Close to my home there is a mountain, called Gerecse, which is our raptor watching site. This also a ‘hotspot’ for watching nice variety of birds of prey. Every year our raptor expert organises a series of raptor watching day when we not only target to see migrating raptors but locating sensitive species from conservation point of view. One of these species is the majestic Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) which was first reported breeding in 1904. Annual reporting and monitoring of the species is carried out the local branch of BirdLife Hungary with the coordination of Péter Csonka, our local expert, since 1993. Between 1993 and 2003 the Eastern Imperial Eagle was breeding in the mountain (better to say in the hills) but from 2004 it was moving out from the hills to lowland. This year the pair probably moved further north as they were not seen at the earlier breeding sites. The purpose of today’s raptor watching day was to find the Imperial Eagle moving around our watching spot and if possible locating the nest. There were three other observation points but ours was the northest one which provided the largest area to be surveyed (distance of visibility was more than 10kms).
The weather forecast was quite nice and ideal for watching birds in the sky. I had some very good fellow birders with me for better coverage of the vast area. The Eastern Imperial Eagle was spotted quite early and we could follow its movement by spotting scope. After this observation we could find it two more times but it landed in three different alley or forest which did not helped us securely locate the territory. In the meantime another bird was spotted a few kms of us to southeast but the timing of our observation was overlaping with that one so that definitely was a different bird. More watching days is needed from our spot to locate more accurate the pair’s nest if it exists at all.
Common Buzzard has been the most abundant raptor species in the region. One individual was hunting from the wineyard fences. Image was taken by a Nikon CoolPix V1 camera. © Gyorgy Szimuly
This is our modest list of birds of prey seen today:
European Honey Buzzard 3
White-tailed Eagle 1 ad.
Eurasian Sparrowhawk 1
Northern Goshawk 1 male
Common Buzzard 15
Eastern Imperial Eagle 1
Common Kestrel 1
Eurasian Hobby 1
Peregrine Falcon 1
Northern Raven 17
Yes, this is apparently not the same list what Corpus Christi in south Texas, Batumi in the Caucasus or the Gibraltar can offer during migration, but we did enjoyed this day a lot despite we got quite a serious sunburn by the end of the day as no protection cream was with us.
Other nice birds were seen around (total of 51 species):
White Stork 1
European Bee-eater 13
Common Swift 6
Wood Lark 3
Some more images of the day. © Gyorgy Szimuly
Special thanks to Peter Csonka for providing the historical summary of the local status of the Eastern Imperial Eagle. Thanks to Gellért Bátky and Levente Pribéli for participating in the survey. We all had a great day with fun.