Sárrét is a turf marsh meadow of nearly 12 km length and 5 to 8 km width, situated in a basin formed by a tectonic downcast of the late pleistocene. Some dolomite debris and, at certain places, clay was brought here from the surrounding mountains. On this fundament, a layer of rivulet-carried pebble and sand settled. Large volumes of silted lime dross accumulated on the bottom of the lake that was formed in the early holocene age. The surface of the gradually filling basin was finally covered with a layer of turf.The lime dross deposit of Sárrét is the major such occurrence in Hungary, and is markedly rich in mollusc fossils. The thickness of the turf layer that has filled the basin reaches at places 10 meters, and is home to a great variety of vegetation. The natural protection zone is part of the Séd-Nádor-Gaja catchment area. Draining efforts that commenced early in the 19th century caused bogs and marshes then widespread to retreat greatly, and most of the rare plants habitual in the marshes disappeared as well. No more than some traces of the lush and exotic vegetation of 200 years before remain to be seen today. Very attractive draining bog meadows are situated in the northern section of the natural protection area, where the rare species characteristic of hare’s tail grass dominated bog meadows are still to be found today. Typical protected plants include various orchid species such as marsh orchid. The higher sand terraces are covered with heaths of sand needlegrass. Less is known as yet of the insects of the natural protection area. Two rare butterfly species are traceable, and the small hawk-moth. Detailed entomology research was conducted here in 1997, when two species of chinch, novel to the known species of Hungary’s fauna, were identified. Amphibians are represented by six frog variants and two newt species. 177 bird species are protected in the area, 97 of which have been proven to nest here. Some very rare and therefore precious occurrences of migrating species are the black stork, the horned owl, the erne and the bluish harrier. White storks, aigrettes, sakerets and imperial eagles habitually come here to find food. Rare nesting species include the small grey shrike, the hobby, the red-footed falcon, the lich-owl and the barn-owl. The Natural Protection Area of Sárrét used to be the centre in Fejér county of the bustard habitat. Very sadly, the stock of bustards was cut dramatically, and the existence of the species in the area has been seriously endangered.
Recommended tracking route:The first station of a tracking route through the natural protection area is the railway station of Sárszentmihály. Having set out from the railway station, we’ll soon arrive in the forest of Szerencsekerék. This forest was planted in the first years of the 20th century, and contains some tree species that are not autochthonous to the area. Still, this forest, being the single significant forest block in the area, is a great natural asset.
The autochthonous white and grey poplars are clearly visible from the path, as are the tall ashes, as well as the planted Scotch pines and blank spruces. The representatives of the animal world with most conspicuous presence are the birds, which are also easily observed here. During the breeding period (April to July), lucky watchers may catch a view of many warbler species such as the blackcap, the tree-pipit, the robin, the chaffinch and the great titmouse. Continuing on our way, we’ll arrive at the Nádor channel. Stepping on its bridge, we can obtain a full view of the Sárrét basin. The flora of the surrounding grassland abounds in typical species including the blue poa, the tetterwort, the small cirsium, the soldier orchis and several flay variants. Along the channel, many agrion species, aqueous amphibians, even grass-snakes may be observed, while among birds, the field-lark and the grey goose are present all round the year, and the aigrette as well as the grey crane are found here in the summer and autumn. Significant numbers of field-larks, yellow wagtails and furzechats nest in the meadows. We follow on our trip across the bank of the channel where dotted reed-warblers are often heard and sometimes even seen in the parts covered with nettle and shrubs. From the banks, buzzards and kestrels nesting in the neighbouring forests and alleys may also be observed, while in the winter, glimpses of even bluish harriers and rough-legged buzzard can be caught. Along the banks lay the draining marshy meadows. Their flora is dominated by blue poa and by soldier orchis in May. At the waste weir of Csór, we must choose, depending on the weather, one of two possible ways to proceed: we can return to the starting point, or turn right in the direction of Csór. This latter path is usually flooded in the spring and early summer, therefore in these periods, gumboots should be used to walk it. Having turned toward Csór, we’ll continue to walk on the banks of the channel. At the first parting of the path, turn left and follow this road all the way down. The meadows along the road are drained bog meadows here as before, dominated by blue poa. Typical plants seen thus far include the moor orchid, the field inula, and certain imola variants. In the spring and summer, when the banks are flooded, huge flocks of riparian birds are observed in this area, such as the red-shanks, the great godwit and the peewit. In addition, the more frequently occurring variants of ducks and gulls are also found here. Following this path, we’ll finally arrive in Csór, where we can take a bus to travel further.
If at the water weir we decide to return to our point of departure, then turning left we’ll reach a few fishing lakes. In the islands of these lakes, black-headed gulls and scrays nest, as well as, protected by the gull colonies, grey geese, pochards and ferruginous ducks. In the smaller sedge-marshes, great crested grebes, and at times even small grebes and bald-coots may be observed. Passing by the lakes, a few minutes’ walk will take us back to the railway station of Sárszentmihály.