The most touching birding moment ever

One would think that after more than 34 years of birdwatching experience there is not much new left to explore in a homeland birding site. In fact, I say, I have seen very little after an extraordinary and probably one of the most touching birding moments I have ever witnessed today.

I was very happy to learn that the annual Common Tern and Black-headed Gull ringing scheme is held right after I arrived for a short visit in Hungary. Being a shorebird addict, it is always exciting to have chance catching and banding Pied Avocets and Black-winged Stilt chicks. The tern and gull chicks are banded by colour rings with inscription codes. Pied Avocets chicks are marked only with a metal ring, but from next year we start a countrywide Pied Avocet migration research project, using the same, coded colour rings.

The Hungarian Summer was once again on its peak with 36 Celsius in shadows. Due to the extreme hot weather, we postponed the whole action until late afternoon. It is always important to keep the chicks safety the first priority. A good number of people ensured a fast and effective action and it has been working really well over the years.

While ringers were doing the job, we searched for hiding tern and gull chicks. On the gull island a talented young birdwatcher girl, Hanni found a Pied Avocet nest with a chick just been hatched. I sat next to the nest and watched this little beauty putting enormous efforts to leave the egg completely. I have never ever felt such heartwarming emotions in my whole birding life, watching this little shorebird being born. This was something I will never forget.

Some photos might give something back of the whole ringing action.

The ringing scene near the village, Mocsa. © Gyorgy Szimuly

The ringing scene near the village, Mocsa. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Common Tern chick collected by Dani. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Common Tern chick collected by Dani. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Only one third of the Common Tern chicks have been hatched so far. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Only one third of the Common Tern chicks have been hatched so far. © Gyorgy Szimuly

A handful of Black-headed Gull chicks. © Gyorgy Szimuly

A handful of Black-headed Gull chicks. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Pied Avocet nest on the muddy pebble islands. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Pied Avocet nest on the muddy pebble islands. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Black-winged Stilt nest. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Black-winged Stilt nest. © Gyorgy Szimuly

We found more than 45 Common Tern nests  still being incubated. © Gyorgy Szimuly

We found more than 45 Common Tern nests still being incubated. © Gyorgy Szimuly

There is nothing more adorable than a shorebird chick. © Gyorgy Szimuly

There is nothing more adorable than a shorebird chick. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Freshly hatched Pied Avocet chick. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Freshly hatched Pied Avocet chick. © Gyorgy Szimuly

About 10 days old Pied Avocet chick before being ringed. © Gyorgy Szimuly

About 10 days old Pied Avocet chick before being ringed. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Nesting islets of Pied Avocets, Black-winged Stilts and Little Ringed Plovers.One would think that after more than 34 years of birdwatching experience there is not much new left to explore in a homeland birding site. In fact, I would say that I have seen very little after an extraordinary and probably one of the most touching birding moments, I have ever witnessed. I was very happy to learn that the annual Common Tern and Black-headed Gull ringing scheme is held right after I arrived for a short visit in Hungary. Being a shorebird addict, it is always exciting to catch and band Pied Avocets and Black-winged Stilt chicks. The tern and gull chicks are banded by colour rings with inscription codes. Pied Avocets chicks are marked only with a metal ring, but from next year we start a countrywide Pied Avocet migration research project, using the same coded colour rings. The Hungarian Summer was once again on its peak with 36 Celsius in shadows. Due to the extreme hot weather, we postponed the whole action until late afternoon. It is always important to keep the chicks safety the first priority. A good number of people ensures a fast and effective action and it has been working really well over the years. While ringers were doing the job, we searched for hiding tern and gull chicks. On the gull island a talented young birdwatcher girl, Hanni found a Pied Avocet nest with a chick just been hatched. I sat next to the nest until the ringing was on and watched this little beauty to put efforts to leave the egg completely. I have never ever felt such heartwarming emotions in my birding life, watching this little shorebird being born. Some photos might give something back of the whole ringing action. The ringing scene near the village, Mocsa. © Gyorgy Szimuly The ringing scene near the village, Mocsa. © Gyorgy Szimuly Common Tern chick collected by Dani. © Gyorgy Szimuly Common Tern chick collected by Dani. © Gyorgy Szimuly Only one third of the Common Tern chicks have been hatched so far. © Gyorgy Szimuly Only one third of the Common Tern chicks have been hatched so far. © Gyorgy Szimuly A handful of Black-headed Gull chicks. © Gyorgy Szimuly A handful of Black-headed Gull chicks. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Nesting islets of Pied Avocets, Black-winged Stilts and Little Ringed Plovers. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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My first ever shorebird research program

I was excitedly reading a recent e-mail received from the Head of the Bird Ringing Centre of BirdLife Hungary who confirmed that my application to study the migration of Little Ringed Plovers in Hungary was accepted and permitted. Now I can start to work on my first ever shorebird research program in detail as there is a lot to do. The breeding season is at the corner and we have to be in a hurry to get everything sorted by April.

The Little Ringed Plover is one of the commonest breeding shorebird species in Hungary. © Gyorgy Szimuly

The Little Ringed Plover is one of the commonest breeding shorebird species in Hungary. © Gyorgy Szimuly

The program is about studying the migration of Little Ringed Plovers and learning more about the demography of the Hungarian (Central European) population. It is still not confirmed whether Serbia will join the program, but very likely they do. Resident and migratory Little Ringed Plovers will be ringed by inscribed colour-rings what is relatively easy to read in the field. By the rather extensive observation network in Europe higher number of recoveries are expected than by the usage of a single metal ring.

This study is now a part of the WorldWaders Research Program Series what is going to support the New Shorebirds Handbook Project. It sounds complicated, but in fact, I have worked long hours on it to make this integration simple.