situated above the timberline and has mountain heaths and lakes. Sarek National Park has spectacular valleys- especially the Rapa and Sarvesvagge valleys, wonderful deltas (particularly laidaure), rivers, marshes, lakes and about 70 glaciers.

Stora sjofallet National Park has its lake system and waterfalls, sjaunja has bogs, marshes, and lakes, and Tjuoltavuobme has its genuinely wild birch forest valley.

CLIMATE: Temperate climate is continental in type, with long, severe winters and short summers. The proximity of the Atlantic Ocean, however, greatly reduces the effect of the continental climate, which is much milder than of equal latitudes eastwards in Europe. Mean temp. at Kvikkjokk in the coniferous zone near sarek in January is -1202 C, July; 1307 C. Altitudinal differences influence local climate, of course, daily average temperature decreasing 10C for every 100m of increased elevation. The snow cover at Kvikkjokk remains for 212 days a year.

FLORA: Vegetation belts fall into various zones; coniferous, birch forest, lower alpine, and upper alpine. Sjaunja Bird sanctuary is in a coniferous zone and most of its forests primeval. In the other reserves the forests are entirely virgin except for a certain influence from the lapps. Stora sjofallet National Park protects an exceptionally fine forest dominated by birch in the upper valley of vietasvagge and by pine and spruce in the lower valley. In stora sjofallet and sarek, birch forests stretch for miles following the valleys into the interior of the mountains, particularly beautiful in the Rapa, Njatsos, Tjuolta, and Tarra valleys.

Above the timberline (600-700m) are large areas of willow bush, dwarf birch, alpine heaths, and barren grounds. Beautiful displays of flowers can be seen with species like yellow globe, polygonums, bartsia, fleabanes, lap landling, stitchworts, campions, and cinque foils. At the higher heaths, a glacier crow foot, dwarf willow, heather and mountain avens are found.

MAMMALS: All the large mammals of northernmost Europe have a refuge in the three (3) National Parks, but unfortunately less so in the two reserves. They include; lynx, bear, wolf, wolverine, pine marten, ermine, weasel, otter, domestic reindeer, moose, three species of shrews, mountain hare, red squirrel, Norwegian lemming and five species of voles.

BIRDS: Aquatic species;  pintail, teal, wigeon, common scoter, velvet scoter, scaup, golden eye, long- tailed duck, red breasted merganser, red throated diver, black- throated diver, lesser white- fronted goose, whooper swan, snipe, great snipe, ringed plover, golden plover, dotterel, whimbrel, green shank, wood sand piper, temminck’s stint, dunlin, purple sand piper, broad- billed sand- piper, ruff, red- necked phalarope, crane, common gull, and long- tailed skua.

Raptors and owls; Osprey, golden eagle, rough- legged buzzard, white tailed eagle, gyr falcon, merlin, kestrel, short- eared owl, snowy  owl, hawk owl, Teng malm’s owl, and ural owl;  gallinaceous birds; capercaillie found in coniferous zone, willow grouse found in birch forests, and ptarmigan at higher levels; interesting passerines; shore lark, siberian tit, ring ouzel, blue throat, arctic warbler, red- throaled pipit, Lapland bunting, little bunting (breeding occasionally), snow bunting, pine grosbeak, twite (breeding occasionally), great gray shrike, and waxing.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: There are two (2) reptiles: common lizard and adder; the only amphibian is the common frog. The lower lakes are inhabited by pike, burbot, perch,white fish, gay-ling, trout, and char,  on higher levels, only tront and char char occur, the latter even in highest lakes.

3) ABISKO NATIONAL PARK ( SWEDEN );

  • Establishment: 1909. The most accessible of all national parks in Swedish Lapland, this area displays mountains scenery and sub alpine and alpine communities of plants and animals.
  • Geographical location: On the shore of lake Torne, 200 km N of Arctic circle.
  • Size: 7,500 ha ( 9 ha set aside for development by the Swedish tourist Association).
  • Accessibility: By railway which runs through park; no roads.

GEOLOGY: The Abisko Mts belong , as does the Scandinavian mountain chain, to the caledorian range, formed by folding about 300 million years ago. Locally, younger rocks are overlaid by older ones. Bedrock is chiefly of schists, locally intersected by crystalline garnets. There are some limestone formations; moraines cover valley bottoms, slopes, and plains. Much of the actual appearance of the mountains was given by Ice Age glaciations; lakes, valleys, and deltas were partly shaped during that period.

TOPOGRAPHY: Most of this park is virgin landscape that has escaped human influence ( except for the grazing of domestic reindeer that today replace the wild reindeer and for the decimation of the large carnivores by the lapps).

An interesting topographical feature is the deep canyon carved by the Abisko River. Altitude range of park; lake torne, 342m; Mt. slattatjakko, 1,173 meters. Next largest lake is Abiskojaure, 480 in above sea level.

CLIMATE: The proximity of the Atlantic gives a maritime character; rather mild winters and cool summers, in contrast to regions to the east. But the western air masses, loaded with oceanic moisture, discharge their water before reaching Abisko, which has therefore the lowest annual precipitation in Sweden , only 30 centimeters.

Annual mean temperature- 10C; warmest month; July, 110C; coldest; February, 100C.

The midnight sun can be seen from June 12-13 to July 3-4. From the top of Mt. Nuolja (1,160m), close to Abisko tourist station, the midnight sun is visible June 1-July 15 . Abisko National Park has light practically all night from the first of May to the middle of August. On the other hand, the arctic night lasts from December 5 to January 9 when the sun never rises above the horizon. (In redity, the mountains in the south are so big that the Abisko sun has already disappeared by November 13). The darkness of the long arctic night is counterbalanced by the snow and the flaming boreal lights of the sky.

FLORA: Abisko valley is in the sub- alpine or birch forest belt extending up to 600-800 meters levels. Most of the birch forests are heath like, growing on a carpet of blue berry and crow berry. The low alpine belt is dominated by willow scrub, which gives way to the middle alpine belt of Cassiope tetragona, Empetrum, and vaccinium uliginosum heaths; a few hundred meters above;  these disappear, and the small patches of earth between the boulder fields are covered only by dwarf willow heath and luzula heath, and the border between middle and high alpine belts is passed.

Some hundred meters higher up, the scrub willows disappear, and we pass from the dwarf willow belt into the alpine belt with glacier butter cup (always the highest vascular plant), luzula confusa, and L. arcuta the only dominants left. (Lycopodium selago, Cardamine belidifolia, and Poa arctica are also usually among the highest vascular plants). Still higher these phaneragams disappear and the high alpine belt without vascular plants is reached.

The most remarkable plant in the National Park- is the orchid plantanthera parvula, found nowhere else in Europe except in a few localities in northern Norway (Other records are from Siberia).

MAMMALS: The following may be encountered; weasel, ermine, marten, fox, mountain hare, moose, and domestic reindeer. Wolf and wolverine occur occasionally.

