Normally temperatures are around the freezing point. But winter in the Neusiedler See area can be very cold at -15°C and colder, often accompanied by strong and freezing wind. This sounds uncomfortable, but it can be very charming. For a short period every year the Neusiedler See becomes the largest ice-skating area in Central Europe.
On clear and sunny winter days long hikes in the landscape, which is normally covered with only little snow, can be wonderful. If there is heavy snowfall, permanent wind can form snowbanks and snowdrifts of all different kinds of shapes.
The arrival of gaggles of geese from the north in autumn announces the cold time of year. Depending on the general weather situation, there can be up to 35,000 geese (Greylag and White-fronted Goose) in the Neusiedler See area. But Seewinkel offers perfect conditions for many other birds from northern regions spending the winter here.
Hen Harriers and Buzzards fly over the open landscape. Different kinds of gulls and ducks flock along the last unfrozen spots. In and around the villages, there are a lot of songbirds, braving the winter.
Nature developed many ways to survive winter. Some plants take winter rests or die and grow from their tuber the following spring. Some plants spend winter as seeds and sprout again in spring.
Animals have developed different strategies as well. Many insects die as adults, their eggs survive the winter and the following spring a new generation hatches. Some animals, like the European Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus citellus), hibernate. Others hide in frost-protected places and reduce all bodily functions.
Many birds fly to warmer regions before the winter comes, but some birds simply stay. The Bearded Tit, for example, feeds mainly on insects during summer. But insects are rare in winter and so this bird, that lives in the reed belt, also takes reed seeds.
Birds and mammals that are active in winter try to save as much energy as possible. The energy requirement to keep the body temperature high rises as the outside temperature drops. Any disturbance from outside that forces the animal to use energy, like sudden escapes, can therefore have fatal consequences, and food to restore energy levels is hard to find.