Spring bird tours
Spring is beyond doubts the best period to watch birds. Most birds have arrived from their winter-grounds and are actively preparing themselves for the season. The short vegetation in the fields and the still open canopy in the forests make birdwatching more comfortable. Great Bustards, for instance, are in summer often hidden behind tall grass. A common bird like the Hawfinch is difficult in summer but in springtime easy to observe. This goes for small birds as Barred Warbler, Moustached Warbler and Collared Flycatcher as well. In summer, these birds are hidden in shrubs, reed or canopy, while in springtime perching on visible places.
An incredible number of birds is waiting for us around the fishponds, swamps and plains on the so-called ‘pusta’. Thanks to conservation efforts, exciting species with an ‘eastern’ distribution have increasing numbers. The chance to observe an Imperial Eagle or a Saker Falcon increases year by year. It rarely happens that an excursion day passes without them. Unfortunately the Red-footed Falcon, through unclear causes, is decreasing, but they are still so common that we never miss them during a visit at the plains. This holds with regard to the Exotic Roller, Hoopoo and Lesser Grey Shrike as well. Great Bustards are uncommon, but local guides help to find them. During the spring and autumn bird tours we have always observed them.
At the natural marshes and fishponds the variety of birds altogether is striking. Not rarely, within the same short moment, real steppe birds are observed next to herons and ducks. All European herons (beside Cattle Heron) occur and can be seen in sometimes funny numbers. Even the elusive Bittern and Little Bittern show up regularly. Purple Heron, Spoonbills, Great White Egret, Little Egret, Night Heron and Squacco Heron are common species. The Glossy Ibis has small but increasing numbers. The Pygmy Cormorant is invading Middle Europe. Hungary has already more then 200 breeding pairs. In addition, all three European marsh terns can be observed together regularly. Last but not least, White-tailed Eagles force us to check the sky now and then.
A week in Hungary is not complete without a visit to the northern hills. Beside Three-toed, all Woodpeckers occur. The White-backed is the rarest, but we frequently succeed to trace it. Wryneck, Lesser- and Middle-spotted Woodpecker forage in the garden of your accommodation. It is a treatment to wake up with the melancholic song of the Grey-faced Woodpecker. Red-breasted Flycatchers occur in the same valleys as White-backed Woodpecker. Luckily, this small and elusive bird has a remarkable song. The Collared Flycatcher lives in these dark, old valleys as well, but is much more common and, following its short and soft song, easy to observe in any older forest. The presence of the Imperial Eagle on the open plains of Hungary, proves that it is an opportunist. Originally, it breeds in extended, remote forests. We have a good chance to encounter them in the hills. Next to Imperial, we hope to catch a glimpse of Golden, Lesser-spotted and Short-toed Eagle as well.
Destinations: These spring tours bring us to Bukk mountains (2 days), Borsod Mezoseg plain (Little Hortobagy) and wetlands (2), Zemplen mountains (1), Hortobagy plain and wetlands (2).
Highlights: displaying Great Bustards, courtship of Red-footed Falcon and Roller.
Target birds: Great Bustard, Saker Falcon, Red-footed Falcon, Eastern Imperial, Lesser Spotted, White-tailed and Golden Eagle, Montagu’s Harrier, Ural Owl, Short-eared Owl, Longeared Owl, Roller, Bea-eater, Hoopoe, White-backed, Black and Grey-headed Woodpecker, Collared and Red-breasted flycatcher, Great White Egret, Squacco Heron, Night Heron, Black Stork, Pygmy cormorant, Aquatic Warbler, Barred Warbler, Rock Bunting, Common Crane, Penduline-, Bearded Tit, Whiskered-, Black- and White-winged Black Tern and many more.
Autumn Bird Tours
In october, 70,000 or more Common Cranes fly and walk around in the plains and fishponds, heading for their final destinations in winter. Shortly we could call it the Crane Spectacle, but there is more to get exited about in this period. This is also the time to see rare migrating shorebirds as Whimbrels, Slender-billed Curlews, Marsh Sandpipers and Phalaropes. With the flocks of Greylag Geese, tens of thousands of Bean and White-fronted Geese and many ducks roost on the water and on the surrounding shortgrass steppe. Lesser White-fronted and Red-breasted geese are also frequently spotted. In addition, Long-legged and Rough-legged Buzzard, Merlin and Pallid Harrier might be spotted. Also during these autumn tours there is a good chance for Saker, Imperial and White-tailed Eagle and Great Bustard.
We will spend also two days in the hills, where we search for Imperial Eagle and White-backed Woodpecker. There is also a chance for Eagle Owl. The gardens and orchard of your accommodation are good for Woodpeckers, such as Grey-headed, Black, Green, Lesser Spotted and Middle Spotted Woodpecker and also for Hawfinch and Raven. The scenery here in this period is amazingly colorfull.
Destinations: The autumn tours bring us to Hortobagy plains and wetlands (3 days), Borsod Mezoseg plains ant wetlands (2), Bukk mountains (1).
Highlights: huge numbers of Cranes flocking into their roosts.
Target birds: Common Crane, Great Bustard, Lesser White-fronted Goose, Long-legged Buzzard, Saker Falcon, Imperial Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Woodpeckers, Hawfinch, Stone Curlew, Dotterel etc.