BIRDS: Arctic warbler, willow warbler, garden warbler, redwing, blue throat, tree pipit, dipper cuckoo, long- tailed skua, willow grouse, ptarmigan, purple sandpiper, ruff, and common sand piper;

NORWAY

NORWAY;

Area: 325,371 km 2

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN NORWAY;

  • 1. RONDANE NATIONAL PARK AND FOKSTUMYRA BIRD SANCTUARY ( NORWAY );
  • One of Norway’s most beautiful and Ornithologically interesting areas, the protected Rondane National Park, nearby Fokstumyra has been a reserve since 1923.
  • Geographical location: part of Dovre Mts, N and E of Gudbrandsdalen valley, in districts of oppland and Hedmark.
  • Area: Rondane National Park, 57,500 ha; Fokstumyra Bird sanctuary; 900 ha.
  • Accessibility: railroad traverses Fokstumyra sanctuary.

TOPOGRAPHY: The Dovre area is a high mountain plateau with several  massifs rising to an elevation of more than 2,000m- a land of forests, mountain heaths, bogs , lakes, and rivers.

CLIMATE: The mountains of Dovre, like the whole Scandinavian mountain chain, more or less form an eastern barrier to the oceanic climate and a western barrier to the continental climate, except in passes running from east to west.

FLORA: Rondane National park with its surroundings comprises coniferous forests of pine, which are beautifully developed in the Atnasjo area where they go up to about 900m, while birches climb to about 1,000 meters. Flora in the Rondane area includes saxifrage, dwarf willow, dwarf birch, mountain avens, and buttercup (Ranunculus glacialis). Fokstumyra Bird sanctuary lies at about a 950 meter elevation and harbors some birch woods but chiefly willows; other communities are bogs and mires.

MAMMALS: wild reindeer, mountain hare, and many species of rodents are the mammals most often observed.

BIRDS AT RONDANE PARK AND ATNASJO: The Atnasjo area is rich in birds; golden eagle, gyr falcon, rough-legged buzzard, goshawk, great snipe , red- necked phalarope, woodsand piper, greenshank, golden plover, dotterel, crane, willow grouse, ptarmigan, Siberian jay, crossbill, ring ouzel, three-toed woodpecker, and eagle owl may be observed.

BIRDS AT FOKSTUMYRA: At least 134 species have been recorded. Among breeding birds;  common scoter, velvet scoter, scaup, whimbrel, great snipe, purple sandpiper, dotterel, crane, Lapland bunting, tengmalm’s owl, hen harrier, peregrine, shore lark, great gray shrike, blue throat, capercaillie, black grouse, and willow grouse.

2) BORGEFJELL NATIONAL PARK ( NORWAY );

  • Establishment: 1963. Located in a rather remote area. It is a roadless tract of birch forests and steep mountains, with a rich birdlife.
  • Geographical location: Nord- Trendelag, and Nordland districts, 65 N Latitude, close to Swedish border.
  • Area: About 100,000 ha.

GEOLOGY: The Scandinavian mountain chain was formed more than 300 million years ago (while the cambro- Silurian sea overlay what is now Scandinavia).

TOPOGRAPHY: The Borgefjell group or mountains rises above the coniferous zone, remaining partly snow covered until late in summer. Kvigtind, (1,703m) is partly covered by permanents snow. Vast plains of lakes, moraine ridges, and hills.

CLIMATE: Borgefjell, like the whole Scandinavian mountain range, acts as a neutralizing force between the Atlantic and continental climatic regions. Weather unstable, with clouds and precipitation.

FLORA: Coniferous forests of spruce and pine reach up to about 560 meters. The birch forest zone extends to about 600 meters, then willows dominate, with some creeping junipers, to about 750 meters.

Above, on the mountain heaths, are mountain azalea, lapp heath, and polar heath.

MAMMALS: In the area are mountain hare, the Norwegian lemming, and large- tooth red- backed vole plus several other- rodents, moose, arctic fox and wolverine, occasionally bear and lynx.

BIRDS: Most interesting are lesser white- fronted goose, long- tailed duck , and arctic skua. Some years the snowy owl occurs. Others include; ptarmigan, willow grouse, Siberian jay, Lapland bunting, snow bunting, blue throat, three- toed woodpecker, rough- legged buzzard, common scoter, temminck’s stint, purple sandpiper and dotterel.

3) HARDANGERVIDDA;

- A vast arctic plain above the timberline, this reserve is the largest high mountain plateau of northern Europe and the southern most in Scandinavia. Easiest access from the north is from Road 7 at Dyranut tourist station; about 12 km road available for cars south to Tinnholen. From there it is approximately 4 km to the park. Marked paths between tourist stations.

  • Geographical location: Between Oslo and Bergen, 4 km from Tinn holen.
  • Size: To be about 60,000 ha.

GEOLOGY AND TOPOGRAPHY: Moraine plain dotted with hills, small lakes, and bogs, and intersected by rivers. Elevation of plain; 1200-1400m; Harteigen, highest point, is 1,691 m)

CLIMATE: Influenced by nearby Atlantic and Gulf stream. By june, mostly free of snow and ice, exceptional for Scandnavian mountains of similar height.

FLORA; Lichens, sedges, and grasses dominate.  Some tracts covered  by dwarf  birch, moisture areas along watercourses and bogs by willow. Cotton sedge is most conspicuous.

MAMMALS: Fifteen species recorded. Wild reindeer  graze chiefly west of langavatn. Another herbivore is mountain hare. Arctic fox well represented, the red fox less common. Ermine population fluctuates with varying frequency at voles and lemmings. Lynx and wolverine may visit.

BIRDS: Sixty species (33 breeding) recorded. Most rewarding areas are bogs around Langavatn where many species breed and molt. The plateau is the southernmost breeding area for several mountain birds. Breeding species include long- tailed duck, Long –tailed skua, great snipe, red-necked phalarope, broad-billed sandpiper, temminck’s stint, and golden plover. The snowy owl breeds here more frequently than in any other Scandinavian area.

DENMARK

DENMARK;

AREA: 43,209 SQUARE KILOMETRES;

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN DENMARK;

  • 1. TIPPERNE AND KLAEGBANKEN RESERVES ( DENMARK );
  • Establishment: 1895,1928,1936. Together they have an almost permanent “high” season for birds-as a breeding, feeding, and wintering area. Totally protected.
  • Geographical location: Ring kobing Fjord, western jutland, beside North sea coast.
  • Area: 450 ha each.

GEOLOGY: Until the turn of this century Tipperne was a dune peninsula separating Ring kobing Fjord from the North sea; then its western sandbanks and dunes grew rapidly, almost lacking the fjord and changing its salt water to nearly fresh. Now it is an area of low- lying meadows and seasonally flooded salt marshes. Klaegbanken , a long, narrow island covered with grass and needs, has shallow surrounding waters favoring the birds.

CLIMATE: Mild, contributing to the area’s importance as a wintering area for water fowl.

FLORA: The flora reflects the locally variable degrees of salt, brackish, and freshwater influences, expanding bird habitat ranges.

BIRDS; Breeding species include mallard, pintail, shelduck, muteswan, black- tailed godwit, avocet, ruff, marsh harrier, gull billed tern, sandwich tern, and enormons colonies of black headed gulls.

POLAND

POLAND;

Area: 313,726 square kilometres;

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN POLAND;

  • 1. BIALOWIEZA NATIONAL PARK ( POLAND );
  • Protected since 1919. Bialowieza is poland’s most famous park, with a rich fauna of larger mammals exceptional for including the European bison.

