Again we had a very early wake up. I departed with Dani at 4AM to the most beautiful valley of Gerecse Mountains. As we arrived birds started to sing in twilight. Their song spread fast in the extremely cold morning. The thermometer of the car showed 2℃(!) at the entrance of the valley.
The forest showed spectacular colours and lights when the sunbeam found a way through the leaves. © György Szimuly
Tawny Owls were continuously calling at the edge of the forest. Later we heard them at two other spots. This beech forest holds several breeding pairs of Tawny Owls. Years ago I helped to place some artificial nest boxes to support their breeding.
We wanted to find two relatively uncommon breeding birds in this area. The White-backed Woodpecker was seen recently and at least two territories was identified. We heard one bird but as the canopy has well developed I couldn’t find the bird. Dani was sorry by not finding his potential life bird. Middle Spotted Woodpeckers, Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a Black Woodpecker were distant calling while we were looking for the White-backed.
Another local breeder, in low numbers, was the Red-breasted Flycatcher which would have also been a lifer to Dani. We checked the whole 5km long forest section but no singing male was heard. It might be a bit early so we try it next week or weekend.
The most abundant species was the European Collared Flycatcher. Its density is very high in this part of the Gerecse Mountains. Eurasian Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Common Chaffinches and Eurasian Wrens were performing powerful singing. Wood Warblers were also singing at the outer part of the forest. A pair of European Golden Oriole was also joined the choir. Tits and Eurasian Nuthatch were quite silent today. We saw the first Spotted Flycatcher acrobatically hunting from a large tree while Stock Doves were cooing everywhere. Late in the morning we still heard a Tawny Owl calling.
Eurasian Wrens were actively singing at their territories. Jan Wegener’s image clearly represents what we saw in the valley. © Jan Wegener
From the valley we moved to another spot for picking the breeding Short-toed Snake-Eagle but we didn’t stay long enough to see them flying in the rising temperature. At the top of the Wind Hill we saw the first migrant Common Swifts a single Tree Pipit and a European Sparrowhawk. Surprisingly only one Common Buzzard were seen in the whole mountains. On our next visit we’ll climb to a hill and will sit for watching raptor, if weather allows.
Tardos is a small village in the heart of the mountains surrounded by beautiful hills and forests. It was a view of the Wind Hill. © György Szimuly
Thanks for Jan for the usage of his image.