easy birding and autumn wildlife
A week spent in Hungary catching the south-bound bird migration, searching out resident bird life, including Great Bustard, woodpeckers and owls, and enjoying the other local wildlife.
18th – 25th October 2024
Single Room Supplement – £200
Return flight London Gatwick to Budapest. Local transport as specified in itinerary. Seven nights accommodation, full board.
Refreshments. Gratuities. Travel insurance. ETIAS/visa costs. Covid tests and associated costs.
Minimum 4, maximum 12.
This holiday is timed to catch the best of the south-bound bird migration. On the plains of the Hortobágy, thousands of Common Crane gather to feed up before they continue south. A highlight of the trip is sure to be the bugling of impressive flocks of these stately birds flying overhead on their way to their roosts. The wetlands are also filling up with large numbers of ducks and geese including, occasionally, the rare Lesser White-fronted Goose. Taking boat rides on the atmospheric River Tisza, we will explore the heart of the unique ‘Puszta’ region, justifiably famous for its wildlife and culture.
As well as the southbound migrants, we will also look for some of the impressive resident birds of the area: Great Bustard, Europe’s heaviest bird, strut out on the plains where Saker and Eastern Imperial Eagle hunt around the Souslik colonies; in the forests of Bükk National Park woodpeckers could include White-backed and Black and we will listen out for calling owls in the evenings, hopefully including the ghostly Ural Owl: we may even be lucky enough to hear the local wolf pack proclaiming their territory.
There is more to the area than the exciting birding. In the Hortobágy, we will visit a rewilding project, where Przewalski’s Horses roam free. In the Bükk National Park, we will visit a bat roost with a licensed bat worker, who will be mist-trapping the animals to better understand their ecology. And we will also have the opportunity to visit a local wine cellar and to sample the local produce.
Please note that holidays change, although sometimes only slightly, from year to year and previous trip reports may not reflect the planned itinerary, or other holiday details, for the current trip. Please ask us if you would like to know of any significant differences.
Day 1 Our flight takes us to Budapest from where we drive to Kiskunság National Park for a visit to superb Great Bustard habitat where we hope to get good, close views of these magnificent birds. We then continue on to the Hortobágy region: Hungary’s ‘Great Plains’.
Day 2-4 These three days are spent in Hortobágy National Park taking in the fishpond systems, to look for Pygmy Cormorant, several species of waders, Bearded Reedling, Penduline Tit and White-tailed Eagle. We visit typical steppe habitats for raptors including the mighty Saker Falcon and Rough-legged Buzzard, and will look for Stone Curlew and Great Bustard, as well as a large daytime roost of Long-eared Owls.
Some of the evenings will be spent experiencing the spectacle of masses of migrating Cranes flying low overhead into their night roost. We will also visit the Przewalski’s Horse project, where we will take a ‘safari’ ride into the enclosures to see these beautiful animals.
Day 5 After our final birdwatching in Hortobágy, we head towards the Bükk Hills, stopping at some good sites along the way to search for Saker Falcon and Eastern Imperial Eagle.
Day 6-7 In Bükk National Park we visit the largely untouched parts of the forest to search for woodpeckers and Ural Owl. We stroll through picturesque valleys and visit an abandoned quarry to search for woodland birds. On the Bükk Plateau we have a good chance to see Willow Tit, Fieldfare, Great Grey Shrike, and when checking the muddy roadside, the presence of a newly established Wolf pack is often revealed.
One evening, we join the ranger of the National Park to visit a cave where many swarming bats are possible. We will also enjoy an evening at a vineyard, where a short guided tour, will be followed by a tasting of several of the (very good) local wines accompanied by great food.
Day 8 We return to Budapest airport for our morning flight home.
Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities at the discretion of the leaders.