The ever-changing surface
The volcanic origins Zemplén Mountains evokes the Carpathians, it is a diverse region of greater or lesser suppository worn volcanoes, narrow valleys, and lower hills covered by sedimentary rocks.
A geological curiosity of the mountains is the large stone-sea occurring in several places.
There are several places where visitors can meet ‘stone statues‘ formed by wind and rain, which also have name among the most beautiful ones (e.g. the Rákóczi stone). From the top of mountain peaks, crags and lookout cliffs an enchanting spectacle unfolds in front of the hiker. For example Peter the Great cliff or Hawk-crag.
The Zemplén mountains are geologically belong to the inner curve of the Carpathian Mountains north ridge. The steep ridges, deep valleys and cones were created in the wake of volcanic activity evoke the Carpathian Mountains, as well as the vast expanse contiguous – almost ninety percent coverage – forests.
The weather and human intervention can change the surface in a relatively short period of time, often forming a very spectacular formations. Such is the water-washed canyon seen here, which works as a temporary waterfall when it rains.
The world’s masters of arthropods
They are really the „lords”of the Blue Planet, since they make up 2/3 of the Earth’s living organisms (about 1.9 million plant, animal, mushroom, and microbe species), which amounts to about 820 thousand species. They can be microscopic or may reach 2 metres in length and can be found everywhere from the geyser craters of volcanoes to icefields, and from the darkest caves to human dwellings. Many people are scared of these wonderful creatures; however, they are harmless, and their diverse shapes and colours are marvellous.
Mushrooms, which belong to a separate kingdom, are usually thallophytes, have chitinous cell walls and no photosynthetic pigments. Mushrooms have adapted to living on soil. They usually feed on decaying things, i.e. the remnants of deceased beings; however, some of them have symbiotic relationship with host plants, which feed them through their roots. Some mushrooms develop as parasites on living hosts. Mushrooms usually reproduce by means of spores carried by the wind. Nowadays, we know about 100 000 mushroom species, but according to estimates there could be even 1.5 million of them, which not have been discovered until now. Although most of them are edible there are only a few species that are really enjoyable to consume. However, you can fill your basket with tasty mushrooms in the Zemplén Mountains and the Hegyköz region all year round.
Masters of the air
The mostly undisturbed and diverse natural environment attracts lots of bird species. This is the place where plains and mountains meet, which makes it a favourable habitat for meadow, water, and forest birds as well.
Since the Zemplén Mountains are mostly undisturbed, they are rich in bird species. Black woodpeckers, European Green Woodpeckers, Tawny Owls, but also Hazel Grouses and Black Storks regularly brood here; the brook valleys provide nesting grounds for the endangered White-throated Dipper. Out of all the protected carnivorous birds Saker Falcons, Eurasian Eagle Owls, Eastern Imperial Eagles, and Golden Eagles brood in the isolated forests inside the mountains. It’s especially interesting that from time to time several Ural Owl breeding pairs arrive from the east to lay their eggs. Chaffinches, European Greenfinches, several sorts of Tits (Great, Marsh, and Blue Tits), European Goldfinches and Woodlarks are the songbirds living in the forests.
White Wagtails, the swallows (Common Swift, Barn Swallow, House Martin), cuckoos and Golden Orioles spend the summer here. However, in winter we can find Wallcreepers, Ring Ouzels, Redwings and Fieldfares, as well as some Tits (Coal and Crested Tits) here.