Welcome to the adventure pond of Hörersdorf
From the ice pond to the village pond
From the ice pond to the village pond Ponds to us are recreation areas. We think of swimming, fishing or even of ponds being important habitats for many animals. In former times, however, village ponds were important to villagers during the cold winter months. The ice of an ice pond was taken to special ice cellars where it was used to cool food, lasting up to the summer months. With the invention of the fridge, however, ponds lost their importance. Ice ponds were filled up or used for fishing or recreational purposes. The old ice pond of Hörersdorf was eventually filled up and used for agricultural purposes for several years.
A new beginning…
In 1997 the idea emerged to restore the former ice pond to use it as a “nature park“ as well as a resting spot for bikers, hikers and day-trippers alike. Once being introduced to the public; the idea was followed by vivid discussions. Some villagers feared midges becoming a plague, while others feared their cellars being flooded. However, after an information session and a vote the initial scepticism could be turned into a broad consent. Villagers help to plant around 1350 bushes, 50 trees, 22 fruit-bearing trees and 640 different reeds. To increase the ecological value of the surrounding areas only native species of trees and plants were used. After this successful cooperation the landscape pond was solemnly opened to the public in 2000.
In the following 20 years the pond, the surrounding flowering meadow as well as the numerous groves flourished. The adjoining playground and the resting spots are gladly used and appreciated. With the interactive educational nature trail the hidden treasures of the fauna and flora in and around the pond should be introduced to the learners and visitors. Appealing pictures, playful elements and fascinating facts encourage to explore the nature around the pond. What turns a hedge into a four-star hotel? Does the dayfly only live for one day?
Enjoy your scouting expedition around our pond searching for water scorpions, rattle and the like!
You are welcome to take pictures at our peephole!
plants/animals: grey heron (Ardea cinerea)
Tablets for the trees and shrubs at the end of the page
Hidden world under water
Every pond or lake has several different zones that divide the water column from top to bottom and side to side. These zones consist of the Littoral Zone, Limnetic Zone, Profundal Zone, Euphotic Zone, and Benthic Zone.
1 Between land and water – the shore (littoral zone)
At the pond’s shore plants must adapt to the changing dry and wet conditions. You know the tall reeds with their tousled inflorescences! The plain sedge can be mistaken for grass. Just look at the leaves. Due to their “w-shaped profile they are very robust.
2 The somewhat different forest – the floating leaf zone
Just like the canopy of a wood, the leaves of the water lily cover the small bay. They are not floating on the water freely. Did you know that they are rooted to the bottom with a long stem? Theses stems can reach depths of 3 metres!
3 The jungle – die Tauchblattzone
Numerous plants form a jungle underneath the pond’s surface. They are important for all the water animals as they produce oxygen which is essential to them.
Water insects, baby fish, common rudd, as well as tadpoles of the European green frog and the marsh frog use the jungle as a place to hide beneath the leaves.
4 An ocean in microcosm – the open water
As light can’t reach down to the deep parts of a pond, there are hardly any plants. They would need the light to survive. In the open water you can mainly find big fish like carp. During the cold winter months, however, other fish also withdraw to the open water.
Walk on water
The pond skater is perfectly adjusted to walking on water with its long legs. It manages to distribute its weight so that it can use the water surface tension to run on water. Its long legs are also used as sensors for its pray, namely small insects landing directly on the pond’s surface.
Strange mummies: Exuvia – what a strange name. What looks like having come directly from a horror movie, is in fact the dragonfly larva. Shortly before its imago stage, the dragonfly larva climbs out of the water and holds on to a stem. The dragonfly hatches, the larval case remains. Look if you can find further details by examining the larval case closely. You will be amazed.
Submarine alert! Land snail such as the great pond snail must catch their breath at the pond’s surface from time to time. The air supply gained by coming to the surface and breathing is stored in the mantle cavity. Moreover, they can breathe with their skins. The air supply also helps them in dangerous situations when the additional air is released quickly. Then the snail sinks to the ground.
Scorpions in the pond? The water scorpion is a water bug. The dangerous looking sting is just a snorkel. Nevertheless, water insects or small tadpoles should avoid its tentacles.
