Szeri-plains are located about 35 km from Szeged. The area of the ancient plain covers more than 3000 hectares surrounded by municipalities of Ópusztaszer, Pusztaszer and Baks. The most valuable, therefore strictly protected habitats of the alkali lowland are the biggest natural sodic lakes of the Lower Tisza floodplain: Büdös-szék, Vesszős-szék and Hatvani-csatak in Pusztaszer. These wetland habitats represent the most accurately what the original conditions were at Lake Fehér of Szeged approximately a hundred years ago.
Sodic lakes are natural shallow water bodies formed in the deeper locations of the alkali lowlands. They have most spectacular coverage after winter precipitation and spring snowmelts, but can also become completely dry in the end of summer. Sodium salt dissolving from the sodic soil is the origin of the high pH of the water which is therefore home of an incomparable ecosystem. Alkali bulrush habitats on the shore of the lakes and bare sodic patches after grazing offer valuable breeding sites for many bird species. Sodic lakes are important not only for the breeding species but they are of special importance as stopover sites and feeding grounds for migratory birds crossing the country as well.
The area is especially essential for the groups of cranes (Grus grus) using our country as migration corridor. These shallow, natural water bodies are also visited for drinking and roosting purposes by thousands of birds feeding on the surrounding agricultural fields in autumn.
Although its original name was Lake Dongér, this form has not become popular in public use. The sodic lake covers almost 80 hectares and its water-surrounded islands and bare shores are valuable breeding areas for pied avocets (Recurvirostra avocetta) and black-winged stilts (Himantopus himantopus) that protect their offsprings from predators with bigger success when forming loose colonies.
Another rare species find home for nesting in the dense alkali bulrush habitat and sedge meadows: proper breeding habitats of black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa), common redshank (Tringa totanus), black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis), ferruginous pochard (Aythya nyroca) and whiskered tern (Chlidonias hybrida) are drastically declining.
As migratory shore birds hundreds of ruffs (Philomachus pugnax) appear on the lake and the gathering of Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata) is also very remarkable. Moreover many species of sandpipers, shanks, tattlers and plovers show up on the lake during their migration. In the edge of the area there is a watchtower with an ideal elevation for making close range observations with our professional guides of the life of the sodic lake without causing any disturbance.
Vesszős-szék with its 40 hectares nearby is an excellent example of habitat reconstruction with grazing. The lakebed has been completely covered with reed by the beginning of the 21st century, when Kiskunság National Park Directorate decided to keep water buffalo in the area, and the reed that covered the water surface totally disappeared in almost a decade. Nowadays as an open sodic lake it shows a very similar face to Büdös-szék and is also frequently used by the above listed bird species as breeding or roosting site. Besides that Vesszős-szék is visited by groups of migratory ducks and geese just like other sodic lakes. Hundreds of Eurasian teal (Anas crecca), northern shoveler (Anas clypeata), Eurasian wigeon (Anas penelope), northern pintail (Anas acuta) and thousands of greater white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons) can be observed here in the migration period.
Still in small numbers, yet more and more red-breasted goose (Branta ruficollis) mingle with the crowd of wintering goose groups, moreover a family of lesser white-fronted goose (Anser erythropus) also frequently merges in the groups of geese that are drinking on the sodic lakes.
Bordering Vesszős-szék unfolds Hatvani-csatak on almost 35 hectares. Natural state of the sodic lake is maintained by grazing with water buffalos here as well. Baksi-plain surrounding the lakes offers ideal habitats for raptors, too. Imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca), saker falcon (Falco cherrug) and red-footed falcon (Falco vespertinus) are breeding here, and the masses of waterbirds regularly attract white-tailed eagles (Haliaetus albicilla) to the sodic lakes also. Typical species of the alkali grasslands: European roller (Coracias garrulus), European bee-eater (Merops apiaster), lesser grey shrike (Lanius minor) and tawny pipit (Anthus campestris) are also generally breeding on the Baksi-plain.
WARNING! Sodic Lakes of Pusztaszer are strictly protected areas, entry allowed only with permission and guidance.