Saturday, April 30, 2022

πŸ“– Birding Hungary πŸ‡­πŸ‡Ί (Day 2) Spring 2022

☀️20C Saturday 30th April 2022 ~ We last visited the Hortobagy Halasto Fishponds in September 2019. We were due to come to Hungary in the spring of that year but had to delay until the autumn as we were in the process of buying our new house in Scotland. For details of our Autumn visit and details of the site please see my posts for those visits available HERE.

Our first stop was at the National Park HQ in Hortobagy village to buy a weekly permit but since our last visit the centre is now closed and you have to cross the road and purchase this from the Information Centre. A weekly permit is £10 per person. This actually only allows access to a number of sites and unfortunately doesn't include the steppe areas so if you want to perhaps guarantee species such as Saker Falcon, Long-legged Buzzard and Great Bustard your better off hiring a guide from Saker Tours. We never hire guides and prefer to find our own birds and in fact had Great Bustard on our autumn visit using Dave Gosney's excellent guides. 

Squacco Heron ~ Our first photographic opportunity of the day.

Our walk today was about 10 kilometres but if you're knackered by the time you've done the first five there is a narrow-gauge train which runs through the reserve at weekends which you can catch on the return. 

One of many Bearded Reedling ~ This one is a female.

The reedbeds were alive with reeling Savi's WarblerSedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, pinging Bearded Reedling, the fine whistle of Penduline Tits and Bluethroats. Cuckoos seemed to be a constant companion and we also managed a singing Wood Warbler in one of the occasional small copses.

Penduline Tit feeding on cottonwood.

Night Heron takes flight. 

There are a number of observation towers that overlook the ponds and at one we inadvertently flushed a Night Heron ( photo above) as we approached. The towers offer good views of both the reedbeds below and across the ponds where Spoonbills were constantly back and forth with nesting material. Marsh Harriers are in great numbers here and are constantly hunting over the reeds. At one point a White-tailed Eagle sailed at height overhead. A little later this one or another could be seen perched in some low trees through the heat haze. 

Wood Sandpipers are in good numbers.

Waders included large numbers of Wood Sandpipers, at one point (22) flew overhead, along with Black-winged Stilt, Ruff, Black-tailed GodwitGreen Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper.

Purple Heron Fly-by!

Caspian Gull

Apart from large numbers of Black-headed Gulls, the only others today were nesting Caspian Gulls. One, in particular, was a brute of a bird and unlike the ones I've seen in the UK this one was in full summer plumage.

Berger's Clouded Yellow

There were a small number of butterflies on the wing in the warm sunshine and these included Scarce Swallowtail, Southern Festoon, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Berger's Clouded Yellow and a new moth species for me Purple-barred Yellow, which unfortunately was very worn.  

More Images of a Spectacular Day...

Savi's Warbler

Purple-barred Yellow

Southern Festoon


Yellow Wagtail