Plants/animals: reeds (Phragmites australis), silvery sedge (Carex canescens), European green frog, marsh frog (Pelophylax ridibundus), great diving beetle (Dytiscus marginalis), tadpoles of the common European toad, (tadpoles of Bufo bufo), carp (Cyprinus carpio), mayfly, dayfly (Ephemeroptera), damselfly, featherleg (Platycnemididae), European grass snake (Natrix natrix), common water frog (Pelophylax „esculentus“), Jesus bug, pond skater (Gerridae), banded demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens), water lily (Nymphaea), water scorpion (Nepa cinerea), great pond snail (Lymnaea stagnalis), featherfoil (Hottonia palustris), demoiselle larva (Calopterygidae), water stick insect (Ranatra linearis), Anisoptera larva (Larva of Anisoptera)
four-star hotel for birds, hedgehogs & the like
First *: attractive accommodation
The wooden thicket resembles a town with numerous houses of different heights. So, every bird finds a suitable nesting site. The blackcap likes to hide its padded clutch of eggs amongst the thick shrubs and bushes, the nightingale builds its nest close to the ground, and the titmouse uses tree holes long abandoned by woodpeckers.
Second *: upscale gastronomy
In the late summer and in autumn you can trace how plants try to surpass each other with their fruit in numerous colours, sizes, and tastes. But be careful! Not all these awesome looking fruits are edible. Some fruits which are inedible for humans are eaten by birds and mammals. To find out more, study the board on the individual plants. The shady and moist grounds are ideal for snails, worms, woodlice, millipedes, and insects which are the ideal nourishment for birds, hedgehogs and the like.
Third*: absolute discretion
Birds, hedgehogs and many other animals must watch out for their enemies. Therefore, a good hiding place in the thick shrubs, hedges or on the treetops is key! Moreover, countless denizens of the pond gather in the shade of the groves at the shore. Especially common moorhens like to hide in the thicket of the littoral zone.
Fourth*: pleasant air condition
Stand on the bridge for a while on a hot summer’s day. Then move on to the meadow and finally to the wooden thicket. You will realize how cool and moist it is in the shade of the trees and shrubs! This fact is also known by many animals which rest there during the hot summer days.
Looking for the hidden treasure? Follow our secret path through the thicket and discover 14 hedge plants. At the very end of our trail, you will find the key.
Animals: banded grove snail (Cepaea nemoralis), woodlouse (Isopoda), nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos), wasp beetle (Clytus arietis), red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio), blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla), common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), throstle (Turdus philomelos), escargot (Helix pomatia), hedgehog (Erinaceidae)
What scuttles here? A secret little world
Have you ever wondered why there are so many insects on our planet? Every species, every animal fights to survive in its own special manner. It doesn’t want to be eaten. Yet it must find a partner and enough food to survive in the limited biotope of the flowering meadow. Therefore, insects have developed various methods to do so over the years. Some animals have become experts in camouflaging, others have adapted differently. Some emit inedible substances or liquids while others warn their enemies off by their bright warning colours.
Here are a few tricks! Can you also find all the well-hidden animals?
Animals: ant bag beetle (Clytra laeviuscula), pellucid hoverfly (Volucella bombylans), dronefly (Eristalis tenax), marmalade fly (Episyrphus balteatus), striped shieldbug (Graphosoma italicum), European whinchat (Saxicola rubetra), marbled white (Melanargia galathea), ealy-nesting bumblebee (Bombus pratorum), goldenrod crab spider (Misumena vatia), froghopper (Aphrophoridae), great green bush cricket (Tettigonia viridissima), European peacock butterfly (Aglais io), six-spot burnet (Zygaena filipendulae), common field cricket (Gryllus campestris), common vole, field mouse (Microtus arvalis), sand lizard (Lacerta agilis)
Flower meadow – diverse sea of colours
Recipe for a speciose wildflower meadow
Here is what you need:
- Garden hoes
- Seeds of wildflowers
Step 1: Seeds of wildflowers require open, that is barren, unvegetated soil to germinate. Therefore, get rid of the grass layer with the help of a garden hoe. The more open soil you have in the end, the better your wildflowers will grow.
Step 2: Spread your wildflower seeds on the ground!
Step 3: You are done! You needn’t cover the seeds and you needn’t water them either. All you need now is patience – some seeds will only germinate after months or even years.
Step 4: Most of the wildflowers having faded and withered, you can mow the meadow. It is important to get rid of the clippings, so that the seeds of the next generation can grow, and your wildflower meadow continues to flourish in the coming season. The many nutrients in the clippings would support plant species such as grasses, buttercups, or dandelions, which would then overgrow other beautiful wildflowers.