The “Bialowieski park narodowy” protects a unique virgin forest, the last of its kind in central Europe, which runs across the polish –soviet border, the two countries protecting the forests and the free roaming bison.

  • Geographical location: eastern Poland, close to former USSR border.
  • Size: 5,069 ha, includes strict nature reserve of 4,747 ha.

GEOLOGY: Different kinds of soil explain the variety of the forests; a mosaic of mineral soil, sand, clay, peat, marshy- peat, and Marshy- mud. Peat bogs are the raised continental type. A sub stratum of glacial sediments covers a cretaceous bedrock.

TOPOGRAPHY: The park shelters the largest forest on the central European plains. Two rivers, Narewka and Hwozna, enclose the park, an undulating lowland plain (elevation; 170-202m). several marshes.

CLIMATE: Typically forestal; much influenced by the primeval forest, with high humidity, and an annual precipitation of 612 mm, mostly snow. Mean temperature 7c.

FLORA: Deciduous tree dominate with 12 distinct plant communities; hornbeam, ash, alder, oak, lime, maple, birch, aspen, elm, wild apple, pine, and spruce. Most remarkable are the limes, like long- handled brooms with small crowns and no branches on their tall trunks. Hornbeam (35 percent) dominates the primeval forest, a replica of the ancient forest of eastern Europe. Area also includes mixed forests, pure coniferous forests, and marshes. An isolated stand  of silver fir in the soviet part of Bialowieza forest dates back several hundred years. Bilberry is important in the rich undergrowth;

MAMMALS: The European bison formerly ranged the deciduous forest of Europe widely. No doubt this enormous freshy creature was much coveted, perhaps also feared. This, with reduction of the forests, led to its extermination. By the Middle Ages the bison had disappeared from most of Europe and by the beginning of the 20th century was found  only in the Bialowieza forest and in the Caucasus (about 1,700 by world war 1). These animals- one of a plains forest, the other of a mountain forest- belonged to different races. The last were shot in Bialowieza in 1921. Other mammals living in this national park; red deer, roe deer, lynx, wolf, and beaver.

BIRDS; Many species of which capercaillie,  black stork, and eagle owl should be especially mentioned.

2:  SLOWINSKI NATIONAL PARK (POLAND);

  • Establishment: 1966. An area of extensive peat bogs, marshes, coastal dunes, and shallow lakes separated from the sea by narrow strips of land.
  • Geographical location: Baltic coast, W of Gulf of Gdansk
  • Size: 18,068 ha includes strict nature reserve of 5,440 ha.

GEOLOGY: Waves of the Baltic sea wash over shores of soft sand and clay. Present lakes were once lagoons connecting with the sea, but west winds and moving sands have cut them off from the sea.

Lake leba’s mobile dunes among  the largest in Europe, some rising to 40m; they move quickly, 6-10 m a year. In the 18th century, they buried an entire village; part of  its church is still visible.

Beach woods meet the same fate. One dune, now stabilized by plants, is more than 55 m high. Alluvial deposits and peat soil lie between the sea shore and the higher ground.

TOPOGRAPHY: The lakes are shallow (deepest part of the lake leba is 5.3 m, of lake Gardno 3m) and both are about 30 cm below sea level. Highest point, Mount Rowokol, is a moraine hill, 115 m above sealevel.

CLIMATE: The Bartic sea region is mild compared with parts of Asia and North America that lie on the same latitude, warm, sunny summers.

FLORA: Dunes closest to the sea are bare but inland are gradually colonized by orache, Elymys arenarius, Marram grass, and other pioneers. Cushions of prickly saltwort and sea rocket contrast with emerald green purslane. Dunes farther from the sea are partly  over grown by sedge, sheep’s- bit scabious, willow, and other species. These are followed by various lichens or crow berries.

On the land side of the duneborder are pine forests and peat bogs. Patches of older surround some marshes.

MAMMALS: Of  the region include roe deer and wild boar.

BIRDS: Breeding birds; cranes, mute swan, grey lag geese, and many species of ducks. This is also a resting site for birds migrating along the Baltic coast.

3) PIENINY NATIONAL PARK(POLAND);

  • Protected since 1921. The River Dunajec flowing through the pieniny range of the carpathians forms a boundary between former Czechoslovakia and Poland but unites pieninski park Narodowy in Poland and pieniny National Park in former Czechoslovakia. The vegetation is remarkable because of the uniquely warm climate and the fact that the area was untouched by the Glacial Age.
  • Geographical location: Southernmost Poland, near former Czechoslovakia, NE of Tatra Mountains.
  • Size: 2,705 ha (500 ha in strict nature reserve)
  • Nearest city: Nowy Targ.

GEOLOGY: Pieniny range, built of sedimentary rocks with various limestones dominating, is Jurassic and Cretaceous in origin, 60-150 million years ago. Never glaciated during the Ice Age, it was influenced by the proximity of the ice sheet and of the Tatra glaciers. Alternating climatic periods, temperature oscillations, and running waters were erosive forces shaping these mountains.

TOPOGRAPHY: The Dunajek cut its way (probably 10-20 million years ago) through the pieniny and czorstyn  gorges with seven sharp and three rounded bends, forming a spectacular valley 9 km long. Sheer walls rise several hundred meters above the river shores, falling away in gentle slopes on the other side of the crest to the basin surrounding the pieniny. Highest massif: three crowns (Trzy Korony, 982 m).

CLIMATE: Different from rest of N carpathians because of protecting Tatra mountains. Mean temperature is 44.6o F as high as that of southern most Carpathians in Rumania.

FLORA: Warm climate, soil, and escape from Ice Age have all contributed to unique vegetation; lush forests of spruce, fir,  larch, beech, elm, lime, maple, aspen, and ash dominate. The mountains do not go above timber line.

There are some 1,100 vascular plants, including arctic, alpine, and southern elements. Endemic species include a DANDELION (Taraxacum pieninicum), a mustard (Erysimum wittmannii), and a chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum zawadzkii).

Other rarities are the Juniper juniperis sabina, the alison Alyssum ardunini, and the arabis Arabis corymbi flora.

MAMMALS: Like the flora, the fauna represents various elements of different geographic origins. Among mammals are fox, wolf (occasionally), stone marten, badger, otter, lynx, wildcat, red deer, roe deer, and wild boar. Bats are numerous with 14 species. Schreiber’s bat, a chiefly Mediterranean species, has its most northerly out post in the pieniny mountains.

BIRDS: There are records of 161 species, of which 92 are nesting records. Of special interest: ring ouzel, rock thrush, black redstart, dipper, wall creeper, gray wagtail, marsh warbler, Bonelli’s warbler, hawfinch, oride, nut cracker, kingfisher, hoopoe, turtle dove, white stork, black stork, osprey, hobby, red-footed falcon (occasionally), golden eagle, lesser spotted eagle, eagle owl, pygmy owl, Teng malm’s owl, three- toed woodpecker, hazel hen, and black grouse.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: Reptiles; common lizard, slow worm, and adder;  amphibians; fire- bellied toad, spotted salamander, and alpine newt; fishes;

In the Dunajec a few river trout. Danube salmon have recently immigrated to the river. (Sea trout and salmon have become great rarities).

