Core areas of the National Park

Orgovány Meadows

Area: 3753 ha

Biogeographic region: Sand Ridge

Located between Ágasegyháza and Orgovány, Orgovány Meadows is a mosaic of swamps, fen meadows, wet hay meadows, saline grasslands and sand dunes. It can be split into two main regions: The fauna and flora of the eastern and southern part, consisting of the Ágasegyháza Meadow, Orgovány Large Meadow and Csíra-szék, is determined by periodically high water availability, while the western part contains permanently dry sand dunes.

Wet grasslands of the area are confined to three deflational depressions, aligned into parallel stripes with NW-SE orientation. Lowest parts used to have permanent water cover but presently they are covered by reed, tall-growth sedge swamps and Grey Willow thickets. The majority of hay harvested from regularly mowed grasslands comes from Purple Moor Grass, Creeping Bent Grass and Meadow Fescue. The most beautiful flowers of the meadows, Siberian Iris and various orchids, bloom in May and June. Seven orchid species have so far been found in the area: Bug Orchid, Anacamptis palustris, Military Orchid, Early Marsh Orchid, Fragrant Orchid, Eggleaf Twayblade and the strictly protected Spider Orchid.

Reed beds of the area are home to the rare moth Rhyparioides metelkana. This species was thought to be extinct in Hungary but was rediscovered here in 1973. In spring, reed beds are noisy from the chatter of reed-dwelling songbirds. Meadows are important for breeders, such as Northern Lapwing, Common Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit, and other shorebirds migrating through the area. Great Bustard is an occasional visitor to the Orgovány Meadows. Wild mammals use the swamps for hiding. Among predators, the widely distributed Red Fox, and Ermine, a species of wet habitats, can be mentioned. The occurrence of Tundra Vole is also confirmed in tussock sedge swamps.

A small area near Csíra-szék is covered by saline steppe and soda lakes with characteristic flora and fauna. Due to the close vicinity of a drainage ditch, the lake has unfortunately only occasional water cover. Despite the lack of water, the original zonation of the saline vegetation can still be found in the area owing to the special structure of the soil.

The geomorphology of the Orgovány sand dunes is identical to that of the Fülöpháza Sand Dunes and Bugac but the vegetation is transitional between theirs. Fülöpháza is characterized by steppe and barren sand, while the Ancient Juniper Grove of Bugac is mostly covered by woody vegetation. These three territories of the National Park provide a good opportunity to study the succession of vegetation on sand. The extreme environmental conditions of sandy habitats are tolerated only by Juniper, Silver Poplar and Grey Poplar. Characteristic shrubs include Common Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Buckthorn, Common Barberry and Wild Privet. The sand among trees and shrubs is loosely covered by open sand steppe vegetation. Euphorbia seguieriana and the endemic Centaurea arenaria are common species of sandy habitats but the rare, lilac-flowered Astragalus varius is also characteristic of the Orgovány Sand Dunes. Sea Grape is a rare species of sandy habitats; to the unexperienced eye it is very similar to the common Branched Horsetail.

The fauna of the Orgovány Sand Dunes greatly resembles that of Fülöpháza and Bugac. One can encounter the traps of antlions and the crimson males of Ladybird Spider. This colourful spider is the only representative of its family in Hungary. The butterfly fauna of the area is also rich; common species include Tree Greyling and Spurge Hawk-Moth. The main range of the latter species is the Mediterranean Basin; its colourful, easy-to-notice caterpillars feed mostly on Cypress Spurge. The endangered European Roller is uncommon in this sand dune range. It usually perches on prominent posts, such as dead branches, the top of hay bales or electric wires, and waits for prey to appear underneath and around. When a Roller notices a large insect, it dives on it quickly.