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HUNGARY & TRANSYLVANIA

Friday 5th May - Sunday 14th May 2017

János Oláh

Ural Owl (János Oláh)

Ural Owl (János Oláh)

Birdquest has been operateing tours to Hungary since 1991 being one of the few pioneers to enter the eastern block. In the last 25 years the country has changed significantly. Getting out of the grip of communism it took many years to restore the normal life but nowadays a new generation in power and the country shook of the last bits of the ‘inheritance’ too. The long and exciting history of the area also adds to the atmosphere of the tour. Apart from birds we sample the World Heritage Tokaj wines and visit the birthplace of Dracula as well as taste the local food in each of the visited area from the Hortobágy pancake to the local billberry brandy. The tour itinerary has been changed a few times over the years but nowadays the combination of Hungary and Transylvania seems to be a settled and well established one, and offers an amazing list of European birds. This is a perfect introduction to birders visiting Europe for the first time but also offers some difficult-to-see birds for those who birded the continent before. But apart from birds it is also a great tour to see a wide range of habitats from the Hungarian ‘puszta’ to the cool pine forests of Transylvania. Central and Eastern Europe has a great variety of bird species including lots of special ones, and not many places in Europe someone can see over 200 species in just a mere 8 days of birding! This year we recorded 219 species with only two heard-only. Amongst these we had 17 species of raptors, 6 species of owls, 10 species of woodpeckers and 18 species of warblers seen. We had several tour highlights but certainly the mighty Saker Falcon, the fantastic Wallcreeper and the superb Bearded Tit were voted as the top three birds. But of course the handsome Red-footed Falcons, the massive Eurasian Eagle and Ural Owls, the royal Eastern Imperial Eagle, the shy Capercaillie, the ever so declining Grey Partridge, the elusive Little Crake, the rare White-backed and Three-toed Woodpeckers, the skulking River and Barred Warblers, the localised Sombre Tit, the fluty Red-breasted and Collared Flycatchers and the unique Collared Pratincole will be long remembered. We have also managed to see three rarities in the Hortobágy area such as White Pelican, Isabelline Wheatear and Eastern Olivaceous Warbler. Our mammal highlights included superb views of Carpathian Brown Bears of which we saw six on a single afternoon and a Pine Martin being mobbed by White-backed Woodpeckers!

Bearded Reedling (János Oláh)

Bearded Reedling (János Oláh)