INSECTS: A remarkable number of more than 1,800 species of butterflies and moths (65 percent of all Poland’s species) are present, representing Euro- caucasian, Atlantic, Mediterranean, alpine, and sub-arctic elements.

4)  OJCOW NATIONAL PARK( POLAND);

  • Protected since 1924. The deeply sculptured contours of the ojcowski park Narodowy present a remarkably picturesque relief. Its many geographical elements are reflected in a rich flora.
  • Geographical location: Southern Poland, NW of Cracow.
  • Size: 1,675 ha, includes strict nature reserve of 216 ha.

GEOLOGY: A  sharply cut plateaux  with narrow valleys between exposed whitish upper Jurassic limestone cliffs. Wind, water, and frost have carved mountains into curious rock and karst formations with caves, obelisks, pylons, and canyons. Plateau and slopes covered with pleistocene deposits, mostly loess.

TOPOGRAPHY: Dramatic contours. The approach from Cracow across a wide cultivated plateau reveals no sign of the reserve. The land opens abruptly in a fissure valley with a magical change of scenery; below the plain another world of woods and cliffs 60 m high. The rivers pradnik and its tributary saspowka with steep banks wind in several narrow gates with many deep caves along their course.

CLIMATE: Generally continental, but the micro- climate of the ojcow differs from that of Cracow.

FLORA: Limestone bedrock favors luxuriant deciduous woods everywhere with brightly colored flowers shining in their glades. Most important of several forest communities are a mixed forest (hornbeam, maple, and beech) and a beech forest in pure stands or mixed with fir. Brush wood of stunted oaks, beech, and hornbeam grows on warmest, driest sunny slopes. A special reserve shelters a stand of endemic birch (Betula ojcoviensis). Relics from warm post-  glacial period include some typical steppe plants (Stipa pennata, Veronica austriaca, and Inula ensifolia);

MAMMALS: Roe deer, badger, and cave- dwelling bats, such as lesser horse shoe and Geoffroy’s. Caves also contain remains of tundra and steppe animals, bearing evidence of climatic changes during recent geologic times. Giant deer, reindeer, taiga antelope, mammoth, Cave-bear, Cavelion, and cave-hyena once lived at Ojcow. Stone Age people also took refuge in these caves.

BIRDS; Include kestrel, gray wagtail, dipper, stonechat, black red start, rock thrush, red-breasted flycatcher, turtle dove, kingfisher.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: Reptiles are represented by slow worm, grass snake and smooth snake;  amphibians by spotted salamander, spade foot and fire toads; and fishes by river trout, miller's thumb and minow.

 

5) THE MAZURY LAKES DISTRICT,  WITH JEZIORO LUKNIANY RESERVE( POLAND);

  • Establishment: 1947. The area of the Mazurian lakes is a complex of more than 2,500 lakes lying on a flyway and includes 53 fully protected sanctuaries most important for sheltering abundant birdlife. Largest lakes: sniardwy (10,600 ha) and Maniry(10,400ha); most interesting lakes ornithologically;lukniany, llgi, maniry, karas ,Gandry, oswin, pogubiewielkie, and kruklin.
  • Geographical location: north eastern Poland
  • Size: Mazury lakes, 141,700 ha; Jezioro lukniany, 623 ha.
  • Climate: dry continental type; warm summers ,cold winters.

GEOLOGY; The district is a glacier- curved lowland, filled with lakes, marshes, ridges, and hills. One of the largest swamplands of Europe, patterned with marshes and lakes that were formed when the inland Ice sheet melted.

FLORA: Jezioro lukniany reserve is a stretch of shallow water, 48-96 km long,  beside its huge neighbor lake sniardwy, of which it may once have been a bay. It is covered with aquatic plants, chiefly chara and Nitella, that provide food for vast flocks of birds and swarms of fish. Forests surround the wetlands.

BIRDS: The surface of lake lukniany is dotted white and black with mute swan and coots, interspersed with mallards, gadwalls,pintails,wigeons,shovelers,pochards, and tufled ducks. This is perhaps the principal nesting area of the muteswan;  about 450 pairs, nesting side by side, were counted in 1969. Squeezed in among the white swan shapes are black cormorants, building their nests on the ground, a departure for this tree-  nesting bird. Bearded tits and rasping great reed warblers nest in the reeds. Patrolling the lake are marsh and hen harriers, lesser spotted eagles, and ospreys. Recently a number of black kites were observed living in the middle of the heron community,  with a kestrel and golden oriole nearby and a white –tailed (sea) eagle circling above. The graylag goose, black stork and crane also breed here. Bean goose flocks linger in increasing numbers. Migratory geese and ducks rest on the mazury lakes flyway both spring and fall.

AUSTRIA

AUSTRIA;

Area: 84,172 km2

 

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN AUSTRIA;

  • 1. HOHE TAUERN NATURE CONSERVATION AREA(AUSTRIA);
  • Establishment: An area of alpine landscape, protected by its own inaccessible character and lack of economic value, consisting of three contiguous reserves. The spectacular mountainous tract has a network of rivers, valleys (1,370m above sea level), Peaks (up to 2, 750 m), and glaciers.
  • Geographical location: Southern Austria, between Gross Glockner and the Italian border.
  • Size: 34,000 ha
  • Climate: Summers usually fine; winters severe with much snow.

GEOLOGY: The Alps, formed more than 50 million years ago in the Tertiary period, belong to the youngest mountain formations of Europe. They consist of gneiss with Mesozoic sedimentary rocks, diorites, and serpentines. Hohe Tauern’s valleys were freed from ice about 12,000 years ago, but glaciers still remain today.

FLORA: Forests are dominated by conifers;  spruce, silver fir, pine, stone pine, and larch. Timberline about 1,650 meters. Plants include the famous edelweiss and bird’s eye primrose.

MAMMALS: Larger mammals are represented by red deer, chamois, woodchuck, and Mountain hare.

BIRDS: Among others are ptarmigan, Bonelli’s, warbler, snowfinch, and rock pipit.

 

2)  NEUSIEDLER SEE AND SEEWINKEL CONSERVATION AREA(AUSTRIA);

  • Establishment: 1936. The present reserves comprise 21 strictly protected areas that are surrounded by a buffer zone where hunting is forbidden. Lake Neusiedl, one of the orrithologically most important wetlands of Europe, is the westernmost steppe lake in Eurasia; it merges to the east into a characteristic puszta- like country, the see winkel, with about 80 alkaline ponds.

Most of the lake and the seewinkel , or about 800 square km, is within Austrian territory though the Austrian- Hungarian border crosses the Southern part of the lake. Lake Neusiedl is the largest shallow lake of Europe (average depth less than 2m); the numerous ponds, lying east of it, together represent an impressive surface of water; levels fluctuate seasonally.

  • Geographical location: Austrian-Hungarian border, abour 48 km from Vienna.
  • Size: 35,000 ha, plus 17,00 ha of water.
  • Climate: An exponent of the continental type of climate, a pronounced dry region with temperatures high in summer, low in winter.

TOPOGRAPHY: This conservation area has three chief habitats: (1) the highly cultivated part with some woods west of the lake; (2) lake Neusiedl itself with its open water, vast girdle of reedbeds(In some places as much as 5 km wide), sedge marshes, meadows, and bushy shores; (3) the steppe and alkaline ponds east of the lake.

