Thursday, 24 May 2018

Birds in Hungary Day 4. Hoopoe site revisited.17th May 2018.

I revisited the Hoopoe nest site this morning to try to get some better light on the bird than the previous visit.

The nest is situated in a woodland clearing and has a lot of trees surrounding it and thus is very dark.

This makes it a bit of a challenge photographically if one wants to try to catch the adult bird in flight as it feeds the young which are at the stage of hanging out of the nest hole in order to be first for the food!

Fortunately the newer digital cameras (DSLR's) are good at coping with bad light by upping the ISO.

So, apologies for some poor picture quality but I had much pleasure spending time with these stunning birds.

Birds in Hungary Day 4. Evening light in the Bee-eater colony. 16th May 2018.

After a morning in the tower hide and afternoon in the woodland hide it was good to be out on the open grasslands, albeit in another hide, but this time a "pop-up" version in glorious sunshine.

The bee-eaters had yet to finish their burrows or lay any eggs so were just posing for photographers and doing a bit of flirting and courting in the evening light.

It was very hot and the birds started to pant, before a moment when they all disappeared, probably to roost as their nests weren't active yet.

A few minutes later a Goshawk flew out of the nearby copse and along the field edge so really not sure if that was the reason for their early departure or if it had just got too hot.

Birds in Hungary Day 4. Sunrise, Falcons, Kestrels, Hoopoe, Rollers etc. 16th May 2018.


04:20 start was the name of the game to get us in the Tower hide for sunrise.

Well worth it as the light was amazing and the birds were obviously a bit frisky!

The Red footed Falcons were active in several nestboxes, with other boxes hosting Kestrels, Starlings, Jackdaws and Rollers.

Even a Lesser Grey Shrike put in a rather distant appearance before (and not to be outdone) a Hoopoe landed on a perch near a Kestrel nest and proceeded to call away at the top of his voice...magical!

Red footed Falcons mating

Male Red Footed Falcon

Female Red Footed Falcon
Lesser Grey Shrike

Cock Kestrel


Birds in Hungary Day 3. Part 2. 15th May 2018.

Well we took our lives in our hands... well our expensive camera gear anyway... floating just a few inches above the water as we waded out into a lake with the aim of photographing birds at water level.

We wore full length chest waders and travelled around the lake on our knees under the thatched reeds of the floating hides.

Trying to keep ourselves and our cameras dry was the main priority and it turned out to be very successful. Very back and neck aching but David Chapman and myself spent over 3 hours in the water immersed up to our chests whilst kneeling.

The main target species was Black Necked Grebes and there were lots of pairs, often with young that allowed us to enter their world as they hunted amongst the reeds.

Marsh Harriers were everywhere and it was great to be out in the reeds where they were hunting.

Marsh Harrier

Marsh Harrier

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Bats in the Belfry....Hungarian holiday continued..May 2018.

Never dull on one of our photographic forays!
Yesterday we visited the ancient Cistercian church and monastery at Belapatfalva near where we are staying in the Bukk Hills... not to admire the view or say a few prayers but to climb up into the roof space to photograph bats.
We were led by Peta, one of Hungary’s top bat experts who gave us a detailed description of the roost and the species.
Later that evening we visited a forest pool with him and watched as he caught 4 different species in his mist nets as part of his ongoing research.
At the church we saw Greater and Lesser Horseshoe bats, and at the forest we saw Whiskered, Brandts, Daubentons & Barbastelle.

The town of Belapatfalva is the site of the best preserved Romanesque church building in Hungary.
It was built after 1232 with the abbey being destroyed in the 16th century, leaving only ruins.
Destruction of the abbey happened after invasions by the Mongolians and the Turks.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Birds in Hungary Day 3. 15th May 2018.


A few more images from my day in Hungary, (and the previous evening as well!).

An amazing evening last night at the hide for the nesting Hoopoes with both adult birds feeding their chicks with insects.


A quick hour at a nestbox that has nesting Wryneck viewed from a canvas hide and a few dozen poorly lit images!


After the Wryneck David and I donned our mosquito nets and headed in to the reedbed amongst some of the tallest reeds I've ever seen.... at least 3 feet higher than my 5'10''.
We went to see another wonder of nature, the nest of a Penduline Tit.
I did see a few in Poland a few years back but this was hanging away from any vegetation under a huge Willow.

Penduline Tit.
Then this morning we awoke to heavy rain which slowed down our adventures to a sedate 7 o'clock start!

I spent the morning in a woodland reflection hide and despite the low and challenging light managed to get some shots of Hawfinch, Black Redstart,Common Starling & Tree Sparrows.

Common Starling.


Black Redstart.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Birds in Hungary Day 2. 14th May 2018.

Black necked Grebe.

I was out of bed and in the truck at 4:20 this morning for a short trip to the Great Salt marshes.
Had a floating hide to myself and it was just before sunrise so I was all set up when the sun came over the horizon.

Needed chest waders to get to the hide which was tethered to some posts driven into the ground.
All photos were taken from the “lying down” position in order to get the low vantage point for ducks and grebes as they hopefully went about their daily lives.

This did however play hell with my neck and shoulders, craning to look through a camera from the prone position... not ideal but it paid off handsomely!

Delighted to have got such great species as Red Necked Grebe, Black Necked Grebe, Little Grebe, Garganey, Pochard, Greylag Geese, Little Crake and several others.

Here are a few examples.....

Red Necked Grebe
Red Necked Grebe
Drake Garganey in flight