Park Rusovce: Nature

Parks, decorative gardens and old cemeteries are very valuable to a variety of animals. Rusovce Park is no exception. The park is both a home and refuge for common and not so common animal species.

The most visible are birds, which one can observe near the entrance to the park. Every now and again one can catch a glimpse of the Great Tit (Parus major L.), the Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus L.) and the Marsh Tit (Parus palustris L.). The Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs L.) is easily notable, characterized by its white scallop-edged tail. The Nuthatch (Sitta europaea L.), the well-known Blackbird (Turdus merula L.) and the Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos Brehm, 1831) are among the most abundant bird species of Rusovce Park. Conspicuous is the rarer Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata Pallas, 1764). It sits on the lower limbs of the tree, watching for flying insects, which it catches acrobatically mid-air. The majority of song-birds remain out of view to the visitor. Their songs, however, are a common treat. One can hear Blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla L.), Chiffchaffs (Phylloscopus collybita, Vieillot, 1817), Golden Oriols (Oriolus oriolus, L.), Greenfinches (Chloris chloris, L.), and Linnets (Carduelis cannabina L.).

In winter time, certain species leave the park and migrate south. Simultaneously, birds from northern, higher altitudes fly to Slovakia for the duration of the winter. From November to March, one can see small Goldcrests (Regulus regulus, L.), Wrens (Troglodytes troglodytes L.), Bullfinches (Pyrrhula pyrrhula L.) and Fieldfares (Turdus pilaris, L.).

Perhaps the most notable of bird species in Rusovce park are Rooks (Corvus frugilegus, L.). They are very social birds, which build their nests on the massive platanoch. Rooks are not to be mistaken with Hooded Crows (Corvus corone cornix, L.), who make their nests individually and sport a different colour scheme. Rusovce Park features another Crow bird – the Jackdaw (Corvus monedula, L.). It is approximately two thirds the size of the Hooded Crow, and nests in the hollows of trees, often a few pairs nesting very close together.

The second notable group of birds are Woodpeckers. They are notable in their size, clumsy, noisy flight, and peculiar behaviour. There are presently six visible species: the Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major L.), the Middle Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius, L.), the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor, L.), the Syrian Woodpecker (Dendrocopos syriacus, L.), the Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis, L.) and our greatest representative of the Woodpecker family – the Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius, L.). Park at the night is the kingdom for two species of owls, the Tawny Owl (Strix aluco, L.) and the Long-eared Owl (Asio otus, L.).

The mammals living in Rusovce Park are represented by nocturnal animals. Only very infrequently can we observe small insectivores (shrews and watershrews) or little gnawers (mice and voles). The molehill, is, however, the unmistakable sign of the Europen mole (Talpa europaea, L.). At sunset, one can observe the Eastern hedgehog (Erinceus concolor, Martin 1838). Among those active during the day, we ought to mention the Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris, L.). Despite the general classification, both colour forms (rusty and dark) are present. The Muskrat (Ondatra zibethica, L.) lives in the Rusovce oxbow. It is not endemic to Slovakia, rather, it was transported to the country from North America and it has successfully adapted to life here.

The park is a suitable environment for bats as well. In the evening, one can witness the flight of Serotine bats (Eptesicus serotinus, Schreber 1774), Noctule bats (Nyctalus noctula, Schreber, 1774) Common Pipistrelles (Pipistrellus pipistrellus, Schreber, 1774) and above-water Daubenton´s bats (Myotis daubentoni, Kuhl, 1819). In the dank and abandoned cellars of surrounding settlements, the hybernacula of three species have been discovered: the Long-eared Bat (Plecotus auritus, L.), the Grey Long-eared Bat (Plecotus austriacus, Fischer, 1892) and the Large Mouse-eared Bat (Myotis myotis, Borkhausen, 1797).

We should not forget amphibians or reptiles. Surrounding water basins and oxbows are more and more rare Newts (Triturus sp.). Edible Frogs (Rana esculenta, L.) and European Tree Frogs (Hyla arborea L.) are relatively abundant. Suitable habitats for Common Toads (Bufo bufo L.) and Green Toads (Bufo viridis Laurenti 1768) abound. The Grass Snake, Slovakia’s most populous snake, feeds, quite obviously, on amphibians. The Sand lizard (Lacerta agillis, L.) is commonly found in dry, well-lit places.

The Danube’s oxbow complex is home to Slovakia’s unique turtle – the Swamp Turtle (Emys orbicularis, L.). The presence and abundance of its species in Rusovce is considerably controversial.

Rusovce Park is a meeting place for the world of people and technology and the world of animals and nature. Let us therefore unite intelligently, responsibly and tactfully. Humans must model their behaviour on the very fact that the majority of above-mentioned animals are protected by law.

Michal Noga
Natural Terms, Flora

Cyklámen purpurový (Cyclamen purpurascens Mill.) Rusovce Castle also features Castle Garden with an adjacent forest park of 40 hectars. Nearby forests and adjacent territory were gradually molded by the imaginations of individual owners. Indoor trees were substituted by various exotic introduced species, a trend which can be seen nowadays.