Lake Neusiedl (altitude:113m) is slightly brackish. The ponds have an unparalleled hydro chemical diversity with conditions unique for plants and animals in relation to the comparatively restricted area. The ground is often baked hard in summer, creating a genuine salt steppe.

FLORA: Habitats of the area are extraordinary for western Europe and botanically very interesting. Numerous flowering plants dot the treeless meadows; white salvia and a tall iris are the most conspicuous. On the steppe, a chiefly central Asian artemisia has its western most locality.

BIRDS; During migration periods and in winter, birds find important resting, molting, and feeding grounds in the wide-range of the area’s environments. In autumn and winter geese of three species flock here; most numerous white-fronted geese, followed by bean geese and greylags. Many breeding species occur, of which several are rare for Europe. In the reed belt large colonies of aquatic birds congregate; most spectacular of these are  spoonbill and white heron. Others are purple heron, little egret, and black ibis. Around the lake and in the seewinkel  are important breeding grounds for the white stork, geese, ducks, rails, gulls, terns, and waders. Included among the many species are graylag, garganey, gadwall, ferruginous duck, little tern, gull-billed tern, Baillon’s crake, Kentish plover, black –tailed godwit, avocet, pratincole, and the stone curlew.

Among the passerines; blue throat, aquatic warbler, and lesser shrike.

HUNGARY

HUNGARY;

Area: 93,387 km2

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN HUNGARY;

  • 1. KISBALATON NATURE RESERVES(HUNGARY);
  • Establishment: 1951. Kisbalaton (“little Balaton”), the largest nature reserve in Hungary, is totally protected though cutting of reeds is permitted in winter.
  • Geographical location: Near lake Balaton, western Hungary.
  • Size: 1,403 ha.

GEOLOGY: The present basin of lake Balaton was formed by a crustal  movement during the last glaciation, but this event was preceded by volcanic activity 3-5 million years ago. The kisbalaton area, once a bay deep enough for large vessels, became a marsh during the drought period 1834-1837. A large –scale drainage in 1922 isolated it from lake Balaton; the river Zala however, connects the two lakes.

TOPOGRAPHY: Several rivers bisect the kisbalaton marshes. The reserve is an inner sanctuary surrounded by an expanse of 10,000 acres of marshland. One large and several smaller ponds and a network of canals and water- filled ditches are the only open waters. Some islands are scattered through the marsh. Altitude: 108 m above sea level.

CLIMATE: Though the climate is of the continental type with hot, dry summers, the winters are comparatively mild. Summer days average 77oF.

Violent summer thunderstorms with heavy rains may sweep over the area. The water of the marshes freezes almost every winter.

FLORA: The marshy vegetation is dominated by reed beds and there are also bulrushes. Other areas have wet grassy meadows, luxuriantly covered dykes, and hillocks overgrown with willows. A few islands of dense deciduous woods, where cicadas give a tropical aspect, are in the sea of reeds. These have been colonized by roe deer.

BIRDS: Kisbalaton is the home of spectacular colonies of birds. The spoonbill colony is probably the most important in Europe, and the colony of cormorants is the westernmost in the interior of Europe for that species. Other huge colonies of herons (night heron, squacco heron, and great white heron) and of egrets (little egret, bittern, and little bittern) are to be seen.Other breeding species include pochard, ferruginous duck, mallard, gadwall, garganey, pintail, and shoveler. Short-eared owl, marsh harrier, and montagu’s harrier are some of  the predators. In the reeds, willows, and island woods nest blue throat, savi’s warbler, icterine warbler, penduline tit, bearded tit, and golden oriole. During migration the lake harbors huge concentrations of ducks, chiefly tufled duck and golden eye.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: Grass snakes and frogs of various species are plentiful. Fishes include silure, pike,carp, and pike- perch

BULGARIA

BULGARIA;

Area: 111,096 km2

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN BULGARIA;

  • 1. SREBARNA NATIONAL WILDLIFE SANCTUARY(BULGARIA);
  • Establishment: 1948. A sanctuary for Birdlife. Srebarna means “silver lake” in Bulgarian. The lake is separated from the great river Danube by a flat alluvial plain though it formerly connected with it. Open water is surrounded by vast reed beds, which occupy a large expanse than the free area. The surface  of the lake (area; 5 km2, maximum depth, 2.7 m) usually lies 0.8m lower than that of the Danube. The nearest town is the ancient city of silistra.
  • Geographical location: north eastern Bulgaria, just south of the Danube.
  • Size: 600 ha
  • Climate: Temperate, but summers are hot; water temperature reaches 380c.

GEOLOGY: A limestone bed, overlaid by schists and Pliocene sands, forms the bottom of the lake. Loess soil covers the surrounding flats.

FLORA: Remarkable plant productivity; submerged vegetation very dense and phragmites reeds locally more than 7m high. Luxuriant vegetation covers the shores and surrounding marshes. A forest of locust trees borders eastern shore.

MAMMALS: Twenty- eight mammals have been recorded, most of them species of shrews, mice, and rats. Introduced muskrats are very common. Species rare for western Europe; the steppe polecat, marbled polecat, and lesser molecat. The European suslik is very common in the sanctuary area.

BIRDS: It is for the sake of its birdlife that the lake has become a sanctuary, the most interesting breeding species being the Dalmatian pelican. Others include little egret, squacco heron, little bittern, savi’s warbler, penduline tit, whiskered tern, gadwall, and ferruginous duck. The lake is also important for both migratory and wintering waterbirds.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: The diced water snake is the most common; the smooth snake and the Aesculapian snake occur along the shores. The shy European pond tortoise is numerous but seldorn seen. Fishes; as many as 19 species occur- the most common seems to be the pike.

ROMANIA

ROMANIA;

Area: 238,417 km2

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN ROMANIA:

  • 1. RETEZAT NATIONAL PARK(ROMANIA);
  • Establishment: 1935. The Retezat massif is the most impressive part of the Romanian Carpathians with a pure alpine environment at elevations above 2000m, alpine flora, and several endemic species. A rich animal life can be observed.
  • Geographical location: Southern Carpathians, western Romania, south of the town of Deva.
  • Size: 1,840 ha in strict nature reserve, 11,160 ha in protective zone.

GEOLOGY: Main formations of crystalline rocks with mighty granite intrusions are locally overlaid by Mesozoic limestone.

Local quarternary glaciations- and indeed present- day frost action have shaped the area due to the thickness of the glaciers (200-300m). These glaciers left behind them moraines, cirques, and lakes.

TOPOGRAPHY: Retezat Massif has 40 peaks over 2,200meters. Massif formed by two parallel ranges divided by two valleys; lapusnicul mare and Barbat. Highest peak of northern range; peleaga (2,609m),  of southern; custura (2,435m).

Many of the 82 lakes are large and many above 2,000 meters. Numerous streams and waterfalls tumble down slopes; the highest, ciumful, leaps down about 300 meters.

CLIMATE: Generally less favorable than other parts of southern carpathians. Deep snow covers the area for more than six months of year (at Bucura cirque lake area it is several meters thick); on summits it melts in late June. Wide temperature variations between day and night.

