Aylmerton Nature Diary

Thursday 1st November

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Family party of Crane on the Hortobagy – just a few of the 160,000 present this October!

We’ve just returned from a short trip to Eastern Hungary, flying from Luton to Debrecen, and staying with the lovely Tibor & Orsi, at their modern, well appointed and ideally situated Bibic Eco Lodge – on the ‘doorstep’ of the great Hortobagy National Park, the Tisza river valley and within easy travel of the northern mountains, around Tokaji and Eger. Having been before in October we were anticipating a reasonably low bird count – summer visitors have well and truly gone and autumn migration is mostly over, but it’s the spectacle of Cranes – lots of them, which is the main attraction at this time of the year. Oh, and a few geese – but more of them later. What we weren’t expecting however was the weather. Apart from a morning’s rain, temperatures were in the mid-20’s, with a light southerly breeze and cloudless skies. It was a joy to be out birding from dawn to dusk – especially when we knew we’d be returning to warm hospitality, amazing cuisine and great wines! We didn’t quite make the hundred species in our five day / four night stay but we did see a good proportion of the record number of 160,000 Crane, several Imperial, White-tailed and Lesser Spotted Eagle, Rough-legged Buzzard, a late Red-footed Falcon, Black-throated Diver, Black-necked Grebe, Pygmy Cormorant, six species of woodpecker, Hawfinch and oh yeh – geese. Lots and lots of wintering Greylag and White-fronted with very little else until, that is, on our very last morning, when we did manage to find a family party of Russian Lesser White-fronted (the Scandinavian birds arrive earlier and depart for Greece a couple of weeks latter – recently they’ve been missing out the Hortobagy altogether), a couple of Taiga Bean Geese and a single Red-breasted in amongst the thousands of birds feeding on the puszta, right in front of Bibic Lodge! Another great birding mini-break to Hungary – we’ll be back for more!

Just one from a ‘raptor fest’ morning in the south of the park – Eastern Imperial Eagle


Here a White-tailed Eagle is pursued by a Lesser Spotted Eagle and several Buzzard


including Rough-legged


Close to the Lodge is a roost of Long-eared Owl – we only saw twenty this time!


Summer shrikes have left the Hortobagy by October – replaced by wintering Great Grey


Not seen on our previous trips, these exquisite white-headed northern Long-tailed Tit


Our last morning saw vast numbers of wintering geese – seen here arriving over Bibic


Unfortunately, the heat haze (in late October!) made viewing difficult – record shots only of Lesser White-fronted and Taiga Bean goose



But the last word has to go to those Cranes – here flying to roost on the Halasto fish-ponds



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