Back to my Hungarian birding sites

I wish my recent Hungarian visit was for pleasant birding. I made a short trip to my homeland for sending off my late mother who died just before Christmas. As birding always brings joy and peace to my life, I decided to visit my former local birding sites with my son and friends. We had a very nice time in the morning and I truly enjoyed being out and forget everything what had happened in the last couple of months.

Our first stop was, as usual, at the Old Lake of Tata where I have birded for 25 years. This internationally important wetland is famous by holding tens of thousands of wintering waterbirds but most importantly wild geese. While there was a slight drop in their numbers from the previous night (9,000), we still could see 6,800 roosting geese on the mainly frozen lake. The majority of the roosting flock was Greater White-fronted Goose and Greylag Goose, but a few Tundra Bean Goose, a single Taiga Bean Goose and also a Barnacle Goose made the flock diverse. The forest around the observation tower was unusually alige and very noisy. The largest ever recorded Redwing flock in the area made us surprised. An approximate 80 birds invaded the forest with lots of Fieldfares and higher number of Hawfinches. During a two hours stay we saw Greater Spotted and Syrian Woodpecker, Eurasian Green and Black Woodpecker. Over the tower a few Pygmy Cormorants flew towards the nearby feeding sites.

The almost completely frozen Old Lake. © Gyorgy Szimuly

My best homeland birding friend and local wild goose expert, László Musicz is counting waterbirds, so do I in the background. © Daniel Szimuly

Here is the eBird checklist front the Old Lake:

Taiga Bean-Goose 1
Tundra Bean-Goose 100
Greater White-fronted Goose 6,000
Graylag Goose (European) 500
Barnacle Goose 1
Eurasian Wigeon 1
Mallard 1,800
Northern Pintail 3
Green-winged Teal (Eurasian) 42
Common Pochard 18
Common Goldeneye 6
Common Merganser (Eurasian) 9
Great Cormorant (Eurasian) 48
Pygmy Cormorant 2
Gray Heron (Ardea cinerea) 4
Great Egret (Eurasian) 2
Eurasian Coot 26
Black-headed Gull 80
Mew Gull (European) 70
Caspian Gull 260
Great Spotted Woodpecker 3
Syrian Woodpecker 1
Black Woodpecker 1
Eurasian Green Woodpecker (Eurasian) 2
Eurasian Jay 2
Eurasian Jackdaw 80
Rook 500
Hooded Crow 12
Coal Tit 1
Eurasian Blue Tit 11
Great Tit 9
Eurasian Nuthatch 2
Eurasian Wren (Eurasian) 1
Eurasian Blackbird 13
Fieldfare 28
Redwing (Eurasian) 95
Mistle Thrush 2
White Wagtail 2
Eurasian Bullfinch 2
Hawfinch 33
Eurasian Tree Sparrow 1

Our next stop was at the Ferencmajor fishponds north of Tata, from where I have wonderful memories. The lakes were not terribly productive as only a few of them had ice-free open water. The biggest surprise was to find a larger calling flock of Water Pipit in unusually high numbers. Pygmy Cormorants were flying all over the area and Water Rails were very active and easy to see at several places.

Roosting Pygmy Cormorants. © Máté Szabó

Summarized eBird checklist from the area:

Greater White-fronted Goose 1
Greylag Goose (European) 60
Mute Swan 2
Gadwall 36
Mallard 433
Green-winged Teal (Eurasian) 78
Smew 6
Great Cormorant (Eurasian) 24
Pygmy Cormorant 32
Grey Heron 34
Great Egret (Eurasian) 24
Common Buzzard 3
Water Rail 10
Eurasian Moorhen 1
Eurasian Coot 331
Green Sandpiper 2
Caspian Gull 53
Black Woodpecker 1
Eurasian Magpie (Eurasian) 2
Hooded Crow 15
Eurasian Blue Tit 4
Eurasian Wren (Eurasian) 1
Mistle Thrush 1
Dunnock 1
White Wagtail 1
Water Pipit 34
Reed Bunting 5
Eurasian Tree Sparrow 2

The birding team at the Ferencmajor fishponds. Daniel Szimuly (on the left), then Máté Szabó, myself and László Musicz. © Daniel Szimuly

On the way home we stopped the Roman Catholic Parish Church of Tata, where a rare Wallcreeper has been spending the winter. As this is a rare opportunity to see this unique bird, we gave it a try to find it. Luckily, Laci spotted it within a minute and we could enjoy watching its butterfly-like wing flicking. Thanks for the young birdwatchers, Máté Szabó and Levente Pribéli, for offering me a few of their photos of this bird.

Wintering Wallcreeper on the Roman Catholic Parish Church of Tata. © Máté Szabó

Wintering Wallcreeper on the Roman Catholic Parish Church of Tata. © Máté Szabó

Wintering Wallcreeper on the Roman Catholic Parish Church of Tata. © Levente Pribéli

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Open winged moth-like Wallcreeper while feeding. © Levente Pribéli

 

 

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