Parndorfer Platte Tableland – Heathland

The 7,705 ha large SPA comprises parts of the Parndorfer Platte tableland, of the Leitha lowland and heathland. The pSCIs “Haidel near Nickelsdorf“ and “Zurndorfer Oak Forest“ are included in the SPA. The landscape of the Parndorfer Platte tableland is mainly characterized by far-reaching agricultural areas. Remaining parts of the dry grassland and oak forests as well as windbreaks and gravel pits form individual structures in a flat landscape. The similarly flat heathland that is homogenously used for agriculture is separated from the Parndorfer Platte tableland by the Leitha lowlands. Near the River Leitha there are extensive meadows, remaining parts of alluvial forests and tree species typically found on river banks so the landscape of the Leitha lowlands is much more richly structured than the other two above mentioned areas. Together these three areas form the habitat for a number of bird species listed in Annex I of the Bird Sanctuary Directive, in particular for the steppe birds occurring in Eastern Europe and Central Asia such as the Great Bustard (Otis tarda) and the Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca).

 

Species preservation measures for the Great Bustard were large scale agro-environmental programmes based on extensive greenland management and on leaving farmland untilled. A high proportion of fallow land developed which partly has characteristics of steppe grassland. Moreover, on specific bustard areas a mix of seeds particularly appropriate for bustard protection was used. The remaining meadows betwen Leitha and Small Leitha are flooded regularly in spring and are mainly managed extensively. They are still a habitat for a community of field birds which is of Austrian-wide importance. Whereas the Parndorfer Platte tableland is intensively used for energy production with the help of windpower today, there are no wind power plants in the Natura 2000 area with the only exception of an old wind park situated barely outside the area near Zurndorf .

Protected Features:

In this area, about 40 bird species of Annex I of the EC Birds Directive have been identified. From an international point of view, the border crossing Great Bustard population and the occurrence of the Eastern Imperial Eagle are remarkable. In addition to that, there are a number of other species with populations of Austrian-wide importance that must be counted among the remarkable protected features as well. Among them several breeding birds typical of open landscapes: Montague’s Harrier (Circus pygargus), the Red-Footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus), Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug), the Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) and the Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris). Guest birds in the open agricultural landscape are the White-tailed Eagle, also called Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), the Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus), the Merlin (Falco columbarius) and the Eurasian Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria). On the Leitha meadows, the Ruff (Philomachus pugnax), the Great Snipe (Gallinago media) and the Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola) regularly pass through on their migration routes. The following species are also protected ones as they are wetland breeding birds: the Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana), the Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago), the Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa), Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata), the Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) and the Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava). A rare breeding bird in the Leitha Lowlands is the Black Stork (Ciconia nigra), forest edges and bushes are a breeding site for the Barred Warbler (Sylvia nisoria).