BLOG: Summertime in Jelgava’s meadows
When doing fieldwork for my research, I mostly start my day with exploring the meadows looking for the herd of Konik horses. Just looking at what they’re doing, see if there are any changes in the herd or if there are any new-borns. Nine out of ten times when I find them, they're just lying in the morning sun, resting and you see some horses eating. Not the most exciting thing you will ever see.
But if your patient and if you are determined to stick around for a while, just watching the herd, eventually you will get rewarded for it. Seeing the foals play around with each other. Watching the males fight between each other, trying to compete for the females. It really shows the power these horses have, especially after their tough springtime. It was this spring that a lot of foals died or were born dead as a result of diseases and the cold spring. But these horses endure as they will for many more years to come.
Of course that’s not all I’m looking at, the meadows have far more to offer. They also house an amazing amount of different vegetation zones. All around the castle island of Jelgava grows something different. For example at the head of the island is a small forest/tree area and if you’re lucky you can get a glimpse of the small group of Roe deer that usually reside here. Then there is the middle section of the island. This section is mostly grassland with remnants of old structures but it also houses a lot of wild tulips; a protected plant species (for a Dutch person maybe not so impressive, but for an outsider I can imagine it is). And last but not least is the end of the island. Which I think has the best view. You can see everything that lies behind the city of Jelgava. It’s quite a sight. Here, the vegetation is also great. There are a lot of rare plant species. Because the end of island is also the part of the island that is under water most of the time in autumn and winter, a rare environment is created with special conditions in which these plants thrive.
Well, that’s kind of the floodplains summed up in a nutshell. And I can recommend people this: if you find yourself in Latvia, don’t forget to see the Lielupes floodplain meadows in Jelgava. It’s a really beautiful and unique place.
Lex van Drongelen, Intern