Our flowering meadow here is mowed twice a year. The hay is fed to animals.
Which plants do you already know?
Cranesbill and Geranium (Geranium pratense): After its blossoming stage it becomes evident where the name comes from. Seed head and ovaries look like a stork’s head.
Bedstraw (Galium molugo): Bedstraw can be identified with the help of its leaves, growing circularly around the stem. They contain chymase which is used to produce cheese.
Vetchling (Lathyrus pratensis): To open the flower of a meadow vetchling one must be strong. Who but the bumblebee would manage? The relatives of our sweet peas or garden peas use other plants to twine up on, hence they do not need a stable stem.
Common daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare): The daisy flower consists of many small yellow flowers. The big white ray florets only attract insects.
Cuckoo flower/meadow campion (Silene flos-cuculi): Cuckoo flowers are very rare here. They flourish in May and June – this is also the time when you can hear the cuckoo chanting.
Meadow sage (Salvia pratensis): The meadow sage uses a complicated mechanism to allow only bigger bees such as the bumblebee to collect its nectar. Use a pencil to trigger this mechanism.
Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia): Containing lots of proteins the sainfoin is a favourite of many herbivores. Sainfoin was hence cultivated as a foodplant and spread quickly due to its sticky seeds.
Rattle (Rhinanthus sp.): Just like the mistletoe in the coat of armour of Mistelbach, the rattle is a hemiparasite stealing water and nutrients from other plants.
Wild carrot (Daucus carota): The wild carrot really is the archetype of our popular carrot. The black dot in the middle of its inflorescence resembles a bug to attract even more bugs.
Tablets for the trees and shrubs:
Walnut tree (Juglans regia)
In the wine quarter, the area you are in at the moment, the walnut tree is a typical „Hintaus“tree. (Hintaus meaning behind the house). Competitors are driven away by special constituents of its leaves which prevent other plants from growing. Can you notice the difference in the undergrowth? Not all walnuts are alike. Some trees grow bigger ones, others grow smaller ones, some have a thick nutshell while others have a thinner one. The ”Red Danube Nut“, also called “Bloodnut“ has nuts which are blood red.
-> The next tree does not have any problems with Covid, but which other illness is a problem for it?
Ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior)
Watch out! Helicopter approaching! The samara of the ash tree are shaped like airscrews of a helicopter. This is useful as the wind distributes them further away from the orignal tree that way. Not only humans, but also trees are threatened by diseases. Currently, a fungal infestation causes ash trees to shed their leaves. Young ash trees sometimes even die.
-> The next shrub might get a so called “Stockausschlag“ (growth from stump) when being cut...
Blood-twig dogwood (Cornus sanguinea)
The leaves of this “sister” of the European cornel turn blood red in autumn. The colour is triggered by anthocyanin, a special plant pigment. Its fruit are not poisonous, but inedible when eaten raw. When the blood-twig dogwood is cut, it tends to react with a growth from the stump. Next to the main shoot (“Stock”) which was cut, numerous lateral shoots might emerge. One can only get rid of the blood-twig dogwood by extracting the whole rhizome.
-> Turn into a rhino with the help of the next plant’s fruit!
Field maple (Acer campestre)
The field maple cuts a fine figure in a hedge but can also grow into a stately single tree. This heat-resistant and draught-resistant tree is well adapted to our climate here in the wine quarter of Austria. Do you know its helicopter samara? They are called “Nasenzwicker” (“nose tweakers”) in Austria. Break the green seeds (samara) of the maple. You can put the sticky inner parts on the top of your nose and change into a rhino this way.
-> We are looking for a shrub which keeps its leaves even in the long winter months.
Common Privet (Ligustrum vulgare)
People often plant it as a natural border for their gardens, as it is hard to see through its thick hedges. During mild winters it often keeps its leaves all year round. Therefore, the privet is also called a semi-deciduous shrub. Birds like to hide in the privet and especially the blackbird and the thrush love its tasty black berries which are in important nutritional source. However, you must be careful, as these berries are poisonous for humans.
-> Where do the holes in the nuts of our next plant come from?
