Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Hungarian Rhapsody...Part Seven...A Return and an Ending

Day nine was our last full day in Hungary.  After very early garden watch and breakfast we managed to get ourselves lost on the roads, but eventually made off to the River Tisza.  (We didn’t have a sighting of Eastern Imperial Eagle today).  We had a pleasant walk here, finding numbers of Spotted Flycatcher which were new to our trip list.  I also caught sight of our last Golden Oriole of the trip.  There were several Black Redstarts about also as well as birds on the river and woodland species.  Brown Rat was added to the mammal list and at some point in during the day a dead Mole was found.  We’d narrowly missed a thunder storm on the way.

One of many Spotted Flycatchers in a small area along the bank of River Tisza
We decided to pay another visit to the Red Footed Falcon colony and the Bee Eater colony.  The former birds gave better sightings than yesterday as we watched from the tower hide at the Bee Eater colony.  Only the odd Bee Eater was seen so yesterday was no fluke.  It does seem that this colony is not as numerous as it once was.  Fortunately we’d had exceptionally good sightings of Bee Eaters in number at other places.  After a short walk on to the Puszta we made off to the Fish ponds again. 

Squacco Heron
 I’m not going to bore you with all of the sightings again as it was virtually a repeat of the previous visit.  We did add a wonderful sighting of Ferruginous Duck and had our best sighting of the trip of Lesser Grey Shrike as it hovered in the air in front of us.  Penduline Tits showed well and I saw one fly into and out of the hanging nest.  We watched for a short time, but soon moved on as we sensed that our presence had alerted the bird.  The intricately made nest was seen well.  We walked almost as far as the previous day and the walk this time was far more comfortable in slightly lower temperatures.  I was even able to take my hat off today and still feel comfortable under the sun.  Unusually we bumped into a handful of people including folk on the engine of the train who came along to fix fish netting up on one of the channels.

Night Heron

Great White Egret

It had been another grand day.  On my walk to the dinning area I watched three Long Tailed Tits fly across high in the trees.  These were the only ones seen during the trip.  The much needed rain came during dinner as did some Hungarian liqueurs. The rain got very heavy a little later as I took a shower.  Barbara was pleased that her garden was at last being watered naturally.  The bags had already been packed for a departure in the morning.

Day Ten.

Well all good things must come to an end and perhaps any readers who have stuck it this far are thanking God for that!  This was our final day in Hungary.  The compulsory early garden watch was undertaken before a relaxed breakfast and farewells were offered to and from Rob and Barbara.  It was with heavy bag that I left!


Great Spotted Woodpecker

We took the motorway to Budapest, but stopped early on at Bogacs again and had some nice sightings.  Of course we had our customary sightings of Marsh Harriers along the way.  We arrived at the airport far too early, but better early than late.  My goodness how complicated air travel has become with so much security and so much the individual has to do themselves now with all of the automation.  Then when you sit back and expect a meal in flight you get a cheese sandwich.  I found KLM to be very well organised and comfortable (should be for the prices), but thought they could do better than a cheese sandwich at the prices they charge.

As we took off from Franz Liszt Airport we could see the River Danube below, however there was cloud cover over most of Europe so we saw little else until landing at Amsterdam Airport.  After another sit around our connection took off and we watched the sun setting in clear skies most of the way home.  A very nice way to end the trip on the longest day of the year, 21st June.  We touched down in Newcastle around 22.20hrs.

Other folks lists are boring. so I won’t be putting one up.  Suffice to say we had a bird list of 129 species (40 lifers for Sam), Butterfly list of 46, and mammal list of 13 and some interesting amphibians, reptiles and insects.  There’s no doubt that we could have found more bird species if we had chosen to concentrate on birds alone, but the trip was I  said at the beginning planned as an all round nature trip to be done in relaxed fashion and allowing plenty of time for photography and learning.  The fact that we enjoyed the trip so much suggests that it was a success and in any event long lists are not the be all and end all of nature watching.


Now I have had time to reflect upon our adventure I consider this trip to have been one of the best nature/birding trips I’ve undertaken.  I think the company I was in accounts for much of that feeling, (I far prefer to be with good friends than strangers on a tour) as was the fact that we were in one of the top places in Europe for birdlife and other wildlife.  Don’t let anyone tell you that Europe isn’t as exciting as other continents when it comes to nature.  That’s just not the case.

This is my second stay at Farm Lator (an excellent place to stay if you’re at all interested in natural history).  The saying is ‘never go back’.  I have to say I don’t regret returning at all and if the right chance came up again I would go back again.  There is much to be said for getting to know an area well (much the same as getting to know your patch at home) and there is always something new.  For a number of reasons this trip proved to be very different from the first visit in 2008.

I won’t even try to think of top species for the trip, but I am in no doubt that the first day on the Little Hortobagy was the highlight of the week followed closely by the finding of the Bee Eater colony whilst searching for butterflies and of course those sightings of Eastern Imperial Eagle.  The stay in Budapest also added much to the adventure.  A great city although I don’t pretend that two days gives you any other chance than to scrape the surface of it and to feel some of the atmosphere.

I’m indebted to Graham and Sam for their company and humour and in Graham’s case the fact that he did all of the driving with no complaint.  Sam’s for ever growing knowledge, quick eye and ear, enthusiasm, sense of humour and friendship made this trip a very special one for me.

Thanks also to Rob and Barbara de Jong and all at Farm Lator who made us so welcome and offered so much advice.  Thanks also to our guide Attila, the staff at Hotel Burg, Budapest (a wonderfully situated and economical hotel with helpful staff and I’d have no hesitation in recommending it, although if after luxury you could stay at the Hilton across the road and pay vast amounts), and all in Budapest who were so friendly and welcoming.

It’s all over now, well at least it is for the time being

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