17–24 May 2017
23 April–3 May 2018
Hungary’s wonderful mix of habitats, including those in its famous Hortobagy region, will form the backdrop to our sightings of numerous birds. We will look for Pygmy Cormorant, Lesser Spotted and Imperial Eagles, Great Bustard, Eurasian Eagle-owl, Ural Owl, nine woodpeckers including White-backed, Syrian and Grey-headed, Red-footed and Saker Falcons, Moustached Warbler and Collared Flycatcher.
Day 1 Flight from London to Budapest followed by a drive of around two hours, north-eastwards to the broadleaved forests of the Zemplen Hills for a three-night stay. We will stop on route for Imperial Eagle and for birds that we spot at the roadside, which should include other birds of prey and White Storks on nests.
Days 2–3 Two special and sought-after birds reside in these hills: Eurasian Eagle-owl and Ural Owl. If it is a good owl breeding year we should be able to find the owls by day; if not, then optional evening excursions will be taken. More common birds include Red-backed Shrike, European Turtle-dove, Yellowhammer, Corn Bunting, both Short-toed and Common Treecreepers, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Spotted Flycatcher, Marsh and Willow Tits, the white-headed form of Long-tailed Tit, Barred Warbler, European Serin and Black Redstart. We will have an excellent chance of seeing all nine of Hungary’s woodpeckers in the forests, orchards and wooded pastures of these hills: Syrian, Great Spotted, Lesser Spotted, Middle Spotted, White-backed, Green, Grey-headed and Black Woodpeckers and Eurasian Wryneck. Other woodland birds should include Collared Flycatcher, Hawfinch and Wood Lark. Raptors may include Lesser Spotted Eagle, Short-toed Snake-eagle, Eurasian Hobby, European Honey-buzzard and Northern Goshawk. We will also look over the adjacent floodplain of the Bodrog river where, in May, usual birds include Bla
Days 4–5 After the hills, we head to the lowlands, first to the Hortobágy, a huge area of mixed habitats. Some of its wetlands hold colonies of Whiskered Terns with some Black and White-winged Terns, while others host Black-necked (Eared) Grebes, Garganey, Ferruginous Duck, Pygmy Cormorant, Great and Little Egrets, Squacco and Purple Herons, Black-crowned Night-heron, Eurasian Spoonbill and Little and Great Bitterns. In the reed and scrub around the fishpond margins are Bearded Reedling, Eurasian Penduline-tit, Bluethroat, Savi’s Warbler and Great Reed-warbler. We may also see Water Rail and Little or Spotted Crake in the muddy margins. Passage waders are possible including Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Wood, Green and maybe Broad-billed or Marsh Sandpipers, Common and Spotted Redshanks, Temminck’s Stint, Ruff and maybe a rarity or two. The other main habitat of the area is puszta (grassland) where we will look for Common Crane, Crested Lark, Lesser Grey Shrike, Tawny Pipit. Raptors present include White-tailed Eagle, Western Marsh-harrier, Long-legged Buzzard and Red-footed Falcon.
Days 6–7 Returning westwards, our final destination will be another great lowland region, the Kiskunság, much of which is a national park. We will spend our final two nights here at the heart of this fantastic birding area. This flat plain between the Danube and Tisza rivers is one our local guides know very well indeed and that expertise will be at our disposal. We will see again many of the birds we have already encountered and visit back-up sites for any species we may have missed so far or wish to see again. Habitats in the Kiskunság include dry and wet grasslands, sandy dunes, croplands, marshes, gravel-pits and fishponds. Hungary’s national bird, Great Bustard, is in its Hungarian stronghold here. Other birds on the agenda will be Red-crested Pochard, Montagu’s Harrier, Saker Falcon, Collared Pratincole, Eurasian Thick-knee, Common Quail, Kentish Plover and Moustached, Eurasian River, Marsh and Icterine Warblers. Syrian Woodpeckers are in most villages and Mediterranean Gulls nest amongst the Black-headed Gulls on gravel-pit islands, and both Yellow-legged and Caspian Gulls are likely, too. We should also see Red-footed Falcon, European Roller and Lesser Grey Shrike once again. Colour will be supplied courtesy of European Bee-eater, Eurasian Hoopoe and Eurasian Golden Oriole. Little and Long-eared Owls are both here and in the evening, there will be an optional excursion to look for European Scops-owl and Eurasian Nightjar.
Day 8 After breakfast, depending upon flight times, we will continue birding in the region before travelling for about an hour to reach Budapest to board our flight home.
General Information There are no special health requirements. Visas are not required. The pace of the tour is medium with only a moderate level of fitness required for walking.
Group Size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 8; maximum group size: 10 with 1 leader, 16 with 2 leaders.