Brief birding in the Hortobágy National Park

Today we combined the visit of one my very good friends with some birding once we were in the Hortobágy National Park in eastern Hungary. Birding in the Hortobágy is always something very special to me. Most of the puszta (Hungarian name of our grasslands) is very wet and going to hold more and more birds day by day as temperature rises.

Having no suitable clothing for birding we stayed nearby concrete roads but I avoided high traffic ones. Two spots were visited in a hope to find some nice birds new to this year. After we left my friend we visited a Long-eared Owl roosting colony in Balmazújváros. 14 birds was counted but unfortunately I could not find the regularly appearing Short-eared Owl.

Along the main road (No 33)  which crosses the national park we saw many birds. Great White Egrets, Greylag Goose and Black-headed Gulls were everywhere. Rooks have already started to renovate their nest in the remaining famous colonies. In the Hortobágy village we saw the first White Stork of the year, standing on its nest.

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European Stonechat was recorded for the first time in 2011. © Gyorgy Szimuly

From the village Kónya was visited. This is a bowery which I always like to visit. The route there is very nice and can bring some nice birds. We saw the first European Stonechats and a Great Grey Shrike. Around the bowery domestic animals were grazing the grass very short making the puszta traditional looking. Somehow it seems that time has stopped here as the whole region looked like as it was 30 years ago. I wish Greater Short-toed Larks returned here as regular breeder again.

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Konya bowery with traditional domestic animals. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Still along the Konya road we stopped by a grassy area as large flock of Common Starlings were seen with some dozen of Fieldfares. I was hoping to find some European Golden Plovers as well but any was found. Over the road 44 calling Common Cranes were seen. Northern Lapwings have already performed their amazing display flight. In Kónya a female Black Redstart was added to the year list. 

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My daughter was watching flocking Fieldfares and Common Starlings. © Gyorgy Szimuly

We visited another lovely site just next to one of Hungary’s most important fishpond system. Unfortunately the Kungyörgy-puszta has been flooded since a year making access to the best spots very limited. Anyway looking around the barns in the setting sun was really nice and peaceful. Greater White-fronted Geese, Greylag Geese and Tundra Bean Geese was feeding on corn field while the first Common Redshank was also heard and seen nearby. On the ground many Common Newts were heading to wet areas.

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Common Redshank is also a nice returner to Hungarian wetlands. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Abandoned barns and other buildings of Kungyorgy-puszta, Hortobágy National Park. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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