First to Hungary again: Audouin’s Gull was twitched

Originally I was planning to have a raptor watch near my home with my kids. A few hours before our early morning departure I once again checked the Hungarian birding site for actual bird news. I was again shocked by the last news item. An adult Audouin’s Gull was found in the southern part of the Kiskunság National Park. The bird was found by a local ranger while searching for colour ringed European Spoonbills and checking roosting gulls.

Changing the plan was not a question for me. As the meeting was at 3AM close to the site it seemed silly to have an hour sleep before the departure, as not much time left.

We arrived to the site in twilight. On our way an Eurasian Stone-curlew was calling. On the soda lake mainly Yellow-legged Gulls and a few Caspian Gulls were seen but we could not spot the Audouin’s Gull. Just before the sunrise three gulls were flying including a smaller sized, thinner winged and very dark billed gull was flying in front of us. Only a few of us was picking the bird actually at the same time. Sadly the others who looked for sitting birds through their scope could not locate the bird in the air. Soon after all the gulls left the area for feeding in the wide region.

As our attempts to locate larger flocks around failed we decided to return home and have a short rest. It seemed to have sense to be back for the late afternoon to check the roosting birds again. During the search we saw a couple of European Rollers, Red-footed Falcons, Lesser Grey Shrikes and a few European Bee-eaters. On the soda lake dozens of Pied Avocet families were seen.

In the afternoon Dani an me picked another birder in Budapest and we headed back to the Kiskunság National Park. We arrived at 5PM but nothing happened by 8PM. Gulls were arriving in very small flocks but they were all Yellow-legged Gulls. Silently a Lesser-Black-backed Gull arrived to the roosting flock. Another Lesser Black-backed Gull was found was suspected to belong to the L. f. intermedius subspecies. Common Shelducks, Eurasian Curlew, Kentish Plover, Common Redshanks, Whiskered and Common Terns were seen.

Then I picked 3 birds coming from the south and called the guys’ attention to check the birds. A guy who followed their landing could identify it as an Audouin’s Gull, what others could also confirm. Patience paid off. The bird was seen well through the excellent new generation spotting scopes and its age was modified to 3rd summer. The smaller and slimmer size, the red bill and greyish legs was clearly visible. After enjoying the views lights heavily decreased and forced the team to go.

Year list moved to 220 and Hungarian total changed to 345. I saw my first Audouin’s Gull almost exactly 11 years ago in Turkey along the Mediterranean coastline. Thanks to Csaba Pigniczki for the excellent find and the guidance.


Some images of the small group of birders during the exciting times. © György Szimuly


One thought on “First to Hungary again: Audouin’s Gull was twitched

  1. Bird was not relocated the next evening despite the lots of birders present at the site. We seems to be lucky. 🙂

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