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HUNGARY & TRANSYLVANIA

Sunday 5th May - Tuesday 14th May 2013

JÁNOS OLÁH

Great Bustard (János Oláh)

Great Bustard (János Oláh)

Birdquest has operated tours to Hungary since 1991, being one of the few pioneers to enter the eastern block. The tour itinerary has been changed a few times but nowadays the combination of Hungary and Transylvania seems to be a settled and well established one with a whole range of exciting European birds! We had several tour highlights but certainly the displaying Great Bustard, the majestic Eastern Imperial Eagle, the mighty Saker, the handsome Red-footed Falcon, the shy Capercaillie, the elusive Little Crake and Corncrake, the enigmatic Eurasian Eagle-, Ural, Tengmalm’s and Scops Owls, the declining White-backed Woodpecker, the skulking River and Moustached Warblers, the fluty Red-breasted and Collared Flycatchers and the stunning Wallcreeper will be long remembered. We recorded a total of 210 species on this short tour which is a respectable tally for Europe. Amongst these we had 15 Birdquest ‘diamond’ species plus family totals such as 17 species of raptors, 8 species of owls, 9 species of woodpeckers and 16 species of warblers seen! Our mammal highlight was undoubtedly the superb views of Carpathian Brown Bears of which we saw three on our second afternoon.

We also had a nice overview of the different habitats of a Carpathian transect from the Great Hungarian Plain through the deciduous woodlands of the Carpathian foothills to the higher conifer-covered mountains. Areas we visited included World Heritage places like the ‘artemisia steppes’ of the Hortobágy National Park, the land of the ‘Wine of kings, King of Wines’ in Tokaj and the limestone scree slopes of the ‘Székelyko’ mountain. The tour visited four different regions with unique habitats. The first few days were spent in northeast Hungary at the Zemplén Hills which has excellent raptors, owls and woodpeckers. From here we drove across the border into Romania where we had visited limestone valleys of the ‘Island Mountain’ before moving further east to the Eastern Carpathian to the Hargita and Görgény Mountains. Finally we drove back to Hungary and spent several days in the grasslands of the Hortobágy. All in all it was a memorable action-packed Birdquest to Central Europe and no doubt we all had a great time with great birds, good wines and delicious food.

Red-footed Falcon (János Oláh)

Red-footed Falcon (János Oláh)