Hazel (Corylus avellana)
The hazel can always count on squirrels, mice, or birds as the nuthatches to distribute the seeds. They like to gather them in the autumn months and hide them for the winter. However, nuts that are forgotten can grow into new hazel bushes. Have you ever felt intrigued by the holes in hazelnuts? Well, the hazel borer, a special weevil, is responsible for them. Its larvae first eat the nut inside and then trie to escape through its shell.
-> The next tree offers the Austrians their most popular fruit!
Apple Tree (Malus domestica)
Thinking of fruit, almost everybody first thinks of the apple. In autumn we can pick the apples directly from the apple trees. Due to its great storability, they are kept in pantries and cellars all over the country until the summer months of the following year. Moreover, we can make apple juice, applesauce, stewed apples, baked apples and many more delicious dishes out of apples. Which dishes or products made of apples do you know?
-> You know fir cones or spruce cones, but do you also know which tree has these small cones, called “Bockerl” by Austrians?
Black Alder (Alnus glutinosa)
The black alder loves the area around our pond here. Opposed to many other trees it doesn’t mind getting “wet feet “. Special root formations allow the alder to bear floodings which are common in alder forests. Even without its leaves one can recognize the alder as it carries small cones called „Bockerl“. Birds like the goldfinch like the seeds inside these „Bockerl“ and they are an important food source for them.
-> The fruit of which hedge plant are called “Hetscherl” in Austria? Do you know?
Briar Rose (Rosa canina)
For sure you know the fruit of the briar rose very well. The briar rose is also called corymb rose and its bright orange to red fruit are called rosehips or “Hetscherl” here in Austria. During the long winter months, they are a healthy snack full of vitamin C not only for us humans but also for birds and other animals. However, wait for the first frost before picking them, as it is easier to press the tasty squish out of the rosehips.
-> Our next plant provides the foundation for a famous beverage and can also be prepared and cooked like asperagus.
Hop (Humulus lupulus)
The stalk of the hop – also called vines – are covered with tiny hair helping the hop to twine up on other plants and to catch a little bit of sun that way. Hop is also well-known as beer is brewed out of its umbels. Do you know that hop shoots are edible? People like to cook them like asparagus. Hop shoots are eaten raw or turned into various tasty dishes.
-> A small butterfly turns our next hedge plant into a spooky looking ghost shrub!
Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)
The blackthorn is a typical hedge plant of the wine quarter, the area north of Vienna. Its fruit can be eaten raw preferably after the first frost, when they don’t taste bitter anymore, raw. Mostly, however, the ancestor of our damson is turned into an alcoholic beverage called blackthorn liqueur or sloe cordial. Mass propagation of the plum ermine leads to complete defoliation of the blackthorn hedges. The plum ermine covers the blackthorn bush with a web used to protect its caterpillars. This looks very spooky indeed.
-> A bird wearing a mask uses the thorns of the sloe as well as other thorns! You will find out more at the next stop.
Have you ever noticed that some hedge plants carry many thorns? Decades ago cattle and sheep used to graze wide stretches of land around the wine quarter. Thorns protected the plants from being eaten by cattle, deer, and sheep. Hence, thorns indicate former grazing fields. The red-backed shrike uses the long thorns of the hawthorn to impale its excess prey (small vertebrates or insects). Consequently, it won’t have to hunt in bad weather.
-> In former times birds should have avoided our next hedge plant…
Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia)
Here the rowan is also known as sorb (“Eberesche”). Admittedly its leaves bear a resemblance to the ones of ash trees, yet these plants are not related to each other. Treacherous trap: The conspicuous fruit of the rowan or sorb were used as baits to catch birds such as the thrush which were a delicacy in former times. Luckily, these birds can eat the delicious berries without a second thought nowadays.
-> Which tree carries “Asperl“?
Medlar (Mespilus germanica)
Nowadays hardly anyone knows the medlar shrub anymore. In former times, however, it was a widespread and well-known fruit tree. Especially the older generation might still know the apple-like fruit called “Asperl”. Women picked them after the first frost to cook delicious jellies or jams.
✓ Congrats! You made it! You have successfully found all 14 information boards and completed all the tasks for the riddle.
Here is the key: A squirrel buried the treasure, namely nuts which it gathered in autumn and hid in the grounds below the hedges and forgot all about them later on. Without the treasure it wouldn’t have managed to survive the cold winter months. The forgotten nuts remain and germinate in spring. They grow into new hedges.