FLORA:Forests of beech, horn beam, spruce, and fir cover the lower slopes, with stonepine at higher elevations. Here and there others;  ash, alders, lime (up to 900-1000m), and birch (up to 1,825m). Above the timberline are scattered groups of mountain pine and dwarf juniper, then alpine meadows dominated by rhododendrons. The plant genus Hieracium (hawk-weed ) has a center at Retezat with 34 species. In addition to edelweiss, four aconites (Aconitum hunyadense, A tauricum, A. moldavicum, and A. toxicum), ragwort, and many others, there are several species peculiar to the Retezat Massif. Calcareous rocks harbor interesting plants like mountain avens, sesleria, rigida, Pulsatilla grandis, Scutellaria alpina, and orchids.

MAMMALS: Animal life is rich with mammals such as chamois, roedeer, wildboar, bear, wolf, and lynx.

BIRDS: The following large birds can be observed; golden eagle, short- toed eagle, buzzard, goshawk, peregrine, capercaillie, and rarely, on migration,  the lammergeier. The nutcracker is abundant in the upper coniferous forest zone, where the robin and the hedge sparrow are also common.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: Two adders (Vipera ammodytes and V.berus) occur in the limestone region. River trout is abundant in the streams, and in some of them the grayling can also be found.

 

2) BUCEGI MOUNTAINS NATURE RESERVE( ROMANIA);

  • Establishment: 1943; 1958. The Bucegi reserve offers beautiful scenes of highland country and on the plateaus an extraordinary show of flowering plants; many are similar to those in the Alps and the Scandinavian mountains, but there are also as many as 35 purely Carpathian endemic species.
  • Geographical location: Southernmost Carpathian mountains.
  • Size: 4,755 ha; main reserve of 4,400 ha; scientific zone of 200 ha.
  • Accessibility: By road and by rail.
  • Nearest town: Sinaia.

GEOLOGY: The Bucegi Mts are formed of Jurassic limestone, conglomerates, and micaceous grit stone, the lalomitza carving typical karstic phenomena- caves and gorges. Ice Age glaciations shaped the surface and deposited moraines.

TOPOGRAPHY: Altitudinal range of Bucegi Mountains is 845-2,511 meters. The latter is the height of omu peak with two ridges shaping  an enormous horse shoe. The highest ridge is in the east of the Bucegi, facing the prahova valley, with steep rock walls, chimneys, pinnacles, crags, and valley chasms. Westward is a very different rolling highland. The main water course flowing through the Bucegi massif is the lalomitza River.

CLIMATE: Continental type;  warm summers and cold winters. The temperature is below freezing October –June, and the snow is about 6m deep. It snows all year on Mt.Omu.

FLORA: The 1,100 species include endemic Carpathian plants, as well as arctic, alpine, central European, and Balkan plants. An interesting species is Draba carinthiaca, which once grew widely in Europe but is now relict in the pyrenees, the Alps, and the Bucegi Mts. Other rarities for Romania are Iris docica, Salix myrtiloides, and S.bicolor. Beech forests dominate the lower Mt. slopes and higher up mix with spruce. Yew is found here and there , and at 1,750-1,860m there are stonepine and larch. Above the tree limit are meadows of mat grass with low junipers, rhododendrons, and carpets of bilberries, cowberries and mountain azalea.

MAMMALS: Several of Europe’s larger mammals inhabit the reserve; wild boar, red deer, chamois, roe deer, bear, lynx, wolf, and fox.

BIRDS: Among the larger species; spotted eagle, golden eagle,  buzzard, black vulture, griffon vulture, and capercaillie. Among smaller species; Tengmalm’s owl, ural owl, pygmy owl, three- toed woodpecker, nutcracker, raven, and wall creeper.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: Most frequently encountered reptiles; adder, sand lizard, common lizard (to about 2,400m), wall lizard. River trout are found in the lalomitza.

 

3)  DELTA OF THE DANUBE RESERVE(ROMANIA);

  • Establishment: 1962. The deltas of the Danube at the Black sea and of the Volga at the Caspian sea are the two largest of Europe. The Danube Delta, covering an area about 72km wide and twice as long, is one of the most spectacular nature phenomena in Europe. Here is a living and very dynamic landscape with a spectrum of habitats and a rich plant and animal life of which many species are unique for Europe. A network of river arms and channels is navigable, so that visitors may easily travel by boat across this vast and remarkable area. The Danube Delta area stretches from the Russian border in the north to Mamaia in the South.
  • Geographical location: the Mouth of the Danube at the black sea.
  • Size: 40,000 ha (includes several sanctuaries and 3 large reserves);

GEOLOGY: Since its formation during the ice Age, the river has changed its course several times. When the Romans founded the town of Tulcea 2600 years ago, the delta was a huge estuary, not the present wetland  labyrinth of sand bars, reedbeds, marshes,lagoons, and forests expanding eastward every year. Land formation  can be studied in all its phases. Between 1830 and 1952, the northern part was extended about 16 km to the sea. The sediments deposited by floods form banks and islands; higher parts separate the delta from the Black sea, and the river arms open wide.

TOPOGRAPHY: Three main branches of the  Danube – chilia, north, sulina, middle, and St. Gheorghe, south –divide the delta in three large sections crossed by many river arms, brooks, channels, lakes, lagoons, marshes, swamps, reedbeds, dunes, sandy plains,  moorlands, grassy steppes, temporarily inundated islands, and permanently dry islands.

About 63 percent of the delta is covered by reedbeds, including great quagmires over  grown with reeds. These floating landscape are important in the southern part; roots of floating reeds entwine  a mass of decaying organisms, which are colonized by vegetation and then fertilized by debris. Lake Razelm, 40km long is the largest expanse of water. A series of sandbars separates its brackish salt lagoons from the Black sea. Highest point, Mount Babadag, is southern part.

CLIMATE: Generally mild, due to influence of Black sea; summers hot (continental type). Regular spring floods last 3-4 months; frost and snow occur almost every winter.

FLORA: Vegetation unparalleled in Europe except for Volga Delta. The narrow strips of land, surrounded by water are dominated by the common sallow, forming an indescribably beautiful silver gray border and growing several kilometers inland where the land widens to form large islands. These woodlands, a type unique in Europe; are flooded twice a year and stand in water for long periods. Inland, on higher islands, alders, poplars, and white willows give the foliage a variety of grayish- green shades.

The primeval deciduous forest of Letea Island has many environments; the shores are covered with reeds or slope down to lagoons filled with water aloes and horn nut. Inlets penetrate far, flooding villages spring and autumn. Elsewhere are steppes with tawny pipits tripping through tufts of feather grass. Sand dunes with marram grass, sea holly, and sea kale are now far inland bordering these woods with sea shells everywhere,  a sure sign of the former proximity of the sea. Virgin oaks, silver- leaved white poplars, magnificent ash trees, white-willows, maples, elms, linden, and hazel are other trees. Typical features of southern European virgin forest; ivy twining around tree trunks and the lianas trailing from the branches under green canopies of woods.

Enormous reedbeds of phragmites communis, floating reed islands of shorter P. rivularis, are everywhere. Other aquatic plants; narrow –leaved reed mace, rush, a water fem, (Nephrodium thelipteris), bulrush, sedge, and willow bushes.

