What a stunning day we had today. 20 days ago we have had almost the same trip to the Kiskunság National Park what we did today. Dani came with me and he also enjoyed the all day outing despite being quite tired by the school.
Early morning found us on the northwest side of the park, between Dömsöd and Apaj village, where a large flooded pasture provided perfect habitat for migrants as well as for breeding birds. Northern Lapwings paired everywhere performing lovely acrobatic aerial displays. Common Redshanks were also quite territorial. Here we saw the first Black-winged Stilts and Black-tailed Godwits. Dani was happy by seeing his first European Golden Plovers just over us. Mute Swans, Greylag Geese, Garganeys, Northern Shovelers were also present here. On the fields Western Yellow Wagtails and Corn Buntings were singing everywhere.
Rising sun painted the landscape gold. © Gyorgy Szimuly
While Western Yellow Wagtails are still on their way to the breeding sites some sang endlessly. © Gyorgy Szimuly
Nearby forest provided nice breeding site for Common Kestrel and Rooks. © Gyorgy Szimuly
Black-winged Stilt has arrived to flooded fields. © Gyorgy Szimuly
At Apaj-puszta we stopped at several spots as there were so many birds to count. The most numerous species of these wet pastures was the Ruff. On three different sections I counted 1,580 birds. Northern Lapwings, Black-tailed Godwits and good number of Dunlins were also seen here. At another section of the pasture I found a pair of Common Redshanks mating as well as territorial Eurasian Curlews. Some European Golden Plovers were joining the flock of Ruffs. We saw the first Meadow Pipits migrating over the road.
Ruff migration is peaking. Flocks include transition plumaged gorgeous males. © Gyorgy Szimuly
East of this area we moved towards Kunpeszér village to find some food as we missed the breakfast. On our way I stopped at a sand hill to look for Great Bustards. No bustards was found but we saw our first Black Stork fro 2011. The bird looked quite tired and did nothing during our stay. Two White Stork were also feeding next to it.
Yesterday I was browsing the subscribed RRS feeds on blogs I regularly read. I have a nice online friend from Spain who publish awesome images and stories of the bird migration around southern Spain and the Gibraltar. Stephen Daly has just posted a nice set of images of migrants including White and Black Storks, Western Marsh Harriers and Booted Eagles. When I picked the Black Stork on the pasture his images came to my mind. However the story has not ended here… From the hill we could overlook a quite large area. I was happy to find a huge flock of European Golden Plovers on a flooded arable land. Northern Lapwings and Common Redshanks were endlessly calling (I love the wader songs of spring). Suddenly I picked a few Hooded Crows chasing a raptor. I adjusted the focus on the SwaroVision and I was surprised when I identified the bird. It was an image came alive from Stephen’s blogpost. Yes, it was a light morph Booted Eagle a uncommon visitor and unconfirmed probable breeder of Hungary.
White Storks are still coming. The breeding pair north of Kunpeszér has arrived. © Gyorgy Szimuly
The bird left the crows behind and landed on the watering pipe allowing us a perfect view. Dani was happy to see another lifer. We could see the eagle for a long time while picking some lizards from the grass. We then left the area. Digiscoping didn’t work without the adapter but I have a very bad quality shot on the bird. Around this area we saw a strong Northern Harrier migration but no Pallid Harrier was found. I was happy to spot a Grey Partridge emerging from the grass.
Dani was checking the difference between female Northern and Montagu’s Harrier. © Gyorgy Szimuly
From Kunpeszér I drove to the southern part of the national park. South of the famous Zab-szék a classic soda lake was holding a nice number of Black-tailed Godwits. Usual waders seen here include Black-winged Stilts, Northern Lapwing, Common Redshank. We also seen many Black-headed Gulls and two gorgeous Mediterranean Gulls.
Flooded fields near the Zab-szék. © Gyorgy Szimuly
Sand Lizard was enjoying the warming up grassland. © Gyorgy Szimuly
Along the road to Fülöpszállás Black-winged Stilts were mating. We saw 5 birds on this shallow flooded grassland together with Ruffs, Black-tailed Godwits, Common Redshanks and Eurasian Curlews. On the other side of the road deeper water provided nesting site for Eurasian Coots, Little Grebes and Black-necked Grebes. We saw 2 beautiful adult Black-necked Grebes in full breeding plumage.
Our last hotspot was a nice soda lake near Dunatetétlen, named Böddi-szék. The lake was holding a lots of waders. Presence of 1,000+ Black-tailed Godwits, 450 Ruffs, 80 Dunlins, 20 Northern Lapwings, 2 Common Redshanks and 36 Pied Avocets coloured my life. Here we saw the first Purple Heron of 2011. Unfortunately no Kentish Plover was found.
Common Redshank is facing a good breeding season based on the number of suitable nesting sites. I hope weather supports them. © Gyorgy Szimuly
This was one of the best birding day for ages. I could see so many shorebirds and very good other species. Year list increased to 140.