Shorebirds are returning to Hungarian fields

A lovely warm weather had been forecasted which encouraged me to make a nice trip to the middle of the country in a hope to see some arriving waders. Our plan was to go to Csakvári-rét, a beautiful grassland, first then visiting the south east coast of the Lake Balaton, then moving to grasslands, the ‘puszta’ of nw Kinskunság National Park for waders.

Unfortunately the Csakvári-rét visit was killed by a dense fog so I skipped that and headed directly to the Lake Balaton. Already from the parking lot I realized the large number of birds next to the Harbour of Szantód (see map). The majority of birds were Common Pochards but we had some nice surprises as well.

Common-pochards

Common Pochards concentrated next to the harbour. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Bird seen from the harbour:

Mallard 80
Red-crested Pochard 18
Common Pochard 2,300
Ferruginous Duck 1
Tufted Duck 60
Greater Scaup 2
Common Goldeneye 120
Common Merganser 40
Grey Heron 2
Great Cormorant 6
Eurasian Coot 1

Along the opposite coast of Tihany I counted roughly 350 Eurasian Coots but identification was hard due to haze over the water.

From Balaton we drove to the northwest part of Kiskunság National Park through a nice and long valley with many marshlands and fishponds. The area was quiet but on the Northern side of Rétszilas fishponds I saw our first Northern Lapwing of the day. 6 birds were feeding next to some Greylag Geese

Kiskunság NP was immediately full of life. We saw many Northern Lapwing apparently at every water body. Two larger flocks included 70 and 75 birds. The region is largely affected by flooding from last year’s heavy rainfalls, changing agricultural habitats into permanent wetlands. Near Tass I found about 6 thousand wild geese (mainly Greater White-fronted Goose and Greylag Goose), a beautiful Rough-legged Buzzard and a male Northern Harrier hovering just over our car. Black-headed Gulls and Mew Gulls were everywhere. West to Apaj village I found a gliding immature White-tialed Eagle. It was almost exactly on the same site where I saw it three weeks ago. On deeper pools Eurasian Coots had already been fighting each other and even carrying nesting materials.

In Apaj-puszta (the Hungarian name of grasslands of plains) I found a larger Common Starling flock with 44 Northern Lapwings. This was an usual picture typical for early spring. I was happy to see here 31 Ruff and a single European Golden Plover.  

Apajpuszta

Large areas of grasslands have been flooded for more than a year now. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Ruff_004_800px

Ruff was seen for the first time today in 2011. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Despite we made a nice trip cross the grasslands nothing special have been found. Common Buzzards, Common Kestrels and Great Grey Shrike were spotted many times. Only a few migrating Northern Lapwings were seen along the roads.

Year list rose by four species (Ferruginous Duck, Greater Scaup, European Golden Plover and Ruff) reaching 109.

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