MAMMALS: The astonishing number of mammals and birds has made the delta famous. The former include brown hare, wild boar, raccoon dog, fox, wolf, ermine, marbled polecat, steppe polecat, and badger. Less surprising are water species; muskrat, otter, and mink.

BIRDS: The roller is typical in open woods along river arms; most commonly seen; hoopoes, hooded crows, starlings, cuckoos, turtle doves, and stock doves. Black kites patrol the water courses for dead or dying fish; marsh harriers fly over vast reed fields. In the Salix woods are kingfishers; in the thickets, chirping river warblers; in the tall trees, the collared fly catcher.

Above  all, the delta is the haunt of many marsh birds; glossy ibises, herons, purple herons, great white herons, little egrets, night herons, squacco herons; also cormorants, pygmy cormorants, white storks, and spoonbills, which breed but are rare and seldom seen.

Ducks are common; mallards, garganeys, gadwalls, and ferruginous and red- crested pochards. Graylag and muteswan breed. The most diligent and commonly heard singing birds; reed bunting, savis warbler, penduline tit, bearded tit, also the crying Baillon’s crake and the little crake.

Black terns and whiskered terns fly over the lanes of reeds and lagoons. Special rarity of the Danube delta; the white- headed duck, found only in a few places in Europe.

The birds for which the delta is most famous are the pelicans, with two species. The Dalmatian pelican is found elsewhere in Europe only in a few  lakes and marshes in the Balkans; the white pelican has here its only regular breeding place outside Russia.

Birds sheltered by the magnificent forests; lesser spotted eagle, honey buzzard, hobby, golden oriole, icterine warbler, olivaceous warbler, black cap, white throat, thrush- nightingale, hawfinch, and red-breasted flycatcher.

On the delta shores a few sites have breeding white –tailed eagles. Around  lake Razelm; avocets, black- winged stilts, Marsh sandpipers, Kentish plovers, oystercatchers, pratincoles; red –footed falcons, black vultures, griffon vultures, Egyptian vultures, shelducks, ruddy shelducks, Mediterranean gulls, slender- billed gulls, gull- billed terns, and Caspian terns. The delta is winter host to hundreds of thousands of passing and wintering geese, ducks, and waders from northern Europe and Asia. Many of the world's red- breasted geese, which breed on the tundra of Siberia, winter in the delta.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: Some nine amphibians and 15 reptiles are to be found. Among them; marsh frog, edible frog; fire bellied toad, spade foot toad, variegated toad; tree frogs with their ceaseless mechanical din.

Reptiles include a lizard (Eremias arguta) that lives on the steppes and the semi-arid deserts of Russia and central Asia. Another reptile reveals the wide variety of the delta’s natural settings; the steppe viper that is chiefly Asian. About 100 species of fish can be found in the delta, including six species of sturge on from some of which black caviar is obtained.

GERMANY

GERMANY;

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN GERMANY;

  • 1. LUNEBURGER HEIDE( GERMANY );
  • Establishment: 1910
  • Geographical location: not far from highway connecting Hamburg and Hannover.
  • Size: 20,000 ha
  • Visiting : Park open to public (trails and shelters being provided); may be entered only on foot or in horse- drawn vehicles; hunting, fishing forbidden.

GEOLOGY AND TOPOGRAPHY: The area is basically a plain of alluvial sand, modified by melting ice sheets of the glacial period that deposited moraines, gravel hills, spur ridges, and eskers. Despite its flatness, the landscape offers much variation; springs, ponds, marshes, fens, bogs, streams, valleys, and hillocks. Altitude varies (about 70-169m).

CLIMATE; Temperate; rather moist summers and mild winters.

FLORA: An Atlantic type of man-made heath (mostly of heather but with scattered junipers), with woods of introduced pines. Birches are common. Some few patches of oak, beech, and horn beam that once dominated the area give an indication of how the land looked during prehistoric times in the distant past before the grazing of sheep. The heaths then were only “islands” surrounded by deciduous trees would recolonize the area.

Bilberry and cowberry are commonly found in the pinewoods, bearberry and crowberry on the drier slopes and ridges. Species of broom and gorse turn the heaths the colour of gold in the spring.

MAMMALS: Though animal life is dominated by herds of sheep, a condition for the maintenance of the heathland, there is also a surprisingly rich wildlife. About 40 species of mammals have been recorded. Red deer, roe deer, and wildboar occur in suitable habitats throughout. Totally protected mammals;  otter, pine marten, stone marten, and badger.

Carnivores not protected; weasel, ermine, polecat and fox.

BIRDS: Some zoo species are found in the reserve; goshawk, kestrel, peregrine, hobby, hen harrier, Montagu’s harrier, tengmalm’s owl, curlew, night jar, and hoopoe are worth special mention.

OTHER VERTEBRATES: Six species of reptiles (three snakes, three lizards) occur, a large number for this part of Europe. The smooth snake, the grass snake, and the adder are all common.

Streams contain eel, three-spined stickle back; millers thumb, rainbow trout, river trout,burbot, minnow, and pike.

SZECH REPUBLIC

CZECH  REPUBLIC;

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN CZECH REPUBLIC:

  • 1. KRKONOSE NATIONAL PARK( CZECH REPUBLIC);
  • Establishment: 1963. Krkonose means “Giant Mountains” (German: Riesengebirge). The range with famous ski slopes is about 40 km long and 32 km wide. An area of peat bogs, valleys, forested slopes, alpine meadows, and plateaus, the region is also the source of the Elbe River. Highest peak is Mt. Sneska, “snow mountain” 1,602 meters. Glacial relicts of plants and animals that formerly had a much wider distribution in Europe may still be found here.
  • Geographical location: Along the NW border with Poland.
  • Size: 38,000 ha ( 5,600 in Poland).
  • Climate; Temperate, but montane with much snow.
  • Accessibility: By a variety of transportation from Prague (150 km).

GEOLOGY: The Giant Mountains represent remnants of rocks originating about 500 million years ago.

FLORA : Coniferous forests dominate; mountain pine and Carpathian birch grow on the mountain ridges and slopes. Plants of particular interests ; snow ball saxifrage, cloudberry on some peat soil, two endemic species; Arabis sudetica and Serbus sudetica, the willows- polar willow, pygmy willow, and Lapland willow- and sedges; Carex magellanica and C. panciflora;

MAMMALS: Include red deer, roe deer, mouflon (introduced) and wild boar.

BIRDS: Three birds with very restricted distribution in Europe may be found here; the dotterel, the nutcracker, and the ring ouzel.

CROATIA

CROATIA;

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN CROATIA;

  • 1. PAKLENICA NATIONAL PARK( CROATIA);
  • Establishment: 1949. The “Nacionalni park paklenica’ on the shores of the Adriatic consists of mountains country of wild appearance and with interesting geologic features, large forests, and a rich animal life.
  • Geographical location: on the southern slopes of Mt. velebit, along theAdriatic sea.
  • Size: 3,616 ha.
  • Accessibility: By highway; also by road through the lower passage of velika paklenica canyon.

GEOLOGY: The mountains of western former Yugoslavia belong to the Dinaric system, of which the velebit range, chiefly limestone, is a part. The area is rich in karstic phonomena with many caves.

