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» Other protected areas in the Kiskunság » The Mártély Nature Reserve
The Mártély Nature Reserve
 
The Mártély Nature Reserve can be found in the public administration area of Hódmezővásárhely and Mindszent, in the active flood area of the Tisza on the left. This is the biggest polder on an active flood plain under the influx of the Körös into the Tisza. The area – four km wide in certain places, covered by water for about a month in a year with average weather – reminds one of the conditions before the regulation of the rivers. The floods in March-April, the green flood in May-June, and the icy flood that has become regular around Chritsmas- New Year, are characteristic of the area.
The northern part of the nature reserve is a resting area, it is the marshy sea of mud after the floods that makes it difficult to walk around the Ányás Island on the far shore of the ox-bow of Mártély. The most valuable parts of the nature reserve are the Körtvélyes Island, the ox-bow of Körtvélyes, the Solti- lapos and the Barci-rét.
The protected area has been part of the Ramsar Convention since 1979 on the protection of waterfowl habitats of international significance.
 
Forests and fields on the shore of the water
 
Moving from the north to the south, on the Ányás Island – locked between the ox-bow of Mártély and the Tisza – most of the forests are artificial. English oak (Quercus robur) is interspersed with balsam poplars, green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) and narrow-leafed ash (F. angustifolia). The former clearings of the Kutyafenék have become forests with patches of plough lands. In the winter the crown of the white willow (Salix alba) used to be cut regularly for its twigs. The soft wood of the white poplar (Populus alba) and of the black poplar (P. nigra,) – both easy to carve – were mainly used by Gypsies carving spoons and troughs. The soft-stalk vegetation of the clay pits is identical with the vegetation of the ox-bows – hair-grass rooted in the mud or floating in the water, and vegetation along the shore.
On the Körtvélyes Island the greater part of the area is wet grassland. The beauty of the natural grasslands is enhanced by the century-old willows growing on them. The giant daisy (Chrysantemum serotinum) – on the edges of roads and clearings – starts to blossom from the end of August. Club rush (Schoenoplectus lacustris), flowering rush (Butomus umbellatus) and marsh roundwort (Stachys palustris) are frequent in marshes.
On higher elevations the oak-ash-elm forest groves are widespread. Here and there the open patches have been taken over by the green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) and the box elder (Acer negundo) not indigenous either. Frost grape (Vitis riparia) creates an impenetrable curtain on the sunny edges. The summer snowflake (Leucojum vernum) is common in the undergrowth of forests on higher elevations. On the Barci rét one can often see the comfrey (Symphytum officinale), the creeping cinquefoil (Potentilla reptans), the meadow buttercup (Ranunculus acris), and the loosestrife (Lythtrum virgatum).
Amongst the forests, the ones from the neighbouring Sasér and the willow forests and meadows separated by the Tisza and the trees of the fields do not only represent landscape values. On the abandoned tracts of fields the desert false indigo (Amorpha fruticosa) – without intervention on the part of conservationts – would displace all other plants on the edge of forests from their habitat. It is also for this reason that the meadows on the active flood plains need to be cut back regularly, and the desert false indigo needs to be destroyed.
The vegetation in the open waters and ox-bows are the typical plants of the ox-bows of the Tisza: in the deeper waters the various species of the water soldier, the Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophillum sp.), the rootless duckweed (Wolfia arhizza), various species of duckweed (Lemna sp.), and the frogbit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae) are the typical ones.
A few years ago the surface of the ox-bows was covered with an extensive layer of water chestnut (Trapa natans). In Körtvélyes the duckweed, pondweed, the frogbit and the floating watermoss (Salvinia natans) became dominant. The vegetation at the shore of the oxbow lakes contains arrowhead (Sagittaria sagittifolia) and common bulrush (Typha latifolia). No continuous reeds have been formed in this area.
 
