Rače ponds and Požeg nature park

Area description
Rače ponds and Požeg nature park is located on the outskirts of the Drava plain. The park consists of lowland flood forests, meadows with hedges and stagnant water bodies (Rače ponds and reservoir Požeg). Rače ponds have been used for fish farming since 1870 – a time when they were owned by the counts of Rače. Today intensive carp cultivation (from spawning to breeding) takes place in six ponds (3 Rače and 3 Turn ponds) in the area. Despite being man-made in the 60s of the previous century, Reservoir Požeg nowadays represents a true natural gem.

We get off the train at Rače train station. The way to the starting point is approximately 3 kilometres long and can be done either on foot or with a bicycle. From the train station we go on Ljubljanska street (Ljubljanska cesta) towards the roundabout at castle Rače. Here we turn south and continue on Ptujska street (Ptujska cesta) – with the fire station on our left. After 500 metres we reach the sign of the landscape park, we turn right and reach the area of Rače ponds in 100 metres.

Trail description
There are different trails, an asphalt road and an observatory between the Rače ponds. To get from the ponds to reservoir Požeg we have to take the dirt road through the flood forest. After a few 100 metres we arrive to farm Šugar (the forest ends here for a while). We continue our way until the end of the forest and after the turnoff for Turn ponds (which are one of the oldest ponds in the area) turn right. Reservoir Požeg is situated on the other side of the railroad and is embanked from the south and east side. The embankment forces the water to spill into the nearby forest, which is especially moist in spring and autumn and passable with difficulty in some parts due to marshland. The way from Rače ponds to reservoir Požeg is around 3 kilometres long. If we choose not to return on the same trail, we continue our way south towards Pragersko, where it is possible to board a train. The visit to both water surfaces and the flood forest can take the whole day.

A real hustle and bustle staged by birds can be experienced here throughout the whole year. Among aquatic species regularly nesting here are the little and great crested grebe, tufted duck, Eurasian coot and lately the endangered ferruginos duck. The Eurasian hobby, hunting dragon flies, can often be seen overflying the water surfaces. With some luck we can also spot the osprey here in time of migration. Throughout the whole year the kingfisher hunts from the branches by the water, whereas the grey heron hunts from the branches in the forest. The forest is also a resting place of the grey heron and the great egret. The black stork, which nests in the nearby forest, appears in the area regularly as well. Different waders can be observed when the water level is low.

Other plants and animals
The area is a habitat for several amphibians, of which the European tree frog is most important. Many species of dragon flies and spiders (the wasp spider for example) have found their home here. With a bit of luck we can encounter the grass snake or the muskrat. Plant enthusiasts can admire communities of water caltrop and water fringe, which is one of the rarest aquatic plant species in the country.

Interesting links
Račke ponds – Požeg nature park
The Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature Conservation