FOREWOOD

Hungary

It all started when EUJet started their budget airline operations out of Manston Airport, when the opportunity to make some birding trips became irresistible, until they closed down, after which the last trip was with EaytJet out of Gatwick to Budapest

This page is about the three trips I have made to Hungary, basing my vists in Kecskemét, which is about 50 miles South of Budapest, where I stay in an excellent small hotel, the Fábián Panzió, which I found through the Hungarian Tourinform organisation. The hotel is superb, I cannot recommend it too highly, and offers excellent value for money, and as a bonus, the hotel garden contains bird feeders which attract Serins for real close inspection!

 

Kecskemét is a lovely large town, with plenty to see for the non-birder.

The country museum at Opusztaszer can also be recommended for a non-birding afternoon, it's like the Weald and Downland museum near Chichester, and in addition, the Historic Panorama there is stunning - drive South from Kecskemét to Kistelek and turn left, following the signs

 

An added bonus here is that there are lots of Hawfinches in the trees around the car park

 

There are plenty of restaurants within a few minutes walk of the hotel in Kecskemét, all of which are inexpensive and welcoming. The food is excellent, and there is no problem with language, for on the rare occasions there was no English spoken, then German, the main tourist language, will get you by. Even more of a bonus, Zsuzsa Fábián is herself a keen birdwatcher, and very kindly directed me to most of the places you can read about on this page and in the Hungary Species List

The landscapeof the Kiskunsagi is flatter than Romney Marsh, and vast, comprising arable and immense areas of Puszta, which seems to me to be a semi wild uncultivated habitat which varies from large shallow lakes through flooded grass (reminiscent of the Cheshire "Flashes") to dry sandy heath. Many of the lakes are saline, and the soil sandy and acidic, with relict dune systems

The countyside out there is variable, but in the reserved areas this is a typical view

The Kiskunsági-Nemzeti Park consists of 9 discrete areas to the West of Kecskemét, and the management regime appears to be to conserve and encourage the areas cultural values, and the endemic species, such as Great Bustard

There appears to be little promotion of these areas to, or encouragement of visitors. Access is always restricted and the rule is to stay on the road or track. Not all the hides I went to are all open to the public, and the rangers are very aware, so they will invariably show up sooner rather than later if you stray where you shouldn't, I have found them unfailingly friendly and courteous, even if we haven't always been able to communicate



My guides were Gorman's two books - Where to Watch Birds in Eastern Europe, and The Birds Of Hungary - and Dave Gosney's Finding Birds in Hungary . However, none of these really pay detailed attention to the Kiskunsági-Nemzeti Park itself, although Gorman does say the area North of Szeged is the best birdwatching in Hungary, so it's a case of explore, and enjoy. Zsuzsa found me this excellent map of the park, try the Tourist Office in Kekscemet

Many of the reserves are wetlands with superb assemblages of herons and wildfowl too - this sign is the park logo; look for it wherever you go, it will signify a reserve area

The finest place in the whole Kiskusagi area, to my mind, is the ox-bow lakes and flood plain of the Tisza river both where road 44 to Kunszentmarton crosses it by a road and rail bridge - the East bank can be walked for miles (Black Woodpecker)

Best of all is the view from the bluff by this church at Tiszaalpar - fabulous place where White-tailed Eagles may easily be seen

This is the view from the bluff out across the flood plain, Spoonbill and 8 species of Heron/Bittern, freshwater Terns and lots more may be easily observed here - take a leisurely picnic

 

Be prepared to take sights like this for granted everywhere you go

This is the woodland at a place called Ocsa, well on the way back up to Budapest for the airport, superb woodland inhabited by voracious mosquitos, take plenty repellent

This is the view from a hide near the village of Iszak south-west of Kecskemét, here I have watched Marsh Harriers food passing a few metres away, and Saker hunting the treeline at the edge of this wetland

This is a typical view of the Puszta habitat around Szabadszallas and Kunszentmiklos out to the West of Kecskemét

and this is a typical floodedslack in the same area, home on this day to several tens of Garganey

and a Purple Heron which obviously wanted a better view of something or other

And, just for confusion, in Hungary, Tree Sparrows nest in houses

and House Sparrows nest in Stork's nests

Red-footed Falcons may be seen at close range

and a flash of bright blue should receive attention

see?

Some more pics to whet your appetite

Mole Cricket

Spoonbill

Lesser Grey Shrike

White Tailed Eagle and Mediterranean Gulls

Pygmy Cormorant

Saher Falcon, and this irresistible Cockerel

If you decide to visit, or revisit, Hungary I cannot recommend this area and accommodation more highly

For the Hungary Species List click this link

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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