 
Values of the fauna
 
The ox-bows and swamps provide habitat for many molluscs. Perhaps one of the most common is the great pond snail (Lymnaea stagnalis) – it lives in the swamping lakes and ox-bows. Edible snails (Helix pomatia) are also in great numbers in the shore vegetation. The swollen river mussel (Unio tumidus) – generally widespread in Europe – can drift into the ox-bows through repeated floods. The relatively small species, hardly reaches the size of ten cm, has become a rarity in these waters. Its relative, the swan mussel (Anadonta cygnea), is more frequently found in the ox-bows.
The old forests, the abandoned and dry orchards have a fauna of insects very rich in species and individuals. Amongst the beetles the stag beetle (Lucenus cervus) mainly lives in old oak forests. Three ground beetles - (Carabus chlatrus auriensis, C. granulatus, C. cancellatus tibiscinus) - have been found on the marsh meadow next to the Hunyadi mound.
Until the end of the 1960’s the swarming of mayfly (Palingenia longicauda) had been a general phenomenon over the river at the Sasér, but also on the river sections at Körtvélyes and Ányás. Probably as a result of the water pollution in the past years, there are only a couple of hundreds of mayflies that have remained from the former colony that amounted to millions.
One of the main natural values of the Nature Reserve at Mártély is its rich avifauna. So far 245 species have been identified in the nature reserve, the number of breeding species is 112. For the herons and storks the active floodplains are of crucial importance as a feeding ground. By the end of August the migration of the black storks (Ciconia nigra) is at its peak. On such occassions one can see up to 50 feeding birds in the meadows of the area, including the egrets and herons. The bodies of water overgrown with vegetation provide a good habitat for 800-900 mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), one hundred garganeys (Anas querquedula), and the same number of ferruginous ducks (Aythya nyroca).
During floods the picture of the active floodplain changes in a matter of hours. The unexpected abundance of food lures huge crowds of birds to the flooded places.
 
 
Mártély is a nationally renowned angling and fishing water, which was first mentioned in 1024 in the chronicles. During the spring floods carps, breams and crucians swim to the freshly flooded meadows. The fish dazed at spawning easily fall prey to the eagles, storks and herons. The presence of 39 species of fishes is documented, eg.: common zingel (Aspro zingel), zingel streber (Aspro streber), ponty (Cyprinus carpio), pike (Esox lucius) pike, zander (Stizostedion lucioperca), striped ruffe (Gymnocephalus schraetzer) wels catfish (Silurus glanis). In the forests of Mártély the most frequent owl species is the long-eared owk (Asio otus) living in old, decaying willow trees. Little owls (Athene noctua) and barn owls (Tyto alba) live here in smaller numbers, whereas the short-eared owl (Asio flammeus) spend the winter here. Time and again the richly coloured European bee-eater (Merops apiaster) makes its nest in the disintegrating shore walls, though normally hundreds of them gather here at the end of the summer. The sand martins (Riparia riparia) make their nests in the river walls of the Tisza, the entrance to the nesting holes of the kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) is along the river among the roots of trees washed away. The black kite (Milvus migrans) normally makes its nest in old poplar forests in the active floodplains, on occassions the Euroean honey buzzard (Pernis apivorus) does the same.
The otter (Lutra lutra) occurs in the more peaceful ends of the ox-bows, in the hollows and in the sections of the Tisza which have been eroded. It lives in the otter’s den, which is normally a cavity among the roots of an old tree on the shore of the water, its entrance opening from under the water. The wild cat (Felis silvestris) is a rare predator on the active floodplains of the Tisza. It is an active and cautious animal. It raises its cubs in rots of old willows or among the tangles of roots of trees washed under. The willows with their rots and the poplars preserve the breeding dens of bats. The most widespread among them is the noctule. Unlike the rest of the species, it starts hunting ’early’ at twilight. The Daubenton's bat (Myotis daubentoni) and the pond bat, (M. Dasicneme) have also been observed. The regulation of the Tisza has led to the disappearance of the habitat of several species: there are no gophers in the side of the dams, mole rats have disappeared from the grass of the high shores, the golden jackal (Canis aureus) have disappeared from the reeds. The European beaver (Castor fiber) has also disappeared from the area, but its resettlement at the beginning of the 2000’s has proved successful.
One of the most spectacular natural phenomena is the swarming of the mayfly (Palingenia longicauda) on the Tisza. The mayflies – that live only for hours as developed insects – start their nuptial flight in mid June in the afternoon. On one afternoon the millions of tiny animals arising from the water – after their last ecdysis – look for their mates swiftly flying about over the water. If the temperature is conducive, the swarming lasts into the night, and it is after the mass of larvae skin and dead insects that this nuptial of the mayfly has been named ’the blossoming of the Tisza’. The ’carpet of flowers’ covering the surface of the water is also preferred food for fish.
 
 
Excursions in the Nature Reserve of  Mártély
 
The sights in the Nature Reserve of Mártély can be seen in one day on a good network of roads as a fun family outing.
 
Mártély
 
Nature trail on the floodplain: The nature trail goes through the northern part of the nature reserve, through the floodplain forest that has preserved the wild and romantic facet of the Tisza from hundreds of years ago. The nature trail starts on the beach of the Holt-Tisza in Mártély. It is 2700 m, and can be covered in 2-2.5 hours.
 
 
   
 
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