TOPOGRAPHY: The velebit range, rising above the Adriatic to a height of 1,758m, occupies most of the Dalmatian coastland.  Of this area the National park preserves only a small part.

Magnificent canyons of the velica and mala paklenica, whose slopes reach up to 400m, are the park’s most famous features. Numerous caves are richly ornamented. Altitude of park ranges from sea level to 1,563 meters (the height of crljenikuk).

CLIMATE: Mediterranean in character with warm summers and mild winters, but elevation above sea level gradually  neutralizes this feature.

FLORA: Forests of beech mingle with oak and horn beam. There are also areas with Mediterranean machia vegetation. Above the deciduous forests is a belt with spruce and scattered patches of Austrian pine.

MAMMALS: Include bear, stone marten, pine marten, wildcat, roe deer, and wildboar.

BIRDS: Among others are nutcracker, cirl bunting, ortolan bunting, black- headed bunting, gray wagtail, rock nuthatch, rock thrush, blue rock thrush, black- eared  wheatear, black cap, orphean warbler, woodchat shrike, raven, crag martin, swift, alpine swift, gray woodpecker, rock dove, kestrel, short-toed eagle, golden eagle, Egyptian vulture, and griffon vulture.

  • 2. PLITVICKAJEZERA NATIONAL PARK( CROATIA);
  • Establishment; 1949. The “Nacionalni park plitvicka jezera' is croatia’s most outstanding national park. It covers an impressive region of forested mountains, lakes, waterfalls, and interesting caves. The park area includes many privately owned Enclaves and 25 hamlets. More than 1,700 hectares are fully protected.
  • Geographical location: In massifs of makkapela and pljesivica, Croatia, west of Bihac.
  • Size: 19,172 ha
  • Accessibility: RR Zagreb- karlovac- plitvice- Gospic runs through the park.

GEOLOGY: Chiefly limestone formations within the Dinaric system; characteristic travertine formed by evaporation from saturated lime waters; karstic formations.

TOPOGRAPHY: Particular features are the 16 major and several minor lakes situated at various heights and the series of waterfalls, wide or narrow, through deep cliffs. Four karstic caves with stalactites and stalagmites. Many other caves.

Altitude of park; 417m (Korana River) to 1,270m (Mt. Seliski). Swamps, meadows, and peat bugs.

CLIMATE: Conditions vary with the altitude. Lakes area has annual mean temperature of 80c. Best visiting;  summer months; winters severe.

FLORA: Rich forests, partly primeval. Beech, oak, mountain ash, birch cover lower valleys and slopes. Then forests of spruce and pine.

Vegetation particularly luxuriant along the watercourses. Many waterfalls literally sprout out of the greenery in an extremely beautiful way. The mosses and algae are favored by the travertine minerals of the waterfall rock barriers.

MAMMALS: Include bear, otter, pine marten, polecat, badger, wolf, fox, wildcat, roe deer, red deer, wild boar, dormouse, and red squirrel.

BIRDS: Magnificent beech and spruce forests provide habitats for eight species of woodpeckers, several of which also breed farther north in Europe and Asia. The three –toed woodpecker, black woodpecker, gray woodpecker, and the white- backed woodpecker share the woods with the great spotted woodpecker, the middle spotted woodpecker,  and the wryneck. The green woodpecker probably also lives here. If so, only the Syrian woodpecker is not found in plitvicka.

The Ural owl, primarily of northern distribution, is a denizen of plitvicka. Other birds; capercaillie, black grouse, hazel hen, patridge, golden eagle, kite, eagle owl, kingfisher, and heron.

FISHES: Lake and river trout plentiful; rainbow trout introduced. Waterfalls and rapids have made plitvicka jezera national park famous

SLOVENIA

SLOVENIA;

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN SLOVENIA;

  • 1. POSTOJNA CAVES( SLOVENIA ); The postojna Grottoes are the largest cave system in Europe. Caves are abundant on the Balkan Peninsula, especially in the limestone mountains of former northwestern Yugoslavia.
  • Geographical location: Northwestern former Yugoslavia, midway between Trieste and Ljubljana.
  • Size: 21 km of couloirs (with the neighbouring planina caves.)
  • Nearest city: Trieste in Italy (52km)

GEOLOGY: The term karst is derived from the name of a limestone plateau in carso, or Kras, and Istria in western Slovenia and Croatia. The caves there were cut by water that over thousands of years penetrated  the Mountains and the dolomite, gypsum, and limestone of which the rock consists. Long tunnels and high vaults have been formed, occasionally widening into gigantic chambers.

A common feature is formation of stalactites and stalagmites by the seepage of calcareous water, the former hanging from the roof like icicles, the latter building up on the floor. Sometimes these meet, forming columns resembling petrified forests.

TOPOGRAPHY: At postojna, the River pinca suddenly disappears into a hole in the limestone; closeby is the mouth of the cave- the former riverbed. The branching river hollowed out chambers and corridors (one of the largest is 68 m long, and 34m high). Occasionally one comes upon the river, racing with a deafening roar 20m below the level of the cave. It surfaces 5 km N, soon vanishes, reappears at Ljubljana, where it flows into the sava River.

CLIMATE: Very special,  ofcourse; cool and damp but dependent on external conditions;

FAUNA; The postojna caves are inhabited by bats, but its most famous animal is the proteus (Proteus anguinus), a salamander that does not develop beyond the larval stage (breathes  through gills and never reaches final lung- breathing stage of a salamander; breeds by internal fertilization).

Its skin though whitish appears to have a pale red lustre due to blood vessels lying close to surface. Though its eyes have atrophied through millennia of life in darkness, never the less as soon as a beam of light is thrown upon it, it dives.

SERBIA

SERBIA;

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN SERBIA;

  • 1. FRUSKA  GORA NATIONAL PARK(SERBIA);
  • Establishment: 1960. This national park on the right bank of the Danube consists of forests with a rich bird fauna and therefore is of particular interest to ornithologists.
  • Geographical location: Voivodina autonomous province, NW of Belgrade.
  • Size: 22,000 ha.
  • Climate: Temperate, with warm summers but rather cold winters.
  • Accessibility: By several roads; park headquarters.
  • Nearest Town: Novi sad.

TOPOGRAPHY: Most of the plains are situated along the Danube. Intensely cultivated, except for small areas along the winding river and on an occasional wooded hill or mountain, these plains are rich in rodents, chiefly the European suslik. An abundance of small rodents naturally where the Danube meets Fruska Gora, an isolated massif rising 639m above the rivers Danube and Sava. The wooded hillside provides suitable breeding habitats for raptorial birds that use rising air currents for reconnaissance flights above the surrounding plain.

FLORA: The natural forests are deciduous, chiefly beech and oak, but  large areas are occupied by introduced pines.

MAMMALS: Wildcat, brown hare, roe deer, and wildboar are found in Fruska Gora.

BIRDS: In this region of plains and marshes surrounding a mountain, several pairs of white- tailed eagles breed. Other large birds nesting here are imperial eagle, hobby, saker falcon, black Kite, white stork, and black stork.

Altogether atleast 44 species of birds have been recorded, among them; gray –headed woodpecker, middle spotted woodpecker, black woodpecker, short- toed tree creeper, collared flycatcher, and hawfinch.

 
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