Tuesday, October 01, 2019

πŸ“– Birding Hungary ~ Part 1

A long weekend in Budapest Hungary, something we'd originally planned for in the spring but had to postpone until now. Predominantly a city break we always schedule in the birding and a 90-minute drive from our apartment in Budapest is HortobΓ‘gy National Park.

HortobΓ‘gy National Park details can be found HERE

Hortobagy-Halasto Visitor Centre
However, access is a real problem and there is a strict 'Permit Only' policy throughout the park so without a permit, you cannot walk or drive on any of the tracks through the steppe or fishponds. It is therefore essential that you purchase a 'multi-site permit' either from the National Park HQ in Hortobagy village or, as we did from the Visitor Centre at Hortobagy *but beware even with a permit it still doesn't allow you to explore the steppe areas of the park!! Having said that there are many viewing towers and we managed to find some excellent areas to observe from along the main roads and back roads. We even gained some additional vantage points by seeking permission from the odd local farmer, who like most people we encountered are extremely friendly.

Cranes are a real spectacle at this time of year!
As mentioned, at this time of year, many of the summer breeding species have moved on but there is still plenty of potential for finding some star species such as Great Bustard and Eastern Imperial Eagle. At this time of year to the sheer numbers of Common Cranes is breathtaking.

☀️23C Friday 27th September 2019 ~ Due to the huge size of the area and limited time we decided to spend the afternoon and early evening on the 5-km walk exploring the Hortobagy-Halasto Fishponds. However, if your not fond of long walks a narrow-gauge train runs through the reserve and so if its running (today it wasn't) you should consider buying a ticket for the reverse journey. There are several observation towers to visit throughout the area which give excellent views across the ponds. Although at this time of year the reedbeds were mostly quiet you get a distinct impression that its reputation for producing the most spectacular birding in the Hortobagy holds true. We definitely plan to visit in the springtime at a future date.

Good numbers of Penduline Tits can be found at the 'Fishponds'. These delicate little birds always remind me of 'miniature Shrikes'.

After enjoying the sight and sound of the Pendulines one of several juvenile White-tailed Eagles passed quietly by overhead, talk about creatures great and small!
At one stage we paused at a ringing station where a session was taking place and we were invited in, just in time to see three Bearded Reedlings being processed. Two females and a male, the latter apparently previously ringed in Serbia! From here one of the ringers took us to a small pool where his scope was focussed on a Red-necked Phalarope, quite a rarity for Hungary by all accounts.

Large Copper
There are still plenty of butterflies on the wing in the warm sunshine including the above Large Copper and Eastern Bath White, the latter a new species for me.

Another speciality of Hortobagy is the Pygmy Cormorant and owing to the expansion of the Hungarian breeding population, it is now more frequent here.

A Peregrine Falcon over the fishponds didn't manage to connect with prey but certainly caused a few alarm calls. 
Species Seen Today...

Greylag Goose, Mallard, Gadwall, Pheasant, Black-necked Grebe, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Pygmy Cormorant, Little Egret, Great Egret, Grey Heron, White-tailed Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Water Rail, Crane, Curlew, Red-necked Phalarope, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Skylark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Robin, Bluethroat, Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Bearded Reedling, Penduline Tit, Red-backed Shrike, Magpie, Jay, Rook, Hooded Crow, Raven, Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting,