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RED-BREASTED GOOSE SPECIAL

Saturday 7th November - Wednesday 11th November 2015

János Oláh

Red-breasted Geese blast off with Russian Greater Whitefronts (János Oláh)

Red-breasted Geese blast off with Russian Greater Whitefronts (János Oláh)

Red-breasted Goose is certainly one of the best-looking geese in the World and every birder should be able to see and admire its beauty one day! This species is classified as vulnerable and its numbers are highly fluctuating (or not properly surveyed). Also the speices is undergoing a conitnous change of wintering area. Until the 1950s most of the population occurred along the western coast of the Caspian Sea - mainly in Azerbaijan, Iran and Iraq. The wintering area then rapidly shifted to the western Black Sea coast, and 80-90% of birds now congregate along the Black Sea coast. Even more recently, however, they wander further inland into the Romanian Baragan (salt lakes) area, along the Danube and increasing numbers are seen in Hungary too. Nowadays even the Birdlife International distribution map shows the Carpathian Basin as a wintering area. Within the Carpathian Basin the Hortobágy National Park is the most important staging area. In the last 20 years the Red-breasted Goose numbers simply doubled every 5 years and in 2014 / 2015 winter the count was over 2000 Red-breasted Goose in the Hortobágy area and probably around 2500 in the Carpathian Basin.

So we changed the timing of our long standing Hungary in autumn tour to maximize chance to see this fantastic goose in a short birding break. Also there is a prospect to see another vulnerable species, the Lesser White-fronted Goose. In fact there is no better place in Europe to see the two species within a single tour but in the World Heritage Hortobágy National Park. Not only possible to see them in a single tour but sometimes in one very flock or in the case of our latest tour side by side! Yes we did see Red-breasted Goose and Lesser White-fronted Goose standing next to each other in November 2015! Although the weather started off with foggy conditions but in three days we managed to see several Red-breasted Goose with the biggest flock being 49 together. Although we spent most of our time with geese watching we also had some fine supporting cast like Great Bustard, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Long-eared Owl, Saker and even five species of woodpeckers!

Red-breasted Geese on Hungary's Hortobágy (Sándor Borza)

Red-breasted Geese on Hungary's Hortobágy (Sándor Borza)