Wet meadows & bogs
Although wet meadows are becoming increasingly rare and endangered due to heavy drainage and intensive farming, there are still some beautiful areas to be found in Slovenia. This habitat usually occurs along rivers and streams (or lakes), especially those that flood regularly. In some cases such meadows were formed through centuries of human activity and deforestation. But the traditional way of farming allowed the establishment of a high biodiversity. Preserving extensive grasslands through regular mowing and avoiding the scrubbing-over of land is the key to preserve these precious habitats.
Some examples of beautiful wet meadows in Slovenia include those in the areas of the Nanoščica river basin, Planinsko polje, Cerkniško jezero, Bloško polje, Ljubljansko barje and the Reka valley.
Wet meadows in Slovenia are famous for their populations of Corncrake Crex crex that depend upon late-mown grasslands. Numbers of this species have been greatly reduced in recent years due to habitat loss and inadequate management of the meadows. A whole variety of birds find their ideal habitat on wet meadows Common Quail Coturnix coturnix, Whinchat Saxicola rubetra, Barred Warbler Sylvia nisoria, Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus, Snipe Gallinago gallinago, Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio, Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis, Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella, Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis. Slovenia's only breeding pairs of Curlew Numenius arquata depend upon the wet meadows at Ljubljansko barje.
Corncrake Crex crex (Photo: Tomaž Mihelič)
Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
Barred Warbler Sylvia nisoria
Wet meadows offer an excellent habitat for a variety of rare and endangered butterflies. Some of them are completely dependent on feeding plants found in such habitats, for example the Scarce Large Blue Phengaris teleius and the Dusky Large Blue Phengaris nausithous. Others such as the endangered Large Copper Lycaena dispar are rather rare in Slovenia and only live in wet meadow habitats. Interesting is the presence of small wetland populations of the very rare False Ringlet Coenonympha oedippus, which is otherwise found more commonly on dry karstic grasslands. Commoner but still notable species found in wet meadows include Marsh Fritillary Euphydryas aurinia, False Heath Fritillary Melitaea diamina, Purple-edged Copper Lycaena hippothoe, Southern Festoon Zerynthia polyxena.
Scarce Large Blue Phengaris teleius
False Ringlet Coenonympha oedippus
Large Copper Lycaena dispar
Marsh Fritillary Euphydryas aurinia
Rare and endangered plant species are found on wet meadows. In spring vast areas can be covered with Bog Orchid Anacamptis palustris, Early Marsh Orchid Dactylorhiza incarnata, Illyrian Gladiolus Gladiolus illyricus or Siberian Iris Iris sibirica. These are all protected and endangered species that are fortunately still locally common in Slovenia. Other herbaceous plants commonly found on wet meadows include Ragged-robin Lychnis flos-cuculi, Great Burnet Sanguisorba officinalis, Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria, Yellow Loosestrife Lysimachia vulgaris, Creeping Jenny Lysimachia nummularia, Water Mint Mentha aquatica, Saw-wort Serratula tinctoria and Marsh Thistle Cirsium palustre. On particularly rich wet meadows more interesting species such as Marsh Gentian Gentiana pneumonanthe, Marsh Helleborine Epipactis palustris and Mouse Garlic Allium angulosum can be found. The Balkan Amethyst Meadow Squill Scilla litardierei is only found on one wet meadow in the whole country, whilst the very rare Summer Lady’s-tresses Spiranthes aestivalis grows at just a couple of sites in central Slovenia. Similarly the Snake's Head Fritillary Fritillaria meleagris is also rarely found on some wet meadows of central and eastern Slovenia.
Siberia Iris Iris sibirica
Marsh Helleborine Epipactis palustris
Amethyst Meadow Squill Scilla litardierei
Illyrian Gladiolus Gladiolus illyricus
Marsh Gentian Gentiana pneumonanthe
Summer Lady's-tresses Spiranthes aestivalis
Another interesting habitat that need to be mentioned here are bogs. They are perhaps similar to wet meadows in vegetation but have a different origin. Bogs are wetlands that form with the deposit of dead plant material, usually peat mosses Sphagnum sp. and form an acidic and low-nutrient soil. Bogs are only preserved as small pockets around Slovenia and are very precious habitats for a variety of plants. The most interesting are perhaps sundews, of which three species occur in Slovenia: Round-leaved Sundew Drosera rotundifolia, English Sundew Drosera anglica and the very rare Oblong-leaved Sundew Drosera intermedia. Other typical plants found on bogs include Bogbean Menyanthes trifoliata, Common Cottongrass Eriophorum angustifolium, Tussock Cottonsedge Eriophorum vaginatum, Bog-rosemary Andromeda polifolia, Cranberry Oxycoccus palustris, Bird's-eye Primrose Primula farinosa, Common Bladderwort Utricularia vulgaris and Fen Orchid Liparis loeselii (found only at a few sites).