March 22nd is World Water Day, so KAP Jasa went to Ljubljana Marshes in search of the last remaining wet meadows: Iški Morost or Iška moor.
(A north-south view of eastern part of Iška moor. Wet grasslands transitions to shrubland to flood forest.)
Within the Iški morost nature reserve, some of the finest examples of damp marshy grasslands in the Ljubljana Marshes are preserved, as well as the largest connected area of the highly endangered grassland habitat type – the humid Molinietum grasslands.
(Northern part of Iška moor with the old Iška river channel. The channel silted up when a new straight (and deeper) channel was dug in an long and ongoing effort of draining the Ljubljana Marshes.)
In Slovenia, large contiguous areas of this type of habitat are almost gone. Elsewhere, humid grasslands are often scattered among fields, intensive grassland, houses, roads etc., or are becoming overgrown due to abandonment. Such fragmentation does not allow for long-term survival of animals such as grassland birds who require larger areas for successful nesting.
(A closer view of a permanently wet meadow – a safe haven for many protected bird, butterfly and plant species.)
The wetlands of Ljubljana Marshes are inhabited by as many as 89 butterfly species and are the nesting habitat of a hundred different bird species, a half of all bird species living in Slovenia. Even larger is the number of different birds spending the winter at Ljubljana Marshes or stopping over on their migration route to warmer climates.
(Where the meadows are still in use, the European mole – Talpa europaea – happily digs his burrows.)
Ljubljana Marshes provide habitat for several bird species endangered across Europe and the world, such as the corn crake (Crex crex), the Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata), the common quail (Coturnix coturnix), the Eurasian woodcock (Scolopax rusticola), the Eurasian scops-owl (Otus scops), the whinchat (Saxicola rubetra), the grasshopper warbler (Locustella naevia), and the northern harrier (Circus cyaneus).
Iška moor is managed by DOPPS – Birdlife Slovenia.