Is it a good start?

In the first days of the new year many birders got happy by successfully twitching a real mega, a first ever for Hungary, the White-winged Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis. It was found just before the New Year’s Eve at the Fort of Somoskö, (SE Slovakia) (sadly the fort was separated from the Hungarian village Somoskö in 1920 so actually it belongs to Slovakia). Based on the report of the local guard the bird had first appeared about 2 months ago(?). Despite the bird is preferring the fort it was many times seen crossing the border and entering Hungary.

I had no chance to find a logistic solution in the first two days of January but I could manage it today. We got good news by local birder as the bird had been seen during the morning time till 1PM. On our way to the village we saw a beautiful adult Eastern Imperial Eagle sitting on a tree just above the road around Pásztó. It provided a perfect view. This we thought to be a good sign…

When we arrived the sky was cloudy but the visibility was good. Soon after we climbed up to the fort the snow started to fall. Fresh 10cm (3.937 inch) snow had covered the whole area.

During our 3 hours stay we could not spot the snowfinch despite the fort was easily discoverable. The only species we could see on the top of the fort was 2 Alpine Accentors which is a nice species nevertheless. We just hoped something else…

By the evening the snow was stopped to fall and we left the area without seeing this typically Alpine bird. On our way back home we got a phone call that a group Slovakian ringers had appeared at the fort just before our arrival and they trapped the bird. I am not sure what scientific reason was behind but those kind of ringing is absolutely nonsense in my/our eyes. Should I mention there is a good chance the bird scared away the area forever.

So 2010 doesn’t start so successfully despite we saw two nice species. If the bird is really disappeared this is unlikely to see it again in my life in Hungary. I know, never say never…


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