Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Hungarian Rhapsody...Part Two...A Journey

We set off for Farm Lator taking a route known to Graham and me which kept us off the motorway.  Ok, making the journey a longer one, but offering a better chance of seeing wildlife.  It certainly wasn’t long before we were watching Marsh Harriers and we had lost count of numbers by the time we had arrived at our destination.  A pair of Marsh Harriers flying over the reed-beds at the village of Saly near to our destination gave especially good views.

As we passed the spot some kilometres from Budapest where we had stopped for a break in 2008, Graham remembered precisely that place and parked in the exact same spot just off road.  We knew it to be good for butterflies.  The crop in the field was sunflowers and not lucerne as it had been in June 2008, so this no doubt accounted for a change in butterfly species.  There were no Eastern Pale Clouded Yellow Butterflies which had filled the air back then, but we did find Small White, Marbled White, Small Heath, Meadow Brown, Painted Lady, Skipper species and Comma.  The Marbled Whites being far the most numerous.

Marbled White Butterfly

Marbled White Butterfly with fly in Skipper species.
As we continued we found the likes of White Stork, Common Buzzard and Tawny Owl.  The latter being perched on a tree at one of our many rather tiresome road work stops.

One of the first of many White Stork sightings.
Our next stop was to be the reservoir near to Bogacs.  This spot had been recommended to us in 2008 by Gary alias Brunswick Birder.  Gary had also visited the area in 2008.  It is an area much closer to our destination and was easily found again.  My impression was immediately that the area had become more tamed over the past six years, although it still appears to be a good birding site there are a few new buildings and perhaps in place it is a little more cultivated.  In a short time however we had found some very good species including odonata and butterflies.  It was here that we heard our first Cuckoo and Turtle Doves of the trip.  Other species of bird included Mallard, Pheasant, Grey Heron, Water Rail (H), White Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Wheatear, Marsh Warbler (singing continually), Chiffchaff, Golden Oriole (which showed well on the ground if only briefly), Tree Sparrow, Goldfinch and Reed Bunting.  Pygmy Shrew and Roe Deer were also seen today.

I'm not clued up on European odonata, but the top image seems to be a 'blue' type chaser and the bottom image a Banded Demoiselle.  Both seen whilst listening to a close by Marsh Warbler.

As we approached Farm Lator things began to seem very familiar and we were soon greeted by Rob de Jong and his wife Barbara.  It was hard to believe that it was six years since my previous visit.  Rob has much expert knowledge as a naturalist, especially concerning butterflies, so we knew that the stay would be a productive one and that expertise and advice about the area would be at hand although all done in a relaxed manner .  It seemed we had arrived after a week of oppressive heat and there had been little rain.  Thankfully the temperatures were dropping a little although I’m happy to say the dryness continued throughout our stay.  Being in the hills meant that evenings were cooler.

We had one of our highlight sightings even before dinner.  As we walked near our accommodation I got my eye on a large dark bird flying past the hills to the left of us.  I realised as soon as I took a good look that it was an Eastern Imperial Eagle.  A magnificent sighting indeed.  I hadn’t raised Sam’s expectation too much about sighting this species or any other for that matter, but knew there was always the chance as I had seen one fly overhead briefly in 2008.  The situation got even more exciting when the eagle was harassed by a Goshawk as we watched from the Farm Lator gardens.  The Goshawk seemed to win the battle in the skies as it pushed the eagle out of the area.  I don’t think we could have asked for much more to begin our stay!  Also seen in or around the gardens were Great Spotted Woodpecker, Black Redstart, Song Thrush, Marsh Tit, Nuthatch (much less colour than our UK Nuthatches), and very obliging Jays et al.  Rob reminded us that the Eastern Imperial Eagles nested in the area so we were going to be on the alert for them.  By the end of the day our bird list for the trip had reached sixty-one species. 

Long-horn Beetle, possibly Alpine Long-horn.  A beetle worth leaving the dinner table for
 The food at Farm Lator is very good and dinner is usually taken in a relaxed manner out doors.   It can prove to be interesting if someone finds something of interest and dinner can be interrupted.  This evening it was Rob’s find of a Long-horn Beetle species that had us leaving the table.  A beautiful insect which was new to me.  On checking up on this on my return I’m pretty sure it was an Alpine Long-horn Beetle, not uncommon in Hungary.  We took a stroll into the forested area after dinner and listened to the Turtle Doves.  I’m pleased I took the macro lens on this trip.  Sleep came very easily after some chat and brief thoughts of possible Hawfinch and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers visiting the garden.

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