London Planes (Platanus hispanica Münchh.) are a truly beautiful and majestic presence in the park. It is both attractive and resistant as a species. Remnants of shaped Yews (Taxus baccata L.) and Boxes (Buxus sempervirens L.) can also be found. Tree planting is completed by limes, maples, oaks, common honey-locusts and other decorative trees.

Tavolín zimný (Eranthis hiemalis (L.) Salisb.) Of dendrological concern are the massive Chesnuts (Aesculus hippocastanum L.) presently under threat in the area. The majority of chesnut populations in Europe are, in fact, plagued by the horse chestnut leaf-mining moth (Cameraria ohridella Deschka et Dimic) as well as by various fungus cankers.

The most significant renovations of Rusovce Castle and its garden were undertaken in the middle of 19th century, when the whole complex was rebuilt in romantic English neo-Gothic style. Adjacent forests were styled in a similar fashion.

Snezienka elwesova (Galanthus elwesii Hook.f) The general scenery of Castle Garden was enriched by interesting aspects which were admittedly of Japanese influence. Rose-garden is one particular example, where the architectural concept revolves around leisure time. A relaxed atmosphere is induced by the presence of an arbour, landing, fountain, stable, aquatic tower and other features.

Rusovce Channel, an oxbow of the Danube, was once a significant part of Rusovce Park; it was a boating site years ago. Three bridges lead to the forest park, which open without restraint to the surroundings fields and forests.

Visitors of the park can delight in the uncommon beauty of plant life during the spring months, a feast of planted undergrowth. The first signs of Spring are the light yellow flowers of Winter Aconites (Eranthis hiemalis (L.) Salisb.). The Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis L.) is also common at this time, and rare is it that man can see a more robust species than the local Elwes Snowdrop (Galanthus elwesii Hook.f).

Modravka ziarivá (Chionodoxa lucilie Boiss.) During March and April flowers a storm of blue: Squilles, Glory-of-the-Snows and Violets. Besides the naturally omnipresent Alpine Squill (Scilla vindobonensis Speta), blooms the deep azure flowers of the Siberian Squill (Orthocallis sibirica (Haw.) Speta) and its relative, Glory-of-the-Snow (Chionodoxa lucilie Boiss.).

Pokrut jesenný (Spiranthes spiralis (L.) Chevall.) The color scale is complemented by anemone species, namely, the white-flower Wood Anemone (Anemone nemorosa L.) and the yellow-flower Yellow Anemone (Anemone ranunculoides L.) covering the entire park. The eastern part of the park features the Blue Anemone (Anemone apennina L.) with purple, blue and white flowers, a species originating in Italy. Worthy of note is the Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla (Adams) I. M Johnst.), a species similar to the Forget-me-not, which forms plant communities with dense canopy close to the first bridge. During the summer months blooms the Sow-bread Cyclamen (Cyclamen purpurascens Mill.), a flower of silver, fanciful leaves growing in the dark of the wood.

The forest park, opening at the back of Rusovce Channel, is greatly exploited for recreational purposes. The entire area of the forest park is adorned with freely vegetating species of decorative trees and shrubs, which were planted here at the beginning of the 20th century. Unknown to many, these wood-heath communities nurture rare thermophillic fauna and flora. From a botanical perspective, the most interesting dry meadows occur here: small Sedgees, Needlegrasses, Spurges and representatives of the Orchid family (Orchidaceae), all of which are protected by law. From the Orchid family, one may find vegetating locally the Green-Winged Orchid (Anacamptis morio (L.) R. M. Baterman, A. M. Pridgeon et W. Chase), the Military Orchid (Orchis militaris L.), and the rare Burnt Orchid (Neotine ustulata (L.) R. M. Baterman, A. M. Pridgeon et W. Chase). Rusovce is a rare Slovak habitat for the critically endangered Bug Orchid (Anacaptis coriophora (L.) R. M. Baterman, A. M. Pridgeon et W. Chase) and the obscure Autumn Lad´s-Tresses (Spiranthes spiralis (L.) Chevall.).

Vstavac vojenský (Orchis militaris L.) In darker places, one can find the White Helleborine (Cephalanthera damasonium (Mill.) Druce), the Narrow-leafed Helleborine (Cephalanthera longifolia (L.) Fritsch) and the Broad-leafed Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine (L.) Crantz).

Visitors can certainly recognize the high biodiversity of the park. Despite such biodiversity, the park is nonetheless vulnerable. Therefore, everyone should behave in a tactful and respectful manner. Worthy of note is that many local species are protected by law. It is necessary, unfortunately, that many favourite spring species of plants (snowdrops, anemones, scily and others) are poisoned as they are alien, invasive and destructive.

Mgr. Marek Slovák
Fotky orchideí - Kolník
Fotka veveričky - Tomáš Fraňo